Monday, February 28, 2011

Merrell Trail Glove last

Merrell Trail gloves have it the store shelves and I was able to get a pair yesterday. I had a bit of a long run planned yesterday so I decided to try them out on a shorter run today.

I think Merrell is going to take over the "barefoot" market with this shoe. I think the most important feature of this shoe is it's toe box form. I normally need a EE in any running shoe and they still never feel right. The shoe feels as if someone from Merrell made a cast of my foot and then designed the shoe.

The Trail Glove has about the same feel as the Vibram FiveFingers but with a bit thicker sole, enough so that I won't feel that I have to pay attention to every foot placement on a rocky trail. (One year to the day that I wore the FiveFingers for the first time) I also wore these shoes all day at work before I went for my 4.1 mile maiden run and they were comfortable the entire time; I can not tolerate regular running shoes on my feet if I'm not running.

I do a fair amount of my running in the barefoot style even though I wear my old Asics most of the time but I find that with the Asics I can let go with heel striking on some of the smoother downhills that I encounter. The Merrell keeps me honest about barefoot form and I know I will have sore calves tomorrow because of it.

For my run this afternoon there wasn't much of a variety of conditions to test out traction. I was mostly on compacted dirt, but they seem to hold traction in some mud and packed grasses. I did run in some areas with rocks but never felt one under foot.

I am very happy with them. My son should be happy with the the three other pairs of shoes I bought before these since the fall and was never able to run in. I should have known it would be Merrell that finally pleased me in running footwear; I've worn Merrell casual open-back shoes for several years now. Too bad I only had the money to buy the shoes and not some stock in the company.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Last night the Boulder running community enjoyed a special treat. Anton Krupicka's girlfriend Jocelyn is involved with the Center for Energy and Environmental Security through the University of Colorado Law School. She put on a fund raiser for the organization that brought together Christpher McDougall, Scott Jurek, and Anton Krupicka to share some of their running experiences. The court room of the Wolf Law Building probably exceeded its capacity by 100 people.

Timmy O'Neill (I don't know who he is but clearly a local comedian) had made a hilarious and rather silly film about wanting to become an ultra-runner and seeking out Scott Jurek to train with. He also livened up the room with some entertaining antics before the running gods spoke. The director of the CEES had also prepared a humorous monologue about his take on ultra running.

Tony spoke first and through slides shared his development as an ultra runner with us. It was interesting to know that his inspiration to run came from a book bought in a second hand shop and that he ran his first marathon at 12 years old. He spoke of runners who influenced him, his mediocrity as a runner in high school and college, and his training as he moved into the world of ultrarunning.

Through a response to a later question about avoiding injury he shared a good rule about training; he said that sustainability was important and in training he tries to run only what he could go out and repeat day after day. Of course what he can do day after day and what I can do day after day are different but it can be built upon slowly.

McDougall Krupicka Jurek

Roes (red cap), Jurek at microphone, Krupicka to right

Jurek explains
Krupicka (blue shirt) listens

McDougall speaks

Jurek and McDougall spoke next and they mostly spoke to Luis Escobar (also present) slides about the Mexico trip that was recounted in Born to Run. There was little new insight to the adventure but it was fun to hear it from the two of them live and in person. Their enthusiasm was the same as if they had just come back from the trip and were telling about it for the first time.

I hung around for the raffle afterwards. Geoff Roes (2010 Western States winner) was recruited to draw the numbers and Scott announcing the prizes and calling out the numbers. There were lots of prizes and I won a winter beanie, socks, and gloves. There was a brief question and answer session and autograph signing. I had brought the book (I told McDougall that it was the family bible). It was getting late and I didn't want to wait in two more lines for Scott and Tony so I split although waiting may have increased the potential value of the book some day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No Inov8s for me :(

My old Asics have been serving me well even though I don't think I have a pair with less than 1000 miles on them. I've been running most of the winter with sheet metal screws in one pair. I thought I'd try to get a pair of Inov8s but I couldn't find a pair that I felt would work for me. Three pair were clearly too narrow, like racing flats and another was Gortex. The closest to what I was looking for was the Rocklite 295 but it was a bit sloppy in the heel even with appropriate lacing and the forefoot was too tight in width. I tried them without the inserts and that did provide more room but lost what little comfort they had.

I looked for any other wide trail shoe there might be and found the Brooks Adrenaline in a EE to be suitable. I took them out for a 5.3 mile run today in packed snow, slush, ice, and pavement and they were ok. They allowed me to run with an appropriate foot strike without the heel getting in the way, but it was there if I wanted to cruise downhill on pavement. The traction was nice; I haven't had that all winter except for the screws. They have trail traction but not much up front for protection in rocky terrain. I wasn't in any today.

One should always be skeptical of a shoe review based on one short outing so check back in a month to see if I'm still relatively content.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Triangulation, Honesty, and Culture

I enjoyed a three hour solo run yesterday afternoon. I can't say exactly how long I was out and I can't say exactly how far I ran; I use the iphone as my measuring device but part way into the snowy wet run I discovered that it was getting wet even in the Zip-lock baggie and it was inexplicably displaying Facebook, sharing that a high school friend of my sister's enjoyed the Mellencamp concert, instead of presenting my up-to-the-second data on MapMyRun. I decided I should shut it off and try to dry it out; I put it inside a couple of extra gloves I had brought along. I would be off the grid and have to reconstruct my data; my elevation gain, mileage, and time would all be estimates now.

My experience is that runners generally tend to be honest. I think I've read a discussion before about whether running makes one honest or whether running appeals to honest people. I think part of it is that runners constantly face undeniable personal truths. Our challenges are with ourselves. Collectively, this contributes to the character of the runner's culture. I define culture as the actualization of the unwritten rules that we follow to survive. Running is often done alone but through common experience a runner can connect with a runner from anywhere. Second to second triangulation of my location helps me document the honest facts of my running.

On Wednesday GPS helped me determine the facts about the dishonest disappearance of said iphone. It was on my desk for most of the day (I teach at an alternative high school) but I left for a while to make some copies and evidently forgot to lock the door to the classroom. Through a trial offer of FamilyMap by AT&T I was able to determine the location of the phone and cross reference that to the address of a student. The center of the GPS circle placed the phone at the driveway side of the house. When the police showed up, the student removed the phone from her backpack that was sitting right there by the door leading to the driveway.

The student lied about taking it, saying she had merely found it in the girl's bathroom. In the course of the investigation a friend of hers gave her up saying that he witnessed her taking it. These kids live in a culture where the the only running they do is from the police, and the unwritten rules are you tell a lie instead of the truth, if no one is looking you take it, and you don't snitch because you wouldn't want someone to do that to you. And you get mad at the people who catch you and you blame the victim.

Maybe running should be part of the correctional process. Notice I didn't say punishment; I would never want someone to run as punishment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Running with People - kind of

Being off for two "inclement weather" days gave me a little extra time so looked into joining a trail running club and found Boulder Trail Runners. There are runs every day and night. I decided to go meet up for one last night out near Boulder Reservoir. There were six of us and the temperature was minus six. It was very dark so I never saw a face, just bright halogen headlamps and backsides. The pace seemed a little faster than what I usually run. It was also difficult to discern the grade but I felt that we were running up a two to three percent grade for a ways at a good clip. Three runners ended up about fifty yards ahead a two about fifty yards behind. We eventually came to a gate and we all reunited and ran as a group from there after one fellow headed off in a different direction to go home. I was able to make some acquaintances in the next few minutes. The pace also seemed to start to taper a bit; at that point though I was used to the pace and could have kept it up. At 5.6 miles we were back to the parking lot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Outdoors to Myself

The temperature plunged from a high of almost 70 on Saturday when shorts and a T-shirt were suitable running wear to yesterday when the high temperature reached 0 degrees as you can see from the screen shot. I waited until the "warm" part of the afternoon before starting my run. The school districts around here called an "inclement weather" day for yesterday and today; there were concerns about students waiting for buses and walking in the cold. City buses that many kids take to school tend to have significant delays with any kind of weather issue. Also, since winter weather here can often be handled with not much more than a hoodie for such tasks as waiting for a bus, many kids don't seem to even have adequate cold weather gear.

I've noticed comments on other blogs of runners coming from warm climates in which they ask what to wear to keep warm. Typically it's not all that cold here in the winter but zero is probably considered cold for most anybody. Yesterday I wore a fleece hat, windbreaker, fleece top over a thermal top, with thermal tights. Hands and feet don't seem to be much of an issue to keep warm. I wore a cheap pair of cotton gloves and wool running socks although I'm sure I would have been fine with regular synthetic socks. Traction was quite good with an inch of squeaky underfoot.

I ran roughly southwest from the house on terrain that around here is called Open Space. Open Space is land that has been purchased by the county or city to maintain undeveloped. It may be leased back to farmers or ranchers for livestock to graze. There were no cows out yesterday. I did see what I suspect were coyote tracks in the snow because dogs are not usually out in that area without human company. The run was rather pleasant until I turned around after about 4 miles and discovered I the wind had been at my back the entire time and that a snow squall had been following me and finally caught up. My face felt the effects of wind chill on the return with the snow wanting to freeze my eyelashes together.

I ended the run with 8 miles in about an hour and 20 minutes. I also reached 100 miles for the year. I wanted to do that by January 31st, not February 1st but I'm OK with that; I missed running 19 days in January because of work, a cold, and other obligations that stole priority.