Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Born To Run For A Little While Then Stop

So I read Born to Run. Well, I put it into my brain through my ears via audiobook.

If you aren't hip to the trend, in Born to Run, Christopher MacDougall advocates for barefoot and minimally-shod running while telling the story of the sandal-wearing Tarahumara Indians and their running exploits, both in the U.S. and in their own Copper Canyon.  It's a hell of a tale, ending in a corker of a foot race through the hot, treacherous canyon with a Seven Samurai-worthy cast of characters.

MacDougall has a persuasive argument for (a) the anthropological evidence that our bodies were molded into running machines by a high-mileage lifestyle in the hundred thousand years we spent growing big, meat-eating brains and yet were not quite smart enough to make spears, and (b) the fact that our intricately arched feet are more damaged by the heel-strike running style that the modern running shoe enforces than by running in nothing at all.

MacDougall and several other like-minded barefoot-running or minimal-running enthusiasts and advocates urge that to go barefoot means to relearn to run, focusing on landing on either the lateral side of the midfoot or the ball of the foot, shortening your stride, and straightening your posture. He believes with these changes, runners (like himself) will be able to run longer with fewer injuries.

I bought it. It's worth a try. I've never been able to run longer distances over a long term without injury, pain or whining, and running shoe stores always outfit me with the "beast" style shoes for the problem pronators, something that MacDougall says only makes you more prone to injuries. What the hell? I have nothing to lose, since I wore out my last pair of running shoes by doing nothing but walking. I will give barefoot running a try, but with a skeptical eye, and a slow-and-steady approach.

I started, as many suggest, by slipping my shoes off once I got to the park, and running around the perimeter of the grass soccer fields for a mile or so.  It felt SPECTACULAR. And Scotty liked it too. I kinda felt like a kid, and not a little silly, but I kept it up for a week, and at the end of the week, I was ready to take the next step.

Although Nike has a bad rep in the barefoot running community by singlehandedly inventing the running shoe industry, I know a nice person who works at Nike, and I was able to get a screaming deal on a pair of Nike Frees, their entry into the barefoot running trend - a light slipper with a flexy sole - just enough to protect the foot, seemingly without messing with one's natural barefoot stylings.

I have worn them twice since I bought them, and I have to say, I am cautiously optimistic. My runs felt, if a little self-conscious about my new mid-foot strike style, quite easy and less tiring than usual, and my feet and legs feel no scary consequences other than a little (expected) tightness in the Achilles area (minimal shoes have minimal heels, unlike my usual stability runners).

I will report back if this fad sticks to me. I do tend to go whole hog on things. For a little while. Then I stop.

However, whether you buy the barefoot running thing or no, I do recommend the book. The story woven throughout is a page turner, and there is a lot of knowledge worth knowing in there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Annie Keeps Staring At Me

Annie is having one of her Alzheimer moments. If you know Annie, you would expect her to have the quiet kind of Alzheimer's, where she just lies around and thinks she's on a cruise ship. But no, she is developing a more combative strain, where the last scene will be Annie in her housecoat in a standoff with the cops, getting gunned down on the front porch for threatening them with a blunderbuss.

This evening, she ran out the door in a panic when I opened it for some political door-to-doorers.  I had to catch her by the butt and pull her back in.  She continued to try to get out the door even when I was shutting it on her face. She wouldn't come when I called. She ran away when I told her to sit down for a moment and chill so she could eat dinner without hurling.

So I put her outside to "reset." Sometimes her brain gets fried on overdoses of sleep and she gets paranoid. Now she is outside, alternately pacing and trying to lie quietly on the grass. She keeps looking over at me, either hoping that I will decide she has calmed down enough for dinner, or possibly because she is wondering whether her stay of execution has arrived from the governor.

Oops, now she's barking at the kids next door.  (Annie doesn't bark.)

It's going to be a long, crazy night.

Update:  Annie seems back to "normal" this morning. She was able to eat and hobble around the block on her wrecked shoulders. (What are "shoulders" in dog anatomy? Withers? Dubloons? Loonies? Wait, that's Canadian money. "Shoulders" will do.) I swear, she will outlive us all.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I wrote a screenplay in my sleep last night.

I had this dream where The Captain and I had to move to Texas or something. The Captain had bought a house, sight unseen, online. You know, amazing deal, couldn't pass it up.

The house looks just like the stuff we like: Frank Lloyd Wright meets The Anchorman's Pad.  Heavy dark doors, low light, atrium-like back yard. And goes for miles on one floor.  The catch? It's a duplex! And there is no partition between the two halves! It's like a yuppy hippy commune house! And the lady of the other house is a queen beyotch!

And hijinks ensue, including great big stuffed hams in OUR refrigerator, and a party on OUR side of the house. Oh, the money trains starts HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Which The MaxFunCan Summer Gets Under Way

As we still have to work for a living (I know! Right?), the MaxFunCan has been limited to long weekends this summer. We have taken it, along with the two collies, on short jaunts to Central Oregon and the Oregon Coast.

The Can seemed so much more spacious without the two land sharks milling about and bumping into things. At night (well, all the time), most of the floor space is taken up by large mounds of dog. But man, does Scotty love camping! He gets so excited, he forgets all the Dog Whisperer manners I drilled into him, and cannot stop pulling on the leash. 

I wonder if he can smell bears and cougars. At the campground on the coast where we stayed July 9th through 11th, there was a sign that said, "Last bear sighting: _____________" and the blank was filled in in wax marker with 7/8/10. Dammit! Missed it by THAT MUCH! I kept my head on a swivel, but failed to catch sight of any bears. Cougars had been sighted there too, but not since May.

Annie seems to enjoy the sniffing part of camping, but has been limping quite theatrically lately, so we had to take short, slow walks with her, and then take her back to the trailer before letting Scotty pull us like a sleigh for a mile or two. And she wasn't able to pull herself up the two metal steps into the camper, so I got a lot of Collie Lifting in. She was mostly happy to lie still, as she does at home. We call her our Little Wet Blanket.

Tumalo State Park outside of Bend was a big hit with families. So much so that there seemed to be bicycle gangs forming amongst the camp urchins. The noise level was of an overcrowded-playground nature throughout our stay. Next time we head to Bend, we will be heading for more remote Forest Service campgrounds.

Annie, looking like she is enduring this little walk along Tumalo Creek.

Drew took me for a mountain bike ride that skirted along the edges of my abilities.

This is how I look on a mountain bike. The captain kept taking pictures of me while I rode. I must have looked funny.

This is what The Captain looks like on a mountain bike. Like Sven, your mountain biking guide and masseur. 

Washburne State Park on the Oregon Coast, north of Florence, was much quieter, and the campers' ages trended much higher, like 60 years higher. And the trail to the beach did not involve any rock climbing, which can be a reality on the "ruggedly beautiful" Oregon coast.

I took Drew for a hike that skirted along the edges of his abilities.

Here is The Captain looking like he's running short on patience and knee cartilage in the mile-square temperate rain forest that is Heceta Head.  It was in the high 70s with blue sky everywhere else and we were being rained on. We're almost there. (Then we hiked back.)

Yes, we hiked UP onto Heceta Head and then DOWN off of it to get to the lighthouse. 

Now Scotty's an itchy mess and needs another trip to the groomer. I've gained all my New Year's Resolution weight back, in no small part due to s'mores. The yard has been neglected. And the same half-completed canvas has sat on my easel for a month.

This is the Lighthouse Keeper's house at Heceta Head. It's rumored to be haunted, so I was disappointed not to find any ghostly images in the windows.

I would buckle down, but this weekend is the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge weekend, so we'll be planted out at the track, watching Dean race and eating booth food. 

Everything gets put off but the fun. I guess those are okay priorities.