Sunday, 9 September 2012

09.09.12 Size does matter.

As I again tried on my new (one size bigger) Vibram's, I accidentally ripped off the label.  I had being trying them on and off again for the last couple of days.  Too worried to wear them outside as I still could not get over the fact that they were a size bigger than my last ones that I wore only a week ago with no issues.  Oh well, the decision had just been made for me, they were now my new shoes.

Running with new shoes that I am not 100% sure are the right size and still not properly healed blisters on my right foot was only going to lead to one result on my run today...but another surprise awaited me.

After still trying to understand the size change of my feet (almost over it now), I decided to google what you would normally google when you have a question; How to run in Vibram's.  I found a link to a youtube video called, How to walk/run in Vibrams.  The link was everything I already knew about running barefoot.  How not to strike your heel, how the shoes work etc.  But it also provided a tip on how to lift your foot off the ground, not push of your foot like you would in normal shoes.  I found it quite interesting as I think I have been pushing off my feet at times and this was a new piece of advice that I was not aware of.

The weather this morning was atrocious but by mid morning it had cleared.  I decided that I would run to work to pick up my motorbike and finally test out the new shoes.  I started the run and everything felt normal.  I ran down the slight incline before reaching the top of the gorge being careful to stay away from the concreted stones that only a week ago caused so many issues.  I don't like running down hill however today it did not seem to be that bad.  I really started to concentrate on lifting my foot rather than focussing on pushing of my foot.  I felt like I was going reasonably fast and looked down to see that I was running at 13km an hour, faster than I have run in a while.  I made it down to the bottom of the gorge and to the flat run all the way to work.  Again, I was concentrating on lifting my foot and by doing that really felt my leg speed increase.  I looked down at my watch to again see that I was doing anything from 12-13km.  I was running at a speed on the flat that I had never run before, but the question was; could I maintain it?  I was two thirds of the way to work and was getting tired, but again focussed on lifting my foot.  I was definitely running slower and was surprised to look down at my watch and again see that I was cruising at over 12km an hour.  I finally made it into the city and to the finish line at work.  I looked down at my watch to see that I had just run 9.6km in 45 minutes, the fastest I have ever run that I can remember.  My legs felt good, my feet were not sore, no blisters had occurred on any of my feet and more importantly the blisters that were there from the other day were still there, unharmed.  Maybe my new shoes were just what I needed...size really does matter!

Attached is the running graph of my run and as you can see there is a pace line showing the consistent pace that I was running at today.  As you can see at the end of the run there was lots of stopping and starting due to crossing roads and traffic lights but overall pace was 4:41. That is a 1 hour 28 minute 20km!!  I might just have to say thank you to those concreted stones when I run past them again tomorrow...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

07.09.12 The Vibram's are back!!

I had dropped my Vibram's off at Gordon's Outdoor Equipment on Monday so they could investigate the issue with the ball in the right hand shoe as well as look at repairing the tear in my left hand shoe.  I was not expecting much but I received a call from them the next day.  They had sent my shoes to the Vibram head office in Wellington and they had agreed that there was an issue with the shoes.  Even though they were past the warranty period, I had two choices.  The first choice was that they had rmoved the ball from the right shoe and could repair the tear and I could have my original shoes back or I could wait for a shipment to come in later in the week and I could get a new replacement pair.  I work in hospitality and I know a thing or two about customer service but the customer service that I have received from Gordon's Outdoor and Vibram is exceptional.  It is not often that a global company will stand behind their product like these guys have and if you are thinking about buying shoes or outdoor equipment in the future, I highly recommend getting it from either of these companies.  Of course I took the second option.

After my crappy day on Thursday due to the poor performance of my swim, I needed a cheering up of some kind.  I received the call that I had been waiting for, my new Vibram's were in-store and ready for me to pick up.  I was glad to finally get them back on my feet as I had not gone for a run since I had handed them back.  I arrived at the shop and there on the back counter were my new shoes.  I couldn't wait to put them on.  I was given the box and went over to seat to slip my toes into them.  They were a new colour rather than the grey black ones that I had previously which was not an issue as I just wanted the shoes back.  As I put them on though, I realised that something was not right.  They felt very tight and my big toes were touching the end.  The sales girl also said that they were too small.  I asked if they were the same size as my other ones which they were.  "Well how can this be" I said, "how could they not fit me?"  Okay, maybe the new design was smaller.  We found a different colour to the ones that I had previously and I tried them on.  Same issue, they were too small.  So I was given a pair to try on the next size up in the old grey and black color. They seemed to big.  No not according to the sales lady, they were too small also.  So I try another size up and they are way too big.  I am now confused about which pair I am meant to be wearing.  I can't understand why all of a sudden I am a size bigger and potentially two sizes bigger!  The sales lady confirms that she does know of other people that have had the same issue where the next pair has been a bigger size.

After much deliberation and trying on about 4 different pairs of shoes I decided to go with the size bigger than what I was already wearing in the original grey and black.  I was told to take them home and wear them around the house to see if they feel okay and if not to bring them back and swap them over.  I am wearing them as I type this, still with the labels on because I still do not understand how I have gone up a size.  Although we have had 140km winds today and it looks like it may be a similar story tomorrow, I think it is time to finally get my new Vibram's dirty.

Friday, 7 September 2012

07.09.12 25 Minutes

10 days no alcohol

On Tuesday morning at swimming the coach decides he wants to do an analysis on my stroke.  The whole session I am being critiqued and we are trying different things to make me more efficient in the water and therefore faster.  My stroke count has always been an issue as I 'glide' too much through the water and therefore there are parts of my stroke where I slow down and almost stop resulting in momentum stopping and me being slower.  We do a verbal breakdown compared to a year ago and determine that I am definitely getting better but do need to focus on stroke speed.   My coach reminds me of the 1.5km time trial that is on Thursday and that he would like to see me go under 25 minutes.  The fastest I have ever been is around 25 minutes 13 seconds so that is a whole 13 seconds off my best time.  It is also around 1:40 per 100 metres which for those non swimmers out there is relatively fast.
Although we are trying new things with my stroke, I am feeling confident that I can break the 25 minute barrier.  Training is going well and diet is good, I just need to feel it on the day.

I wake up on Thursday morning and get changed into my bike gear before the 13km ride to the swimming pool.  I am aiming to warm up on the bike but take my time so as not to fatigue myself before the time trial.  I have eaten some breakfast and jump on the bike.  I am not feeling good.  I feel quite fatigued but enjoy the ride into town non the less.  By the time I make it to the pool it is 5:45am and I am still not feeling good.  I eat a banana and have a drink before jumping in the pool at 6:00am for a warm up swim.  I have a plan for today.  I am going to go out hard for the first 200 metres and then settle into a rhythm before sprinting the last 200 metres.  I start my watch and we are off.

The first 50 metres is good and I am focussing on my stroke speed.  I am feeling okay at this point as I hit the wall and turnaround for my first 100 metres, only 14 to go.  I look up at the clock and have done the first 100 in around 1:30.  I settle into the second 100 but there is no sprint, the energy is just not there.  I get into a good rhythm though and continue through the first 500m with the last 400m done on about 1:40, I am on track and only 1km to go.  The 600m, 700m, 800m and 900m mark passes and I am still on 1:40 pace.  I am feeling okay and know that I only have 600m to go.  I hit the 1km mark and  before I know it I have someone touching my toes, wanting to pass.  I hang on for another 100m before I am passed by one of the guys in the lane and as soon as he passes he is getting further and further ahead of me.  400m to go, only around 7.5 minutes of pain left.  I keep going and hit the last 100m before I begin the sprint home.  I touch the wall, look at my watch to see the time of 23:47 and my coach looking down at me saying "don't you have another 100m to go?".  Shit!!  I push off the wall and sprint the last 100 metres (again) before touching the wall.  I look at the clock and it reads 25:37.  I am gutted.  I have been on track for most of the swim and have lost it somewhere near the end.  I do a warm down and then head over to the coach.  "I don't know what else I could have done today" I say.  "Yes, you looked pretty pissed off when I told you your time" he says.  He has recorded the splits and begins to go through them with me.  At the 1km mark I was on track for a 24:58 swim.  Every 100m after that I have lost around 5 seconds a lap.
"You blew up" he says.
"I would have rather blown up than just gone slow all day.  My lats are killing me so I know I have worked hard".
"Blowing up is good" he says.  "At least you knew that your limit was 1km and now we need to improve that to 1.5km".
I am disheartened.  I really wanted to break 25 minutes but what he has said has made sense and based on the way I was feeling this morning, a 25:37 is not the worst swim in the world.  I put on the bike gear and head to work. Still feeling pissed off and now with even less energy than this morning.

04.09.12 The Vibram's are gone!!!

8 days no alcohol

It is Monday morning and I decide that I will run to work rather than take the motorbike.  I get changed into my running gear, have a quick bite to eat and I am out the door by 6:00am.  I begin my downhill run from my house into a slight down hill before heading down the massive gorge that will take me down to sea level and a flat run all the way to work.  It is a cold morning so I am wearing my long skins, Nike running gloves and of course my Vibram's.  I am feeling really good despite the cold and looking forward to the run.

I am now running down the gorge and see a flashing light coming from behind me.  I know it is a cyclist wanting to go past me on the narrow footpath.  I pull over to the left hand side whilst the cyclist passes me and notice that it is a mountain biker that I see regularly riding home very late at night.  I know it is her because of a orange waterproof jacket she wears.  I usually pass her near my house whilst I am heading home reasonably late on the motorbike and I am impressed that she is riding home so late and have often said to myself "Yeah but I bet she was not up at 6am this morning".  Well, this morning she has proved my wrong.  She goes past me and I make my way back onto the footpath as I step through some loose stones and before I know it I am airborne.  As I head back to ground I put out my hands to reduce the impact and the slide down the steep footpath for another metre or so before coming to a stop.  Owwww I say to myself as I roll over onto my back.  I pull myself up and just stand there for a little while trying to work out what the hell has just happened.  I walk back up to the loose stones only to realise that they are not loose stones, they are stones that for some reason are concreted onto the footpath and I just tripped over them.  My hand starts to sting and I look to see a massive hole in my running gloves, however my hand is only slightly grazed.  I am pissed off though that I have ruined my gloves.  My knee starts to sting.  I look down to see a hole in the right knee of my skins and a badly cut up knee.  I am really pissed off now.  My left hand toe starts to sting and I look down to see a hole in my VIBRAM's!!!  I am super pissed now!!!  The worse thing is that I am 5 minutes from home and still have 40 minutes to run into town.  Now I have to do it with a cut up knee, hand, toe and the feeling that I have just ruined all the equipment I run in.

The run in is a sombre one but I make it in feeling pretty good.  My right foot is hurting a little and I put it down to my knee obviously causing some pain on that side.  It feels more than that though and as I take of my Vibram's I see the reason why.  I have a huge blister on the bottom of my right foot.  I look in the shoe and see that there is a bump under the fabric of the shoe which I have noticed in the past but it has never been an issue.  Today it is bigger and it has given me a huge blister.  I am now even more pissed off.  I can't do much about the rips in anything especially the Vibram's but decide that the bump in the shoe is something that is now an issue.  After having a shower, patching up my knee I decide to call the shop from where I bought the shoes and see what my option are.  They ask my how long ago I bought them and that Vibram have a 90 day return policy for any warranty issues.  I tell them I will go home, get the receipt and bring the shoes in for them to check as I am pretty sure they are past 90 days old.  I get home and sure enough I am 20 days over the 90 day mark.  I decide to take them in anyway and see what they can do about the rip.

The next day at the shop I drop off the shoes and explain the rip as well as the bump in the middle of the right hand shoe that is causing me to blister.  I have noticed it for a while but it has never caused an issue until today.  They tell me they will send off to Vibram and they will let me know the outcome...

Fathers Day 03.09.12

7 days no alcohol

I wake up early on Sunday morning and it is Fathers Day!!  What better way to start Fathers Day (besides a bacon sandwich) than a nice 80km ride up Paekakariki Hill!  I leave early and after last week know that I need to make sure that I have enough food on board.  I am feeling a lot better than i have in previous weeks and the last time I did this ride I was nearly cycling on the spot as I was coming up the second to last hill on my way home.  The ride out is perfect and I have left reasonably early so there is no traffic on the road.  I make my way to the base of Paekakariki hill where I stopped about three weeks ago and continue to ride as I am feeling good.  I begin the climb up to the top of the hill (hill in the middle of the picture below) and get into a good rhythm.  This is shown by two things, the green line being my cadence (speed of pedals per minute) and the speed itself (blue line).  Before I know it I am up at the top of the hill.  I have a little break before and a quick bite to eat and take a photo of the beautiful Kapiti Coast before jumping back on the bike and heading down the hill.

As I head down the hill I pass large groups of riders that are heading up and I think for a second and only a second, do I turn around and do it all over again with not this time.  I hit the flat and begin the long trek home, again ensuring that again I am constantly eating and drinking.  I make it home 17 minutes faster than I have just three weeks ago and put on the Vibram's for a quick 1.25km warm down run before enjoying a nice Fathers day coffee in my Fathers Day mug.