Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vienna City Marathon

I'm retiring from running.  At least I think I am.  OK, that's not likely, but I certainly felt like it after this race. 

My wife and I ran this race together and although she ran a solid race -- she finished strong and would have finished stronger if she hadn't waited for me -- I can't say the same for me.  It just felt like an off-day (not that I was expecting to compete with the front-runners!) and one that got worse the longer I was out there.  It's not my intent to rationalize, but I think my experimentation with a couple of minimalist shoes may have contributed to my shoddy day.  Several months ago I purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and have been pleased with them insofar as my runs were 10-12 miles or less.  For my longer runs on the pavement, however, I returned to running in a pair of Nike Air Equalons and although these are good shoes that have served me well in the past, I think my evolving running stride and form have outgrown the shoe (knees would start to ache after 15 or so miles).  So I decided to purchase a pair of Nike Free Run+ shoes since they provide the cushion that the Vibrams don't without the support and bells-and-whistles that the Equalons do.  The sizing of the shoes, however, isn't one-to-one relative to the Equalons -- you need to size up a bit to accommodate the flattening (extension) of your foot -- and I, unfortunately, didn't appreciate this until a third the way through the marathon (I rec'd the shoes the week leading up to the marathon).  I'm still a believer in the advantages of minimalist running and am unlikely to return to using heavily fortified cushion/stability shoes, nevertheless, it's obvious that I need to size up my pair of Nike Free Run+ shoes or find another minimalist shoe suitable for long(er) asphalt runs. 

Aside from the shoe/feet problems, the race couldn't have been better:  it was a brilliant sunny day, the course was scenic, the crowd support (400,000 spectators!) was incredible, and race day coincided with the nine month anniversary of our (me and my wife's) move to Vienna.  This is a race definitely worth running either as a novice or veteran and one I hope to run again, albeit with happy feet. 
Near the start line (photo taken from www.vienna-marathon.com)