Motivation Monday 1 Week to go! – The Ride is Almost over.


The roller coaster that is my life.

Earlier this week I was out for one of my afternoon recovery runs and in the distance I could see the familiar run stride that could be none other than my long time friend Suzanne.

Suzanne has been in and out of my life a lot over the years. She is the friend I admire for her headstrong and take no prisoners attitude. She makes me laugh harder than anyone I know and she also listens better than everyone I know.


When you train for a race like Boston together, those bonds can’t be broken.

One of the first things she asked me about was my training. She said, “So… I heard you’re an ultra runner now?” I couldn’t stop laughing. After explaining to her the method to my madness of running a 50-mile trail race, I said I’ve never done an ultra before and so therefore how do I qualify as an ultra runner?

If you haven’t signed up yet, You better soon to get the Early Bird Pass Sale!

You know those people that ask you how far a marathon is? They all drive us crazy. Well I’m sorry to say this, but road-runners seem to have the very same problem when converting running to trails. Apparently this summer, running trails races like the 5peaks trail running series qualifies me as an ultra runner. So to quickly recap. An ultra is anything over a 50km race. In my honest opinion, 50km is not much different than a marathon and shouldn’t even be in the ultra category. The 5Peaks Trail running series is never longer than a 12km run and is the perfect series for beginner to advanced trail runners. It is not an ultra-running event.

As much as I love the ultra running world, it’s the people of the sport I admire more than the sport itself. No matter what distance you run, every runner has a great story to share. The biggest difference; the ultra runners have the best pictures to go with the stories.


As I completed my final long run this past weekend, I thought a lot about my run with Suzanne. Walking through the landscape that was my life these past two years, she said a really important thing to me. “Michelle, you’ve always known the right thing to do, you just didn’t always execute it.” This sentence stuck in my head for the rest of the week. It seems like every time I see Suzanne, my life and the story that should follow completely changes. She reminded me that in fact, it didn’t seem that way, it was that way. “When will it just be easy?, when can I just coast?” I asked her. Suzanne being unable to say anything dishonest said, “I don’t think easy, and coasting is in your future. I think you have to accept the life that you get to live, and enjoy it for what it is.”

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The toughest training I’ve had to endure this season. Mentally and physically.

I’ve never traveled alone to a race like this before. I’ll have no one to depend on to make sure I have my passport, to make sure I get to the correct airport, to make sure I wake up on time for the race. I’ll have no one to warm up by the fire with, before the race, no one to take selfies with, and no one to meet me at the finish line. I started this journey alone and it’s only fitting it will end that way. My life has been a roller coaster, and so naturally this 50-mile experiment is starting to follow suit. This past weekend, realizing I got on this ride alone, I feel like I’m facing the biggest climb in my life. I can see the top as I slowly move towards it.

Am I scared? YES. Do I want to throw up? YES, Do I have any regrets? NO

no regrest

Motivation Monday – 2 Weeks to Go. Zen and the Art of Running


Last week was the longest and hardest training week in my entire life. I have done weeks of doubles and triples and I was fine. I have woken up at ridiculous hours to train and had to run late at night. This week was super tough.

Halfway through the week, I was getting more and more tired, irritable and my appetite was all over the place. Any attempt at bike riding was a waste, my legs felt like two pieces of wood. I’m at that point in my training where you start to question your ability. You wonder, have you gone too far? I’m peaking, and when an athlete is peaking they feel like shit. Truth be told, if you don’t feel like shit during the peak week then you’re about to have a problem on race day.

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Getting ready for the race. The pre-race shoe change! SPIKES!

I started to really stress about the weekend’s schedule. Sunday was going to be a 5km cross-country race followed by a 60km run. I knew all I had to do was get through this last week of big mileage and I was home free. I would have successfully made it through the toughest training phase ever, injury free. The very next thing I do, is walk right into a wall and bang my knee. I jammed my hip when I landed on my foot the wrong way an hour later. Why during this time of training people get really clumsy is kind of a mystery. I would say it’s because you’re much more tired than normal, the brain isn’t firing the same and your limbs are functioning on very little gas.

What did I do? I took a rest day. I decided this was evidence enough that my body was feeling the wear and tear. I scheduled an appointment with my chiro and while I took a much-needed nap on his table, he put me back together. By Friday I was doing my second speed work session, mentally preparing for the tough 65km run ahead.


My team! Longboat Road Runners

On Sunday, I fell back in love with the sport of cross-country. As I ran the 5km course, in control and focused, I really wanted to drop the hammer and race. All my bad memories from my childhood cross country experiences were replaced with this day of happy memories. The race was a tempo run for me, and I still managed to walk away with a 3rd place finish. It was 1:30pm already and I still had to put in 60km of running. I found my way to the Bruce Trail to begin the journey.


Pacing Lara for an amazing finish for both of us!

Last week my life took a big 180 flip and as I explained it to my friend over the phone, he said, “You sound so grown up, and you’re suddenly very Zen about life.” I thought about this. As I reflect briefly on the last 5 months of training, I have really made some significant improvements in how I’ve decided to live my life. How is it related to running? Spending the time I‘ve spent with myself has been better than therapy. I’ve asked myself really hard questions about who I am and what I want to be. This past week, I kept complaining that I wasn’t physically tired, but emotionally tired. Even when I said it, I couldn’t really understand what I meant. Now I do. It only took a couple of 50km plus runs, but my body and my mind finally made the connection I’ve been searching for. The grown up decisions and choices I’m making are simply the by-product of the balance I have back in my life. I love running A LOT. I also know there is more to life than running and you need to keep room in your life for them.

Important things I learned last week:

1. I tried to teach myself to be organized and make a route. I also learned that I’m not that good at this. Even with an amazing Bruce Trail app on my Iphone, I got lost. I had to hitch a ride to the closest gas station to pick up my food from my one man crew that day. (Yes I got into a car with a random stranger, PLEASE never do this at home!)


The scary Screaming Tunnel, I thankfully got through before sunset.

2. Iphones suck! I had two fully charged Iphone’s using them only for navigation and they each lasted a max of one hour.

3. I’m absolutely addicted to GU salted caramel Gels. These are the best things ever!

4. If you can let down your guard enough and ask for the help, people will generally give it.

5. Having something or someone to look forward to, when you finish something really big, it helps motivate you to finish.

Motivation Monday – 3 Weeks to Go. Why I Almost Quit.

Disclaimer. This post might seem odd and out of place. It may also seem slightly self-absorbed t to some. It’s not my intention. Everyone involved in my journey is also on his or her own journey and I don’t ever think the world revolves around my race and me. I very much enjoy being a part of someone else’s great accomplishments as much as I enjoy experiencing my own.


This past week was the one that almost broke me. Yes I can honestly admit I almost quit. As anyone who has been following my training, it has been, for lack of a better word, perfect. I’ve far exceeded the expectations my coach and many others had for me. Week after week, I grow stronger not only as a runner, but as a human being.

As the beginning of the week rolled out, the confirmation that I’d been slightly in denial about was becoming reality. The friends, who were originally coming on this trip with me to run their very own version of their journey, sadly had to back out.


Meet the team.

Never was I mad and frustrated with them, but actually upset for them. I know how badly they all wanted to be there. I know how much one person in particular really wanted to share this with me. Over the course of this undertaking I started to feel we were all a team. I likened it to an NFL team. In my version I’m the running back and everyone else is playing offence. I picture in Clare’s version, I’m playing offence for her team.


This is the one I will miss having by my side the most.

Why the need for this analogy? The reason I undertook this “experiment” was to overcome my anxiety. The anxiety has multiple sources and Ontario has been, again for lack of a better word, my Achilles’ heel. To escape, I purposely choose a race and location where I could reach for a goal without the burden and stress. Realizing a large portion of the running “scene” would toe the start line on Dec 6, and my “team” wasn’t going to be there playing offence, I felt the suffocation of anxiety take hold. Without a room booked, a plane ticket purchased and no vehicle to get to the race, quitting seemed like an easy decision. I’d proven to myself that I was plenty good a runner, completing two marathons easily in a perfectly respectable time. I suddenly felt this journey could end right now and I would still have accomplished what I set out to do. Its amazing how powerful anxiety is isn’t it?

Then my phone rang. This is what they call in sports, the turning point. This is the time when the team is struggling to make the goal, to change the play, and someone comes from out of the sidelines and sees an opportunity that no one else saw.


Changing the play

My team one by one had been tackled and sidelined by injury, but I forgot I had a few benchwarmers that’d been watching this whole time. In the third quarter, I needed to make a play that was going to set me up for my goal. As I wondered how disappointed my coach would be, I teetered with my decisions. Friends were messaging me “you are ready to do this, you have to go.”


The game changer came down to one friend. A friend, who knows me better than most and one that has been to hell and back with me. This friend doesn’t always show up for practice or stick around for the party afterwards, but he still learns the plays. The whistle blows, a time stoppage is called and a substitution must be made. With little to no warm-up he took his position and got me back into the game. My team is amazing and they will heal. We’ll re-group for next season and already we’ve started recruiting new additions to our team. I’m beyond grateful to all of them for getting me this far. This week, however, one particular bench warmer gets the player of the game award.


The bench warmer; it’s a lonely job, but I’ve learned it’s an important one.

With one more quarter to go, I’ve got my second wind. I got to play offence for part of the game this past Saturday. I completed my second 50km run, this time, to support my team mate, Todd. He ran a total of 105km to help raise awareness for the Movember Foundation. After losing his own Grandfather to Prostate Cancer, Todd is doing his part to make sure no one else has to lose a loved one. Saturday re-enforced how lucky I am to be able to do what I do, how grateful I am to have people around me who inspire, challenge and push me to see this experiment to the finish.

I love this guy Todd. He might be little, but his heart is huge!

If you still want to support Todd and donate to the Movember Foundation Hit this link

Wear Test Wednesday – Mizuno Wave Rider 18

They have arrived!

The brand new Mizuno Wave Riders are here and sooner than all of us expected them. I’ve had the Wave Rider 15’s and 16’s but skipped over the 17’s due to a love affair I was having at the time with my new Mizuno Sayonara.

The 18’s came out just in time for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I had to have them on my feet right away. Prancing around the Marathon expo I was getting pretty attached to them.


My friend Mike sneaking into the booth before the expo opens to be the first to try them out.

The Rider 18’s felt like the Mizuno shoes I have always loved. The perfectly roomy toe box and great fit from heel to toe. The Wave Rider is a neutral shoe with just the right amount of cushioning. I’m always surprised by how light the Rider is; weighing in at 7.8 oz (women’s size) and 9.2 oz (men’s size).

The women’s Wave Rider 18 – This Colour available at Running Rooms across Canada, Mid November.

Once I had some time to spend with the Riders, I thought this was going to be my 5km to 10km run shoe. I’m a runner who wears orthotics and needs to have some stability in my shoes. I’ve noticed with every update, the Wave Rider is quickly becoming a versatile shoe for me.


The Men’s Wave Rider 18 – This again is available at Running Rooms across Canada, Mid November

After a few shorter test runs, I decided to take them for a longer ride. It was after a 32km trail run, my schedule called for an easy 10km recovery jog. Immediately I went to my Wave Riders’. I figured these shoes were the best choice and would provide me with the right amount of cushion and motion control (paired with my orthotics). My legs were happy with the choice. The run felt smooth and effortless. They are now my perfect recovery run shoe in my toolbox.

A small side note here: The Runner’s toolbox is an important thing to think about. I will write an entire other post just about this topic. For now, the toolbox portion I want to cover is running shoes. In your toolbox you need to consider what shoes you have and how many you have. Every day of the week you are running a different distance or speed. You don’t need a shoe for everyday of the week (DIVA alert: I do!), however I do suggest and highly recommend you wear no less than two pair of shoes a week, three is ideal. Below is an example of what I might choose to wear for each type of workout.

Shoe #1: Your long run distance shoe/recovery run shoe, eg. Mizuno Wave Enigma, Wave Rider or Wave Inspire.

Shoe #2: Your mid week tempo type workout run. Eg. Mizuno Wave Rider, Wave Sayonara

Shoe #3: Your fast track running shoe. Eg. Mizuno Wave Sayonara, Wave Hitogami or Wave Eikiden

This is just an example. Since you spend the most time on your feet during the long run, I suggest you find the shoe that best suits you for that run. From there you can move around the Mizuno line to find something that will compliment your base shoe while giving you some level of performance feel.

That was definitely more of a side note, but I promise to expand on this info in the very near future.

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A close up! Stitched on Runbird will give the shoe a better fit. Better fit = better control.

Back to the Wave Riders. I had established that these were now my recovery run shoe, but I wanted to see how they would feel on a slightly longer run. The coach scheduled a 20km run that had to be an easy pace. I laced up my Wave Riders and ran out the door. Normally, with my funny foot pronation I wouldn’t be able to go further than 10km in a shoe like a Wave Rider, but 20km and not a niggle in sight.

Because I have to constantly test the limits, I decided this was going to be my first 50km run shoe. This is how serious I am about my shoes. I had a conversation with my coach about which shoes would serve me better for this 50km which was going to be heavily downhill. Between the Wave Inspires and the Wave Riders, the Wave Riders won. The shoes were going to; 1. cushion the impact my legs would take for 50km, shortening my recovery time. 2. would let my foot naturally move through the running motion, guiding it; not forcing it, better simulating my trail shoe run experience. (Which I will be doing 50 miles in)


They barely got off the delivery truck and were on my feet!

With a 50km done and dusted, the Wave Rider’s held up to the strongest test I could put them through. Not a single blister. No pain anywhere. The next day my legs felt fresher than they should. The Mizuno Wave Rider tackled all terrain including; pavement, gravel and grass. I can honestly say these shoes deserve a gold medal!

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The beefed up outer sole will provide better durability.

A quick glance at the key updates:

•Refined toe-spring delivers a smooth, effortless toe-off

•Upgraded premium sock liner provides more rebound and resiliency at every foot strike

•New outsole design with added durability and shock attenuation

PS: If you are one of those Wave Elixir die-hards, you should give this Wave Rider 18 a try. For the last day I couldn’t think what it was that made this shoe feel so familiar, and then it hit me. They come pretty close to how I remember my elixir’s feeling.


They even look great with a wedding dress! (My almost halloween costume)

WATCH: If you don’t believe me then check out this video.

Motivation Monday: 4 Weeks to go. My First ever 50 km run A.K.A. I eat marathons for breakfast.

My titles for Motivation Monday seem to keep getting as long as my sunday runs. This post is a little late in the day, but it’s never too late for some motivation right?


I never post pictures of food. But I HAD to eat these to prep for Sunday’s race.

This past week was a fairly consistent training week. All my workouts indicate the training effect is kicking in. Last week the mileage was manageable, and for the first time I was going to do a 50km run as part of the Road to Hope Marathon.

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“Road to Hope” Hamilton Marathon

Arriving for the Marathon, I got the pleasure of riding the bus to the start line with the wonderful Athletarian. I was more anxious about getting the 8km run done than I was about the marathon. The best part of any Marathon is the ritual of bag check, running into to your friends, the line-ups for the porta potties and the start line huddle. As I ran off the bus to begin my 8km “warm up” I tried to stay present. As much as I envied everyone else who was standing in a warm gymnasium, I was quite excited that I would be running the longest distance I’ve ever done.

(A picture should go here where you see me with lots of other runners, before the race, excited and nervous smiles across our faces. There are sadly none)

As I started down the road, I was grateful to find a quiet gravel trail to run on. These days, every new trail path I take makes me feel like I’m a kid who is somewhere I’m not supposed to be. (In a good way)

I got back to the gymnasium, got a few kisses and hugs in and off to the start line I headed for the last minute huddle. Once the race started I was right away into a very comfortable pace. Aiming for 4:44/km, I kind of knew on this particular course that pace would be difficult to stick to. I found myself easily maintaining a 4:33/km for the majority of the morning.

The loop around ridge road was really a beautiful way to start the day. Roughly knowing the course, I was aware that for the first 10km I needed to remain in a good state. Once we started to descend towards the waterfront, the pace would pick up.

At 12km, I said out loud. This day is going to get interesting fast. When one of the guys beside me asked “how come?”. I explained, by putting 8km on my legs before the race, they were telling me we had run 20km, but my brain was trying to block out the first 8km. This battle between my legs and my brain continued for many more kilometres. I quickly found myself running alone again, and the head wind wasn’t getting easier to run against. I really did want to stay on the 3:20 marathon plan. Coach Timo was fairly adamant about this. After some quick calculations, I realized I was on pace for a 3:17, only 2 minutes behind the 3:15 pack. The 3:15 pack could definitely relieve some of the wind discomfort I was feeling (mostly on my face!). So using the hills to my advantage, I surged slightly, creeping closer to the large group.

It was just before I caught up with the group that two things happened. I felt some strange sensation in my big toe. A feeling of happiness filled me. All I could think about for an entire kilometer was, will I finally get a black toe!!?? Most who know me; It’s a badge of honour I’ve yet to receive. (Spoiler alert: it was a false alarm)

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A must see movie for EVERYONE not just runners.

The second thing that happened was dialogue from the movie “Transcend” started to fill my head. To mentally prep for the last couple of weeks, I have watched this movie every night. I’m more than obsessed. This movie talks about transcending through discomfort and finding “Flow”.

“Flow, also known as the Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. ”

A great read.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, through his popular investigation; “optimal experience”, revealed what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. (read more in his book Flow)


This is as good as it’s gets to finding “FLOW” at the 41km (but really the 49th) of a 50km day.

I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, but this past week, “Transcend” has been the single thing that has motivated me to dig deep and find the strength to continue on this journey. Rather than spend the last 12km looking at my watch, I moved up behind the 3:15 pack, and I quickly fell into their rhythm. For two kilometres, I reflected on the word flow and what I remembered from both the movie and the book. I thought about how Wesley Korir was happiest, not with his best result, but with his most challenging race. Today was not going to be, nor ever was supposed to be my best race time, but it was the most challenging thing I’ve done up to this day. I created a goal, worked hard just to complete it comfortably and achieved a peaceful state of flow for the last 8km.


I finished, got the medal and discovered I go 3rd place in my age group as well! Bonus!

With an easy recovery week ahead, I will continue to practice this state of flow to mentally prepare for the 30km that I have yet to experience for the big race ahead.


So it didn’t happen at the beginning of the race, but I got my “social” time in at the end.

When running or a training for a race, what motivates you to get to the finish line?

It’s all about Balance



Recently I ran into a friend of mine, a very accomplished runner. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time so as I was nearing the end of a long run I decided to double back with her and chat. We talked about her training season, or lack of. She told me how she was spending the entire year building her base. I was impressed. I essentially am doing the same thing this season, however I am the kind of person who needs something to focus on. I’ve been conditioned to have a goal to work towards. That would be the little miss Type-A shining through.

Base building is the foundation of all training anyone decides to start. It’s been a while since I’ve spent any amount of time just base building. The goals I gave myself this season have been easy to accomplish and just enough push to make me stronger physically without mentally breaking me down. Base building is very much about running just for today and not tomorrow’s goal.


Practice staying present.

As my friend and I ran and chatted, I noticed she was holding two stones. I noticed but didn’t ask. We continued on our way, and I listened to her wisdom. We came to a stop and we were about to part ways, when I decided to ask about the rocks. The explanation was not anything I was expecting. She showed me her two equally weighted stones and explained how she used them. It was mostly about balance. The stones put weight in her hands and helped remind her to keep her shoulders down and relaxed. She was able to focus on the present task at hand using the rocks as a weighted reminder. I had a coach who would tell me to imagine I was carrying eggshells while I was doing speed workouts and it worked really well. My friend told me she used the rocks on all her runs. The stones also helped train her arms to move in the correct way, flowing like smooth pendulums.


My two equally weighted stones.

She told me to pick up two equally weighted rocks and try it for the rest of my run. When a runner of her caliber tells you to try something you don’t question it. I picked them up. We hugged goodbye, and I continued on my journey home.

At first, I thought the rocks would annoy me, make my hands tense. Instead, the weighted feeling drew my shoulders down, and I relaxed into a smooth stride. I held the rocks gently rather than grip them with white knuckles. As I was nearing the end of a 36km solo run, I used the rocks as a focal point. They allowed me to stop focusing on how tired, sore or hungry I was and forced me to turn my thoughts my hands. I focused on the rocks and how they felt cool to the touch, strong and equal. I suddenly was staying present with my thoughts and letting my body flow through the movement.


Mind and Body should stay present.

Since that day my two equally weight rocks sit on my desk by my front door. On days I don’t use them, they are a reminder to stay balanced, to stay strong. On my easy recovery runs I use them for the same reason my friend did. To stay relaxed, to have that physical reminder of my shoulders creeping up. The rocks gently pull them down and remind me that life is all about balance. Whether I’m running, walking or cycling, I need to stay present and focus on that very moment and for me the rocks are a symbol of the “present”.


Important words of wisdom

Wear Test Wednesday – BUFF Canada Review

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I’m addicted to Buff products and it’s the perfect accessory for any athlete. BUFF was a major sponsor of the Canadian 5Peaks trail running series this year and BUFF is no longer just a BUFF. I’ve always used Buff products in the winter, but I had no idea they’d expanded their line until this summer.


The Cap!

My favourite go to neck warmer is my fleece lined, reversible BUFF, which gets lots of use for Cross Country skiing, Downhill Skiing, Snow Shoeing and very cold winter running. This winter it will be replaced by the brand new knitted neck warmer. It’s cute and warm!


The Brand New Knitted Neck Warmer.

BUFF showcased their infinity scarf this summer and I was addicted. Infinity scarves have become a staple accessory in my wardrobe. They are functional and fashionable and will never unwind or roll off your neck. (PS: BUFF make great Christmas presents and stocking stuffers!)

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As a runner my Buff will generally go around my head. This prevents sweat from getting into my eyes. On trails this is important because at any moment a twig, log or rock can pop up in front of you and cause a major spill. Keeping hair and sweat out of my face is what Buff does best! They offer different weights so if warmth is what you’re after they have something for you. The original Buff is something everyone should have in his or her backpack, purse or pocket. It’s simple, fashionable and completely functional letting you wear it in several unique ways. On those days I just can’t deal with a bad hair day, Original BUFF to the rescue! It’s always the day I get the most hair compliments, ironically enough.

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BUFF twins at the 5Peaks Trail Running Series this Summer.

I am not a big fan of bike hats (under my helmet). This summer I discovered the BUFF helmet liner. I like this headband for many reasons, namely it creates a snugger helmet fit and in winter a warmer skull. I also don’t have to deal with the dented forehead when I remove my helmet. It will also provide some UV protection where your helmet exposes your skull.

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My Helmut Liner getting lots of use this summer.

With winter just around the corner, it’s a good time to get out and find the perfect BUFF for you. Finding myself on the trails more often than the road, I make sure my Ultimate Hydration Jenny Pack always has packed away for emergencies.


The many ways to wear a BUFF.

If you can’t find a pattern you love (they have so many choices that are awesome), you can now create your very own. The BC Race director for 5Peaks trail race series, Solanna (A.k.a. the Beast) created her very own BUFF with a cool image of a wolf and beast mode printed on it. All the 5peaks ambassadors got it as a great thank you gift. It’s definitely among my favourite of them of them all.


How To!

Best of the all, BUFF for dogs! Get your furry friend a BUFF to protect the ears from UV, make him look cooler than the other dogs at the park and give him or her a little personality.

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Go to for more info on where to buy Buff near you. Running Room and Running Free both sell a large selection of BUFF styles and patterns.


The Classic Balaclava.

Next week on Wear Test Wednesdays! I’m going to share with you a sneak peak of the Mizuno Wave Rider 18′s. This is become my new favourite shoe. With lots of cool updates, it’s the best rider I’ve run in so far.