FroggyFeet: First Impressions

This week, I received a pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO shoes from my sister.  I call them FroggyFeet!  These shoes are designed to give your musculoskeletal system the barefoot experience, while protecting your skin from debris.  The soles do not provide any cushioning or support, causing the muscles in your feet to grow stronger when walking and/or running in them.  That’s right, these shoes are meant for running!  These shoes are a far cry from the ultra cushy Nike Vomeros I usually run in.

Today, I gave the VFFs their first test.  I took my doggy, Dylan, on a 5 mile walk today; mostly on an asphalt trail. Periodically, we did some short running intervals (about a minute each) so I could get an idea of what it feels like to run in these shoes.  Here are my findings:

– I didn’t wear any socks so after about three miles I started getting blisters on my big toes and arches.  After the walk, I headed to my local running store and acquired a pair of Injini socks that should mitigate the blister problem in the future.

– The soles don’t provide much insulation from the ground and the tops are made of mesh so my feet were very cold.  Perhaps the socks will also help with this problem.

– Other people are intrigued by the shoes.  Twice, I was stopped and asked many questions about the purpose and comfortableness(?) of these shoes.  Surprisingly, both women thought the shoes were very cute.  I am happy to report that Dylan’s cuteness still attracts more attention than my shoes’ weirdness.  I had to explain what a puggle is at least three times during our walk.

– A few hours later, my feet were sore.  Perhaps they are becoming stronger.

Overall, I’m on the fence about these shoes.  I am not yet convinced that they are amazing, but I haven’t written them off either.  I will gradually start running in them more and see what happens.  Stay tuned…

2010 Goal #3: Complete a Sprint Distance Triathlon

My little sister inspired this goal.  Last year, she completed her first sprint distance triathlon and loved it.  Until recently, I had no interest in becoming a triathlete.  My greatest concern is the swimming portion.  Swimming one lap in a pool is exhausting for me and that’s without mobs of other swimmers around me.  For my first tri, I am looking at races with a 400 m swim leg.  I figure that if I make it out of the water alive, I will finish the race.  I started swimming laps a few times a week.  It’s a little embarrassing to take breaks after each lap when I’m surrounded by people that are actually “swimmers”.  My plan is to build up my endurance in the pool during the winter so I will be prepared to practice in open water when the warmer weather hits.

I realize that completing a triathlon is much more challenging than the sum of its parts.  I signed up for an indoor triathlon at work.  In two weeks, I will row 2,000 m, bike 3 miles, and run 1.5 miles.  To establish a baseline for myself, I did a practice race and was very humbled when I discovered how tired my legs were by the time I started running.  The experience was beneficial because it reinforced the fact that I have to train for a triathlon, not just for swimming, cycling, and running individually.

Eventually, I would like to participate in a half ironman with my sister.

2010 Goal #2: Complete a 65 Bike Ride

My boyfriend (Ben) and I are registered for the Tour d’Organics in August.  We will be riding 65 miles through wine country with stops at local organic farms stocked with vegan goodies for fuel.  Ben hates to run, but enjoys riding.  Last year, he bought himself a very flashy Orbea Marmolada road bike (I call her ‘Lady Marmolada).  Naturally, he rode her often at first and then left her to collect dust in the garage.  A few months ago, I was browsing Organic Athlete’s website and found information on the Tour.  I pitched the idea to Ben as motivation ride again and a way for us to spend time together while being active.  He was agreeable so I signed us up.  We started riding together, but I only had a mountain bike and was finding it very difficult to keep pace with Ben and his Lady.  When the fall bike sales started, I went on a mission to buy a road bike with a budget of $1500.  Ultimately, I walked out of Mike’s Bikes in Berkeley with a shiny new Cannondale Six Carbon 6 and was only $100 over budget.

Now I need to explain the fears I will have to confront in the process of accomplishing this goal.  First, I am not a big fan of riding on the road.  This is a reasonable fear as bike accidents occur frequently.  I am starting out by riding only on roads with bike lanes and only when traffic volumes are low.  I’m also pretty nervous about having my feet physically attached to my bike.  Although I haven’t experienced a fall yet, I constantly envision myself tipping over with my bike and being unable to get out of the pedals.  For now, I unclip my well in advance of an intersection to avoid disaster.  As I become more comfortable with the pedals, I hope that I won’t need to be so cautious in the future.

If all goes well this year, I will try to convince Ben that we should do a century ride next year!