vermont

Day 82, 7380 Burpees, 55 Miles and a 5-Mile Obstacle Course!!

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Yesterday was truly an adventure!  I should have expected no less at Shale Hill Adventure Farm where my friend Rosie (of Rock Bodies) decided to bring a small group for her birthday.  Only a personal trainer would choose trekking through five miles of brutal obstacles as a way to celebrate another great year!  I’m really thrilled I was invited along!!

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The group, pre-run and our very-muddy post-run shoes (I’m on the left).

We didn’t bring our cameras on the trail so unfortunately you can’t see us all muddied up, but definitely take a look at Shale Hill‘s site for some great videos and pics of their course.  They have the first fixed obstacle course in the country!  We spent our time belly-crawling through mud under barbed wire, scaling walls, climbing ropes and poles, hurling ourselves over hay bails, carrying logs, sand bags and buckets of rocks, swinging from ropes and jungle gyms and doing so so much more.  It was INTENSE, but really fun!  Think of it as a playground for adults, and if you go get ready to feel like a kid again!

I personally have never done something like this before.  People often use their course to prep for obstacle races, like the Spartan Race which is held fairly-close by.  Those who have trained for the course can do it in 1-2 hours or so.  Except for Rosie, we were all new to this type of exercise and we went through the course at a more casual pace, ending in three hours flat.  We took our time on the obstacles, really trying to get a taste for them even if we couldn’t beat them.  It was great that everyone in the group tried just about everything.  

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Pics from the trail head, could it be anymore beautiful here?! Thanks for letting me use some of your pics, Rosie!

My absolute favorite was climbing ropes set up in a grid going quite high into the air.  The objective was to climb it, go over it and climb down the other side.  As someone who is afraid of heights, this was a pretty big deal.  In fact, many of the obstacles challenged my fear, but thanks to rock climbing for the past year and a half I’m getting much better at gritting my teeth and getting through it.  I also rediscovered my love of jumping over things.  The hay bails were far too high to actually hurdle, but I used my old high-jump technique to propel my body on top of them and roll over; or in some instances just get up high enough that I could claw my way over.  My shins are pretty pissed at me for wearing shorts as they’re covered in scratches today.  

The only very-minor bummer of the day for me was that my Vibram Trek Sports that I wear pretty religiously for outdoor fun, ripped at one of my big toes, causing my toe to jut out bare at times.  This mostly bother me because I only bought them two years ago and my KSO’s ripped a bit at some of the toes only about a year after buying them.  So my track record with Vibrams is 1-2 years right now.  That’s a bummer considering how much I love them and how expensive they are.  Any tips from others out there on either another brand of minimal shoes or ways to repair my current Vibrams?

If you’re in the VT area or are vacationing up here I highly recommend checking out Shale Hill Adventure Farm.  You won’t be disappointed…but you will have your ass kicked!

1620 Burpees Down, Let’s Start Running!

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I think I must be insane.  I mean, I have to be a crazy person.  I’m doing these 90 burpees a day along with a Zuzka workout once a day and now on top of that I’m running a mile a day.  Honestly, when I put it like that it doesn’t sound that crazy; an olympian practicing hours a day definitely has me beat.  But for me, it’s A LOT and I’M SORE, but I’m sticking with it.

I added in the mile run because I’m honestly not at all happy with my lack of weight loss on my current program.  My nutrition is nice and stable at this point with a good mix of fruits, veggies lots of protein and light on carbs/dairy/gluten/sugar.  I’m not looking to lose a lot of weight but I have about 20-30lbs more fat than I think is my ideal healthy-level.  I totally understand muscle weighs more, but it’s clear to me in the past few weeks that I’m focused more on strength training than cardio and I need a better mix.

Running this time of year is depressing to me.  I have a treadmill, whooptidoo.  I could run outside but with my Vibrams + living in Vermont that’s a very cold proposition.  So I’m stuck on the treadmill until the snow melts unless I get crazy enough for barefoot winter running, which I know some people do.

Not much new on the nutrition side so I have no new fun recipes to share today.  Instead, I’m wondering what your favorite healthy recipes are?  And if you have a Vitamix what are some of your favorite things to make?

It’s Trekkin’ Season!

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For those of us up here in the Green Mountains, we’re finally just starting to find Spring popping up all around.  While today’s blustery winds brought a mix of snow and rain and there are still small heaps of ice and snow coating the wetlands behind my house, the flocks of birds at the bird feeder and blooming crocuses in my front yard let me know the end is near.

We had a long winter this year and some unusual thaw and freeze patterns.  That mixed with the recent floods and thunderstorms has done some real damage to my most trekked trail along the Mad River.  While I was sad to see the downed limbs, broken branches and layers of debris spread along the almost-washed-out path, I couldn’t fight back the urge to come out of my cocoon and get my butt back outside!  It’s not surprising that it was just about a year ago when I started barefoot running.  Today, I received my second pair of Vibram’s in the mail.  It’s true, I’m hooked.  This time I picked up a shiny pair of the new Vibram Fivefingers Treksports.

My KSO’s are holding up beautifully, despite all the running, swimming and hiking I put them through last year.  However, there were several reasons why the Treksports lured me in.  I recently started working with a personal trainer.  Naturally, I brought my KSO’s with me.  The first day, I took her spinning class prior to my personal training intake and I immediately regretted my decision.  The pedal of the bike I was on rode right on my arches, the softest most vulnerable part of the foot (aside from, perhaps, in between the toes).  I was visibly in pain,  My trainer moved me to another bike with a wider pedal, which helped, but overall I found the KSOs were just not the right choice.

My main reason for seeking personal training right now is that I have some big plans in mind for my summer.  Now that the weather is warming up I’m just itching to be outdoors as much as possible and I really want to push myself this year.  Running was fun, but I’m not necessarily looking to run as much this year.  I’m thinking of trying climbing and taking on more adventurous hikes.  I also need a shoe that can continue to play with me while I kayak, canoe, and splash around in Vermont’s rivers and lakes.

While the KSO’s did a fine job of keeping up with my water-bound activities last year, the Treksport’s plated midsoles and lightly cleated outsole really appealed to me.  I never fully felt comfortable using my KSO’s on adventurous hikes because of those few moments of stabbing pain on my arches when I hit a rock at the wrong angle, and the fact that I slipped quite a bit in mud.  For running, they were perfect.  For hiking, they just weren’t beefy enough.  However, the kangaroo leather upper on the KSO Treks didn’t jive well with my love for water or my being slightly put-off by wearing kangaroo hide on my feet.

So, on to the part you’re probably most interested in: a picture comparison. Disclaimer: keep in mind my KSOs are a bit worn.

The first time I slipped the Treksports on I definitely felt they had more continuity, but I still felt a firm connection with the ground and easy articulation.  My first test was to wrap my arches around a pointy piece of wood and the plated arch definitely works!  More on that later.

Let’s start by talking about the posterior difference:

As you can see, the Treksport have some padding around the Achilles.  This triangle-shaped pillow rises from the heel and makes the heel look wider than the KSOs in this picture, but when worn it hugs the heel nicely and provides additional stability.  Both feature the same strap design and both have a loop on the rear.

From the front there are some fun differences.  The Treksport toes have additional texture to them and the tips of the toes are reinforced:

While I haven’t experienced this with my KSOs, several folks online have complained that their non-reinforced toe Fivefinger shoes show signs of wear and ripping on the tops of the toes.  In the champagne color Treksports, the reinforced toes are clear and shiny.  I’ve read other reviews that the dark colored models have black reinforcing.  Regardless of the color, this is an important feature for those of us who really want to put our Vibrams through its paces.

Laterally, there isn’t a huge difference between the KSO and the Treksport with the exception that the Treksport sits a bit higher on its cleated sole.  It also appears that the outside rubber comes up just a hair higher on the Treksport.

Medially, there’s a noticeable difference between the two.  The KSOs actually have greater coverage on the medial part of the sole which causes the Treksport to appear to curve more at the arch.  While I haven’t played around with these enough to know yet, it does appear that the Treksports have more arch support whereas the KSOs are fairly flat with just a mild curve for the arch.

Now here’s the real money shot:

Oh, let’s see that up close!

The biggest visible difference between the KSO and the Treksport is the sole.  While my KSOs are a bit worn, the texture on the bottom of the KSOs are minimal.  The Treksport has noticeable grooves and mild cleats to provide better traction and grip in various terrain.  I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t want the Treksport if I was new to barefoot running.  “Real” barefoot runners already poo-poo us Fivefinger folks, and the Treksports push that line further.  Yes, it’s still much less padding than a sneaker and one can certainly run in them, but it wouldn’t be my choice.

However, with the additional grip and the reinforced arch I will definitely feel more comfortable trying the Treksports out in environments I shied away from with my KSOs.  One other thing to note is that the midsole is much thinner on the Treksport.  I have narrow feet and after walking around in these for a while I felt no discomfort or insecurities.  If you have wide feet you might want to really try them out in a store before making the investment.  I’ve only read positive reviews on the midsole width so far, but it’s something to take note of.

I’m super-stoked to take my new Fivefingers out for a ride!  Now that I’ve come out of winter hibernation, expect to hear more of my Treksport adventures!  Let’s hope they can keep up with me. 😉

Oh, and for those of you who are only here for the dog stories, here’s Toby and his new buddy, Charlie, enjoying some VT April showers.  Seriously, this white death falling from the sky has got to stop!

Raw Revelations

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After finishing C25K and starting up fartleks my running entries have kind of petered out.  In light of not wanting this blog to die a terrible death of repetitive running entries that put even me to sleep, I’m branching out a bit into the general topic of staying healthy and active.  Today, I want to share a couple raw food recipes that I made yesterday as part of a two week liver cleanse.

I saw my acupuncturist last week and as soon as she took my pulse she gave me a funny look.  Some stomach pokes and prods later and she said, “You’ve been eating a lot of sugar and getting cravings, huh?”  Oh holy crap did she hit the nail on the head there.  Fall for me is the start of hibernation.  I make rich foods filled with fats, carbs and sugars.  Life has been especially stressful lately and I use that as an excuse to “comfort eat”, despite knowing how unhealthy and energy-draining that is.

The acupuncturist asked me to do a liver cleanse, which I’ve never done before.  She told me to try something “gentle” and the only real guidance she gave was to research it and start by drinking Apple Cider Vinegar.  I went online and was inundated with a barrage of liver cleanses: everything from fasting to colonics and from two-day to eight-week scenarios.  Most of the sites were trying to sell me some system, so it was easy to weed those out.  I compared sources and spoke with some of my nutritionist and herbalist friends to come up with the cleanse I’m doing.  I’ll fully admit that this is my first ever liver cleanse so please do not treat me as an expert.

The basic cleanse that I’m following is that for two weeks I’m completely cutting out alcohol and caffeine and I’m greatly limiting sugars, dairy and processed foods.  I’m trying to get all of my sugars from unprocessed sources (e.g. fruits, raw honey, raw agave nectar) and I’m trying to eat raw foods as much as possible.  Then, for three days I’ll be doing a more traditional liver cleanse which entails a juice fast and having to drink some nasty concoctions that I’ll write about it another entry when that gets closer.

So what’s the point of all of this?  People do cleanses for a variety of reasons and there’s a whole school of thought for cleansing and another whole school that thinks it’s ludicrous.  I’m doing this cleanse to change up my destructive Fall eating habit and give my body some easy-to-digest food so my digestive system gets a break and I gain more energy as a result.  The last part of the cleanse supposedly helps dislodge liver stones, and if that really happens that’s cool but I’m taking that piece with a grain of salt right now.  The biggest thing is to get my digestion back on track and get my energy levels up.

This leads to the next logical question, why raw?  I was introduced to raw foods a couple years ago and have been in awe ever since with the health benefits behind it and the opportunity for creativity in the kitchen.  The health benefits are fairly undebatable.  Raw foods are more nutrient dense and easily digested by the body.  Most people on raw diets notice a large increase of energy and a happier digestive system.  On the latter, it’s important to note that if you’re going to try a raw meal out of the blue you might get some stomach upset at first.  It’s recommended to eat light meals on the day you’re going to have a raw meal and don’t start off with an entire day of raw if you’ve been living off of burgers and fries for months (unless you’re down with spending a good chunk of your day in the bathroom).

The daunting task of changing my diet for a two-week period is finding yummy recipes.  Tons of raw recipes sound good, but I’ve definitely had a few flops; usually my issue is that they’re not flavorful enough.  Luckily, the recipes I’ve tried so far have all been super-easy to make (most can be made right in a food processor).  Out of the four recipes I tried yesterday, two were freaking amazing so I have to share.  These are not original recipes, but I can’t really credit a source because for each of them I mixed up different recipes and added some things in so they’re original-ish.  That said, if you want to find more raw recipes, my favorite sources so far are: We Like It Raw, gone raw, Sweetly Raw, and Raw Food Talk.

Now, without further ado, the recipes!

Om Noms Raw Food Snack (mostly based on Morning-After Delight)

This is a great easy-to-make snack that I’m personally using as a breakfast.  Yes, it has raw cacao in it so I’m technically cheating on the caffeine but it is omg delicious!  I split this up into five small ball jars and am finding that I get full a little over halfway through.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Almonds
1/2 cup Walnuts
1/2 cup Cashews
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Raw Carob Nibs
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Dried Gogi Berries
1/2 Cup Banana Chips
2 table spoons Cup Raw Chocolate Powder
1 table spoon of Raw Honey
4 table spoons of Raw Agave nectar
2 dashes of Sea Salt
2 dashes of Cinnamon

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Eat and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Sushi

Eating raw doesn’t necessarily imply “vegan”.  While most raw foodists are vegetarian or vegan, some do eat meat.  This particular recipe is 100% vegan-friendly and it’s very malleable.  Pick ingredients that sound yummy to you and be creative.  Unlike the above recipe, this one is quite time intensive just for the actual sushi prep part.  It’s a great interactive activity at a dinner party, especially since you don’t have to worry about the ingredients getting “cold” or going bad.  The portion size in this recipe is enough for two hungry people.

Ingredients:
2 Parsnips, peeled
1/2 cup Cashews (can substitute other nuts, I saw recipes with pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts)
1/2 tbsp White Miso (supposedly red works too)
1.5 tsp Sesame Oil (you’ll see from the picture that I cheated here and used Toasted Sesame Oil, that’s obviously not raw but it’s what I had on hand)
1 ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced thinly
1 seedless Cucumber, peeled and cut into sticks
3-5 Baby Carrots, thinly chopped
1/2 cup Kale, chopped
1/2 cup Spinach, chopped
1-2 tbsp minced Cilantro
Nori wrappers (black is usually raw, green is usually toasted)
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
Bamboo Mat
Tamari Soy Sauce, as desired.

Directions:

1. Make Parsnip “Rice” by combining the parsnips, cashews, miso and sesame oil in a food processor until “fluffy”; it really will look and feel rice-like (it also tastes freaking awesome).

2. Prepare your other ingredients so they’re easily grabbed.

3. Add the rice vinegar to a small bowl of water and keep that next to your bamboo mat.

4. Lay a piece of nori shiny-side down on your bamboo matt.  Dip your fingers into the rice vinegar mixture and lightly brush them over the nori; this will soften it.

5. Spread a thin coat of the Parsnip “Rice” over the nori.  Add any of remaining ingredients to the roll that you desire.  My favorite combo was avocado+cilantro+cucumber+kale.

6. Now it’s time to roll it up.  For this, you may want to watch a YouTube video on rolling sushi (there are a million out there).  I usually start on one end of the bamboo and I curl the roll into itself.  Once I’ve reached the far side (so the roll is fully rolled) I hold the bamboo that’s still flat on the table by the far side and I pull the roll towards me with the opposite hand; this makes it tighter and is similar to burrito rolling.  Then I shape it a little better with the bamboo mat.  The trick is to get it tight enough so it doesn’t fall apart when cutting/eating.  To be honest, I’ve never found it particularly challenging but it takes a couple tries to get it right.

7. At this point you can unroll it and cut it.  One trick I use is to lay plastic wrap on top of the roll (you can also lay the plastic wrap down before you put the nori down so it’s there to begin with).  Next, I clean my knife with some of the rice vinegar solution and slice the roll through the plastic wrap; this helps it stay together and helps you get a clean cut.  The obvious downside is using the plastic wrap itself.  For those of us who are environmentally conscious this is not ideal.

8. Eat and enjoy!  I dipped my sushi into the tamari soy and it was great.  I think in the future, though, I’m going to drizzle the soy into the roll before rolling it up.

The thing I really love about both of these recipes is that I don’t feel like I’m giving anything up.  They’re both delicious recipes and amazingly nutritionally dense.  It’s like getting all of my food groups crammed into one tasty meal.  Hopefully I can find more tasty recipes to keep me going for the next two weeks.  The “bliss balls” and “pumpkin pudding” I tried yesterday were unfortunate disasters of “blah”, but these two sure were winners!

Running and Remembering

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Fall is definitely shifting it’s way into the Green Mountains.  Most of this week was cool and drizzly, though the sun fought off the fog to give us some glorious sunsets.  Unfortunately, when I ran on Thursday the sun didn’t even poke its head out; it was damp, foggy and cool.  I think I’m really going to enjoy running in the Fall.  While I’ll miss the warm sun that drove me to jump in the river right after a run, the cool temperatures are much more enjoyable to run in and the grey haze caused me to turn off my iPod and wrap myself in the introspective sounds of the change of season.

I ran along the Stowe Quiet Path and found Fartleks are especially fun there because there are so many twist, turns and hills that sprinting feels like being on a roller coaster.  Toby had even more fun than I did thanks to us being there at an unusually dog-populated time of day.  There was a new doggie friend around every curve.  Despite having some issues getting motivated to go out in the blah weather, once I got moving I felt a million times better.  My tight shoulders loosened up, the stress knots in my stomach released and my body felt springy and playful.  It’s easy to come up with excuses to not run, but once I get going I always remember how much I enjoy it and why I want to keep it up.

Speaking of the introspective quality of Fall, I’m going to once again usurp my space here to talk about something unrelated to running, but greatly important to me.  For those in the US, today is the anniversary of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.  For the past few years, when this date rolls around I really don’t give it a ton of thought leading up to 9/11.  I’m much less emotional when listening to newscasts and I usually feel that the day can come and go without effecting me.  I’m wrong; it always finds a way to get me.  This morning, when I logged into Facebook for my morning internet voyeurism, I watched a remembrance video that a friend had posted and I totally teared up.  Between losing people I knew and losing hundreds of people I didn’t personally know along with losing a skyline that had marked my childhood, I can’t be unaffected by this day.

©NYC Police & REUTERS/Hans Deryk

They say everyone remembers where they were on 9/11.  I remember it with vivid clarity.  I heard about it early in the morning as I was driving to class.  By the time I got to the art building I found the classrooms were empty and people were surrounding televisions set up in common areas and crying.  I was in school down in Dallas and I couldn’t reach my parents or brother back in NY; I couldn’t reach anyone in NY.  Then I realized that I had left a house of about a dozen sleeping friends and our mutual friend was in NYC visiting his girlfriend.  I drove back and woke everyone up and we just watched the news, horrified.

I remember two other big details from that day.  I remember the lines at the gas station as we all tried to fill up our cars after the news warned us that some stations were gauging prices and sure enough we saw prices like $5/gal so we waited patiently at the station that hadn’t changed their signs yet.  Then, we all drove out to the lake to sit and watch the Dallas skyline without any planes flying overhead.  It was eerie and peaceful.

Now, almost a decade later, here we are still at war and while I do believe this war has more facets than just a fight about oil, that black gold continues to hold us hostage.  I’ve watched several documentaries on the oil and gas industries in the past few months and while I overall feel powerless to free myself from Big Oil, I made a move to greatly reduce my consumption by trading in my 2007 Subaru Outback (which I loved) for a 2010 Jetta Sportwagen TDI that will run B5 Biodiesel.  In many ways that’s a small step, but it’s a step I could afford.

Just about any diesel made in the past 10 years or so can run biodiesel without any modifications (as long as it has nylon gaskets instead of rubber, which all modern diesels do).  You can use the same tank and switch between biodiesel and regular diesel without issue (though if you live in a cool climate you’ll probably want to stick with B5-B20 as B100 will gel at a higher temp than regular diesel).  Now that biodiesel can be made from very fast-growing algae, that when farmed next to oil refineries actually helps clean up the C02 emissions, it’s very sustainable and practical.  It’s also completely street legal, though it’s recommended to only buy from commercial pumps that are ASTM-rated.  Keep in mind that biodiesel is not pure vegetable oil; it’s a mixture of plant-based oil, Methanol and Sodium Hydroxide which creates a substance that looks and feels like petrol-based diesel.

I first went on Craigslist and checked local places for used diesels, but the pickings were slim to none.  I ended up going with the Sportwagen based on its great reviews, but after quite a bit of research it’s clear that the 2009-2011 VW TDIs can’t take 100% biodiesel due to the new DPF filter.  The new filter does a phenomenal job of keeping emissions incredibly low on the new “clean diesels” and it also adds to the great fuel economy (I’m getting 44-51mpg!).  However, biodiesel has a higher flash point and it’s also a solvent so it can initially cause the filter to become saturated faster (this is not an issue once biodiesel is used regularly) and it could cause the filter to not burn off the buildup efficiently.  In the long-run this can theoretically decrease engine performance and lead to needing oil changes more often.

However, hope it not lost!  The 2009-2011 TDIs are still warranty approved for B5.  B5 is only a 5% biodiesel blend, but it turns out I can easily get B5 locally (thanks to Bourne’s Energy being awesome) and it’s still a positive start.  Between that and the vast improvements with the fuel efficiency of the diesel engine and incredibly low emissions, as someone who drives close to 30k miles/year, I’ve lowered my carbon footprint markedly.  While I’m not about to throw a big, “Eff You Big Oil!” party, it’s a start.

These small changes are things that we all have to individually do if we hope that big changes will arise.  I did something small that I could afford, what can you do?  Did you know that if your home is heated with oil you can probably switch to biofuel without modifications (barring potentially swapping rubber for nylon)?  My small local fuel provider in the middle of Vermont offers biofuel.  If you stick your head out to see what alternatives are out there you might be surprised.

Get Inspired:
Gasland (not about oil, but about natural gas)
Crude
A Crude Awakening (watch online free)
Oil, Smoke and Mirrors (watch online free)
Tedx OilSpill (I watched the event live but you can watch it online free at that link; it was an all-day conference so it’s 8+ hours of video regarding the Gulf Oil Spill)
Fuel, which sealed the deal on the car issue for me.

Feet at Play

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I apologize for falling off the face of the Earth for the past month.  Work got intense there for a bit and then I took a much needed vacation.  Luckily, despite my fingers not getting their blogging workout, my feet have been rocking the Vibrams in all sorts of fun adventures.  While I’ve continued to run I have cut down to only one day a week for now.  Much to my acupuncturists delight, but my chagrin, I’m no longer having any issues with my left foot so the new schedule appears to be helping that, but I plan to start alternating running twice a week every other week.  Luckily, I’ve had plenty of physical things to do and with the addition of a FREE bowflex to my basement I’ve been working on strength training once again.  This came in very handy on my vacation!

A Wet Dog Is A Happy Dog

There’s Toby, working on his favorite summer activities; swimming and stick retrieval.  I’ve been on several quests this summer and a big one has been checking out local swimming holes.  The above picture shows Toby at Swain Pond in Maine, which unfortunately wasn’t fit for human swimming, but Toby had a blast and I enjoyed canoeing around with him in tow.  Quick funny fact: while Toby enjoys kayaking, he is adamantly against getting into a canoe.  Even after I bribed him with cookies and sat with him in the canoe on land (all the “get your dog to boat with you” techniques), he still freaked out as soon as I tried to start paddling.  Instead, he chose to follow me on land or by swimming next to the canoe.  On some of the lakes this meant he got quite the workout.  Luckily, he had his lifejacket on at all times so if he got tuckered out mid-lake he wouldn’t drown and I was prepared to hold him while paddling if necessary.

Last year, I bought a pair of Keene Venice H20’s, which I really love.  I went swimming with them here in Vermont and in Aruba where I swam in rocky waters.  They were good, but after doing some side-by-side comparisons with the Vibram KSO’s there’s really no competition; the Vibrams win.  I find walking on moss-covered rocks in the Keenes can be quite the challenge, as their hard solid sole is inflexible so the surface area that I could grip the rocks with is slim.  This meant quite a bit of slipping and sliding and at one point I slipped off a rock and ended up with my foot wedged between a couple rocks underwater.  Luckily, I didn’t twist when I fell because I could have easily broken or sprained my ankle.

The Vibrams, on the other hand, still offer enough protection so when I’m walking on rocks or sharp objects it doesn’t feel painful (though I do feel it more than with the Keenes), but since I can contort my foot to the rocks I’m climbing on I find it’s much easier to get a good grip, keep my balance and have more accurate proprioception.  Granted, both the Vibram and the Keene sole are a little slippery, but I feel much more confident in my Vibrams.

The other detail with the Vibram KSOs is the mesh top.  With the Keenes, the toe is covered but anything that gets into the shoes from the top strappy-area just falls into the toes so when I wear the Keenes I find myself regularly slipping them off to shake out the debris that’s collected in them.  With the Vibrams, the only thing that slips through the mesh top is sand and small pieces of dirt which I usually don’t notice while I have the shoes on and once the shoes are dry it’s pretty easy to shake them out.  Overall, I feel more protected in the Vibrams and have been happily swimming with them all summer.

My vacation was all about fishing!  I canoed and fished in Maine and both canoed and shore-fished in Vermont.  I have to say that once again the Vibrams were super-awesome for boating and wading in the water.  I wore my Keenes one day and noticed when going from the water into the canoe they drag a good amount of water with them.  The Vibrams are easier to shake off before stepping into the canoe and since they’re so form-fitting there was no real way for them to add much water to the boat.  There’s also just a huge fun-factor to standing in water with a fishing pole and feeling barefoot, but knowing there’s protection if I were to step on any hazards under the water.

In the past week alone I’ve climbed over piles of rocks, balanced on logs, tip-toed around beaver nests and beat my labrador in a couple water-bound stick chases.  My feet are happy and playful and my body is reaping the benefits of all this outdoor fun!  Just thinking about it makes me want to hop in the car and head back out to Eligo Lake with my fishing pole.  Well, it is Labor Day, I think I’ll just do that!

Monday brought an unusually long and grueling workday so I missed my lunchtime run.  By the time I got out I was really itching for some relief so I took Toby to The Stowe Quiet Path for an evening jaunt.  With sunny skies and mild temps I couldn’t be happier that I did!

I’ve been working on speed for the past several weeks and have stuck to a routine on the Mad River Path.  It had been months since I ran in Stowe and I decided to just run for fun and not focus on the Fartlek routine I’d been working on.  The path is beautiful this time of year with mature corn fields surrounded by views of the green mountains.  It made the run organic and gave me plenty of things to take my mind off the work.

I did notice that my stamina is not what it was when I finished Couch-2-5K.  By the end of those nine weeks I was running three miles at a time regularly.  Since then I’ve been doing a 1.6 mile routine that’s mixed between sprinting and walking so I haven’t done much continuous running.  I did notice that my speed work payed off, as my natural stride is wider, I stand taller and I definitely moved faster comfortably.  Unfortunately, I did get tired easier and in the last third of the run I really had to give myself a pep talk to keep going.

My reward was cooling off in the river, though honestly the river that runs through the Quiet Path has nothing on the Mad River.  Still, it was a refreshing end to the workout and by the time I left my head was definitely wiped clean of the long day at work.

My foot is still not 100% and I’ve cut my running down to 1-2 days per week.  To compensate, I’ve begun strength training again and am happy to report that the Vibram’s are great during a workout on my new (free!) Bowflex.  I was able to use my normal Joyce Vedral workout techniques adapted for the Bowflex and got a killer workout in.  I’m curious to see how the balance of strength training and running will create changes in my body and my mood.

How about you?  How do you balance your workouts during the week?