Thursday, June 30, 2011

Barefoot Running University » Run for Fun: A Running Plan for the Rest of Us

I've been meaning to write about something like this but Jason absolutely nailed it.

I've been running for fun for a while.
If I don't feel like it, I don't go. If I feel good, I just keep on running Forrest Gump Style.

If running is painful, that's OK as long as you are having fun with it and you aren't injured.

For those of you just starting out with C25K or similar plans, use them if it works. My advice is to just go out have fun and run when your body tells you that you can. You will be up to 5K in no time at all. Hell enter a race anyway and walk if you need to but run it with a good friend to share the experience.


Barefoot Running University » Run for Fun: A Running Plan for the Rest of Us

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I really want to love huaraches!

It's finally turning into summer around here.  In New England, that means muggy and mid 80s at the moment and mid 90s soon.

My quick lunch run route is mostly pavement and has very little shade although there are stretches of grass that I can run on.  I've determined that pavement at 85 degrees in the noon sun is just about too much for me to go barefoot for 3 miles.  Unfortunately, the prospect of putting stinky VFFs or socks/Trail Gloves on isn't too appealing either at 85deg.  I have a pair of Vivobarefoot EVO II on order but those will likely not be much cooler than my Trail Gloves.

I really wish there were a well ventilated super minimal shoe option....... whatever can I do?  Wait, what are these huarache things?

My huarache experience is limited to my homemade "invisible shoe" style sandals.  They are made with 4mm Vibram Cherry sheet and 3/16 nylon cord.

I've only logged a handful of miles in them because they are just not comfortable for me.  More than likely, it is my crappy form and not the sandals but they slip under my feet and give me hot spots.  The other unfortunate side effect of the slipping is that the "between the toes string" and "toe knot" rub under my big toe knuckle.  The bottoms of my feet are well conditioned but the tender underside of that part of the toe rubs raw in about a mile.  I've experimented with numerous tying methods and nothing seems to keep them from sliding.

I'm an engineer so I usually like to analyze failures and correct them but I haven't really had the time or desire to tackle this one.  Of course, we had 27 million feet of snow this winter and spring lasted pretty much until last week so I have not really had much motivation.

Now, though, it is getting hot and the pavement is burning the hell out of my bare feet on my lunch runs.

I've been toying with getting a pair of Unshoes Wokova sandals because they have gone with a climbing web design instead of the cord and, according to MGBG's review, they have managed to minimize the toe knot and make a pretty comfy shoe.  I'm optimistic that their use of climbing web will make the toe situation better for me.  I'm also really excited about the Pah Tempe as a casual sandal and I wish Terral at Unshoes godspeed in getting that design down.

For some reason, I just can't pull the trigger because I'm not much of a gambler.  My wife would kill me if I order another pair of shoes (i.e. Wokova for running.)  And..... My wife would kill me AGAIN if I then ordered the Pah Tempe for my casual, minimal, hiking sandal.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get the huaraches...... or just give up and have live with sweaty or burnt feet.  Still struggling with this one.


Running and Rambling: Soft Star Moc3 Review

These seem like pretty cool shoes for minimal cover if you are like me and can't get used to the tweener toe string on huaraches.

Running and Rambling: Soft Star Moc3 Review

Barefoot with the Wolves!

I recently ran a nice 10k race on a Wednesday night. It was called Running with the Wolves 10K and it was put on by the Highland City Striders of Marlborough, MA.

The race was an out and back on a nice smooth stretch of the Assabet Rail Trail. Because it was in Marlboro and on a Wednesday night, I was able to convince a few friends to enter it with me.

I also recently joined the New England Barefoot Runners meetup group to meet some new folks. On a lark, I posted this race as a meet up. To my pleasant surprise, a few folks actually RSVPd.

So on Jun 15, I drove to Marlboro and met up with my friends Amy, Checca, and Birdie from college

as well as some new barefoot friends, Jim, Preston, Matt, and Barefoot Todd.

As you have hopefully read already, I have recently completed my first 5K barefoot and was toying with the idea of doing the 10K barefoot. I was a little intimidated by 6.2 miles because of my earlier experiences with 5miles (Read Five Mile Fail.)

Preston and Jim were very encouraging and helped bolster my confidence. Jim offered to run with me and coach me through the 6.2 miles.

Another great surprise was that Amy decided to hang back with me in the slow lane. After the gun went off, Amy and Jim and I started out at a very conservative 10min pace. Amy and I got to catch up on old times and get to know Jim a little.

We kept a nice easy conversational pace until the turn around when Amy decided she was going to speed it up a bit and left Jim and I. I was still opting for the slow barefoot pace at this point but I felt absolutely great.

Sometime around mile 4 or so, I was feeling very comfortable and Jim and I decided to pick up the pace. We just kept going faster until we reeled Amy back in at around mile 5. At that point, Jim and I were working hard at about a 7:30 pace. I was astonished that I could sustain that barefoot and even more astonished when I pushed to just over a 7min pace. As you might imagine, Jim and I weren't talking much at this point. I finished the race at an all out sprint on the Kelleher field and I can honestly say this was as close to a puking finish as I've ever been. On the plus side, my feet felt great.

I wound up with a 58:18 time and not a single blister or hot spot on my feet which was much better than I had hoped for considering how slowly we had started.

I also got to participate in my first barefoot kickline with all my new barefoot friends.


Location:Marlboro, MA

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove

Like many others who have been on the barefoot and minimalist journey, I was very excited by all the shoes that were announced last fall.  I was eagerly awaiting the NB Minimus and the Trail Gloves.  Merrell got my hard earned dollars because they released first and I was able to get some good early feedback from shoe review sites that these were good shoes.  It didn't hurt that Jason Robillard, founder of and vagabond, was involved in the development process.  I have great respect for Jason and I think he and I must have similar feet because his reviews are generally spot-on for me. 

On to the "Science"

The Trail gloves are marketed as zero-drop and verified by many others in the blog-o-verse as such.  The soles are very aggressive and you can feel the tread features when walking on hard surfaces.  It is something I notice while walking but quickly disappears when running despite the surface.

For a fairly rugged trail shoe, the Trail Gloves are still pretty flexible.  Are they barefoot flexible?   No way but what did you expect.  They are flexible enough that you can get a "foot massage" when running on rocky trail but they are rigid enough to protect you from the sharp pointy ones.  They also flex well enough that you can grip the trail with your feet on the more technical stuff.  They have really good grip on flat rock too.

My size 12 Trail Gloves fit me just right (I wear a 45 in VFF KSOs for comparison).  I have plenty of room for my wide, but not freakishly wide, feet.  My toes can splay nicely.  They tend to fit snugly in the arch and metatarsal region.  The lacing system and overlay material really hold my feet while running on roads or trails.  Much has been made of the arch on these shoes in other reviews as some people find it too snug and annoying.   I don't really notice this while running.  I do, however, find the tight arch somewhat annoying when I wear the shoe casually.  I'm wearing them now and my right arch is a bit sore.  I have been dealing with some ankle and arch tenderness after hard runs so this is likely not due to the shoe but I can't say for sure. 

FLAIR (Style)
I have the smoke and adventure yellow version and I really like how they can fly under the radar among runners and laymen alike.  These will not get you weird looks like VFFs.  

List price is $110USD on the Merrell site.  This is steep but you can find coupon codes for online footwear retailers to take the sting out.  If you want a rugged trail shoe that is zero-drop, it's a pretty good deal at this price.

When I am not honing my barefoot running skillz, I run in these shoes.  I got them back in February and have logged almost every one of my trail and road miles in Trail Gloves.  I've run in deep snow and torrential rains/mud.  I've raced my first half marathon, a 15K and numerous shorter races so far and they did great.  There is little sign of sole wear which speaks volumes for the vibram sole as my form is generally crappy.  If you are in the market for a rugged trail shoe that will help you running with good form, I would recommend the Merrell Trail Gloves.  Caution:  These are my experiences and I encourage you to read many of the other great reviews out there.

A note on running in the rain, the shoes take FOREVER to dry.  I can't compare this to any other shoes because I've only recently learned the shear joy of running in rain and through the mud and puddles.


Review Criteria:  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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: SPIBelt-Small Personal Items Belt

This spring at the Cox Rhode Races expo, I was lucky to find a company called I had seen them online but wasn't really convinced enough to take the gamble.

I need to carry my phone while I run for my wife's peace of mind and because I like to have the iPhone camera available in case I see something awesome on the trail.  When I have shorts with pockets, I'm always freaked out that I will loose the phone along the way. Running clothes are unfortunately not designed with gear bearing in mind.

Enter the SPIBelt, which is short for "Small Personal Items Belt." It is really a well designed tool. It holds my iPhone perfectly snug and does not move or bouce around at all. There is extra room for a gu or keys too. The added bonus is now I have a pocket for when I'm running in my Stillwater Thrifty Kilt too.  Kilt review coming soon!
Glamour shot courtesy of
They clearly are photographers than your humble author

My SPIBelt model is water and sweat resistant so it is made from what looks like a thin neoprene. The pouch zips up to securely hold it's contents. The clipped belt is elastic and adjustable so it fits tightly without bouncing. When I bought mine, I was given small bungees and toggles to hold your race number rather than pin it onto your shorts or shirt.
You can see the SPIBelt holding my
iPhone and race number here.

At $24, it isn't the cheapest solution but it is really well designed and has served me reliably over the past 2 months. I take it on every run.

If you are looking for a small pocket, get yourself a SPIBelt.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Self soothing fun

I'm sitting here helping my lovely daughter RELEARN how to fall asleep. It was not a cakewalk the first time around at 14mos but she only took a few days. after that she was a great sleeper for the most part. Since then, we've had a few colds and ear aches that have required some tender care and snuggling.

About a week or two ago, Amanda, 17mos old, completely fell off the sleep wagon. She began waking at 10-11pm every night screaming. She would also wake sometimes at 2-3am. She has now apparently decided that she can't fall asleep at normal bedtime either.

We've ruled out all the likely causes like ear aches, teething, fever, etc.

It is now time to rely on low technology and my ability to, at least outwardly, turn my heart to stone.

It's, at least, somewhat entertaining this time around because some of the screaming vaguely resembles a long shoreman's vocabulary.

I really need to go for a run!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FREE eBook!: The Barefoot Running Book eBook Giveaway! - If you are interested in barefoot or natural running, get this book.

Jason Robillard, newly minted gypsy and purveyor of such famous internet sites as Barefoot Running University and Robillard Adventures is offering his popular barefoot running eBook for free download.

Get it while it lasts.

Seriously though, if you are interested in trying barefoot, minimalist, or good form running; get this book, read it, and ask others about their experiences. Most of us are glad to help.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cure for hangover?

Pam was gracious enough to let me go on an annual trip this weekend.

Every year for the last 20years, friends from college have been descending on Martha's Vineyard for a good time. Mostly this means to drink beers and catch up with each other these days.

As is typical, those of us who arrived on Friday went straight to work on the beer supply. We then proceeded to go to a bar to watch the Bruins game. Naturally, more beer.

After the disappointing loss, we were sitting at the house and HBIII (Harold) decides we need a little Dr. McGillicudy for our sorrows.

Long story short: one bottle down and significant hangover on Saturday morning.

There go my grand plans for a long run on the beach. So i says to myself: "Self, might as well start in on the hair of the dog."

Well my buddy Q shows up grabs a beer, hears me lamenting my lost run and says "let's go!" This surprised me since running is fairly new for him. Go Q!

We set off at an easy pace around the ocean road and before I knew it, the hangover had been push way to the side. It was still there but it was sort of scowling at me from afar.

Q and I got to catch up on old times since we only seem to get together about 3times a year. We occasionally stopped to enjoy the view.

We got back to the house after a nice easy 4 miles and did what everyone in our situation would do... Proceed to drink more beer and do stupid things.

Not sure if it was the run or the hair of the dog but somewhere in there, I killed the hangover.

Disclaimer: the stunts and actions portrayed in this blog were performed by trained individuals under no supervision.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME unless you want to.


The eve of my 10K Barefoot adventure

Life has recently nudged my running and blogging out of the way. Stanley Cup finals (Let's go, Bruins!), tee-ball, my family, my job, yardwork, and summer weekend trips.  All of the above things are a great part of my life and I'm happy they are there, except the yardwork.  It has been hard to even get in a few runs in the dark.

Tomorrow, I am running in Running With The Wolves 10K . I'll be running with great friends from long ago college days and new friends from the interwebs  I am slightly nervous....

You see, this will, hopefully, be my first 10K without shoes. As previously posted, I've done a 5K race barefoot and it was quite nice.

Unfortunately, the one time I tried 5miles, I was less successful. I'm telling myself it was the road conditions that were above my conditioning but this is the source of doubts.

I know I will make it across the finish, though, because I have the great fortune of running with local barefoot legends tomorrow. I recently joined the local barefoot meetup group,, and posted this race for the heck of it. At this point, it looks like there will be 4 barefoot runners (Barefoot Todd, Preston, Jim, and Me) which will be awesome. I'm really looking forward to meeting these folks and sharing my experiences and hearing theirs.

Race report to follow.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off

It all started a few months ago when my friend, Greg, sent me a fundraising email asking me to pledge for him to shave his head for Kid's Cancer.  He was doing it for his niece, Quinn, who was diagnosed at age 3weeks with leukemia and has lived her whole life in Children's Hospital since.  She's a fighter and currently in Memphis for t-cell treatment (I think that's the right term.)

Greg and Bethany have been good friends of ours for the last 7 years and their family has always been very kind to the DurtyFeets.  I was about to donate some money when I thought "I can help here too."  After confirming that it was open to all, I signed up.

I was a member of Team "Buzzing for Quinn" in the Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off organized by One Mission.

from the One Mission Website:

One Mission is a childhood cancer foundation dedicated to enhancing the lives of pediatric cancer patients and their families. They are a registered 501 (c) (3) foundation that provides help, hope, care, and support to children and their families touched by pediatric cancer. One Mission funds patient and family support services, cutting-edge cancer research, and programs and services that help children and their families cope with the many physical, emotional and financial challenges associated with this disease.  All of the programs they fund directly benefit children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer, the families who support them, and the medical community who compassionately cares for them.

I have wonderful family, friends, and colleagues who were willing to give to the cause and ask their friends to contribute.  In the end, my donors contributed about $1,200 and our team raised something like $22,000.  I'll update this post with a link to the wrap-up page by One Mission when it is released so check back if you are interested in the final tallies.

This past Sunday, June 5th, was Shave Day!  I was a little nervous on the way there.  I've had really short hair before but I've never been skin on top.  And I was planning to shave bald later that afternoon.

We're on the Jumbotron
The official figures are not out yet but approximately 110 buzzees and their guests descended on Gillette Stadium for the Shave-Off.  They served a nice breakfast for us while we waited for the opening ceremonies.  Not one person there looked like they had any doubts about shaving their heads.  It was a very positive and powerful experience.  Everyone had huge smiles on their faces.

The main organizer, Ashley Haseotes, whose son is a childhood cancer survivor, told a very moving story about the day they had to shave her son's head because the chemo was taking effect.  They asked Kevin and Quinn to come up and talk about her journey too.
Kevin and Quinn telling her story
Once the opening ceremonies were done, our shave groups were called and we each sat at one of 20 chairs where a stylist was ready with the clippers.

Here we go!
 It was pretty quick for me since I didn't have enough hair to donate to Locks for Love.
At least my kids are not terrified of the melon

Sarah, Kevin, Bethany, and Greg.
Not too much of a stretch for guys to do this
but I have to give all the girls huge credit.
You all look beautiful!

Quinn was a trooper all morning

Quinn, Kevin, and Gran
"Thanks, Dad!  You rock!"

Chicks really dig the bald head or maybe I just have adorable kids.
Nah.  It's gotta be the head.
Once everyone was shaved, we took a group photo of 110 bald heads and made our way back out the to world with our new hairdos.  It was definitely weird.

I got home and grabbed a razor and shaved down to skin just to see what it was like.  Sunday afternoon also happened to be my 40th birthday party so I got to do the big reveal to my Mom and Dad.

I think I look pretty good.
Of course, the dome needs a little sun.

As a bonus, the kids and I also got on local TV which is apparently nothing new for them after the Cox Rhode Races but I was thrilled.  WPRI-12 TV Coverage

I want to thank all of the wonderful people who sponsored me for this great cause.  I had a terrific time and we all did a wonderful thing for the kids.  I will definitely do this again next year and I think Matthew might join me.  I especially want to thank Quinn and say a prayer for her speedy and complete recovery.  God Bless and Godspeed, Little one.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Set your piggies free!

I think this should be the barefoot running theme song!

Thanks to my kids for watching Sesame Street and to Pam for pointing this song out.


Answering the question of footwear related running injuries

For those of my reader who are not running or barefoot running obsessed, there are two camps.

Camp One subscribes to the notion that our feet are imperfect and we need shoes to correct our anatomy and prevent running injury.
Camp Two will tell you that the human foot evolved to run and is the most perfect running machine and that running without shoes or with minimal shoes in a natural style prevents injury. This is a central thesis in "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall.

There is very little clinical evidence to support either assertion though you can probably guess where I come down on this argument. As an engineer who works in product design that interacts with human anatomy, the human foot is a masterpiece in design.

In any case, Dr. Craig Richards is attempting to get shoe companies to submit their shoes for what might be the first comprehensive clinical trial on footwear (or lack thereof) related injuries.

As an engineer in the medical device industry, this scientific approach really appeals to me.

If you are a runner or you are associated with a footwear manufacturer, please read Jason's blog post below and try to exert some pressure on the shoe companies. The larger the sample size of shoe models, the better is will be for all runners.

Barefoot Running University » Dr. Craig Richards: A Call For Independent Shoe Testing


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fit Fast Forty and Fabulous

A bit of a repost with a changed title to celebrate my 40th birthday which is today.

Thanks to Pam for the title idea.

I don't know that I'm embracing it but I am not at all afraid of 40.

You are only as old as you feel and I feel great.

Since my 30th birthday, my life has changed a ton. I've had 2 more jobs and a new career making surgical devices. I've been to China (3x), the Philippines (12x, I think), Germany (2x), and Ireland (2x) and that was all on company dollars. I've had a run-in with a nailgun. I don't recommend that.

Most importantly, I have a wonderful wife, two beautiful kids, and a great dog.

Admittedly, Pam was with me before 30.

I'm as healthy as I've ever been and can run for 2 hours straight on a whim. I can even run for 3miles on most surfaces without shoes and without pain. I've found a joy in running that really helps me deal with the 40s. I'm also in an older class for races now so I might place a little better.

I only have a few grey hairs and most of it is still there until the Buzz-Off for Kid's Canceron Sunday anyway.

Life is good at 40!