Saturday, April 19, 2008

My New Shoes

Shoes are always fun to buy. I am relentless at trying to find a good deal. My wife an I did some power shopping in Boca Raton down in Florida. Actually the mall we went to was about 45 minutes away. We were told that Sawgrass Mills Shopping Mall is like the third largest attraction is south Florida next to Disney World and Universal Studios.

There was 270 shops in all and I was on a hunt to find a new pair of Trail Shoes for the summer. My last pair did me well, Montrail Continental Divide. The only problem was my trail runs are half trail and half road and I wore out the outsole really quickly in my last pair.

The Salomon XT Wings are advertised as the perfect match to my needs. I read all the reviews. TrailRunner Magazine, Runners World, and even a few local ones all of them said the outsole was geared toward a bit of both.

So I found some for just under $110 in a discount shoe store. I couldn’t resist them they looked just like the picture in the ads in the magazine. You know the ones where they include an excerpt from some trail description of a badass race like Western States or Miwok 100.

Now after bringing them home, I’ve been wearing them around the house trying to get use to the funky lacing system. Thin Kevlar lace and a lace lock then you have to tuck the excess into a flap. The first couple of times I wore them too tight and the tops of my feet hurt from the pressure of the laces. Now you kind of have to remember how tight to pull and lock it into place.

The other thing that may take some getting use too is the pronation control feature. This translates into a soft arch support. I haven’t run in them yet but I’m worried the ‘arch support’ might rub a bit.and eventually cause blisters.

I wear them from the time I get home to the time I go to bed and they feel awesome. They literally fit like a glove.

I’ll keep you posted on how they do on the trail/roads.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I know why God gave us Trail Shoes

This past weekend I resumed my quest for ultra distance by hitting the trails. I had to take a momentary hiatus from the trails because of that darn Daylight Savings Time. A few months ago it was great I would start my runs in the dark run for an hour and hit the trailhead at sunrise. Then daylight savings time comes around and BAM it’s dark for another hour. So I went long on the roads for a while, then I got sick, then I went to Boca Raton and now I’m back at it.

My new long run starts out on the roads (as do all my runs). I run for about 5 ½ miles and I hit the trailhead at Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain is the local mountain biking downhill. It has its steep moments and the overall elevation gain is about 600 to 700 feet.
Some of the areas are washout from the spring runoff. It is those areas where I now appreciate a good trail shoe not so much for the ankle support or the toe protection but the stiffer sole that allows you to cruise over rocky surfaces.

I topped out after a mile or so and decided to look around. There is a whole network of fire roads that I have to explore. I wanted to keep my miles below 12 this run as it was my first long run in awhile. On the way down all the uneven surfaces slowed me down more than normal in my road shoes. I tended to roll over a bit more in my road shoes too.

Once back on the road it was the weirdest feeling to have your very flexible sole on a flat surface. The run ended up being 15 and change, so much for keeping it under 12. But at least I discovered new ground to cover. I think I’ll break in my Salomon’s on this trail.

All I have to do figure out how to attach my Nike+ Sensor to my Kevlar Laces. Duct Tape?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vision Quest

I remember hearing about some native ritual from long ago whereby young men as passport to manhood are deprived of food and water and sent out to the wilderness alone. They starve and thirst and achieve a heightened sense of awareness and gain better focus on what is truly important or they die in the wilderness. They call it a Vision Quest. Tough love!

I believe the turning point or epiphany the young man observes has a lot to do with the deprivation of the normal, the material and survival goods that surround his everyday life.

For me this past week was full of epiphanies, if that’s possible. I’ve gone on week long business trips without family but I always have my running. You see I’m a runner. Running makes me normal. On my runs I find solace. On my runs my head become clearer thinking. So when I don’t run I go through several stages much like hunger. To take running away from me makes me less than normal. On the first day I yearn for it and miss it. On the second day I get cranky and pretty miserable to be around. On the third day I’m kind of weird almost like a constant confusion, a daze if you will. And that’s usually the most it ever goes because injuries are rare, sickness only last a few days and I’ll run on the cusp of recovery. Day Four never comes, I have never walked into the wilderness.

My company as a reward for the past years performance take the top ten reps on an all expenses paid trip to some plush resort. They then proceed to pamper said employee and their spouse to a weekend of decadence. This year I was so lucky to attend the weekend in Boca Raton, Florida.

This past week, as I said was full of epiphanies. Our whole family, even Nana was sick with a respiratory infection. Everybody went on some form of antibiotic, me being a mediphobe (fear of medication – my term) did not take any. So for three days I didn’t run. I was on the cusp of recovery, Day Four, when our trip to Boca Raton was scheduled. I walked into the wilderness on my Vision Quest.

Because of the time difference, jet lag, and social networking I didn’t run for the duration of the trip. I had a short 40 minute bout on a treadmill but treadmills just don’t count. By this time I was on day 5 of my Vision Quest.

My first epiphany was more of a point of clarity. The realization that my wife means everything to me became clearer than ever. We talked like when we first met, we hung out like we were the only two people in the World. We didn’t fight or argue. On the other end of the continent was our world, we were in the wilderness. We could survive and communicate and love each other without being entwined in our world. The epiphany part is that sometimes because of the daily routines and fast paced schedule of raising children, holding down a job to pay the mortgage and feed the kids. The romancing takes a back seat or at least sits in the side car on the motorcycle of life. With some people it’s lost altogether and never noticed until the kids are gone and there is no mortgage. But for us this trip reinforced our bond, our love.

I just wish it could be that way more often. I see glimpses of it in the twenty or so minutes between the time the last child goes to bed and we go to bed ourselves. Seeing that glimpse now makes me smile like it never use to.

I’m back running again. Vision Quest completed. Things are normal again, I have just gained greater focus.

I hope all of you who read this blog someday get a chance to get epiphanies like I did.