Sunday, October 19, 2014

Product Review : Update : Skechers GoMeb

In a previous post I looked at the now classic GoRun (GR) 2 versus GoRun Ride 3s and I promised to review the GoMebs.  I try not to disappoint.

Model GoBionic GoMeb Speed GoRun GoRun Sonic GoRun Ride GoRun Ultra
Weight (OZ - size 9) 6.5 6.8 6.8 7.25 8.4 8.7
Heel Drop (mm) 0 4 4 6 4 4/8
Support Moderate/Hybrid Stability Neutral/Flexible Traditional

To summarize the Skechers running shoe line,  the GoMebs are more towards the minimalist side versus the GoRun Rides which are more towards a full support shoe.

I normally try to run at least 100 miles in shoes before I evaluate them to ensure I can read the wear patterns on the soles.  However, for the GoMebs I ran into Achilles issues only after 20 miles.

First the basics.  The shoes weigh in at 7.2oz, come in very similar technical outside fabric as GR2s.



Also like the GR2s, there is more than enough room in the toe-box to let your toes spread out for good stability.


The difference in the GoMebs and what left me with sore Achilles are the redesigned lowers. The designers added a 'stability plate' midfoot and actually indicate this on the Skechers web site:

   'Dupont Hytrel™ Stability plate in midfoot for a supportive and secure run'

Damn!  




My unofficial test is to grab each end of the shoe and give a slight twist.  I can't say that I applied exactly the same torque but its close.  The GoMebs barely twisted whereas the GR2 just melt in your hands.  I'm an underpronator so I need flexibility.  The GoMebs are just too stiff for the way I run and really twerked my Achilles.

So for me the GoMebs are not a viable replacement for GR2.  However, if you overpronate and/or looking for a stability shoe then the GoMebs would be a fine choice.

In conclusion, I've reverted for now back to hunting for GoRun2s!!











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Friday, October 17, 2014

What's coming? What's on your mind?

Here are some of the posts I'm working on:
  • GPS/Battery performance of Garmin 310xt vs 410
  • Review of several bluetooth earphones for comfort, battery life, sound quality
  • DC50 pacer report
  • Review of several hydration packs / tweaks
  • Is regular exercise / improved eating habits worth it?  Review of lab results over two year time span.
  • DONE : Road running shoe comparison : Sketchers GR2 vs GoMeb
What topics are you interested in?
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Product Review : Update : Skechers GoRun 2 vs 3

I was one of those that bought the Skechers GoRun (GR) 2 when it came out and loved it.  So when it came time to purchase a replacement set I was shocked to find that they have been discontinued.  Fine you say, just find the 'next' generation that replaces it.  Well, that is easier said than done because Skechers has a million different models now and it is not exactly clear which replaces the GR2!

I've read in some threads the following Skechers running shoe lineup in terms of cushioning from 'minimal' to the left and 'maximum' on the right:

Model GoBionic GoMeb Speed GoRun GoRun Sonic GoRun Ride GoRun Ultra
Weight (OZ - size 9) 6.5 6.8 6.8 7.25 8.4 8.7
Heel Drop (mm) 0 4 4 6 4 4/8

Based on my table above, the closest model in terms of weight, heel drop would be 'GoMeb Speed' and arguably 'GoRun Ride'.  I'm first going to evaluate GR-Ride because they are very inexpensive then in a latter followup the 'Mebs.  The GoBionics are 'zero drop' and the GR-Sonics are 6 mm shoes.  I'm not quiet ready to go in either of those directions but who knows?

I first weighed each and they were slightly heavier than the manufacturers reported weight because I wear a 10 (or 10 1/2) compared to the standard size 9.



You can see the heels are similar but in general the GR-Ride are fatter and heavier looking.


Front is also similar but you can clearly see the 'mesh' of the GR2 versus the puffy fabric used in the GR-Ride.


The puffiness of the GR-Ride is really evident from the top.  Some have reported that the toe box is smaller in the GR-Ride than in the GR2.  I've ran about 20 miles in the GR-Ride and it doesn't 'feel' too small but it physically is smaller.


The GR-Ride reminds me of a traditional 'old school' fluffy tennis shoe versus the 'minimalist' GR-2. The GR-Ride and more of a curved sole than the flatter GR2. 


Shoe bottoms are similar but very different.  The GR2 on top has more and smaller 'GoImpulse Sensors'  than the GR-Ride (bottom).  The GR-Ride is also much firmer than the super flexible, slipper like feel of the GR2.  I also felt the GR-Ride 'rocked' just past the center while the GR2 just had the smaller mid-foot bump.


Conclusion : I don't not like the GR-Ride but I couldn't get used to the Tennis shoe like feel of it.  The GR-Ride is a little too firm and the rocking motion just past mid-foot was strange.  However, never once was I uncomfortable in the GR-Ride nor did I develop any hot spots.  The GR-Ride are just too different than the more minimalist, slipper-like feel that I really like in the GR2.

I was able to score an inexpensive pair of GR2 on eBay to last me until I can find a good deal on a pair of GoMebs for the next update!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Report : Inaugural Overlook 50K, September 6, 2014

Be forewarned that this race report will be rambling account of what turned out to be not merely a training run for my first 50 miler but the biggest trail challenge I've ever faced and the first I should have DNF'ed. [DNF = Did Not Finish]  

Short Summary : 31.2 miles of beautiful trail along parts of Western States and Cool covering elevation gain and loss: 7,000' gain / 9,200' loss.  Took me 9:10 hours to finish in the 98+ deg heat.

Day Before Race Day I left work early around 3PM for an uneventful two and half hour drive from Pleasanton to Auburn and managed to get to the running store to pick up my bib with 15 minutes to spare. There were a couple of people manning a single table in the back handing our bibs, talking about the pasta feed at Auburn Ale House and chatting about the race. The Auburn Running Company is nice store with all the trail porn you'd expect for running store with moto, "The Endurance Capital's running source". The store even had the latest trail shoes by Atria which you rarely get to see at other running stores. However, I wasn't there for the pasta feed but to meet up with my mentor and his family at a nice restaurant named Joe Caribe known for pulled pork tacos, enchilada and beer. We chatted about the rather hot weather, the fact that one side of the highway coming in was on fire (not a good omen) and what the weather might be in the canyon the next day.


Photo Credit : Norma Stark

View from near Auburn Running Company and highway side fire


 Dave had let his beard grow out to build up trail runner mojo and we were all absorbing toddler energy from his 22 month old before we decided to break for early bed.  




Pre-race  

Morning of Saturday September started with 5AM wake-up call, since I knew it would be pretty easy to drive the ~3 miles to the bus pickup at 6:45AM so had lots of time to enjoy morning coffee, Powerbar and even made it to free breakfast at 5:40AM.  GPS directions didn't include correct address and had to circle a bit to find parking lot that looked it contained a bunch of excited trail runners.  There were restrooms at the bus pickup which was also the finish line which was very convenient.  One volunteer was handing out finish bags in case anyone wanted something like sweats (kid you not) at the finish and didn't want to wait for the drop bags to be delivered later in the day.  The morning was a cool 66 so the thought of sweats wasn't inconceivable yet.  This was also the 50mile/50k bus.  The 100k'ers had already left 2 hours ago.

Race Day

Had a nice chat with fellow 50k/50milers on the bus and enjoyed the cool air and scenery on the way to the now familiar town of ForestHill.  Here is a picture of one of those badass trail runners, Angela, also part of the Forward Motion Race Team (FoMo for short).



The start line was right in front of the Stone's Brew coffee shop 'downtown'.  Where you dropped your drop bags in the correct pile destined for the correct AidStation (AS), did last minute changes and lined up at the starting line.

Photo Credit : Keith Blom

Now, this is a trail race so the starting line was duct tape across the parking lot and the race director (RD) took a few minutes to give advice on staying on course (follow the yellow tape!!) and welcomed everyone to the first ever Overlook 50K then counted down to 8AM and said 'GO!'.

Photo Credit : Keith Blom

Peachstone AS mile 8.7
Rucky Chucky AS mile 16

The first 16 miles were familiar to me because Dave and I had already run it as part of the WS100 Saturday training, memorial weekend.  You can read about that day and view pictures here.

Some notes though.  I was feeling so good and confident coming down the mountain that I forgot to pay attention to the markers and between mile 11 and 12 took a wrong turn and wasted about 10 minutes and had to climb back up to get back on the main course.  The fork I missed split between going left down to the river (which was really nice stretch of beach I really didn't want to leave) and a trail going up.  I knew I was in trouble when after getting to the beach heard no one, saw no one for 5 minutes then realized I had to run all the way back up the hill to figure out where I went wrong.  Arrgh!  Nothing worse than giving up your 'lead' and tiring your self out at the same time!  Old lesson reenforced. 'Keep your mind focused on the trail and watch for markers'.


Soon after finding the correct trail, I climbed a small hill and found the sign I had sat down by during the training day.  I was proud (at the time) that I wasn't light headed and felt great.


From Rucky Chuck AS (5 miles past the sign) till Poverty Bar (3 miles) it had started to heat up and by the time I reached the river crossing (8.2 miles) I was dizzy.  I was drinking 23 oz by every aid station, taking salt gels, yet my head was telling me I was too hot or electrolytes were off.

Poverty Bar (River-crossing) 19.2

By the time I actually reached the river I knew something was wrong.  I was just not feeling well, was tired, dizzy and just wanted to sit along the river forever.  I actually did a full body submersion in the water fully clothed and all then sat waist deep for at least 5 min.  Volunteers helped make sure we got across the river since some runners had their calves lockup but I felt immediately better after the cold water dip.  To my surprise, 100k #1 and #2 spent past me at the river. Nothing like having two 100K runners and a fresh cold water dip to invigorate and motivate you to go.




The next four miles along the relatively flat creek bed were actually kinda fun. However, by the time I got to Brown's Bar, I had dried off and my core temperature was raising again; because, once I got to Brown's Bar I was craving ice.

Brown's Bar 23.3

They ran out of ice at the aid stations!  Crap!  The volunteers said they radioed in for more ice and were waiting for it to arrive.  I asked very nicely for a bit of whatever they had and received half cup. Better than nothing!  This is where I should have dropped out because I was getting dizzy again, fatigued and still had 11 more miles to go and mentally I knew I had to climb back out and up to overlook.  And, it was getting hotter and hotter.


Quarry Trail / Hawver Cave

In between Browns Bar and the Highway 49 crossing, you down off the moutain and onto a fireroad.  As soon as you hit the fireroad you'll see parts of an old railway bridge and a cave on the left side of the fireroad.  The cave gate is named 'Mountain Quarries Mine Gate A' but is also known as Hawver Cave after the turn of the century dentist who found and named several prehistoric fossils from the cave.  What a runner in 98 deg heat would be interested in, however, was the arctic subterranean air billowing from the cave. I stood in front of the cave a good 5 minutes just enjoying the cold air like in front of a refrigerator.


I stopped several times during this short 4 mile section to No Hands Bridge.  One very nice volunteer let me sit in a chair for a minute at the freeway crossing before another told me exactly how to get to the next AS.  All I saw was a climb up the freaking side of a mountain and a suspension bridge miles away.  Turns out the 50K only has to go up a couple of switch backs, then down a slope to the bridge. I was starting to become pessimist which wasn't a good sign.  However, I got a few shouts of good luck and 'Go Forward Motion!' which helped alot. I believe the person who helped me at the crossing was 'John' from Forward Motion who had finished the Western States 100 race and was there to volunteer and run with his girlfriend who wanted a partial WS100 experience.  I think she got what she was looking for plus more.

 No Hands Bridge 27.2

Eventually I made it to No Hands Bridge but was one of the longest 4 miles of the journey thus far.  They had plenty of ice and runners where rolling in it. OK that is an exaggeration but we filled up our hand-helds, packs, had it on our necks and wrists in an attempt to cool ourselves.  AS volunteers were awesome, chatted with us then motivated us to finish the last four.  One young woman was wearing a San Francisco Marathon '2008?' finishers shirt so we chatted about that race for awhile.

Auburn Dam Overloook (Finish) 31.2

OMG.  The last four miles.  What can I say. I really should have just DNF'ed at No Hands as I had nothing left and was just shuffling along.  I chatted with Todd a gentleman who had been having calf issues the whole day and was also walking alot.  Walking in 98 deg heat up a mountain from river level to the overlook is just not fun.  You know your finish time is just going to suck, its slow progress and painful.  I stopped multiple times. Starting dry heaving and was just not in a happy place.  But, I kept going for some unknown reason.  No, I wanted to finish what I started and was stubbornly pushing onward.  Sometimes being stubborn is not a good thing.  It took me more than two (2) hours to walk/crawl the last four miles.  Shit. That was bad.  Here is the final picture by the amazing Joe McCladdle some 200 ft to the finish.  The smile just meant that there finally was an end to this 'race'.


You know how you hear about runners crying after crossing the finish or just plain collapsing?  I wanted to do both but could only manage half a heal kick then fell to a cool grassy area not far from the finish then lost most of the fluids I tried to take in. 



I wasn't around for the early finishers who where naturally tougher and weren't as impacted by the dust, heat and dehydration as us slower turtles.  However, I can tell you there were some strong commonality amongst us turtles.  In general, we were covered in dust, had gravely voices because of dust and dehydration, were laying in cool, shaded grass and were dry heaving as we tried to take down fluids.  The BBQ and beer sat unmolested by us and was mostly enjoyed by volunteers, pacers and really tough runners.  Myself, in particular, couldn't hold down water for 2 hours until a nurse/paramedic gave me some anti-nausea pills; then, it still took another hour before I could.  My friend Dave drove me to his mother 'n laws place where I sipped some super electrolytes and after another two hours finally felt normal enough for the two and a half hour drive home.



My finish time was 9:10 hours.  Yeah, 9:10 elapsed hours where 8 hours were recorded as moving.  So, that is a minimum of an hour at aid stations or sitting on a rock/log on the side of a trail.  Once I slowed down cuz of the heat around mile 16 or so I really should have just DNF'ed and not put my friends and myself through the stress of caring for a runner suffering from dehydration/exhaustion. Bad me.  My lesson learned was to acknowledge I have limits, listen and obey what your body is telling you and appreciate really good friends and volunteers who support my crazy-ass adventures I choose to undertake.


Post-race Day 

What do you do when you are 145.5 of 158 pounds the day after a race?  I pretty much worked from home, drank fluids like they're about to be outlawed (broth, grape juice, gator-aid) all day and ate light foods like oatmeal, etc.  I was 150 by days end and by second day back to race weight of 153.

I have not had caffeine nor alcohol since before race day and plan to have a really nice cold IPA this weekend as I reflect on the race and what it taught me.  I also withdrew from attempting my first 50 miler next month because I know my body is telling me I need time to heal.  However, I plan on pacing a good friend on his first 50 miler for the last 25 miles!



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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Product Review : Finding the right trail shoe to support how you run

OK, so we are not actually going to review a particular product but rather have an open discussion about finding the perfect marriage of shoe to runner. Below is my collection of running shoes I've built over the last two years.  Can you spot the trend?


Before we discuss the right type of shoes, let's agree on language used to describe the manner in which your foot engages the ground to propel you forward.  After your foot hits the ground, normally on the outside edge of your foot, it rolls in to distribute energy.  How well your foot rolls has a profound impact on the type of shoe needed to support the way you run.  Now someone could argue if you don't have perfect running form nor foot falls just learn them then wear any neutral shoe!  Yes, to some extent we all strive towards perfect running form but it is hard to undo what nature has given you.  Read the Runners World (RW) article on the different forms of pronation entitled, "Pronation, Explained'

If after reading an article on pronation or visiting a local reputable running shoe company and asking them to analyze your gait you should analyze your existing shoes for evidence to confirm your understanding.  A great article on this technique also happens to be published on the RW website called "Whats your wear pattern'.

Let's take a test.  If you look both my sprint and trail running shoes after several hundred miles you will see some clear wear trends:
  • the heel is worn on the outside
  • the footpad is worn near the center on sprinting shoes and midfoot on trail shoes
  • the toe is worn out on sprinting shoes, outside toes on trail shoes.

Sprinting Shoes : Sketchers GoRun2


Trail Shoes : Hoka Stinson
 I'm clearly more of an underpronater in that I hit on the outside of the shoe near heel (heel to mid striker) and don't roll much and tend to take off with my pinkie toes.  You can't see my feet but I also have high arches.

For underpronators, a shoe that is more cushioned and flexible to absorb the lack of rotation would help me.  More detail here.

Now let's assume you found a shoe type that supports how you run.  Do you run with a road shoe on trail or do you actually need to go buy a 'trail shoe'?  That is even more complicated because 'trail running' can mean running on loam along technical single track, across rivers, boulders or just not on pavement.  There is a nice article from competitor magazine entitled, 'Choosing a trail shoe thats right for you' where the authors make a very reasonable argument that if you need support on a road shoe then you need support on a trail shoe.  And furthermore, if a manufacturer of your road shoe makes a trail shoe and you decide you need the extra protection from a trail shoe then try their trail shoes.

After chasing many shoe manufacturers for two years I think I've finally learned which type of shoe supports my running gait the best.  I'm still experimenting with shoe manufacturers and models but its quiet fun trying new shoes out.  The reason I will wear 'trail shoes' even on the road is the extra 'outside' protection against rocks/glass and large reinforced toe-box to allow your tootsies the room and protection they need.  Yes, the extra protection might cost you a couple of ounces but unless you're sprinting you might not even notice the weight difference.

IF you have not seriously examined your running gait and the wear patterns on your running shoes then I strongly encourage you to do so lest you run with with wrong shoes and suffer unnecessary injuries caused by improper support.

PS What do you do with your old shoes?  I'm a pack-rat and even though I may never wear a particular shoe for running I feel that eventually I can use it for walking, gardening or painting.  Yes, I have too many shoes and yes I eventually will reduce down to a reasonable 4-5 pairs of shoes.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Training Run : Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails, Victoria, BC

On a recent week-long family trip to Victoria, BC I had the good luck to get permission from my wife to have some 'me' time to explore downtown by foot. I used this opportunity to explore two local trail gems called 'Galloping Goose' and 'Lockside'.

Specifically, I ran a 20 mile out and back from the Hotel Grand Pacific in downtown up Galloping Goose to Lockside then out north all the way to the Red Barn Market near Cordova Bay.  The trail is mixed road, trail and some single track with water stops and a couple bathrooms.  If you are a cyclist there are tire pump stations as well.  Lockside is a particular treat because the route is largely shaded by tree canopy.

The start of Galloping Goose is actually at the intersection of Harbour and Esquimlat Roads just outside the Johnson St bridge (purple).   To get to the start from Belleville St, simply follow Wharf to Johnson St (red). I doubt you'll get lost since you can see the bridge most of the way.  A couple important notes.  Once you leave downtown it will become harder and harder to find bathrooms so take care of business before you start out.  The last bathroom/cafe is Caffe Fantastico on the left side of Harbour St just before you cross the street to continue on the trail.


You will continue on Galloping Goose trail along the harbour for roughly 5 miles then come to The Switch where Galloping Goose veers right and Lockside left.  Here is the overall map of what's technically called Galloping Goose 'East'.


Once you are past the switch you leave busy downtown behind for the more rural roads and farms along Lockside.


You'll go from city to country roads like below.


 Then to more narrow county paths.

  

Eventually treating you with cedar, Tom oaks and fern covered deer trails.

 

There are several surprises along the way; including:
  • A bronze statue honoring the early settlers of the Blenkinsop Valley.  The entire trail in this area is on a raised wooden platform.
  • Various kiosks treating passersby to free (or a small donation) flowers and vegetables.
  • Recycled material art
  • Beautiful views of the bay once you reach Cordova Bay









I picked the end of my run to be the Red Barn Market since it was almost exactly 10 miles from my hotel, had many organic foods/drinks to pick from.  I particularly liked once of their local ginger beers (non alcoholic) by Philips made with real cane sugar and ginger.  Very good.  And, of course their made to order sandwiches were excellent. 


I had to wait until I got to my brother 'n laws house to enjoy some of the local beers because a) you can only buy beer at particular liquor stores, b) I had no idea what was good.  Both beers below were excellent.


We had a fantastic week in Victoria eating too much, spend the day sailing on a 25 foot sail boat out from Sidney and explored many of the nearby islands, and other touristy areas like Butchard's Garden.  You can see and feel the effort city architects put into 'urban planning' to bring housing and jobs together whilst keeping the rural nature of the island.  Locally grown foods are widely available in the many markets and restaurants.  And, of course, trail running in the summer is just great fun.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Training and Recovery : Massage Envy Spa of Pleasanton, CA

What could be better than being part of the 2014 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and finishing the marathon on July 27, 2014?  A complimentary post-race Sports Massage that's for sure!

I had been contacted a month before race day by Massage Envy Spa if I'd like to enjoy a Sports Massage in exchange for reviewing the experience. Heck ya!

For the record, I had a three month pre-paid massage contract early in the year (Jan-Mar, 2014) and had already found Massage Envy Spa in Pleasanton and had my favorite massage therapist (Charles).  But, I got busy with life and training and didn't renew.  Since March I've run two 50Ks, a road marathon, did one day of the Western States (WS100) training camp up in ForestHill, CA and paced the last half of the American River 50 mile race.  I was beyond ready for a professional tuneup.

Based on my post-race sports massage on Aug 7th, I have officially started my next three month contract (Aug-Nov, 2014).  Here was my experience.

Meet and Greet

I arrived 15 min early to my appointment to sit down with Heather to review my Wellness Chart and based on my Survey to fine tune my session with Charles to pointed out any areas that needed special attention.  For me my calves were still a bit tight around the Soleus as well as my shoulders.  The session was to last 1 hour total and broken by:
  • 5 min discussion with massage therapist, dress down
  • 50 minutes of massage
  • 5 min wrap-up plus redress
Forms and fine tuning request with Heather
Tranquility Room

After my chit-chat with Heather to fine tune today's session, she lead me to the 'Tranquility Room' or waiting area where she offered my choice of infused or plain water while Charles finished with his other client.  The seats were comfortable, with pleasant music, faux waterfall (can't see but on the right) and a chance to just relax or chi-chat with other customers.



Chill 'er Tranquility Room

The Sports Massage

Sorry, no naked shots of myself nor Charles. [Thank goodness]  The large rooms have a massage table in the center, small table with mints (my favorite) and rear counter-top with cabinets.  The rear counter area has sink, towels, microwave for heating towels, etc.

Depending on if you requested a full-body massage or wanted specific areas worked on you could be on your stomach, back, side, etc.  I started on my stomach and Charles went to work first relaxing my shoulders (Trapezius muscles) by using his thumb/palm as point source then his arm to generally relax the area.  I requested 'deep massage' so yes initially it hurt but hurt good!  I get tense shoulders not only wearing a hydration pack on long runs but as an office worker spending way too much time sitting poorly in front of desk, staring at a computer screen.

If you want to keep from getting injured it is very important to keep your string of muscles loose since it only takes ONE to tighten up and start a snowball event on the other muscles getting pulled.  So, while on my stomach, the first series he worked on my foot arche (Plantar Fasciitis), Calves (Soleus, Gastroc) then hamstring. [Technically Gluteus would be the last but I normally don't get sore nor cramp up there]

For the last part of the session I flipped over and he worked on my quads and some of the minor shin stabilizing muscles.  I have a tendency to get shin-splints (inner shin) which is probably due to some muscle asymmetry in my quads. So, Charles helps to keep them knot free as I perform squats and step exercises on my own to build up my inner quads (v. Medialis, etc).

Lets dig deep (pun intended) on what I mean by 'worked on'.  It is one thing to merely apply light pressure up and down a muscle.  Fine for general work but does little to restore flexibility.  To get a tight calve to relax after a tough workout you need to search the muscle using a finger for either a tight spot or a clients face cringing (or audible 'ouch!').  Once a sensitive spot is found and if it is indeed a knot (which is probably is) the knot needs to be 'melted'.  The best way to melt a knot is to apply point pressure and hold until the knot relaxes.  The first time I saw Charles I had 4 knots in my Soleus junction.  This time I only had one.  It is hard to explain how you feel after having all the tightness removed from your calves and have your full or near full flexibility back.  Feels wonderful afterwards like you can run another 50K trail race!

Post Massage

Charles offered me the infused water then back to the reception area.  As I wrote in the intro.  I didn't realize how tight I was until my session with Charles and realized based on the amount of running and races I'm doing I really need a sports massage once per month and signed up for another three-month plan.

Charles - one great Sports Massage Therapist!





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