It Is The Shoes

Random note, my Wu-Tang Clan name is Mighty Demon. Word to my brothers and sisters…

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One of the things that makes me cringe on the inside is when a runner states, “I can only run in <insert shoe name and model here>.”

I know running shoes are a personal thing and it is so much easier to find a shoe that works and keep buying it.

But the problem is running shoe designers keep changing/tweaking each and every model of shoe they produce each and every season. So the shoe you loved last year is not the same shoe you are buying this year.

If you do not think that matters; think again. Now really think again.

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I will always maintain the best running lessons you can learn are those you learn about yourself. Understanding what works and what doesn’t; knowing what is good and what is bad; and determining what is best for you often requires experimentation and some failures along the way.

And believe it or not, the subtle changes of our shoes (and our bodies) can turn from a positive to a negative over time if we fail to notice.

For example, I have run in Newton shoes over the past seven plus years. I first fell in love with the Newtons (specifically the Distance and then the Gravity) because they did help my gait and I was faster to boot.

Most every other shoe I tried during my Newtonian period did not have the energy return of the Newtons, which is disappointing because who really wants to run slower when they are already slow? No need to raise your hand.

Enter my massage therapist. She has been working my body after long runs and races for over a decade. So it was surprising when she noted during one session that my feet wanted to supinate.

Of course, immediately after my massage I fired up the internet machine and became an expert (random note, I am not an expert)… Sadly, running shoe companies do not make shoes for those who supinate. I consulted my local running store expert and he gave me the story why and much like the internet machine recommended a neutral shoe.

NWT140_1000_1Both the Newton Gravity and Distance are neutral shoes. But the changes to both the Newton Distance and Gravity, along with the changes to my body, created a mismatch where there was originally a match.

So the question became which neutral shoe.

This is why it is a good idea to visit your local running store (for me, Wild Pear Running). They have expertise and they want to keep your business, so they are going to try and find what is best for you. After testing several shoes, I gave the Altra Torin a run for their money.

I was pleasantly amazed. I do not know if it is the zero drop or the generous toe box or both, but suddenly there was no hip or calf pain. That said, the Torin features a bit too much cushion for my liking and compared to the Newtons, the energy return lacks. Hence, using my running stores 30 day return policy I checked out a pair of  the Altra Escalante.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Shoes do matter. No more getting out of bed and waddling to the bathroom in the morning; no more persistent hip pain; I feel good during the run and after the run. I am a tad slower in these shoes, but at my age (56) it is a trade off I am happy with.

This is not meant to be a shoe review. It is meant as a reminder that what you put on your feet affects the rest of your body. So, if your favorite shoe does not seem to be as favorite as you remember, perhaps a trip to your local running store is in order.

 

Those Gosh Darned Eagles

This week, the RIAA announced The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has overtaken Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the number one selling album of all time. Both albums have bobbed and weaved between the number one and number two slots for several decades. There was enough of a bump after Michael Jackson’s death to push Thriller to the number one spot, where it remained until this week.

https://i2.wp.com/assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2016/media/225017/_original/1453312278/1035x1035-117182610.jpg  See the source image

But the big news isn’t really that Greatest Hits overtook Thriller. The trending news is apparently millennial writers hate the Eagles. Writers at online sites such Jezebel and The AV Club have lamented this development. According to Maria Sherman, “You have every right to be outraged, and I have every right to blame the shift on your Dockers-donning dad.”

Never mind that Sherman has no clue what tracks are on Greatest Hits, but does apparently know those tracks are “baby boomer easy-listening shit.” I also suspect she doesn’t know what tracks are on Thriller either (other than “Thriller”). That’s not the point. The point is that dads (loosely translated as white dudes over 40) should not be buying music.

Which is pretty much a what the fuck moment filled with irony. Apparently, because me and my ilk have had the audacity to pay for the music we consume for the last millennia we are bad people. My generation (and the ones before me) supports and supported artists and musicians we enjoy by actually buying their product versus the millennial approach of streaming half a Drake song and moving on to the next thing, whatever that may be (nearly 50% of Spotify users will skip a song before it ends).

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Many people hate the Eagles. Many people love the Eagles. Same with Michael Jackson. But millennials should not get their panties in a wad because old people buy music and they don’t; not to mention we are talking about two albums released long before they were born.

By the way, I own both The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and Thriller.

 

 

Hack This!

What the funk?


hack

[hak]

VERB

  1. cut with rough or heavy blows:

    “hack off the dead branches” ·

    synonyms: cut · chop · hew · lop · saw · slash

     

  2. use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system:

    “they hacked into a bank’s computer”

     

  3. informal

    (hack it)

    manage; cope:

    “lots of people leave because they can’t hack it”

    synonyms: cope · manage · get on/by · carry on · come through


25 Bathroom Hacks You’ll Want to Share With Everyone

Use shampoo bottles to keep the shower curtain in place – seriously. People have been doing this since there were shower curtains and shampoo bottles

50 Time-Saving Kitchen Hacks The World Needs To Know

You can use a cheese grater to grate other things – who knew!

Can someone explain to me why everything nowadays is a hack? How has this previously oft-used word invaded internet headlines and given people the impression if they are not hacking their way through life, they are not doing it right?

The way they are presented, hacks are new information to make everything easier, yet it turns out most hacks are the following:

  • A previously forgotten old-school, but efficient, method of doing something
  • A simple do it yourself recipe (for example making your own glass cleaner) that has been around for eons
  • A recent discovery that is getting more play than it should

Apparently this new generation eats this stuff up although you would be hard-pressed to find a millennial cooking in the kitchen or cleaning a bathroom because cooking and cleaning are serious drags on their social media time.

Hacking is becoming so prevalent that companies, organizations and even cities are hosting hackathons or in layman’s terms, an opportunity for you to submit an idea.

Here’s an idea, let’s call it what it is:

  • A new innovation
  • A revived innovation

Perhaps the word innovation isn’t cool enough.

Surfside Race Report

surfsideI am a conservative runner by nature, but after a few beers and some peer pressure, some things can seem like a good idea. And so it was that I agreed to do the Surfside Half Marathon (02.04.2017) with a few running friends; although they would be well ahead of me.

Of note, my friend Jon finished third in his age group and Lynette (Jon’s wife) took home second in her age group. I finished in my age group, so that was an accomplishment as far as I am concerned.

In mid-January, when I agreed to this nonsense I had three weeks to get ready with a long run of six miles (back in November) under my belt. My plan: a five mile long run the first weekend, an eight mile long run the next weekend and hope that was enough.

Apparently, it was enough. But…

The Wind in My Face

The one thing about running at Surfside is the weather is different every year. Freezing temperatures; gusty winds; severe thunderstorms; crazy fog; you can even combine some of those elements and come up with a weather forecast for Surfside. This year, it was (I guess) thankfully just wind. But what a wind it was. Constant at 25 miles an hour, I could barely hear the surf during my 6.5 mile trek into breach.

The Surfside Half begins with a 2.5 mile jaunt to the southwest before turning around and facing the wind for a full 6.5 miles. I have run the Surfside Marathon multiple times and I certainly did not envy the marathoners on this day. The temperature was not bad, but the wind was relentless.

The strategy at Surfside is predicated by the condition of the beach. Although there is plenty of hard-packed sand to run on and very little camber, vehicular traffic and nature can impact the condition of the beach.

This year, I opted to run along the shoreline and it worked out very well. My feet were soaked several times, but is was more exhilarating than anything. While sea water was not necessarily a concern, the wind was.

506756E5-1264-4F9D-90FB-901973D3C364The best one can do is relax and not fight the wind. Many folks likely pushed too hard into the wind and it would come back to haunt them. For my part, I did not worry about my splits on the way out, especially during a race I was not exactly prepared for.

At mile 9 I registered an 11:06; my longest mile of the day and the last mile before I turned around. Turning around was glorious; I improved by nearly two minutes, registering a 9:15 for mile 10.

Each successive mile was exponentially faster than the previous as I tore through the sand so I have that to hang my hat on.

Finishing time was 2:13:24, which is not too bad as I expected to be somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15. 8/18 in my age group and 22 out of 81 Masters Runners.

Final Wrap

I am not sure what to think of this race. I was not exactly prepared, but I didn’t have a bad race. Could I have run it faster with proper training? Indeed. Also, I don’t run races for the medals and at the moment I have no goals to speak of. So…

To be honest, I am glad I did the race. I have always enjoyed running at Surfside, even when the inclement weather produces additional challenges. Plus running on the hard-packed sand is easy on these old bones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Report: Pearland Turkey Trot

turkeytrot

The Details

Event: Pearland Turkey Trot 6 Mile Run

Weather Conditions: 57 degrees / 87% humidity / clear skies

Goal: Maintain form throughout

Chip Time: 53:40

Place: 5/12 Age Group – 89/290 Overall

Let’s Get This Party Started

This was the first year of the Pearland Turkey Trot and it was evident by the delayed start to the 6 mile run as the cones were still being set up on the course. I assume the 4 mile, which was slated to start 20 minutes after the 6 mile run started on time as many of us 6 milers caught up to the slower runners at the back of the 4 mile pack.

The One Runner  I Vowed to Finish in Front Of

I try not to judge (at least externally!), but sometimes people just bring it on themselves. For instance one runner was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the name of a race on the sleeves. Not such a big deal and I get that even though the temperature was in the upper 50’s, for some, that is long=sleeved weather. But…

Over that, a short-sleeved marathon finishers shirt. Around his neck, a Tough Mudder headband. And to top it off, he wore a hat with the name of yet another race. I guess he could not find any socks with a race name on them.

I am not sure whether that made him a Clinton supporter or a Trump supporter, but I am sorry, either way, he must go down.

Easy Does It

This was the first race I ran since I seriously focused on changing my form and rather than get caught up in the obvious excitement of a great running day, I wanted to focus on keeping it easy and staying in form.

It wasn’t hard to keep things easy the first mile as within a quarter mile the course narrowed from two lanes to a single lane and apparently several of the 4-mile walkers decided to start with the six mile runners.

Miles two and three were virtually identical and I felt good. A beautiful morning; I was out with fellow runners; and my form was good.

Perhaps I can kick it up notch and during mile four I did just that.

I Feel Good

I have been doing some sub-nine miles during my runs here and there and mile four’s 9:01 pace left me feeling I could do better. My form was still good and I felt even better, so why not push it a little more. I turned in an 8:31 at mile five and was still feeling great so why not go for it for the final mile.

Surprise

The downside of mile six was having to weave through the back of the pack four mile runners and the one mile walkers. The upside was I felt stronger than I have before.

This was not just my first race since my July accident, but my longest run since then as well.

Turns out it was also my fastest mile (7:22) in a very long time according to my Garmin.

I’ll take that.

Overall

It was a great run. I absolutely enjoyed myself and will have to sign up for more. I was probably a bit too conservative at the beginning, but as I gained more confidence in being able to maintain proper form, I obviously picked up the pace.

Outside of the cone delay, the organizers did a great job and we also had plenty of police presence, so hats off to all of our men and women behind the badge.

Splits:

  1. 10:04
  2. 9:22
  3. 9:22
  4. 9:01
  5. 8:31
  6. 7:22

 

 

 

 

Sigh – Beer is Getting Less Fun

Over the last few years, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev or the Beer Leviathan) has ramped up their purchases of not just craft breweries, but other industries (suppliers for example), to put an almost monopolistic strangle-hold on the beer industry.

Nowhere is this more evident than the craft beer segment where the Beer Leviathan has attempted to stem the growth of craft breweries, if not crush them altogether. AB InBev has poured cash into local and state lobbies in an attempt to put archaic laws on the books; has created (often illegal) programs that reward sellers for moving Budweiser over other brands; and has tried to purchase or cajole distributors to sell only their product.

When these efforts continued to fail, the Leviathan opted to “join the revolution” by purchasing craft breweries and creating a company (The High End) to manage them. Sadly, the Leviathan continues its shady (again, often illegal) practices of rewarding (or threatening) sellers, but with the twist of pushing AB InBev’s recently acquired craft brands along with the Budweiser staples.

And by the way, if you think the Leviathan only wants to consume the United States, the European Union and India heartily disagree.

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When these purchases started, I had a pure craft dedication and welcomed the opportunity to boycott any AB InBev owned product. But for a moment I reconsidered. As long as the quality remained the same, why not enjoy some craft brews I had been consuming for years. Hey, these guys worked hard, made it, and decided to cash in; isn’t that the American Way?

But, as more craft breweries fell to the Leviathan, I started to have a change of heart and began wavering. And then two recent purchases put me back where I started; I do not want to have anything to do with any brand related to AB InBev.

In October, it was confirmed the Leviathan purchased Northern Brewer, considered to be the largest supplier of home brewing equipment and ingredients in the United States. And just this week, AB InBev purchased Karbach Brewing here in Houston.

karbach-weekend-warrior-pale-ale-label

Sorry Karbach, your Weekend Warrior is sure tasty, but it will no longer grace the shelves of my refrigerator.

I know, I am like that guy who loves a band and incessantly tells all his friends about how they are missing out by not listening to them. But when the band makes it big decides he now hates the band he followed as they struggled to find their sound and their place. I appear to be such a hypocrite. Or am I…

Because the record company came along, watered down their sound, auto-tuned the shit out them and brought in a stylist to make them look edgy but safe. All in an effort to make them appeal to a bunch of teenagers who will grow up to eventually hate them.

What is worse is those guys made it big and became assholes.

I am not surprised Karbach sold out; they were built to be sold. Further, I am not surprised Karbach rolled out essentially the same response as every other brewery that has succumbed to the Leviathan; it’s not about the money – it’s about the resources and opportunity. Please, it’s always about the money.

I do not begrudge a brewery for selling out; it is their prerogative and being flush with cash is always a good thing. But sadly, it is getting to the point that no matter where you turn, the Leviathan is there in some form trying to dictate what you drink for their profitability. And they will do anything to ensure the only choice you have is their brand(s).

I realize that some day I will not have a choice, but as long as I do…

Voting Sucks

vote

DANGER: This post is not meant to get folks in a tizzy about whether to vote or not. Do what you want to do, just don’t complain.

In the past I have been a conscientious and informed voter. Now I feel woefully under-informed to make a coherent decision on a variety of candidates and issues.

Let’s start with Propositions.

Last week I was working in a state where voters are told (by a variety of media sources) that if they vote for Proposition “X” they are guaranteeing children will receive a better education, whereas if they vote against Proposition “X” they will also be guaranteeing children will receive a better education. What…

Propositions are often times authored by special interest groups, citizens with an agenda, and politicians with input from corporations and organizations. Which is why they can be purposefully misleading or badly worded. Without spending time digging for the relevant information, I could conceivably be voting to murder all Panda Bears currently in captivity while thinking I am saving a species of whale.

panda-sleeping_1703683i

Not voting to murder panda bears

Let’s talk candidates. From the lowest levels of local government to the leader of our country, the main agenda item is smack talk. Seriously talking about the issues (and subsequent proposals/solutions) continues to take a back seat to negative campaigning and sweeping generalizations.

Further, it appears candidates are paying attention to media driven issues versus what people truly care about.

trumpclinton
A lose, lose situation…

Sadly, the media only exacerbates the situation by paying more attention to (or even fabricating) that latest conspiracy or digging for dirt rather than asking questions to enlighten us on the candidate’s position on issues that matter to voters.

Finding and consuming usable information with which to base a decision on becomes harder and harder with all the noise. Therefore, to be adequately prepared to vote in a conscientious manner it takes hours upon hours of research. Sadly, I don’t have the time to wade through all the minutia and research every race and every Proposition. And that sucks.

As I am not a person who votes strictly on party lines, in the past, I have gotten around this by not voting on Propositions I have not had the time to research and the same is true for candidates running for a particular office/position.

It is my stance that it is much more egregious to vote on something or for someone you are not familiar with than it is to not vote at all.

There are plenty of people who make a big deal about not voting, but would you rather have someone making uninformed decisions or abstaining from the process?

Changing It Up

running

Running – I live for running. Or perhaps running exists for me. Regardless of the philosophical debate, I have always said when I can no longer run I am going to walk out into the middle of nowhere, sit down, and pass.

That may seem a tad extreme, but we live in an era where everything must be extreme or you have failed and will not garner the requisite likes that validate your existence. Not sure I understand that, but whatever.

For those reading at home, or at work, or at your family’s house because you are extremely bored and the stories have been in summer re-runs for years, I used to help coach first time marathoners. Coaching myself is a different story.

I know all the right things to do, but often just continue down the same path that I have always taken. Because that path is familiar and I can count on it to get me from A to B. I have also known, for far too long, that I need to change my gait slightly or continue to suffer the inevitable knee pain that will eventually require another operation or at best, taking time off from running.

Changing one’s gait is not easy. Especially when you are trying to do it yourself. Admittedly, sometimes it is good to have someone yelling at you. Alas, my schedule does not allow for anything more than a virtual coach (no thanks) and to be honest, as much as I enjoy running, I would rather spend my running budget on shoes (I have far too many) and singlets, than a coach.

shoes

But I can do this; at least I am telling myself that. One simple change that morphs into a habit and boom, a much happier knee. Easy peasy, right? Let us pray says the individual without religion…

Thus, this morning, I embarked on a short three mile run with a single goal in mind: Lift me knees two or three inches higher for the duration of the run. I don’t want to get into the mechanics of it, but let’s just say that lifting my knees just a bit higher changes how my foot hits the ground; closer to the front of the foot versus the heel.

Let’s call today a minor triumph as I was, for the most part, able to maintain the new gait. Honestly, I faltered a few times during the last mile, however I noticed it immediately and shifted my focus to getting those knees up. I am going to say it was a good run.

245234-cheetah-running

I also felt a bit faster as well. Not cheetah fast, of course; but faster.

One run does not mean success and my plan is to stick with three miles runs until my body accepts the new gait and I can run without focusing on lifting the knees a few more inches.

Alright, now who wants a beer?

Listening to: Bad Company / Desolation Angels

 

 

Back in the Saddle

Yes, yes, I know. But here I am, doomed to repeat myself. My life seems to be a Ground Hog Day loop except that Andie MacDowell ain’t getting me out of this one.

WP_20161006_19_12_58_Rich

This blog starts at GABF and if you are unaware of what that means, your beer cred is significantly lacking. Please walk down to your local brewery for a flogging. That’s Manny, the BAKFISH Assistant Brewer above left. He and I represented BAKFISH at this, the 35th iteration of GABF.

GABF is a beer festival on steroids. Over 1700 breweries showed up to serve beer to thousands of people each day over three days. Representing BAKFISH Brewing was work, but fun work to be sure. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from serving and talking about beer with people who appreciate well brewed beer and want to learn more about craft beer. Perhaps I have missed my calling.

But it is also not all about serving beer. There is plenty time to walk around, sample beer and talk to other breweries about how they do business. Manny and I learned a lot about everything from the business of beer to setting up for a festival. I believe this is one of the great things about the craft beer community; brewers, owners, and representatives are always willing to share their experiences, both positive and negative.

WP_20161007_18_43_19_Rich

One also never knows who they will run into at GABF. I met people I know and even a few I only know virtually. Above is Laura, from the blog 50 by 25. Laura has been blogging for about ten years now and we have been reading and commenting to each other off and on for that long. It’s always nice to put a physical presence on a virtual ghost.

Phototastic-10_9_2016_fabfccd2-52e0-487f-a0ad-e0723cba4808(1)

So there you go. A short post to get started with more to come.