I didn’t even know that it had snowed until I walked outside. I’d been up for several hours but I hadn’t bothered to look outside b/c we’d been waiting and waiting for snow and it hadn’t come. There hadn’t been any in the forecast. So the snow had surprised me at 5 am as I walked outside. I turned around and switched my shoes out for the Salomon S-Labfellcross. I’d been waiting to try them out. The super aggressive lug height on the bottom of the shoes screamed I want to run up and down European mountains in snowstorms, rainstorms and whatever horrible weather mother-nature could throw at me. I’d been waiting and waiting for an opportunity to try the shoes. I certainly would have preferred to try them on a long trail run w/ a lot of elevation gain and decent. But that was not why I was up and out the door at 5 am on this cool, December morning.
I had moved to Boulder a few months back seeking a clean life of mountain living, outdoor meditation and mountain running. But to pay for a roof over my head at night I was working a couple of jobs, one of which was delivering organic produce to the doorsteps of the good people of Colorado. Today was my mountain route which meant I would be driving on harrowing mountain roads around the Evergreen area of Colorado. These roads would include four wheel drive roads, shelf roads, jeep roads and one stop that is about a fifteen mile drive up Mount Evans. Once I get to the homes, they are usually so far back in the hills that even my all wheel drive van has a hard time negotiating the ups and downs. I knew I’d be hiking some of the boxes up to people’s homes. And trying to take advantage of every opportunity in front of me, I decided to just make today a training day.
For months I’d seen the Team Salomon videos of Killian Jornet running up Mount Blanc on what seemed like a daily basis w/ the lightweight S-Labs. The only complaint I’d heard about the S-Labs were the lack of tread on the outsole. I was told the S-Labfellcross were like the S-Lab on steroids. I’d tried a couple of other name brand shoes that even though it looks like they have a beefy, multi-directional tread on the bottom, it’s impossible to stay upright if you get caught in the rain. Salomon had not let me down in that regard yet. And the beefy $170 price tag that went along w/ these shoes gave me high expectations. If Salomon was willing to charge that much for a shoe, it must be something they believe in.
As I drove up into the mountains that morning the snow conditions got thicker the higher in elevation I went. My usual hour drive was slowed down due to traffic and once I finally made it to my first stop the sun had come out and it appeared as if it was about to be a sloppy, icy, muddy day. I would be running up and down mountain driveways of people who sometimes didn’t want to be found in the back hills of the Colorado front-range. It wasn’t exactly my ideal day in the mountains but it wasn’t all that bad either. If you have to have a day job, getting up to about 10,000 feet to deliver heavy boxes up steep driveways constitutes as pretty good training in my book. I see lots of wildlife when I do this route. A typical day would show me a dozen deer, a few turkeys or fox and sometimes up to seventy or eighty elk. It’s a beautiful day and I certainly spent more time driving than running but I’m able to get some solid hill and sprint work in. W/ Mount Evans and Bierstadt looming in the distance, things could always be worse.
The shoes are very lightweight (9 ounces) and considered a minimal shoe with their 4mm heel drop. The super protective upper of the shoe made me want to bushwhack my way around Colorado and forget the trails altogether. My first impression of the shoe when putting it on my foot was that it felt a little narrow. But after a few minutes, my foot accommodated nicely. The speed lace system held my foot nicely w/ no slipping. My only complaints about the shoe is that it is a little overbuilt for any trails w/out rocks and roots to run over or around.
My day was long. A fourteen hour work day left me beat down and tired. My only hope was that today (Tuesday) was actually my Friday, having two days off ahead of me. When I got home I had no energy. Physically and mentally exhausted. I wanted to go for a little night run but I had nothing left. Then again, when training for an ultra, it’s important to practice running when you have nothing left in the tank. I smiled. I laced the shoes back up and grabbed a headlamp. Maybe just a quick run up Mount Sanitas and back from my apartment. Just a quick little ten miler…