Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mid-December Barefoot Run

I have to say that I am certainly loving the weather this year. Normally by this time we have tons of snow and -25° C cold snaps but this year it has been pretty mild. Weird considering how earlier this winter I heard a report that it was supposed to be a long and cold winter. I'll certainly be grateful for the weather we have so far either way.

Anyways so Monday comes along and I'm set to run outside. I have all my cold weather gear with me just like normal, however when lunch time comes I take a look an the temperature is a nice balmy 7-8°C outside. Lovely. I can shed a couple extra layers of clothing. So I head out wearing just my base layer top, base layer tights, bondiband and water shoes. No socks. Woot!!! I run for about a mile and I get a thought. It's pretty nice out, why not take off my shoes. Off come my shoes. The ground is a little cold but it felt so great to get out barefoot again. Even with the coldness my feet feel alive and loving every sensation. I'm running along the south side of the Bow River downtown and the pathway is clear of snow, just a couple of small icy patches. Absolutely lovely. Cross the river and discover that the City is much more deligent about putting gravel down on the pathway on the north side of the river. Silly city. I joked on facebook that they should be more considerate of all the people running barefoot along the pathways. In the middle of december. I guess we can't really expect that from them.
So nice!!!

I decided what the hey and ran along the gravel for a while. Uncomfortable but not really painful at first. Much better than what it used to be. Nice. I had to finally put on my water shoes again once it started getting painful. No need to be a hero, I like being able to walk without raw stinging feet. ;) All in all I got in about 6 miles total, with probably 4 miles of that barefoot. In the middle of December. Never thought I would be doing that before. I certainly envy other runners in much fairer climates who can run outside year round without fear of frostbite. Glad to have a nice day during the winter to enjoy. Here is to taking advantage of many more days like that.
Although I did manage to get a blood blister on my toe. Hazard of cold weather. Cold = less feeling and easier to hurt yourself without knowing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It is almost Christmas

Things have been super busy around here. I cannot believe it has been 11 days since I have posted. I am slowly starting to get better after my awful sickness. I still have a cough but at least I can breath again and I am able to run.

I have been reflecting lately about how different this Christmas will be for me. Last year I had just begun my journey to get healthy and lose weight. I was doing well and actually managed to continue to lose weight over the holidays last year. This year is so different. I have reached my goal weight and I am a runner. Oh my, I can't believe I wrote that. I am a runner!!! If you had told me last year that I would call myself a runner or that others would see me as a fast runner (funny. I am pretty slow) I would have laughed. This year though, leading up to Christmas I am running. I am training for 2 half marathons and oh yeah, I am eating cookies!!! I am at a place now where I can indulge and not gain because of the miles I put in and because my body has settled in here. Now I need to learn how to indulge moderately, I still have a tendency to binge and eat nothing but cookies. It will come I am sure.
Goal weight. All dressed to preform at my Christmas Concert

Onto running. Things have been going so well. I am finding my form much more easily and running has become a joy again. Thanks Tina. I am even getting some more speed. I think that once all of the snow is gone and I can run in fewer layers I may actually be faster than before I switched to minimalist shoes. I am continuing to run in my beach walkers. They feel so good and I am amazed at how waterproof they are. On my run last night it was a mix of slush, puddles, ice, snow, and some dry spots. I ran through at least 2 ankle deep puddles last night and didn't notice any water getting into my shoes. Amazing! 

My last long run was on Saturday. It was good but I was definitely bonking at the end. Run here. I had been indulging in a great number of cookies and chocolates for most of Friday and Saturday, but I have a much smaller stomach now so I didn't eat much else. I guess all that sugar wasn't what my body needed to go out and run for a couple of hours. Overall the run was great. The weather was amazing. 5ºC with a pretty strong westerly wind. I love chinooks!! It made me look forward to spring and running again when there is no snow and ice on the ground and I don't need a bazillion layers to keep me from freezing. The bonking came at the end of my run. By mile 8 I couldn't eat anymore of my fuel. My stomach was uneasy and I couldn't imagine putting anything else in there. I was running in an area that is newish to me. I had run out that way but never back. I had to stop and check my map on my phone because I was disoriented and didn't know where I was going. I did finally get going in the right direction and made it home. I was beat. I guzzled a chocolate milk and a large glass of water. Stretched out my IT bands then fell into the bath. I am not normally tired after a long run and I really wondered how on earth I was going to run a half marathon in 2 weeks.  Pictures from my long run.

Fast forward to last night. Run Here.
It was warm again last night and I was feeling great. I ate supper with the family and then quickly put on my gear. The noise and busy-ness of my kids was getting to me so I needed to get out!!! I set out without any set distance or time that I wanted to accomplish. I was going to do at least 4 miles. I ended up doing 7 miles and ran progressively faster as the run went on. It felt amazing to be running fast more quickly than normal. I got home feeling like I could have run for a lot longer. I guess I can do the half next weekend, as long as I eat real food along with my cookies.  I passed this house while running, it was so lit up the whole street seemed to glow.

And just because it is always a nut house here I thought I would share some of the pictures I took yesterday during the day.

First up Joey (2) helping to make scrambled eggs. Surprisingly we only found one shell while we were eating.

Goofy Pictures and a sweet picture of 2 of my girls. We are super excited for Christmas here. It is all sorts of crazy!! 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Being Sick Sucks!

Well this has been a very uneventful week for running. I last ran on Monday but had to cut the run short because my lungs were hurting. I managed to catch a chest cold Sunday and it has had be out all well. 5 of the 7 kids all have it as well and it has been a LONG week. I am hoping to get out tonight to run 5 miles with a friend. I am getting better but not 100% yet. Just hoping that my lungs will cooperate. My body feels stiff from all of the sitting around I have been doing. My plan for the rest of the week is 5 miles today, some weights and maybe a spin on my stationary bike on Saturday and a 9 mile run home from church on Sunday. Here's hoping I'll feel up to it.

I thought I would add some pictures of what our week has been like.

Science Games for School

Monopoly for Math Class

Baking counts as Home Ec, Math and Science

Outdoor Education and Gym Class

A mountain of cookies my by the kids. Even gluten free for Daddy.

This little guys turns 2 tomorrow. He has a great party last Sunday. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I've been meaning to getting around and doing a review of my Vivobarefoot Neos. We got them on Nov 21st and I have been running in them where I can as well as wearing them just for walking around. I found my pair of Neos on the website . I was able to find it for about $60, which is a fantastic deal.
So very nice.

So first about the styling and materials. I love, love, love the look of these. They have been described as a more retro look and I certainly agree. I dig the look of these they have now become my go to casual shoe just because I love how they look so much.

The upper is super flexible. Suede around the edges with the white parts of the shoes being a breathable mesh. The insides of the shoe are nice and soft. Very luxurious. I can go barefoot in these and it feels great. I do have one complaint about it though. Due to the stitching by the heel of the grey suede and the, umm green fabric there is a small portion of stitching right at the heel that sticks out just a little bit more. At the end of the first day of wearing my Neos I had a new blister formed on my heel.
My blister. Actually just kidding. This was more recent due to running over my own heel with a shopping cart.
This is the blister that I got. Still hurt though.

The first blister I've gotten from minimalist shoes. Like I said, this was due to doubling back on the stiching so it stuck out just a little bit more. Not sure if this is a common problem, but it was present in my shoes. I'm mostly wearing them with socks right now so it's not much of a problem at the moment. Hopefully in the summer it will have sorted itself out but we shall see.

You may be able to make out the stitches just to the left and right of the heel.
The Neos have a removeable footbed in them. You can either wear them with or without the footbed depending on if you want to feel the ground a little bit more or not. I found the ground feel was really good. I could feel individual rocks while wearing it, but those rocks no longer hurt. The sole is nice and flexible with the honeycomb tread giving pretty good traction.
Nice and flexible
Honeycomb tread, good traction.

The Neos were great during the fall with it being a little cold, however once we got more than just a dusting of snow I had to abandon using them in favor of my water shoes. At least until I get my Neo Trails. Sheesh, I'm incorrigible. Laff  I might try these again with it being colder using the two layers of socks and see just how good they are with the cold.

I had never tried these on before so I had to guess about the right size when ordering them. I ended up with a size 41. I found the fit to be pretty good except I could stand to have a little more room in the toes. I don't feel like I have lots of room and find that when putting my feet in, my big toe and little toe are already touching the sides which doesn't leave much room for splaying. I ran on the treadmill today and stopped halfway through because I felt my first little toe and second little toe (the little piggy that stayed home and the little piggy that has roast beef) were squished and trying to bend under each other. Didn't feel very good so I switched into my Vibram Bikilas. Had I been able to try them on first I might have gone with a bigger size to make up for the smaller toe box, but a super great deal on them meant I couldn't do so.

I have worn these shoes running outside, running on the treadmill, walking around as well as playing floor hockey in them. Other than the stitching on the back and the slightly narrow toe box I love these shoes. They have now become my go to casual shoe and they work so well in so many situations. I highly recommend them.

More winter training and Christmas drawings

In preparation for our upcoming Half-marathons at the end of December and in February I have been trying to run outside as much as possible. Even when it is not very nice out. Chances are the half marathons won't feature great weather with snow free condition so I better get used to it. Especially since this is our first winter running. I have to say though I'm still quite enjoying it. Running in my water shoes (at least until I get my precious Neo Trails. I know, I know. I'm still going on about it, but it's my blog so there. I'm totally looking forward to new shoes in the new year). I'm really digging the water shoes. The grip isn't super great on ice, but that's also a good thing as it helps with form. :)

Anyways so I have been running outside lots. Long runs on the weekend and shorter runs downtown during the week. On Monday I had a 5 mile run outside and it was wonderful. Still having some issues with the knee, but stretching it out first seems to be helping a whole lot. Need to make sure that I'm doing it all the time and I think that would make things even better.
Snowy paths. Packed snow and ice can be challenging

While I was running outside I was struck with a thought. It has seemed really hard lately. 5 miles seems like a whole lot more work than it did in the summer and fall. In the summer I was wearing just shorts and a t-shirt and maybe Vibrams. Now in the winter I'm wearing several full length layers. I'm not sure how much extra weight there is, but considering how much more work it feels like while wearing normal shoes, I can imagine the extra weight of base layers, track pants, extra shirt, jacket, two pairs of socks, etc, can be more draining. That said I still love it when on long runs that when you get past the first 5 miles I still feel that I can keep going on forever. Well I could go on forever except for my knee. Sigh. Stupid knee.

More things that Robbie and I have noticed. Running on packed snow and ice can be really challenging. The packed snow can be very bumpy and uneven. We find this to be much harder on the joints when your feet aren't landing flat every time. I can imagine it can be the same way with trail running, except with snow it can be hard to anticipate what angle the ground is going to be.

I ran another 4 miles today, but I couldn't do it outside. I forgot to wash my outside running clothes and I didn't want to kill everyone around me with the smell. I'm sure people appreciated that. I just ran 4 miles on a treadmill at work. 2 miles in my Neos, however my toes felt a little cramped today, so I changed into my Bikilas for the last 2 miles.

Our kids are getting super excited for Christmas. Come home today and my daughter Rebekah was so excited to show me the pictures that she drew. I thought they were really cool and inventive so I wanted to share them.
Lucky me, I've been here before, only with Castle Lego for the boys
Gecky is our Crocodile Gecko
Apparently the boys are not dreaming of sugar plums, but of presents.
I've informed them that this drawing will not be happening. ;)
Classic sisters teasing their brothers about the mistletoe

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Running recap Week 3 Half Marathon Training

Total miles run: 17.20 miles (27.8 km)
Total miles biked: 30.51 miles (49.1 km)
Weight training: 1 hour

I am really enjoying being really active again. I am hoping that by using more cross training and running less that I will still be prepared for the race but avoid the dreaded TMTS. So far so good.

My first run of the week was on Wednesday. We had a major snow storm the night before that dumped about 5-10 cm of soft fluffy snow. Piano lessons were cancelled for the kids because the roads were bad and cars were slipping off into the ditch everywhere. I figured that I could run while Kyle was working from home. I started out about 9:30am people were just starting to come out and shovel their walks. I ran along the bike path by my house. I was covered entirely with snow. For most of the run the snow was up past my ankle. It was almost like snowshoeing more than running. I wore my water shoes and they were perfect. I wasn't wet or cold at all. I took some pictures after my run. I wasn't about to take my mittens off to use my phone while I was running. It was amazing to be out running in the snow and sunshine. I normally suffer pretty badly from S.A.D. and I am hoping that running outside in the winter will help me to overcome it.

Warm and sweaty after my run.
My Winter Wonderland. That path between the trees is where I started my run.

My next run was on the treadmill because it was icy out and very windy. Opted to stay inside on the treadmill in the basement. It was a pretty good run. I upped the incline to 1% and that helped me to keep my form in check. I ran the first 3.5 miles in just my socks but I was developing some hot spots of the soft part of my foot below and to the outside of my big toe. I asked one of the kids to grab me my Bikilas and continued on for the last half mile. It was good and not as boring as I thought it would be. I have been listening to Ultra Runner Podcasts while I run and they are very entertaining. I aspire someday to run ultras, though it will probably have to wait until my children are older.

My last run this week was this morning. It was -2ºC and still pretty dark out when I left at 7:30am. I was looking forward to heading to the bike paths in the next community over for my run. I love running around these two man made lakes and natural areas as part of my long runs. The run as great. I was feeling good, watching my form, I still have to post about my training session with Tina. It was great, I am still processing all of the information. I think that I have so much more to learn. It was nice out and not too cold at all. The only real challenge with the run was that the slush from the last days had frozen into hard, sharp, sticky outy bits on the path that hurt like a bugger when you step on them. There is nothing like stepping on a sharp immovable piece of ice to keep you awake as you run. Over all though it was a good run, I am still having some tightness in my right calf and some achiness in my right ankle. I can feel the bones in my foot moving and changing as well in my left foot. I have a bunion on my left big toe and it is sore a lot of the time now. It was been shrinking, probably from wearing my vibrams, and my toe has been straightening out but it isn't without some soreness. I tried a new gel today, Accel gel and it went down well and seemed to work. I forgot the take my gel until mile 5.5. I normally take half a gel on the 3's. I will have to get back into the habit of taking gels and paying attention to what mile I am at. I also have to figure out how much, if any, water to take while running. In the summer when it was warm I carried a handheld water bottle and a single bottle on my back. I switched the bottle from my back into my handheld when the handheld was empty. For now I do not want to carry water in the handheld because it leaks and gets my mittens wet and that leads to very cold hands. So here is the question. How much water do you need on long runs in the winter? How about for races? My last race I carried my own water and ignored the water stations because that is what I was used to. For my next race in February I wondering if I can bring my own or if I should rely on the water stations?