Shoely That Can’t be Right

This was the time I was dreading.  I was finally out of my stack of old Nimbus that I had been hoarding and I needed a new pair of running shoes. I knew I wasn’t a fan of the current version of the Nimbus so instead of ordering every type of road shoe on the planet and determining which might be right for me (which with Amazon Prime exactly what I did with trail shoes), I decided I would trot down to my local shoe store, Athletic Basement, to have some expert input on a new pair of running shoes.

Experience matters at your local shoe store and you could tell the staff knew me well. How well? When I didn’t head straight for the gels and headed toward the shoes, all the grizzled veterans made a beeline straight for the stockroom.  This left the obviously new guy who bounded up to me like a Labrador puppy  and asked “Are you looking for some new shoes?”

“No, I’m standing in front of a wall of shoes because what I really am looking for is a new bike”.  I think it, but go with the more neutral, “Yup.”

“So let’s take a look at your current shoes.” The new guy glances down at my battle tested NImbus and gulps. You can tell he has been thrown off his gain. “Whoa, those look old.” I decide he is talking about the shoes and not me.

Salesperson: I have a couple of options that might work for you. What size do you wear.

Me: 11 1/2

Salesperson: Wide?

Me: <glare>

Salesperson: How about I bring a mix.

He then scurries to the back room to get some shoes.  I hear snickering from the backroom as the new guy is arrives. The Pig goes over to the food area and scarfs down 3 Honey Stinger Waffles.  I make a mental note to add that to my bill.

The new guy comes back with an armload of shoes. “So why don’t you take your shoes off?” he asks.  So I take off my Nimbus and the odor of 300+ miles permeates the air with a foul stench.  The new guy faints.  From the backroom a pack of smelling salts is thrown and skitters next to me.

See experience matters.

I use the smelling salts to revive the new guy.

So, in part 2 will I find my next pair of shoes to fall in love with?  Will The Pig eat all the food in the store?  Find out in Part 2 of “Shoely that can’t be”.

The Nimbus. My true love

The Nimbus. My true love



Red Light

When I worked as a Space Shuttle Flight Controller at the Mission Control Center during the dark ages, we sat at consoles that had hardwired light bulbs that would illuminate when something went wrong (if you care about the details let me know and I can fill you in on the details outside the blog). As you might guess, the color red was bad.

I think my racing plans may be turning red given my struggles in the heat.

Last week I talked about my sweat rate (I know you tried to block that out of your mind). I exchanged email with the on-staff nutritionist at one of the major makers of gels and the such (and they aren’t getting a free plug from me today).

They suggested I up my fluid intake to 30 oz per hour (and carrying 4 hours of fluid is about as fun as it sounds in the heat) and to up my salt supplementation. Even with that and trying to moderate my rather moderate pace (read slow) I still lost around 8 pounds during my run.  Although I won’t say I run like a fast fiend in the heat (despite my fiendish nature) but I was dragging at the end and that was already with some walk breaks thrown in. After giving the nutritionist the data from my run they provided a couple of other suggestions.  I may give them a try this weekend and report back (sorry I know the suspense will wreak your entire week).

So I’ll get more data this weekend and in a race the following weekend.  Maybe this isn’t the year (or place) for a 100 miler.  Maybe I am just making excusing because I am behind on my training plan. Maybe The Pig will make margaritas.  Maybe he will share.


Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!



AM going toward the mall. Not the one with Spencer gifts, the other one. Does anyone remember Spencer Gifts?

AM going toward the mall. Not the one with Spencer gifts, the other one. Does anyone remember Spencer Gifts?

For the Low Low Price of €13,500

Whoever said that running is a cheap sport is almost as moronic as I am (almost). I know I have one of the slowest minutes per mile per dollar out there.  However, there are other ways at looking at running value.

Do you like to complain about that your local 5K is 40 bucks?  Well the Antarctica marathon and 100k registration is open and for the low, low price of €13,500 (or 90 deg F for those in the US (OK, 15,000 US dollars)). For ultra runners the good news is that the 100K is the same price as the marathon.  Either way it even makes Disney races seem like a bargain.

My personal favorite though if you are looking for some bang for your buck, is an all-inclusive 6 day and night vacation in Phoenix.  For $775 buck, you get a tent in Phoenix, two cots, and three meals a day for one person plus all the snacks and sports drink you can consume plus a champagne toast on New Year’s Eve.  The catch? Well you would be entered into a 6 day race, but you can hardly get a hotel in Phoenix during high season (not to be confused with Colorado high season) for that kind of money.  You do a couple of laps, get a great vacation in and you can tell everyone back home that you ran a 6 day race.

Just make sure to have somewhere to run off to when someone asks you how many miles you went in 6 days. Though if you just got your 12,000 step count and got around 6 miles a day, you would have come in 64th place (and 3rd from last, but nobody pays attention to that when you tell them you ran a 6 day race).

So go out and get some miles for your dollars!



Another random ass picture

Another random ass picture


Olympic Trials “Coverage”

Many of you watched the Olympic Trials Track and Field Coverage (or as Oiselle is forced to call it “The qualifying track meet for that big sporting event that happens every 4 years”). Here is what the coverage of the Women’s 10K final seemed like to me.

Dirk: Hi, I’m Dirk and welcome to US women’s 10K final. I’m here with British Accent Guy and some Random Dude who may or may not have won a bronze medal back in the day. We are all hoping for a great race and that you don’t notice there isn’t a single female commentator on our broadcast team.

Random Dude: This race will determine who represents the US in Rio in the 10K

Dirk: Thank you Random Dude for explaining the concept of the Olympic Trials since most Americans only watch track and field every 4 years. Now for the introduction of our competitors.

<runners are introduced and much of the TV audience makes a mental note that they need to get back to doing their core routine>

Dirk: And the race has started.

British Accent Guy: The race as started at a slow pace. I have said this about every distance event, but I have a British accent so I could read the menu from Arby’s and you wouldn’t really complain.

Dirk: And now for a commercial break.

<commercial break #1>

Dirk: So much has changed since we went to commercial break! That surge broke the field apart! This is so exciting we feel the need to break away to do a human interest story because we feel our audience has the attention span of a squirrel on meth.

<human interest story meant to inspire you. It mostly inspired me to yell at the TV to get back to race. Maybe that is just me>

British Accent Guy: We are back and everything has totally changed since we cut away! What epic tactics by Molly Huddle!! It’s a real shame that you missed it and that we won’t replay it. This is turning into a great race so we must switch to some other event that may have happened 20 minutes ago but we want to make it seem live.

<the slowest long jump in the history of long jumps occurs and it replayed 3 times. Random Dude actually makes an insightful comment on the 3rd replay proving the 3rd time is sometimes is the charm>

Dirk: Wow what an amazing race! Wish you were here to watch it.

Random Dude: Yes!

English Accent Guy: This is setting up for a wild finish!

Dirk: Which is why we are going to commercial break.

<commercial break #2 where I yell at the TV some more>

Dirk: OMG!!! Can you believe what just happened??!!?

Random Dude: No.

English Accent Guy: That move was true genius and I have an English accent, so I know about these things.

Dirk: They are coming down the back stretch and what a finish for the women’s 10K race! We will now show sweaty women hugging each other and will provide 6 replays in slow-motion.

<commercial break>



This has nothing to do with the big sporting event that is held every 4 years. Then again nothing in my blog has much do with with real sporting events.

This has nothing to do with the big sporting event that is held every 4 years. Then again nothing in my blog has much do with with real sporting events.


Running a Numbers Game

I have a math problem (come back here I am not going to ask any of you to do any math (except for the couple of loyal readers who are math geniuses. feel free to chime in)).

Running on a basic level is a numbers game.  There is pace, percent incline, calories expended per hour, and one number that is causing me a serious problem—sweat rate.

Part of the disorientation one feels when you get too dehydrated

Part of the disorientation one feels when you get too dehydrated

In general the most liquid a person can absorb while exercising is around 1 liter per hour (and for the average runner in average conditions you wouldn’t want to drink that much).  As you may guess, I am not an average runner (if only because of my mental state) and my target race, Javelina Jundred, is run under non average conditions (average temp is in the 80s but it can get up to 100 deg F).

I have never performed a sweat test before, but this week I decided to run for an hour and weighed myself before and after without taking in any food or liquid during my run.  The temps were in the mid-80s and the heat index was around 90.  Not my preferred 40 deg F temps for running, but not the 100 deg F + heat indexes that can occur in DC (and I used to live in Houston so I know that I have it MUCH better than those in Texas and Florida).

So I went out and ran an easy paced run for an hour, came home and weighed myself. I dropped 6 pounds of water weight or around 3% of my body weight.  Now of course I would typically drink plenty of liquid, but even guzzling down a liter an hour, you can see there is a basic math problem if I ran long enough (or a basic staying alive problem if I push those kind of limits for 12+ hours) So I can look all “sciencey”, I have included a table and a scientific reference about how your sweat can impact performance (snide comments in purple are mine)

  • 0% — none, optimal performance, normal heat regulation
  • 1% — thirst stimulated, heat regulation during exercise altered, performance declines
  • 2% — further decrease in heat regulation, hinders performance, increased thirst
  • 3% — more of the same (worsening performance) (note that this study wasn’t directly talking about me so performance is not in air quotes)
  • 4% — exercise performance cut by 20 – 30% (of course 20% of zero is still zero)
  • 5% — headache, irritability, “spaced-out” feeling, fatigue (or as I call it, Monday)
  • 6% — weakness (which in my case should be at 0%), severe loss of thermoregulation
  • 7% — collapse likely unless exercise stops
  • 10% — comatose
  • 11% — death likely
  • 12 %– My blog quality suffers

From [Nutrition for Cyclists, Grandjean & Ruud, Clinics in Sports Med. Vol 13(1);235-246. Jan 1994]

So I am going to talk to some people, and do some more research on the subject.  There may be strategies that can be employed (walking during the day, running at night) or I may just be screwed and need to stick to late-fall, winter and early spring races if the distance is over 50 feet or so.

Hope everyone has a well hydrated and Pigtastic weekend!





Grizzled ultrarunners (which is a nice way of saying older than dirt) have experienced hallucinations while running long distances and have imparted those stories to those who will listen (running toward the Death Star being my personal fave I once overheard).  Between that and dehydration, I have at times had to try to determine what is fact and what is fiction.  Here is a quick guide to how to differentiate.

Seeing Pokemon in Pokemon Go is fine, but when you see Pikachu dancing on the trail and don’t even have your phone with you, then you might have a problem.

Seeing a 20 foot tall person sitting on a marble chair I would recommend you pause for a moment, unless you are in Washington, DC in which case it is OK (well not at the Jefferson Memorial, but you get the idea).

My favorite running one is more self-deception than hallucination per se.  I like to pretend when I am the only one out running that I am winning my race and the pack is nipping at my heels.  I would say that would happen when pigs fly but…

(video of The Pig if you are inclined to click such a link).




Running Supervillains

There are running superheros such as the Flash (I wonder what his ultrasignup score is?) but there is another class of people out there—running super villains. You may not have encountered any of these ruffians (yes I used the term ruffian in a blog, that is why you are the only person this post) but be on the lookout for them, because they can ruin your race.

Picture of a river in Philly. The sky is blue, the grass is green and I don't realize yet that my race the next day is going to blow.

It’s a pretty picture. The world needs more pretty pictures. Will this pretty picture outweigh the rest of this blog post? Probably not.

  1. Dead Stop: You are running along happily and all of a sudden this villain comes to a complete stop right in front of you and wrecks your rhythm (assuming you don’t crash into them and have to spend 3 minutes apologizing to them for flattening them like a pancake even though it was their fault in the first place (no, this has never happened to me))).
  2. Captain Wrong Corral: You have trained for 4 months for a race and you end up stuck behind the one person who doesn’t understand what a 10 minute/mile pace means.
  3. Root: This villain reaches up and grabs the front of your shoe when you are racing along the trail.  At least this is what I tell myself when I trip. Root has a twin named Rock which you have to be on the lookout for as well.
  4. Smoking Man: Not only an X-Files problem, but when you are going full throttle in a race taking in a lung full of smoke from a spectator is not what you are looking for,
  5. The Red Streak: For the guys who don’t remember their Nip Guards or Body Glide, The Red Streak is waiting to paint the front of your shirt blood-red.
  6. Cup Boy: How hard is it to take a cup at a water station, drink and throw it on the ground or trash can? Well Cup Boy always manages to throw a half empty cup of sports drink on an unsuspecting runner.
  7. The Bean Burrito Bandit: Let’s just say that the poison gas this villain releases can trash more than your olfactory sense. On the other hand it is a far better fate than coming up against…
  8. The Porta Potty Avenger: I’m going to let your imagination take care of this one. Since you are reading this blog in the first place, I’m guessing where you imagination takes you isn’t pretty.
  9. Short Shorty Cut: This villain won’t stay the course and tries to beat you by cutting the course. One can only hope that they run across the Porta Potty Avenger.

So what super villains have you run across?



Night Sweats

One of the things you will need to do if you run 100 miler is run in the dark.  In my case I will be running throughout the entire night and into the next morning.  I have “run” all night a grand total of once in my life (at my 24 hour race) and the experience was not exactly a positive one from a performance standpoint (for those who weren’t following the blog at the time I froze my butt off and limped around for the last 8 hour).

So to better train (OK train at all) this time around I would like to have at least one long night run and preferable more than one.  However, I would prefer not to be in middle of the wilderness by myself (because I can’t plan on The Pig being able to save me since a night run cuts into his social life) or running in some park where it would be closed and I would be trespassing (The Pig wouldn’t even bother to help in that case).

There is a 12 hour race the first week in August in Bristol, TN which has a night option. Of course the idea of driving 7 hours, running 12 hour and then driving another 7 hours isn’t too appealing (though made slightly more so since the race on the grounds of a brewery).

In early September there is the Javelina Jangover which is organized by the same people who run Javelina Jundred and the uses much of the same course.  There are  50K and 75K options (and 25K and 7K but I am not flying most of the way across the country for an 7K).  This course would give me experience of night trail running on the trail I will be doing a lot of night trail running (or walking as the case may be).  Flights from DC to Phoenix aren’t cheap but it is the best option from a training perspective.

Of course the really best thing would be to do both races, but I don’t know if I have that in me (or maybe the best things is to sit at home and eat vodka Popsicles with The Pig).  This will give me something to obsess about for the few days.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!



Night picture. Blurry to simulate the way I feel running late at night.

Night picture. Blurry to simulate the way I feel running late at night.


Mid-Year and 4th of July Weekend Goal Check

So the year is more than half over (and if you have finished your Christmas shopping just keep it to yourself (or post it to Facebook because I don’t have to see it)). So I know that everyone is wondering how my New Year goals and 4th of July weekend goals are going/went.

Usually in January I write a post about setting yearly running goals and then in June I go back and put update the post with things I have already accomplished. Sure it’s cheating, but there isn’t an international committee of New Year resolution setting (or if there is I hope they are only on Facebook as well).

This year was different. My goal was to run a 100 miler and I have put all my bread in the Javelina Jundred basket (which is not a gift basket unfortunately). My races this year have been a mixed bag. I did so-so at Icy-8 but placed 1st in my age group in the 50 miler at Umstead and came in 2nd place in the 6-hour race at Sole Challenge. I have 2-3 races between now and Javelina so I will get more chances to sharpen my ultra chops (which are unfortunately nothing like pork chops). So my grade is the half way point is a solid C (remember I grew up before grade inflation). I am doing some of the things needed to reach my goals but there is a lot still needs to happen less than 4 months.

However we can review my 4th of July Goals (Here is the link if you want to check but there is really no need since I am going to list it out)

  1. Don’t let The Pig blow stuff up. – Accomplished (well up through Tuesday night)
  2. Work out each of the 5 days – Done.
  3. Hit the pool at least twice (and hope it doesn’t hit back)- I went 4 times so yea me.
  4. Don’t drown – I didn’t drown or cause any screaming (I must be losing my touch).
  5. Try not to be jealous of The Pig because he swims faster than I do- well I tried but mostly failed.  I think those wings of his give him an unfair advantage.
  6. Average at least 20,000 steps- Averaged closed to 25K so woohoo!
  7. Grill some veggies- Fail. Didn’t grill.
  8. Eat the veggies I grilled- Well I did eat at least some veggies. No, I didn’t think that would count either.
  9. Try to be a better conversationalist than drywall- Fail, but I didn’t really have many opportunities to succeed so I am going to go easy on myself on this one. I mean the barista at Starbucks really doesn’t want to hear anything beyond my order.
  10. Watermelon.- Oh, yeah.
What the world was missing.  Turns out I am still missing this.

What the world was missing. Turns out I am still missing this even though it was on sale.

So, drywall and grilling withstanding, I did a pretty decent job. Now if that can just carry itself through to the end of October.



Creative Ways to Make Water Running Fun

In general water running is about as much fun as waiting in line at the DMV to renew your license. Most runners don’t water run unless they are injured and that probably doesn’t help much in the attitude department. Well, having a couple of bouts of water running due to injury, I have come up with a few ways to liven up water running.

No this picture has nothing to do with water running, but did you really want a picture of me in Speedo? (no, not that kind, the other kind, but I will be kind and spare you)

No this picture has nothing to do with water running, but did you really want a picture of me in Speedo? (no, not that kind, the other kind, but I will be kind and spare you)

  1. Pretend you are the shark from Jaws and hum the theme song as you get near other people.
  2. When you are really tired from doing intervals, go to the edge of the pool and recreate the final Leonard DiCaprio speech as you slip back into the water.  Don’t be surprised when the lifeguard looks at you funny for calling him Rose.
  3. When the lifeguard isn’t looking do a cannonball and then point the studly triathlete when the lifeguard tries figure out who did it.
  4. Use the scissor kick method of pool running and pretend you are Edward Scissorlegs.
  5. Two words- Underwater Selfies
  6. Two more words – Water Moonwalk (or would it be moonrun in that case?)
  7. Eat a bean burrito before going in the pool and try to calculate how propulsive farting is.
  8. Of course my favorite method of making pool running more enjoyable is coming up with creative ways to make pool running more enjoyable.  However, the lifeguards are a little less thrilled with my methods of keeping water running interesting.

I guess it is not a surprise that I no longer qualify for “adult swim”.