Monday, November 8, 2010

Observations on a run, or, Landy may be chasing me

Sometimes on a clear, cold sunrise run, through trees and fields and along the water, you wake up parts of yourself you can't stir any other way. Not every time, but sometimes. Those parts can't be put into words.

I had some of those moments on a solo Sunday Daylight Savings 11-miler. Since those moments will remain wordless, you can have observations from the rest of the run. We'll work chronologically.

Text from Dominic this morning, who had been up all night with a puking child, likely out. Bieber stayed out til 8:40 p.m. and was another likely no-show.

Used my extra hour to drink coffee and read Charles Simic, who says "Everything you didn't understand/ Made you what you are."

I never understood those faucets that float unsuspended in place and yet water runs steadily out from thin air. So I'm a magic faucet. Which is nice.

The stars are bright on the first run I've grabbed a hat and gloves for this fall. It's brisk and I look forward to hitting mile 1 or so, where my legs will be more numb than cold. It's 5:34 a.m. (adjusted time).

I've been on enough runs that start in the dark and finish in the light where I'm the dork running in a reflective vest in broad daylight. Not today. I break bad. I run without reflection.

I run by Lando's house, where some lights are on and he talked about running a 20-miler this morning, so may cross paths later. Run by Lori's and Dominic's and "Da Corner" where we haven't met in a while.

I get to the YMCA and pull up to give folks a chance, in case, since Bieber would have to drive if he posted.

Nobody. But then it occurs to me that Landy knows the route we are running. He's become too fast and focused to run with us most of the time, but he's a social creature (maybe) and might challenge himself by giving "us" (which is now "me") a head start and running us down like Predator. Or to quote Joel, like "The Landimal."

I'm not ready to be prey, not yet, so I start up Oxford Road.

Crossing over Papermill Pond there is a heron standing in the water amongst a number of geese. I wonder how that conversation must go? Or maybe the geese are about to put a beat-down on him.

As I hit the trees around the Easton Club, there's a full-on owl discussion going on, calls and multiple replies.

Running along the trees on Oxford Road to Cooke's Hope, deer own the periphery, rustling and starting as I go by. Turning into Cooke's Hope, I look back along the road, marking time. After all, Landy may be chasing me.

As far as runs along/around town, the trails back there are money. Being able to turn off the road and dip down into the clear still of geese and light on the pond is sweet; surveying the cut fields, well, it's hard to be any more archetypal Eastern Shore.

Running on the back stretch, a doe is next to the trail and freezes like a three-year-old playing hide and seek, hiding in plain sight. I keep a steady pace and don't acknowledge her and she doesn't spook, we just pass.

I'd stay and visit, I want to explain, but Landy may be chasing me.

Startling a heron and watching them fly off, long legs hanging in tow is a surreal experience. It also makes dogs bark, if there is one nearby at the time.

Back onto Oxford Road, there is a runner up ahead of me, running in the same direction, opposite side of the road--running with traffic. Stride is all wrong for Lando, plus I can tell they are moving too slow, so I head out to catch and pass them. As I get closer a mane of long hair reveals itself.

I pass her around Waverly and offer a good morning and it is. She agrees in a smooth, soothing voice you could just listen to. She would kick ass as a books on tape narrator.

I'd love to stay and chat, I don't have time to let her know, but Landy may be chasing me.

Passing in front of the Y and the middle school, Bickford drives by and waves, probably wondering what kind of idiot runs in shorts in 35 degree weather. Then again, Bickford broke open the ice with a 2x10 in January so we could jump in. Bickford knows we're stupid.

Rails to Trails is my home stretch. A little over two miles to go and a place I like to pick it up. I generally turn my mind off and think about stride and pace. Long stretches of visibility and many side/crossing streets make it dangerous territory for a Landimal attack, but none comes today.

Either I have survived or there never was a pursuit (latter more likely). Has gotten me thinking about the Harrier Hash concept and what a perfect weekend fun run that would be for a group run. File it under things to hit the message board with.

Funny where the quiet, un-iPoded mind can wander over 11 or more miles.

I get home and the girls are not on adjusted time; they didn't fall back. Ava is quietly and feverishly coloring and Anna is playing her DS. Robin is still asleep. Breakfast and coffee to come.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Check Your Head

03:59- Wake to music... What is it? Don't care. Hit snooze. Try to sleep.

04:07- Well, I'm awake, sort of. Don't want to get up but have to pee. Why am I doing this again. Shouldn't have set the alarm. Megan is skipping gym this am, I could always go later in the morning. We all know how that one ends though...

04:08- Grab my shorts, shirt, and shoes. At least running gear is simple. And with VFF, no socks needed.

04:12- Try to eat something... no time for coffee. Grab a Shot Bloks Cola flavor with 50 mg caffeine. Not enough caffeine as I can only muster half a package. The flavor is weird. I think I just taste the caffeine and not much else. How will I finish a whole box of 18 of these. Ugggh.

04:14- Chug a small glass of cold water. Start looking for my reflective vest.

04:15- There is is! In the stairwell to the basement in my "Y" bag.

04:17- Out the door, slip on Garmin chest strap and watch, reset watch and go.
First Few paces- Wow, it feels nice and cool. Little breeze. This won't be bad, but what the ...? 10:55 per mile. This feels slow. Where is my pep. Everything feels tight. Maybe this will be a short run.

Half Mile In- Two medium loops or one long one? Might be better to grab water and a snack after six miles. But not sure I can muster going back out again. Better make it one loop, but I don't know about hydration. It is cool enough- I'll be fine without water. Hope Mike doesn't want to join in at five. Never heard back from him last night. He'll be fine if I don't post at 05:00...

One Mile- Still feeling slow, just a little looser. Where is my pep? Not enough caffeine. Not awake yet. Why am I doing this?

Two Miles In- Feeling the camber/cant/road slant in my left knee. What a pain. Gotta get off Oxford Rd. Just slightly more awake. Still foggy. A few passing lights from cars. Traffic light at least in the 4's.

Third Mile- Heading into Cooke's Hope. Feeling a little better. Still not fast, but loosening up a little. Stride a little longer behind me and easier. Nice low heart rate. All day pace right here. There is hope. Feeling better. Whoah Deer dart right in front of me! Watch my step in the dark on the trail. Remembering an article I read yesterday about boxes and the line. Cool ideas and apply to plenty of things outside triathlon. Every run has a Line I think. Where will it come on this run?

Mile Four- Might try a few loops today on the trail. I don't want more cambered road if I can help it. Getting brighter. Can't see the sun but the clouds look really cool- long wispy lines on the horizon. Corn is getting higher. I never did finish The Omnivore's Dilemma did I? Some pangs of hunger pass after a few minutes. Settling into a groove. Ouch, scratched by a branch on the neck. Didn't see that one coming.

Mile Five- Second lap. More deer or the same ones over again. Twist an ankle slightly around the little pond. Recover quickly. Thank my FiveFingers for that. Takes my mind off the twinge in my left outer kneecap area. A few bats on the trail- cool!

Mile Six- Halfway done or so. Getting thirsty for the first time. Mouth a little dry. Maybe I should have brought water. We'll see how this goes. Through the woods again. Can see a little better now. THERE'S that branch I missed the first time. One more lap around. Not getting dizzy yet- from the trail loops or the dehydration. Thank goodness it is cool.

Mile Seven- Deer again. They all look the same. How many miles are you guys putting in this morning? They never look tired or thirsty.

Mile Eight-Last loop finishing up. Thankful for a trail run- at least part of the run. Maybe tag on Oaklands next? Still not hot at least.

Mile Nine- Try to relax, loosen shoulders, arms, loosely cup hands. That's it. Not at the line yet. Keep an easy pace. Check heart rate. 140. No worries.

Miles Ten and Eleven- Oaklands loop. Getting a lot harder. Loosing focus. Starting to feel tired legs. Feet actually a little sore. This is a new one. No heel pain though and knee is settling down. Hmm, looking like it may be more like 14 miles than the planned 13. Oh well, still thirsty but sweating fine and head is clear.

Mile 11.5- Ok here is the Line on this run. Fighting the urge to walk. Why did I feel the need to run long today? Push through. This is nothing. No need to kill myself heading home. Just get 'er done. Maintain pace. Nothing more. All business.

Mile 12-14- Oxford Road- We've got issues, but I know you well. No surprises. Always feel a little better seeing the traffic light on the bypass before the Y. The home stretch. Breathing still easy, but my dogs are barking. Legs sore and heavy. Left hip flexor is tight. Fighting urge to slow down and walk some. Hang in there. This is the fun part- really. It's why I snap the velcro straps together on my Bikilas (really does nothing for fit by the way but has cool reflective surface on the straps at least)
Home stretch by the park then to da corner. Decide to push it to 15 by going to the bike path rather than turning down Aurora and ending in front of my house at 14.75. More arbitrary numbers. Damn you Garmin!

Mile 15. Hit stop on my Garmin and start walking. Ahhhh that feels better. Or does it? Man my left hip flexor is tight as are my calves. I think I'm feeling the lack of fluids. But I made it.
Walk down Dover street from the bike path and back to the house. Feeling glad I'm finished. Whole day ahead at 6:20, and I finished 15 miles. That's why I got up at 04:00.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thanks & Praise (for a Sunday run)

Sundays are a time for thanks and praise, so here are a few from this morning's run:

Thanks for the health to be able to get up and go for a run.

Thanks for the sun shining and the odd rays pushing through the trees and dancing on the pavement.

Thanks for familiar, smiling faces and morning greetings.

Thanks for running with shorts, shoes and an iPod and not needing all the crap, gear, tech, and assembly that the cyclists meeting at the YMCA needed.

Thanks for SHADE!

Thanks for the heron (see past post re: the heron vibe) looking for his breakfast right next to the bridge over Papermill Pond (and thanks for the tide being high enough to hide the PMP stench ;)

Thanks for a playlist that employs James Brown and his heaps of soul for the last two miles. Thanks for a steady pace and focus over the last mile of a hot run.

Thanks for the feeling of finishing a run, sweaty and spent and smiling.

Thanks for air conditioning. Thanks for coffee.

I overslept this morning, due to dog, due to kids up during the night, so changed a 10-11 mile Sunday run to a 7.25 mile run, but didn't bail altogether, which has been a late spring pattern if I don't get up early enough for the full run.

Getting out the door at 7am it was already hot. But the thought the epic battle at Western States yesterday, waged over 100 miles of rugged terrain and mountains between Tony Krupicka, Killian Jornet and Geoff Roes made my quick jaunt seem like nothing. That's a solid perspective to dwell on when out for a run.

My favorite running song of late, the John Butler Trio's "Ragged Mile." Have a listen.

It feels good to be back into a summer running rhythm. Now I am starting to think about summer and fall races and trail adventures. Ideas? Step right up.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reminder from E.B. White

Last night, my five year old daughter let me read to her. I say this because lately she only wants to read to her mom and dad, not be read TO. Yet, last night she wanted to read a chapter book and asked me to start reading one of her favorites, "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White. Now this book may hold a special place in her heart partly because she shares her name with that amazing spider, but nonetheless it stands on its own as a wonderful tale of friendship.

In the first chapter, Fern, aged 8 I believe, successfully talked her father out of killing the runt of the litter pig by stating "This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of." Her father, Arable, then decides to let her have a chance to raise the pig herself. Later, Fern's brother comes downstairs and wonders why he can't have a pig too and receives the following response.

"No, I only distribute pigs to early risers," said Mr. Arable. "Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one, to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly. Let's eat!"

I smiled last night reading that, just as I smile now having returned from biking and swimming this morning, finishing up a six am, well before the sunrise. Now, maybe we don't all want pigs, though I imagine there has been plenty of bacon consumed after Rise Up Runs on the weekends, and I can't claim that we are able to rid the world of injustice, but the point still rings true almost sixty years after it was written. Have a wonder-filled day and go claim your pig!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What a Beautiful Day for Running Barefoot in the Park

Today is one of those rare days that just feels like a gift. Maybe, just maybe, all that that cold, snowy weather was worth it just to be rewarded such a warm, remarkably comfortable day. I am fortunate enough to be off work on Thursdays, and I took advantage of the weather to get outside first for a short bike ride with my wife followed by a run around the park.

It felt good to slip into some running shorts for the first time in a long time and head outside. I initially grabbed some thin wool gloves, but tossed them back into the yard before even putting them on as it was clear they wouldn't be needed. I decided to start off wearing my homemade huaraches courtesy of Barefoot Ted and head down to the park about a half mile away and do some laps around the fine gravel track. As I laced them up, Megan asked how I could remember how to tie them as it must look somewhat haphazard and random. I told her by now it seems pretty easy, but that I was inventing my own style to it over time and playing with different methods- mainly with how to secure the final tie. It is a work in progress, but I am certainly getting faster and more comfortable tying them.

I headed down the street and quickly fell into a nice, rapid turnover and light foot-fall type stride. It was my first run since Sunday when Shaun, Mike and I ran about 11 miles around town. I think I overdid it a little, and I've been fighting off a cold so I felt a little tight at the start. By the time I hit the track at the park, the sun was feeling warm, and I felt a lot looser. After a couple laps on the track, my MapMyRun announcer friend called out the mile and the pace, and I figured it was a good time to ditch the huaraches and go totally barefoot. Next thing I knew, I was running along with the huaraches in one hand and making my own trail all around the perimeter of the park. I felt free, relaxed and at least ten years younger as my toes gently squished into the still cool and wet grass along the Idlewild Sreet side of the park. It was fun to feel different textures as I ran: the cool, refreshing grass, the firmer yet surprisingly comfortable concrete sidewalk, the less comfortable (due to numerous pebbles)and very temperature-dependent asphalt road, the small pinecones under the large evergreens at the opposite side of the park, and the firm, moist sand of the ball fields in the center.

Not surprisingly it was way more fun making my own trail than staying on the gravel track. Besides, though my feet have toughened some since running in FiveFingers on the treadmill, the gravel still hurts quite a bit in barefeet. Every other surface varied from mildly irritating to incredibly comfortable and almost addictive. The small sticks and cones under the evergreens gave me the most trouble, as on one lap I stumbled over a large stick that managed to cut me slightly on the side of one foot and the back of the opposite calf. Other than that, no blood, but I did get a little mud between the toes that perhaps felt the absolute best.

I quickly met my goal of three miles unshod at the park, briefly considered sliding the huaraches on for the short jaunt home, but reconsidered and finished up by running barefoot on the asphalt back to my house. At that point, the sun had warmed the dark, absorbant surface enough that it felt quite pleasant, and I couldn't help but wonder what it must feel like to run on the asphalt in August in the middle of the day in bare feet. But that thought can be left to ponder another day. Today was a special day, better left to reflecting on the sensations of my first barefoot run in the park.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuckahoe Sunday

Well, we've been waiting for a nice, dry and warm spring day to check out Tuckahoe after all the snow we've had this winter. Shaun, Mike V., Dominic, and I met in town and drove out to Tuckahoe where Andrew was waiting for us. We seem stuck on the number five for group runs, which isn't a bad number at all. Luckily, it didn't rain, but we sure didn't stay dry thanks to a chilly creek crossing that had everyone struggling to keep from being swept downstream. And it sure felt warm yesterday, at least several hours AFTER we ran. When we ran it was still around 30 degrees and plenty brisk. Still, it was Tuckahoe, and there was a creek crossing which allowed for plenty of smiles and good-spirited cursing to go around. And overall, the course was actually pretty dry. It only got swampy and messy around the creek crossing and the first part of Little Florida trail as expected. I do have some sad news to report to our friend Keene, the log-hopping Wood Frog, as his preferred crossing apparatus was swept somewhere down into the great Chesapeake Bay by now.

I geeked out on tech yesterday, bringing along both my iPhone with MapMyRun app and Megan's newly gifted Garmin 405 watch complete with heart rate monitor. I felt a little overburdened sporting a chest strap, armband complete with iPhone and a watch strapped to my wrist. Amazingly, it all worked and the only slight challenge was trying to switch settings on the Garmin when it got wet at the creek crossing what with all the fancy touch screen bezel and all. I can see why people like to train by heart rate, it give you something other than your heavy breathing to focus on when things get tough.

At the end of the run, most refueled with Andrew's concoction of peanut butter, graham crackers and dried fruit(I think that's what the others had though I can't be sure because I was a little tired at the time and still somewhat frozen and foggy). We dried off and changed into warmer clothes and took stock in the fact that no fingers or toes were lost to frostbite. All in all, we couldn't ask for a better Tuckahoe day.

-- Landy

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vibram FiveFingers: Lessons Learned on the Nearly-barefoot Trail

I first tried Vibram FiveFingers a little over a year ago, after returning to running following my meniscus surgery. For a refresher, here were my thoughts at the time. Somehow a year has passed, and I a now feel older and, well, maybe I just feel older. But, wow what a difference a year makes in my approach to shoes.

This isn't so much a running shoe review as an opinion on minimalist shoes for everyday living. You see, after I took my tentative first steps in my neoprene FiveFinger Flows, I began the slow return to my roots: my barefoot roots as a kid. Funny thing is, my feet get cold easily so all-out barefoot isn't that appealing to me and gravel still hurts a lot to walk over un-shod. But I love the feeling of being connected to the ground, of having extremely lightweight shoes, and experiencing the feedback from the ground to my feet and body that are so utterly lacking in more conventional shoes. It was really fun wearing my FiveFingers not just for running, but more for everyday use.

I would love to say that I've been racking up the miles in my nearly barefoot shoes, and that I have moved on to completely barefoot running to take the minimalist approach to the next level. Truthfully, my feet still are pretty wimpy. They get cold easily, and I got pretty lazy in the fall and did very little running at all. I've even had my share of injuries along the way, a side-effect of exposing my long-sheltered feet to the sometimes cruel, unfiltered world below them.

Among those injuries were a severely sprained foot after running with numb, cold feet in my FiveFingers at Stupidathon I. Truth is, my feet were thoroughly frozen from the preceding bike ride. They were numb by the time I even started running, and I learned that nearly barefoot running requires that the feedback from nerves in the feet to make micro-adjustments to how I land with each foot strike. This is more important when your feet lack the cushioning of more conventional shoes. When running shod, your feet are pretty numb anyway and rely on the cushioning of the shoe to protect your feet. Therefore, having cold feet when running with normal running shoes isn't such a big deal. The shoe continues to do what it always does. So, perhaps my most important lesson on this journey, is that if I was accept that this increased connection between the ground and my feet was a good thing, I also had to realize that it required my full sensory involvement. In practice, this meant my feet must be warm enough to provide sensory feedback about the ground underneath them. Otherwise, I was taking a huge risk in running. The next few weeks were spent hobbling along, recovering, and often wearing regular shoes with cushioning. It made my sprained foot just numb enough to tolerate walking.

There were some other pains before the foot sprain that I would classify as good pains. I am referring to the calf pain I experienced as I began to run occasionally in the FiveFingers and walk in them all day long at work. I have never had a proper calf muscle. My lower legs make chicken legs look like tree trunks. That's just the way I am built. Wearing low profile, flat and flexible shoes forced me to develop these muscles in a hurry. I assume the loss of the raised heel found on traditional shoes, along with a slight forward lean and landing with my foot underneath rather than in front of me all contributed to a lot of stretching and recoil of these underdeveloped muscles. I would ache a lot in my calves after the first short runs. Still, it never felt terrible, just sore, and I was very patient and didn't rush it. Having a recent injury helped since I was content to rebuild very slowly after some time down from running. Over weeks, my lower legs and feet became stronger, working out these long-dormant muscles in ways that I hadn't in years.

At work, I had a little more spring in my step. It is striking how a small decrease in weight at the end of your feet can make you more nimble. I began to notice that my back didn't hurt at the end of a busy day. I am on my feet walking between exam rooms for much of the day and with regular shoes my back would start to ache by the end of the day. With flatter, lighter and more flexible FiveFingers, I didn't have that problem anymore. I think most of this is due to having my heel flat on the ground rather than slightly raised. It puts less stress on my lower back and even a centimeter adds up over the course of the day. I found myself making small adjustments to how I stood on my feet in order to protect my heels also. You don't notice this in regular shoes, but you really can't stand with locked knees supporting most of your weight on your heels for too long before it gets uncomfortable in nearly bare-feet. I shifted more weight to the balls of my feet, and when I paid attention to it I found I was shifting my weight around all the time without really thinking about it.

One thing I wasn't prepared for was how unconventional my shoes were to people not familiar to them. After wearing them a while, you forget that they look really goofy and that most people find them quite odd appearing. So, there are lots and lots of questions, and you end up talking about them quite frequently if your job involves meeting with many different people during the day. The questions and comments were all over the place. Here are some of the more common ones.
"What are those?!?"
"Hey, you have gorilla feet!"
"Did you forget your shoes today? Those are socks right?"
"Those must be great for watersports."
"How are they in the (snow,rain,heat,cold,pool,bay, bed,etc)?"
"Where did you get them and how can I get a pair?"
"I had socks like that back in the 80's!"
"Are they comfortable?"

The last question is one of my favorites because yes, of course they are. I wouldn't wear such ugly things if they weren't. I didn't find them at all attractive myself when I first started wearing them but they have grown on me.

After a couple months wearing the neoprene ones and reading more about the KSO version online, I went ahead and ordered a second pair- this time the KSO in brown. I found these to be a significant step up in comfort and flexibility. The toe separation with the KSO felt much more natural to me with the reduced fabric thickness compared to neoprene. They flexed more easily and provided more tactile feedback from the ground. My feet didn't get so hot when walking around inside during the day. They became my primary shoes, and I used the Flows only on really cold days where I had to walk in snow or really wet days where puddles were numerous.

Somewhere in this transition period, I did wear my black Flow FF's to Tuckahoe State Park for a ten mile trail run. This proved to be the site of my second significant injury in my FF's, and the one which might have made smarter people go back to regular shoes. While running on the leaf covered trails, I hit my big toes full speed on not one but two large roots hidden beneath the foliage. The first time was only a mile into the run and happened to my left toe. I shook my foot out a few times afterwards, howled a little, then ran on. The second one happened mercifully 8 and 1/2 miles in when my right foot collided even harder on a large submerged root, and I tumbled over in agony. Luckily my foot was a little frozen, so the pain was somewhat muted. I somehow brushed it off and finished the run, but my big toe was black and blue and swollen already. An xray the next day confirmed a fractured great toe that seemed to take a good six months to fully heal. That ended my running for a while, especially my trail running, but I wasn't done with the FiveFingers so easily. Perhaps a shoe with more protection or room in the toebox might have prevented the fracture. I'll never know, but it seemed like it might be prudent to stick to trail running shoes for the foreseeable future, and perhaps to be more cautious running on on trail with lots of leaves.

I remember the toe healing very slowly and needing to wear regular shoes to comfort my foot and allow for a buddy-tape splint I rigged with with a tongue-depressor and some athletic tape. Good times those were. But slowly, my toe healed, and I was silly enough to give the FiveFingers another try. I am happy to say that since that time I have been injury free. I haven't been running much, but when I do I no longer feel calf weakness or pain. My quads never hurt the way they used to after a longer run when I heel-striked. My feet generally feel strong and liberated. It is mostly good. Good enough to never miss conventional running shoes.

There are some practical matters worth thinking about before making the FiveFinger KSO a primary pair of shoes. They get soaked very easily in a puddle and take a long time to dry out while wearing them. They aren't nearly as comfortable in wet weather. This is less of a problem with the Flows, but they never feel quite as comfortable to me wet or dry.

There is also the problem of odor. I hope I never let my shoes get too smelly. I wash them every week in the washing machine and by then they seem to need it. I use hot water, detergent and Oxiclean then leave them over the heat vent in the morning to dry them out. It seems to work well. Since I wear them without socks, I think getting a week out of them is pretty reasonable. I don't intend to push it. The shoes have good longevity. My KSO pair is starting to wear through the rubber on the ball of one foot after about a year. This isn't too bad I think considering I wear them just about daily. The upper fabric has held up well to weekly washings, and I suspect with a little shoe glue on the bottom or a rubber patch I might get quite a few more months and miles out of them.

The other potential problem is that being unconventional, you will end of answering a lot of questions about your shoes. Most days, this is fine. They are a good ice-breaker. Most people genuinely are curious about the positive aspects of them. But there are days when you might just want to talk about other things or blend in. As a pediatrician, I am tickled when kids notice them and start smiling or a parent asks me "I would like to wear them, but they don't have any arch support do they?" It is then that I have a choice. I can either say, no they don't and move on. The second option is to get into a discussion about whether arch support is truly necessary since presumably the foot is well designed to do its job without shoes. The second pathway is far more interesting, but I don't always have the time for it. When I ask, do you ever walk around barefoot at home I will often get very accepting looks and a happy glint in the eye about the joys of walking around the house un-shod. Then I answer, well this is pretty close to that.

There are other options out there for people who want a barefoot experience while wearing shoes. They even look more like conventional shoes. I have an order a pair of Feelmax shoes called the Kuusa(they are a Finnish company). Apparently they are coming out with a running shoe called the Osma. There is another company called Vivo Barefoot that makes some interesting minimalist shoes, but they come at a higher price.

I have gradually been giving away my older, heavier and more conventional shoes, with the thought of having only lightweight shoes in my inventory. I already warned Megan that she might actually prefer the FiveFingers to a pair of Barefoot Ted's homemade huaraches. Those are coming next...

--Nearly Barefoot Landy