Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

So pretty. So shiny

Well the plan had been to run 8 miles as my “short” long run in the new SeeYas.

That didn’t quite happen.

As soon as I got a steady pace going, I noticed that there was a lot of rubbing around my Achilles on my left foot. Of course, I did what every distance runner does when they feel a twinge in the first mile – I ignored it. Obviously, my body was just trying to trick me into stopping and that wasn’t going to happen. Buckle up, boys. It’s Long Run Day.

But by the time I got over the bridge that bit of irritation was growing into a sharp point of awareness. Sure enough, when I stopped for water at the bait shop on the other side of the bridge (an aside to the MTC volunteer that puts the water cooler out there every weekend – you’re amazing), there was a nice red sore spot where the heel cup was rubbing. There’s so little structure in the upper that it was allowing a lot of travel in the heel cup, nothing like the Bikila. I could tell if I let it be it was going to be raw by the time I ran back. The honeymoon was already over.

So three miles out and a killer blister on my left foot, I decide the most logical thing to do is to pop the shoes off and finish up my run totally barefoot.

It’s almost a shame, what’s gonna happen to you

The difference was astounding. That first mile was the fastest of the entire run and it felt fast. It’s been so long since I’ve done any work without my shoes, I’d forgotten how different my feet react. The toes splay and grab as I strike. The various surfaces – sidewalk, pavement, terrazzo, grass, sand – all provide distinctly different feedback (beyond slick, not slick, slick, not slick). It was an invigorating “accident” and served to remind me that I need to work to incorporate regular barefoot runs into my training.

I’m still not ready to ditch the shoes – the sore spot on the pad of my right foot is a good reminder that feet and pavement don’t like each other all that much; but I’ll make sure I’m prepared on my next run with some Bodyglide and a few Band-Aids (just in case).

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The inaugural run of the SeeYas will just have to wait.

Logging what was to be my last run with the Bikilas on Runkeeper, I clicked over to take a look at my history. Turns out I was only 6 miles away from reaching 800 miles!

How could I retire my shoes when I had such a perfect round number within my grasp?

My OCD got the best of me and I strapped on the old reliables one more time.

Remember these babies?

Well they look considerably worse for wear now!

You can smell them from here, can’t you?

One great thing about running in minimalist shoes has been how quickly my stride patterns show on the sole. I was able, early on, to see where I was striking hardest and and gauge whether or not I needed to adjust how I ran. Interestingly, I always thought I came down harder on my left leg; but if I’m to base judgements off of where the first hole showed up, I seem to favor my right leg. I’ll have to see how the SeeYas wear.

It’s all about sole.

Looking back on my nearly two years of running; I’m really pleased with how far I’ve come. The first few runs in June 2010 I was struggling to maintain sub-14 minute miles and any mileage over 3 was a challenge. Now I’m contemplating my first full marathon and am pushing myself harder to drive that average pace consistently under 10 minutes per mile. Not bad for someone who loudly proclaimed running to be the stupidest way to ruin a perfectly good walk.

Can’t wait for the next 800!

The End of An Era

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Shoes
Tags: , , ,

772 miles later (give or take a handful of beach runs), my original pair of Vibram Bikilas have finally given up the ghost (as much of a gear geek as I am, I chose the least effective running style for quickly cycling through shoes). The soles had been wearing down considerably quicker as I increased my weekly mileage leading up to the Sarasota Half last month; but I thought I could make it through the summer (and till the pre-season shoe sales!).

But it was not to be and now the quandry before me is, do I stay with what I know, with what’s worked, and get a new pair of Bikilas; or do I grab the new hotness and snag some SeeYas?

…I think we all know how this will end up.

Ah-HA! Noelle reminded me that she did a great 4-miler last year around this time. It was a “cross-country” run…which in Sarasota means that you’re going to go cavorting across well-manicured golf courses. Still, it’s off road (which I really prefer) and it’s 4 miles (which I consider to be the upper limit of my “run without embarrassing myself and my kin” range). And, hey, some of the divots are pretty nasty; it could be a dangerous course!

Had a solid 2.7 mile run out at Rothenbach. Love that park; but damn if it wasn’t insanely humid out! Granted the giant dark storm clouds and constant thundering should have clued us in that humidity was going to be a slight issue tonight. Was joined by Val who was kind enough to slow it down to my meandering 13 minute mile pace. As much consternation as I have over running with people (because, you know…damn slow), it was really nice having someone to chat with and keep my mind off the fact that a minute lasts about 10 hours when you’re counting down to a walk interval.

Speaking of counting down – my lovely wife was kind enough to give me an early birthday present! Noelle got me an Adidas Fitness Control watch at Fit2Run so that I could move my interval timing from Runkeeper (which is a great program, but way too intrusive for short intervals) to my wrist. After poring over the manual for about 30 minutes (I am in awe of manuals that are seemingly written in plain English, but still impart no actual knowledge to the reader), I was able to program in a 2/3 walk/run interval. Worked like a charm (and it’s sharp looking – I got the one w/ the black & red band, which they seem to have discontinued; pity). So early birthday present which I can torture myself with…

Next time I take up a hobby it’s going to involve beer…or chocolate…or bacon…or maybe all three.

OK, so the Voice Control thing is really getting obnoxious. It could be that, once the humidity drops and I don’t feel like I’m running through my own personal Okefenokee Swamp, I’ll be able to use the Apple in-ear headphones again. But totally non-scientific testing seems to bear out what others are saying: sweat gets in the mic/volume control widget and shorts the phone into Voice Control mode. I’ll try a pair of cheapo headphones next run and see if they bear the theory out. I’m finding that I really need my music and my pace notifications and having everything cut out halfway through my run kills me!

Speaking of which, managed to stay under 13 minutes again (12:33…nothing that’s going to rocket me out of the bottom of the pack, but still a good progression for yours truly). I kept up the run for about 3 quarters of a mile, which was a bit shorter, but I was stress eating earlier tonight as we got G ready for his last board-break before karate testing. (I seem to have a ton of excuses as to why I’m off pace, don’t I?). Really wasn’t feeling it tonight; but at least I got out there, kept under 13 minutes, and managed to add some distance in prep for the 4 mile run (which is in LESS THAN A WEEK! YIPES!). I’m really going to have to step things up if I want to come in at a time that doesn’t totally embarrass my family for generations to come.

One last thing, I retract my previous statement, Electro-Mix tastes nothing like the Gatorade you grew up with. It’s crisp and refreshing. Orange-flavored GU Brew tastes exactly like the stuff you grew up with – I swear, one sip and I was transported to every bout of strep and stomach bug I had growing up. I won’t be going back for seconds.

Earphone Issues

Posted: July 13, 2010 in Gear, Hardware
Tags: ,

I’m still having what I thought were Runkeeper issues where the iPhone’s Voice Control feature would kick in randomly during my runs and totally kill my music playback.

After a bit of research, it sounds like this happens with other Apple mobility products (iTouch, iPods, etc). Some people swear it only happens when they’re paired with Apple headphones; others say the headphones don’t make a difference. Supposed causes vary wildly from sweat, to excessive motion, to wind noise.

So it’s not Runkeeper’s fault (which is good – I’m loving the program). And it’s probably not the earphones’ fault; which is also good – I don’t want to shell out more for different earphones. I like the Apple Earphones I picked up last year. Unlike the Shures, they don’t totally block ambient noise, kind of important when you’re out running, I think.

I’ve thrown a passcode on my phone so that I can disable voice dialing (why you need to add a passcode to your phone to do that is beyond me), we’ll see if that works. The other decidedly low-tech option is putting a piece of tape over the mic. I’ll try that next if disabling voice dialing doesn’t work.

On my beach run last night, I baked like I haven’t baked on previous runs. There was no shade and nowhere to hide. This, understandably, resulted in copious amounts of sweat.

Which exposed another flaw in my arsenal, my sunglasses.

Noelle got me a righteous pair of Oakley GasCans for Christmas a couple years back and I’ve had no complaints about them. They’ve served me well as my go-to shades for two years (a necessity when you live in a state where the sun tries to blind/kill you on a regular basis). But about halfway through my run they refused to stay in place. The nosepiece is integrated into the frame and is made of the same slick plastic. So they have no “grab” at all.

I’m thinking I might look into a pair of shades to workout in. Maybe these these Half Jackets. I got Noelle a similar pair last year and they’re great – the rubber nosepiece is grippy and durable (and the lenses are replaceable for when I inevitably scratch them up).

What do you guys think? What sunglasses have you tried out and liked? I’ve honed in on Oakley, because I’ve had good luck with them in the past; but is there a better brand for high-performance sunglasses?