A long overdue update and a giveaway!!!

Hi Everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. In fact, since my last post – I’ve run two big races (and some smaller races):

  • The USATF 50k Championship in Caumsett Park, in (on?) Long Island, 1st place, 3:23.29
  • Lake Sonoma 50 mile, 14th place, 8:48

Lake Sonoma was my first long, super-ambitious, trail race. I will not lie – it was HARD (made more so by the fact that I managed to run probably a total of 5 hills all winter).

This is me telling John at mile 38 how great I was feeling.  (More likely my actual words were: "This is so hard, I want to die")
This is me telling John at mile 38 how great I was feeling. (More likely my actual words were: “This is so hard, I want to die”)
I wanted to hang out at the aid station forever. But eventually, I had to get going...
I wanted to hang out at the aid station forever. But eventually, I had to get going…

I was running along in 6th (or 7th?) place behind some pretty amazing runners – including Kaci Lickteig, Stephanie Howe, Cassie Scallon, Ashley Erba… when almost exactly at mile 43 , I took a step and experienced a sharp, blinding pain behind my left knee. As far as I recall, there was nothing notable about this step – I didn’t step unevenly, roll on a rock, or anything! – I just took a step and some muscle (what I have decided was/is my gastrocnemius) was fed up with the race and screamed to stop. It was done.

I did stop for a few moments. Then I did what I usually do when I’m running and something hurts: I try to continue running, but nope – my leg just wasn’t having it. I attempted to stretch (but that only made things worse). So after some huffing and puffing in place, I reluctantly decided I had to walk. Except, at first, I couldn’t. Walking was just as painful. So, then I did the next most reasonable thing: I tried walking backward – nope, that wouldn’t work either. Then eventually, I discovered that if I pointed my toe and walked on the ball of my foot, I could hobble along without pain. Hurrah!

In the end, I did finish Lake Sonoma (there was really no other option – as I discovered when I got to the aid station at mile 45 and they informed me that the only way out was by boat…at 8pm) and I learned a lot from the race. I lost a lot of time – and about 7 places in the last 7 miles of the race. But there were a lot of experienced runners in this race and running parts of it with them gave me some insight into how to better run and race a long trail course.

photo 2
Finishing the race! I managed the run it in (on my tip toes!)


So, I’m happy (and obviously, humbled).

(Also, side note: this race is gorgeous! Not a bad place to spend 50 miles/8+hours exploring)

To celebrate the joy of running, trying new things, making mistakes (and learning from them) AND no longer being injured, Altra has generously offered to host a giveaway for a new pair of the Torin 2.

Since I’ve started wearing Altras, I’ve had a lot of people ask about them. I don’t really care much about specs when it comes to running shoes (but if YOU do – please read this interview with Golden Harper, co-founder of Altra). Really, I just want to run in something that is comfortable and race in something that is both comfortable and speedy. If I wear a shoe that fits those qualifications, I’m thinking about the race (or the run) – I’m not thinking about my shoes – and that’s important.

I truly love Altra shoes (not just a particular pair – but all the ones I’ve run in: One2, Olympus, Lone Peak, Superior, and the Torin 1.5). I love the wide toe box – my feet feel free while still having support. And for all my road runner friends out there – Altras are not just trail shoes! I can wear them on the track for a short speed workout and on a 50 mile trail run. I wore the One2 for all my indoor track workouts and the 50k championship this winter, and for JFK which covers both rugged trail, packed dirt, and road –  and my feet and legs felt great. For Lake Sonoma, I wore the Superiors and was very happy with my choice!

Good for running roads, trails, or just lounging by the pool...
Good for running roads, trails, or just lounging by the pool…

I’m excited to have this opportunity to share a free pair of Altras! Whether you already run in them and are psyched to try the new Torin 2.0 – or if you’re one of those folks I’ve talked to recently who are thinking about trying them for the first time – here’s your chance to get a pair delivered straight to your door – for free!

You can enter the contest by posting a comment on my blog (ideas below) between today and next Wednesday (5/27), 5pm EST. I’ll also be running this contest on twitter (@SarahjBard) and you can gain an additional entry by retweeting the contest there!

As for the comments – here are some things I’d be interested to learn more about:

-Have you worn Altras? If so, what pair and what sort of run do you prefer them for (long runs, trail runs, speed-work)…

-Do you have any ultra race recommendations for me? Ones you’ve done and loved? Why was it such a great race (good course, amazing volunteers, good post-race provisions?)

-What’s the most beautiful place you’ve run – favorite place, loop, trail, etc… (please give me some run-destination ideas).

Good luck! I wish I could give everyone a pair of Altras!

19 thoughts on “A long overdue update and a giveaway!!!

  1. Well done finishing a hard race!

    I’ve blown up 3 pairs of altra instincts (v1.0, v1.5, v1.5) doing runs of a few miles on the island. Still, they are my favorite running shoes, but seem to be made from kimwipes. I don’t like the new shape of the instinct 2.0.
    The everyday instincts are suede and have been comfy and tuff for the last 13 months in lab. I recently swapped the insoles. Highly recommended.
    I haven’t tried the other models, but it sounds like I should!
    I hope all is well up north.


    1. Hey Martin,

      Thanks! I’m going to pass this feedback re the instincts to the team at Altra. They’ve been very responsive about wanting to hear both positive and negative feedback and improving their shoes. I actually haven’t tried the Instincts, but am intrigued – maybe they’ll be my next pair.


  2. good-looking tip-toe finish!! like your line about shoes that help you think about running, not shoes– and as I’ve just started trotting a bit, I marvel at your mental prowess to keep going with any thoughts for so many hours!

    wondering if altras would work for my feet, which I’ve been told are like those of a camel, a camel woman.


  3. First off congrats on finishing ..I have several friends who do ultras so I know how hard it is ..I’d love to try these shoes for myself
    Fingers crossed


  4. I’ve never worn altras, but am intrigued. I’m wondering whether you had much difficulty transitioning to a zero drop and how you worked them into your training. I currently do a fair amount of training in a 4mm drop, and found the switch from 10mm to 4mm to come with a noticeable amount of strain on my Achilles. I don’t notice it anymore though.
    As for ultra races, I’m from Washington State and think the Chuckanut 50K, White River 50M, and Orcas Island 50K are iconic races in the state. All very well organized and fun races.


    1. Hey Brian,

      You know, I didn’t have any issues at all transitioning to Altras. But also, I’m crazy about shoe rotation, so I think when I first started wearing them (because I tried the One2 at first – and they’re pretty light and speedy) I might have only worn them a few times a week. Now, basically all my shoes are Altra, but I do have a couple pairs of old (but not dead) shoes that I occasionally rotate in.

      My husband recently started running in them (about 4 months ago) after running in Asics for years. Two years ago he developed plantar fasciitis and wanted to try a new shoe to see if it would help. There’s a note in the Altra shoe box that cautions people moving into zero drop for the first time that they may experience some calf tightness, and that they should ease into them by rotating them in gradually. John did say that he experienced some initial tightness and just alternated his Asics with the new Altras for the first couple weeks. Now he runs in Altra almost exclusively. I think if you just take it easy, it would likely be fine.

      That being said, some shoes work for some people and not for others. I used to run with the BAA and they were sponsored by Adidas. I left the team (for a number of reasons) last year – but one of the main ones was that I just couldn’t wear Adidas shoes. They were incredibly uncomfortable and despite sizing up, the toe box was so narrow (I have wide feet) that my toes would be numb 8 miles into a run. It was a huge and unnecessary distraction. However, I have friends who wear Adidas with no issue. So not everything works for everyone :).

      I do think Altra makes a great shoe though – there’s some great thought behind the structure and the wide toe box is a lifesaver. They might be worth a try (at least rotating in for some diversity for your feet and legs).


  5. I wear the Instincts everyday. I also run in them, the One Squared and the Paradigm. I love the One squared for all my shorter runs and speed work. I love the Paradigms for my long runs. The Instincts are perfect all around shoes. I recommend Altras to everyone. They are the best shoes anyone can wear.


  6. Sarah-
    Thanks to FB, I now know you have a blog! Glad to see I can keep up with your initial years in the Ultra world without filling up your inbox.

    Hopefully our paths cross again soon…Cayuga perhaps?

    I have never tried Altras before, but figured this would be a great avenue to test out the newest tool in the trail scene. I’m sure they would work well for the Hardrock pacing, Hut Traverse in the Whites, or Superior 100 effort this fall…

    Be well.


    1. Ahh, I wrote to Ian to confirm that I would be at Cayuga, but then I developed bronchitis and am currently struggling through my short 3 mile run commute to work – so unfortunately, looks like I may have to pass. Good luck on all those stairs – I hope you have a great race!


  7. Thank you so much for offering such a wonderful giveaway. I have not tried Altras, but would love to! My favorite is a flat course run along the Nolichucky River that finishes on the Erwin Greenway. I am fortunate to live very close to this course, so I get to enjoy it often.


  8. I’ve been toying with the idea of transitioning into Altras and would love to win a pair. My road running partner is starting to venture into trail racing and I have to admit I’m intrigued by possibly joining her but not sure about the extra distance yet. I know the pace is slower so it could be doable. Maybe the Altras would be just the motivation I need!!


  9. Thank you for your update about your experience at Sonoma. After JFK, it was exciting to see your transition into more Ultras. Sorry about that knee, but it seems like you handled it really well under the circumstances.
    I’ve recently discovered Altras and have been gushing over them. Friends are sick of me turning every conversation onto an Altra-Based one. “Oh, your dog is sick? Boo. Have you tried the Altras, yet?!” (ha)
    I haven’t tried any of their trail shoes, yet, but definitely will. This giveaway…and your blog, make me pretty danged happy.
    As for new Ultras : take a look at Umstead. It’s late March/early April. Not technical, so it’d be a really fast one for you. I’ve only done a couple of Ultras, but have run a lot of races, in general. I can say, hands down, it’s one of my absolute favorite race experiences. The hometown feel…the pride in the event…the location…are awesome. To top it off, the volunteers and staff are like nothing you’ve ever witnessed at a race. For real. (I have no affiliation, btw. See how I get to gushing?)
    If you’re still reading this lengthy response, take care. 🙂


  10. I started running in Altras after my hip surgery in the fall–when I was allowed to start running again 3 months after surgery I got a pair of provision 1.5s which I have loved. They give me a little more support and cushion but still the zero drop that I love. I also love the wider toe box, which feels very similar to the Reebok CrossFit zero drop shoes I work out in at the gym.

    I haven’t tried any of their other shoes, but am totally won over by the Provisions!


  11. Hey Sarah – great blog! I have been using Altras since I picked up my first pair of One’s at the NYC marathon expo in November 2014. Earlier this month I completed the Northface Endurance challenge 50k wearing Superior 1.5’s. There is also a 50 mile and Marathon distance and the NF staff and volunteers are excellent. Well stocked aid stations and plenty of encouragement and support along the way. Maybe I will see you out there next year!


  12. Sarah – you have come a long way in the ultra world in such a very short time. I knew you had it in you after our run @ Farm to Farm. Every since that day, I’ve been telling people I was lucky you were inexperienced at that distance, or I’d been toast. I look forward to seeing podium at some epic ultra races in the very near future, and I can say I say I met here when….


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