Trotting through the mud

The rain was heavy yesterday, and the trail was showing it. It was still a little misty when I set out this morning. I knew it was going to be a dirty run the first time my Vibrams disappeared into ankle deep mud. It was awesome!

I ran across my reptilian friend above in mile three, at the bottom of a steep hill. He was slowly making his way across the trail when I surprised him. As I bent down to get the photo, he retracted his limbs and head into a beautifully painted shell. A friend’s daughter asked if, “I kept him.” I said, “No, that would be trutlenapping.”

20170812_200548I did a total of four miles today on the trails of IC King Park. It is the most I have ever run in my life… until next week. I plan on adding a mile a week. Next Saturday I am going to attempt a run to Abram’s Falls, in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The round trip will be almost exactly five miles. The hills are much steeper and longer though. It will be a challenge.

I feel pretty good. My feet are sore, but not as sore as they were last week. My recovery time is getting a little shorter after each run. The runs are getting easier, and more natural too. I feel like I’m discovering a hidden power, that has been lying dormant inside me my entire life.

I don’t know where all this is going to lead me. All I know is that it feels right. It feels good to run.

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Running in Five Fingers is “Foolish?”

Good morning, mammals! I just got in from my trail run. I did two miles on the lakeside trial at IC King park. I know most of my fit friends out there will not be very impressed with such a feat, but for me, it is quite a milestone. It is the longest that I have run non-stop off road, and that isn’t even what has me excited. The amazing thing is how damn easy it was. If it wasn’t for a little pain in my feet (which are still bruised from hitting a patch of rocks a couple of days ago), I would almost call this run… effortless.

I remember back when I was in my twenties and going through a running phase. I was actually lighter back then, at around 200 pounds even. I took up running on a rubber coated track at a local high school. I was also using conventional padding “running shoes.” It was absolute torture. I could barely crank out one mile, and that nearly put me on the ground. Needless to say, the phase didn’t last long. It was too painful.

Up until a few months ago, I had been suffering from foot pain, mostly in my left heel. It had been that way for years, mostly I thought, from having a job where I stand on my feet for eight to ten hours a day. I was getting worse, so like most people, I take my concerns to a doctor, a podiatrist to be exact. She gave my feet a quick look, and then basically told me that my feet were defective. “Supination,” they roll to the outside. She told me that I would have to have custom-made orthotics to correct the problem. I had just discovered the world of barefoot and minimalist running literally a few days before, so I asked her if doing these activities would help my condition. The look on her face instantly changed to one of, “Oh boy, here we go. I’m going to have to set this poor uneducated fellow straight.” I specifically told her that I would like to try walking and running in Vibram Five Fingers. She said that doing so would not help my condition, but only make it worse, and possibly cause a severe injury. “Face it, kid, you’re broken. You weren’t born to run, you were born fucked up.” (my paraphrase)

I was pretty downcast after the doctors visit. I followed her advice and got fitted for some high-tech orthotics to straighten my birth defected feet out. I worked a few weeks in them. There was some reduction in pain, but it didn’t really “fix” me. Little did she know that I still had plans to experiment on the dark side.

20170726_080939Not long after that fateful day with the podiatrist, I got my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I had to order them off Amazon since none of the stores around here carried them anymore. I was quite surprised by this. A few years ago they were all the rage, now they were nowhere to be found. I asked why and was told that there had been a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit was apparently due to Vibram claiming that the Five Fingers would help strengthen your feet and decrease injuries from running. I don’t know all the details of the suit, but the outcome was not favorable for Vibram. This caused a lot of stores to pull the Five Fingers. This worried me a little, but I was still determined to find out for myself if they could or could not help me.

The shoes finally arrived, but they didn’t fit. I gave it my best guess but was off. They were too big. No problem. I returned the shoes and reordered the next size down. A few days later I had my KSO’s. They fit like a foot glove. By this time I had seen every video of Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Ted that was available on Youtube, and I had just started reading Born to Run. I was very happy to get my Vibrams, but I had already advanced a little in my thinking. Doc had told me that running in Five Fingers would be foolish, but now I was ready to go one better. I was ready to try walking and running in nothing but my bare, broken, feet. Total madness!

I am now a few weeks into it. I have been running almost every morning, barefoot, and now running on the trails with my Vibrams. I haven’t been stupid though. My feet and legs are not conditioned to do this yet, so I am taking it slow, listening to my body. The first mile I did barefoot, left both feet bruised and hurting, so I took a day off. The next time I ran I took it very slow. After today’s run, my feet are sore again, so I am taking tomorrow off to let them rest.

At work, I have noticed that, besides the bruises, I have no more heel pain. I think my feet are changing, getting stronger. I am very impressed with the results of my barefoot experiment so far, but I need to cautiously continue, to see it through, and then make a conclusion.

Monday morning I am going to add a little more distance to my morning run. I am going to slowly, maybe very slowly, add distance. My weight is dropping, and I hope that as it goes down and my feet stronger, I will eventually be able to handle long distances without the need to recover after every run. We’ll see.

 

 

The road that remains

I reached forty years of age this past weekend. I’m now in the half-time intermission of my life. The plays have been pretty conservative up until now, and the score shows it. I think it’s time for a new game plan.

Denice and I just got back from a really great time, on vacation in Colorado, her home state. We spent most of the week camping in the Rocky Mountains. I witnessed in these past few days some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It helped me realize just how little I have seen of this world.

We traveled across the vast openness of the Colorado plains, over windy mountain passes that were clothed with green Pines and whispering Aspen trees, on into the high desert mesas. Wild. That’s what Colorado is. It is a wild place. I feel a pull inside me to explore wild places. This trip has left me hungry for more of the wild.

At night it was so dark that I could scarcely see my hand in front of my face, but the sky above was a dazzling ocean of stars. For the first time that I remember I was able to clearly see the Great Rift of the Milky Way.

In the down time of our trip, I had been reading the book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The book is awesome, by the way. It is mostly about ultra-running. I felt inspired one morning and decided to go for an early morning run. I awoke just as the sun was coming up. I put on my Vibram Five Fingers and set off into the wild. I have been doing barefoot walking for a while, with a little bit of running here and there. This particular morning I ran about a quarter of a mile to the lake, and then a half-mile up into the rocky hills. On the initial ascent, I spooked a deer that was feeding on the grass around camp. I made it almost to the top of the ridge and was pretty tired, so I decided to head back to camp.

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The day after my run, my calves were very sore, and my feet were a little bruised from the rocks. It felt good though. It felt good glide across this unforgiving terrain with nothing but the equipment I was born with (and the aid of a thin strip of rubber). It also felt good to feel the pain afterward. I know that I can handle this stuff now, and I think it’s time to stop holding myself back, afraid of breaking something. I’m going to start running a little every day and hitting the trails on the weekends. I think my weight issue will take care of itself if I just pursue the joy of moving under my own power.

So, my new game plan for the second half: Number one… stop playing it so damn safe. Life is a short and fast adventure, not a game of chess. If you play it too safe, you will miss the whole point. Number two… I can do way more than I think I can, so I’m going to test myself in the wild, and not hold back. And, number three… People are what this is all about. I am going to stop neglecting the relationships of my family and friends and make it a point to seek out and forge new friendships.

Till next time.

Back in the Saddle

Hello, friends! I know, I know… it’s been a while. Sorry for the hiatus. I hope all has been going well for you monkeys. I hate that I go through these cycles of interest and disinterest in writing. It is a regularly occurring pattern, and I can’t promise it won’t happen again in the future. For now, though, I think I’m ready to get down to some blogging.

Let’s begin with a few updates. I haven’t had much progress in the weight loss department. for the past couple of months, I have been stalled in the upper two-fifties. Last week was a pretty good week. I was solid with the intermittent fasting, and not so bad with the food choices either. I was keeping my caloric intake down to under a thousand calories a day, and it paid off. I am down nine pounds from last Saturday. I’m confident that I will do well next week also, and I expect to be in the two-forties by next Saturday. However, Denice and I are going to be on vacation the following week. Historically, being on vacation is a deathblow to my eating plan. When I’m at work all day I don’t even think about food, and there is no social pressure to eat at certain times. That all goes out the window when I’m on vacation. My plan is to get as much progress as I can before the vacation, and then do the best I can to minimize the damage during it. It is a vacation, so I am going to have fun, and that will involve social eating with family and friends. I think if I put my mind to it I can keep the food choices a little on the healthier side, and possibly reduce the eating frequency here and there. We’ll see.

For our upcoming vacation, we are going camping in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Denice’s mom, dad, and some other family members are renting RV’s, and taking them up to Gunnison for a few days. Camping and outdoor stuff is my thing, so I think we are going to have a great time. I’ll post some photos when we get back.

One new thing that I have taken an interest in is barefoot walking and running. I discovered a person out there in the Internet Realm by the name of Christopher McDougall, who is the author of a book called, Born to Run. The book proposes that running long distances, without the aid of cushioned running shoes, is one of our species greatest’s, but mostly forgotten powers. The general idea is that most injuries people experience while running is the result of running in shoes or at least shoes that drastically change and inhibit the way our feet and legs are evolved to work. There’s a lot of information to explain so I would recommend watching his TED Talk on Youtube if you are interested. I have started experimenting with this idea. For the past few weeks, I have been walking the dogs around the neighborhood with no shoes and doing some very lite treadmill running with no shoes. My feet have definitely changed. The soles are a little tougher, and my feet feel a little stronger overall. Not counting the one time that I stepped in dog poo, it’s been a very rewarding experience.

20170710_170154I have also purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers, which are shoes that are designed to give the closest approximation to going barefoot while wearing shoes. I’ll probably write up a review of these once I’ve more time to play around with them. They are way too clean. I’m going to have to fix that.

Denice and I are also at the beginning of a very big, life changing big, new chapter in our lives. I really want to share it with you all, but the timing is not right. I did want to mention it only because I am very excited about it. Let’s just say it is something that we have waited a long time for, and now it looks like we are finally ready to move forward on.

That’s all for now. More to come.

Save the Cluster!

Just a few weeks ago I discovered the coolest show I think I have ever watched, on Netflix. It’s called, Sense8. I watched the first episode of this Sci-Fi drama, not really expecting much. The premise sounded unique. The story is about eight individuals, all over the world, who suddenly find themselves sharing their lives and experiences through a neural connection. I thought, “Hmm, that’s different,” and gave it a try. The first episode was very strange. I’ll try to keep this post to a minimal spoiler level. The first episode begins with a suicide, followed by the eight experiencing a lot of weird mental phenomena. Not much is really explained. I almost gave up on the series right there, but I am damn glad I didn’t.

As I progressed through the episodes, the story began to make a lot more sense. The characters and their connections to each other began to flesh out and deepen. There was something about the way these total strangers, from vastly different worlds, began to come together, it just clicked with me. The way they cared for one another, helped each other, and fully accepted all the members of their “cluster,” was, well… beautiful. The scenes, the acting, the music, everything about Sense8 was a work of art.

The Sense8 cluster includes a Chicago cop, and Icelandic DJ girl, and Indian scientist chick, a trans woman hacker and her girlfriend, a closeted gay couple in Mexico, a Kenyan bus driver, a German gangster, and my personal favorite… a Korean badass fighter girl. This is without a doubt the most diverse cast that I have ever seen. The show unapoligetically includes gay, lesbian, and polyamorous relationships, and I think that is awesome!

The main villian is a guy that is right out of the nightmare realm. “Whispers,” and the shadowy organization he works for relentlessly hunt down and destroy members of this emerging subspeicies of interconnected humans.

So, I think this show is groundbreaking and revolutionary. I watched the two seasons that are available on Netflix in a couple of weeks. The last episode of season two ends on one hell of a cliff hanger. This story is no where near complete. With that said, it was like getting punched in the gut when I heard that Netflix had decided to not renew the series for a third season. What in the litteral hell? Ok, I get that the episodes are especially expensive to produce. I understand that Netflix is a business. But, this is the best thing that I have ever found on their platform. I couldn’t imagine that this show didn’t pull in some serious views. Even Netflix VP Cindy Holland praised the show in the statement anouncing that they were going to cancel it:

“After 23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries, the story of the Sense8 cluster is coming to an end. It is everything we and the fans dreamed it would be: bold, emotional, stunning, kick ass, and outright unforgettable. Never has there been a more truly global show with an equally diverse and international cast and crew, which is only mirrored by the connected community of deeply passionate fans all around the world. We thank Lana, Lilly, Joe and Grant for their vision, and the entire cast and crew for their craftsmanship and commitment.”

I have since joined several online communities for Sense8 fans. I was excited to find that there are many who are just as touched and equally as passionate about Sense8 as I am. The fans have taken up virtual armes in an attempt to save the show. In the ensuing backlash, fans have forced the issue to the trend on Twitter with the #RenewSense8 and #BringBackSense8 hashtags. They have launched several online petetions, with the largest well over 300,000 signers at the time of this posting. Thousands have emailed and live chatted directly with Netflix, pleading with them to reconsider, and in some cases threatening to cancel their accounts if they don’t.

If you haven’t seen the show. I highly recomend it. Two seasons are still available on Netflix. Please give it a go and let me know what you think. I think you will fall in love with the story, as I have, and will probably be just as angry that the gatekeepers will not allow it a proper ending.

If you would like to help save Sense8, please check out these links:

https://renewsense8.com/ (main hub for support of the show)

https://www.change.org/p/netflixlat-netflix-sense8-sense-8-season-3-renewal

https://www.reddit.com/r/Sense8/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Sense8

 

Carry the Fire

“This shit has got to go.” That phrase, more than any other, stuck with me all these years. Every since I first heard it in Zeitgeist Moving Forward, spoken by now the late Jacque Fresco, it struck a cord with me. The world simply cannot go on the way that it is. We cannot keep gobbling up the natural resources of this planet with reckless abandon. We cannot keep wreaking havoc on the environment. We cannot sustain the massive inequality that we have created. The world cannot take it. It will break under our weight and immaturity. This shit truly must go.

Jacque Fresco was a man who carried in himself a vision for what humanity could be. He saw our potential and spent his very long life pursuing that vision. Two days ago, Jacque Fresco, the futurist, and the founder of The Venus Project passed into history. For one hundred and one years the world has had this fire of a human being among us. Today, we must carry that fire on. The fate of the world and of our civilization is now in our hands. I suppose it always was.

Now more than ever, we are at a crossroads. The biological systems of this world are stressed, almost to their breaking point. One way or the other, this shit will go. Either we will be flushed along with it into a nightmare future that no one wants. Or, we will harness our intelligence and the better angels of our nature, and climb out of this mess. I’m almost forty. My time here is but a little while, For the sake of all those who come after me, I really hope we collectively chose the high road.

Carry the fire. Don’t let it go out.

The Fat Beast within

It’s Employee Appreciation week at work. This is something that my workplace does every year to show their heartfelt gratitude for the feeble efforts of us little guys. I say that in jest. My company does put a lot of effort into keeping us happy, and that’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for most places. Sure, like all top-down, hierarchial organizations, it has its faults, but there are far worse places out there. I’ve worked at a few. There are places out there that don’t give two shits about their rank and file employees, places that view their people, the lifeblood of their organizations, as just another resource to be exploited. I have much to be thankful for in this department.

So, this week my work is catering meals every day and has a continually filled popcorn machine on the grounds. The old me would revel in these facts, and not give a second thought to stuffing his fat face with reckless abandon. The me of today is locked in an internal struggle, a battle of wills. On the one side is my rational mind, which has helped me lose seventy pounds, and does not want to see me lose ground. However, on the other side, is a thoughtless and hungry animal, that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about getting and staying in shape. This beast only cares about its next burrito or cupcake. This creature knows no self-control. So far, the beast has had its way.

I am going to have to get a grip soon, or I will lose all the progress that I have made. I know I can do this. I have proven that I can do this. And most importantly, I really, really want to do this. With that said, tomorrow is lasagna day, and the beast is hungry.

That’s all for tonight, friends. Thanks for reading!