Sunday, February 27, 2011

Papa's Got Some Brand New Shoes

Well, they're not really shoes, and I'm not a biological father . . . they are aqua socks, and my girl is a dog . . . but definitions are subjective, right?

I was wandering through our local Chinese store today and realized they received a new shipment of aqua socks.  They changed their design for the better.  I bought my last pair last year after being a little disappointed in my Vibrams.  And the low cost of the aquas are hard to beat.  Unfortunately, they come in sizes 9-10 and 11-12.  The 9-10 is too small and the 11-12 too big.  The 11-12 are wide enough but a little sloppy in length.  I would prefer 10-11, which is not offered.

The new design has a draw sting instead of last years model that has velcro fasteners on the side.  The velcro comes loose when running in snow or other such things and the sock becomes even more sloppy.  I would have to stop and refasten the valcro several times during a run.  The new design solves this problem.

The aquas are more flexible than vibrams and lighter too.  At 1/10th the cost,  with more comfort, I don't see any reason to consider another.  Merrels look nice, but at $120 a pair,  this doesn't seem very minimalist to me.

Here's a shot of the new (left) and the old (right) and the liner which I have no use for.

I thought a current snap of the foot would be nice too.  The toe is the only part that really hurts.  A condition from running on ice and snow.  This is only recommended for experienced barefoot winter runners like me.  Don't try this at home.  I've run every day on it, so while it hurts a little, it won't stop me.  What it shows is that skin has some limitations.  Some things you have to learn on your own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chuck the Shoes

Pepper and I were welcomed on the Towpath Trail this afternoon with unusually clear sky's, bright sun and warm temperatures - 33 deg F.  We started at mile post 30 at Bath and River Road, ran downstream to mile post 26 and back.  The first 1.75 miles were run in cross country ski tracks so I had the aqua and cotton socks on.  When we got to the Ira Road trail-head, the path was trodden enough by footsteps to excite me about chucking the shoes.  So I did.  I ran the last 6.25 miles barefoot.  Pepper was barefoot the whole run - she's a pro.  The run was invigorating and challenging.  It was a wonderful foot massage.  I recommend it!  The last 1.75 miles were tough since ski tracks aren't wide enough to prevent snow from getting between the toes and on top of the foot.  This means the feet get a little cold and numb.  When running on packed snow, the foot pads get a little cold but the rest (top of the foot, between the toes, side of the foot) stays warm from the effort of running.  It's not hard to handle at all.

A few pics:

Upstream (south)

The sweet simplicity of a crazy man

Downstream (north)

Straw horses

Pepper waiting

Monday, February 21, 2011

Late February Snow

We ran 7.3 today.  It was a fun run in the falling snow.  The wind was biting and the aqua socks slipping (on the hills), I even had icicles forming on my brows.  It was a fast run and we both felt strong.  The snow started this morning and was intermittent until we started our run at 3.  We started in 2 inches of snow and a visual white out.  As I write, we've received 6 inches - I need to shovel again.  Our respite form the arctic cover is over and the joy of winter is back.  I do love winter.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shorts and Shoeless in Ohio

Yea!  Ran another 7.2 barefoot today (Thursday - I'm posting this late so it shows as Friday - I need to get to bed).  55 deg at the start.  55 deg at the finish. And it was fast today.  This was our 5th barefoot run in February.  We only logged three barefoot runs last month.  Aqua socks are good for the cold and rain, but barefoot is the desired standard!

Pepper and I ran our 7.2 loop from home to Water Works, around Silver Lake and back home.  The 0.8 mile section along the bike and hike trail from Water Works to Silver lake was tricky.  It was icy and therefore slippery.  No falls were recorded.  The feet (mine, not Pepper's - of course I guess that's obvious, since she has paws) held up well.  They're a little tender now and a little bruised - nothing to worry about.  In addition to the ice, half of the pavement was wet, which does not allow the skin to hold up for long.  We ran in the dark because I took advantage of the unusual warmth to change the oil and wash the truck

I rarely run in the dark because naturally, I would prefer to see all the imperfections in the path I take.  At night, you have to rely on feel much more.  It's a challenge.  It also provides for a different type of mentality.  The sun shows the path, so when rocks and debris present themselves, the laser focus of your eyesight will guide you to an alternative rout.  At night, most obstacles are muted and not obvious, so the trust of the feel of your feet is more acute and necessary.  The icy section of today's run was interesting since there were no streetlights (it wasn't pitch black though).  When running on a "technical" trail like this, vision of the path is critical.  With tonight's reduced visual sense, I had to rely on feel and balance.  It got slippery at times, but as I said; no falls were reported.  Running on streets at night aren't normally difficult as the streetlights provide adequate light.  The challenge is the debris on the road during, and for a short time, after winter.  Dirt, salt crystals, small pebbles and the like can make for an adventurous run.  I relied on feel more than on sight.  It's a different mental experience.

I wore shorts and a short sleeve technical shirt (my YUT-C shirt).  I took bandanna for head sweat and that's it!  An unusual wardrobe for mid February.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Faster Barefoot

We ran another 6 miles barefoot today.  Out and back from the homestead to Glens Trail and the Gorge Trail.  I know, you're saying, "how can you punish your dog like that!"  But, I'm here to tell you, she wasn't born with shoes, nor was I, and we both run better without them.  I've been analyzing my running data, and I can say with confidence, I am faster barefoot.  The data does not lie.

Not only that, I feel like a better runner when barefoot.  I know I am more aware of the ground when barefoot.  I think putting yourself in that position, when you have to think about the ground, what it's made of and how it's going to affect your feet makes you run lighter, more gentle, and how to run with conscience thought of what your footfalls are doing to you.

And, I run with less pain.  Yea, my left hip has been aggravating me lately.  It's a family thing.  Arthritis.  My sister, only 16 months my senior, will replace her hip soon.  My Dad has already done it.  Am I next?  I'm gonna' try to run away from the problem.  I don't know if I can, but I'm gonna' try.  So, has the last two months of running in mostly aqua socks corrupted my form, causing more pain, or is the pain genetically inevitable?  We'll see how the spring goes.

It was a wonderful run today.  I felt strong.  I powered up hills and sped down descents with reckless abandon.  The sun was shining.  The trail was firmly packed snow (for the most part) and the streets brought a welcome warmth to the tootsies.  Also, I began my run on an empty stomach.  I drank a chia freska before the run but had not eaten since breakfast - a good 6 hours prior.  Recent runs have left me wanting for more stamina.  But, those runs were prefaced by lunch an hour before.  Does this mean Grok knows what he's doing?  Do I understand?

Twice, after passing, I heard a kid asking his/her parent, "Mom, did you see that? He didn't have any shoes on?"  I chuckled }0)  It's not necessary to tell anyone - "I'm not normal."  What could be more perfect, a past time that projects exactly who you are.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dirty Dog Race Report

49 of us toed the line today in Courtland, Ohio.  We started at 9am.  I like these later starts.  It gives you a chance to get there without feeling rushed.  The course was through woods mostly with some sections next to Mosquito lake.  On the drive there, the sunrise was amazing with partly cloudy skys.  The yellows and oranges were spectacular.  Once I got to the race, the clouds moved in and we had our typical dingy gray day.  Half the trails were in good condition with good traction.  The other half was like running through deep sand.  The tough conditions lead to some slow times and a lot of sweat.  Another good run put on by my club, The N.E. Ohio Trail Club.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I need medicine after today's bitter cold and windy 4.5 run.  Not ambitious, but we were there.  We ran on Cuy Falls side streets.  They were greasy and slow.  The scarf came in handy with the howling wind.

Listening to Andrew Bird - excellent!