Monday, May 30, 2011

Careful! It's contagious

I've been grinding out runs for a while but some time in the last year it got really, really fun.

I can't point to any one moment where it was all of a sudden fun but one day I realized I was really enjoying myself.

It was probably when my cousin, Kyle, started running and we would hook up for our weekly trail miles. Those miles are nice and easy and we can just catch up and shoot the bull.

Then my wife and Kyle's wife decided they wanted in. They both started from ground zero so I know they are not at "Joy" stage yet but they're trying. I really hope Pam can discover the fun so we can sneak off together for some miles.

Everywhere I look, people I know are starting to try this running thing. I know it is not because of me but I hope I can inspire them to keep going through the initial ramp up until they can find their "happy."


Sunday, May 29, 2011

My First Barefoot 5K

Ok, so I'm not a barefoot superhero and this wasn't a marathon but....
Today, I did my first full race barefoot. I didn't even bring bail out shoes.

The race was a nice local deal on the Cape Cod Canal in the fog. I ran with my friend Amy, her sister Kristi, and Kristi's fiancé Steve.

I had a blast and finished the 5K in 26:56. It was really fun to be the only barefooter in the race. I guess this was my best chance of winning a barefoot class. Unfortunately, there was no barefoot class.

I also wore a giant patriotic hat to add to the WTF quotient as I cruised on by people in my best barefoot running form.

Luckily, my family and friends didn't run away in embarrassment.


One more note on superheroes: Congrats to The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy for his Barefoot Marathon today.

Location:Buzzards Bay, MA

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vivobarefoot Ra Review

As with many others who embark on a barefoot/minimal journey, I found my capacity to tolerate healed shoes greatly diminished. In plain English, regular shoes make my feet, knees, and back hurt after about an hour. This presents a problem in a work environment that doesn't allow sneakers.

To that end, I've been wearing brown Vivobarefoot Oaks since about Christmas (the review on these is coming soon.) Having only a pair of brown shoes (slightly oddly styled) that I could wear was OK but I basically cut out half of my work clothes because they didn't go with brown shoes.

Enter the VIVOBAREFOOT - Ra which, thanks to a coupon code, arrived at my house a few weeks ago. As with all Terraplana product, they arrive is a nice reusable shoe box and each shoe is individually wrapped in a reusable shoebag.

Since it appears that every blogger needs some type of schtick, I've somewhat uncreatively come up with my 6Fs. Flat, Fit, FLex, Flair, fPrice, Finale. There is no F synonym for price so I have taken the liberty of adding a silent F.

As with all Vivobarefoot shoes, Ra are zero drop. This means there there is no rise to the heel at all for my non-barefoot crazed readers. All of my regular wear shoes are zero-drop so far. I know a 10mm drop is too much for me but I'm not sure how much drop I can tolerate.

With an advertised 3mm sole, these shoes are really flexible. The upper is entirely leather so it did take a day or two to soften them up. The shoes come with a removable insole that adds a few millimeters of padding but I immediately removed it and have not used it. It's the same insole as the Oak and with my experience it will add a bit of squish if that's what you are looking for.

As I expected, these shoes fit great. In my casual shoes, I prefer a looser fit so these are right up my alley. They are extremely light for those who are used to normal shoes. As I mentioned above, the uppers are all leather so they took a day or two to break in and soften up. I initially noticed a bit of pressure/rubbing from the top of the tongue but this went away after the tongue softened up in a day. I also saw a warning on the Ra web page about the high cut and wearing socks during break-in. I do not intend to go sockless with these so this was not an issue and I don't think it is an issue now that they are broken in. The leather uppers also make the shoe a bit warm but since I mostly wear these in the air conditioned office, it's no worse than any other dress shoe. I ordered a size 45 after consulting with the helpful staff at the NYC store and they fit as I expected. My VFFs and Oaks are also 45 and my Trail Gloves are size 12.

FLAIR (Style)
The style is basically a plain black oxford shoe.

They are normal looking which in the universe of "quirky looking" minimalist shoes is a godsend in my attempt to integrate zero-drop into a conservative office environment.

List price is $150USD which is a bit steep for me but I waited for a 30% off coupon before ordering. Yes, I paid my own hard earned money for these shoes as I have not earned enough status YET as a blogger to get free stuff. I'm hoping to change this soon so if you want to send evaluation product my way, please drop me a line. ;-)

In the very limited world of minimal business footwear, the Vivobarefoot Ra hit the mark. They are light-weight, comfortable, flexible, and have great ground feel. I would recommend these to anyone out there who is looking for a minimal business shoe. You might even get away with these in a suit.

A note on Terraplana/Vivobarefoot: Their shoes are a bit pricey but I find they are durable and very comfortable and worth the expense to keep my feet happy at work. Also, their staff are very responsive and happy to answer your questions. I hope they will expand their retail presence into New England soon.

I will definitely be trying other shoes from Vivobarefoot though I need to slow down on my shoe purchases for the sake of my marriage.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Ultramarathon Aspirations

OK, So I've recently completed my first 1/2 marathon and it was a great feeling to have run for 2 hrs nonstop (and finish barefoot!) I really don't, however, have much desire to run a traditional 26.2mile road marathon for some reason.

I want to run that distance plus some and preferably in the woods. I am really intrigued by the world of ultramarathons. I'm not talking about nutty 100 mile races (yet.) I'm talking about 50K or 50mile races.

With 2 little kids, the training time seems more intimidating than the actual race mileage. That's why a timed ultra seems like a blast.

Timed Ultras are just that. You run around in a circle for 6hrs or 12hrs or 24 or whatever and try to log as many miles as possible.

Sounds fun, right? Running in circles for 6hrs? I think it sounds like a party.

Mind the Ducks ( was recently held in upstate NY. You basically run around a 1/2mile course for 12 hours. The beauty of it is that every other of the 100 or so people are there for the same reason and for 12hrs, you get to meet, talk, and party with like minded crazy people.

There is a 6hr Ultra in Rhode Island in my old stomping grounds of Buttonwoods in November that is really, really resonating with me. You run loops of a 2.7mile paved park path at Warwick City Park.

It seems like this would be the perfect "get your feet wet" Ultra. No pressure, just run until you don't feel like it, then walk, then run some more. You can set up a tent in the park and have your own aid station once every 3miles. Right in my wheel house.

The only hitch is that it is on Sunday November 13th which is the eve of a very important day for Pam and me.

Pam, Wanna run an Ultramarathon for our Anniversary?


If you too are intrigued, check out the race reports from Mind the Ducks.
Note: Barefoot Running University is a great resource if you want to transition out of your heavily shod way of life.

Barefoot Running University » Mind the Ducks 2011: A Recap
Barefoot Angie Bee: Mind the Ducks 12 hour recap
terrible twos and running shoes: Mind The Ducks 2011 RD race report Shelley is the main organizer for MTD.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another Mother Nature's Playground

The one positive of all this rain is that the Blackstone River is up. Combine that with a little sun and you get.... Canoe Trip!

While Amanda was napping and Pam was going through her clothes, Matthew and I put the canoe in the backyard and headed out on the Blackstone.

It also happened to be canoe race day so Matthew and I sat out in the canoe and cheered the paddlers as the came by. I think they were a little surprised to find us there.

Our house isn't very convenient work and it's a bit small but you really can't beat the neighborhood.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Funky Fridays at Villa Durtyfeets

Music plays a fairly important role in my life though I commute 90min per day and generally don't listen to tunes in the car. That's where I get my right wing talk radio fix.

I find music very helpful with the kids. I'm not talking about generic vanilla kids music either. I'm talking real music. Pandora is a godsend!

It has been a somewhat longstanding tradition in our house to have acoustic Sunday mornings. This is nice relaxing chick music like Norah Jones, etc. I've just recently started Saturday Morning Blues, too.

On weeknights, we use music to cut through the whines and get the kids dancing instead. Calypso, ska, or TMBG is always good for dancing. Other times, it might be 80s hair bands or classic rock. Anything without explicit lyrics.

Incidentally, a whoopie cushion is also really effective for breaking the whining cycle if you are one of the sane people in this world that finds farts funny. People who don't find farts funny are definitely insane. But I digress.....

Tonight, I instituted Funky Fridays. It was really funny to watch a five year old and a one year old bopping to Fantastic Voyage.

So bust out the tunes and get on yer dancing feets. Your kids will enjoy it and you probably will too.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Deluge (AKA Kid's Race): a family race report - Part2

Part2 In our family race report

The Kid's Race
Pam's 5K went off fine with no sign of sprinkles. There was about an hour between our finish of the 5K and the Kid's race. About 15min before the Kid's race, the sprinkles started. By the time the race was ready to start, it was raining pretty hard. Everyone stayed in the auditorium until right before the start. We stood outside for about 5min before the start, just to get acclimatized to the rain, you know.

Matthew has smart parents and was told he needed to wear his raincoat for the race. I also have smart parents but they were not present so I was NOT wearing a raincoat.

The race course was 3/4mile around the school grounds. This was much farther than Matthew had ever run so I was going to need to keep him in tortoise rather than his usual hare mode.

The gun actually fired even though it was probably water logged and we set out stomping through the puddles, some of which were easily 6 inches deep. Somewhere along the line, the hard rain turned into a full-on Wrath of God torrent.

Matthew was a trooper and just kept plugging along. He gave the course guides, who were soaked high school girls, high fives on the way by. We ended the race in an all out sprint through about an inch of standing water.

All the kids got finisher's medals which made Matthew's day because now he had a running medal like Daddy. I'm really proud of how well he did on his farthest ever run.

I don't think he even complained but then again it was raining so hard, I'm not sure I could have heard him.

For me, this was probably the most fun I've had running. I'm just glad it was only 3/4 mile because it was only in the low 60s.

Next year, I think we'll see if Matthew wants to do the 5K with us. He could definitely do it.

After the kids race, we all went to the gym to dry off and listen the Mr. Joel (the elementary school music teacher) and his band.

The kids had a blast and rocked out.

It was a terrific day.


BONUS: Matthew's Race day Highlights
  • Getting a race number
  • Playing with Grandma and Grandpa during Mom and Dad's race.
  • Running to the finish line with Mommy, Daddy, and Amanda.
  • Running the kid's race with my friends, Celia and Caitlin, and stomping through the puddles.
  • Getting a medal
  • Listening to Mr. Joel.

Location:Sutton, MA

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pam's 5K: the family race report PART1

The Durty Feets family loaded up the minivan at about 9am this Sunday and headed for the Simonian School in Sutton, MA for the Sutton Family Fun Race. This was to be Pam's first 5K race. I couldn't really tell if Pam was excited but I can tell you I was really looking forward to running. You see, Pam had agreed to let me pace her and keep her company as long as I didn't try to coach her. I absolutely love to run and Pam has recently started up again so this would be the first time we had ever run together for any real distance. I was very excited to share the run with Pam and to hopefully help her have fun.

We met up with Pam's parents, who agreed to mind the kids, and friends of ours who were also racing.

Pam's 5K
After getting our numbers, we lined up at the start with our friend Bethany for the opening ceremonies.

The race was in memory of a high school student who had died last fall on the football field. The boy's dad spoke a little about his son and the reasons for the race and the school chorus sang the National Anthem. It was a very nice ceremony. I love it when kids sing the anthem at races.

So the gun goes off and Pam and I set out on our journey. Bethany is a speed demon so she was off quickly. Pam and I tried to resist the inevitable vacuum of the race start and keep the pace down.

The course was picture book New England. Rolling, tree lined streets. By rolling, I mean hills. this was an out and back course so the nice long downhill at the start was a harbinger of sorrow on the return.

Pam humored me by letting me run barefoot for a little while but the roads were wet and rough so I gave up and put the shoes back on. About half way through, a group of kids was cheering at the top of a big hill. They had music blaring and they were blowing bubbles while they cheered. Really cool.

Pam and I made the turn headed back up the hill to the finish. Pam did great and only walked up the hills which is a wise strategy for a beginner out to have fun. As started in on the last 1/4 mile, I commenced my plan which i had been brewing since Saturday. I sprinted ahead and found the kids. Pam, Amanda, Matthew, and I all ran the home stretch together. That was the coolest part of the whole day, up until the kid's race.

Pam finished her race in 41:13 which better than she had expected. I think she actually finished with a smile on her face too. I'm very proud of her and really happy that she is getting out and trying the running thing. I can't wait until the next time we get to run together.

MORE TO COME! Stay tuned for part 2 - The Kid's Race


Location:Sutton, MA

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother Nature's Playground

About 1/4 mile from my house is one of the coolest little trails you could want. It's called Shining Rock and we've climbing to the top for years. The kids call it Shiny Mountain. It's a little state conservation area.

Over the winter, two things happened. First, I became insane and decided I loved running on hilly trails. Second, some wonderfully nice mountain biker carved a couple of downhill runs with some scary technical stuff. I would be crapping my shorts if I tried riding on this but running on it is an absolute blast. It's fun going up and going down. There are jumps, burms, rocks to climb, streams to splash in, and cliffs to fall off. That is my idea of a party.

The big payoff is the scenery from the top. You can see about 20 miles from the edge of the granite face.
It really makes it worth it to stop, rest, and enjoy what you have accomplished. Since Shining Rock Golf Club is at the very top, you may also be lucky enough to catch the beer cart girls for a little celebratory libation along the way.

My Shoe Obsession

In July 2010, I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers KSOs. This was the start of the problem. I started running cautiously on them as I'm a geek and had read a ton about transitioning to a minimal shoe. I also started experimenting with barefoot running at about this point.

This was great for running since knees felt better in the no heel or zero drop shoes but I soon discovered that regular shoes (with a standard heel lift of 1/2 inch or more) really were not that comfortable. My favorite motorcycle and cowboy boots are now painful to wear.

Minimal shoes or barefoot should mean that I bought less shoes, right? WRONG!

Including my vibrams, I have purchased or made 5 pairs of minimal running shoes since July 2010. My latest is the Merrell Trail Glove

which are awesome on trails and decent on roads. I have also lost my ability to comfortable wear business shoes. I just bought my second pair of Vivobarefoot shoes

that can pass for business casual thanks to a 30% off coupon code. BOS11 if you are interested.

The only thing that stopped me from buying another pair of running shoes was my fear. Fear of Pam's reaction when she saw another shoe box from the UPS dude.

Maybe it's more of a fetish.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Five Mile Fail!

I've run a lot of miles barefoot since last July. Some of it has been on the treadmill and some has been on varying road surfaces. None of those attempts was more than 3 mi at any one time. Today, I went 5 miles with no shoes on. I ran my usual 5 mi loop which is really not a problem in shoes. Most of the road and sidewalk is nice and smooth but there are sections with broken pavement and sand/gravel. Neither of those are particularly fun but they are not unbearable.

One reason I run without shoes is because it provides instant feedback and really allows you to get to a very efficient running style very quickly. Your feet are your best coach. If you have bad form while running barefoot, you get hot spots and eventually blisters. Apparently, my form fell apart somewhere along the way.

I've never gotten a blister on my prior runs of up to 3 mi. That all changed today.

I felt ok for most of the run and I was able to maintain what I thought was good form for most of it. I knew my feet were getting hot but it wasn't too bad.

When I got home, I got a little surprise.

My foot actually looks pretty good considering it just propelled my for 5miles. After I cleaned up, I noticed a bit more.

OUCH! Guess I'm taking a day or two off. I'm hoping to be able to run the 5k barefoot with Pam next weekend. Without the blister, I would have no problem with 5k barefoot. Might have to carry some bale out shoes for the race.

By the way, I still enjoy barefoot running and recommend that every runner try it. Maybe not 5 miles. Maybe you should start with few hundred yards. If you want some pointers are want to lose the shoes with me, just give me a call.


Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm a complete slug.

I'm sitting on the couch like a total slug. Watching hockey and debating my third glass of Wine.

I had a fleeting thought of lacing up the shoes at about 8 o'clock and I probably should have listened to that thought. Instead, the Bruins came on and the black hole that is my couch unleashed it's irresistible gravitational pull.

I've only logged 3miles since the half Mary. It wasn't really because I was hurting. Life just interrupted this week.

On a really cool note, 3/4 of the Durty Feets will be racing next weekend in Sutton. Pam has actually agreed to let me run with her in her first 5k as long as I don't try to coach. I'll definitely file a report on that race unless I get stabbed or pushed in front of a car for not keeping my mouth shut.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Geek Heaven: The analytics of Blogger

I am completely astounded at how cool Blogger is. They pretty much serve up all kinds of statistics on who has hit your blog site. I was pleasantly surprised at the page hits I've gotten on my 2 posts. Of course, many of those were probably me obsessing over it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the biggest data geek there ever was. I love analyzing data and looking for pearls of information in it. I sometimes think about data and math in my head to go to a happy place. Ok, that's is really just sad to see in words.

That's why I always run with either my garmin or iPhone logging my miles. Sometimes I never look at it but I love to know that there is an odometer ticking away and I can analyze how far or fast I've gone if I want to.

Side note 1: When I'm having a crappy or boring run or drive home, I will often start doing math problems involving my pace and distance to see how fast I need to go to bring my average pace down to some point.

Side note 2: Good gravy! My calves are very tender today.

Back to folding laundry. Good night.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Off to the races

I had a great time in Providence this weekend during the Cox Rhode Races. The whole family had a very busy weekend.

Friday night started off with a trip to the race expo to pick up numbers and shirts. RunningDaddy (That's OTMommy's other half) and his brood were there to get their stuff too. I then jetted off to M's tee-ball game to freeze my rear end off.

On to Saturday: Our entire household, of which I'm the only one who you could consider a morning person and only after a coffee, was up and out for the Kid's Marathon at Roger Williams Park by 7AM. M met up with Boogie and Mudget and they were all sporting their race tee shirts, race number bibs, superfast running shoes, and matching reflective running hats that we grabbed at the expo. It was absolutely awesome to see how exited these guys were to run in a race just like their dads. All the boys met the 5 and under class so they lined up first for about a 500yd race. Parents were allowed to run too which was great. My lovely bride actually counted me (future post about 123 counting coming) when I told her I was going to do it barefoot. The boys all ran really hard and did great.

When I tried to get M to go for a cool down jog with me, he asked if we could run in the next race (5 and older). Sure! Turns out all the boys wanted another go at it so off we went one more time. Races done, it was time for the "scavener hunt" which basically means the zoo get to charge you for admission so you can walk around and answer questions about animals in your workbook. It was fun to hang out with everyone some more but as my feet started to hurt and I started to get tired, I starting think it was probably a bad idea to walk so much before my 1st half marathon.

Scavenger hunt over, now race off to tee-ball again. Then race off to dinner and a few beers with friends in town. Ok now get home and pack for the big race and try to get to bed early because I had to meet Kyle at 6:30AM.

Race day dawned at 5:15AM. Luckily I was able to prowl around the house with ninja feet so no one woke up.

Kyle and I carpooled and eventually met up with Checca, a buddy from college, at roughly the 10min pace starting area. Bang! We were off to the races, as it were. Not long after starting, my bladder started hinting that we might need to stop. really??? Only 1.5miles into the race and we had to wait in line at the porta-johns. Sheesh. Anyway, Kyle and I took care of stuff and headed off again at about a 9min/mile pace. That was a little aggressive based on our prerace strategy session but we were feeling good and having a good time screaming under every tunnel and occasionally just yelling really loudly to have fun. It was fun for us anyway.

We kept our pace steady through the ups and downs and made sure to greet and thank the folks cheering everyone on. Sometime around mile 8, it was starting to feel like something approaching work because it was getting hot. Luckily, the trees along blackstone blvd had started to bloom so we got some shade right around then. A few screams and war whoops here and there helped lighten the mood. The last tiny but really annoying hill was at around mile 11 as we turned onto gano St. From there, I cut Kyle loose to chase the 2hr time. It was International Barefoot Running Day so I couldn't finish the race with my shoes on, no matter how minimal they were. At mile 11.5 the shoes came off for the remainder of the race through India Point Park and back to the finish line.

It is really fun when the police call to you and ask what happened to your shoes. I told him I got a flat and ran right by.

I could see Kyle in front of me through the park but I was not going to be able to catch him barefoot without getting hamburger feet.

I came in with an official time of 2:01:34 and I think Kyle was about a minute under that. This time included a pee stop and wait and my shoe removal. According to my garmin, I had a moving time of 1:58:52 so I'm pretty happy at unofficially breaking 2hrs on my first 1/2 marathon.

We met up with friends and family after the race and had a great time. It was really nice to catch up with old friends, Birdie, Fatty, and Checca in the beer garden. I have to apologize to Pam for totally spacing out and losing track of time while she wrangled the kids.

Anyway I want to thank everyone who was out there cheering and I especially want to thank my family for running themselves ragged to help me do this race.