Monday, July 29, 2013

Running With the Boy

 Roland and I went on our first run today.
We have the B.O.B running stroller and we've used it on plenty of walks and even a few races, but it had never been taken on a run. At first it was because the little boy was too small, and then because things got busy, so today I finally was able to get him into the stroller and get out on the road. I need to run more, he needed to be out of the house, it all worked out.
There's nothing special about getting the tiny human ready to run. I probably should have put socks on him because it was later in the day, but other than that its make sure he's changed, strap him in, and get to the gone.

There is a steep hill right at the end of the street we are living on and I admit, I couldn't run all the way up it pushing the stroller. I'm not in great shape right now, and I guess the extra 20lbs wasn't helping. But once the road leveled out (and by "leveled out" I mean "turned into shallow rollers for the rest of the first mile") I was doing fine and we were chugging along.
Roland loves the stroller and never complains. The front shade was pulled all the way down but with the way the sun was setting it got in his face anyway. So he closed his eyes and turned his head. Which put him to sleep. And he slept the rest of the run. Because dad is boring when he's running.

I even got to listen to music while I was running and he didn't care, slept right through it.
The hardest part of running with a stroller is adjusting to the single arm pump rather than the double. Gotta push the stroller somehow. I've seen people running with their strollers with both hands on the handle, but that's just not comfortable. It's like being on the treadmill trying to take your heartrate with the metal plates that never work right. It's not an effective way to run. So instead I alternated pushing with my left and right hands, though I suppose that will get easier as I get used to running while pushing.
The stroller didn't make running in general harder, save for the inclines and declines. Going downhill isn't my favorite thing anyway, but it is tougher when gravity and the stroller and pulling me down. Still, we did all right.
Not the fastest run in the world, but they never are with me. At least where I'm running is pretty. And the company was nice.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm Trying, Plus A Lot of Book Stuff So Please Read

I've been slacking hard here for a while now and I swear I'm going to get better at it again soon. Things have been crazy with the move and the baby and the job hunt and the excuse-making.
I am still training, though not as often or intensely as makes me happy. I feel slow and out of shape and the journey back to fitness won't be fun, but it will be good for me.
As I write this I'm in Southern California after a week in Las Vegas for the SDE National Teacher's Conference, where I presented a talk called Discovering Seuss: Using the Good Doctor in Your Classroom. So add that to the excuses- I wrote a presentation I had to give in front of a bunch of teachers at a national conference. It went great, thank you for asking, and I hope I got some networking done while I was there.
I did get a mini-workout in while in Vegas. I meant to get two or three but I spent the second night tossing cookies all night. No, I don't drink so it wasn't that. I think it was something I ate and it ruined me. Wasn't feeling up to a run for a bit after that. I did get to the hotel gym and got my run on for a tiny little bit. The dreadmill is worse every time I step on. So boring. I could have run outside, if you think running down The Strip sounds like a great idea before you take into account the 110* temps. So I got a short run in, then I felt weak so I rode the stationary bike for a while, then I did some pull-ups on the crappy gym supported pull-up machine. It was enough to get a sweat going, but not much else. At least it was something. Still love my Altra 3-Sums. Totally comfortable. Looking forward to more road runs.
I have been writing though. I've got a book 98% finished and itching to be sent to my indie publisher. It's not about working out, then I would have been talking it up here. It's about teaching and it's called He's The Weird Teacher and other things students whisper about me. It has a blog, because that's what I do, so if you go there the info is laid out as well as some excerpts. That's the biggest reason I've been slacking here. Any writing time I get goes to the book and the presentation. Now that the presentation is over and the book is just about put to bed I can spread my energy differently again.
I'm very excited about He's the Weird Teacher and I think it's really good. I'm not the best judge of my own work, so I also have it on good authority from people who have no vested interest in blowing smoke at me that it's good as well. I'll be, like I said, going through an indie publisher which means zero advertising. Which means I'll be talking it up huge all over the interwebs and I'll be asking for your help. The price point for the digital download is going to be crazy cheap, making it a no-risk buy for most people. I'm going to need friends to start the ripple and tell people who will tell people who will tell people. I'm going to be asking for lots of reviews, because that moves books up lists. I'm going to be asking for tweets and retweets and Facebook posts and Google+ shares and pins and whatever else you can think of that will get He's the Weird Teacher out there into the world. It's still a few weeks away, but it's coming.
I never ask for money on this site, I just leave the donation button up there and don't mention it, but if you have a few bucks to drop in the bucket to help with the publishing costs it would mean a lot. I know we're all tight, and I don't like asking, but with the situation we are in right now it would be helpful. This isn't a kickstarter and I don't have special stretch goals and prizes, but I promise to do something awesome for anyone who can kick in a couple of bucks. I haven't put a donations link on the book website because it...doesn't feel like it belongs there. I want people going to that page to read about the book and follow links to buy it. I don't want people going there and seeing a donate button next to the page where I'm asking them to spend money on a product. But for the next little bit anything going into the Donate button up there will be split between triathlon stuff (which I still need, my tri suit is way old) and book stuff. I hate this paragraph, but it never hurts to ask for a little help with something and I deeply believe in. He's The Weird Teacher is good (I promise) and want to give it the best possible chance to succeed.
So I'm still swim/bike/running, just not as often as I should and it's making me soft around the middle. I'm getting back on that horse. I'm doing a lot of writing. And I'm hoping for lots of love when the book finally hits.
Thanks a lot!

OH! One more thing-

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Altra 3-Sum Shoe First Take

I'm going to go ahead and start by saying, Wow, I'm so far behind and I've been really bad at keeping up the blog. I have excuses! We moved from Hawaii to the mainland last week and there has been lots going on. I've got a relay to write a report on still and the packing of my bicycle, though I may wait on that and do a massive packing/unpacking post.
But today I'm going to jump right into the present with my newest piece of tri gear- The Altra 3-Sum.
I can hear you asking, "But Dirtbag, you're all about the super-minimal. You love and worship your Vibram Bikilas." That's still true, my attentive reader. However, I've been feeling for a while now that variety is good and occasionally a little more padding would be nice. The last few months I've been in shoe search mode, looking for the best possible option. I thought I'd found it with the New Balance Minimus Road, but those turned out not to be for me. Good shoe, not for me. Then moving got moving and I put shoe shopping on hold until we hit the mainland. That was a better choice anyway, since there is one shoe store on the island I like (Runners HI). While Runners HI is great, they don't have the widest selection in the world. Shopping online is great too, but for shoes it's difficult since I'm very particular about what I put on my feet. My online go-to shopping solution is They are crazy friendly and very helpful.
Like I said, I'm particular about my shoes, and I didn't know what I wanted. Optimal Run has an awesome feature where you fill out a form and they get back to you within a few days with shoes recommendations. So I put in that I'd be doing triathlons predominantly, I want zero-drop, light, and minimal. I told them I'm used to the Five Fingers but want a little more padding, not Nike-levels, but some cushion for the longer runs. I also mentioned that Van Halen was better with DLR.
Shortly an email from Optimal Run came in with two suggestions, including a YouTube link to a suggestion video. Optimal said I should try the Altra 3-Sums or the Inov8 Road X-treme 138. I hadn't heard of the Altras so I hit the googles. They have kick ass reviews, and that got me really excited. I was nervous about the stack height, since it's so much bigger than what I'm used to at 18mm, but I wanted to give them a shot. As for the Inov8's, that's a brand I've been looking at for a while. Looks like Optimal knows me well.
I didn't buy the shoes from Optimal Run. I strongly suggest you go check them out when you're in the market for new kicks. I feel kind of bad I didn't give them my money, but like I said, I want to put the shoes on my feet before I buy them. "But Dirtbag," you say. "Why didn't you try them on, figure out if you liked them, then buy them online?" That's an excellent question with a two-part answer. The first part is that like the genius I am I packed both pairs of Bikilas.
Like in a box.
That is on a boat.
I have no running shoes. I need running shoes. Which brings me to the second part of my answer- the store I went to was also awesome.
Runners know that specific brands of running shoes aren't easy to get. You can't, as many in-laws suggested, just go to Sports Authority or REI and pick up a pair. You must go to a Running Store, run by runners for runners. I went a and used their fancy handy dandy store locator to locate a store near me. Bam, store 28 miles away called Born To Run. Hey, that's the name of the book that started this whole thing!
Actually, it's a store started by one of the guys in the book! Wheels within wheels. We went in and I said to the nice lady working there, "I want to try on Altra 3-Sums, do you have them?" She said, "Yep, what size?" And like that we were off. Such a friendly store. Mary (I think that was her name) was crazy helpful and friendly. She let me take the shoes for a short test run around the block.
I was in love. Immediately. There was no hmmm about it. These kicks are kickin'. Comfortable, flexible, some ground-feel, good padding, no shifting. I got my size right on the first try. AND the colors are killer cool.

The Altra 3-Sums are built for triathlon specifically. I didn't wear socks when I went to the store because I wasn't going to be running all the time with socks on, so I needed to know how they felt. Felt great.
They have the pull tabs in the front and on the heel for a quick T2, along with zip laces. During my first run yesterday after I brought them home I had to stop and loosen up the right foot. I had the zip much too tight. Didn't want any rubbing and I over-compensated.
My stride from VFFs to 3-Sums didn't have to change at all. I'm pretty good at the mid-foot stride by now, and it felt natural in the new shoes.

I've only run about three miles so far. I, of course, packed my Garmin too so I'm not positive about the distance, but that feels right. I look forward to lots more runs in the 3-Sums.
I paid $130 for them, thank you Background Profiles, most awesome sponsor! That might seem like a lot to you, but according to the Grey $130 for a threesome, let alone a pair, is pretty cheap.