Sunday, November 29, 2009

Something about a leather sole!

Wow. There is something absolutely energetic about running in an all leather shoe. Running in an all-leather primal moc feels far more barefoot than running in Vibram Five Fingers or even a moccasin with a rubber sole. The difference is palpable.

Why? I don't know. Apparently when we walk barefoot, electrons are exchanged between us and the earth, helping us unload whatever we need to and giving us renewed energy. Whatever it is, I can certainly feel that difference when I go barefoot, and this feels similar.

So, what are the drawbacks to an all leather sole? Only one that I've found: slippery when on snow and ice or wet grass/smooth wet rocks. For me, we get a lot of the snow and ice round here, but not much of the others. I'm testing out more options to help with traction with the moccasin and will report back when I learn more.

Another thing that may be a problem for some is if their running technique is heavy/loud rather than light/silent, they will wear through the leather, perhaps more quickly than they are used to. From what I can tell so far, wear seems similar or better than Vibram Five Fingers.

Chuck Perry of Mountain People Footwear is the guy to go to for custom primal running mocs. He already has the all leather, but if you're wanting a rubber sole, we're working on that as an option.

Plus 7 miles
Total: 240.2

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fifty First Viewings of Fifty First Dates

I just finished watching "Fifty First Dates," according to my wife for about the fiftieth first time. For many it's likely a cute movie, using the story device of memory loss for comedy. It is that. But it's also not so far off. There are several places in it, where Lucy is discovering the extent of her injury and of her life, that her raw emotion matches aspects of my own journey.

I don't have short term memory either. I don't remember experiencing things. For me it fades after a few days. I do have conceptual memory and a wide variety of other types of memory that I use to help compensate, including my computer and EverNote. while she discovers she has a daughter, I know I have three daughters (I can even sometimes remember their names!), but I've no idea how old they are. I don't know if I'll come around the corner and see them with play dough, a boyfriend, or a husband. It does add some adventure to the most mundane trip through the house! Grin.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Brilliant Winter Colors

Hard shells of seed pods silhouetted against the dawn sky. I love the crispness of colors in winter, somehow they come through more brilliantly in the crisp dry air.

Plus 13
Total: 233.2

Thursday, November 26, 2009

God's Abundance!

Happy Thanksgiving. I am astonished and humbled by the rich abundance God has poured out on my Beloved and I and our wee ones. Happy Thanksgiving (in Greek, Eucharistia)!

Yesterday plus 3 miles
Today, plus 6.2 miles
Total miles: 222.2

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let it Snow, let it snow...

A gorgeous dusting of snow fell on my run today. Then, at the end, I forgot about small patch of ice (though I'd though of it 10 yards before it then got distracted by something. Idgit.), slid slightly and had to call my wife to get me (a slight slide really messes up my brain because of the constant vertigo). Actually had two people offer to help me, after asking if I was OK. Thank you Pantry and Falls Motel!

Photo above is of the cascading frozen side water fall at the top of Hondo Ave near the water tower.

Plus 4 miles
Total: 213

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Service Dog for Brain Bludgeoned...

I've mentioned him, but I don't think I've said much about my faithful and fearless companion other than his fondness for chasing bear, cougar, deer, and the occasional squirrel when naught more sporting presents itself. Sardonic grin.

Ardie, named after my favorite whisky, Ardbeg, is a Shetland Shepherd, weighs in at a spry 17 pounds when his fur is wet, and is kind enough to put up with me and my brain bludgeoned training that never ends (we don't do "official" training time, just training in real circumstances as they happen.).

Curious folk occasionally wonder, "what can such a wee lad do as a service dog?" Well, quite alot, actually. First, his job is to catch me if I fall. He can only do this once and fortunately hasn't been around to do it when I have fallen. Second, he makes car rides endurable. There is something about his weight and presence in my lap that helps with cutting through the vertigo, helping me last longer in more challenging circumstances (such as a car ride through winding canyon roads which are the only route to the big city round here). He also is a wonderful help when I am out in public, as people pay attention to him, rather than the odd guy with the big, great looking sticks. This allows me to ignore them and go about my business without getting overloaded with an interaction in a busy public area.

Aside from all those practical things, he is a grand companion who is daft enough to put up with me and my quirkiness and accompany me on all my adventures in the Colorado highlands.

 Plus 6.5 miles
Total Mileage: 209

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the Trail Again!

Ahhhhh! That was wondrous! It's been 8 days since I was last able to run. Why the break? My brain was recovering from something -- I suspect it was that I'd spent too much time in the hyperbaric chamber. It's like Goldie Locks and her porridge. Too much is a bod thing, too little doesn't feed the brain enough, so I need the baby bear's portion. Grin. Which for me right now appears to be less than an hour a week, more than an hour a month.

I started off slow, with just three miles. My muscles are saying "Huh?" and feeling good despite themselves. Yes, lads, that's what we do. We run.

Plus 3 miles
Total Milage: 202.5

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How I Organize my External Brain (Computer)

Matthew's comment that the desktop of his brother, who has TBI, is as cluttered as his brain (see this post) seems to be (I know the feeling!), helped me realize just how much I use technology to do the organizing for me.

I dump it all into my documents folder. I make no attempt at organizing anything, other than to label it with tags. It takes very little time and far less thought than navigating a file tree.

I use Leap and Fresh to easily find new or changed files on my computer. They work so well, I don't even realize I'm using them! The screen shot shows Fresh in action, appearing as needed above my desk top, vanishing when done. Beautiful. Also, uniquely Mac, I believe.

What Is Brain Fatigue?

Last night I wasn't doing well. My brain was overloaded and I was hiding out in my "hobbit hole." But nature calls and I worked my way to the bathroom, all of one room over. On my way out gravity was winning handily despite my leaning on the walls, so to get through the doorway I grabbed the vertical trim on the door.

Apparently I've done this before and it had become loose. It pulled out from the door, turned sideways, and broke, sending me sprawling into the hallway. It took about 45 minutes for me to make it the 15 feet into bed -- and that was with some assistance. As a result, today is a very "hard" day, a measure of brain fatigue.

Brain fatigue looks different for every person. Here is what it is like for me. My body stops producing head. Wrap me in all the blankets you want, unless one of them is electric, I will not warm up. Any noise from anywhere and I can't think. I have my ear plugs in now, just to block the sound of the fan on the computer and the heater blower when the dragon in the crawlspace does it's job. When the diesel trucks of the construction workers staying a the town motel a football field away start their rumbling, as they already have, I can't think at all without the ear plugs.

On days like this, in the quieter hours of the morning, I try and write and get a few things done. Beyond that, it will be a day of simply occupying my brain with the cognitive therapy of trying to follow TV shows and movies, and the occasional emails of the brain injury support groups I moderate.

By definition, very few people see this side of brain injury. Most folks only see me when I'm doing well enough to be out and about. They see the 10 minute miles I can run but not the 10 minutes it takes to make the bathroom, 20 feet, one way. Sardonic grin.

No wonder brain injury is misunderstood. The injury is invisible, hidden behind a few layers of my rock-thick skull. The primary effect as the brain becomes more fatigued is that, from my perspective, the world simply gets harder. From other's perspectives, if they don't understand what is going on and why, it looks like I've suddenly stopped wanting to do _______. They have no idea that the sudden flashing glare off the car windshield did my brain in for the day. THings like that don't even register as having happened for most people -- because their brains are able to filter out all that noise.

That's why so many people with brain injury have to endure ignorant and often arrogant claims that they are faking it, pretending, or simply aren't motivated enough. I've had neurologists yell such things at me in front of my family. Thanks -- that will help (even if you were right and not ignoring my brain scans). Why is it neurologists are 10+ years behind in understanding brain injury?

Keep me in your prayers as I recover from the epic journey to the bathroom!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thank God for Brain Backup!

Sometimes things happen that just make you scratch your head, say "Huh", and be amazed that God is God.

The night before last (the morning of Friday the 13th -- do, do, do-do!) I discovered that my dreams can "short circuit me, which has never happened before. I dreamt I was turning on a light and the outlet jolted me with a surge of electricity. My brain literally and figuratively short circuited, both in dreamland and when I woke. I didn't think much of it, and struggled to get up and experience what I could of the day.

When I got to my computer I discovered it could not boot, though it worked just fine the night before. It needed a complete reformatting and reinstall of the Mac OS. Thank God for seamless backup from Apple! They made it easy for me to restore my external brain in a matter of hours.

Nothing else in our house was fried, the computer is on a surge protector that wasn't tripped. I've no idea what happened and it may be a coincidence -- but I tend to go with Anonymous who said "Coincidence is God choosing to work anonymously."

Still having mostly hard days. Perhaps I need a break from the hyperbaric chamber (and shocking dreams. Sardonic grin). Will run when I can, but that's not today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Testing a Primal Moc!

Yesterday I received the first test moccasin from Chuck Perry. He and I have been working for a while on a minimalist running moc. All I can say is "Wow! His craftsmanship really comes through." We're in the final stages of prototyping this one, so here are some pics and my review of them.

Brief description: custom sized, hand stitched, Vibram Cherry sole (prototype has a different sole), resoleable, all leather. Anticipated price: $180.

Putting them on is amazing. The uppers feel like they were made for my foot (they were!). Toes have wiggle room and aren't squeezed, like they are in shoes and to a lesser extent in VFFs. I had mine sized for thick wool socks, as I want to be able to wear them through the winter.

There are no seams in the lower part of the moc. It's all one piece of leather. Beautiful! The heel cups in and is a perfect fit (according to Chuck both of these are possible because of the way he hand stitches it). Not once in my run did it slip or feel too tight.

First, I ran with no sock for about 1.5 miles at 36 degrees F. Feel of the ground was nearly identical to VFF Sprints, but the feel of the moc on my foot was much better. Like with the Sprints, my foot was on the verge of being too cold. I put on my medium weight wool socks. This takes a bit of practice, as I leave some extra sock in the toe to keep it from being too tight on my foot, but I have to wiggle it into the moc so the sock doesn't snug up. Feels incredible and still plenty of toe room to wiggle!

With the sock on, the feel of the ground on rough trail is about halfway between the Vibram Sprint and Trek. The sock definitely adds some cushion. (these can be ordered with a custom thickness to the sole, so if you want Sprint equivalent or Trek equivalent, that can be done. Adding a sock adds cushion, so there is some inherent flexibility there.

Climbing up 1,500 feet in altitude, the temp dropped to around 25 F. I ran on clear rocky trail, snow pack, and ice. My foot temperature remained comfy cosy (but not too hot) through the entire run. Leather tends to breath well and have a wide comfort zone range, especially with a wool sock on.

I tested the ICEtrekkers chains with the Primal Running Moc. By their chart I should use a L for my foot size. I'm inclined to agree, as the Mediums were a bit snug. I'll try the large next. Even too snug, the chains did great an weren't too uncomfortable and did not cause bruising (as they did with the VFFs between my toes).

We hope to make these available to you very soon!

UPDATE (late November, 2009):
We have the double soled leather running mocs ready. If you agree with the running addage that the best pair of running shoes is a leather ballet shoe -- this is the way to go. What are they like to run in? On anything dry, they're phenomenal. On snow and ice, they are slippery (not surprisingly). I simply slid on my chains and go for miles in powder, snow pack, and ice. Because there isn't really any wet grass I haven't tested that or wet rock. I'd bet they would be slippery on smooth wet rock, find on textured wet rock. They wear beautifully and have a replaceable sole (and you could always pray on rubber from the hardware store if you wanted to -- doesn't really help with the grip unless you add some fine sand bits in with it).

We're still doing R&D on the Cherry sole. The question at this point is if/how to make it so it works at least as well as the leather (wear, fit, longevity, durability) because if so, it will address the slippery when wet challenge of just the leather.

To order, contact Chuck Perry at Mountain People Footwear.

Traction Update, December 28, 2009:
I'm finding I much prefer the leather sole and get a lot more traction from it than I expected, especially in snow 25F or colder. For traction I now use Stableicers Lite with velcro over the forefoot to help keep it on, but only when absolutely necessary (which isn't as often as I'd've thought). See the Traction Tag for the latest.

Plus 8.5 miles
Total milage:199.5

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Idea Why, Just Having Brain Fatigue Days

Part of the gift of living with brain injury is the realization (which I suspect is true for all of us) that I only have now. Any plans I may make are utterly contingent on my capacity to advance them, and when I can't they have to be flexible enough to go on 'pause.'

Every winter in the past I've had a "down swing" -- an extended period with fewer "good" days and more "hard" days. I hope this isn't the beginning of that -- I'm hoping that my following the blood type diet has leveled off some of those issues. Time will tell. In the mean time, I get to veg in the "hobbit hole" (my room/office we've sound proofed and where my computer is).

On the plus side, my youngest daughter of 6 weeks is now big enough to short-circuit me! I was trying to hum her to sleep, keeping my head on hers, but she was determined to stay a awake. To proove her point, she suddenly and strongly straightened her legs, unexpectedly moving my head and playing bonkers with my vertigo. Ahhhh -- they grow so fast! Grin.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

As Fast as We Can, As Slow as We Must...

Today was one of those days. I head out, not sure how well I'll do. On days like this I either end up doing fine -- just had to get my brain and body working together, or it simply doesn't happen. The challenge is that over time, what it feels like to be "hard" (brain fatigue wise) and unable to go -- that changes. And not having memory - it can be tricky to figure out. The price for thinking I'm doing better than I am is getting stuck out on a trail with no way home except search and rescue (Thank God that hasn't happened in my 7 years of my own personal extreme sport! Grin.). THe motto "as fast as we can, as slow as we must" is essential -- as is the skill of listening to my body (including brain) and what they are telling me.

I made it a mile out before I realize this was not going to happen today. The good news is, I made it a mile back also! Grin.

The picture is of the sunrise looking up part of the trail. The wonderful, subtle hues of purple and alpine glow (which I was in when I took it) rarely come out -- so I digitally ramped up the saturation to try and somewhat come close to the look and feel. Go figure, it still falls short of the majesty of God's creation!

Plus 2
Total Milage: 191

Friday, November 6, 2009

Running with Abandon!

We've been fantastically warm (50's in the mid morning) -- so the snow is dwindling, slushy and fun. Beauty abounds! The photo is of mountain mahogany and it's fuzzy-tailed seeds glowing in the morning sun.

Plus 4 miles
Total miles 189

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Plus 8 and Ear Plugs that really help!

Today I ran along a road I've not been able to run before. Why? Because the traffic noise and wind chimes along the way were more than my poor brain could handle. However, I've found these ear plugs, which reduce all sounds evenly by 20 decibels, and cost less than $20 delivered.

Unlike my hearing aids programed to filter rather than amplify, these do not amplify wind noise and they do a better job filtering down wind chimes and traffic noise (which tend to be either high or low). It was a lovely 8 miles!

Plus 8 miles
Total: 185

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Winter Wonderland!

Beautiful snow up to my mid-calf once I got to where the sun don't shine (this time of year anyway). Fun powder!

Plus 7 miles
Total miles: 177

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The More the Merrier!

What a wonderful gift to be joined by four people. Three of them are my two daughters and my wife (does the milage of my wife carrying our newest daughter count double? Grin.). And Evan has joined the brain injury brigade in memory of his mother and father-in-law, both of whom were deeply effected by brain injury.

It sure is wonderful to be running in solitude in wondrous company! Thank you, and I look forward to running with may more from afar.

Plus 5 miles
Total milage: 170

Plus 3 miles
Total: 7 miles

Monday, November 2, 2009

Plus 7.5

I ran 4 miles yesterday and 3 this morning. Had a few "hard" days before that (measure of brain energy).

Plus 7 miles
Total Milage: 170