Create your own tech tees

Oooh, this is tempting. At Running Banana, you can create your own technical shirts. For only (cough cough) $31-37.

I may need to put out my own line of Runs Like a Girl tees. You’d pay $50 for one, um, right? Especially since the designs they have up there are, well, kind of lame. Okay, really lame.

It’s only 119 days until Christmas

Not a running post, but I couldn’t resist posting about this today (especially now that I’ve figured out how to include pictures in my posts).

I’m always on the lookout for places to shop for the weirdos in my life. I scored big time this week with FredFlare. My favorite item has got to be Vinnie’s Tampon Case. What hip young (or not so young) woman in her right mind wouldn’t want this? It’s pure merchandising/pop culture magic.

A close second is the Paper Airplane Passport Holder. I may need to get one of those for myself.

Cushy Foot Gear: Adidas Supernova Cushion

Since my Asics Kayanos have hit the the 300 miler mark, I figured I should start rotating in a new pair for my long runs. Frankly, I’m not that happy with the Asics. The toebox is two narrow, which isn’t great, since I have a big ol’ honkin’ bunion on my left foot. And they’re too stiff. I think they’re designed for underpronators (or over? I can’t remember which is which) — whatever the condition is called when your feet roll inwards. Which mine don’t. So I’m aware of this solid chunk of plastic under my arch, which is sort of annoying.

I did some reading and decided to try the Adidas Supernova Cushion. I picked up a pair at my favorite online shoestore, Zappos (lots of user reviews and free shipping — even on returns!) and they arrived yesterday. I took them out for a spin — a little 5 mile easy run — and they are great shoes! I had an initial scare because the left one was hurting my foot. But I realized that in my enthusiasm, I’d laced it too tightly. Once I loosened things up, all was well.

The shoes feel very flexible. I think they’re for “neutral gait” runners. In any case, the “stepping on a solid chunk of plastic” sensation is absent from these shoes. They are also very cushioned (hence, the name). And light! I expected them to be heavy, what with all the padding both inside and outside the shoe (the blown rubber/plastic stuff is really thick), but they don’t feel burdensome at all.

The arch support is very good (I have mediumish arches), and the fit is snug through the middle of the foot, but nice and roomy in the toe box. And the heel does not slip. I even like the fact that the shoelaces aren’t too long (I hate that). The best part — they look cool.

I’m so sick of white running shoes. I don’t want to go out there looking like Nurse Ratched. So I try to find shoes that are either very colorful or keep a low profile.

Now I have the perfect companion to my other favorite shoe (for speedwork and racing), the New Balance 901.

I’m actually looking forward to my next long run to see if the magic lasts.

This just in: Work makes you boring!

Oy yoy yoy. I have been up to my eyeballs in work lately. As a freelancer, this is a beautiful thing. Because now I can afford some fancy new running duds. But as a human being with outside interests — like, um, running — it sucks!

Miraculously, despite the 12+ hour days (including weekends), I have managed to stick to my training schedule most of the time. I think my next race is a 10-miler in Nyack on September 10. But that depends. On. How much work. I get done. Before. Then.

Since I last posted, we had a horrific heat wave. I believe it topped 106 on one day. Whee! The good news is I’ve finally become acclimated to running outside in the summer here. So much so, that on days with reasonably low humidity, I am flying down the road like the road runner now, even in the heat. Now I’m wondering how fast I’ll be once the fall arrives and it’s actually pleasantly cool outside.

I’ve also lost just over 7 pounds since early July, which must help with the speed as well. The other day at Costco I hefted a “twin chicken” package — around 8 pounds — and realized that I’ve been running around with the equivalent of two chickens on my back (or thighs and rear end is more like it; “Hey, chicken ass!”). It’s great to have those damned chickens off my back.

Since I’m running faster and beginning to see glimpses of muscle under the blubber, I’m inspired to remain on the Bunny Food Diet: wall to wall salad and no wine allowed on weekdays. Again — whee!

Handy tool: Split times calculator

I discovered this in my trawlings last night: An interactive calculator that gives you your mile (or kilometer) split times for races up to the 50K.

Running Times Split Times Calculator

The best part? You can print out your split times on a strip of paper to tape around your wrist. So you can look like a hospital patient. A mental hospital patient.

Ultramarathon Orgy!

I’d better post something before this blog slides further into entropy…

Work has been, and continues to be, insane. And I just got a big freelance project that should keep me busy through late fall/early winter. Yay and yikes. Which explains the lack of blogging and lack of vacation pictures.

So, back to something running related…

I have been on an “ultramarathon” jag lately, which has involved reading a couple of books by endurance athletes, and renting a movie about the infamous Badwater race (more on this in a moment).

I don’t know why I’m suddenly into this stuff. Perhaps it’s the strange pleasure that comes from vicarious suffering. Another theory is that I’ve made a recent mental shift, deciding that I want to train to run in a marathon in 2007. Maybe the prospect of running 26.2 miles is made easier by reading about people who run 100+ mile races.

The two books I’ve read are:

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes
Badwater: A Man, Dealth Valley, and the Mystery of Endurance by Kirk Johnson

And the film:

Running on the Sun by Mel Stuart

The Karnazes book is a quick, interesting read. While he’s not the best writer in the world, his writing style is lighthearted and engaging. And his accounts of long training runs and ultramarathon events such as Badwater, the Western States 100 and the first (and perhaps last) marathon in the South Pole are fascinating. And the fact that he’s accomplished things that don’t seem physically possible is very inspiring. Right now, Karnazes is embarking on another first: The Endurance 50 — 50 successive marathons in 50 states over 50 days. Of course, this seems crazy. But so have many of the other challenges he’s embarked on and accomplished.

The book offers handy tips. For example, did you know you can fix a bad blister with Krazy Glue and duct tape? It’s all true.

The book is marred by some unflattering (unbeknownst to the author, it seems) elements of self-portrait — the author comes off as boorish and callous at times. And his constant protestations about how much his entire family loves riding around in a camper for days on end, feeding him as he runs along the road, makes me wonder how harmonious the arrangement really is.

A bookend (if you will) to the Karnazes book is Johnson’s book. Where Karnazes comes off as a confident (if foolhardy) pro, Johnson is a guy you can sort of relate to. After his brother, a serious runner, committed suicide, Johnson (who’d never run a marathon) decided to train for Badwater in an attempt to understand his brother and reunite his somewhat distant family members.

For the unitiated, The Badwater Ultramarathon is called the “world’s toughest footrace.” It’s a 135 mile race. From nearly 300 feet below sea level to the top of Mt. Whitney (at 8,300 feet). Did I mention that Mt. Whitney is in Death Valley? Oh, and the race is in the middle of summer? Jeeeezus Christ.

This book offers another — and more detailed — account of what it’s like to run Badwater. Johnson is a professional journalist and a superb writer. But I found the book self-indulgent in many spots and sometimes downright whiney. On the other hand, there was a pleasure in watching him go from nervous newbie marathoner to the finish line of Badwater. I just wish he’d spent more words describing the race and fewer describing his internal struggles. But, it’s a book about discovering one’s self and one’s familial bonds, so I can forgive him for that. It’s a page turner, and what higher compliment can you pay a book about an adventure?

Finally, there’s the movie Running on the Sun. This was a really fun movie to watch (if “fun” is the right word). If you ever had illusions about running a race like Badwater, this will destroy them soundly. The documentary is fascinating, because it not only gives you a sense of actually being at the race, but it emphasizes that the people who run it are ordinary people — ordinary people who just happen to have the desire, discipline and fortitude to try to do something extraordinary. Like the Karnazes book, the movis is both entertaining and inspiring.

And I now know I’ll never run Badwater.

And that’s okay.