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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My review of the Hoka One One Speedgoat


Earlier this year, Hoka One One, the French/US company released the Speedgoat. This shoe was co-designed by Karl Meltzer, one of the great US runners over the past decade. Meltzer has won dozens of 100 mile races in the US. His favorite shoe was the Hoka One One Rapa Nui. I too, am a fan of the Rapa Nui and have been looking forward to trying this shoe on my local trails of Mt. Diablo in Northern California.

Like the Rapa Nui, the Speedgoat does not have the huge midsole of the Stinson, Bondi and other Hoka One One shoes. Runners with poor form and who don’t have normal to high arches should not buy this shoe because it is not a stability shoe, although it is stiffer than the Rapa Nui. Some runners who supinate have stated in their reviews that the midsole was too soft on the outside of the foot resulting in a noticeable lean to the outside. For myself this wasn’t an issue. I would suspect that lighter runners would be less likely to experience this than heavier runners.  

There are two big differences between this shoe and the Rapa Nui. First, the toe box of the Speedgoat is noticeably narrower than the Rapa Nui. For myself, I liked not having my does slide around, especially when I was running through rock gardens. I normally wear a thick Drymax sock, but, for those runners who find the toebox narrow, I would recommend switching to the Drymax thin socks.

Second, the vibram sole has nobs that are huge. I loved the sole, going uphill with these was like having 4 wheel drive. The shoes gripped the loose sand stone on the trail which made for a much more efficient stride which of course equals more speed with less effort. But, it was on the downhills where I noticed a big difference between the Speedgoats and the Rapa Nui’s and Solomon shoes I used to wear. The sole gripped the rocks and loose sand stone soil and I was much more confident and was able to relax and run downhill much faster.

I give this shoe a grade of 4 and a half stars. I took off a half a star because the colors are a bit clownish. That said, I would recommend this shoe to most runners.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Personal Commandments

Every once in a while, I like to make a list of things I like, would I like to do, places to see or in this case, what things I should be aware of on a daily basis. So, here they are.

1.There is no such thing as luck. Everything happens for a reason.

2. We all have our destiny, but we get to choose how we react to the events or the people we encounter during our lives.

3. Reincarnation? Yes

4. Acceptance equals happiness.

5. Desire equals suffering.

6. Nothing lasts forever.

7. Evolution does not equal decline. Even though you can't change chapters 1-5 of your life, chapter 6 can be enjoyed to its fullest because chapters 1-5 provide context to the present.

8. My personal goal is to make my life as simple as possible.

9. For myself, new experiences make me happy, not titles, money or fame.

10. Making someone else happy will make one a rich person.

So, what does this have to do with running?  Here are my thoughts.

1.There is no such thing as luck. Everything happens for a reason.
 On trail runs, I've tripped over roots or rocks and performed a not so graceful face plant. Bad luck?      No, fatigue resulted in my not lifting my feet high enough to clear the obstacle. It's not bad luck          that we encounter obstacles in our lives, obstacles are a part of life.

2. We all have our destiny, but we get to choose how we react to the events or the people we encounter during our lives.
After doing my fall on the trail, I chose how I reacted. The possibilities included staying on
the ground, getting up and using my bloody and sore leg as an alibi to slow down or to do
what I must to keep going. It's your choice.

3. Reincarnation? Yes

I am not so foolish to believe that my gifts for running began with my birth.

4. Acceptance equals happiness.

Every runner has lost a race, had a slow training run or been injured. Accepting these instances and finding joy in the pure act of running, the scenery or the people we are running is how we can accept a lost race or a slow training run. Acceptance of our injuries, both physical and emotional and enjoying the process of rehabilitation which is really another way of getting stronger by accepting our situation and getting happiness in the process.

5. Desire equals suffering.

Desire for ribbons or medals is in the end a cause of suffering. If you get that medal, soon, it will be in a box in your closet or your friends and competitors will stop praising you. If you don't get that medal, the desire for something you've "lost" will bring suffering for you and the people who care about you,

6. Nothing lasts forever.

As a high school runner, Jim Ryun ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Later, he ran the mile in 3:51, setting a new world record. Very few people remember that record because its been replaced by another record. Even long term friendships or relationships do not last forever in the same state as they were in the beginning of that relationship. Its called evolution and enjoying each stage of your life or relationships is a key to happiness.

7. Evolution does not equal decline. Even though you can't change chapters 1-5 of your life, chapter 6 can be enjoyed to its fullest because chapters 1-5 provide context to the present.

Your child is no longer a cute toddler. Your child is an adult. Does that mean you should wish they had never grown up? Of course not. Accepting your child for who they are at this moment is a way to genuine happiness in your relationship with that child.

8. My personal goal is to make my life as simple as possible.

For me, this is my greatest challenge. Something I work on everyday. For others, it can mean not buying that 5th or 6th pair of their favorite running shoes for yourself. Maybe seek out someone who can't afford a new pair and get them some new shoes to run in.

9. For myself, new experiences make me happy, not titles, money or fame.

Seeing new places, trying new sports (learning to climb will be my birthday gift to myself in November) and meeting new people or seeing people I haven't seen in a long time are the things that make me happy.

10. Making someone else happy will make one a rich person.

Turning despair into hope, turning tears into a smile or listening to someone who has been ignored are true riches. Coaches do this all the time. Showing someone how to train, encouraging that runner when they are struggling through some intervals or when they don't see improvement in their racing results, Coaches do this on a daily basis. For non-coaches-pay the race fees for someone who can't afford it. Take that free shirt you get at the race and give it to one of the volunteers or better yet, a kid who might then be inspired to be a runner. That's a much better way to be rich than to have a big bank account.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review-Surf is Where you Find It

Published by Patagonia Books

One of the icons of surfing on the North Shore of Hawai’I, Bali and beyond in the 1970’s, Gerry Lopez has written an autobiography that will inspire millions of overworked Americans to put down the iphone and head to the beach. Film buffs might recall him as a co-star in Conan the Barbarian or his cameo in Big Wednesday.

Gerry grew up in Honolulu, Hawai’i, attending the illustrious high school, Punahou, prior to President Obama’s tenure there. Gerry’s parents are a journalist father of Spanish-German heritage, while his mother is Japanese-Hawaiian. To say he is an intelligent man with an ear for dialect, an eye for art and near genius level talent as a surfer would be an understatement.

In 1963, as a high school sophomore, Gerry surfed Pipeline, an incredible and often dangerous section of the North Shore. That would be akin to someone with a driver’s permit driving in the Indianapolis 500. Gerry has surfed with and has awed such big surfing names as Miki Dora, Laird Hamilton and Eddie Aikau.

Gerry’s book describes the surfing culture in Hawai’i from the early 1960’s through the 2000’s, noting the historical figures, epic rides and his own spiritual development. Like a long smooth ride on a longboard, Gerry’s book takes the reader to places and people that are worth knowing. Think of it as a volume of “talk story” that Hawaiians usually tell amongst themselves. So, my suggestion is to take off the work clothes, slip on some shorts and flip flops and read an epic book. You’ll be stoked!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Evolution of a Gooner Fan

Back in my youth, South San Francisco aka South City was full of soccer-kids, jr high and high school soccer was popular. It was taught in PE. And yet, it was like being in a cult-there was no soccer on tv, not even the World Cup, no magazines available locally and the newspapers had very little to offer. The only soccer news we could get was from the month old copies of World Soccer magazine that passed around and coveted. "Just who is this George Best guy anyway?" But, we played. Through school, some pick up games while in the Navy and on some club teams with my mates from Scotland on Sundays while in College. Then came the revolution.

At first, it was just PBS that would show games from Germany or England. Then ESPN was born and all of a sudden, you could watch English League games or even college games. So, I would watch and read the papers. During this time, when my daughters were young, I played defense for a team that consisted of Iranians and me. To say I got an education into Iranian culture is an understatement. Appearing as ordered for a 7:30 practice, I would run laps until 8:30 or 9 when the team would show up, the manager announcing that we had a game at 10. To say my wife, who was at home with two toddlers was not happy would also be an understatement. So ended my playing days on an organized team.

Fast forward to when one of my daughters was in London for University. She lived in North London and by default, became enamored with one Thiery Henry and thus became a casual Arsenal fan. Being a good daughter, she soon sent me some Arsenal Kit and my fandom of the Gunners was born. In the Bay Area I like to go to Maggie's Pub in North Beach to hang out with the Bay Area Gooners.

In New York, I go to the Blind Pig and watch the games with the same daughter who started all of this.

I am so blessed to be a Gooner!  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Into the breach comes Sebastian Coe

Just announced, Sebastian Coe will become the President of the IAAF, the ruling body for Track and Field athletes. His stated goal is to clean up our sport. I sincerely hope he is successful.

My sport has always been running. Track, cross-country and more recently, trail running have been my passion since I was in the 5th grade. My first heroes were in fact runners-Jim Ryun-sub 4:00 miler in HIGH SCHOOL, Olympian and Congressman. I also admired and occasional communicate with Gerry Lindgren, the eccentric, but true "phenom" who beat the Russians as a high schooler and is one of the few Americans who beat Steve Prefontaine head to head. None of the above were ever accused of taking performance enhancing drugs.

As I got older and more educated, some would say more cynical, I was curious about the mysterious Lasse Viren and  Waldimar Cierpinski, winners of Olympic Gold medals and little else. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, documents discovered prove without a doubt that Cierpienski was using steroids, cheating Frank Shorter out of getting a 2nd Gold medal in the marathon, something he is still very bitter about.

Other scandals followed: Ben Johnson in the 1988 Games; Regina Jacobs after the 1996 Games; Marion Jones in the 2000 Games and the entire Chinese Distance Running team withdrawing from the 2000 Games for fear of being found to be EPO users. Yes, there are many others and its been a sad history of doping.

The result? Television rarely shows track and field in non-Olympic years for two reasons. First, its just not a popular sport for non-runners. The average American coach potato can't relate at all. Second, the networks and knowledgable viewers can't be sure that the winner of today's event won't be found to be a user a few weeks or months later.

Sebastian Coes mission is clear. Change the image of track from being a dirty sport to one where people can trust the results. How the 1980 Olympian does that will be as interesting as watching a duel between Jim Ryun and Marty Liquori was in the early 70's. Stay tuned track fans!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Tom Cruise should be a Trail Runner (if he isn't already)

Let's face it, it is a rare Tom Cruise movie where we don't see him sprinting away from danger or sprinting to jump on an airplane etc. There is even a website dedicated to showing Tom's runs.

Still, I think Tom should become a trail runner in real life, here's why:


Face it, we trail runners rarely run in crowds if it isn't a race. And, even in most races, you end up running large stretches by yourself. No photographers, no autographs to sign and only the animals-seen and unseen to watch you huff and puff up that steep hill.

Tom is genetically disposed to be a trail runner

For one thing, because of his being a wrestler in high school, his being a rock climber and his "ahem" short stature, Tom has great balance. Perfect for gliding up or down the technical trails. If he falls, he's less likely to be hurt because he knows how to fall.

There are trails everywhere, even in LA

There are well known trails and of course, there are the secret trails that only a select few know about. If Tom flashes his pearly whites at some folks at a running store, he's sure to get a private viewing of some choice single track.

Trail runners are very cool

We won't stare at you at the starting line. We won't laugh if you do a face plant. Hell, we'll probably help you up. And after the race, we'll hand you a beer and laugh about what happened. In short, Tom, we'll treat you like every other trail runner, a special group indeed.

So what do you say Tom, ready to lace em up?

Quick Update

Since my last post, I've had an x--ray and a MRI at my request after the MD's insisted what I had was just a badly sprained ankle. The x-ray found nothing while the MRI found that I had a cyst in the channel that lies between the bottom of the tibia and the actual ankle bone. The MD gave me a choice-take a cortisone shot which wasn't guaranteed to work or have surgery which would mean crutches for 2 weeks and another month in the "boot." I took the shot.

The MD said to take a week off. So, I took the time off, played some golf and then when it was time, took a test run. No pain during the run. The next day, I was worried that the pain would return as it had when I had tried to run the past 3 months. And wonder of wonders, no pain. So I am back to running. Most of the runs have been slow and easy. Today, I took off the training wheels and let it out a bit on a 10K run. Time was 48:00 which was 20 minutes slower than when I was in my 20's, BUT, it was still 7:45 mile pace.

The key now is to be smart and not rush into doing big mileage. But yes, I am indeed on the comeback trail.