Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off the Asphalt: Brooks long-term test...

Part 1: Proving Grounds

Since I started running seriously again about six months ago, I've cherished every opportunity to venture off the road. Passing drivers must wonder what I'm doing bounding through tall grass, like a caribou in short shorts, when there's perfectly good concrete just a couple yards away. But I love it. Makes me feel like a kid.

There's one spot in particular that's perfect for stretching out the legs and dodging a few ruts. Four miles of river-grade sand, dirt, and compacted mud just a couple miles from my office. This spot would be the proving grounds for my shake-down run with a brand new pair of Brooks Cascadia 4 trail shoes.

I was ecstatic when Brooks Running reached out and offered me a pair of their sneaks for testing. Whooo, meeeee? I'd never run in Brooks before, but a little research convinced me to give 'em a try. The company is local, small enough to care about their stuff, and very engaged with social media. Plus... free sneaks.

My Cascadia 4's arrived quickly and smelled like new shoes when I opened the box. I was hoping for that. The next morning, in the car, I secretly ogled my own feet and did that finger-gun, click-click noise at them. "Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. Lookin' good, guys." They did not slip off the bug's foot pedals on my long commute. In fact, they were measurably more suited to this task than my bald-soled, 4-year old Converse Chucks. So far, so good.

I couldn't wait for my lunch break. The Proving Grounds were calling. While I was changing, I snapped a few pics so you can see these bad boys from all angles. Good thing my office mate is out of town, as I did this pro-level photography in my socks and underwear. Anyway...

The run was fantastic. Having only done this stretch in road shoes, I was impressed with a few things. 1) The stability and "roll-control" as my feet struck ruts and imperfections 2) The traction on loose gravel 3) The "flotation" of the shoes in soft sand 4) Their ability to shed sticky mud. In all honesty, though, I had to force myself to think about the shoes. Most of the time they weren't there, and I was just enjoying flying down the road.

My only gripe at this early stage is with the laces. They're oval, and tend to twist when unlacing, then further twist when lacing back up. This may improve as they break in, or I might just replace them with flat laces. Whatever. Laces schmaces. These shoes are dead sexy. I can't wait to get 'em out on the trail, tear up some hills, and really push hard around corners... things I was never really confident enough to do in my road shoes.

Thanks again, Brooks! Now, about my upcoming marathon ;)
More reports to come...

3 comments:

sn0tty said...

Thank God you run so I don't have to. I love your writing, Mike! :)

sara wong said...

this makes me feel like I could be a runner if I just had the right shoes. I want to be a caribou in shorts. I think I'm more of an anteater in shorts right now.

Lisa said...

I'm right there with ya, Sara. I wish I could run. I've tried. I cannot. Maybe I just need shoes from Brooks too. Yeah, uh... probably not. :)