Friday, December 30, 2011

Viva VIVOBAREFOOT! Neo Trail Review

As you know, I have spent a bit of time researching a good cold weather, minimalist trail shoe for those times (like now) that I am not able to run in my huaraches.  After a lot of research and agonizing, I decided on the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails.  Well, they arrived yesterday, and I've never been more excited about getting new shoes! And my wife reminded me of the "new shoes" song (which is posted below) :-) But I digress...  anyway, I had to hit the trail bright and early this morning of course!!

Before I jump into a review of my impressions, please note that these are my first minimalist shoes, and my only other experience has been with my 6mm Contacts huaraches from Invisible Shoes.  So, I can't give any comparison to other barefoot shoes (or bareshoes, minimalist, natural running shoes... whatever you want to call them!).  I can only compare them to my sandals, old running shoes, and of course barefoot!

Yesterday after the shoes arrived, I put them on and wore them around the house, and out and about just to get a feel for them.  Immediately after putting them on, I noticed a certain amount of toe spring (which I expected from reading other reviews), however it was really only most noticeable when standing or walking.  Also, after putting a few miles on them, it was not nearly as apparent.

Also, I was happy with the toe box and width, as they fit well, and still allowed good room for spreading/flexing my toes as needed.  The lacing was snug, and it was so great to put on a full shoe with a zero drop from the heel.  I also really like the lug pattern on the bottom, and was hopeful they would provide good winter traction.

The shoes also came with 3mm insole, which ultimately I removed for better ground feel. The outsoles are 3mm, with 5mm lugs, so without the insole, the thickness was close to that of my 6mm Contact huarches.  I probably would leave the insoles out, but I can see using them if you were new to minimalist shoes, or needed an extra layer of insulation against the frozen ground.. otherwise it just serves to muffle the feedback from the ground.

So, this morning I put them on to climb the Manitou Incline, and to make the run down Barr Trail (4.5 mi).  We had a lot of snow last week, and much of it was still around, but had been compacted, melted, and refrozen in many sections.  I left my YakTrax behind, hoping to see what kind of traction I would get from these shoes. In retrospect, I should have carried them along, but more on that in a bit.

Heading up the Incline, a good portion of it was covered with compacted snow and ice.

Here the Neo Trails performed very well..  I only had a slight slip in a few spots of solid ice, but otherwise the grip was strong.  Also, they just felt really comfortable... and warm! That was my other requirement.  I did wear Injinji toe socks this morning, but had a feeling that I could have gone barefoot in them without too many issues.  I could still feel the cold seeping up through the sole, much like on my huaraches, but that is the tradeoff for a better ground feel.

Upon reaching the summit, it was time to put them through a good trail run.  The Barr Trail from the top of the Incline is mostly downhill, with a few flat and short uphill sections.  At 6 am all the sections that had melted the day before had frozen over solid.  What I learned (some what painfully), is that as long as there was some kind of variation in the surface, the lugs on the Neo Trails would grab... but, on some sections where the ice had frozen some what smoothly, no such luck.  Granted, these are areas that you would only get traction on provided you had YakTrax, or spikes/screws etc.  What made it worse was that it was just starting to warm up, so the ice was developing a nice wet surface.

I did fine, taking it easy, until about halfway down. Things were feeling great and I picked up the downhill pace.. only to hit an icy section with no way to slow down.  Needless to say, I found myself laid flat out on the trail, wondering what happened :-).

Here's a few shots of the flat and down hill trail conditions:

So, aside from the pratfalls I took on the ice, it was a good run down, and the shoes performed well.  In many ways, the ground feel through the soles was very much like wearing my 6mm huaraches, only with the extra protection and warmth around my foot.  This was helpful for those times that I would drag across a larger rock etc.  I was also quickly reminded of the minimal sole when I made a misstep, and stepped squarely on a sharp medium sized rock.. which promptly elicited an s-bomb...   (is it considered cursing if you are in the middle of the woods and no one is around to hear it??).  Anyway, that did a good job of reminding me that just because it felt like wearing a traditional shoe, I had to keep focused as much as in my huaraches or barefoot.

One of the best things about this test run was how great my legs/knees felt. Since we've had so much snow, I've been relegated to running in my old chunky heeled running shoes, and even though I worked very hard at maintaining the "natural" running style and avoided heel striking,  the fact that the heels were so thick, was creating bad knee pains that just continued to get worse.  I really wanted to shave them off! (the heels, not my knees). So, getting back to a zero drop shoe allowed everything to click back into place, and it was such a relief to run without pain.

So, there you have it... my first impressions of the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails.  I plan to put a lot more miles on these, as we still have bit of winter to go.  After a few more months, I'll have better feedback on durability etc.  So far, the only negatives I have on these are the price of the shoes, and the cost to ship ($15!), too bad the nearest retail shop to Colorado is in New York City! But, it seems that, at least for now, quality minimalist trail shoes are going to be expensive.

If I've missed anything, let me know... I'd be happy to share my experiences.   I'll leave with the obligatory sunrise picture from summit of the Incline...  you all are probably getting tired of them, but I'm not!

Have a very safe and Happy New Year...   looking forward to a great 2012!  And stay tuned as I'll be launching the Happy and Healthy 2012 Contest next week!



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jeff 2.0 and more contest info!

So today I had a check up with my Dr, primarily as a follow up to my initial appointment a year ago.  What a difference a year makes! Moving to a healthier lifestyle by focusing on whole foods, avoiding processed foods, exercising regularly have all contributed to a great year.  No longer a candidate for cholesterol medications, I have dropped down to the "normal" range. My blood pressure was 108/60 ( I didn't have high BP before, but normally was around the 120/80 range).  Resting pulse rate down to 61 (used to be 75-80). And I'm down almost 40 lbs.  

So... I will start the new year as Jeff  version 2.0!  The best part of all of this is that I was never looking at this from a point of "once I get my cholesterol under control, and my weight down, I can go back to eating or doing blah blah blah".   For once in my life I got to this point with complete and permanent lifestyle changes... as my doctor said, this is my "new" normal! 

So, for a "Healthy and Happy 2012", I will just continue to do what I'm doing, add more distance and events to my running, and see where I end up.

And speaking of 2012, I am excited to announce the sponsors of the contest giveaway that will begin next week.  Look forward to great prizes from Invisible Shoes, Road ID, and Pikes Peak Sports!!

So stay tuned.. I'll announce stuff next week.  In the meantime, have a great week, and a safe and happy New Years eve!

Jeff (2.0)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! And a Happy & Healthy 2012!

Just a quick note to wish everyone one a very Merry Christmas!  Take time to be thankful for all the blessings we have, and enjoy the precious time with family and friends near and far.

Looks like a white Christmas in Colorado!  Below are a few pics that I took on the way back down from the Incline on Thursday.. 

Also, stay tuned for a Happy and Healthy 2012 contest that I'll be running the first week of the New Year...  I've enjoyed participating in a number of blogger contests (and actually won a few), so it's time to give back.  Be on the lookout for some terrific prizes from some of my favorite companies!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shop local, Run local

For those of you that have been following along, you know that I am a bit addicted to climbing the Manitou Incline, followed by a run down the Barr Trail.  I run it 2 or 3 times per week, and its around a 30 mile round trip drive up and down Ute Pass to get there.

For a change of pace, I decided to stick around home, but get a good trail run in today since it was so beautiful. Believe it or not, a really terrific trail (Lovell Gulch) is less than a mile from my house. I've hiked and biked parts of it, but have never been around the entire loop.  

If you go to the link above, you'll see that its about a 5.5 mile loop, with a 900 ft elevation gain.  I believe the highest point is the farthest eastern part of the trail near Rampart Range Rd.

It is mostly single and double track, with some great ups and downs through mountain meadows, gulches, and ridges with amazing views.  Here's a pic from the first part of the loop going counterclockwise (recommended)

The first section is a pretty steady climb, leading up to Rampart Range Rd, where it reaches a peak, and then follows the power lines for a bit. 

From here the trail heads West, offering more downhill (thankfully), and some great views of Pikes Peak and our little town of Woodland Park

After a bit of a drop, there is a pretty steep climb on the western end of the trail, finally reaching the top of a really crazy drop that I am sure MTB'ers LOVE...  I just got a pic as I reached it, but you can't really see the drop down the hill.  Glad I had Yaktrax on to help with the braking on the way down!

Anyway... such an amazing morning... it was in the mid 40's when I was up there.  The sky was that deep blue/black color that I love in the Colorado Rockies..  and the sun was warming up the pines and the smell of the breeze was incredible.

So, what did I learn, other than the fact that I had been neglecting one amazing trail run right in my back yard?  I learned that I really need to work on running uphill! Granted, the Incline is an intense climb, but for me it's a steady grind up steep steps.  Trying to maintain a running pace up these hills... especially at 9,000 ft (2700+ m), was tough... I was sucking wind, and walked 50% of the time up the steeper uphills.  But, I did the 5.6 miles (9 km) in 1:19, which I'm not too unhappy with.  At least now I have a goal to knock that down to an hour or less.  And, I realized after finishing, that this was the longest run I had done to date, so that was cool.

I will absolutely be back on this trail, and soon. I can't wait to run it in the summer either in my huaraches or barefoot.  I think it offers great variety, a good training distance (maybe someday I'll do two loops), beautiful scenery, and it's so close.

Anyway, just another example of thinking locally... support local business, buy food grown locally, and run local too!

Hope you all have a great week! I'll leave you with this little passage from Walt Whitman in the late 1800's that I borrowed from Barefoot Ted:

"I would advise that each runner leave shoes and stockings at home, but of course this should be optional with the individual; next to bare feet are sandals, next to sandals moccasins, next to moccasins, soft, low shoes."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meteor Shower - 0, Snow Shower - 1

I knew that last night and tonight were the best times to view the Geminid meteor shower, so I was really hoping to see some if it before dawn this morning from the Incline.... however when I left home this morning around 5am, it was just starting to snow.  So, no meteors, but I was looking forward to climbing and running in the snow this morning.

Unfortunately, it was really only snowing up here in Woodland Park, and by the time I got to the bottom of the pass, there was no snow, just a little overcast.  Oh well, at least it was fairly warm.. around 35F (2C).

I didn't bring any YakTrax today (I had borrowed some before, and I have ordered some online, but they haven't arrived).  So, instead I grabbed my $12 Nike trail type shoe since they had better traction than my running shoes..   bad call..  first of all they are heavy... who knew that a few extra ounces would make a difference, but when you are climbing straight up you feel it right away!  I guess I should look at it as a better workout :-)  And I got a few hot spots near the bottom...  1/2 mile longer and I would have had blisters.

If it doesn't snow anymore between now and Friday, I should be able to go back to my Invisible Shoe and Injinji sock combo.

Since winter isn't going anywhere, I finally settled on ordering the Vivobarefoot Neo Trails for winter trail running. It was a tough call because there are some really great minimalist trail shoes out there like the Merrell Trail Glove, and the New Balance Minimus.  After reading numerous reviews, I've decided the Vivo's would be best for my needs.  I need a winter shoe, with good traction, and good proprioception (I love that word!).  My intent is not to use them for road running, or for warmer weather (these shoes can get hot), as I would default back to my sandals then.   If you want to know more, check out this video review, that provides a comparison to the other two shoes mentioned.

Anyway...  I can't wait for them to arrive, and I'll provide a full report!

Here is the obligatory photo form the top of the Incline, on the way down, and a shot of the snow I came home to.  Trying out an app on my iPod touch, hence the watermark.. but I like the program, so will spring for the $1.99 full version :-)

Have a great day!

I have no idea how far I ran or how long it took me, but I do know that all the crap that was swimming around inside my head is now laying on the street behind me. -M. Van Staaveren


Friday, December 9, 2011

Running into the new year..

Since we are approaching the end of the year, I know many folks start thinking about New Year's resolutions and such.  This year I am so thankful not to have "eat right and exercise" at the top of my list of things to do in the new year, because I've already been doing them for almost a year now. That feels really good. But, I think it's great to set goals, and a new year is always a perfect opportunity for that.

Each day I realize how important it is to me to have some kind of event on my calendar in order to stay motivated to keep moving and improving. Knowing that I have something coming up in the next month (5K etc), keeps me running and working out on a regular basis.

For that reason, I signed up for a membership at Pikes Peak Road Runners so that I can get discounted entry fees on hosted races next year.  Then, I went to the Running in the USA website because its such a great resource for finding upcoming events in any area. 

I know this is going to sound crazy (especially to me!), but I have gone ahead and put on my calendar specific running events next year, with the ultimate goal of running a 1/2 marathon by the end of next summer. Of course, I'll still be doing the Incline at least twice a week, because I'm addicted and I love it. I think its a reasonable goal, but I say this having only run 5k's, and my longest unofficial run being about 5.5 mi.  But hey, here it is, and will be cool to look back on this post a year from now and see how I did:

Sat. January 7th:  Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sat. January 14th: PPRR Winter Series Race 1 - 3.3M

Sat. January 28th: PPRR Winter Series Race 2 - 4M

Sat. February 4th: Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sun. February 5th: PPRR Super 1/2 Marathon and 5K - 3.1M

Sat. February 11th: PPRR Winter Series Race 3 - 5M

Sat. February 25th: PPRR Winter Series Race 4 - 6.2M

Sat. March 3rd: Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sat. April 7th: Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sat. April 14th: PPRR Tortoise and Hare 5K - 3.1M

Sat. May 5th: Take 5 in the Garden - 5M

Sat. May 19th: Run to the Shrine - 10K (6.2M)

Mon. May 28th: Bolder Boulder 10K - 6.2M

Sat. June 2nd: Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sun. June 10th: Garden of the Gods 10 Mile - 10M

Sat. July 7th: Monthly Nielsen Challenge - 2M

Sat. August 4th: The Top Ten Mile Race - 10M

Sat. August 18th: Leadville Trail 100 mi run... HAH... NOT  :-)

Sun. August 19th: Warrior Dash Rockies - 3.2M with obstacles!

Mon. September 3rd: American Discovery Trail 1/2 Marathon - 13.1M

Ok.. that's as far as I got.  Honestly, just typing this has made me tired :-)  Beyond this, I know I want to do the PPRR Fall Series in October as well.

Anyway, I think this is reasonable to work up to a 1/2 marathon, but I guess we'll see how it goes.  Any advice and feedback is appreciated!

"Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring." - Jimmy Carter

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Injinji Outdoor Series Toe Socks Review

As promised, here is a follow up to the review I did on the Injinji Performance Series Toe Socks in mid November.

As you know, I love trail running and climbing the Manitou Incline in my huaraches from Invisible Shoes.  As winter has arrived, I've been looking at ways to keep running in them, but trying to stay warmer at the same time! After trying the Performance Series, I talked to the folks at Injinji and they were kind enough to send me two pairs of the Outdoor Series to try out.

The key difference between the two series is in the fabric content.  The Performance series uses a blend of 70% Coolmax (poly fiber), 25% nylon, and 5% Lycra. The Outdoor series uses 70% nuwool (Injinji's Australian merlino wool instead of the Coolmax).

Although both series boast the patented 5-sleeve seamless design for the toes, I found that I had a much easier time getting a nice fit from the Outdoor series, versus the non-wool Performance series. They had a really nice feel to them, and I seemed to have an easier time getting all toes in snug, and them staying there (my little toe seems to not want to part with his neighbor very easily).

For my first test, I ran a 5K in the neighborhood, on a slightly breezy day, with the temps right around 35F (2C). I wore one Outdoor Series original weight mini-crew on one foot, and the same weight in the Performance series on the other foot.  From a warmth perspective, I noticed a significant difference between the two.  Primarily, when the breeze kicked up, I could really feel it much more in the Performance series sock, but it was barely noticeable in the Outdoor.  The cold I could feel coming up off the frozen pavement was more noticeable in both, with only a very slight advantage in the Outdoor. I've noticed that even running with the 6mm "Contacts" from Invisible Shoe, the transfer of cold off of frozen surfaces is pretty quick. Guess I need to keep my feet moving more quickly!

In addition to the "original weight" socks, I also tried out the "Lightweight" Outdoor Series sock, in a "no show" cut.  As you can see in the picture, this cut rides lower than the mini-crew. I originally avoided that cut, thinking it may not work as well with my sandals, but as you can see in the picture below, the design works very well with the heel cords on my sandals.  I took these socks up the Incline, and 3.5 mi down the Barr Trail one early morning when the temp was right around 32F (0C) when I started. As you would expect, the "lightweight" version was thinner than the original weight, however to me it felt like I got the same temperature control out of them.  My feet stayed warm, even through the wind, and I really like the feel of the thinner material.  One concern I had with the original weight material of these socks was the fact that it muffled some of the groundfeel that I was used to. With this thinner material, that was much less noticeable.

Injinji notes that the Outdoor Series materials are designed to provide good temperature control, providing warmth when it is cold, and cooling when it is warm.  Granted, if its warm, I'm not going to be wearing socks, so I can't speak to that.  But I do know that the wool blend in these socks is terrific.

Finally, on Friday I ran the Incline/Barr Trail again, with sub-freezing temps, and about 3+ inches of new snow. Because of the snow/ice, I opted to run in regular running shoes, yak trax, and the original weight Injinji Outdoor Series.  Again, the socks were very comfortable, and I had no issues staying warm.

So, after all this fiddling around, I am going to stick with the Outdoor Series, Lightweight, no-show cut version.  I really like the warmth I get from them, combined with the very comfortable fit and minimal interference with my sandals. They are absolutely worth the few extra $'s over the Performance Series.  I've heard from other runners that they really like these socks in regular shoes also, as the toe sleeves help prevent blistering.  I'm guessing that the lightweight versions may also work with with VFF's, however I don't have any experience in running in those, with or without socks, so I can't comment.

On a side note, I did follow the manufacturers recommendation to hand wash these socks in mild soap, and to let them air dry (easy to do with Colorado's single digit humidity). I figure at $12-$16 per pair, I'm want them to last!  Also, I've found that after repeated wearing, the socks begin to take shape to your foot/toes, and each time I put them on, it takes less time and they stay put.

Wow.. ok, if you've taken this much time to read about toes socks and minimalist sandals, then you are as crazy as I am :-)

Good luck, stay warm, and happy running!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reasons I run #17: Pumpkin Cheesecake

So yesterday for my birthday, my wife ordered an amazing pumpkin cheesecake.. one of the best I've had (next to the Chocolate Guinness version from the same bakery).  So yes, cheese cake is decadent, and not necessarily the healthiest, but so what? It tastes amazing, and I don't eat one every day!

The point is, there are always special occasions, and reasons to live life and enjoy these kinds of things.  Where we get in trouble is when every day becomes a special occasion :-).  You could eat three meals from McDonald's one day each week (although not sure why you would want to), and spend the other days of the week just eating "real" food, and you would be fine from a health perspective.  Granted, I am not a dietician, but you get my point.  So if you focus on consistently eating well, and exercising, then take advantage of those periodic opportunities to indulge yourself, and go for the good stuff!

From a running perspective, I did the Incline last week on Tuesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving), and was happy to finally start moving my time down, cutting 2 minutes off on Tuesday, and another minute on Thanksgiving.  My goal is to break the 40 minute mark for the climb before the end of the year.   These 1 mile climbs followed by a 3.5 mile trail run back down twice a week have done wonders to offset my cheesecake forays!  I've also been trying to work in at least two 5k runs a week around the neighborhood.

Also, after I go again on Thursday this week, I'll post up a review of the Injinji Outdoor Series toe socks I've been testing with my Invisible Shoes.

Have a great week!

"Preserving the health by too strict a regimen is a
wearisome malady." - Fran├žois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More socks... and a thank you

Just realized that I've been blogging about 6 weeks already... time flies when you are having fun. So, for those of you that have been following along, reading, commenting, and posting on the Facebook page, thank you!

Blogging has been a great way to journal my random thoughts, and talk about some of the things that are important to me.  What I didn't realize was how many great people I would "meet", and how much I enjoy reading all the other great blogs out there.  From a barefoot/minimalist perspective, it's been great to network with others and to learn so much. I've also enjoyed taking time to talk about recipes and healthy eating as well. 

Now.. on to toe socks, because I know that's at the top of everyone's minds these days :-).  About two weeks ago I did a review of the Injinji Performance Series toe socks, and how they performed with my Invisible Shoe huaraches.  Well, the fine folks at Injinji have sent me a couple pairs of the "Outdoor Series" toe socks that I will be testing out over the next week, so by the end of next week I should have a new review on this series, how they worked, and how they compare to the Performance Series.  I will be testing out the original weight outdoor series in a mini-crew length, as well as the light weight outdoor series in a new "no show" cut.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my sometimes random ramblings.  If you have any ideas or feedback you'd like to share, please do!

"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." -Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let's eat!

A quick note before the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow.  We are in the midst of the holiday season, filled with great celebrations, and more often than not, filled with lots of food centric activities.  Don't get me wrong, I love to eat and I love good food.... I just hope that more people take the time to truly "know" what they are eating. Before I jump on a soapbox, please understand that I am not a dietician or physician (although it would be fun to play one on TV). I'm just a normal guy from a normal family that decided we would be much better served by eating well.

I shared an article earlier this week on Facebook about the addition of cellulose (wood fiber) to a wide variety of processed foods.  If you missed it, click here to read it. Over the past year, our family has worked really hard to eliminate processed foods from our diet, and to focus on whole foods, preferably organic, and ideally local. And for those other items we buy, we have made a concerted effort to read labels, and to avoid those things that have ingredients that are not recognizable as "food".  It's certainly not easy, because if you stick to those rules, you've eliminated 90% of what can be found in most grocery stores. By focusing on eating this way, my wife and I have both lost weight, our boys are amazing healthy, and I've managed to drastically reduce my cholesterol.  As as side benefit, I've become much more physically active.

So, as we head into this holiday season, my wish for everyone is that they don't count calories, don't become fixated on fat intake, sugar intake, carbohydrates, or any other dietary fad or focus.  Instead, just truly understand and know exactly what it you are eating, and do what you can to make sure its real food ingredients.  If you want some very easy rules, just follow Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" and you can't go wrong.  And finally, eat the real stuff. Choose butter over chemically orchestrated simulated butter spreads. Choose agave nectar, or organic cane sugar over high-fructose corn-syrup or artificial sweeteners.  Keep it real! Your body will thank you.  To quote Andy Bellatti (who really is a registered dietician), "Stop fearing a home-cooked holiday dinner. Your mom's mashed potatoes worry me much less than Big Food's ubiquitous crap food".   So.. there you have it.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

"Within each of us, nature has provided all the pieces necessary to achieve exceptional health and wellness, then left it up to us to put them all together."  ~ Diane McLaren

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On any Sunday...

Anyone remember the movie, "On Any Sunday"?  I realize I am dating myself, as this movie came out in 1971.  Now, my memories of it as a 7-year old growing up in Southern California, was that it was a great movie about motorcycle racing, on and off road, and Steve McQueen was in it.  However, what I remember most was going to the theater to see it (with my older cousins presumably), and that there was a delay in getting the movie started.  What broke out at that point was pure anarchy in the theater, and I remember taking cover behind the seats as Milk Duds and popcorn rained down like dietary shrapnel.   Anyway, is there a point to the story? Not really.. its just Sunday, and this is my random thought for the day.

Coincidentally, we have twin boys who are 7 years old, and today was a special "date" day with dad for one, after earning it with excellent choremanship.  So on this particular Sunday, I was asked to take him up the Manitou Incline.  Since much of this blog is focused on my addiction to the Incline, of course I was more than happy to take him.  I had taken both boys up a few weeks ago, but we only went half way up (1/2 mi), and back down the 2 mi trail.   Today, I was told we would go to the top. So, off we went.. and with a few snack breaks, we made it to the top (1.1 mi and 2,200 ft).  From there we did some rock hunting, and then headed down 3.5 mi of the Barr Trail .  And here is also where I had to chase J all the way down the mountain.  While I slowed my pace for him going up the Incline, he was pushing me faster than I normally hoof it down the trail.  Needless to say, I think there may be a Leadville 100 in his future, based on the pure joy he had cranking it down the trail.   So.. here are a few pics..   hope everyone had a great weekend.

Jogging is very beneficial.  It's good for your legs and your feet.  It's also very good for the ground.  It makes it feel needed.  ~Charles Schulz, Peanuts

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey Trot Predict 5K, and cupcakes!

Today I participated in the Pikes Peak Road Runner's, Turkey Trot Predict 5K, which was great fun.  The goal of the run is to predict your finishing time, and the 6 closest to their times win a turkey.  So each runner took off at the time they predicted as the clock ran backwards.  If everyone was exactly right, every runner would finish at the same time.  It was a beautiful fall day in Colorado Springs... in the low 50's about the time the race ended.

Based on my 2 mi times from my last Nielsen Challenge, I had predicted/hoped for 33:47, but ended up running it in 35:53.  2 minutes better than my best 5K so far, but still kind of a let down.  I'd really like to get up to a better pace, but I know I need to be patient.  Considering 6 months ago I couldn't run 400 yards without stopping and walking, and now I can run 3.1 miles in minimalist sandals, I guess I shouldn't complain.

My feet felt great in the sandals, and I am pretty sure I could have continued on at that pace and completed a 10K.  What I'd like to do is figure out how to get a little faster.  I have a feeling it has to do with cadence (and perhaps getting down 25 more pounds!).

Again, I was "that guy" in the odd sandals..  at least this time though I did spy a pair of VFF's, Merrell Trail Gloves, and a few New Balance Minimus shoes out there.

I realize I have been remiss in keeping up the healthy eating part of this blog too.  So, I am adding a new recipe to the Recipe tab.  This gluten-free/dairy-free Raspberry Cupcake is another one from Lillian's Test Kitchen ,which looks awesome.  Planning to make these tomorrow, so I'll let you know. I embedded her video on making these below also... they look super easy!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

"I can't be funny if my feet don't feel right" - Billy Crystal

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moonlighting... and a review of Injinji toe socks.

After almost two weeks, I was finally able to do the Manitou Incline . Between the weather and traveling, I've missed my twice weekly ritual.  It was an amazing morning... a very bright 1/2 to 3/4 moon, not much of a breeze, and temps I would guess to be around 35F (2C).

I wore my headlamp, but realized halfway up that I didn't need it with all the moonlight, and with the time change, the sun was close to rising as I took a short break at the top.  I did the climb/run in my Invisible Shoe sandals, however today was my first opportunity to use my new Injinji toe socks (review below). They worked great.. kept my feet warm, and fit perfectly with my sandals with little interference.

I have to admit also, that during my run back down, I kept thinking about the 100-UP technique recently circulated by Chris McDougall. Like anyone who has watched the video, I tried out the drill, and I appreciate its simplicity. At those times when I felt my form was faltering, I mentally thought of the drill, and subsequently got my knees up, my foot strikes lighter, and a quicker cadence. One thing I noticed was that it certainly felt better and got me back on track.  Anyway, curious as to feedback from anyone else who has tried to integrate this drill.

Ok, now for my first product review.  This is purely my own opinion of a product that was purchased, and not provided by Injinji.

I have been looking for options to help keep my feet warm during the Colorado winter, but to stay as minimalist as I could. I love my Invisible Shoes huaraches, so I looked for a sock option.  I tried out a pair of Injinji Performance Series, Original Weight, Mini Crew toe socks. Injinji offers this series, plus an outdoor series and Yoga series, each in a variety of weights, colors, and cuff heights.

When I got the socks, I first tried them on for fit. Now, these are not the socks to put on if you are in a hurry to get out the door! It took me several minutes to align my toes with each slot, and to use my fingers to press down between each toe to get them snugged on. It made me realize that I have a ways to go in developing the individual dexterity of my toes... so many years in shoes that my toes like to behave as one cohesive unit.  I noticed that the packaging says to be patient with your first wear, and to allow time to adjust. Once on though, I really liked the feel.  I've never worn VFF's or toe socks, so the feeling of each toe being separate was cool, and it reminded me that I could move them individually if I concentrated!

Next I put my sandals on.  This particular weight of sock is ideal for the Invisible Shoes..  I didn't have to adjust the cords as it was a comfortable fit over the socks.  I spent the next hour running around the house and working etc just to get comfortable.

This morning I put them to the road test. As noted above, it was a cool morning, and an ideal time to try them out.  They did a great job of keeping my toes/feet warmer. I didn't begin to feel any sharp cold until near the top of the Incline as I had to cross a short section over compacted snow/ice, and that transferred to my feet quickly.  However, at the top, I took a short break, warmed my toes up with my hands, and was ready to roll.

The rest of the run is a 3.5 mi (5.6km) downhill trail run on dirt, gravel, rocks etc.  I had next to no slippage of the socks inside the sandal, and the traction of the sock against the rubber footbed of the sandals was good. Not as good as barefoot, but it certainly didn't cause me a lot of problems or issues.  In other words, the trade off for warmer toes was absolutely worth trading a small bit of traction and a more muffled ground feel.

So, for my intended purpose of finding a sock to add warmth/protection with minimal disruption to the performance of my huaraches, this sock fit the bill and I would recommend it.  I would like to try out the Outdoor Series of the sock, and perhaps in a heavier weight to see if it will allow longer running in sub-freezing temperatures.

Review Summary (out of 10 Toes):

Fit = 9 Toes   my little toe didn't want to stay in all the time, but maybe I have weird feet
Performance = 9 Toes  Minimal slippage, excellent comfort
Style = 10 Toes   I don't think I should even cover style.. I'm a typical guy... they are black, and black goes with everything right? :-)
Intended Purpose = 10 Toes   These did everything I was looking for

If you've made it this far.. thank you.  Feedback is always welcomed!

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play" - Heraclitus

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Just a quick note today to thank all of those who are, or have served our country.  Especially, my dad, and my father-in-law.

Also, we are on a short trip to Las Vegas this week, celebrating the 75th birthday of our best friend's mom.  Crazy day in Vegas, as it appears everyone is here for a birthday or a wedding!

One of the cooler things about this trip is the runs I did yesterday and this morning. Great temps for running, and another good friend from Seattle (who also recently took up running) joined me for both runs.  I normally run alone, so it was fun to have some company and someone to chat with. Also, living and running at 8500+ ft elevation, it feels so great to run below 2,000 ft and enjoy the extra oxygen!

Ended up doing a 5k each morning, and the first time I've run two consecutive days in my sandals.  I've pretty much worn them everywhere around Vegas, crazy looks or not.  I also discovered that they performed well on the Zipline ride down Fremont Avenue! I will however put on actual shoes for the birthday celebration tonight :-)

Here's a video from the Zipline ride down Fremont Ave, where we happened to see Jesus, Spongebob, and Elvis together!

Have a great weekend!!

There are clubs you can't belong to, neighborhoods you can't live in, schools you can't get into, but the roads are always open."   - Nike

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Twincliners"... or.. I can't keep up!

This afternoon I took our 7 year old twin boys up the Manitou Incline for the first time.  Ever since I started doing the incline twice a week in the early mornings before they were awake, they've asked me about it, and whether or not they could climb it.  Today, I said sure.. lets go.  My plan was to let them try it.. and if they got tired early on the less steep part, we could walk back down. And at best, we'd get to the halfway point, and take the cut off trail from there back down.

We got there, and they were very excited. I spent a lot of time yelling "slow down!". First, because I wanted to keep them close to me in case they lost their balance or footing, but mostly because they were dragging me up there faster than I go when I'm pushing myself in the mornings!  Well, we made it to the halfway point no problem, and they were ready to push to the top, however it was late in the afternoon, and I knew that the 3.5 mile hike back down the Barr trail would eat up a lot of time.  So we took the 1/2 way point bailout to the trail back down.

On the trail, we were passed by several people that were running...  so of course, off they went... and again, me trying to rein them in.  A few minor slips, bumps and scratches and they slowed themselves down a bit. But all the way down they wanted to know when we'd be back so we could get to the top.

Needless to say, add two more "incliners" to the rolls..   and yes, I am happy about that!  Included a few pictures below, but to see the rest, check out the Facebook page.

Hope it was a great weekend for everyone..

"You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough."
- Joe Louis

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Am I a freak? Am I "that guy"?

This morning I went down to Colorado Springs to participate in the monthly Nielsen Challenge. It's a two mile handicapped run that the Pikes Peak Road Runners club hosts on the first Saturday of each month.  This was my 3rd one, and my second run in my huaraches.  What amazed me was that out of 114 people that showed up to run, I think I may have been the only one in any kind of minimalist shoe.  I didn't even see a pair of VFF's.  The first two times, I saw at least two people in them.

Granted, it was in the mid to high 20's, but still.  Also, since I was by myself, and didn't really know anyone there, I was just hanging out waiting to start, and I keep noticing these sideways glances.. you know.. where people are looking, but don't want you to know they are looking.  Sure, I was the only guy with exposed feet, but it got me to thinking.... am I really that far out of the mainstream? Am I going to be known as "that guy"? 

Maybe I've been too involved in reading all the other barefoot/minimalist blogs and books, but it just seems to me that everyone would be on this bandwagon with me. I mean, I've never been one to be on the bleeding edge of anything.  Who knows.. perhaps I am out there with a select few... but I'd like to think of us minimalist/barefooter's as the ones really in the know :-)

Regardless, I did manage to cut about a minute off my time, and may have even passed a few octogenarians this time.  And yes, I still outran my couch today.

For those of you bare foot/minimalist runners reading in the Colorado Springs area, maybe you can put down 12/3 on your calendar and come meet me at Monument Valley Park...  at least then instead of "that guy", it could be "those people"!

Have a great weekend!

"Today I will do what others won’t, So tomorrow I can do what others can’t". - Unknown