Team 40, with the author at left, kitted out for night racing. Photo: Audrey Brandt.
By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan
Why run 198 miles in a single weekend?
When it comes to passing on the love of sport to your kids, it’s hard to trump leading by example. So when my Saturday running group started talking about doing the Ragnar Relay Great River Race (GRRR) in Minnesota and Wisconsin in mid-August, before I could shut my mouth, the words, “Sounds like fun! I’ll do it,” were out. Almost immediately, I began second guessing my rash decision. I’d just returned to running after the birth of my fourth son, and I wondered if I’d be up to the challenge of leaving him for a whole weekend, not to mention running 17.5 miles over the course of 36 hours with little to no good sleep and eating so-so food on the fly. (Which, when you think of it, is not much different than parenting a newborn.)
Holiday gift guides abound this time of year. But they're mostly filled with gifts that you hope you'll get, not gifts you'll give. Stumped as to what to buy your lady this season? This guide is for you.
1. NAU DOWN LOOPNER SCARF She'll wear it as a scarf, and wear it as a shawl. Either way, this 650-fill goose down wrap will keep her warm all winter. Variegated quilt and stripe patterns add subtle style—she will too as she configures this infinity looped wrap the way she likes it. $90; nau.com.
2. ICEBREAKER'S SKYLINE JACKET This jacket is functional and beautiful. The merino shell has a wind-resistant membrane that keeps the heat in and the weather out. A zippered inside pocket stashes a wallet or passport, while the soft, stretchy internal cuffs give extra warmth. Simple, sophisticated, and at home in New York, Aspen, Paris, or Oslo. And to speak to her love of mountains, the lining has a subtle topographical map pattern. $350; icebreaker.com.
Minimalist running shoes aren’t for everyone, but Brooks' new PureDrift is a transitional shoe with a
minimalist option that's great for the barefoot-curious as well as runners exploring a shoe with a little more road feel.
The PureDrift's secret is adjustable drop. With the sockliner in, it's a 4mm drop shoe—perfect for runners going from a more traditional shoe to a barefoot shoe. Pull the sockliner, and you've got a zero drop shoe that lets you stride completely connected to the ground.
The sole under your toes is formed so that you can use them to push off independently, which testers reported felt "more natural than any other non-barefoot shoe" they had run in. The sole also has spring, which propelled testers into their next step.
The NYC Marathon, cancelled for the first time in race history. Photo: Steve Broer/Shutterstock
I don't live on the East Coast. I'm landlocked in the high desert, where it is 65 degrees, sunny, and cloudless today, as it has been all week. We have not had rain all month. But I grew up in New Jersey, and my parents and my brother and his family live in Connecticut, on Long Island Sound. Compared to the Sandy-inflicted horrors on the Jersey Shore, lower Manhattan, and Staten Island, they got off easy. They lost a few trees, part of a dock, and some branches. They're still without power, but they have a generator. It could have been much, much worse—and for millions, it was.
I don't know what it feels like to be in New Jersey or New York City this week, without electricity or heat, with long gas lines and bodies of the lost and drowned still being recovered and the terrifying, jet-engine roar of the wind burned on the brain. I don't know what it feels like to live in a city still crippled by a hurricane even as 50,000 people began arriving to run 26.2 miles through every borough, past unimaginable destruction and hardship.
But I am a runner, and I know that running, especially long distances, is an act of perseverance and faith. You train hard for months, prepare as best you can, but on race day, you show up and turn things over to the unknown. You can't possibly know what the day will bring. You might feel strong and fast. You will no doubt doubt yourself. You might hurt and curse your legs and want to quit. You will be carried forth by the strength of the runners around you, their energy and conviction and courage. You will run with the memory of those you have lost, and those you might never know. Unimaginable things happen when you run. Who's to say if they will be beautiful or horrific, strange or wonderful. They will be all those things. Running is like life that way.
For years, runners have been told that technology—bags of air, gel, shock absorbing
and overbuilt arch and heel support—is supposed to make running better. Still, there is no proof that
overbuilt support systems reduce injury or make running better for you. In fact, there are many studies now that show just the opposite.
Skora began four years ago as a passion project of founder and CEO David
Sypniewski, a longtime runner. He set out to design a shoe that would allow him
to run more naturally.
"There is indeed
now a movement toward products that encourage more natural running form," says Sypniewski. Some
call it barefoot, minimal, natural or free. "We believe that the best technology
available is the human body, and design our products to respect this. Skora shoes
allow the human body to function as naturally and efficiently as possible."