Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Futile Search

This week I have had a number of, what appears at any rate, futile searches.  I am sure I will find a solution at some point; but the pain of trying to find a work around, when there really isn't one, is a little demoralising.  I like being creative and finding bizarre solutions to problems, so when I have to trudge through a mundane alternative - well that just sucks bigger than the cast of a Twilight movie. (I had to get a Halloween joke in there somewhere!)

So I have two futile searches going on this week.  The first is trying to find a Behavioural Consultant for D.  When D was under 6 he underwent an intensive round of behavioural therapy at a "one-stop-shop" Autism Centre.  This was great at the time as we only went to one place and D had Occupational Therapy, Behavioural Therapy and a host of other services.  Now he is in school, the challenges he has and the support he requires is different - Not to mention the finances; we only have a quarter of the funding available now.  Yep, don't go there as to the "Why?"; that's a whole other futile search which is to big even for this post!

As D is in school it is becoming quite clear he is developing some form of Oppositional Disorder.  Put in simple terms, he is saying "NO" to everything and will do absolutely ANYTHING to ensure he doesn't do what he doesn't want to do.  It's quite common in Autism - a kind of learnt behaviour which because of the way Autistic people learn it's hard to break.  

It's showing up in school BIG TIME.  At home I have the ability to negotiate and alter my plans, at school there isn't that sort of luxury.  You have to do jobs you don't like to do and you just have to suck it up, (again like the cast of the Twilight movie - I know I am using the same joke twice, it's called recycling!) So there has been screaming and tantrums and on a couple of occasions some aggressive behaviour, all borne out of frustration and the fact that he has learnt that when he has to do something he MAY hate he'll say NO before he even tries.

This week I have been trying to find a Behavioural Consultant that will go into school and evaluate his behaviour and provide work-arounds.  Not as easy as it seems.  Either they won't go into school, or can't because of their work-load.  I am ringing around chasing lead after lead with no success.  There is no novel solution to this.  I have to find someone who is registered on about 3 different lists to get the funding to pay.  I can't fix this with craft paper and glue and it is frustrating the hell out of me.  Hey, craft paper and glue - perhaps I could create the DIY Behavioural Consultant.  I mean how hard can it be? ;)

The second futile task is finding winter boots.  Let me rephrase that: Finding Minimalist Winter Boots.  You would have thought with the increase in popularity of minimalist footwear over the last year or so, someone would have thought, "People don't just like to run in minimalist footwear, they want to wear it all the time because frankly, heel's hurt! When winter comes, they will need boots..." Surely I can't be the only person who doesn't live in Southern California?

Okay, I accept that finding zero-drop, flexible soled, waterproof boots that were warm was probably a long shot, but I really didn't think it would be so hard.  I checked the internet, asked friends, walked fruitlessly around the stores.  Nope.  I was even willing to pay, but still no luck.  Anyway, my search attempts were scuppered by a sudden down-pour during lunch recess on Friday.  All of the kids - who were wearing normal running shoes etc - got drenched and a message was passed on that as of Monday all kids should come to school in waterproof boots.  

I count shoe shopping on the top part of "will only do if the security of the universe depended on it" list. I hate it.  Add in a 6 year old who has inherited my dis-interest in shopping for shoes (and clothes and anything that improves appearance generally).  The only things I like shopping for are bright, sparkly and probably have a half-eaten Apple logo on them.  I am such a man sometimes!

Yesterday  a very un-interested Mum,   dragged a very un-interested 6 year old around the Mall to find a pair of winter boots.  Only to discover that it wasn't the right season for it! I was too early.  Seriously! I could even buy a normal pair of winter boots let alone a pair of minimal winter boots. The irony. 

Eventually in the fourth or fifth store, I managed to find some kids boots that were calf length, waterproof and suitable for temperatures of -15C.  Sorted. I had to concede on the ground-feel; 2 inches of rubber does not allow an intimate relationship with the ground.  There was only a small heel - the overall 2 inches on the bottom probably negated that. They were also stiffer than a 60 year old conservative at a political party meeting.  However, D tried them -they were at least one size too big- and declared they were fantastic.  I have to admit that the thought of a cookie at the coffee-shop may have influenced his decision, but frankly I was about thirty seconds from losing my last remaining sanity. They were also on Sale.  

As for my winter boots?  I went back out again after dropping the spawn back home and found that the shop assistants were more interested in looking at the Merrell Dash Gloves I was wearing than actually selling me some shoes.  I need to remember to wear boring shoes!

So after some liquid brain fuel - COFFEE, the saviour of over-ambitious missions - I am back out again this morning to try and find some winter boots I like.  For someone who hates shoe shopping I am spending a lot of my weekend in shoe shops.

So my call to the universe is this:  Please help me in at least one futile search.  Either find me a Behavioural Consultant who is willing to go into school OR help me find a pair of winter boots that won't cripple me.  I am willing to take my losses on one of my impossible tasks.  I'm not greedy after all ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hoping this isn't a "New Coke" moment.

Yep, before you all do a double-take, the blog page has changed a little.

There were a couple of reasons for this.  Firstly, I was playing about with blogger, testing new templates.  I am looking to do an overhaul over the next week or so - frankly the cobbled together in 5 mins site I had is, (like me), looking a little tired.  I had my old template backed up, so I thought I could get away with it.  Then I tried to upload my old template to find it didn't work. So, umm.. Oopss.

I then thought what the heck, if I am in for a penny, then might as well go for the whole pound, so I changed the Blog name - only a little.

The URL is obviously the same, but after all of my reflections over the last few weeks, I took the "Barefoot" out of the title.  Why? I now think that it's not important that I run barefoot, what is important is that I run.  I am reclaiming the word "running" in my own way.

The motherhood and life bit is something I can't get away from, so that's staying.  I also still "Ramble" A LOT and everyone should be used to that by now.

(For those who hate change of any kind - grab a large box of wine, you will need it. There will be loads more tweaks and changes until I have finally figured out what works).

I have also come to a decision about how I want this blog to operate in the future; my whole, "Should I review stuff" quandary. Not that you'll be particularly interested, but I'll let you know what I have decided in the next couple of weeks.

So there you go... another drunken accident. Let's see if my mistake proves as successful now as the alcohol-fuelled decisions of the past.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Over-the-top" KittyK solution to the "women in barefoot AND minimalist" running problem

Yesterday, I wrote a post about why women aren't attracted to barefoot and minimalist running. It was a very broad sweeping, over generalized piece where I think my "PMS fuelled" objective was to try and insult as many people as possible,  I have to admit I was surprised I didn't have more outraged comments or women camped on my doorstep claiming I was a "Disgrace on our sex" as I woke up.  Clearly I wasn't trying hard enough ;)

The main problem with the post was that I didn't really set out any solutions to the problem. I hate it when people complain about something then fail to plan out a solution.  I was guilty of this yesterday.  The difficulty I had was that I am not really sure the scale of the problem or how much effort or money people are willing to invest to solve it.  These perimeters are purely individual and subjective.  We could end up going completely overboard with a solution and frankly complicate an issue that isn't there, or we don't do enough and never rectify the problem.

The other issue I have is that I am not really into promoting barefoot or minimalist running with either sex.  I AM into promoting running with Good Form.  I think this is important and something that SHOULD be tackled.  The situation is that BOTH sexes suffer from this issue, so I am not really a fan of promoting one group over another. Likewise I think we should teach good form to everyone who run's, not just those who wear minimalist shoes.

Regardless, I have identified issues that are existing within the Barefoot and Minimalist running community and I should provide a plan. So I have come to the conclusion that I am going to create a plan that is completely overboard.  It is going on the premise that women in the barefoot and minimalist community is too small, it should be expanded as a priority and that money from minimalist shoes companies is NO object.  I fully accept that this is NOT going to happen.  My goal here is to throw so many wild idea's into the pot that they will create discussion. I want you to disagree with me! The idea's are so impractical in the form I am describing, but with a little.. okay, a lot, of moderation, they are actually do-able.  These idea's and the discussion they produce will after a time MAY produce something that may help women feel more comfortable running either barefoot or minimalist shoes.

I am also going to state that I am looking at this as a "minimal" shoes approach.  Although I would love more women to run barefoot, I think solely concentrating on this would be a dead-parrot before I even start.  Minimalist shoes is something we could work on, Barefoot running at the moment, nope.

My "over-the-top" Kittyk solution to the "women in barefoot AND minimalist" running problem

This isn't going to be a plan supported by one minimalist shoe company.  I want ALL shoe companies to come together and accept that there needs to be more women running with good form in minimalist shoes.  To get this plan running you WILL need backing from people with money (and that ain't me).  By doing a collaborative approach we are limiting the perception that one company is doing this to sell shoes.  Okay, this IS why they would be doing that, but by providing information and resources from multiple companies, not only will this give the program a more "unified" objective, but also allow the the participants a feeling of choice.  They feel the information they are obtaining is not overly biased. It is also cutting the cost burden to multiple companies. 

Firstly, this is going be an "ALL female" program.  The program will be run by women for women.  There is scope to allow the program to be mixed-sex, but I think if you want a big take up by women, then you will need to at least have the majority of groups that are segregated.  If it's any consolation, I don't like the idea of segregating the groups. It goes against my "education is for all" principle.  However, despite my overwhelming adversity to the idea, it probably is the only way this would work initially.

I was trying to see how we could combine an educational program WITH the social aspect that women prefer when they partake in an activity.  I was thinking about how and when women congregate together.  In my limited experience, this happens in two ways.  In the morning after dropping the kids off at school and on organized "Girls-night-out" evenings.  To combine the aspect of socialization AND learning running form, we should organize the "running program" in conjunction with a coffee morning.  Or have a "Run and Rum" evening.  Go for a run, then head to the bar.

I have highlighted two different times for the program to run.  The morning "after drop-off" program will work well with Mum's who have kids in Elementary school.  Usually these women are either working part-time or are looking after younger children.  Organise childcare, so the younger siblings can be watched whilst the program is being run.  Organise an indoor track or gym so that you don't need strollers.  Maybe see if the school gym could be rented for an hour a week - schools could use the money AND you are creating a community within the school.

For those that have kids who are older, or perhaps they are working full-time; organize the program for after work.  Make it a social event, by going to a bar or coffee-shop afterwards.  Most women understand how much a stress-reliever exercise is, so it may be easier to say "I have a fitness class", than "I am going for coffee with my friends".

Advertise the program via the school or through the community recreation centres.

The program itself should be free or a very nominal charge.  Some exercise programs are prohibitive because people can't afford them.  Running can be a relatively cheap form of exercise.  Learning how to run should be too.  The people running the program should either be volunteers OR receive payment from the "shoe company collaboration"

The instructors should be women who have experience in  running themselves but who have gone through an "Instructor" course held by the "shoe companies".  There is no accreditation at the end.  The instructor course is there to familiarize the Instructors on proper form, establish form-evaluation skills, clarify the program itself and any other paperwork that is involved in any program.  There is NO charge for this course.  The instructors should be women who have strong links to the community they are in.  The point of the program is that the instructors are pulled from the area in which they will teach.  The instructors should be able to socially relate to the participants of the group.

The ultimate goal is that the Instructors will teach others to be instructors. Initially there may only be 1 or 2 groups in an area.  However as the program becomes mature, the few instructors will train up new coaches within the area.  The number of groups will expand.  Eventually the initial instructors will be take on additional advisory roles.

As mentioned the instructors should either be volunteers OR be paid by a collective fund.

The program itself should be about teaching proper running form.  Minimalist shoes help this and education as to why should be given. Methodical and scientific evidence  should be used in conjunction with individualized and small group hands on teaching.  The program should be easy to tailor to a group or individual.  It should be easy to understand and follow.  It should be about education.  It shouldn't be so structured that people are put off, but provide a good amount of validated information that those participating in the course can take what they need.  The aim is to provide a good basis on proper running form and enough information that people can investigate more if they want to.  The program is fun and the main goal is to provide a skill that women can build on and take to their families.  The session should be no more than 30 mins long and should be over a number of weeks so that fitness and body strength can be obtained over time.  Maybe in a C5K program format.  Include a short written guide.  Verbal information is transient.  Provide a guide that people can refer to when they are at home.

There could be program incentives that are sponsored by the "Shoe company" collaboration.  Maybe money off vouchers for running shoes.  Allow the shoes to be affordable and accessible.  Maybe run a shoe fair at the beginning of the program where women can try the shoes on and obtain information.

Maybe hold a "Race" at the end of the program.  Bring the area's running programs together and hold a race for charity.  Make it a community event - everyone can take part - but perhaps the women who undergo the course can have free entry.  Provide an event where there is a goal the women can look to attain and provide accomplishment.  If the women who undertake the course feel pride in running a race, they may want to continue running after the program has finished.

Run a similar program for kids in school.  Run mixed group sessions at existing running clubs.  Provide programs for people rehabilitating from illness. In time the community can benefit from these programs.

What do you think?

Yes, this is a wildly idealistic program.  It's expensive and complicated and over-kill probably.  It's not everyone's idea on what needs to be done to bring women into minimalist running.  That's the point.  By picking apart this plan, we might actually come up with something that can be accomplished.

[Additional note:  Remember I don't like people who just say "This idea sucks" without suggesting an alternative.  If you don't like this plan then say so, but also make sure you tell me what you WOULD do.  If you could change this plan tell me how.  If you write a reply to this post in your blog, then post the link to your reply in the comments section.  Repost, share, disagree, print and use as toilet paper... Just DON'T comment without providing your own ideas].

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where are all the women?

Women, roll-up, roll-up… we want you!

The topic regarding the number of women in the field of Barefoot and Minimalist running has been a bit of a "hot-topic" of late. It's been the subject of numerous blog-posts, conferences and think tanks. The reason being that there isn't that many.  No-one seems to know why.  As is usually the case I am going to put in my un-informed 2 cents into the pot!  Before you all flame me, a lot of the comments below WILL be sexist.  I am not sure how we can start this discussion without highlighting the cultural and mental differences that generally exist between the sexes.  It's like discussing presidential candidates without talking about the 300 years of history behind the party they represent.  There are some points that I can't be "delicate" about - so in my usual style, I am not going to try! ;)

I have to admit I get a skewed view of the number of female Barefoot/Minimalist runners out there because like women on a dance-floor we all tend to congregate together.  For me, I see the number of female barefoot/minimalist runners around a 40/60 split when I compare the gender of my running Facebook friends.  However, in real-life, (because apparently Facebook isn't real-life), the number is more in the single percentage figures.  This is an unusual turn of events, because when you compare the ratio of male and female runners who run in road races, you will find that roughly 30-50% of runners will be female. In fact if you look at the half-marathon races in the US, you may find more female runners than men.

So why are there so few women running barefoot or minimalist?  There have been quite a few theories, some I see as more valid than others.  The problem I have is that I am not really a typical woman. Yes, I have the physical and chemical markers that put me in that category, but as far as thinking goes, I pretty much fail.  This it turns out is quite common in the barefoot/minimalist world.  I think that's why we all stick together.  We aren't girlie girls.  We embrace mud, dirt, scrapes, bruises and scratches if they were all earned running down a trail at 60 miles per hour. We don't dress up for you, but if we did then you can be guaranteed that every guy (and probably a few girls) would know about it. Barefoot Running women are strong, feisty, out-spoken, confident, "don't give a rats-arse", "outside of the box" fighters.  You will find us in male-dominated industries and we are holding our own.  If you get a bunch of us together, I think we could pretty much take over the world and then tell you how to run it.  We would probably put a bar on every street corner too ;)  Generally we kick ass!

Barefoot and Minimalist running is a man's game at the moment and I think the women in this field reflect that.

So how do we convince ALL of the women out there that they don't have to "ball-breaking" femme-fatals who can out-drink their male counterparts, in order to take their super supportive shoe's off and run?

After speaking to a few friends of mine on the subject (all who happen to be newer runners and NOT barefoot), I have come across some trends. This is why we don't have more shoeless women in the field (or on the track, on the trail or running down the road).

Women may feel they need guidance on starting out.  We have just a little insecurity and nervousness when approaching what we feel is a new activity.  I know running ISN'T a new sport, but when you start running without the 1-2 inches of heel cushioning, you have to start from scratch.  I can relate to this.  When I start something new, I do have a nervousness and I want confirmation that I am doing it right; I feel I would like some guidance.  For me this lasts for about 10 minutes because with most of the things going on my life there isn't a manual.  So after a moments pause I revert to my "What the heck, I'll do it anyway" attitude.  I can do this, I am not sure other women can.  There is a cultural trait that "women should do everything perfectly" and it's hard sometimes for some people (male and female) to try something and fail.

Women feel more comfortable learning from other women.  I don't really relate to this; I prefer to learn from the person most competent regardless.  However, speaking to some of my friends, I think if you placed a male and female sports coach together, (both of whom have the same qualifications), the women will always pick a woman.  A friend of mine did comment that it would depend on the age of the woman and if the male instructor was hot.  That's probably true too - but for the most part, women will chose a woman.

Women chose a fitness activity for the social aspect it provides.  They don't just see it as a way to get fit.  They see it as a way to meet friends; discuss what's happening in their lives. Male athletes are perceived to be competitive and more focused on their overall goal.  I say perceived - I help run the "Run Smiley Collective" and I know that's not the case :)  It's easier to make this social connection when you have shared experiences.  Kids, family, daily routines - these for a lot of women are a basis of commonality.  If they were learning a "New skill" they would like to learn it from some-one they can relate to. 

Women are self-conscious about their bodies.  Especially as we get older, we have lumps and bumps in the wrong places; throw in child-birth, even more so.  Women are uncomfortable if they are in an environment where they feel more exposed - let's face it fitness wear is not very forgiving - and the subject of scrutiny by people (by both men and women).  The self-consciousness is less when the environment is tailored to "women-only" than mixed sex.  You just have to look at the boom of "women-only" gyms to see that.   

Women have more to do and don't have time to figure "something out".  I read a report (I would cite it, but that involves a search engine!), that stated women have about 8+ roles to perform a day. Men have around 5.  We have so much going through our heads sometimes that having to think about one thing exclusive to everything else… well it's just too hard.  Perhaps this leads to the fact that we may not be able to truly concentrate on how are bodies are reacting to our environment - we just don't have the extra brain resources to do it.  We have lists and tasks taking up all that spare space.   Women don't want to spend hours working out how to run in minimalist shoes, we just want to put on our shoes and run.

Women find it harder to go against "society-norms".  This is a purely cultural trait.  Women have for centuries been taught how they should behave and that they shouldn't go against that. Taking off your shoes is a "society faux-pas" and women would feel uncomfortable doing it.  Men have been indoctrinated that "going against the grain" is a good thing.  Women are behind on this score.  

Women feel they need to maintain an certain level of appearance.  Make-up, shaving-legs, manicures, eye-brow tweezing, high-heels, nice clothes.  We have it in our heads we have to look good.  Bare feet are seen as sign of poverty; shoes are an essential element of clothing.  Without them you are not giving the right signals. If you don't believe me, how many barefoot runners have heard the expression "Can't you afford shoes?".

Minimalist shoes have up to now been pretty hideous.  Come on let's face it.  VFF's? Yeah, not good.  It takes courage to be different and have comments thrown at you as you wear VFF's.  Gorilla feet are out-side "societies norms" and it's tough to wear.  However, paint them pink and you will have more reception.  Women generally want something that is pretty, fashionable and generally pink. When I had my first pair of VFF KSO's they were "Goose-poo green".  Not one woman approached me.  Put on my bright pink VFF Sprints and I had women approach me nearly every day during one summer asking where I had brought them.  Seems as if Girlie Pink sells!  The new shoes coming in from all quarters in 2012 will probably rectify this.  They look like normal running shoes and they are female fashionable!

We haven't sold the health benefits with science enough.  I think this applies to the barefoot and minimalist movement in general, but I think if we extolled the virtues of barefoot and minimalist running in a SCIENTIFIC approach, women will be more inclined to try.  Women are very health conscious. Not just for ourselves but for our entire family.  Heck, I can read a nutritional label on a packet in about 10 seconds. If we show how barefoot and minimalist running improves our bodies and posture, we will see women giving it a go.  If we show how minimalist shoes are good for our kids (as I believe they are), then women will investigate if it's better for themselves too.  We will try most things if we think there is a health benefit.

There are not enough female role-models for the future women barefoot/minimalist runners out there.  Let's be more explicit; there aren't enough female role-models they can relate to.  If women see a slew of male Ultra runners promoting barefoot and minimalist running, they will perceive that it is only male ultra-runners that can do it.  If we only show female minimalist runners who qualify for Boston, or run 50 miles up a hill then women will feel you have to be super-fit to do it.  We need to show that women of ALL walks of life can run barefoot and minimalist.  This isn't just the case for running - it's the case in everything. If you want to gain gender equality in a profession or sport, you need to be able to show the minority that this is a field they could participate and potentially excel in.

So am I right or wrong?  In some cases I am being deliberately antagonistic, because without differing views we can't discuss this issue properly.  As you can tell I didn't discuss how we rectify this.  I am hoping you guys may give me some ideas ;)

Let me know what you think.  It would be good to see our merry band of drunken… *cough*… I mean vibrant female runners growing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Living in the present: Combining history and the future (Desiderata/Steve Jobs)

Desiderata - Max Ehrmann 1872-1945
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

In 1986, at the age of 13, I left my very prim and proper (but still state run) Middle School in rural England and I was given a photocopy of this poem at our "graduation" assembly. (The British don't do Graduation, but this was the best way I could describe it).

For some reason, I am not sure why -because heck, I was 13- this poem struck a cord with me, and every so often I still refer to it.  Like a mental reset; a reminder of how to move through life.

Also, in 1986, I remember going on a field trip to a technical college to "play" with their computers.  I walked into a room that housed about 10 or 15 Macintosh computers.  They seemed all wonderful and shiny compared to the "single" Sinclair ZX81 that was our schools only computer at the time.  The trip didn't foster my love for writing computer programs.  I didn't head out of the colleges "computer lab" and immediately write an operating system.  Ten years down the line, I did end up in a "computer" related career as a Network Engineer, but at the age of 13 I still wanted to .. actually I don't remember what I wanted to do.  If truth be told I still don't.

This week, as everyone knows, Steve Jobs passed away after a long battle with cancer.  The one speech that appears to have gone "viral" over the last few days is the Commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005.  Rightly so, it's a powerful and inspiring speech.

Today I was thinking not only about Steve's speech, but the poem I was given at the age of 13.  It lead me to contemplate the changes we have all experienced over the last 25 years.  The world my son lives in is so much different to the one I grew up in.

Our house is filled with computers and gadgets, all of them that glow and beep in a variety of tones. He can use a computer mouse (I was over 20 before I got a chance to do that).  He understands the words, 'Internet', 'Log-on', 'account', 'web-page', 'youtube', 'iPod', 'iPad' and of course 'Apple'.  He doesn't turn to a book for information, he turns to the computer.  He is growing up in a world where we are all so connected.  He is able to see his grandparent's over a video-call whenever we are able, despite living in a different country.  He doesn't even need to get out of his 'Jammies'.   When I was 13, I lived 2 hours from my Grandparents and when we saw them it was a major expedition.

Seeing the changes in this world is wonderful, beautiful and if truth be told slightly scary.  Seeing the advances we have made, make me excited to see what the world will hold for D.

But regardless of the the excitement and enthusiasm for moving forward, we must always ensure we look back.  The bright, shiny and new have a lot to offer, but so does, the dusty and old.  In High School and college I decided to take a few courses in History.  Something then told me, that looking to the past was just as important as looking to the future.  The past keeps us grounded.  The past keeps us honest. The past allows us to learn from mistakes; whether they are our own or societies.  Without looking at the past we can never move our society forward.  Without learning from previous errors we will always be destined to re-make the same mistakes. We will stagnate and well… stop.  

To allow us to be wholly in the present we need to take BOTH the future and the past and be prepared to work with them both.  We need to ensure that our history isn't lost because it is no longer sparkling and new.

So as I am typing here, listening to the Commencement speech in the background, I think that when D leaves Middle school, the likelihood would be that instead of being given a photocopy of a poem, he will be shown Steve Job's speech at his graduation.  The world never stands still, but always moves forward.  We progress.

Not a bad thing.  It's exciting.  However, I still will give him a copy of Desiderata regardless.  When progressing forward we must always ensure we look back.  How else can we learn from our mistakes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reclaiming the word "running"

I admit I should be doing BRS work at the moment, but it's been another crap filled day, 2 glasses of wine too many and my "professional hat" has been placed on the hat-stand. Being professional can wait - hence why I going to rant here instead.  Before you say it - you're welcome ;)

The last couple of weeks I have been going through a change in my thinking about barefoot and minimalist running.  It's all New York's fault.  When you drag so many intelligent people from the same community - yet, who all have different view-points - then you proceed to lock them in a "hipster dungeon" for 3 hours to talk, well, viewpoints are going to change.

I wish I knew who said the magic sentence that changed my idea's, but it wasn't a dungeon for nothing. The light was bad and Merrell haven't released the transcripts of our interrogation yet.  (Kidding, before the UN start indicting Merrell on crimes of torture! Phew..)

The epiphany was this.  Why do we count Barefoot running outside the realms of running?  Why is "Barefoot running" a separate entity?

I had never really seen our community like this before. Okay, I knew we were outside the norms of what most of the running community would call sane, but hey, I can say that about myself about 100% of the time anyway.  It was the first time I realized that we were doing this to ourselves.  We were cutting ourselves off.

This thought has germinated more as we talk about "Barefoot running" coaches and "barefoot running" shoes (yes, I realize the people that "know" still call them minimalist shoes before I get flamed - chill, grab a bottle of beer).

Why do we have to attach the word "barefoot" onto the front of anything we do?  I know it's a little contradictory considering my blogsite is "barefootkatiek", but understand that this is an evolutionary thought. (I am also not going to change my blog name - it took me ages to get my 60 or so followers, I am not going to lose them now).  

Two years ago, I was very much about "Barefoot" this and "Barefoot" that; just like I thought running barefoot was the ONLY way to go.  I have grown and understood the situation in this small but rapidly growing community.  I have seen how we have developed. I have come to understand that we need some type of shoes in certain conditions (shoes as tools), and that we are alienating ourselves from the running community.

I have become less zealous in my advocacy of pure barefoot running.  Yes, I still think it is the best way to learn really good running form.  However, I have come to accept that we are not going to convince everyone we meet that this is the case.  I will still try, but I will accept that this isn't for everyone.  I have come to realize we need to concentrate on what is important.

What is important is that people who run (regardless of what is on their feet), need to know how to run well.  This is where the whole "segregation" issue is starting to make me think.

I think by placing the word "Barefoot" in front of everything, is preventing the greater goal of allowing more people to experience  "good" running.  It is preventing more people from running better.

The thing is "barefoot running form" isn't barefoot running form at all, t's GOOD running form.  It's a running form that should be adopted by everyone who wants to run well.  It's harder to do when you have 2 inches of rubber on your feet, but regardless, it's something you should strive to attain.

It's the same with "Barefoot running shoes".  They aren't ever going to be as good at teaching you form as being completely barefoot, however, they ARE better than foam, support and control.  

I think we are missing the point on what we are trying to teach here.

The situation is that a lot of people (I would even go as far as to say, the majority of people) aren't comfortable with the idea of going barefoot.  Twenty or thirty years of images and philosophy is a hard thing to change and we aren't going to change it for a lot of people.  Let's accept that. However, we should concentrate on allowing them to practise running safely in the philosophy they do have.

I think if we detach the word "barefoot" from it's companions "Running", "coaching" and "shoes", we may find that we will have a lot more people considering zero-drop, minimal support shoes.  If there is education on form that is not restricted to a small community, people will listen. When we call ourselves "Runners" instead of "barefoot runners" and we call "barefoot shoes" just "shoes", we will discover that more people are willing to experiment.

As I help educate my friends, (either via running club or in that moment of sanity as the kids are in school), on good running form I am becoming very conscious on ensuring I don't use the word "barefoot" in the conversation.  If I tell them I am going to help them with "Running form" they are more inclined to listen.  The running form I am teaching them IS "barefoot running form", but because I have side-stepped the issue of what they have on their feet, they are more acceptant of what I have to say.

I think this would be the same with "Barefoot" or minimal shoes.  I think if we took the whole concept of "Barefoot" out of the equation - just called them "shoes", yet at the same time we educated on why minimal shoes are designed as they are, we would find that  more people would buy them - not as a transient "fad" but as something serious they want to work with.

The key is logic.  If you just say the word "Barefoot" that immediately puts people off.  If you explain the anatomy behind running with good form, why good form helps everyone run better and why minimalist shoes help this process, then you will get more converts. 

I think as a group we need to forget about separating ourselves from the running community.  I think we need to discard our need for being "outside of the box".  I think if we seriously want to get more people "on-board", running in minimal shoes, or barefoot - running with good form - we need to go back to the fold.  We need to work from within.

Essentially we need to reclaim the word "running".

Just when you thought.. could get rid of me, I pop up in other places.  I did an interview with Caity from RunBarefootGirl a couple of weeks ago.  She has just edited it and here it is.  I apologise for the slurping and swallowing noises, *cough* note to self - don't drink coffee as you are talking on the phone.


Run Barefoot Girl interview

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2 cents on "certification"

Today I went out with a friend who wants to "get into running". After years of not being very active, combined with doing something new she was undoubtably nervous - especially as I have a reputation for "running" that far exceeds my talents.

I knew it was going to be a walk/run affair, with more emphasis on the walk, but that was okay for me.  I was more interested in the company than the workout (I have a running club clinic later anyway).

So as we walked to the trails I asked her; "Do you want me to teach you a little but about good running form?".  I am not an expert, but I certainly didn't want to see her injured within the first 10 minutes.  She agreed, so I went through the "ABC's" of good running form (as shown by Jason Robillard in various books, clinics, blogs and general ramblings).  Her main issue was posture.  Years of daily life with bad posture meant that resetting the idea of how to stand was hard for her.  So foot plant and cadence went pretty much out of the window.  We just concentrated on standing and walking with good posture.

Last weekend I ran a Barefoot Runners Society meet-up downtown and afterwards a few of us went to one of the few - if not the only- minimalist shoe store in Vancouver.  I am not sure how long "The Natural Runner" has been operating, but they were new to me.  They know their stuff - it was nice to talk about form and foot/leg structure whilst in a running shoe store.  It was wonderful that they knew who Mark Cucuzella, Jason, Lee Saxby etc. were and yet didn't mention the book "Born to Run" once.  After talking to Tim (the manager) about various topics we briefly got onto the topic of certification in teaching barefoot running.

The whole topic of Barefoot Running training and certification has become a bit of a hot topic lately, more so with Vivobarefoot introducing a certification program specifically dealing with coaches who deal with Barefoot Running.

As is usual on this blog I am going to put in my 2 cents into the pot.  I only have 2 cents, so if you want anymore from me then.. umm.. tough.

To put it simply, I am not wholly convinced on the "Certification" route.  At this present moment in time I am not sure it's the best direction for the Barefoot Running community.  That's not to say in time my views may change - that's the good thing about this community of laid-back hobby joggers, we don't stress about changing our views - but currently, yeah, I don't know if this is what we should do.

I'll explain my reasoning. This is not against VivoBarefoot and their certification process.  I am glad they are promoting education and that they are doing it in a structured, carefully considered way.   This is more of a musing on the "Certification" issue in general.

Running is complex and it deals with lots of variables - mainly us; the human race.  I find it hard to believe that a training program would be able to cover all of our little quirks.  When an extensive program is put into place, so many rules and techniques are used that the whole process of teaching becomes too rigid. "Stand like this", "move like this", "visualize this".  A more formal teaching style has a tendency to be taught as a program for the masses not being taught for the individual.  I see potentially a lot of people having difficulty because they are being taught techniques which aren't structurally suited for them.  There is so much to learn - it could get very complicated, very quickly.  Okay, the "ABC - 3 rules" technique won't give everyone 100% perfect form.  However it is flexible enough that it will give good guidelines to pretty much everyone who wants to run.  It's simple, it's easy to understand and it's do-able especially for a novice.   I would rather see an 80% improvement in form over 100% of the group than 100% improvement in 80% of the group.  Does that mean there is no place for a more formal program? Actually a more formal program could be very useful for a more experienced runner or someone who is actively looking to improve the small, resistant issues in their form.  For a new runner, I think it would be overwhelming.

Why concentrate on Barefoot Running?  Barefoot running isn't a sport in itself, it's just a different way of, well.. Running.  We should be concentrating on teaching "good running form", not teaching "good barefoot running form".  I admit that developing good form is not as easy when you are in conventional running shoes.  However, some improvements can be made regardless of what you wear on your feet.  Let's not isolate Barefoot Running.  Let's just teach good running form to everyone and let people decide what they should wear.  We have to accept in the Barefoot and Minimalist community that we are not going to convert everyone to our way of thinking.  So let's concentrate on teaching techniques that are extensively used in good barefoot running form and teach everyone.  When we teach using science and good information, then people will be more converted to barefoot and minimalist running; they will switch because it makes sense NOT because it is a "current craze".  The same with "Barefoot Shoes".  Let's just call the minimalist shoes, "shoes" but explain why they are designed the way they are.

Certification does not always guarantee competency.  I am a cynic, but we have all seen it in other professions.    "Yes", you can take the coaching course, "Yes", you can do your exams and "Yes" you can have your piece of paper.  Does that mean you have the experience of teaching the hidden in's and out's? "No".  Does that make you a good teacher? "No".  However you have that piece of paper.  So when new runners are looking for an easier way to obtain information regarding barefoot running, they will look for someone "certified" and maybe will be less reluctant to question the teacher.  I personally would listen to someone who has years of solid experience, who can tailor my program and has no piece of paper, than that of a runner with little experience but the word "certified" after their name. However, I think that maybe I am in the minority.  I was brought up to question - I am not sure this is the case of the majority of the population.

Certification takes out the need for self-evaluation. This leads on from my previous point.  We are all lazy - the human race is always looking for an easy way out.  Taking a training course is useful, but it is an easy way out.  Years ago when I started Barefoot and minimalist running, we didn't have books, manuals or training courses.  If we wanted to learn about good running form, we asked questions, we tried new techniques and we listened to what our bodies was telling us.  We worked it out for ourselves.  Would we have done all of that if the information was handed to us?  Would we question what was working if we were held by the hand from beginning to end?  I am concerned that if someone took an extensive "certified" training course that the ability to self-evaluate what was and was not working for them would disappear.  We would listen to the teacher and follow all of the steps without questioning if the information was applicable to us.  A good teacher would be able to understand if something was or was not working for their student, but you can never guarantee good teachers in a new "field". The "ABC" program is basic enough that there is still a need of the student to self-evaluate and investigate.  The onus is on the student to tweak their form.  The student needs to work for that 20% to obtain perfect form.

Certification divides a profession or sport.  It's sad, but kind of true.  When you start implementing a documented way of doing something, you start creating divisions.  It starts becoming a case of "This way is better than that way".  You get zealots who believe their way is the ONLY way something should be taught.  New programs that are introduced have to find a "quirk" or a "spin" on how they teach so they can stand out from the rest.  Certification creates competition which ultimately divides the industry it set's out to standardize.  It's true of ALL professions. Look at Doctors, lawyers, or engineering - you need the degree from the "right" university.  It also means that a certain way is taught religiously, even if there are techniques from other educators that may work better for your student.  In my early days of Barefoot running, I revelled in the fact that we were all working on a common goal.  Okay our education techniques had a lot to be desired, but still, our only aim was that people ran well - how they did it was up to them.  It makes me a little sad to see how this unified objective may be destroyed.

I want to clarify, I am not against training programs or education.  Teaching people how to run well and with less injury is a GOOD thing.  I think the work done by Vivobarefoot, Merrell, Vibram, Skora, New Balance and all of the other minimalist shoe manufacturers out there (many of whom I should remember, but the coffee hasn't kicked in yet!) is amazing.  The "Good Form" programs that are currently out there are an excellent way of gaining information.  The books and magazine articles as well as the forums and web-site/blogs, all have a role to play.  My concern is the attempt to make one program appear better than all the rest.  This change I know is inevitable.  It's already in progress and the changes it will have on our little freaky community will be felt.  In 12 months time, I may lament this stance and wonder when I re-read this post, what all the fuss was about.  I may be a convert - who know's? But, at this time, I am uneasy.  I am not a certified running coach - I don't even count myself as a good running coach.  However, when someone comes to me and asks for advice, I do try to ensure the information is taken from multiple sources. is easy to understand and is individual to them.  My aim is to help them understand how their body moves and make them move better.  My payment is a coffee and a chat afterwards.  Until someone gives me a piece of paper, verifying me as being a mediocre coach and a very good coffee drinker, I think I will leave "certification" where it is. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Party in New York! NYC Barefoot Run 2011 - Part 3

Part One can be found here. PART ONE
Part Two can be found here. PART TWO

Yep, I am taking ages with this run report.  Blame catch-up; catch up on housework, catch up on sleep, catch up on all of those 300 emails I had waiting for me when I landed.  To be fair the sleep was the most important - the others, yeah, not so much ;)

So, Race Day.  We had pretty much realized that racing - in fact any type of running was going to be a little difficult.

Drunken hugs in the lobby at 6:45AM
Photo by Krista 
The last thing on my mind was running; anywhere.  I just wanted a hole to curl up in until my hangover kicked in.  I think everyone else wanted that too.  I had no time to shower and I must have smelt like a winery.  I am painting a gorgeous picture of myself.
Sleeping on the Ferry - Thanks Christian
So we took the subway to the governor island ferry.  Merrell bods, Krista, myself and Christian were in attendance.  Jesse, Shelly, Jason and Pablo, umm.. not so much.  

Drunken Kate and Sober Larry.
Photo by Catherine Gibbons
We met up with Trisha, Catherine and Larry at the race start.  They looked vaguely healthy; well Larry and Catherine 
did, but they did the sensible thing and left at 11:30.  As well as Chris who also left early because he was on "daddy duty".  Chris had brought the Run Smiley TUTU's which I managed to drag onto myself as the ferry left the terminal.  (I didn't do a good job, as the pictures show.  My running skirt was all caught up and looked suspiciously like I had rushed to the bathroom and then forgotten to tuck my underpants in).  Well if that was the worst humiliation I had during the race I was a lucky girl.
Chris and I in our TUTU's
Not sure if this was taken
by Krista or Christian

We hid ourselves well for the group shot and hung around trying desperately to sober up.  Still no sign of Jason, Jesse, Shelly or Pablo. Humm...

So we chatted and ate banana's. Christopher McDougall was there. Krista and I told private rude jokes as we munched our banana's in a failed attempt to be seductive ;) Unfortunately the drunken gang from last night were the only ones with Beer Goggles - everyone else could see us perfectly. :D

The race was called to start and we all lined up.  Everyone started yet Krista and I ran to the nearest porta-potty.  Yep, We spent the first 5 mins of the race in the loo.  Not an auspicious start :)

Yeah, not good.
Thanks Bob for the photo.
I had forgotten to tape up my 2 funky toes, so I elected to run in my stripy socks.  I was carrying my "Invisible shoes" huaraches in my "hobby Jogger" hoodie, just in case.  I have to admit I don't remember much of the first lap; if the photo's are anything to go by, that is probably a good thing as I was transcending the "drunk" stage to the "okay I feel fine stage".

It was warm and muggy, so after one lap, we all congregated to drink coconut water in an attempt to continue the sobering-up process.  Coconut water is the most evilest creation on the planet.  Okay, it isn't usually - I have actually drunk coconut water before and with a little tweaking it's actually drinkable.  This stuff wasn't.  Although that could have just been my queasy stomach.  The effort to keep the coconut water in my stomach worked and after a little while I was actually feeling vaguely human - although looking human wasn't going to happen for a while.

Larry, Trisha and I enjoying coconut water
Not really - photo Catherine Gibbons
It was then I discovered that during my drunken stagger around the first lap, my 'Invisible shoes' had fallen out of my hoodie.  It turns out after talking to other runners, that they had fallen out at separate times along the course.  People were asking about who's huaraches there were.  I should have gone for another lap and picked them up, but I came up with a cunning plan.  After talking to Steve from IS, we decided to leave them where they were and let everyone wonder.  Start an 'Urban Myth'.  What happened to the runner who lost one shoe?  Did they get eaten by the monster of Governor Island? Did the 'Loch Ness Monster' go on vacation and have a snack? Was the runner captured by aliens?  We came up with a future plan (if we are ever invited back), that next time we will take with us random and bizarre pieces of clothing and leave them in strategic places on the course.  How strange can this 'Urban Myth' get?

As I was feeling better I decided to do another lap with Christian and Chris (I think it was Chris, now I am wondering… as you can tell I am not drinking as I write this so I am hindered in my attempt at recall).  As we approached the ferry terminal we saw the first passenger ferry disembarking.  Yep, there was Jesse, Jason and Shelly.  We walked the last part teasing them about the fact they didn't turn up.  They did have the opportunity to shower and have breakfast so in fact they did make a better first impression than we did ;)

The Run Smiley team - photo by Merrell.
The first ferries were about to leave and a lot of our group decided to leave.  Just before I managed to escape, Christopher McDougall pulled me into a Hula dance with various others.  I was becoming hung-over, I was tired and I am naturally un-coordinated.  I saw Chris from BRS NY, grinning as he was drinking beer.  We decided to do a runner.  So like naughty school kids, we slipped out from the back of class and did a runner when we thought we were far enough away.

Patrick pulling us.  Yes we are pretending
to use Whips. Thanks Bookis for the photo
Krista was waiting for me as the others had left.  Just as we we walking back, we bumped into Patrick and Bookis from Luna.  Patrick offered to take us to the terminal in the rickshaw.  This was an offer we couldn't refuse.  Patrick is one of the sweetest people I know and has a wicked sense of humour.  So the four of us (Patrick pulling Krista and I as Bookis ran along side) headed to the terminal talking very dirty and causing general mayhem.  To give you an indication on how off-colour we were being, Krista actually suggested we should quieten it down because there were kids about.  Coming from Krista? Yep, we were that bad.

According to Patrick we were too heavy and he happily deposited us at the terminal  - especially as we had broken the rickshaw flag twice on the circuit.  The first ferry was just about to leave, so in fact we caught up with the rest of the crowd on the ferry.

We all took the subway back and at the hotel we got showered (thank god) and we actually began to look vaguely decent.  Pablo, Jesse, Christian, Krista and myself went looking for food.  It was good to get out, although the mexican food didn't quite agree with my stomach - at one point I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or throw up.  Close call.  The food did the job though and on the way back I was feeling normal.

We collapsed in the hotel lobby for a couple of hours as we waited for everyone to catch their flights.  All of us trying not to fall asleep and contemplating the end of the biggest experience we have had for a long time.  It was bitter sweet saying good-bye to all my friends.  Although I had only technically known them in real-life for less than 72 hours, the bond we had created on-line and had cemented on the weekend, meant that when we said good-bye it was like saying goodbye to old friends.  There were hugs - lots of hugs.

Krista and I sober and on 'Top of the
Rock' One of the few photo's I was
actually able to take
Krista and I were left alone.  We decided to do a little sight-seeing in the last few hours.  Although I had been in NYC for the whole weekend I hadn't seen much of it.  It was nice for the two of us to walk along Broadway and 5th, take in Times Square and go to 'The Rock' to see the view.  It solidified where I was; I couldn't help but be overwhelmed all over again.  

We settled for an early night and little drinking.  Didn't stop Krista and I talking till midnight like teenage girls on a sleep-over.  We talked about running and form as well as making rude jokes.  I can't believe I actually gave a form running clinic as we were sitting on the bed in our jammies :)

I couldn't sleep, my body-clock was screwed, so as I got up for my flight at 4am, I had no sleep.  I said a quick goodbye to Krista and headed to the taxi as I left NYC.  All over - but what an amazing experience.

On reflection, the weekend stats speak for themselves. In total I had only 10 hours sleep over about 96 hours.  I ran a total of 7 miles.  I spent about 20 hours drinking and I have no idea how much I drank.  I made loads of new friends and cemented the friendships I already had.

As I collapsed on the plane I couldn't help but smile :)  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Party in New York! NYC Barefoot Run 2011 - Part 2

My photo of Times Square.

Part One can be found here.  PART ONE
Part Three can be found here.  PART THREE

So it's been just under a week and in a desperate attempt to remember last weekend I have decided to under-go "State-dependant recall"; i.e. I was drunk when I was walking around NYC, so therefore I need a couple of glasses to remember. (also referencing all of the photo's taken of me whilst holding a glass of wine - there were so many). The photo's are all taken by others.  I would cite them, but there are so many.  My camera was useless, so I had to use other photographic evidence) ;)

When I left off we were being whisked away by Merrell via very yellow taxi cabs to a dungeon in the ACE hotel.  I am not sure if myself or my fellow bloggers (namely Christian and Jesse) were aware of the company we would be keeping.  Walking into the room (after being asked to remove our shoes), we were in the same space as Amby Burfoot of Runners World, Mark Cucuzella, Vibram and Merrell big-wigs.  Famous bloggers like Josh and Pablo. Let's not forget Jason and the other big names there.  There were literally so many and I have a very small brain - If I forgot you, umm.. sorry *sheepish grin*.
Underground bunker.  I think
Christian took this one.

So I was overwhelmed and luckily a beer and sharing a comfy seat by Christian was enough to get me to loosen up (That sounded kind of rude - cool).  Before long I was giving my uninformed 2 cents.  The "round-table discussion" was actually a geeky highlight of the weekend.  Despite all of the goofing around, I think some really important points and issues were raised.  Not sure how much I am allowed to say, but the whole meeting left me feeling that we were on the right track and on to something.

Josh's photo of our Dr. Who timelines.

After a quick change, we were again whisked in a more hollywood style (Lexus this time) to a restaurant where very tiny food and way too much sangria were served.  This was where were able to be more ourselves and less corporate.  As my glass was filled more and more with apple chunks and less with Sangria; i.e. way too many glasses of alcohol, I took the time to just generally chat.  I am such a nerd, but the highlight here was discussing Doctor Who/RiverSong timelines with Josh Sutcliffe (BarefootJosh).  We had pens and the backs of menus. Much to the avoidance of some of our companions and the mirth of others. One of the Merrell guys was almost peeing himself watching us as I (sad as it is) accurately named episode titles.  *cough* it was a highlight for me okay!

Then off to the Merrell pre-race party and packet pickup.  This is where the majority of the drinking was done.  Free barefoot wine and beer - come on.  Most of us made a token gesture to listen to the talks, but after 20 mins of being stared at whilst giggling at the back of the class, we decided a position closer to the beer was needed. Outside it was then.

I'm British... pulling funny faces in front of important people
is my hobby. (I think Trisha took this)
I don't really remember much of this.  I DO remember me "chewing out" Christopher McDougall for ruining my life (he was the reason I started "Run Smiley") and he promptly tattooed me (temporarily of course) as we both pulled funny faces.  I remember snagging a bottle of wine (we weren't allowed whole bottles) and that it was a really long run whilst drunk to the nearest toilets.  I remember getting very huggy and probably quite incoherent.  I apparently could stand given the photographic evidence - however how I have NO idea.  I think Christian standing next to me may explain that. When a short person drinks too much you need a 6 foot+ giant to hold you up. 

Inside Trisha's room.  I think they were talking
about Orgasms. Not sure who was taking this.
I know we started walking and then all of us needed the bathroom and so we ended up at Trisha's hotel because it was closer - however I think we did get lost on the way.  We then ended up on a subway to the ACE hotel where we went to the bar and carried on drinking.  I think Jason said in his "I propose" voice that we all go to bed at about 4am.  I can see the sense of it as we had to be up at 6:30, however, if we were thinking straight (and we weren't) we would have stayed up and started drinking water and coffee, then headed to the ferry with NO sleep.  We were a happy band of Jesse, Jason, Shelly, Trisha, Pablo, Krista, Christian and myself. A very drunk happy band.

So we had to meet the Merrell people at 6:45am in the lobby.  At 6:30 Krista's alarm went off and she kicked me out of bed.  (Still not sure how I managed to get to bed, that's still a grey area).  I stood and pretty much fell over, yep, we were still drunk.

I went to bathroom and I think I fell over and at 6:40 was still in a fetal position trying to get up and not throw up.  We did make it to the lobby; of the gang that were drinking Christian, myself and Krista were the only ones who made it.  The look we gave the Merrell guys pretty much told them we needed coffee and water. 

We still had to run… the race and after-math in the next instalment (I need more wine!)