We found a runner in Portland, Oregon—Colleen—who’s gone all-in on Vimazi pace-tuned running shoes. Colleen, who’s been running for about 16 years and is currently training for her 20th marathon, has run marathons all over the world, including Boston, Paris, London, and the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa. She's likely run more races in Vimazi shoes than anyone else. She estimates she's run more than 25 races wearing Vimazi pace-tuned shoes (starting with a few early test models). I asked her how she got into running, about some of her memorable races, and what she thinks about Vimazi. Her answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
V: Tell me about yourself and how you started running
C: I live in Portland, Oregon and have worked in the public library system for the past 25 years. I'm 55 years old and loving life! I didn't really start running until I was an adult. My first race was the Shamrock Run 8k that I ran sometime in my 30s. I enjoyed it. I was going through some hard times in those years and wanted something to focus on. Somehow I made a decision that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 40.
So I started training a little more consistently. But honestly the longest run before my first marathon was only 13 miles. So I was less than fully prepared. It was the 2007 Portland Marathon. Race morning things definitely did not go according to plan. I slept past my alarm and was late to the starting line. I forgot my watch and had no idea what to expect. But I ran it in around 4 hours, which surprised me. It was fun. I loved it, and so I kept running.
Colleen runs the 2022 Portland Half Marathon.
The next year some friends convinced me that I could qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was kinda skeptical, but I ran a marathon in the summer of 2008 and did qualify. So in 2009 I ran Boston. It was only my third marathon.
V: So how did the Boston Marathon go?
C: Well, I traveled to Boston solo. Luckily, a friend showed me around a little. I’d never been there, and I’d never run in a really big marathon. What an experience! I enjoyed the whole big city marathon scene. I went there not knowing what to expect. I was amazed at how totally into the marathon the whole town was. The crowds were huge and awesome. I ended up running faster than my qualifying time, which is hard to do on that Boston course. I had a good race—ran a 3:40. I was super happy with it.
V: What distance do you like best?
C: I would definitely say the marathon is my favorite. I like the training for them, the build up. The three-month structure really works for me. And I just like the challenge of the distance.
V: Tell me about your training? What does a typical week look like?
C: When I’m training for a marathon, I usually like a 12- to 16-week training period. I run between 40-60 miles a week, depending where I am in the block. I’m usually running 5-6 days a week. A week always has a long run and a track workout. Sometimes there’s a tempo run in there. One of the things I’ve been doing recently is that I break the long run into chunks—maybe a 3-mile warm up, then faster for a couple miles, then slower for a few more miles, then maybe 4 miles at marathon pace. It’s a way to keep the long runs interesting and focused.
V: You’ve been training and racing in Vimazi running shoes. What do you like best about them?
C: I like being able to choose a shoe for a specific workout. I never really did that before, and it’s changed the way I approach training. It’s just more focused. If I’m doing a track workout, I wear the Z30. On my 6-8 mile run days, I wear the Z50. On longer runs or runs up Mount Tabor, I often wear the Z60.
I like the variety. I like the cushioning for sure. I mostly gravitate to the Z50s. So many of my runs are in the 8 minute per mile range, and that shoe feels like it runs best between 7-9 minutes per mile. They run great.
Speeding along in Vimazi Z30s.
V: What are some of the major races you’ve run in Vimazi running shoes? And which shoe did you use?
C: Last spring I ran the Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa. They call it a marathon but it’s actually 56K, which is more like 35 miles. I ran in the Z50s, and running 56K on the road in those shoes was fantastic. My legs held up great for most of the race. They stayed refreshed. The shoes gave me the support I needed throughout. Really they were perfect.
Last year I ran the San Antonio Marathon, also in the Z50. I had a great race until the last couple miles. I was shooting for a PR, so I guess no surprise that I faded slightly near the end. I was trying to go under 3:37, and I ended up running 3:38. It was a good race overall.
The San Antonio Marathon done and dusted.
I ran the Portland Half Marathon recently, and I had a great race. Very pleased. Incredibly beautiful day. I ran a 7:53 minutes per mile pace, so I finished in 1:43. I definitely hit my stretch goal on this one. And it was right in the zone for my Z50s. I took second in my age division.
I run a lot of shorter races every year, 5K to 15K. I usually run those in the Vimazi Z30. They feel like a racing flat. Fast! They give me the energy and confidence to hit those miles faster than I normally would.
Last month I ran the White River 50K up near Mount Rainier. It was my second 50K. It’s a super challenging trail race, with more than 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Plus, because of fires a few years ago, there was lots of downfall over the trail, so I had to climb under and over lots of trees. Add a loose, rocky trail. I ran in the Vimazi Trail Z3. I was quite happy with the way they performed. Nice stability and great traction. They’re not really made for climbing over a bunch of trees! It took way longer than the last 50K, but that was good due to all the climbing, the rough trail, and the trees. But I was happy with the finish. I ended up being the 6th female finisher, and I placed 14th overall.
Before the White River 50K, wearing the Trail Z3.
V: Do you have any upcoming races?
C: I’m planning on running the Portland Marathon this fall. I may try the Vimazi Z40s to mix it up. My training’s going well. The base training I had for the 50K definitely helped. Now I’m back to building miles and increasing the long runs. But only six weeks to go!
Portland will be my 20th marathon, and it’ll be the fifth time I’ve run it. Hometown marathon. It sort of feels like a full circle on my marathon journey. Back in Portland running a marathon, like 2007. I feel fit and I’m looking forward to it.