Sunday, February 28, 2010

A rain-filled Union Creek.

Mud and Waterfalls

It was a mudlicious early springtime run. This time I used my cross country flats; that was the ticket. I didn't slip once, even though I was in some shoe sucking sludge out there. It took me a little time to get used to running in the mud. I wasn't sure of my footing on that sludgy ground. I watched some cross country runners from the University of Santa Clara power past me through the sludge and I felt like a total clutzy dolt. I'm a little gun shy on the slippery trails...but I did improve markedly by the end of the run.

I started my run outside of the parks at Edgewood Road. Crystal Springs Trail takes a good mile and a half in as a rutted flat trail that suddenly juts upward and into the hills before diving down into Phleger and Huddart Parks. Crystal Springs Trail was kind of a mess today. Sections of it were completely churned up mud from horses' hooves. I tippy-toed around some of the really soppy sections at first. This was shoe sucking-off stuff!

The temps hovered around a fabulous 70 degrees in full sunshine. This is that magical time of year around here when it's green, sunny and warm on occasion. We'll still have cold rainy days, but they lead to spectacular days like this one. Come May, the hills will turn brown.

I ran into Phleger this time around. I thought about going up into Huddart, but decided to do something different. I also wanted to see how Union Creek was looking. Well it was Union River this time around complete with beautiful cascades and little tributaries that fed it from the hillsides. I ran along its banks via the Miramontes Trail and then headed up the hill a bit before turning back at the hour point. I figured two hours of good trail running would be enough for today, as I'm slowly building up.

On the way out of Phleger I saw a beautiful, healthy doe. She had a wonderful winter-fuzzy coat and a full belly (pregnant?). She was completely unconcerned about me and continued munching on the lush green spring grass.

I put the hammer down, as best as I can at this time of year, on the last flat section back out to the car. I got my courage up on the last big downhill to let 'er fly through the mud. I'm glad to say that there were no geological surveys. I pushed the pace to the end and felt my technique actually improve a bit. I thought about dancing lightly over the mud and hoof prints. It seemed to work!

The plan is to add one to two more trail runs in per week. I'm hoping on seeing some really improvement from this. And I just feel much happier out there.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Zoe and I made it out before the storm blew in. We had a wonderful run through the 'hood in the balmy warm wind before the storm. I've discovered that Zoe is not entirely a creature of habit. She likes variety in her runs. She runs best when we explore new routes and places to go, she slows up and acts bored when we run a route too often. And I thought that she was just getting lazy.

Today was just a moderately short/medium run. I'm givin' it a little rest before going long again on Sunday. By then the storm will have blown out an I'll hit the redwood mountain trails of Huddart again.

I'm trying to have a little fun with my local runs. I really don't like running in the 'burbs or the city; I'd be happier in the woods all of the time. But I can't justify driving there every day of the week so until I'm living up there full time (hint, hint at my true desires) I have to do some running around town.

Running with Zoe does help. It's a lot more fun with a partner. We had some fun running in the downtown area too. Here in Coyote's town there's a shi-shi downtown shopping district. It used to be a normal place with vegetable stands, banks, butchers, markets, a pharmacy and a few useful clothing stores. Now it's obnoxious. High end clothiers, fancy restaurants (the kind that serve dinky portions that would never satisfy a hungry coyote) and uber trendy furniture stores. It's nearly totally worthless to me now, I never go there. But in the past few days we've been having a hoot running at least a few blocks on this "strip." We do some yuppie/hipster watching. Lotsa yuppie/hipsters drive in from all around to walk around to see and be seen on these streets. It's great to see their reaction when I come barrelling down the street in my Vibrams, running shorts and giant black dog. I clearly don't fit in with the crowd. Nor would I want to.

Today we encountered a gentleman with two tiny chihuahuas. At sighting Zoe they went ballistic, barking and freaking out at the ends of their leashes. Zoe didn't give a rip. She just gave them a quizzical look and wanted to keep on keepin' on down the street. The Run is way more interesting to the Zoester than a little snack dog. And there's nothing like the spectacle of nutty mini dogs to make a man look, well less manly at the end of a leash. Chihuahua Man got flustered and red faced. A municipal worker who was busy working on an electrical box nearby had a good belly laugh over the whole scene. We headed on home with a smile and got back before the rain came down.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Job Hunting = Window Shopping

Soooo....I've been window shopped!

This means when a possible employer interviews you and takes you through all of the trials of job hunting and then says..."maybe...don't know....wait a minute while I pick my nose."

I learned from my recruiter and another secret source that I was the strongest candidate that "they" had seen for the job that I've been up for. Mind you it's been a month's worth of interviewing, for a friggin' contract job. But yet they want to see more resumes, as my recruiter told me. They think I'm great...but they want to see MORE resumes. Apparently they have found some sort of wrinkle in time and now have all of it in the world to waste on driving job hunters crazy.

It's a frustrating time in Casa de Coyote.


  • No pictures today because it was raining on the trail
  • Doe sighting, she sighted me too
  • Vibram Five Fingers are not so good on muddy trails

The rain was beautiful. It felt nice. Unfortunately the trails at Edgewood have some very slippery clay. I had to shorten my planned run as it was too slippery to head out on a second loop. I fell once and scratched up my shin. Next time I run on the trails in the rain I'll have to use my cross country flats instead of the VFFs. I think that the little nubbies will help a lot. Also I think it would be better to run in Huddart or one of the other redwood forest trails in the rain. The pine needles on the trail take the slip factor out of it.

I'll probably head out for a second run today in the evening with the dog. She was sorely displeased that I went out without her.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday's Trails

It was back to Huddart Open Space for me today. I don't think I've run here since the dry heat of last summer.

Fun Facts About this Run

  • 5 banana slugs

  • 1 yellow bellied salamander

  • no mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats or deer

  • a really wierd bluish fungus covers horse poop in rainy weather

  • I think I may hate it when it gets hot here again
The drive to Huddart was epic in itself. The fog was thicker than I've seen in a few years up on 280. At one point I had about 30 feet of visibility in a blanket of dim white. Luckily right after its worst point the fog lifted enough to give a decent view of the road for the rest of the way to Woodside.

It was foggy and cold at the start at the Zwierlein trailhead. I hemmed and hawed but in the end I decided to keep on my thin windbreaker as I wasn't sure what the weather might end up doing. It could rain or even snow at the top for all I could tell. It's happened before!

The start was slippery, muddy and cold but breathtakingly beautiful in the redwood forest. Once I passed a "no horseback riders" gate on the trail the churned up mud on the trail stopped and my footing was smooth and easy. The vibrams were a bit slippery on the sludge, but I think that anything or barefoot - it was going to be slippery there. My hands were cold and icy.

About a 1/4 of the way up the hill the fog thinned and the sun peaked through the redwoods and California oak. As soon as that sun comes out around here it gets warm. I stopped and stashed my windbreaker in my Wink UD backpack/waterbladder.

At about this point I was cursing those extra 10 winter pounds that I was dragging up this hill along with an almost full water pack. My lack of significant hill training these past few months was pretty obvious to me. I was glad to see only two other runners on the trails this morning, and they were going back down so thankfully they couldn't see my slow upward progress. I chalked up my starting and stopping up the mountain to being "hill intervals." Yeah, that's what I'll call it...

But oh I love the wet lushness of this place right now! The weather was perfect, cool and crisp with clean, damp woodsy air. The oak trees have dropped a lot of acorns along the trail. I stopped to inspect them and found a yellow-bellied salamander. I haven't seen one of these in years. He was a nice size too, longer than my hand.
I didn't push too hard to get to the top. I felt it wise to temper my enthusiasm as this would be my longest run so far this year, so today is for distance and time spent on the feet on not for speed. There were a few new trees down across the trail since the winter storms, but no washouts that I could see. Also, more of the trails have been worked on with some gravel stuff since I was last here. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I guess this gravel stuff isn't too bad or too unlike the natural trails. It's not pointy rocks but almost like soft chunks of asphalt that kind of glue themselves together. I can't imagine how they get all of this stuff up here - If you don't know Huddart, it's very steep and definitely deep-woodsy, not really the kind of place you can bring equipment into. I'm surprised that they went through all the effort to resurface these trails.

Once I made it to the top I GU-ed up, took a picture or two and headed out towards Chincapin Trail for the rollercoaster ride down. In a few weeks I'll take the connector trail towards Wunderlich to add some more miles back and forth and eventually run into Wunderlich for some very long runs. For now, this was ideal. I tempered my downhill on Chincapin because there are some sections that tend to get narrow and wash out. Also trees tend to fall over this trail a lot more than some of the others. But Chincapin had been gone over too quite a bit with some of the narrow sections shored up and stabilized and all of the fallen trees removed. I'll let it fly more next time I'm here.

There were lots of birds chirping on this run. It really felt like early spring. I saw maybe two squirrels the whole time which is amazing because the bushes are usually shaking with them. I guess they are still winter hibernating or such. The lower down on the trail I got the more confident I became so I started to push the pace. I had no problems with the vibrams or my feet. No stubbed toes or stepping on pointy things...just a nice stable pitter pattering on the trail.

I know some people worry so much about barefooter/minimalists stepping on rocks on the trail or turning ankles. One great thing about trail running in VFFs is that I know I won't turn my ankle. You really can't in VFFs or barefoot because there is no platform (sole or heel) to catch and roll off of. Plus, think of your landing, it's forefoot, heel touch and up again - no rolling from heel to toe where you turn your ankle as your weight transitions to midfoot. And rocks? Well, stepping on them isn't nearly as bad as you'd think, plus, just look out for them and don't step on them. Easy.
I ran the last mile the fastest and let my legs churn freely beneath me. There was an even downhill and then an uphill finish to the trailhead. It was about 11 miles in 1:40, which was actually pretty good. It feels good to be back!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I can't be the only person who thinks these are creepy. It's like a giant toddler. Or a teletubby.

I'll be happy when the Valentine's Day ads are OVER. Especially this pajama gram one. My poor hubby is always at a loss on this day...I have graciously let him off the hook for this made up holiday from now and on into the future. I don't need or want anything heart-shaped and when I want chocolate...I'll hunt it down myself. Obviously, I'm not a romantic.


In other news I've been running regularly, even though I have this sinusy-headachy cold that won't quit. Getting out there seems to clear it up for a few hours, but then it's back again in the morning. Although I think it's easing up day by day. I think by this weekend I'll be able to do a long trail run in the hills.

I'm still doing the Vibrams. All is good, very good. I don't feel sore after running, I actually feel springy and refreshed. The VFFs were NOT smelling fresh this afternoon. I took them with me into the shower and shampooed them. They're drying now. I'll let you all know if this works tomorrow.


The job hunt is limping along. This Friday I have an interview, and I sincerely hope that this one leads to something that I can do for a while. This will be the second round interview for this company. Interviewing is just as stressful and time consuming but all I can find to interview for are contract/freelance jobs. There aren't any direct hire jobs available anymore. Maybe forever? How things have changed from my dad's time, or even from five years ago.
Best to look at ways to amp up one's own self sufficiency. Like this cool gal - Jenna

Sunday, February 07, 2010

One thing barefoot running does not do is cure a cold. I have one, brought home by the 1st grader. But my immune system has become quite an amazing thing due to two kiddos and the preschool experience. Since having little ones, I really haven't had any super nasty colds that last weeks at a time. They tend to come and go quickly.

This morning I went on a run even though I felt achy and stuffy. First I took the dog out for a slower 1/2 loop. I brought her home and then did another loop at a much more instense pace and with hill repeats. Lots of snot and loogies, but I feel that I have accomplished something. Hopefully it was added fitness and burning this cold out of my body faster; not sending myself towards pneumonia.

I've been running in Vibrams only now for a while. My tight left hip is no longer tight. I think that running super minimal or barefoot forces equilibrium where there are problems. I know that I favor my right leg subconsciously since my accident. Running in Vibrams forces that leg from the foot up to work just as hard as the left. There's no free ride for the right leg or foot, which is a good thing.

Barefootin' seems to be taking off and it's ticking off some of the shoe giants. Jason has been following the events pretty closely and blogging about some of the freaked out antics that they are resorting to. They continue to run screaming down the negative path. Why not try to come up with some products for minimalist runners instead of attacking them? A positive reaction, especially in this case, would be much more productive.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The littlest coyote had a surprise bout with a stomach virus. It came on quickly and lingered for two days and then was gone as quickly as it came. Little ones amaze me with their resiliancy. I would still be nursing my queezy stomach back into health. She immediately demanded a grilled cheese sandwich after announcing that she was "All beddur." She hasn't stopped snacking since.


My running is going well. My short runs are now averaging 5 miles a piece. Since switching to just VFF or barefoot running completely the tightness in my lower back and hip are greatly reduced and almost gone. My running feels so effortless and natural. My experience with barefootin' has proved to me that we are meant to run this way. Obviously, it's the way we were born and how we evolved.

Recently shoe companies like Brooks and sellers like Road Runner Sports have been chiming in with an anti barefoot stance. Well, shoes are how they make their money so I don't fault them for a knee-jerk panic reaction to the flood of barefoot running media that's out there right now. I'm sure that one of these corporations has spawned this sorry excuse for a website - .

I suspect that some sorry intern at a shoe company has been pushed into writing for this site. Notice that it doesn't allow comments. But he/she constantly complains about the lack of rational discourse on the subject. So he/she is not interested in debate or learning anything. Nor does he post any experience with trying barefoot running and hating it. Silly drivel. I know what barefoot running is and how it has helped me. I also know of how it has changed running for many of my fellow runner friends. I also have graduate work in physiology under my belt and know how the human body works.

Way back when in college, years ago, I was looking at a skeletal foot and it dawned on me that we were not meant to run heel to toe. Crashing down on that calcaneus bone and then rolling off to those little metatarsals made no sense to me back then. It took me a while to have the nerve to run outside sans shoes but the seeds were planted long ago in my mind.

Now I certainly don't believe that the shoe companies are out to hurt anybody. They really do want to benefit runners and improve the sport (while making money along the way of course). But I think that the running shoe as we know it today evolved along the wrong path due to some incorrect assumptions on how we run and what we need. The heel rise in running shoes is unneeded and probably actually harmful. I'm certain that this is what hurts my back when I run in shoes. I also believe that people need to ween themselves from so much external foot support. Think about putting your arm or leg in a cast - it atrophies. These motion control shoes are like casts, inhibiting natural movement of the foot and further weakening it.

Let me repeat - I don't believe that the running shoe companies are evil entities out to harm us. I do believe that some are reacting badly to the barefoot phenomenon. I'm really surprised that they are not seizing the moment to create a new lines of minimalist shoes. If they continue this behavior then I guess the so called "nutters" who like minimal/barefoot running will form their own companies. Hmmm. I have a few ideas already....