I’ve had my eyes on this Skechers race flat for a while now. Of course, I had my eyes on the Skechers Performance running shoes for a long time before I actually mustered the courage to pull the trigger. The suggestion that Skechers is a serious running company seemed unlikely. But it’s true, and they’re great. Looking back at old blog posts, I see that I cited the Skechers GoRun 2 as my favorite shoe in my collection. Granted, my running shoe collection had only 3 pairs at the time, but the ranking hasn’t changed with more shoes. I was very excited when I received an opportunity to review shoes for Skechers, and they were generous enough to send me the GoMeb Speed 2 as a review sample, free-of-charge. (Full disclosure: I have since accepted a Brand Ambassador position with Skechers Performance.)
The GoMeb Speed 2 is the second iteration of long distance race flat that was designed for elite marathoner Meb Keflezighi.
When I first opened the box to find these flats, I was immediately captivated by the appearance. These things look amazing! The profile is sleek and the colorway is beautiful, almost changing in different light. The shoes themselves are very light, at 6.8 ounces. Upon slipping the shoes on, the term “no-nonsense” kept popping into my head. These shoes just really felt like they were stripped down to the bare essentials, with no unnecessary materials used. The upper is breathable and seamless. The GoMeb 2 fits much as a race flat does, which I generally refer to as a “performance fit,” meaning they’re typically a bit snugger than a daily trainer. When you’re trying to crank out miles at top speed, you really don’t want a lot of room for your foot to play.
The mix of GOimpulse sensors (rubber lugs) on the foam outsole allows the GoMeb Speed 2 to give a responsive ride whilst still maintaining a level of cushion. There is also a minimal amount of midfoot torsiflexion, allowing the foot to twist just a bit so you can run naturally.
To date, I have used these shoes for easy running, 2k hill repeats, a 15 mile tempo run, 800m repeats, 2×3 mile workout, 1k hill workout, and a 1600m track race. The GoMeb 2 performed well in all of these, but I would say that they absolutely blew me away on the 15 mile run and 2×3 mile workouts. I almost always feel pretty beat up after these efforts, but I was shocked to have felt no soreness during or after the workouts. I would definitely classify these as a long distance flat, as they totally hit the sweet spot between maintaining moderate cushioning and a responsive ride. I would recommend these flats for any race or workout 5k and longer, but believe you’ll unlock their true potential if you wear them from 15k to the marathon.
Weight: 6.8 ounces (Men’s size 9)
Stack heights: 18mm (heel), 14mm (toe)
Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm
The Chevron Houston Marathon was really great experience for me. I was able to reach my goal, not hit a wall, and finish strong. Here’s a brief recap.
My morning started off much like a long workout day would, if not a bit early. I woke up at 3:45am, turned on the coffee pot, and headed out for about 10 minutes of jogging in circles in the parking garage. After taking a shower and getting dressed, I had my typical breakfast of steel cut oats and coffee (thankfully, the hotel we stayed in had a stovetop). We left the hotel at 5am and headed toward George R Brown Convention Center, which is where gear check and the start line are located. After using the bathroom and relaxing for a bit, I headed out to the starting corrals. I used the bathroom again on the way, but finally made it out to the start line. I met up with teammate Kirk and friend Mark who were making their way to the start, too. We watched as the US Half Marathon Championships took off at 6:55am, and then got our start at 7.
I let both Mark and Kirk go, knowing that they both had faster goal paces for their races. In fact, I let A LOT of people go. I had somewhat of a plan to start with the 3:00 pace group for the first half of the race, and expected them to catch up to me shortly considering how relaxed and slow I felt like I was running. I had my Garmin set to show only the stopwatch and give me 3 mile splits, so I only knew at Mile 1 that I was in the low 6:40s. At this point, I decided to just let myself get into a comfortable rhythm and let the race unfold as it would. I made it my strategy during the race to not pass anyone as long as I was feeling comfortable (not feeling pulled too fast, not feeling like I was putting on the brakes from going too slow). It turns out that I hung onto probably half a dozen groups of people throughout the race, some of them half marathoners (the courses split at mile 8) and some of them marathoners.
I carried a bottle of Tailwind Endurance fuel into the race and sipped on it as a way of slowly taking calories and hydrating, saving me from the chaos of early water stops. I threw this bottle at mile 8 and took my first gel at mile 10 (GU Salted Caramel w/ caffeine).
I felt completely smooth and in a zone at this point in the race. Mile 11 or 12 featured one of the only hills on the course, a bridge crossing over a set of train tracks. I passed through halfway in 1:27:30, right on pace for a 2:55. At mile 14.5, I ran past my parents and grabbed a second bottle of Tailwind. I latched on with a masters runner who looked like he knew what he was doing at this point in the race. We got to chatting a little bit and found that he was doing his 34th marathon (14th Houston) and was going after a PR (2:58). Knowing that I was on pace for a 2:55, I gave him some encouragement and said that he was in a good place to hit this time. We jabbered a bit for several miles, even sharing a chuckle when a spectator at Mile 18 let us know that we were halfway done! He made a good point that some people need to have that “virtual halfway point” late in the race to mentally prepare themselves for the grueling last few miles. I never learned this man’s name, but I hope he got his PR that day.
At Mile 19, I latched onto another guy who was really hammering home. I didn’t try to race him, I just got right behind him and didn’t let him gap me, knowing we had a few miles left to go. He (I learned from spectators cheering out the names on our bibs – this guy’s name was Eric) ran confidently and with some obvious experience at the distance, so I felt comfortable letting him lead me through a few miles. We started seeing what looked to me to be zombies sprinkled throughout the course. These were, in fact, runners who had gone out too hard early in the race and were paying for it now, either in the form of zig-zagging aimlessly around the road, walking with their hands on their heads, or just plain stopping on the side of the course. I wasn’t feeling the wall that they were feeling, but it didn’t look like much fun and I was thankful for the positive experience I was having. At mile 21 we passed through the Clif Gel station, and I grabbed a Citrus gel with caffeine. I had been carrying another Salted Caramel gel with me, but at this stage of the race (and with the temperatures climbing), Citrus just sounded like a more appealing option.
At mile 22, I started to charge into some of the inclines that could be found leading into downtown Houston. I dropped Eric at this point, and I would spend the next 4.2 miles picking off more zombies alone. At mile 24, the marathon and half marathon courses rejoin, and the crowds were magnificent. It was an almost deafening roar coming into the city, and I felt so much energy coming off of the spectators who all seemed to just beam with respect for the runners. At almost mile 26, I saw my coach who called out to me with one last piece of advice: “Put your chin down, and finish this.” Rounding the turn into the homestretch, I heard my mom’s voice cheering me on. I could barely see anything through the crowds, but I waved in that direction and charged home.
The clock showed 2:56:05 when I crossed the line, but I learned from the torrents of text messages and Facebook message that my official chip time was 2:55:59.
I ran almost dead evenly for the entire race. I had planned to run progressively, but found that an evenly paced marathon will FEEL like a progressive effort over the distance. I consumed 2 gels (200 calories) and about 30 ounces (~300 calories) of Tailwind Endurance fuel. I never felt the “wall” that many people describe during the race, I just know that I steadily became more fatigued as the race went on. Before the race, I was concerned that a nagging issue on the inside of my right knee and also the ball of my right foot would cause me issues, but I had no injury pains during the race. I consider this first marathon to be a HUGE SUCCESS and hope that future marathons will have similar results (but faster, of course!).
What’s next: I plan on laying off the marathon distance until the 2015 Boston Marathon. I would like to spend the 15 months working to develop my speed and overall strength, starting with the Rogue Track Festival on February 15th. I will be racing either the mile or 5k on the track, with the intention of learning how to run uncomfortably again. I also plan to race some (or all) of the 10k Rogue Trail Series, knowing that trail is very good at encouraging musculoskeletal development and has the added benefit of often being soft surface. This will all be pieced together to make me a more well rounded runner. Stay tuned!
Tyler Mathews is the main author of Running Toward Dreams and an aspiring athlete.
Hoka-Hey, Hoka-Hi, Hoka-Ho. Hoka-Ready, Hoka-Set, Here we go!
I am a believer in different types of training to help one become a well-rounded athlete. Sometimes this means strength and core training. Sometimes it means cross training. Sometimes, it simply means going outside of your normal, safe, comfortable bubble and venturing out into the great wilderness (literally). In this case, I’m talking about trail running. Real trail running. Not the type that means you simply run in the little dirt path that bikers and overly rebellious walkers have left next to the sidewalk. I’m talking the really technical stuff that you see in some of the great trail races, like Leadville, Bandera, and Western States. Luckily, Austin is home to some of the most extensive trail networks in any urban area. We have the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a network of an estimated 30 miles of technical, rocky, hilly trails that snuggle up to downtown Austin. This is a true gift to any outdoor athlete that has the benefit of living here, so I was determined to make this part of my training regimen. But hang on – I only have road shoes. I have a semi-large collection of daily trainers, performance trainers, racing flats, and some in-betweeners. I headed out onto the Greenbelt a couple times in some trainers, hoping the cushion would be sufficient enough for this type of running, but I was sorely mistaken. I couldn’t grip the terrain, and sharp rocks would constantly find the tiniest crack in rubber outsole to terrorize my feet. I needed some real trail shoes.
Hoka One One, a company that has quickly come into the spotlight in the running world, was very generous enough to send me a pair of Stinson Trail shoes, free-of-charge, for review.
Hoka One One has become synonymous with the so-called “maximalist” movement that is happening in the running shoe industry. They are well known for their hyperbolic stack heights and extensive amounts of cushion. The heights of the Stinson Trail are 38mm (heel) and 32mm (toe). To give some context, the Nike Terra Kiger trail shoe has a 23mm (heel) and 19mm (toe) height. Runners wearing a pair of Hokas can usually be seen from a distance, because they are usually taller than anyone else. The Hoka One One Stinson Trail is deceptively light for such a large shoe, coming in at 11.8 ounces. This isn’t as light as some of my other trainers, but they are marginally heavier than most other trail shoes. If you think the height, appearance, and weight of the shoes is impressive, you should really experience what they feel like. I would equate running in Hokas most closely with running laps in a bouncy castle, and probably (at least) twice as fun. As I was wrapping up training for my first marathon, I tried to avoid running the technical trails in an effort to minimize the chance of twisted ankles, broken legs, and rock shards through the heart. Instead, I spent some time in the Stinson Trail on Town Lake Trail (or Lady Bird Lake, for the politicians out there), which is a very mild and easy going dirt path. These runs proved to be pleasurable enough, but the only thing I could tell was that there was a lot of cushion that just masked any ground feel that I would have normally felt. I knew I would need to really test these babies out on a real trail. I got that chance today.
This morning, Joel S, Travis J, and myself headed to the Hill of Life for 90 minutes of Greenbelt running. Greenbelt veterans know that starting at Hill of Life starts out with a steep descent down into the woods. Travis, who was also testing out a pair of Stinsons, said it best when he said “You can really bomb these hills in these shoes!” You can absolutely fly down those rocky, treacherous descents in the Hokas, with absolutely no feeling of sharp or hard rocks. During my short time of running trails, I’ve learned that it’s really important to have no fear when tackling downhill running or unsteady footing for the sake of your overall pacing (not to mention the muscles you require to continuously hit the brakes downhill). The Stinson Trail really gave that peace-of-mind, knowing that even if your foot landed on an unpleasantly positioned rock you would likely not feel a thing. I loved wearing these on the trail. They have a ton of tread on the somewhat stiff outsole, allowing for excellent traction in some slippery conditions. It’s also a moderately sticky rubber, so it works well on some wet rock surfaces (common on Texas trails).
Hoka One One sends 2 sock liner inserts per shoe, allowing you to choose your own adventure, depending on if you like the extra cushion inside the shoe or not. I started out with the full monty, running with both inserts. This gave me the awkward sensation of not really “sitting” well in the shoe and feeling unsteady. This morning, I left both inserts out, deciding to go socklinerless, something I have tended to enjoy in some other shoes (read: Newton). Although I did experience a new sense of agility by sitting lower in the shoe, I found that there was too much room in the forefoot (weird, right?) and I developed a blister on the outside of my big toe. I think that the sweet spot will inevitably be found in operating with one insert in the shoe, but that is yet to be determined.
I really like these shoes. I really feel that they are going to get A LOT of wear this Spring as I train for some shorter races (and maybe a trail race or two…or three). The retail cost on them seems to be a little higher than many other brands ($160), but you are paying for a lot of shoe, which seems to be able to hold up to a lot of abuse. I predict that I will be able to get about 500 miles of trail on these shoes. Since I am still focused on road running/racing and using trail running as supplemental training, this will more than likely last me an entire training block (unless I find some others to test). Having worn this pair and enjoyed them, I am likely to look for another pair.
Weight: 11.8 ounces
Height: 38mm (heel), 32mm (toe)
Heel-to-toe offset: 6mm
The Hoka One One Stinson Trail can be purchased from Hokaoneone.com.
Leading up to my marathon last weekend, I wanted to make sure that I was well hydrated and had healthy electrolyte levels in my system so that I could perform to my potential on race day. With this in mind, I chose to use Nuun electrolyte tabs in my water. In December, Nuun sent me a shipment of 4 different flavors of their electrolyte tabs to try out, free-of-charge. Nuun has no sugar and has only 8 calories per serving, so it is certainly intended for hydration and electrolyte purposes only, not as an endurance fuel. I will typically keep a Nalgene of water at my desk at work (I drink 3-4 liters of water/day), and I loved how easy it was to drop a couple tabs of Nuun into my bottle for some added flavor and electrolytes. With the temperatures in Houston reaching into the mid-70s, I’m confident that drinking Nuun was advantageous going into the race.
Lemon-Lime was my favorite, but all of the flavors sampled were delicious.
Nuun electrolyte drink tabs can be purchased at Nuun.com or most local running stores.
I did it! After trying for years to run a marathon, I finally did it. I raced in the Chevron Houston Marathon on January 19th and finished in 2:55:59, good for 93rd overall. I had an amazing weekend in Houston – getting to run with a former teammate, spending the weekend with my parents, meeting Meb, and crushing my debut marathon.
Thank you to Coach Steve Sisson, Team Rogue, and anyone who has offered a word of support or advice going into this experience. Next up – 5/10k racing for the Spring block. We’re just getting started!