Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post on 'The Barefoot Monologues'.

I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for my friend Trisha on her blog 'The Barefoot Monologues".

Trisha is an awesome writer and I was honoured to write for her.  Hopefully her blog stats aren't hit too much by my ramblings.

The post was called:  "Accepting the inevitable -- I am a Runner".


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why would barefoot runners make the best shoe designers?

Yep, there is a glass of wine in my hand, which is a cue for me to start mumbling incoherently about something or other.

Today, it's a mini-revelation that how barefoot runners would probably make the best shoe designers in the world.

I admit it's a sweeping statement, but in my surreal world it makes sense.

I must first clarify that when I talk about shoe design I am talking about shoes that work and not necessarily shoes that look good.  It's an unfortunate situation that the two aren't necessarily connected.

So why are we the best shoe designers?  Let me explain.

#1  Barefoot runners probably know more about running form than is healthy.  Generally barefoot runners know how to run.  It is a very general rule -- there will always be people who run badly regardless of what they wear on their feet, however on the whole we know the important aspects of running well.  We also know how shoes affect our form and which aspects of shoe design affect our form more than others.  If you want a shoe that is designed for enabling good running form, then we are your team.

#2  Minimalist runners are probably some of the pickiest people on the planet.  Seriously, we ask a lot of our shoes and we are very particular on a number of aspects.  We require good ground-feel, wide toe-boxes, comfortable fit, flexibility and minimal cushioning.  We also know how to identify the above.  We are so in-tune with the responses from our feet that we can immediately tell when something isn't right.  Quite often we don't need hundreds of miles to identify what is wrong with a shoe.  You'll probably find we can tell if a shoe is going to be good or bad by the time we get to the end of the street.

#3   We don't necessarily care what a shoe looks like, we just want it to work.  Forget those fancy swishes you have put on the side to cover the fact you can't design a shoe.  We won't be distracted by your design.   It may work with the masses, but it isn't going to work with us. This is also important for point #4.

#4  We are the 'Mothers' of invention'.  If you produce a shoe that sucks, then we will hack it to pieces until it works.  We don't take it back to the store and whine about the fact it's lousy.  We will pull out our tool-kits and craft-boxes.

We 'think outside of the box' and we will come up with solutions to the problems in your shoes.  The shoes may  not look very pretty after we have finished with them but they will work.  If there isn't a shoe out there that fulfills a need, then by heck, we will make it.

For example:  I made my own winter running shoes out of neoprene aqua booties, shoe-gloo and sand.  I used them extensively for a whole winter and they are still my ideal winter running shoe.  They work because I made shoes that fulfilled the specific needs I wanted.  I didn't add 'bells and whistles'.  The are ugly as sin, but they do the job and they do it well.  I have also been known to take craft knifes, duct tape, cardboard, hair elastics and glue to a shoe to make it work.

#5   We may not care about how a shoe looks but we do have our own sense of style.   Okay, I am biased here but I think as a group we are kind of groovy.  You can tell a barefoot runner in a crowd without even glancing at their feet.  We are not your average runners and if you want unique styling in your shoes, then we are the group you need to talk to.  Forget the black lycra tights and boring race shirts. We are bold, bright, eccentric and punk.  We can make your shoes stand out from the crowd.

#6   We say it as it is.   If you have a sensitive disposition and react badly to criticism then don't talk to us.  If you want the straight up, flat out truth about your shoes then we will tell you and it will probably involve the terms that are more related to the bathroom (or bedroom, if we think your shoe is good).  We are a concise bunch and find it hard to wax lyrical about a product we think needs improving.

#7  Strange as it sounds, people may actually listen to us.  If you are a serious runner and you wanted to know how good a shoe is, who would you talk to?  The guy who's education about running only goes as far as watching "Chariots of fire", or the person who may have spent the last six months reading about running and analysing their running form?  Okay, we don't know all the answers -- in fact we know even less when we have been drinking -- but the fact is that we probably know a little more about what we are talking about than the runner who goes to the box store for their runners.  If we don't know the answers then we probably know those that do.  We aren't experts and many of us don't claim to be, yet if I needed to know how good a shoe is, then I would go to the blog from a minimalist runner.  They know what they are looking for.

There you have it.  My drunken reasons on why we are awesome shoe designers.  Now if any shoe companies want to offer me a job then feel free, however I am not expecting any immediate offers once they have seen my previous designs.  The Smithies were conceived and constructed with the aid of wine and it shows.  Ahh well... that's another career scrapped before it was started.

Now back to my previous vocation of 'General drunken wastrel'!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Avoiding the temptation to "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

As you can see from the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks, life stuff has interrupted my usual stupid mumblings.

I wish it was for exotic reasons -- like I was whisked away to a beautiful island where it was warm, sunny and not covered in green moss -- but no.  Life threw me something that floored me.  Actually it wasn't life as such but probably some flu-ridden kiddie in the food aisle of the local food market.

Yep, a plague descended upon my house.  I have been replaced by a groaning, spluttering monster that seems to move at a sloth-like place, whilst producing slime from every known -- and probably some unknown -- orifices.

Fine, I just had the flu.  I have a post to write here.  If I condense it to "I had the Flu" how else could I fill this page up with an additional thousand words.

Despite having the flu-jab this year, it appears that the Universe found it ironic that I should be the only person in the house to come down with the flu.  Apparently, the flu-jab mitigated the full of the effect of the virus, which meant I didn't even have full flu.  I just had enough flu to make me feel like I wanted to die, whilst giving me enough energy to not quite justify collapsing into a bed and achieving it!

I have been feeling pretty rotten.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I woke up for the 5-peaks trail race in Golden Ears.  I wasn't able to register on-line, so I was going to register at the race start.  I woke up and felt a bit rough, but generally okay.  I was going to register for the longer race.  As I drove to the race start, I began to feel a little more worse for wear.  In the end, I registered for the shorter 9K course with about 350m.1,000 ft elevation gain.  I am pretty glad I did.

I spent the first 3K hacking and wheezing up the first slight incline -- much to the annoyance of the beef-cake dude who was prancing about at the race start showing everyone his strapped on video camera. He started in a corral before me -- with the unspoken intention that he was going to get awesome video of himself running up some mountains.  'Pride before a fall' meant he was consequently 'chicked' by lots of middle-aged women, including me as I spluttered past him.  I have a feeling he won't be showing that video at his next protein shake and dead-lift party.

After, the initial 'hacking my lungs up' start, the race actually improved.  I power hiked up the steep inclines and bombed down the rocky descents in a respectable time of an hour.  It was one of the first times I have not fallen into the stragglers on these races and I felt quite pleased with myself on the mid-pack placing especially after the dubious start.

About four hours after the return home I began to feel distinctly dodgy.  I initially placed the aches and tiredness to the run, but as an overnight sleep just produced a fever and an inability to move faster than a lethargic snail, I guess I was actually sick.

The next week was spent with the inability to actually move for more than about ten minutes at a time.  I was okay-ish if I was sitting, but as soon as I moved, then I would be hit with a sudden head-rush and proof that doing anything more strenuous than a slow walk was not an option.

The first week progress to a second week.  After continuing temperatures, aches, tiredness and a sore throat, I eventually conceded defeat and went to the Doctor.  I was told I had a 'mild' - 'MILD!' did the Doctor not see my corpse slumped on the chair in front of him -- dose of flu and there was nothing he could do.  Gargle with salt-water, eat Vit C tablets till you look like an orange and drink fluids.

So, here I am, nearly 3 weeks later.

The aches and pains have disappeared.  I am not that speedy, but at least I can stand for more than a hour without wanting to pass out.  An improvement on the ten minutes.  I am still quite slimy, but a follow on from the two weeks of slime is that the slime is turning into post-viral asthma.

Last night I experienced the worst case of asthma I have had for a long time. So this has lead to the a heart-wrenching decision.

I cannot run the BMO half-marathon tomorrow.

This was my BIG race of the year.  The expensive race of the year.  The one I have been training for. A race which I will experience a "Did Not Start" -- and the joy of a $100 t-shirt to add to my clothing collection.

The mental problem I have is not so much the "DNS".  I have experienced that before, so it's not a unknown situation -- I know I am not fussed about that.  It's the fact even now -- as I am sitting here, tissues full of green gunk surrounding me -- I still desperately want to do this race.

 Although I was moaning and groaning about the logistics of the race earlier in the week and even though I knew that at best this was going to be a "walk-run" affair -- with the emphasis on walk --  I was still  planning to get up at 4AM and run this race.

Until, last night.

I was having to take my asthma reliever almost hourly through the night and mentally putting a time-frame on myself that "If I don't feel better in an hour I am going to the ER"; it just highlighted that my body is not even in a state to walk this race.

My body is screwed, but my attitude isn't.  It is still chanting, "Suck it up, Buttercup!"  and "You will feel better when you start".

The thing is, I know I won't.  It's not even a case of pushing my bodies limits a little.  This is a case of pushing my bodies limits to where there will need a road-side ambulance at the half-way point.

I barely had enough breath to walk to the Salmon Hatchery today for the 'Fingerling Festival' and back.  That's a one mile round-trip (with stops).  Moving continuously for 13 miles is not a realisable option at the moment.

I need to resist my minds chants of "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

I have been using this line on my Son lately -- in a way to teach him that life doesn't go the way you plan. Today he came back with a retort of "Never, Ever, Trevor!"  The look on his face was priceless and I now know that the phrase is now consigned to the bin of "go-to parental one-liners destroyed by a smart-arse kids with an even smarter mouth".

So this post is a message from my viral-wrecked body to my permanently optimistic brain.

"Suck it up, Buttercup? Yeah, right! Never, Ever, Trevor!"

My Husband took a photo of me today.  I was sat in my tutu, fairy wings, my race bib and I was blowing my nose.  I made a very sad running fairy.  I posted it on a Facebook competition from my local independent running store.  If i get over 100+ likes, I may win some free running gear.

So go here

The Runners' Den Facebook competition

and click LIKE.  Let's see if we can use the power of Social-networking and get a sick Fairy some free gear ;)