Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Vibram Five Fingers Report

Pies descalzos:

I sought out a pair of Vibram Five Fingers yesterday. First I went to Boulder Running Company, one of the most popular running stores in the country to discover that they didn't carry them; maybe they are in denial. As I browsed their great variety of footwear I overheard salespeople counseling runners, would be runners, and soon to be injured runners about pronation, stabilization, motion control, etc. Of course they can't sell them because everything they would say to sell them would counter everything they say to sell running shoes. They sell lots of other footwear that is clearly not for running.

I ended up at the Pedestrian Shop where the clerk told me that they can't keep them in stock so instead of asking for a particular color I should just tell her my size and she would bring out the options. Turns out the display model was the option. I probably wouldn't have been able to buy them if it wasn't payday and I wasn't expecting a nice refund check from the IRS within a couple of weeks.

I felt like I had already switched to barefoot running although I still wore my Asics running shoes. I've been running off-road and off-trail and picking my steps more carefully almost as if I were hunting partridge. So, when I read the advice on Barefoot Ken Bob's website and saw he said to switch over carefully, maybe walking around the house a bit barefoot, I decided that I was already a few steps ahead of others switching to barefoot running.

I worked each of my toes into the toes of the Vibrams. The temperature was about 34 degrees and the skies were overcast. I considered driving up to the open space I like to run on so as to avoid the pavement, but figured I need to get used to that as well. Barefoot Ken Bob urges people not to transition to barefoot running using a minimalist shoe, but there are nasty goat head thorns where I run and I did not want to be digging them out of my soles. I will probably run truly barefoot but I will have to be careful about where.

I noticed that after the first mile (on pavement) the low side of my calves were hurting. I haven't had sore muscles from running since, well, really never. I figured I must be doing something right if I was using muscles that have had little use. I interpret muscle soreness as a good thing; what I also noticed was I had wasn't wincing from plantar fasciitis and come to think of it my big toe joint wasn't hurting either. I also often get something akin to a cramp in my middle toe and have to take my shoes off to crack it. My lower legs still ache like I had a work out; isn't that normal though, after a workout?

Once I reached the open space I went to the fields and ran uphill and downhill on the bogs, pasture, ice, snow, mud, grass clumps, etc. They recommend barefoot running on a variety of surfaces; I think I hit all of them. They're not great on ice but at least I had a good feel. They're slippery on clay mud but I suppose bare feet wouldn't be any better. They are OK in the snow but they aren't warm; the wet comes in between the toes. I had to stop once to take them off and warm my toes with my hands and the cotton gloves I was wearing. While I was sitting there a man and his dog approached and he said, "I thought I saw some barefoot footprints." I hadn't thought about it, but I checked and they do leave a footprint just like a bare foot.

I ran 5.7 miles all together. I did walk a bit toward the end just to be prudent; the calf muscles, or certainly some other ones down around there were definitely spent. My feet didn't hurt and don't hurt but the proof will be in how everything feels tomorrow and other days. My pace was a little slower but not much. I was running a bit over 10 minute miles on the trails in my Asics and today my pace was a little less than 11 minutes per mile.

So, for today, I endorse the VFF. Happy trails.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Born to Run....Errands

I just finished reading the book "Born to Run". It is difficult to not already be out running after reading it, but there are responsibilities and obligations to attend to. Grocery shopping is first on the list; I'd been trying to stretch out what we had on hand to payday and that was easy to do since there is enough on hand to feed four people for a month but with lots of holes in the meals like the absence of fresh fruits and vegetables or fluids. Ruth and Valerie have both expressed that their hair needs some attention. Actually, Ruth says mine needs attention too; I thought the long was growing over the grey nicely. I have to send out homework to one of my adult evening Spanish classes and later on this afternoon meet up with a conversational group. There is also a fan belt that has been riding on the dash of my truck for the past six weeks. I don't want to wait until I'm installing it on the side of the highway some snowy morning.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Sister's Fat Ass (not my term)

Yesterday was my sister Jean's 50th birthday. She belongs to a trail running club and there is a term for an informal organized winter running event called a Fat Ass, purportedly to be coined from the state of behind that people may experience during the wintry months. An off road circuit is marked and runners are invited to bring food and drink. Her course was 5.17 miles with the option of covering up to six laps. She had been planning it for months.

Last week it occurred to me to look into airfare rates and discovered that they were quite inexpensive and I had the week of so I decided I would go help celebrate. I flew out Thursday to Boston and drove up to her house in Lisbon, Maine. I went for a run there on Friday and was made a bit nervous by the raw wind. I thought it might make for an unpleasant outing if it were to continue the following day.

Saturday morning came and a caravan of cars began to stream up her long driveway at about 8AM. A lot of Lycra-clad thirty-somethings placed all kinds of goodies on the picnic table on her terrace and greeted one another. There was little wind and it was rather pleasant. A group of about twenty-five had gathered and were standing around chatting, waiting for the call to be given for us to head out.

Jean led the way and we all followed her out around the edges of the fields near and not so near her house. The trail was well-marked but if it weren't for the markings no one would know there was a trail. There was a variety of surfaces from mowed lawn, to clumpy meadow, to soggy bogs, frozen snowmobile trails, glare ice better suited to skates, crusty and slushy snow, mud, etc. and all of were in a different state on each lap.

The group that stuck with my sister would eventually be the ones that would go the farthest. Those in the middle were running slower and going shorter distances and there were walkers that were going to do one or two laps. I had the main group in sight for most of the first lap; they finished the first trip around about four minutes ahead of me. They were about ready to head out from the picnic table when I came in. I got to run with a few people for a few minutes here and there, but on the whole the running was a rather solitary experience, which it usually is for me anyway.

I had planned on doing three laps. I was conditioned to do fifteen miles or so. When I finished the third lap I could tell I would be able to do another so I headed out again after gobbling some brownies and Gatorade. I think a couple people did five laps and three finished all six. I woke up at 2:30AM (12:30 Colorado time) the following morning for my return trip to Boulder. I felt so good that I think if I had stayed I would have done the other two laps that next day. Instead I sat for hours and hours on planes and read "Born to Run". I think if I were to have read the book on the flight out there I would have felt compelled to do all six laps.

After getting back to Boulder and on a scale I thought that maybe the term came from the extra girth one may add from eating all the goodies. One would think that losing weight would be a given after running 21 miles plus the six the day before but I find it is easy to consume 4000 extra calories when I've really only earned the right to eat 3000 extra.

In Maine the restaurants cater to a clientele that expects to be filled up. I had a small order of onion rings on the way from Boston that easily would have been a satisfying side for six people. I ordered a clam roll from what appeared to me to be the place to be for the over-sixty crowd in Lewiston. I received an order of fried whole clams that was enough to fill four rolls. Sweet potato fries seem to be the rage there as well. Just those three dishes probably added 3000 extra calories.

Although the term for the event may conjure certain images or reactions the reality of twenty-five people coming together to run close to a collective four hundred miles can't be beat for honoring someones fiftieth birthday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pronunciation of the Letters B and C in Spanish

I need to look into how to fix the video. For some reason it wasn't able to be viewed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spanish TPR practice #1

The attached video is for beginning Spanish students. To make the best use of this video, if you are told to stand up, for example, you should actually stand up.
Sitting and just watching will not be enough to learn. Language learning requires your participation!

This is my first video for this purpose; I expect them to get better as I go along.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two Good Weekend Runs

I didn't run at all Monday through Friday. I wanted to, but too many things ran interference and since I've had tendon issues on the bottom of my right heel I haven't worried too much about reduced mileage and rest.

I went out yesterday for a 9.0 mile run and felt the heel aggravated again so I iced it. It was still tender this morning but I figured with an inch of new snow on the ground it would be ok with the extra cushioning. It was. I could have gone farther without difficulty but I ran out of turf. This may sound odd but I don't like to repeat a route or part of one. To go farther I would have needed to break out of the area I was running in. I arrived back at the house having run 9.6 miles. I fell hard twice. The first fall was due to me slowing down on top of a snow-covered concrete pad to go over a fence; it had a quarter inch of perfect ice covering it under the snow. The second fall was due to ice as well. The second I committed my foot to the landing I knew I'd made a mistake. I was on an incline, my left foot slid and as I was falling forward the foot hit a coarse surface and grabbed. My lower leg bent forward under me at the knee and fortunately released just in time or it would have ended up like some of those gruesome football injuries.

My mileage has been in the teens for the past two weeks. I hope to get a couple of midweek runs in so that I get back up into the twenties for now. I'm going to participate in an event on the 20th in Maine. It is called a "fat ass",(I don't know the etymology of the term) but runners stake out a course and run it the number of times that they choose. The loop in this case is 5.17 miles through uneven countryside. One could run the loop up to six times to make it a 50k event. I anticipate running it three times unless the surface conditions are extremely unfavorable. The event is sponsored by my sister for her 50th birthday.