Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Review: Pearl Izumi Women’s Peak II

I was recently given the opportunity to review this shoe, but since I’m now unable to run comfortably in traditional running shoes, I was sure I wouldn’t give it the fair review that someone else would. So my good friend Killeen McGowan agreed to review the new Pearl Izumi Women’s Peak II running shoe. I must say they’re absolutely adorable and I’m a bit jealous. Thanks, Killeen!

Hello, Day-Glo!

This was my initial reaction to the Peak II Trail Running Shoe by Pearl Izumi [PI]. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a shoe by its exterior.  But, with neon mesh and a swirling logo, it’s hard not to be drawn to – or to apprehensively draw away from – PI’s line of trail-blazing kicks. If you’re like me, fun, funky colors are a huge plus. If not, consider the vibrancy as extra protection during hunting season.

But truly, choosing a running shoe shouldn’t have anything to do with fashion. So, let’s look beyond the aesthetics and focus solely on the athletics of these attention-getting trail trainers.

While not minimalist in specification by any means, the PI website cleverly calls this model “minimalistic.” Though there’s plenty of cushioning in the heel via foam on the insole and a thick, rubber outsole, the shoe’s upper is quite minimalist in nature. The seam-free construction, coupled with a notable lacing system, allows the super-breathable material to give your foot a glove-like hug. If the minimalist movement has you intrigued, this may be a good shoe to help you cross into that new territory.

That said, I put these guys on to go for a short, assessment run. With narrow feet that suffer from moderate bunions, it is difficult for me to find a shoe that fits snuggly enough, yet doesn’t squeeze and aggravate the joints in question. The general fit of the Peak II was immediately true to its claim of “anatomically forming to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape.” There was no unwanted wiggle room, nor was there much pressure against the sensitive sides of my feet.  Regarding length: these seem to run small. I am a strict size 8 and was thus surprised to find I needed an 8.5 to keep my toes from feeling crowded.

The tire-like tread on the soles of the Peak II handled the rocky, crumbly trails I passed over without any issue. While a little overkill for a paved route, it is rather nice to have the traction when opting to run in the road’s shoulder.  I noticed that the aforementioned heel cushioning was significantly less than that of my typical running footwear, again making my new PI’s a good choice in the transition to a more minimalist style.

What I noticed most about these shoes was how little I fussed with their tightness. I often lace and re-lace before setting out for a run, especially if I’m wearing something rather new. I cinched these shoes up rather tight from the get-go, and I never had to adjust them once. The shoe’s tongue is built in such a way that it blends into the rest of the shoe, versus being this separate, bulky piece that you’d find in most classic styles. The seamlessness was also a huge factor in my comfort, and was likely the reason my trial run was 100% blister-free.

All in all, I was pleased with my experience in the Pearl Izumi Peak II’s. They’re a solid trail runner, and versatile enough for summer day-hikes. They are well aerated, comfortable, lightweight on top, and rugged underneath.

And, not that it matters, but did I mention that they’re fabulously flashy?

 


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Thoughts on Being a Loner

Credit: New York Social Diary

A few weeks back I was invited to a small 6-hour running event happening tomorrow. It’s a 3-mile looped trail course that my friend Brad put together. It was planned specifically for people in the area who are training for the Pinelands 50k, but open to all. I looked at the event description on Facebook and it seemed like a good time, and a good way to get some major mileage in. But I didn’t plan to go.

Why not? Was it because 6 hours is too long for me to run? Because I have a half marathon next weekend and I should be taking it easy? Nah…I  mean, come on, you should know by now that I don’t usually miss out on doing fun things just because they’re stupid.

No, I wasn’t going to attend the 6-hour Fatass run because I’d already planned a 15-16 mile run for today, and well…I wanted to run it alone.

Turns out, even though I’m an exceptionally social person, when it comes to running I’m a loner by nature. I realize this is a weird dichotomy, but it’s just the way I am. Normally, I will happily wax poetic with anyone on almost any topic, especially running. But the more time I actually spend running, the more I find I prefer being completely solo (except for my dog Oscar).

Running with a buddy is still fun, of course. It makes the time fly by, kills two birds with one stone (catching up with friends and exercising), and it’s good training for the slower or less fit person. Which is usually me.

But I don’t really want the time to fly by when I’m running (in fact, I’m usually sad when a run is over). I want – I need – to be mentally focused on my long run. On how my legs feel. How my form feels. How steady my breath is. How the woods sound. I want to run slowly and feel every rock under my feet, not pass the time talking about work or comparing cellphone carriers. I like to slow to a walk every once in awhile, and sometimes stop altogether. Stretch my legs out. Observe the brook rumbling along beside the trail. Refuel without having to chew while bouncing. Direct Oscar to some fresh water and watch him drink. Then start up again.

And that’s probably why it takes me so much time to be done with a long run.

Most people I run with seem to just want to run fast the whole way, and finish under a certain time. In that way, maybe the long run is different for me than it is for some others. I’m there to train, sure, but I’m also there just to be outside. And it’s hard not to feel pressured to move faster with the other person, or feel guilty because I can’t.

Perhaps that just makes me a runner (or maybe a jogger…heh), but not a racer. I suppose I’m okay with that. But, I digress.

I mean, lovely as it is, it’s the very distraction of running with someone else that screws up my whole run. It’s not so bad on a 4-5 miler where I barely have time to get tired, but it is on the long run. I get so caught up in conversation that I lose focus of my body’s movements. I never catch myself slouching, or over-striding. I talk the whole time, use up too much energy in conversation and have none left for the run. It usually results in premature fatigue, a bad race time or an injured…something.

In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, the only races that I’ve ever even kicked ass at were run alone. My first 10k, my best 5k and a stellar Thanksgiving 5-miler. My performances at those races still make me proud, and not only because they were nice PR’s, but because of how I felt throughout. Strong, calm, and most importantly: focused.

I can’t achieve those things while I’m chatting up a friend during a race, and I can’t stop chatting once I’ve started. So it stands to reason that my most important races and runs must be solo. And maybe for the most part, this also includes Pineland. Sorry, Sheree.

That said, I have decided to go to the 6-hour run tomorrow, after all. Why? Mostly because I need to train myself to be “alone” even when there are lots of people around. I need to learn how to ignore the temptation to be social every minute just because there’s someone within earshot to blather at.

I figure tomorrow’s run might somewhat mimic the social situation on race day at Pineland. So it will be a good opportunity to practice running my own race even though I am not running alone. And even if it turns out I’m by myself 90% of the time because I’m so slow, it will still be a lesson in not trying to keep up with everyone else. A lesson in letting go of my fears of being the slowest person there (which I am sure I will be). And the other 10% of the time it will be a lesson in still focusing on my form while there’s someone running beside me.

So wish me luck, folks! It’s going to be a brand new trail for me, hopefully a new distance PR, and a tough mental training challenge. Also there might not be any bathrooms – and some of you may know by my status updates how many times I’ve ended up at a Dunkin’ Donuts bathroom after 8 miles or so. Could prove interesting.

Those Central-Massachusetts squirrels better be on their watches tomorrow.


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Slacker Theory

“Hey Trish, how’s the 50k training going?”

The answer is….well, it’s…going. Going where, you ask? Who the hell knows! Not that I can figure out how to answer that question satisfactorily, anyway. Every time I try, the following obdurate facts stomp through my head:

  • My longest training run so far is 14 miles (until Saturday, hopefully)
  • I haven’t run long for the past two weekends, due to life
  • I can’t even find the training plan I printed out in February
  • My left foot has been acting like a spoiled army brat

I feel like I’m supposed to report these facts to everyone who inquires about my training, as if they are some sort of disclaimer for my slacker ways.

But I guess I wouldn’t look so much like a slacker to you if you were my next race.

The Wallis Sands half marathon is on May 6th. It’s my “Birthday Run,” and I’m going with my friend Kirby. It will be my second half marathon race ever, and I am totally confident. As long as I don’t do anything stupid like attempt to race it, the event should be a piece of cake. Naturally I’m trying to ignore the fact that it’s a road half marathon and I hate roads. More on that later.

Now I am going to take a moment to admit that it positively tickles me to call this half marathon a “training run.” Okay, moment over.

And what about the 50k itself? Am I scared, nervous, intimidated by the thought of running perhaps twice as far as I’ll ever have before then? Strangely…no. I have none of those feelings. Or, perhaps more accurately, I’ve gotten over them. My head is totally in it now, and I am experiencing nothing but excitement and anticipation. Like a 5 year-old forcing herself to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, I simply cannot wait for May 27th to arrive.

I know this race is going to be hard for me. Really hard. But with the understanding that a race like this is 90% heart and soul, I’ve built a little theory of my own about it. My theory is that no matter what sub-par training I’ll have under my belt by race day, I’ll still be somewhere on the mid-to-high end of the “Total Slacker” scale. And therefore, barring injury, I should at least be able to finish by cut off time. Even though, in pure slacker-style perfection, it is fully possible that I may even acquire my first DFL (dead-fucking-last).

And that will still be good enough for the books.

I mean, there are certain facts that I accept about my current self: I’m slow (averaging 12mm on a long run if I don’t have to walk), I’m kinda fat, and I’m not all that experienced as a distance runner. But another fact about me is I’ve always been excellent at overcoming roadblocks and adversities. So why would something like a few extra pounds stop me?

Answer is, it won’t.

And neither will all the people reading this who are shaking their heads, thinking I’m an idiot for attempting a 50k at all. You can’t stop a steam train once it’s full speed ahead. Even if it is a slacker of a steam train.

If you’ve been around long enough to read my previous posts about this race, then you’re probably wondering why I sound like a completely different person now. It’s because I am a different person.

I’ve become a slacker trail runner.

That’s right. I might be a total noob who doesn’t (yet) deserve to walk the ranks (yet) of the ultra-marathoner (yet). But I finally found my confidence for this race, and it came to me the day I uncovered my true, abiding love for the trail.

I know the exact moment it happened, too. It was the day I turned an 11-mile long run into a 13-miler, and would have kept going if it wasn’t getting dark and if I hadn’t already been out of water for two miles. It was the moment I chose the hilly trail over the one that stayed flat, and then grinned like a shithead the whole way up. My feet still didn’t hurt by mile 10, and my IT band never hurt at all. It was the very second that I finally learned how to cruise over rocks and sand as blissfully as my dog, Oscar. And yes, it made me into a different runner. A better runner. I’ve been a better runner ever since.

Even if I still am a slacker.

So, screw the obdurate facts. Screw the numbers, the mileage per week, and fuck all these ridiculous training expectations. I’m chomping at the bit, and one way or another I’m going to chew up Pineland on May 27th.

Like a prize fighter bracing for the first hit, I’m ready.

Sidenote: I got my Team SquirrelWipe shirt in the mail the other day! Who wouldn’t be excited to be part of this ridiculous team with Jason Robillard, Shelley Robillard, Brad Waterson, Sheree Dunwell, Adam Gentile and Heather Wiatrowski? Especially when you get to wear an equally ridiculous shirt designed by my friend Krista at ZapsThreads and inspired by Jason’s latest book endeavor:

Watch out, we're kinda grabby.

See you at Pineland.


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Review: VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail

So far I have put two runs and 24 miles on my VIVOBAREFOOT Breathos. As you can see by the amount of dirt on them in the photos, they have been rugged miles – full of dirt, mud, pond scum, horse poop and heavy brush (I have a small bladder, and spend a good deal of time off the path).

Actually, that’s not true. I’ve put more like 27 miles on the Breathos. I first wore them walking my dog on the trails right by my house. I decided to wear them walking first because I wasn’t sure how they were going to fit and I didn’t want any surprises to end my next trail run abruptly. Why? Because my first thought as I took them out of the box was, “Crap. They’re kind of narrow.” I compared them to my Neo Trails. There is a definite difference. And being as sensitive to the width of shoes as I am, this could have been a problem.

Width difference: Neo Trail on left, Breatho on right.

But as soon as I wore them walking, I learned why the slight difference in width is there. The upper of the Breathos are made from a really thin mesh rather than the much thicker padded mesh of the Neo Trail, making the extra sole width unnecessary. Once I started to walk in them it all clicked: the mesh is stretchy. Stretchy mesh makes anything feel looser (just look at skinny jeans, or the Vibram SeeYa).

With that little mystery solved, it was time to take these babies out for a spin.

Looks

Like most footwear companies, VIVOBAREFOOT has a pretty consistent stylistic theme to its products. The look is classic, a bit retro and not necessarily as “sporty” as what you would typically find out there in the running shoe world. The one superficial comment that I have about Vivo’s styling in general is that most of their shoes seem to look more jeans and t-shirt than running tights and sports bra. Sparsely styled, block coloring, roomy and shapeless lasts. But that’s not so much a criticism as it is an observation.

With that said, the Breathos are the sexiest shoe in Vivo’s athletic line. At first glance they look just like everything else Vivo makes, but they’re much sleeker, leaner. They remind me of the Minimus Trail that NewBalance makes (which I can’t even get my feet into, otherwise I would have reviewed them) – rugged, curvy and perhaps a little showy. The Minimus has so far been my pick for the best looking minimalist shoe. The Breatho has that same edge. It has better lines and much more shape than some of Vivo’s other offerings, making it a shoe that’s just as beautiful as it is functional. As a consumer and a designer, I know this is extremely important to the success of a product.

The only suggestion I would make on the looks front is to add more colors. The only color ways they offer at the moment for women are pink, blue and black, while the men’s styles always seem to have more and better color choices. Really? Most men don’t spend three seconds making a color choice on their footwear, but women? We are generally much more selective and appreciate a well-rounded group of color choices. I say give us some oranges and purples and yellows. Maybe even some heather gray.

Now that I’ve gotten that out, on to the important stuff.

Fit and Feel

If you’ve read my past reviews, you probably realize that I’m not one of those really smart technical reviewers who is hyper-focused on factors like weight or the differences between shoe materials. The way I see it, my feet don’t understand weight in tenths of ounces or know what EVA rubber is. They just know how it feels to land in the shoes I put on. They feel heat and cold, crunched and roomy, security and flexibility. And when I test a new shoe, I pay much more attention to what my feet tell me than all the stats that matter to the big-time shoe reviewers.

Maybe that’s just a girl thing. Or maybe it’s why I’m not a big-time shoe reviewer.

But I digress. I took my Breathos out walking instead of running for the first time, because I really wasn’t sure how I was going to like them. But the walk was fine and I learned that what I originally thought would be a width problem was no problem at all. The only thing is, I still haven’t figured out exactly how tight to lace them. The tongue of the shoe is attached to the rest of the upper (smart move) and is made of a moderately thin and breathable wicking fabric. So if I tie them too tight I can feel the lacing on my metatarsals even though the laces are spaced out really nicely, as if that decision was made in order to add comfort. But it wasn’t comfortable at all so I loosened them, and then the minute I started running they felt way too loose. My foot was sliding around because the mesh has so much give, much more like a sock than most of the other shoes Vivo offers. So I tightened them again and they held on to my foot better. After awhile I didn’t feel the laces as much anymore, but I still kept futzing with them unconsciously every couple of miles during my 14 miler the other day. This could have been a downfall of my wide feet, maybe most people with normal feet won’t have the same issue. but I’m curious to find out if they do.

Other than that I definitely liked the Breatho. I found them to be slick, form-fitting and true to size. Also a whole lot cooler (temperature-wise) to wear than the Neo Trail. And because they are so light, I consider the Breatho and the Neo Trail to be perfect summer and winter companions.

Side note: I have a tendency to run right through puddles rather than jumping over them (unlike normal people with brains). And since it’s still kind of chilly outside in mid-March, the Breathos didn’t dry right away and my toes got kind of cold afterward. Which will make them perfect for the summer! And they were dry in an hour or so – unlike the Neo Trails, which kept me warmer when wet but took several hours to dry.

I will say that I’ve resorted to keeping the insoles in these shoes, because I just don’t like the way the lugs feel on the balls of my feet and my toes. A soft sole equals more sensitivity, I guess. Gotta take the good with the bad.

Performance

I like to get dirty when I run.

Because they use the same sole, the Breatho’s trail performance is the same as the Neo Trail. The 4.5mm directional lugs cut through dirt, rocks and sand just as well, and I was pretty happy with that. I really, really like Vivo’s trail soles. I feel extremely confident and sure-footed on them. And I’m such a huge fan of the super flexibility – even though it gives up some protection, the way it curves around the terrain like a bare foot means the difference between a strong trail run and a bummer ankle sprain. Even if I have to take an occasional sharp rock to the arch of my foot.

Because I am training for a hilly 50k this spring, I have been tackling as many hills as I can find on my long runs. One thing I always hated about downhill running (besides my tendency to take them too fast and anger my IT band) was that my feet would always slip on rolling rocks and sand. In the Breatho I might still slip on the worst stuff, but it takes a lot more before it happens.

Price & Durability

I’m not entirely sure why, but the Breatho Trail is priced lower than almost the entire VIVOBAREFOOT shoe line. Maybe it’s that the lighter materials aren’t expected to last, or maybe Vivo decided to go easy on the price of this shoe in anticipation of its popularity. Either way I think it’s a decent price, and so far as I can see, worth it. They seem to be well constructed, for the most part.

The one thing I did notice happened to my particular pair is that after only a few wears there is some loosening of the stitching on the heel tag. I didn’t notice it right away, but I realized it after I took this picture.

I don’t remember using the tab to pull on the shoe, so I’m not sure how it even happened. Could have happened in production. But it looks like a surface flaw that probably won’t have any detrimental effects on the rest of the shoe, unless it starts to pull away at the fabric on the heel. But I’ll definitely check back in after a few hundred miles on these, and let you know how they last.

Conclusions

  • Beautifully crafted shoes that appeal to the sportier side of trail runners
  • Light, breathable and stretchy uppers that wear more like a sock than previous Vivo models
  • A good fit for warmer weather and climates
  • Flexible sole grabs onto the trails and provide excellent stability
  • Exceptional off-road traction that is on par with the popular Neo Trail
  • Rugged lacing can be a problem for some, against the soft fabric of the uppers
  • Color choices are a bit sparse on the women’s side
  • The price is nice, durability is to be seen.

And, my 14-Mile Run

And as a special addition to today’s review, I am adding some photos of my latest trail run in my Breatho Trails. Know why? Because these shoes got me through 14 MILES this weekend – my longest run. Ever. That’s worthy of a little celebration, don’t ya think?

Most of this trail is regrettably flat, but there are some hills. Unfortunately for you, I didn’t have the wherewithal to take photos while I was figuring out the hills.

Oscar is an excellent trail running partner. He’s always up ahead with this look like “well, are you coming or not?” Best dog in the world.


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Smile like a Bad-Ass

 

Last weekend, I ran 12 miles.

It’s been six days since then, and so the triumphant feelings have dulled a bit. But the fact remains that I did it. To many of my readers, 12 miles is barely a long run. Even to me that distance isn’t much of a big deal anymore. It’s just four 5K’s back to back; a ten-miler plus twenty minutes. I’ve done it before and will again. But because of how this run felt and how I handled it mentally, it was as if my glass ceiling finally got smashed to pieces.

It wasn’t about the number of miles run. It was about the number of miles run with a smile on my face. It was the fact that by mile 11 I wasn’t obsessing about my sore feet or about how far I was from home like I usually do, instead I had a big, fat, bad-ass grin on my face.

A little back story. The last time I reached the 12-mile mark during a run, I was crying. It was the famously hilly Great Bay Half Marathon and I had tweaked my IT band at mile 7 because I didn’t know how to run downhill properly. I was in pain, I was disappointed by my performance, and I was tired of running. Worst of all, I was in a shitty mood during my first half marathon when I should have been enjoying the achievement.

Like I have done on some other regrettable occasions in my life, I let my bad attitude ruin what could have been an amazing experience.

But this week I was a completely different person. I crushed those miles. Yes, they were long…I won’t pretend that they were not. It took me longer to complete this trail run than it took me to finish the Great Bay Half Marathon on roads. This run was comprised of several out-and-back mini runs, so I would never be too far from my car and could make pit stops to drop clothes or get more water (which probably helped a lot). At times I was cold, because I was only wearing a long sleeve tech shirt over my tank top and the wind got through it during walk breaks. There were too many people near the start of the trail with unleashed dogs and I kept having to strong-arm Oscar to keep him from jumping at them. The effort screwed up my form and by the last pit stop my IT band was bothering me for the first time in 10 months.

But my mood didn’t falter, not once. When I hit the trail head at mile 9 I dropped the tired pooch off in the car for a short nap, and continued on for the last three miles. With better form my knee hurt less, but I still needed occasional walk breaks to ease the strain. At 10.5 I turned around for the last time and said to myself, “You got this, Trish. You’re a bad-ass distance runner, and you’re amazing. You’re about to run 12 motherf***ing miles.” It sounds dorky as hell now, but at the moment it made me smile so hard my face hurt a little. It’s amazing how far a little self-motivation can go when you’re alone on a deathly-quiet wooded trail.

At 11.25 the song “I’m Too Sexy” came on my iPod and I danced a little while I ran, bopping my head until I was dizzy and laughing at an old joke between my pal Lynsey and me. I thought of Lynsey and how I wished we could be finishing this run together. Then I stopped because my knee was screaming. Walking felt like a massage on my tired hips. My feet didn’t even hurt like they usually do – or if they did, I was in a mental state that kept it from annoying me. I ate the last of my mango slices and praised them for giving me the best (chemical-free) energy surges throughout the whole run. I ran through the weird concrete tunnel under the road for the last time and finished the water in my CamelBak. At the very end I passed a runner just starting her journey for the day and I was glad to be finished with mine.

When I reached the car I said to myself, “See how easy it is to run these miles without that shitbag attitude?” Yup.

The truth is, no matter how far you can run, no matter how many hours you put into training, it’s all about attitude. You can drop out of a race, you can injure yourself during training, but you don’t have to let your discomforts and limitations determine your mood. After all that I learned on this one 12-mile long run, I know that if I had the choice to finish the Pinelands 50K in a shitty mood or DNF it with a shit-eating grin on my face, I’ll take the DNF.

Because I feel like more of a bad-ass when I’m smiling.


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Today’s Trail Run Brought to You by: Solid Ice.

Only in New England can you go 4 trail miles out and back and run through dirt, sand, mud, sheer ice, snow and flood waters in the same day.

Stats

  • Number of miles run: 8
  • Number of times I stopped to pee: 1 (not even two miles in…too much coffee)
  • Number of GUs consumed : 2
  • Number of times I had to walk/slide through sheets of ice: 4
  • Number of times I had to wade through knee-deep water: 2
  • Number of other runners on the trail: 1
This was the first time I’ve run 8 miles since my stint of injuries earlier this year. Basically every long run from here on out is going to be my longest since then, until they just become my longest runs ever. I was tired when I was through – trails are easier on my feet but harder on my leg muscles, which is good. But I didn’t feel dead, like I remember feeling last year during Half Marathon training. I’m taking that as a good sign.

This was also the first time I’d ever run the trails by Lake Massabesic, and they go out pretty far. But I’m not sure I really knew what to expect. And I figured I’d be out for awhile so I took pictures of my experience.

The run started off so well. Aw, look how pretty those trees are, and the soft pine needles on the ground. Awww.

Lake Massabesic is just so pretty this time of year, isn't it? It was nice to start out the run meandering through the sites.

The trail didn't stay nice for long. About a quarter mile down it started to get gnarly. I didn't think there would still be so much ice, since it's all melted near my house 10 miles away. Snow racers come through a lot and draw lines in the trails, that ice over. Makes it hard to find a spot not to slip on.

A couple miles in, I come across this bullshit. You can't see it here, but there's lake on both sides of the path and currently this section of the path has become one with the lake. I had to cross it twice, soaking myself up to my knees in slushy water. I cursed myself the whole time for not choosing the wool socks.

A half mile from my turnaround point, I saw this sign. Yeah, tell em! I wish those smart folks could be hired to write highway signs.

My turnaround point. Those trees are tall. That's all.

No, that is not poop on my shoes. It's mud and dirt and hard work. And my Vivos match the rocks.

Before dealing with the puddle-o-doom for the second time, I crossed a bridge and really liked the view of the lake from it. The first time I crossed the bridge there was a man out on the ice. Now he's gone. I'll try not to think too much into that.

Yeah - that's all ice. Fun times. I walked that stretch.

I ran out of water in the last two miles. I wondered to myself if that was drinkable*

*And speaking of that, did you see this video yet? Shit Ultrarunners Say. Hilarious.


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Fear Conquering: My First Winter Trail Run

I just completed my first ever trail run in the snow! I’m very excited that it didn’t kill me, as once presumed.

Here’s the stats:

  • Number of miles planned: 4.5 to 6
  • Number of miles completed: 5.2
  • Number of 1.5 mile out and backs: 3 and change
  • Average pace: ~13:00 (I was being cautious, don’t judge)
  • Number of people I shared the trail with: 0
  • Number of ominously creaking trees on the side of the trail: 2
  • Number of times my feet slid on the ice beneath the snow: 3
  • Number of times I fell on my ass: 0
  • Number of times I twisted my ankle: 0
  • Number of whole dead branches Oscar unearthed and dragged with him: 6
  • Number of branches Oscar hit me with: 3
  • Number of times Oscar peed on the side of the trail: 5
  • Number of times I peed on the side of the trail: 1
  • Number of natural toilet paper options on snowy New England trails: 0
  • Number of new muscles that introduced themselves today: 3
  • Number of times I wished I was in San Diego: 0

The trail I run is so flat because it used to be a railroad route. See? That's one of the railcars that got stuck here. Just kidding, it's there for show..

This was a lot of fun! Last winter I was sure there would be no way to survive running on the snow, but it is possible with the right shoes. I had to find a place to try out my new VivoBarefoot Neo Trails (full review coming), so for the first time in my adult life, I was glad to see snow.

This is the paved trail I usually run. Today I decided to skip it.

This is the unpaved trail, to the left of the paved one. It just looked more inviting today.

One thing I didn’t realize before about running winter trails is that the snow coats everything and evens out the ground, for the most part. I felt very few rocks and sticks underfoot, and the ground was actually more predictable than regular trails. Either that or I was being so cautious not to slide on the ice that the uneven ground didn’t affect me much. It’s definitely a great workout for my ankles and legs, and it’s pretty much impossible to let your form slip if you don’t want to end up ass-first on the ground.

My feet didn't slip in the Neo Trails. Please ignore the ankle brace on my right foot. Again, being cautious.

I was definitely VERY slow, though. This was the first time I’d run this trail since the day I sprained my ankle on it in October, so it felt a bit like playing with fire. I was barely out of breath for most of the run, but I didn’t care because it was so enjoyable. I didn’t take my music with me, and I wasn’t bored because of it. I learned that the trail was only .75 miles long, exactly, so I could complete 3 out-and-backs for 4.5 miles, or 4 for 6 miles. I wanted to hit 6 because I was feeling great, but as I started the 4th lap I noticed my dog’s tail was low and he was slowing down. I inspected his paws and he had 3 cuts on his front ones from sliding on the ice. Poor guy. So we turned around and went back a little early. I wonder if he would agree that “barefoot is best.”

Oscar taking a nap in the computer room when we got back home. Run: 1 Dog: 0