Monthly Archives: September 2011

No Regard For Dignity

As I mentioned in my sleeping post, we defied the weather forecast last Saturday by going camping at the K3 state park with our Cub Scout pack. With so many eager learners and helpers our camp was hoisted in record time. The scouts and their siblings were running around the area. Although the camping area was plentiful, we agreed that a hike might burn off some of the youthful energy.

Our hike traversed the two track converted into a bike path nicely lined with a multitude of foliage. Sure, adults lose some ability for imaginative play as we grow older. In exchange, we know how to stop and smell the tree leaves. That youthful energy quickly grew tired of observing the differences between trees. Their faces said, “Dude, they’re just green leaves.”

Fortunately, I have little regard for maintaining my dignity. The kids and I skipped, ran backward, side-stepped, laughed, walked with high knees, galloped, raced, grew breathless and smiled. We let loose and had some fun with it.

I’m not dismissing the retrospective nature walk. I like a good dendrology lesson as much as the next corn based, plastic soled, shoe wearer. It’s just that sometimes it’s fun to dismiss your dignity. You’ve got to live smiley and sometimes being silly helps accomplish that.

We went on that night to tell scary stories by the campfire that night. I, on the other hand, faced the scariest story right there on that two-track. One mom was telling another mom that her Shape-Ups really work. SCCCCCCRRREEEEAAAAMMM!

I’m not going to argue whether those shoes work or not. I don’t have any scientific evidence to back my opinion. I do like this article, Can Shoes Really Tone the Body? By Gretchen Reynolds from The NewYork Times. And, I have to agree with the FTC’s move to fine Reebok for making claims without scientific evidence. I have my own personal concerns after living 35+ years in various shoes that altered my center of gravity and forced my feet into unnatural positions. I admit, I used to love high heels. I gave up on them when I started to develop bunions. I also had life long issues with pointed toe shoes. Don’t give me that look. Even my penny-loafers of my high school years pushed my big toe inward. Consequently, I have concerns regarding toning shoes. I really don’t see how these strangely shaped soles can be good for you to wear all day, day in and day out.

Sorry, I got side tracked and ended up on a soap box just to tell you that after the Shape-Ups statements, I declared my love for barefooting and took my shoes off to race the boys on that gravel covered two-track. Imagine, I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt over a long sleeve t-shirt under my Class B uniform T-shirt while carrying my New Balance Minimus in my hand. Again, its useful that I have no regard for dignity. With that much clothing on, I got hot within a quarter mile. My feet begged to go farther but it was going to be another twenty-four hours before I’d see a shower so I wasn’t willing to stink up the tent for that nights sleeping. See, it was about odor issues not lack of dignity in becoming a sweaty mess.

In the end, our mission was accomplished. The youthful energy tanks were half empty just in time for the S’mores.

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Filed under Barefoot, minimalist shoes, personality flaws

Get Some Sleep

Sleeping is my talent.  I can sleep anywhere, anytime.  I slept through 80% of my freshmen college courses.  I struggle to stay awake five minutes after sitting down on an airplane.  I sleep; it’s my super power.

When I am woken up in the middle of the night, I am ridiculously groggy. I stumble through the house to take care of the cat or whatever woke me up. Then I shuffle back through the darkness to my stead-fast friend, my bed. On my way, I ponder the hour. I am delighted when I read on the alarm clock that it is no-where near the time for me to wake up. I have so many happy hours to employ my super power.

This past weekend I slept in a tent at our Cub Scout family camp outing. Although, I spent many childhood nights sleeping in tents, I can count the number of times as an adult that I’ve slept in a tent on one hand that has several broken fingers. I have no camping gear as I have never had motive to acquired camping gear. I presumed that I could handle just one night in a tent in late September with just a couple of blankets and a pillow.

That night progressed like a 6th grade band concert. When I went to bed I didn’t change into something more comfortable because I feared breaking the heat seal. I thought sharing blankets with my husband would allow me to steal heat from him to make me warmer. Instead, I was disturbed every three minutes by movement and cold drafts as he shifted to get more comfortable. Our top blanket was an old comforter of ours. It’s been washed so many times that I think the fluff must have migrated to the corners. I’m fairly certain that was the same situation for the blankets beneath me because there certainly wasn’t any cushion in between the points where my hips and ground came together. We were just up the hill from the outhouse with a metal door. I can tell you exactly how many times the outhouse was used that night. It was used three times by my husband alone. I was sure that my head was lower than my feet despite a thick pillow. I slept about five minutes of every hour. I was miserable every minute of that night and could not wait for it to be over with.

I mused at how vary different I felt on that night compared to most other nights. Every time I opened my eyes, I was hoping to see daylight glimmering. It looks like tent sleeping just might be the kryptonite to my super power.

Unfortunately, as the Pack Master, I won’t be able to get out of future camping trips.  Christmas is going to have a theme this year: Camping.

I have my eye on one of these.  Have you ever used one?

ALPS comfort pad

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Filed under Lessons learned, personality flaws, travel

Virtual Run Smiley

Run Smiley I: The Mission

My mission was clear.  My plenipotentiary was counting on me.  I must be one with the Collective.  I.  Must.  Run.  Smiley.

I knew if I looked deep into my soul I had the makings, the desire, the blood and sweat and tears to make her proud.  All I needed to do was take the first step, literally.  Victory would be mine, ours.

Knowing the importance of my mission gave me the strength I needed to overcome the obstacles that reared up in front of me.  Quickly, I reverted to survival skills taught to me since I was a child.  I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and a black permanent pen and drew a run smiley bib by hand.  I effectively dismissed the now defunct computer printer.

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I noticed almost everything around me being so focused on my mission.  I heard the cool air wafting by me.  I saw the bright sun bending around the trees.  I felt the cold pavement sucking the heat out of my feet (It’s not as pleasant as it sounds).

I found a smile before I reached the first left turn.  I snatched it up and protected it as if it were my own child.  It was special.  This was no Mona Lisa.  This was borderline clown.  Just as my plenipotentiary had requested, I sustained that smile for two delightful miles.  I even paused to greet Darla and the customers at the coffee shop.

Coffee Shop

No doubt about it, I delivered for my plenipotentiary.  My town was one more star on the Run Smiley Virtual Run map.

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Filed under Barefoot, running

I Don’t Like Shopping

Normally, I’m discouraged from going grocery shopping because the husband will do it faster than I will.  However, I drove Mik to the park district video game design class last night, so, it seemed to make sense that I would stop in at the grocery store to pick up provisions for the camping trip.  By provisions, I mean the ingredients for S’mores.  I realized two problems with sending me to the store to buy graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows.

First, sending me to a grocery store is like forcing a mouse to navigate a confounding maze to find cheese.  If I were on Supermarket Sweep, the TV game show were you had 10 seconds to find the product bearing the Supermarket Sweep symbol to win a bonus, I’d be the contestant receiving negative points.  Our small town hosts two grocery stores that have opposing strategies for product display.  I spend a great deal of my time in those stores walking past the mops asking myself, “If I were a box of sugary crackers where would I be?”  At last, I located the final S’more ingredient in Store A only to discover they were one box short of the amount of graham crackers I needed.  I returned the items being held in my hands and promptly drove to confounding maze B.  Three internal laps later, it turned out that Store B was 4 boxes short of the chocolate bars I needed.  It figures.

Second, sending me to buy chocolate bars is like telling that mouse she can’t eat the cheese she found in the maze because there’s a bikini she can wear if she climbs the 10 inch walls around the maze.  Pft.  Yes, I, like 200 million other Americans, am on a diet.  Now days, we call it a “lifestyle change”.  I find it hard enough to make a “one day change” let alone a “lifestyle change.”  There I was surrounded by cartons of banned foods.  I couldn’t take two steps without being consumed by a yummy treat I just spied.  Over and over again.  Being in a grocery store provides access to items that are unattainable at home, for good reason.  Yummies.  Right.  In.  Front.  Of.  Me.  All I had to do was pay for it.  90% of my diet cheats have been consumed within five steps of exiting a grocery store.  This recent experience also gave me significant insight as to why my dad has always been a massive impulse buyer.  Couple the lusting with zigzagging through each aisle to corral the essential S’more ingredients and I was grappling with a wicked level of temptation.

In hindsight, I surmise that I don’t like shopping.  It’s too dangerous and way too much work!

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Filed under Lessons learned, Weight loss

Runner’s Low

I went out on Saturday for an angry run. I was tired, irritated by the irresponsible-ness of my kids, and aggravated by my husband who kept encouraging me to go run. Alright, let’s face it I was grumpy and for no real good reason. While the men will roll their eyes at this, I suspect that, perhaps, there was some hormonal influence on my mood and my reaction to others around me. I am fortunate that the logical part of my brain is a decent size. It was logic that told me that in this kind of mood I needed to run to work off the stress, irritation, and hormonal influences.

If this were a Hollywood blog, I’d follow-up that last paragraph with how amazing the run was. How great I felt when I got home. How lucky I was to be a runner, a barefoot runner. How I walked through the door with birds chirping on my shoulders and giving hugs and kisses to everyone in the house…

…Yeah, not so much. The run was ok. I ran two miles down to the high school track. I ran a couple of sprint laps alternating with walks before running back home. I felt ok. I guess considering the mood I was in before I started the run compared to the mediocre mood I was in when I finished running, it would be akin to starting out normal and ending with a runner’s high. It was a positive influence; it was just hard to see it at the time.

Review of the track – That was not my first time on the new high school track. However, that was the first time I’ve ever tried to run a sprint on our high school track. I am ambivalent about the high school track surface. It is rough and cushy. Even though I tried hard to keep my form, I think the cushy-ness of the track allowed me to strike improperly. The following day my tendonitis was a bit more inflamed than it usually is. The asphalt driveway leading to the high school felt like polished marble after being on that track. It’s a unique experience that I am not entirely sure I liked.

Comment on Barefooting – One of the tenants of my usual route into town was out in his yard as I passed. He said, “That’s a bit hard on the feet, isn’t it?” I yelled back, “You get used to it.” While my statement is 100% accurate, upon reflection, it isn’t the way I’d like to respond. I hope I get asked that again because next time I will respond with “No, it’s good for your feet.”

My mood brightened considerably after a glass of wine and S’mores by the fire in the evening. Ya know, life is pretty good after all.

 5 barefoot miles.

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Can You Take The Heat?

Last night, I took my daily barefoot walk with my husband even though it was cold enough for me to wear a sweater and jeans. I’m determined to go barefoot for as long as I can to maintain the puppy-like pads on my feet. My feet weren’t too cold but I’m anticipating tonight’s walk to be nicer because we have sunshine today that will heat the pavement.

Barefoot walking isn’t the only fall challenge I am engaged in.  In the fall, I witness not only the falling of colorful leaves but also the falling of the temperature in the house.  We resist using a heat source for as far into fall as we can.  As the kids get older, I’m more lenient with how low I will let the temperature go.  2001 marks about the third or fourth year of our fall heat boycott.  I’m not the only one trying this out.  My brother and my sister hold out for as long as they can as well.  I’ve watched interviews on TV of people who don’t heat their house all winter.

My initial goal is to see how long I can go without using any method to heat the house.  I know we’ve made it into November before so I would like to go to November 1st, at least. 

We use a high-efficiency wood burning stove as our primary heating source in the winter.  Now you know where all those trees blown over in the tornado will go.  Seriously, there is nothing better than to receive a note from the gas company to check your meter because it doesn’t seem to be working right.  Ha!  My second goal is to see how long we can go without using the furnace for nighttime heating after we start building fires.

So, can you take the heat, all of it, and pack it away with the shorts and tank tops?

Anyone else want to give the No-heat challenge a try?

This morning’s 7 am thermostat reading: heat source – none, indoor temperature – 65 deg F, outdoor temperature – 39 deg F

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Filed under Barefoot, Lessons learned

Long Hair, Bare Feet

My mom learned her lesson when my sister was a toddler. My sister had beautiful long blond pigtails. My mom hated having to take care of long hair on a toddler. When I came along I got the stair-step boy cut.

5 years old

I’ve never let my hair grow longer than my shoulders until last year and currently sport the so-long-it-gets-trapped-behind-my-back-when-I’m-sitting-in-a-chair look. I liked the idea of having long hair that could be pulled back into a pony-tail when I go running. I love the swish swish of the pony-trail. I suppose having been a girl of seven years old who was regularly mistaken for a boy, I always longed for the ultimate feminine sign of long hair.

Yet, having grown up with boy cuts, I never developed a tolerance for the feeling of hair on my neck and face. Couple that feeling with 95 degrees F and 85% humidity and you’ve got me thinking about scissors. Fortunately, I learned how to put my hair in a bun while on the run. I mean that figuratively as well as literally. I thought the swishing of my long hair pony-tail would be cooling on my neck. Ten times out of ten, I whipped my hair into a bun within five hundred yards of the door because instead of feeling cool it felt scorching. By the time August rolled around, I was trained to put the bun in place before I left the bathroom.

I got to analyzing my disappointment in pony-tails during a sweltering morning run when a light bulb went off. (Is it just me or do I have a disproportionate number of realizations about running? Perhaps I should read a running how-to book.) I heard through the Run Barefoot Girl podcasts that Jason Robillard explains that a necklace bouncing around your neck when you are running indicates you have poor running form. Jason states that running barefoot will help you correct your form and stop the bouncing necklace. Do you see where I am going with this? I think that I must be doing a pretty good job with my form because my pony-tail just lays on my neck instead of swishing around. Maybe I can try out that no bra thing that Caity and Shelley were talking about.

So, it looks like my pony-tail doesn’t work with my bare feet and one will have to go. That’s ok though, I’m pretty good with scissors and now I have painted toe nails to show off my femininity.

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Filed under Barefoot, Lessons learned, running