Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Better The Playlist - The Better The Run

Music plays an important part of my running. It is the difference whether I run or not. Many times, I’ve been ready to start when I discover I forgot my iPod or to charge it. No problem, right? Well...it’s resulted in me cancelling my run. BUT…I can only use an iPOD/music on any run of less than, say, 10 miles. After this, I get frustrated and want silence - no music.

I envy runners that can do a marathon or mega mileage with music. Since I can only use my headphones for the first couple of hours at the most, I always try to make the perfect play list - one that’ll get me off to a good start.

My play lists constantly change (depending on my mood), but, I’ve had the same play list for the last several months and thought I’d share it with you:

1. LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - I just recently re-discovered this great band - How could I have forgotten about them? If the cowbell doesn’t get you going, nothing will, my friend.

2. Skrillex - Bangarang - This gem made it to my play list thanks to my 16 year old son. I thought he just listened to songs by rappers named lil this, lil that or lil the other. When running to this song at night, I feel like I should have some glow sticks with me or put my headlamp on strobe - I’m ready to rave (whatever that really means).

3. Garbage - Blood For Poppies - I’m a sucker for Shirley Manson’s voice. It’s a little different than most of the earlier Garbage music but it’s an incredible song with incredible music.

4. Cobra Starship - You Make Me Feel. I think this is one of my guilty pleasure songs. It kinda sounds like bubble gum pop (and it may be), but its beat keeps me going and going and going.

5. Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch. Perfect song to come on when I’m feeling sluggish or slow. It gets me going from the first note right down to the last one.

6. R.E.M. - I Walked With A Zombie. Zombie. ‘nuff said.

7. Dave Mathews Band - Crash Into Me - What can I say? This is probably the only ‘slower paced’ song on my iPod that does not slow me down. It actually makes me run…better. I’m getting chills as I type this - this is how much I love this song.

8. Prince - When Doves Cry - Prince is a genius. Luckily, I’m wearing headphones and can’t see others’ reaction to me singing the intro to it, or for that matter, me singing the entire song out loud. Trust me, I am no singer, but great great song to run to.

9. Stevie Ray Vaugh - Tightrope - SRV always finds his way into almost all of my play lists. Air guitar playing while running is strongly encouraged during this song. No shame.

10. Vince Gil - Don’t Let Our Love Stop Slipping Away - Don’t ask.

My goal for the near future is to switch from music to audio books when I run. Wouldn’t it be great to go for a run of several hours and ‘read’ a book in the process? Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure if I can multi task - pay attention AND run. We shall see. But for right now, this is what keeps me going.

What's on YOUR playlist???

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sometimes bigger IS better...

I’d been been debating myself about getting Hokas for quite some time. You know those shoes - the ones with the cushion practically twice as big as ‘normal’ shoes. Or as one of my friends recently called them: the mattress shoes. Each time that I’d decided to get them, I’d talk myself out of it. They were too expensive (more on this later), they were only available on-line and I really prefer to try shoes on before I buy them (regardless of their liberal return/exchange policy), they looked too odd (they they may), etc.  

I’ve always preferred a shoe with cushioning - no minimal this or that for me. My friends swear by minimal shoes, but I’ve gotten in my head (and my feet) that I need my cushioning.  I have only used trail shoes for one race. The majority of my trail running has been on road shoes, and I feel they’ve worked adequately. 

I think my feet lately have gotten used to the ‘softer’ (if rocky trails are softer than road/sidewalk) surface of trails because as soon as I run on the street/sidewalk, they become achy. Not only do they become achy, but it takes me a while to lose that achy feeling. Plus, towards the end of last week’s Muleshoe Trail 60k, I was having to sidestep rocks because my feet were feeling each rock - regardless of the size.

Two of my friends who run in some seriously rugged terrain (Tim Smith & Ben Phenix) in the CenTex area run in these shoes and they swear by them. After suffering through some foot pain issues, nerding out online about them, and interrogating them about the shoe, I decided to give them a try.

A recent post on fb said Hokas were available at  a store in ATX since, apparently, they’re only available online. When I was in ATX a couple of weeks ago I decided to go and try them on. I was pleasantly surprised that they were so light. They look so bulky and I expected a heavy shoe. WRONG. I think my current road running shoe is twice as heavy as this. It also felt like I was standing on a padded cushion. So far so good, but, unfortunately, they did not have my size in the grey color I liked and I didn’t want them in the ‘hey look at my bulky and fluorescent shoes’ yellow.  Yes, I talked myself out of buying them again. 

Earlier in the week I called Luke’s Locker and my size had arrived in the cool looking grey color. As luck would have it, a friend of mine was coming down to the RGV so I asked her to get them for me. 

The price tag is a little staggering (for those of us on a budget): $170, but, hey, it’s for my feet. I ask a lot from them, so I gotta pamper them every now and then (again, justifying it to myself).

The Hoka One One Bondi Bs have arrived and I’ve run twice in them. It’s early but I’ve done a 5 mile run on the street and a 10 mile run on dirt trail. The shoes feel incredible! Each run, I purposely sought out rocks, cans, or roots to step on. I wanted to see if I would even feel what I was stepping on. The verdict: I didn’t feel a thing. Normally, after running on the street followed by a trail run, my feet would be a little sore/achy. I realize it’s only 2 runs but my feet are reaping the benefits of all this cushioning already. They actually feel pretty darn good. 

They are incredibly light and it feels like I’m running with pillows strapped to the bottom of my shoes. I expected them to feel somewhat heavy/bulky  but they didn’t. Anybody that knows me will tell you I’m a clumsy runner (I have the scars and a broken hand to prove it), so I was a little worried that the bulkiness of it would have me tripping over myself - I did not fall or trip not even once. (DISCLAIMER: if I do trip/fall, it’s probably my own clumsiness and not the shoe’s fault). 

I know, I know, I know, they look a little odd but as Forrest’s mom (one of my favorite movies) said: “what’s normal, anyway?” I think they look different when you aren’t wearing them as opposed to when you are wearing them. 

To sum it up, I wish I’d gotten these sooner. It’s too early to say how durable they are or will be. I'd like to put over 500 miles on them - quite a bit over 500, really, but the first real test will be in 2 weeks when I run my next trail 30k but so far so good. 

My only complaint: it’s a shame I have to start getting them dirty so soon. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Welcome to my 1st blog entry. I thought there was no better topic to start this experiment than to introduce you to the crazy girls I run with: MAP, Bengi, Laura and Judy.   I rarely run without them.  RARELY.  I have learned that I have come to need them to have a great run, well, a great run over 20 miles, that is. When we run there is no topic that is off limits. These women know more about me than my closest non-running friends... we talk about EVERYTHING...

Of course, we’ve had runs where we get upset at each other. Ok, maybe I just get upset. With me, if I'm having a crappy run, then I am crappy company.   I don’t want to talk, I dont want to joke, I dont want to talk about how I'm feeling and I dont want to take pictures (and if there’s one thing they like to do, it is TALK and take pictures). They love to take pictures, no matter how their run is going.

Back to the introduction of these tough running machines.  Most of the (mis) adventures that I will write about, undoubtedly, will involve one or all of them.
So, without further delay…

M.A.P. - The Ringleader. I like to call her my mentor. If MAP says to run, I run. If she says to walk the uphills, I walk the uphills. I don’t think I’ve ever questioned any running instruction she has given me. I have only seen her have a bad race once. ONCE!
Oh yeah and she loves to drink. Thanks to her, I’ve had beer by 6am and a mixed drink by 9am. All in the same day.

Bengi - She has a knack for stepping on frogs during lots of our runs. The rest of us have yet to see any of these alleged frogs but she still swears it was there (inside joke). She will tell you what she thinks whether you wanna hear it or not, it’s pretty, it’s ugly. You will never have to try to figure out what’s on her mind.

Laura - My one and only sole sister. Saying she’s tough is an understatement. She’s been to Iraq & kicked ass. She is the only person I know that hates to train but loves to run on race day. It’s not uncommon for her longest training run for a 60k (37 miles) to have been only a 13 miler, yet, she shows up on race day and runs the entire 60k comfortably.  My only pet peeve - she is very good at convincing those she is running with to cut the run short so we can have ‘ritas. Thanks to her, I’ve had to impose a new rule when we run: If we don’t run the mileage we agreed to, NO MARGARITAS!!!

Judy - She kicks ass no matter what she’s doing. Kickboxing, cross fit, weightlifting, its doesnt matter... she’s done it and done it well. Her special talent is keeping me from tripping. durning races, it's not uncommon for her to pick me up off the ground from my camelbak before I even realize I'm on the dirt.

There will be a rotating cast of characters, I am sure, but these characters will remain a staple here.

I expect most of my posts to deal with my/our running (mis) adventures but I will also write about random stuff that I like. I look forward to posting early in the a.m. when insomnia has arrived or when the ambien has kicked in. Enjoy.