Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tell Me What's in the Box!

Boxes are fun.  Perhaps not the boxes themselves but the anticipation of opening the box and finding something wonderful inside like a donut or a unicorn. Unless you are three years old.  At that point in your life anything you can chew on is endlessly amusing so opening the box is an unnecessary step on the road to happiness.  And that is reason number 426 that I spend as little time as possible with children.  I'm going to go ahead and assume that the majority of my readership is above the gnawing on boxes stage of life.  There may be one or two of you out there that haven't made it past that point but I'm cool with it.  I don't judge.

So what was in the box I showed you the last time we met?  Where did the box come from?  Why do we need to put things in boxes?  Am I stalling or just trying to increase my word count?  All valid questions.  The answer to the most important one is that my birthday was last week and I used the opportunity of celebrating my beginning to buy new running shoes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Merrell Trail Glove.

Are you ok?  Do you need a minute to collect yourself?  Did they take your breath away?  It's ok, just let your emotions run wild.  I wept when I first saw them and you should too.  If you think they look a little familiar you are not incorrect.  Let's take a look at the evolution of footwear according to my feet.

The Little Italian LOVES it when I put my dirty running shoes on the table.  

For those of you who don't have long term memory issues you may recall that my first foray into trail running was done in a pair of Chuck Taylors.  We can all agree that was not a great plan.  But it did lead to the purchase of the bright yellow Nike Zoom Waffle XC 8s you see on the far left of the above picture.  They served me well.  They were fast, light, had removable spikes and were yellow.  That last bit was their best trait.  After many miles in the dirt they had to be shelved and were replaced by the shoe you see in the middle.  Look familiar?  Yeah, that is the Merrell Sonic Glove.  That has been a fantastic shoe but there are some major differences between those and the trail gloves so a change was in order.  First, the trail glove has a mesh upper for increased breathability.  I'm sure you have all been terribly worried about the breathability of my running shoes. Second, the Trail Glove has a flexible stone guard in the forefoot.  Other than that the shoes are identical except for one major performance enhancing quality of my newest pair.  My new shoes are silver.  Silver shoes have been clinically proven to go faster.  I don't make this stuff up folks.  If you can find it on the internet, it's real.  

My decision to go with this particular shoe was not one I took lightly.  The whole minimalist running craze has flooded the market with shoes for that category.  More options means more studying which means more coffee and that leads to me getting the jitters.  I'm so tired but I can't blink and my hair is vibrating.  I do it all for you though.  

So why did I buy these shoes?  First and foremost they are a true minimal shoe with zero drop from the heel to the forefoot.  The upper is well thought out with a durable material and formed rubber toe guard.  If Pegasus wore shoes he/she/it would have worn these.  How's that for a product endorsement?  That should take a little of the air out of Michael Jordan's sails.  See what I did there?  You're welcome.

Be honest, you are really just admiring the color.  I know, they're cool.

The other major factor in my decision was the Vibram outsole.  Vibram soles got Jim Whittaker to the top of Everest.  If their soles can do that they can do anything.  Well, almost anything.  They can't make me a sandwich.  But if they did make me a sandwich I'm sure it would have bacon.  All the best sandwiches have bacon.

Everest.  Seriously.

I do intend to put my new kicks to good use in the very near future.  And yes, I'll tell you about it here.  On August 31st there is a ten mile trail race in Davidson.  I put this race on my schedule back in January with every intention of not breaking my leg in March.  Yeah, about that.  I guess Shakespeare was right.  Regardless, I've been back on the trail for nearly a month and despite my slow pace I've got the racing itch.  I can see this going one of two ways.  My dream would be a first place finish followed by champagne, a medal and the ability to eat dairy.  Reality will most likely be a finish near the back of the field with my lungs coming out of mouth.  That sounds nice too though.  Besides, The Little Italian keeps telling me ice cream doesn't taste that good.  The fact that she always says it with a spoon hanging out of her mouth does make me question her honesty.  Just a little.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tools of the Trade

I know I've been away from the blog for too long when I start getting angry messages from faithful readers who have trouble getting through their morning constitutional without my musings.  To those of you who have suffered, I'm sorry.  Seriously though, if you wait for me you'll be backed up to the point of bursting.  I don't want that on my hands.  You shouldn't want that on your hands either.

So what has been happening in my little world as of late?  Big things.  Huge things.  Things that involve getting off the couch and getting back to the work of being fit and fast.

First things first.  That does tend to be the most sensible way to proceed.  When I broke my leg the accident was attributed to the fact that I require prescription glasses to do just about everything except sleep yet choose not to wear them while riding and running.  Not a great plan.  You can go ahead and stop wagging your boney finger of judgement at me right now.  I can't see it anyway so you are really just scolding your computer.  Your computer deserves better than your scorn.  Besides, The Little Italian told me that she wouldn't let me leave the house until I rectified my retinal retardation.  I do live in constant fear of her beatings so off to the optometrist I went.  I'm sure you're thinking that because I'm impossibly cheap I walked out of the store with a glorified pair of safety goggles.  Well, not quite.    There are times in life when you have to look deep down into your pocketbook and ask yourself if having money in that vacuous space is more important than looking really, really, ridiculously awesome.  The answer is an emphatic no.

Oakley Flak Jackets for the good people.  In 'oh so pro' white.  

I was a little apprehensive about spending as much on a pair of glasses as I might normally spend on a new crank-set for Stumpy but the moment I put them on something amazing happened.  I could see! You wouldn't believe how much there is to see in the woods.  Trees, birds, bears, leg breaking roots, rocks, dragons and other humans!!   All those things that were once just  a blur to me became incredibly sharp.  The brilliant contrast produced by the amber lenses turned the once jumbled forrest into a clear, crisp visual playground.  The only downside is that I once thought everything was blurry because I was going so fast.  Sadly, that illusion is gone.

I happened to come off the couch just in time for the hottest few weeks of the year.  Stumpy is conveniently adorned with two water bottle holders. I am not.  There was a moment when the idea of drilling water bottle mounts into my forearms crossed my mind but I chose to go in a different direction.  I have all the tools I need to do it but feared that it might look strange to have bottle cages poking through the sleeves of my dress shirts while sitting at my desk.  Oh, the sacrifices I make to hold down a professional career.  In an effort to find a suitable hydration solution I went to a local running store in search of what people pursuing this silly non-cycling activity call "hand-helds".  These are water bottle with straps that hold them to your hands. At first I found the whole idea a bit bizarre but in the interest of integrating into the culture of running I thought I should give it a go.  $25!!!!  TWENNNY FIVE DOLLLL UUURRSS!!!!.  For a plastic bottle wearing a belt incorrectly.  Yeah, that was not going to happen.  Runners are dumb.  Feeling a little dejected after experiencing some painful sticker shock I hung my head and went home convinced that I would have to die of thirst or wear a Camelback.  Neither option seemed particularly appealing so I went to the garage to ask Stumpy for advice.  Yes, I talk to my bike.  Don't act like I'm the only weirdo around here.  You're the one still reading.  

Anyway, there on my work bench was the answer to all my problems.  Or at least one of my problems.  A tube with a hole in it.  Ordinarily a blown tube is nothing to get excited about.  It usually means you had a bad day.  But not today.  I slowly walked over to the tube and carefully lifted it from the table.  I examined it closely and, as if from the heavens, a light shone upon it.  That light comes on every time the garage door opens but this time it seemed much more meaningful.  After a little quick scissor work I had created my very own runner approved water transportation apparatus.  I completed my first run with it this weekend and can proudly say that my homemade hand-held is top notch.  Smells good too.  Ask any bike mechanic, they'll agree.  If I could find cologne that smelled like grease and rubber I'd wear it every day.  Olfactory bliss right there folks. 

$25.00.  Seriously? Not on my watch mister!

My return to the trail would not be complete without the acquisition of one more essential piece of gear.  Thankfully, my birthday is this week.  Budget be damned, I've got celebrating to do.  Look what I found:

What's in the box?  Wouldn't you and Brad Pitt like to know.

We have a lot to discuss and the day has grown long.  I guess you'll just have to wait to find out what lies beneath the lid of this unassuming little brown box.  Stop by before the end of the week and I'll show you.  It will be like a reveal party but without the pending horror of someone pushing a tiny human out of their body.  That can't be normal.