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Posts Tagged ‘bikila’

Holy cow!  Where to start?  I’m not even sure where the beginning really is on this one.  Is it months ago when I met with the folks from Team Up With Autism Speaks?  Is the when I began leading a training group every Sunday morning 10 weeks ago?  Is it last Saturday night when I got up in front of 220 Team Up Runners at the pre-race dinner for a pep talk?  The whole thing is just a little overwhelming, so maybe I’ll start in the middle.

***

I could feel the pain coming on.

You know, that little wet, burning feeling.  I don’t know where it happens for you, but blisters almost always start either just above my heel or near the front of my arch.  I had committed the cardinal sin in road racing – wearing footwear for the first time in an endurance event.  Last Wednesday or Thursday I had completely grossed myself out with my old Bikila’s.  They smelled so freaking bad and that was AFTER I had sent them through the washing machine…TWICE!  It was time for new ones, and considering that I would be pacing my dear friend Jersey during the race, I didn’t want  her to have to deal with my smelly shoes.  So, I went and bought a new pair; and then they sat for 4 days.

Yeah, I know, brilliant!

And so it was just a couple of miles in that I started to feel it coming on.  I tried to ignore it.  I tried to focus on my Garmin.  My friends Doug (from Really Not A Runner – even though he is) and Sassy had joined Jersey and I and my primary goal was to get Jersey to the finish line at just under 2:00.  We were clipping along at 9:00/mile pace, which translates to about a 1:58 half.

Sassy, Jersey and me early on, pacing smoothly around 9:00 per mile.

Me and Doug, who was in a showdown with Jersey – winner take all.

But the burning was growing.

I kept pushing it to the periphery.  I had a job to do: get Jersey to the finish in under 2:00 and then shuttle in the rest of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Runners.  We were having a fabulous time cheering other runners on.  I kept checking in with the Team Up runners we would pass, letting them know I would see them at the end.  We caught up with Paula from Perspicacity.  She had decided months ago that her first half-marathon was going to be Boston 13.1 with our Team.  We exchanged a quick hug and continued on.  I knew I would see her at the end.

Sharing some pavement with Paula from Tallahassee.  You can also see Superwoman Rebecca from Orlando just to the left of Paula’s ear.

As we made the turn onto the beach just after mile 3, I realized that I had two choices – either leave the footwear on and end the day with some monstrous blisters or take the footwear off.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  The farthest I had run in my attempt to rid myself of plantar fasciitis was 5 miles, and although the barefoot running had cured my PF, it wasn’t easy on the skin of my feet.  After trying to suck it up for another quarter mile, I threw caution to the wind and off came the shoes.

Surprisingly, it felt really good!  The pavement along Revere Beach is nice and smooth and the 9:00 pace meant I wasn’t pounding my feet either – a perfect combination for running with proper form!

We continued along our merry way, cheering runners we passed, all the while keeping our pace around 9:00.  Around mile 4 I saw Jess coming the other direction.  She was walking the half.  I jumped through the park that was between us and gave her a big hug, telling her I would be back.  I ran back to my charge and we continued on.  This barefoot thing was working out great.

Since we had started near the back of the pack, even at miles 5 and 6 we were passing other runners.  I would give a word of encouragement to every Team Up runner we would pass.  Through the turn arounds I got to see the runners I had trained over the past 10 weeks.  Every single one of them looked great.  All of them were smiling.

Between mile 8 and mile 9, Jersey began to fade.  Her spirit was there, but on this day her legs began to rebel.  Any experienced runner will tell you that there are days you have it and there are days you don’t.  Sometimes we can battle through the pain; others, the pain is just too much.  Sassy was on a mission to hit sub-2:00 as well, and we told her to go.  She would finish in 1:58.

Jersey and I took a little walk break.  It wasn’t her lungs, it was her legs.  We had banked enough time that we still had a shot at sub-2:00.  The next 3 miles would be a mix of run/walking.  She was determined.  I kept an eye on the Garmin.  Approaching mile 10 I said we needed to make a decision of whether to go for it or let it go.  Jersey is from, well, Jersey and she wasn’t gonna go down without a fight.  We needed to pick up the pace, which we did, but ultimately her legs said no.

I changed gears on her.  Sub-2:00 wasn’t in the cards this day, BUT her previous best was a high 2:04.  I knew we had an excellent shot of beating that.  I started doing the math.  If we could walk/run the next 2 miles at a certain pace, she was gonna come in around 2:04.

We hit mile 11.  I shortened the the distances we walked.  Even as we walked I kept my legs in a running motion, trying to pull her along.  As we got to mile 12, I said to her, “you can do anything for one mile.”  She was hurting but determined.  She kept pushing.

With a half mile to go, I shouted at her, “no more Mr. Nice Guy, let’s go!!!  How pissed are you gonna be if you miss this PR because you walked!  LET’S GO!!!”

She kept going…the clock was ticking…tic, tic, tic.  The finish line came into view.

Push, push, push.  The clock said 2:05:something but I knew we had at least a minute because we started so far back.

Tic, tic, tic.

We made the turn into the chute.  Jersey has broken into a dead run.  I tried to avoid the broken glass and pebbles that littered the ground.  On last turn in the chute, I yelled, “go get that medal! save me some beer!!!”.

Jersey’s PR was 2:04:47.  She would cross the finish line in 2:04:44.  A PR by 3 seconds.  Any runner will tell you, a PR is a PR is a PR!

I turned back to start part two of my job that day, shuttling the rest of the Team Up runners to the finish.  It was poetic that the first three runners I paced in were Roberta, Jana and Mark, followed closely by Kara, four runners who attended just about every single one of my Sunday training runs.  I was so proud of them!

What fun it was pacing people in!

Still blue afro-ed, still barefoot.

The absolutely amazing thing was just about every Team Up runner had a smile on their face.  Even after covering 13.1 miles, most for the very first time in their lives, there was a huge smile.  There was one woman who was crying, BUT it was because she knew she was A) doing something she had never thought she could do and B) knew her son was waiting at the finish line for her.  I told her that it was okay to be crying.  I started to well up as she turned the final corner for home.

The pebbles and gravel in the chute finally got to my feet, so I slipped my Bikila’s back on as slippers and continued to pace runners in.

Still blue afro-ed, but no longer barefoot with Dave from dailymile

After 5 miles of shuttling, I got a text from Jess.  She was fading.

I caught up to her at around mile 11-ish – Garmin said I ran low 7’s coming for her.  She told me she had never been so happy to see a blue afro.  I gave her a hug, told her she was doing great and we walked.  We were soon joined by her cousin John (who unexpectedly ran a PR!!!) and his girlfriend, then by our buddy Doug, then by Jersey and our friend Judith.  Over the last mile we were escorted by EMS and some State Police.

Jess crossed the finish line and then I finally did the same.  I was (and am) so proud of her.

The final numbers?  Almost 22 miles, 16 of which were run barefoot, 3:40:55 and a whole lot of love.

Next stop: New York City.

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In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island [wikipedia]. This past week I have been dealing with my own version of the Sirens. The weather has been generally delightful, my knee has felt fine, and my new Vibram Bikila Shoes, though wonderful on the elliptical, have been whispering run, run over and over again. Yes, as I work to make sure that my knee is healthy, the Sirens have been calling me to the road, tempting me to run.

For once, I am trying to be smart about it. I want to run. I need to run. But like Odysseus, I am strapping myself to the mast (the elliptical) and having my men (the DVR) row me through temptation. Though I have to admit I did run one mile (ONLY ONE!) with my buddy Josh (@bostoncardiovet) as he made his way through an uphill mile 11 of the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon on Sunday.

So far so good. The knee is on the mend, I’m maintaining cardio health and I can see the road just a week away. But as that day approaches, the Sirens’ song gets louder and more beautiful. The temptation to go back just a day, maybe two, early is very strong. Would it really hurt to go back to running just a day early? Probably not, but why take the chance? Right?

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Yesterday I picked up a pair of the new Vibram Bikila. They weren’t supposed to be in the stores until this morning, but when I called to find out what time they thought they would be coming in, I was told they had just received a small shipment. They had received one pair in my size. I asked the salesperson to hold on to them and that I’d be there in 10 minutes.

I was there in 5.

The moment I slipped them onto my feet, I knew this was going to be my new favorite shoe. I have run in Vibram Sprints, KSO’s and Treks. All were great for running in, but these Bikilas fit nice and snug. They feel fast. I jogged lightly from one end of the store to the other, “testing” them out. I really didn’t need to…I just wanted to show them off. Now that they were on my feet, I didn’t care if someone else with my foot size showed up. I mentioned to the salesperson that I was happy that I had called because I knew had I waited until this morning, I would have been told that they had just sold the one pair they had in my size. These shoes are selling like hotcakes. On Thursday, CitySports put about 150 pair up online. They were gone in 20 minutes.

I brought them home and showed them to my family. They were unimpressed, and quite honestly, I guess I could understand. I never was into the Air Jordan craze. I never understood the hysteria. Now I do. I’ve been itching for a pair of Bikila since I first heard about them. The fact that I could play with but not purchase them at the Boston Marathon Expo killed me.

Anyway, after dinner I went for my first run in them.

Over the course of my 3 mile run, I took them over a variety of terrain, including road, sidewalk, grass and brush. The Bikila performed perfectly in all conditions. The only place I might hesitate taking them is on truly off road terrain, but quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised it they handled that decently as well. During my run I was able to feel the ground beneath as well as I could in my Sprints, but still get some traction like I do in my Treks. One of the reasons why I had switched to Treks in my long runs had been the fact that after 5 – 6 miles in my Sprints I would often feel the bottoms of my feet heating up a bit. That doesn’t happen in my Treks (at least not in runs 26.2 miles or shorter) and based on the feel of the Bikila, I don’t anticipate that happening with them either.

As I mentioned earlier, these Vibrams feel fast when you put them on. These truly feel like a second skin to me, unlike my previous Vibrams that in comparison, feel like loose fitting gloves. The tread on the Bikila is like a cross between the KSO’s/Sprints and the Treks. Thick enough to feel like you’ve got some traction and protection, but light enough to feel the road completely. As I went out for my run, I told myself to go slow. My legs are still recovering from my 2 Marathons in 2 Weeks Adventure and I had originally planned on waiting until Monday to start running again. Of course, with the Bikila in hand, I wasn’t about to NOT run. So I went out with the intention of running a slow 3 miler.

These shoes don’t want to go slowly. Your feet just want to go in them and mine did. After starting off with an 8+ minute mile, I covered the last 2 miles in 15 minutes, without any realization that I was running that fast. Had you asked me to guess my pacing, I would have told you I ran 8 minute miles the whole way. For those of you who are not runners, but have made it this far in my review, a 30 second difference per mile is NOT insignificant. It is huge.

When I arrived home, I didn’t do my usual routine of ripping off my shoes immediately after the run. I had to leave them on. HAD to. That’s because not only do they feel fast, and not only do they have the perfect balance of tread on the soles, they are comfortable. I mean cozy! The feet feel great in them. If I wasn’t moderately self-conscious, I would wear then 24/7 – from dropping off the kids at school, to going to the grocery store, taking the kids to their various activities – I would wear them everywhere – and then I’d run in them. Unfortunately, I am a little shy when it comes to wearing them for anything but running, but that’s a Luau problem, not a Bikila problem.

I feel bad for my other Vibrams. I haven’t worn the Sprints since last fall, and the KSO have only been pulled out a couple times over the last few month. I thought I had found my perfect Vibram in my Treks. They are a great running shoe, especially during the cold winter months up here in the Northeast, but they too are about to be relegated to being a back-up player. The Bikila’s have taken the best from each of the previous models and improved upon them. These shoes were obviously made with the runner in me in mind. The Bikila are truly the runner’s Vibram Five Finger shoe. I am sure you will feel the same.

My new favorite running shoe – The Vibram Bikila!

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I need YOUR contributions to a project that I’m working on. Interested?

All you need to do is send me a paragraph or two telling me why you run and/ or why you think others should run. E-mail it to me at “runluaurun at gmail dot com” (written out so the bots don’t start sending me spam).

If you can, please include a picture of your favorite running shoes and tell me what kind of shoes they are. Also, please let me know how you would like to be referenced (real name, nickname, pseudonym, etc) just in case this project actually ever sees the light of day.

The more responses I get, the sooner I can put it all together, so please don’t be shy about forwarding this to your running friends and spreading the word.

Thanks!

Luau

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