All posts by TREX

Start your packs…

An interesting post popped up in my flipboard feed on running today.  A new running pack over on kickstarter.   The most interesting thing is it uses a X harness that’s more like a racing harness than the traditional over shoulder under arm with cross chest linkage that you see for other packs.

rubbing back and forth on those things till something gives”

It’s currently available for cheaper than SRP with a delivery date in April.  Of this year which is pretty fast for a KS in my experience.   I’m more used to buying it now and then getting delivery a year later.

The strap pockets seem more likely to be useful than say the Jurek FKT’s side pockets as you may be able to stuff them with stuffy stuff without having to worry about rubbing back and forth on those things till something gives, most likely the skin on your inside elbows and forearms.   It depends on how far back those things go on your body.

I’m going to keep an eye on it and try to figure out if it’s something I want to try out.   If nothing else it would be a loaner pack for our current wild hare idea of doing a 50K this fall.

And best case it might just be an awesome pack.

Water water everywhere….

So I’m, we’re, thinkin’ about doing something stupid and trying a Ultra in the fall.   Given I’ve not yet run a half marathon distance this is where the stupid comes from.

leave me looking like a masochist trussed up in some basement dungeon waiting to be punished”

To that end I’m going to be running further and further distances in the spring and summer.   In Oklahoma in the summer, long distances?  Soooo stupid.

While I have a couple of hydration packs in case of zombie outbreak they’re not designed for running long distances.  One I designed and sewed myself for attaching to a molle vest (also sewn myself) and the other a Source Hydration Pack.

So long story (too late) made shorter I did some research, then more research on hydration carrying options.  I settled on a vest type as I currently have an amphipod for carrying my phone and one water bottle but a 10oz bottle and a Note 4 cause the belt to slide down my butt and I have to keep adjusting it during a run.  Can you say annoying?

But which vest?  Reviews were spotty and we’re back to that size issue I have.   What fits the normal runner, much less the elite runner would leave me looking like a masochist trussed up in some basement dungeon waiting to be punished for being a bad boy.   So I reached out to my unknown friends at Running Warehouse (it’s weird I keep typing Wearhouse) and sent them an email outlining my trials and tribulations with genetics and bell curves, my current running, my planned running and what I thought I might want.   I got an email back quickly saying they were going to research but it might take some time.

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I can live with that so I patiently waited and in a couple of days got back a long detailed email from them with three proposed options and a breakdown of each one.   Of the three options the Jurek FKT aka Fastest Known Time vest appealed to me the most visually and it had the features I wanted.  And the Large size purported to be likely to fit me.

I promptly ordered, yes from RW and not Amazon.   Choosing something for visual appeal is a little shallow but it was far from the only reasons I chose this one.

In a couple of days (free shipping) I got my vest, today to be frank.   I’ve gone over the thing and the quality is good in my sample.  Even, clean seams, no loose threads, all seams banded or overlapped (sewer talk).    It comes with a two bottles but no hydration bladder.   For the price you’d think they could throw one in but honestly I’d rather pick my own, I have preferences in bladders and unless they happened to source the same I’d still get my own and then have paid for a bladder I wasn’t going to use.

It took me a couple of minutes to figure out the bottle nipples.  They’re a type of bite valve but you also have to pull them up.  And if you bite too firmly they close up on you.   They’ll take some getting used to, at least by a #NOTARUNNER such as myself.

Tucked away in the side pockets are some take up straps that keep the side pockets/straps shorter.  I was able to loosen those and end up with a vest that actually fits me and even has some a little extra.  The bottles end up on my Although chest and not under my arms.

If you border on the big side like yours truly then this may be the best option for you.  If your chest at the nipples (bonus points for using the word nipple twice) hits 48″ or more or your chest at the bottom of the rib cage hits more than maybe 45″ then this is unlikely to fit or at least fit well.   I’m currently a 45/43 so I’m happy to reiterate it fits fine.   But there aren’t that many of us big ol’ boys out there trying to train to run stupid long distances.

There are plenty of pockets to carry plenty of things. Although some seem questionable.  Honestly there may be too many if you’re not long distance trail running as you might be inclined to use all those pockets.  Just be smart about what you put in there I suppose.  Ounces equals pounds equals pain when it comes to moving yourself from one point to another.

My biggest complaint is that the supposed cell phone pocket, I assume it is anyway, on the left side strap is only good for smaller phones.  Nothing + sized need apply.   Something on the order of a iPhone 5 or a Galaxy 2 etc.   Galaxy Note’s, S7’s, LG Flex, iPhone 6+, not a chance in hell of fitting.   But it’ll fit in the side tube pockets no problem.

The side pockets seem questionable.  Anything of any real size is going to cause me and possibly you to rub your arm against it while you run unless you’re chicken wingin’ it.   I tend to be a tucked in and tight running so maybe some gels or waffles or something but that’s about it.    They’re also difficult to get into on the run for me but that could be due fitment on my bigger than life frame.

One design changed I’d make if it was my own design is to add attachment points either webbing loops or D rings on the edges of the back to be used with elastic webbing to help keep a bladder flat rather than balling up in the back.   It does have a couple of clips that can be kind used for that but I think some dedicated keepers for the bladder would be good.  But then that’s one more strap that you have to deal with if you’re you know in a race to race and trying to refill your bladder and adding seconds to that etc.

I’d also like to see a mil-spec D ring sewn in at the top of the bladder compartment for hanging bladders from.  Right now there’s a Velcro loop and Velcro, even good mil-spec Velcro, has a limited life span.   I’ll likely just add a D ring there or design and 3D Print something to hang my bladder of choice from.

If you’d like an insulated pocket for the bladder you’re going to have to provide your own insulation.  Some 2 or 3 mil neoprene would work well and is available online.

There are no air flow ridges, bumps, patterns etc on the next to your body side of the vest.  Having put those kinds of things in my own vest design I’m honestly not sure just how useful they are.   Our skin, shirts etc tend to fill those crevices and nooks anyway.    I wouldn’t mind seeing a 3D mesh though as a backer piece and I may sew some in depending on how things get in the heat.  This though would add an ounce or two to the total weight.

I wasn’t too sure about the color, there’s only two options a white one and the other one that’s kind of gray with some green highlight zippers and a yellow elastic netting pattern on the back for holding a jacket or something similar.   The white one wasn’t an option for me.  But in person the color isn’t bad and is acceptable.

The fit is good.  Once you get the straps adjusted, both the take up straps on the sides and the chest straps it fits snugly.  I haven’t taken it for a run yet, a combo 5K + 10K is this Saturday and I’ll wear it then but just a little jogging around the house and it feels good like you’re not wearing anything.

I think I’d like to see some elastic on the chest straps so I may replace those, something to give with you as you breathe and move especially for trail running.

The straps can be moved up and down which makes it more capable of fitting everyone especially women who may have a little more in the chest area than others so you can adjust it up and down so it fits on your boobs where it’s most comfortable.   They’re held in place by T hooks through something that’s basically a very thin molle web.  Pull them through the ‘wrong’ way and then bend the T so it’ll go back through the strap and you can then pick another location to put it.   It’s not as easy as something that just slide up and down but it’s far better than ones that don’t adjust at all.   And frankly unless you’re sharing it with someone, this type of adjustment is typically a one and done.

All in all, yes it’s not the cheapest option but in my many (too many) years I’ve learned if you’re going to use something and use it hard, then you rarely fare well going with the cheapest option.   That doesn’t mean the pricey option is guaranteed to be the best, but your odds are higher.

If I find out it just sucks majorly after putting 50’ish miles on it, I’ll come back here and denote that.  If there’s no ‘update’ mentioned anywhere and this article is a month old then it’s a fairly conservative bet that it’s working out for me just fine.[/expand]

Don’t be a Hierro

The idea of trail running appeals to me.  I spent untold hours in the woods in my youth, wandering around, catching lizards, climbing rocks, rolling boulders down hills, okay granted they were small boulders.  Even being 6′ by age 12 there’s only so big a boulder you can dislodge by yourself or with friends.

I’m on the far end of the bell curve in terms of size in most areas.  Most.”

Knowing from experience that my road shoes of forced preference suck  donkey butt on grass and non-road terrain I went looking for shoe options.

Thanks to genetics, nutrition, active life style and nurturing environment in my youth, I’m on the far end of the bell curve in terms of size in most areas.  Most.

So with my size 13 4E ideal shoe size requirements firmly in hand I go looking online.  I’m shocked to find there are not one but two whole options for a dedicated trail shoe that comes in that size that is for a neutral to slightly pronated gait.  The New Balance Leadville V3 and the New Balance Hierro V2.   Okay shocked is a strong word, fully expecting is probably the best term.

New Balance has for a lot of years now, okay decades, been my shoe of choice simply because they’re the only manufacture that actively caters to the large footed crowd.

So that they make both of the options I could try isn’t surprising.

The question becomes which one…  Trying one on locally isn’t an option, no one carries either one in the size I need.  Yes I did call around.

The Leadville, in spite of it’s homage to a rather famous trail run as I hear, has a few complaints about it and I don’t care for the odd number of lace holes and the lack of a heel lock hole.  The Hierro being brand new has no real world reviews.

So I’ll have to guess I suppose.  Order one from Running Warehouse and hope it works out.  I have a 50/50 shot of getting the better of the two.

The reason this is coming up is I have this stupid ass thought of trying to do a 50k trail run in fall.   Says the person who’s still to do a half marathon (scheduled for May).   It’s a beginner trail run with a fair amount of dirt and gravel roads as part of the trail.  And 50k is enough to get you the Ultra runner status albeit by just a few miles.  But you can by letter of the law sashay around the holding pens in your “yeah I ran an ultra, what have you done lately?” shirt.

And honestly isn’t that worth something?


So you’re new…

I’ve been there, hell I’m still there.   These are some of the things I’ve done wrong and done right since I started my trek down the #NOTARUNNER path.  Mostly wrong.

“That second piece of chocolate takes far less convincing to get you to eat it.”

#1 thing done wrong.  Not getting the right shoes to start with.   Shoes remove a considerable amount of ‘this sucks’ from running.  The wrong shoes will give you hip pains, knee pains, back pains.   Shoes are not something you can easily go cheap on or do it by yourself.   Do you supinate?  Pronate?   Do you need control shoes?  Are you a neutral?  Are you a heel or toe striker?    The answers to these questions strongly dictate the shoe that will be the least sucktastic for you.    And it takes a lot of research and even then you can get it wrong.   But you know what?   Those skinny folks at the local runner stores typically have a lot of experience with a lot of shoes on a lot of people’s feet and they typically do a lot of research for their own shoes which they typically own a lot of.  Bottom line is they’re typically a very happy to help, very knowledgeable crew.  And go to the local store rather than some nation wide chain.  You’re far more likely to get enthusiasts of the sport rather than folks just earning a pay check.

#2 thing done wrong.   Don’t buy two shirts or shorts in your current size when you’re starting out running and you know you’re going to lose a fair amount of weight.  One will get you through and then when you drop a size you can buy another one.   Yes you’ll lose points in the fashion contest wearing the same gear each time but you’ll also not end up with gear that you wont’ ever use again as long as you’re running.

#3 thing done wrong.  Make sure you properly lace and tighten your shoes.  Speaking from experience coming back from a out and back with blood soaked shoes this is important.

#4 thing done wrong, well kind of depending on your disposable income level.  Big name brand gear with big name brand logos on them aren’t necessarily any better.  You’re paying for that name, the tv and print and online ads and apps that go with it.   That doesn’t make it bad per se.  But if you can buy 2 or 3 Champion tech shirts for the cost of 1 UnderArmor shirt… There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with going the UA or [insert other expensive lines of clothing].  But there’s also nothing intrinsically wrong with going with a lesser fashionable and subsequently lesser cost option.

#1 thing done right, set a training schedule and stick to it come hell, high water, work, weather, sickness.   Not injury, don’t run injured if you can avoid it.  But do everything you can to stay on schedule.  When you miss a day it’s far easier to miss the second time and easier to miss the third time and then it’s been 3 weeks since you last ran.    It’s much like dieting.  That second piece of chocolate takes far less convincing to get you to eat it.

#2 thing done right, find the rightist shoe I could of the available options.  You very likely have far more options in a shoe so enjoy your freedom of choice but choose wisely.

#3 thing done right, taking my time.  At age 50 there’s very much more risk in engaging in physicality than at age 20.   I’m using heart zone based training rather than pacing or distance.   Pace and distance will come along naturally.  But this way I can be, and feel, comfortable that I’m not going to blow out a ventricle.   It took me 5 months to reach a 10k and you know what?  It’s not a race.   It’s a way to get healthier and have a chance to be around to see grand kids or at least see the kids become responsible adults capable of self sufficiency.

Asics Nimbus 19

I’ve had my Nimbus 19’s for maybe a month now with maybe 50 miles on them, mostly shorter runs in the 3 to 4 range and one 8 mile run as of now.

“if you were getting pounded by well over 300lbs 3.4 times a week for 4+ months…”

Being a #NOTARUNNER I can’t give you a ton of technical details on these and honestly you can get that stuff from Asics or Running Warehouse etc with far more substance and authority than some random 50 year old on the internet who’s been running for 6 months.

What I can say is that for a large runner such as a myself the Nimbus 19s are one of the few options you have in a road shoe.  For trail shoe’s we’re even more screwed but more on that later.

Luckily the 19’s are a pretty good option as it turns out.   My prior shoe was the Nimbus 18’s.  The 18’s in my opinion wore out fast in the heel area for me but if you were getting pounded by well over 300lbs 3.4 times a week for 4+ months you’d likely wear out fast too.  [So many comments could be made here].

The 19’s are not as wide as the 18’s both visually and in practice.    This is an improvement I believe in general.

The heel support isn’t as obnoxious on the 19’s, I don’t even notice it’s there thankfully.  Unlike the 18’s where that rigid heel cage would on occasion be very noticeable and un-enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, the 18’s were up til this point a good shoe for me of the very few options I have and they had close to 300 miles on them. And I’m hard on the heel area of shoes, it’s always the first place that wears out on me.

The toebox is about the same.  Which for me means my pinkie and ring toes on my right foot still rub but they do that on every shoe.

The cushion feels a bit softer but honestly without a brand new pair of each it’s really impossible to tell other than just “I think it’s better”.

Bottom line, there’s a reason the Nimbus line is one of the most popular shoe lines for runners and although stupid expense to thee and me, at the end of the day, reducing the suck factor of running is worth the extra expense for me.

Big Shoe Dance

If you weigh more than than a duck then it’s very likely that shoes are going to be really important for you in reducing the suck factor of running.

What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

When I decided to get off the couch I bought a pair of ‘running shoes’ based on Amazon reviews.   They were cheap, 1200+ people had rated an average of over 4 stars, they must be fine right?

Not so much.   That first month was a lot of knee and hip pains, lower back pains and general suck.   Not being the size of a duck I assumed it was due to a combination of lack of exercise, weight and in general feeling like I was learning to run all over again.

So a real runner, a co-worker/friend, told me I should go to the FLSS so I did.  A very friendly and knowledgeable girl (I’m 50, she was maybe 22 which makes her a girl from my perspective) watched me walk, measured my feet and then recommended a few options.   I tried them on and in the end walked out with a pair of Brooks Ghost 8’s.

Very next time I ran, “What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

In full disclosure those Brooks while they felt good in the store and they worked for the distances I was doing at that time (not very) turned out to be not as great for much more than 3 to 4 miles as I found out over time.   But they’re good 5K shoes.

The moral of this story is you need to find out how you walk, do you pronate, do you supinate, do you need control shoes?  Are you a heel striker or a toe striker?  Do you like a lot of drop or minimal drop?   These are real, valid, technical questions that deal with your actual running form, gait and general physiology.   And it takes luck or some real guidance to find the pair of shoes that works with you because folks shoes are not made equal.

When you’re starting out the first thing you should do is visit one or more local shoe stores that are at least operated if not owned by runners.   You might get lucky with a national chain and find sales people who are actual runners but a local store is much more likely to be staffed by #RUNNERS who have gone through many models of shoes, have helped other people select even more shoes and have run with a lot of people who’ve talked about their experiences with even more shoes.    And typically, because they’re real runners, they’re super enthusiastic to talk to you about running and shoes.

Be aware that if you’re on the far end of the bell curve like me (size 13 4E typically) that they may not have very many (or any) shoes in your size in stock.  But they can certainly recommend some options.   And statistically it’s unlikely you’ll have the same issues I do in shoe selection.

Additionally, at the time of this writing, Running Warehouse offers a free video analysis of your running form.  Just send them a short film of you running on a treadmill and they’ll come back with some recommendations.  FWIW the folks at RW have been super awesome to work with in my short stint of running.    Just recently I asked them a fairly involved question one evening.  I’d done my due diligence but I wanted to reach out to people who had the ability to be hands on with the type of item I was asking about, probably had personal experience with it.

I got back a response in a few hours that basically said “Give us time to research this”.   In a couple of days they came back with a long technical email outlining various options, features, pros and cons of items that fit my fairly demanding question.   For someone to do that kind of research for a customer?   You don’t see it much in most industries in this day and age.


if you want a little less suck in your career of being #NOTARUNNER then shoes are important.  If you’re on the end of the bell curve in weight?  Then they’re even more important.

About Me

In spite of efforts of others,wife, family, friends, co-workers to categorize and label me, I proudly proclaim myself as #NOTARUNNER…

WTF am I doing out here?”

I started in July 2016, doing a C2K, then a C2K Level 2, then started a 10K Level I starting that program around Week 4.  A couple of weeks into that 10K I was peer pressured by #RUNNERS into signing up for a Half Marathon which hits in 5/2017.

I started that training regimen which brings us to today.

To date (2/11/2017) I have completed 5 5K’s races #JEWELRYCOLLECTOR and have a longest run of a hair less than 8miles.

When I started, my mixed run walk, mostly walk, mile pace was 18 minutes.

My current pace is 12 minutes a mile for greater than 5K’s and 11 minutes a mile for 5K’s.

My fastest mile is 9:37.

I’ve been around for 5 decades and while active with sports, paintball, and yes running in my teens and 20’s, in the last 20 years it’s been mostly a sedentary white collar married with kids lifestyle.   The running in my 20’s was all fueled by being single.   And let’s face it, more girls find being fit attractive than the girls who don’t.  So running was very much just a human version of the male peacock’s plumage and a way to be not single, at least occasionally.

In the last 5 months I’ve lost 60+lbs (which helps explain my starting pace eh?).  And yes I know July to January is 7 months but the first couple of months I didn’t really lose much at all in terms of what showed on the scale.   That weight loss was done by tracking calories and at each stall point the base calories were reduced by 10%.  Calories burned in running were added to the base calorie allotment.

In the time frame that I’ve been running I’ve come to realize that running isn’t enjoyable for me.  Shocking I know for all you #RUNNER’s.

I know you may know otherwise, the whole joy in life is putting on your shoes and hitting the street or trail  and for you that’s true.

For me, the results of running can be something to be enjoyed, but the act of running itself?  Not so much.

I share this information as it shows that everyone has to start somewhere so don’t stress it.   Don’t worry if you don’t get that unicorn, the ‘runners high’, I’ve never caught a whiff of it, don’t worry if after 6 months of running you still hit a wall at the first half mile or so where you ask yourself, “WTF am I doing out here?”

Because neighbors I’ll be metaphysically right there at your side going WTF.

You hear this spouted ad naseum but truly the important thing is to just get out there and do.  Yes it’s going to suck.  It may stay full of suck for you.  It may get better.  You may get that runner’s high, you may find you enjoy the effort and pain of pushing your body to it’s current limit.  Or you may be like me and proudly proclaim your #NOTARUNNER status.

But every day barring 1 day (surgery and a 38 hour straight work ‘day’ combined) for the last 6+months I’ve been out on my stupidly expensive shoes doing whatever my training schedule  has told my stupidly expensive watch to tell me to do.  And if I can do it, in spite of my walls and my moments of “OMFG this sucks ass” then I’m sorry to say, you can too.

We’ll see where tomorrow takes us…