Saturday, May 31, 2014

Law and Society

Went for a nice easy 5 k, but got lost and did 5 miles.  We started with the law and society group run. Hung with the group at an 840 pace for two miles and then S and J and I decided to chat at a more reasonable pace.  Beautiful day, ran over the Hennepin Bridge, then along the Mississippi. I'm trying to recruit J and S who do consumer credit to the runningprofs fold.  Oh, and most importantly, the calf held up!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Max, Becky, I'll be in DC arriving 6/7 leaving 6/11. Should be recovered and running again by then.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

3 shoes, one painful massage, and a 10 miler

  I went to Fleet Fleet the other day to buy some socks and body glide and tried a bunch of shoes without actually buying any for a change.  First up was the New Balance 980 which I think Ted blogged about.  They bill it as a minimalist maximalist shoe.  Which make no real sense but I get what they are driving at.  It weighs 8.8 ounces but has a ton of cushion in the sole and the 4 mm drop that I prefer.  Not too mushy a feel, good support, but definitely a notch more structure and weight than Saucony Kinvaras which I have used for the past couple of years.  I would consider this for a training show but not for racing.  Only real objection was that the tow box was a little narrow for me.

Next up was the Saucony Virata zero drop true minimalist show.  This is basically the completely flat slightly lighter version of the Kinvara.  They had a pair in my size at half price which would have been $45.  Nearly bought this one but figured I wasn't going to get around to really this out for another three weeks until after my next half on June 7th so tried it on the tread mill.  I know the difference between a 4 mm drop and a flat shoe is trivial but it felt weird even if entirely in my head.

Finally took the Kinvara 5 out for a spin on the store tread mill.  The odd number models of the Kinvara have always given me trouble but this one looked good.  They kept the basic design the same as the 4 and replaced some of the sides with mesh instead of regular material and plastic saving a little weight and making a little more breathable.  Felt the same as the pair of 4s I wore into the store so put it on my birthday list with my in-laws.

Two days later I was on the massage therapist hoping for some relief for my super tight calves with a new massage guy who is also a running coach.  We had a nice talk and he beat the carp out of me for a solid hour leaving me actually bruised in a few spots.  This is the first time I ever needed an off day following a massage.  I am sure he did some good but I got the sense that he wasn't really listening and had kind of one speed for all comers. 

2 days later I did a slow 10 miler as I enter a 2 week taper for the spring 13.1.  This is my second half of the year after the Polar half in January.  Last September did a 2:03 half and then was laid low by kidney stones.  The Polar half was just an endurance contest so June 7th is my first real race of the year and the launching pad for my farewell Chicago marathon this October.  In the event of disaster will consider running 5-6 halves as an alternative to continuing to beat myself trying to get to the starting line of a full marathon.

Hoping for a not hot early June run on a great course that starts at the South Shore Cultural Center a few blocks from where my grandparents used to live on the south side and heading through Jackson Park, Hyde Park and north on the Outer Drive to 35th street and back.

The 7-Minute Workout

A year ago Gretchen Reynolds reported for the NY Times on a "scientific" workout program that can be completed in 7 minutes.  Brett Klika et al. studied  the effects of high intensity circuit training as a substitute for the normally prescribed 150 minutes/week of moderate -- or 75 minutes/week of high --  intensity exercise.

The rationale for the study is that busy adults may not be able to fit the prescribed weekly workouts into their schedules.  Klika et al. sought a program that would replace the prescribed weekly minimums while accomplishing the same goal.

Here is the 7-minute workout.  (Note: it takes 8 minutes if done as prescribed.)

The following is an example of a 12-station HICT program. All exercises can be done with body weight and implements easily acquired in almost any setting (e.g., home, office, hotel room, etc.). The exercise order allows for a total body exercise to significantly increase the heart rate while the lower, upper, and core exercises function to maintain the increased heart rate while developing strength.
Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between bouts. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.
1. Jumping jacks Total body
2. Wall sit Lower body
3. Push-up Upper body
4. Abdominal crunch Core
5. Step-up onto chair Total body
6. Squat Lower body
7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body
8. Plank Core
9. High knees/running in place Total body
10. Lunge Lower body
11. Push-up and rotation Upper body
12. Side plank Core
(Quoting Klika et al.)

The Reynolds summary in the Times gives pictorial illustrations of the various exercises, though most are well known to all of us here at RP.

P__ found this program a few weeks back and shared it with me.  I've been on a 7-minute workout frenzy for the past 14 days and P__ has found it sufficiently convenient to make her a daily practitioner.

My assessment is as follows:  this is a kick in the pants.  Doing it two or three times (I take ~90"-2' rest in between) is a 20- or 30-minute blast similar to a good day at the track.  And the creators accomplished their goal of making something that fits into a busy schedule:  since finding this P__ has been on a 6-day-per-week frenzy that seemed impossible when the workout was "run for 30 minutes."

But it's not a magic bullet, either.  Note the fairly modest goal -- create a workout that serves most purposes but still fits with busy schedules.  Like any new program, this one to me feels hard because it is new; when it starts getting easier it will probably be time to move on.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don't Understand Why Smart Students Can Be So Dumb on Finals

Almost done grading my antitrust finals.  While there are a couple of spectacular ones, I don't understand how every single student thought Section 3 of the Clayton Act applied to a tying arrangement involving services rather than goods.  This was a 24 hour take home open book final  so there is no reason not to actually read the statute before writing about it. 

The other thing that drives me crazy is the tendency to quote some black letter law and then simply state some conclusion when most of the points are gained through actually analyzing why the student thought something was or was not per se unlawful, why the relevant market was or not web based restaurant reservation systems, or why an exclusive dealing contract violated the rule of reason.

The final thing that drives me crazy is the failure to be complete.  So you think something is per se unlawful and explain why.  Good for you.  But the even better answer would go on to analyze the same agreement under some form of the rule of reason as well just in case the court or prof happens to disagree with your first argument..

Since these things drive me crazy, I explain them at length during the semester, the review session, and on the instructions to the final (which they have in advance).  And absolutely nothing changes.

I don't think I am just being cranky or idiosyncratic.  To state black letter law and state a bald conclusion as if you have accomplished something special is just bad lawyering.  So is failing to analyze alternative ways to solve the same problem.

Besides whining, I would welcome any suggestions on how to achieve a higher percentage of answers that actualy reflect something more than regurgitation of canned outlines.  Do I really have to be as literal as post some kind of power point on how to answer an exam question?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Busy Week

Friday                     J's prom.
Saturday                  Loyola Graduation.
Sunday                    Sag runs 1:36 half on his birthday. 
                               Waller gives Sag signed copy of George Will's book on Wrigley Field.
                               Waller lumbers 11 in tune up for June 7th half.
Monday                   Waller takes first long bike ride of the year.
                                Waller eats with colleague at Hot Doug's which is closing in the fall
                                Waller begins grading.
 Tuesday                   Besides running how will I procrastinate tomorrow?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Well, That was Slow . . .

So here is the requested report on the Brooklyn Half.  The day was a mixed bag.  On the plus side, it  was a gorgeous day on one of my favorite courses.  I finished, found the SBRC and Brooklyn Tri folks camped out next to each other at the pub, and had two celebratory beers before lunchtime.  And, most importantly, my left heel behaved and did not cause any distress.  Considering I didn't run a mile from December through most of March, this is a victory.  On the minus side, it was my slowest half ever, by a lot, and still wiped me out.  The only time I've run a slower half was at the end of a half-iron man. I got off to a decent start pace, until mile 1.5 when my right calf cramped.  I backed it down and resolved to watch the entire first wave go by.  The calf let go after another mile or two, and I settled in.  At about mile 9, I started feeling more confident, so I started to raise my cadence only to have the calf tweak again in a different spot.  I settled back down and reminded myself that this was just supposed to be  a training run . . .  Still, who knew that 10 minute miles could be so, um, rugged.  I'm trying not to read too much into the day, and reminding myself that it's May, and I have a whole summer ahead.    I'm not too worried about the calf.  The cramps were in the big part of the muscle and will heal soon enough, I think.

We await the Brooklyn Half report!

I'm results stalking and I see congrats to Ted are in order--finishing a half-marathon only a couple of months back into running is always impressive. We expect the nitty gritty details!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Extra Stuff

I'm just now heading back to the Bikram (hot yoga) studio for the first time in ~18 months.  This article from Ellie Greenwood, who in 2012 set the course record in the grand-daddy of 100-mile ultras Western States, seems apropos.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Can we learn from the Roadrunner?

PT-cum-running form coach says I need my feet to contact the ground directly under my center of gravity.  That will produce:

  1. A forward lean from the ankles, unless I want to fall over backward when accelerating;
  2. A bent-leg foot strike, reducing jarring on the joints;
  3. A long follow-through on the back end, with the entire stride length being behind me instead of split evenly in front and behind;
  4. A faster turn-over as (a) I don't waste time reaching out in front and (b) I am forced to get my feet down so as not to fall over.

The sensation I am occasionally achieving is one of running more or less erect, speeding up as I lean forward, and slowing down as I lean further back.  The image in my head most recently is a speedometer needle that remains straight but leans as you press on the gas.

Jogging pace.  When I really get moving I hit 65.
Who seems to get it about right?  This guy.
I'd say he is going about 85.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Holy heel strike

This is from a 10k Town and Gown in Oxford today.   My theory is that the more and more weight I've put on through rowing and the more my hips tighten up from rowing, the more and more I'm heel striking.   I was hardly ever a heel striker until I started rowing.   I'm also slower than I've every been, and I attribute that to carrying so much more weight and obvs less running training.   (Not age of course.)   Anyhoo, time to dig out the old posts from Max re those funky shoes that force you back on the the forefoot, but they were just so so expensive esp here in the UK.   I saw a recent post from Max about other shoes but even then I wondered if they were worth it and maybe I should just concentrate on trying to run more on forefoot, runhipsfirst always, and do some barefoot workouts on a grassy track, but not so much that PF comes back in earnest (it makes the occasional return so I always tape now).   What do you think?

Life on the Run

The third Haifa-Loyola competition workshop went well with two days of serious discussion of interesting papers with publication opportunities yet to be determined.  For a change, I was not completely crippled by jet lag because I took 2 days in Tel Aviv before heading up to Haifa.  Rather than push myself I stayed near the beach and enjoyed the relative quiet of Israeli independence day and used a couple of beach runs to reset my body clock.  The longer of the two runs I went from the north end of the beach by the Hilton down to the old city of Jaffa and back.  My turn around on the small hill by St Peter's Russian church.  Really nice 7-8 miler.  Sadly no real pictures available.  Now back to more prosaic longer run today back in Chicago.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Upstart had an intriguing business model permitting investment in the future income streams of people who were going places.  I kept meaning to put a few dollars at risk as an experiment and I also kept meaning to incorporate some discussion of Upstart in one of my classes.  Or maybe even to write an article.  None of those things happened.

The very early "assets" (people -- yes, it is weird) were true gems.  Ms. So-and-so might have graduated summa from Princeton, spent three years creating pure drinking water systems in Africa, and entered b-school with a plan already drafted for optimizing water distribution to California agriculture.  Mr. Such-and-such might have left the military after a successful career as a non-commissioned officer and have a business plan for repurposing surplus military equipment to improve the lives of indigenous peoples in the Amazon.  Or whatever.  The point is that they would be classic low-cap investments with real upside potential, socially conscious investment value, and a need for equity investment to make it work.

Over the past couple of years the Upstart assets became pretty dull.  Joe would be a 19-year-old switching to a Computer Science major at the University of Verygoodstatecollege and want to avoid student loans.  Sally would be a 22-year-old entering law school with a credible chance of a top-10% graduation GPA.  No high-flier equity bets here, but a good chance of a steady income stream.  Thus, a safe but not exciting investment.

Any surprise, then, that I received this note today from Upstart?  Could there be a clearer picture of when equity investment is appropriate and when debt investment is appropriate?

We’re excited to let you know about the availability of fixed rate loans on the Upstart platform. We launched this product on April 23rd, and we already have a number of loans you can invest in on the site.
The online lending market is growing very rapidly (per this article from Sunday’s NY Times), and we see a significant opportunity to leverage education-related variables to identify and lend to high quality borrowers with minimal credit history and work experience. Early response to our fixed-rate loan product is very encouraging.
After significant soul searching, we concluded that it’s best to focus our efforts on the fixed-rate loan product. As of today, we have decided to discontinue offering income share agreements on the Upstart platform.
If you have any questions, please contact us at

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Shoe Reports -- NB 890v4

Okay, following Max's lead, I tried a new pair of shoes this morning.  The NB 890v4s I got for free in the swag bag for leading a training run a few weeks back.  Normally I'm dubious about free shoes, but these fit the basic profile for me -- neutral, light, but not full on minimal.  I won't give the full history, but when I tried them on they reminded me of a light version of an old favorite New Balance line (can't remember the numbers).  The key element in those shoes, and in these, was a wide forefoot with a lot of padding to the outside.  The effect was to roll the foot in toward the ball of the foot on toe off.  This is a big help for me, as I have a tendency to roll out.  I've been running in Mizuno Wave Riders, which I've liked, but with the orthotics, the heel drop was a bit excessive, and the forefoot a bit narrow.  The 890s report an 8mm heel drop, again, not minimal, but not the 12 or 13 that is standard with a traditional trianer.

Short version.  I really loved them.  I took them out for a seven mile run, and my stride felt natural for the first time in months.  They accepted the orthotics easily, and I did not feel pulling in my heel, even when I opened up my stride.  I think I'll stick with these for a while, and report back after a few more miles.

Run Report: Asics DS Racer. V3 to me.

DS Racer 10.  Picture downloaded from
I have already reported that I am breaking in three new pairs of shoes this spring -- the Hoka One Ones, the New Balance Minimus, and the Asics DS Racer.

I reported on the New Balance Minimus a few days back, which I will reprise in a phrase:  they will have a definite place in my rotation for the rest of 2014 and I may stock the closet with a few pairs for future use.

The Hokas need a little more use before I am comfortable writing them up.  Watch this space in a few weeks.

But after a day running errands -- run to doctor, run to metro, run from metro to PT, run to metro, run from metro home -- for a total of ~5 miles, I am comfortable giving a first run(s) report on the DS Race.  I like them.  They are not exciting.  But they are a worthy heir to the Asics racing flat line.

A 10c History of Asics Racing Flats

The following is unburdened by any research, which means two things:  it may not be quite accurate, but to the extend it is accurate it is based on first-hand knowledge.

Asics made several versions of the DS Trainer, a light-ish weight high mileage shoe.  I started running in them in about 2008, which I am pretty sure was version 14.  The shoe has asymmetrical lacing, which I liked but which Asics abandoned shortly thereafter.  It was ~10 ounces.  I liked it because it was the first time I realized that dropping 1/10 of a pound on each foot could make running feel like flying.  Unfortunately, after filling my closet with four pairs at a "endangered sale," I lost my enthusiasm for the shoe.  Spencer, I think, has observed that the shoes feel mushy, which is precisely my more recent reaction.  Anybody want a NOS Asics trainer in size 11.5?  How about two?

Asics has made the DS race for a few versions as well.  I started on them with version 8 in about 2010.  I loved them.  Who knew I could feel perfectly comfortable without mattresses under my feet when running?  Version 8 hugged the feet well and I never experienced "overstriking" problems from the lesser cushioning.  If anything, I learned when wearing these shoes how to put my feet down gently.  I'm tempted to say they were fast -- V8 was my shoe in two marathons in 2010 and two in 2011, including a PR at Marine Corps 2011 -- but I can't uncouple the shoe from my post-Dublin return to running a lot.
Racer 8.  Photo from
Racer 8 got replaced and quickly became hard to find.  Until today:  in pulling up photos for this blog post I found them on Amazon in my size.  Barely avoided ordering a new pair.

Next was Racer 9.  This update was a huge disappointment.  First, I hate the color scheme.  I am reminded of a line of dialogue from an Encyclopedia Brown story that, for some reason, I have carried in my head since elementary school. "Green and blue -- the colors.  Ugh!  They clash!"  

Racer 9.  Photo from
Call me old-fashioned, but running shoes should be white with accents.  Second, Asics somehow changed the upper.  Racer 9 did not hug my foot the way 8 did.  I have never liked this shoe.  I raced it in Boston in 2012, the hot year, and ended up with my first lost toenails since the Flying Pig marathon in 2000.  To be fair, I ran that race completely soaked from sweat and water poured overhead for cooling, so it may be that no shoe would have been up to the task.  End note on Racer 9:  after moving on to true slippers including the Zoot Ultra Speed, these have come to feel more supportive.  I have had a few good runs in them while recovering from surgery this past month.

Asics also made the Hyperspeed for a few versions.  I owned the 5.  Currently the 6 is out, but only specialty shops carry them.  (I've had good luck with in the past.  They have free shipping and appear to be beating Zappos prices by ~8%.)  Road Runner Sports does not carry them for reasons that confound me.  I once heard that the Hyperspeed was Ryan Hall's shoe of choice, which I cannot confirm.  I ran V5 twice in Big Sur.  I loved those shoes, although they were black and orange -- Halloween colors!  The Hyperspeeds did not hold up well as I have tried in the past two years to relearn how to strike the ground each stride.  On the other hand, a 6-ounce-ish shoe that lasted through two marathons is not too terrible.

Hyperspeed 6.  Photo from

Version 6 is still visible, but the sunrise yellow is better than halloween orange or whatever you call that blue color on the DS Racer.  All I can do as I draft this not to buy the 6, which I had heretofore believed was not available.

Somewhere Asics took a detour into shoes for the triathlon market.  I own a pair of the Noosa Light tri shoes.  Whomever at Asics was in charge of this disaster should be sent to peel potatoes for a season.  They are flat, dull, and ugly.  I would not wear them racing triathlon -- Zoot is so far superior that it is silly even to experiment -- and I am not sure I would wear them racing anywhere else.  Nope, the Noosa Tri is an ugly footnote that proves to me the limits of internet shopping.  Maybe I can use them in a Tough Mudder race one day and then dispose of them.

And finally the shoe of the day:  the DS Racer 10.  Asics has not improved on the color scheme, except that at least red and yellow go together and silver is a rational color choice for the logo.  You can say one thing about shoes that look like this:  you are shamed into running faster than you otherwise might.

Same picture up top.  Still looks like a Jolly Rancher.
At $110 list, they ain't cheap.  I'm intrigued by the progression of pricing for racing flats.  When I started buying them in 2009, they were reliably cheaper than trainers.  Asics (and other manufacturers?) has hooked us and is now moving us back into the 3-figure price range.  With VIP pricing on Road Runner Sports I got these below $100, but not in the $70 range that I am comfortable with.  (I do note that the Hyperspeeds are still available well below $90.  Maybe I need to return to that model.)

The weight is down.  I used to think of the DS Racer as a mid-7 ounce shoe.  These are mid-6.  (The Hyperspeeds, above, were mid-6 when I had them and are now mid-5.  All shoes seem to be dieting at about the same 1 ounce/3 years rate.)  Kudos to Asics for silk-screening on the logo instead of sticking us with a sew-on appendage that does nothing but add poundage.  They feel light on the foot.  It is counterintuitive that one ounce (1/2 ounce per foot) matters, but it does, and in particular when I am trying to work on keeping my feet off the ground more when I run.  A high kick on the follow-through is easy in these.

Compared to other shoes that I am running in, these swaddle my feet.  The Minimus (recent report) grip just enough to keep the foot above the foam, but not enough to avoid blisters on a humid day!  The Hokas, which look sort of like a throwback to uber-control and uber-cushion shoes, have a similarly permissive upper.  My Zoot triathlon shoes, in which I ran for most of 2013, are quite literally a slipper, with no laces at all.  So the DS Racers' more rigid upper, six lace-holes, and narrower construction feel something like lacing into a pair of roller blades.  (Yes, when I last roller-bladed we had laces, not buckles.)  The good news is that the closer fit permitted me to run today despite a not-yet-fully-subsided blister from Saturday.

In contrast with the blah Noosas, the Racer 10 feels somehow lively.  The shoe is not a mere wedge of foam tied onto my feet, but a moving extension of my foot-pad.  If I stretch my toes to reach the ground, flex them to gain purchase, or extend them to push off, the shoe moves with them.  I like the sensation.  A lot.  (I need to re-try the Racer 9 to confirm that this is an improvement over that.  I think it is.)

The heel-to-toe drop is not huge but neither is it minimal.  I don't find it reported -- I suppose when you advertise a shoe as a racing shoe and not as a minimalist shoe you don't get into that kind of reporting.  I would say ~7 mm.  More than the Minimus 10v2.  Less than nearly any running "trainer" on the market.  Little enough to be basically meaningless if you are striking fore-foot first.

I will run many miles in these in 2014.  I hope a few of them are fast enough to justify the "Racer" branding!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

12 Miles

Small victories continue, at least if you look at them in a glass half full kind of way.  Ran 12.1 miles with C___ this morning.  Beautiful day! Indeed about as nice a day for a run as there can be.  Temperature in the mid-50s to low-60s, blue sky, puffy clouds, and gajillions of runners out looking fitter than me.  There's a story about Frank Lloyd Wright asking to be housed in a particular building on a famous college campus (actually I've heard the story about multiple buildings on multiple college campuses), so that he wouldn't have to look at it.   Anyway, ran at a pretty slow pace, worked on keeping my weight forward, and landing on my toes.  I am doing this in shoes with a normal (13mm) drop.  When you add in my orthotics. I'm getting a lot of lift.  In order to avoid having to get way up on my toes, I didn't really worry about whether my heel was touching down after the foot plant, but still this did seem to force me to exaggerate the lean a bit.  I may switch to the New Balances I got free a few weeks ago, with a 10mm drop to see if that feels more natural.

I'm still a bit nervous about digging out the true minimals (Kinvaras and Brooks Pure Flow) from my closet, because I'm afraid that they'll pull too much on the Achilles. . .

The good news is that I completed the run with minimal discomfort, and no more achiness than is appropriate for a two hour run.  The bad news is that my pace/heart rate ratio is still way off. I guess that's another way of saying I'm out of condition.  Which is another way of saying I got fat this winter. . .   Oh well.  Hopefully time will cure this problem . . .

Red Bull Wings for Life Race

Anything having to do with Red Bull has turned me off since I mistakenly accepted a cup of the stuff at mile 10 of the run leg of the Pacific Crest 1/2 iron triathlon.

But I'm coming around, starting with the guy who jumped off a balloon at 100,000 feet above the ground.

This race nearly has me convinced.  It is a world-wide event with everybody starting at precisely the same time (10 am GMT) and running at a set minimum pace until they cannot hold pace any longer.  Sort of.

Here are the rules in short form:

The Wings for Life World Run is a unique running concept with a unique set of rules.  Please make sure to carefully read and understand the rules to ensure your successful participation in this great event!  Below are some highlights as well as a link to download the full detailed rulebook:

  • The Wings for Life World Run will start simultaneously around the World at 10 AM UTC (6:00 AM ET).
  • The Catcher Car will begin its pursuit of runners in each race simultaneously around the World 30 minutes after the start (10:30 AM UTC / 6:30 AM ET).
  • Runners will reach their individual "finish line" once they are overtaken by the Catcher Car.
  • A runner's local and global result is determined by the distance they were able to cover before being overtaken by the Catcher Car.

  • Participants will be divided into Men and Women with winners in both categories.  There will not be participant divisions based on age or other similar factors.
  • All runners must be at least 18 years of age on Race Day.
  • The man and woman who are able to cover the most distance before being overtaken by the Catcher Car will be the global champions of the Wings for Life World Run.

A fuller read of the rules (at this link) shows how diabolical this is.  Runners start 30' before the follow car.  When the car starts, it begins at just slower than a 6'/mile pace.  It speeds up every hour until, at 3:30 pm GMT, it reaches a top speed of 21.75 mph -- under a 3' mile.  When the car catches you, you are out.  The winner, of course, is the one who lasts the longest.

You can calculate how the car will progress:  in the first 1/2 hour it goes nowhere; then it covers 15 kilometers between 30 and 90 minutes; then 16 kilometers from minutes 91 to 150; and 17 kilometers from 151 to 210.  At 2 1/2 hours the car is 31 km (17 miles) in, at 3 hours it is 39.5 (25 miles) in, and at 3.5 it is 48 km (30 miles) in.  Then the car goes on a sprint to catch the leaders at 20 km/hour -- thus hitting 58 km (36 miles) at 4 hours, 68 km (43 miles) at 4.5 hours and 88 (55 miles) at 5.5 hours -- and finally running people down at 35 km/hour if anybody survives until 3:30 pm.  

Where would you be when you got caught?  Where will the top athletes be?  Even if the courses are flat and the weather is good, I am guessing the top talent falls before the final sprint begins at 3:30.  Don Ritchie (Britain, 1983) holds the 50-mile world record in a blistering 4:50, and he lacked the psychological challenge of not knowing when he would be done.  Holding a 6'/mile pace in the face of uncertainty seems just short of possible.

Why is this so cool?  For the regular amateur athlete you just get to run until you get overtaken, which is at least unique.  For the competitors the rules are the same, but you have no way of knowing how your competition -- which may be in an entirely different forum -- is faring.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Balance Minimus 10v2

I'm back on my yearly tour of "what's light and new" and after today I have a run in the New Balance Minimus 10v2 on which to report.  These shoes weigh 6.5 oz. (at whatever size is normal for weighing -- not my 11.5s, I'm pretty sure) and come in either visibility-vest yellow or a modest-by-today's-standards white with blue accents.  Mine are white and blue.

Summary:  this is a good-looking shoe that runs nicely.  Better, I think the Vibram sole should last a little longer with the challenges of my learning how to put my feet on the ground.

Minimus 10v2 in the white-and-blue option.  Photo from

Runners World reviews them here, including giving more data about weight, composition, and fit.

These are not "true" minimalist shoes in the eyes of purists.  Although they fit like slippers and have zero support, they do retain a 4-5 mm. drop between the heel and the fore-foot.  If you want perfectly flat, New Balance makes the same shoe in a "Zero V2."

The shoe has an interesting opening with asymmetrical lacing -- something Asics brought out several years ago but seems to have abandoned -- and a one-sided tongue.  Thus, you have one slit at which to separate the upper and you tuck the tongue, attached to the inside of the upper, under the outside (left for the left foot, right for the right foot) before lacing up.  The laces too are minimalist with four holes per side.

They do feel nice on the feet.  After ~30 minutes running (to the gym and back home after a workout), concentrating on the barely-touch-the-ground approach that the PT advocates and that is designed to produce an under-the-body foot-strike, erect posture through the hips, and a long follow-through, my feet were none the worse for wear.  (That may not sound like much -- after all, I was "barely touch[ing] the ground."  It's not that simple.  I'm doing all sorts of weird things trying to achieve the sensation that has been described to me, with no idea whether I am pulling it off.)

The closest comparison in running feel is to my Newton MV2, a zero-drop ultra-light shoe with Newton's weird ridge below the metatarsals.  I reported on those shoes here.  In my first run in the Newtons, some guy in a car yelled out "you're a really good runner!"  But as Ted has commented, there's something wrong with a shoe that reshapes your foot for you, and when my knee went FUBAR I blamed the Newtons.  I do still have them under my desk and may yet pull them back out.

I like the sturdier soles on the Minimus.  My normal "minimalist" shoe has been a pure racing flat -- the Saucony Kinvara, the Asics Hyper Speed and DS Race, the Brooks T7, and the Zoot Ultra Speed -- and all of them began to take huge abuse when I moved away from hitting the ground heel first and rolling through the foot.  These Vibram soles give *the appearance* of standing up to it.

The idea on low- to zero-drop is this:  a natural foot-strike should be mid- to fore-foot first, with the heel contacting the ground, if at all, only as the foot and ankle absorb the impact.  If you have a wedge under your foot you are either (1) prevented entirely from contacting the ground that way or (2) forced to run way up on your toes -- like wearing a pair of high heels -- to get the forefoot down before the heel hits.  I've been striking the ground mid- or fore-foot first, sometimes by deliberate effort and sometimes as a natural result of other stride changes -- since January 2012.  I do not know that it is the "right" way to run, but it is how I ran my fastest marathon, and it is consistent with other stride enhancements that I am convinced are necessary for my long-term running health.  But just as I enjoy chugging chocolate milk in front of Vegans, let me put my thumb in the eye of minimalist purists:  4 mm. of drop does not affect foot strike.  

So the summary assessment is this: the 10v2 is an uber-light option to imitate running barefoot without the down-sides of blisters and broken beer bottles.  To my view, though, they look almost good enough to be everyday shoes -- kind of like those indoor soccer shoes the cool kids wear, but more in keeping with runner chic.  I may get a second pair for that purpose.

Behind the Headlines

Lilia Shobukhova the three time Chicago marathon women's champ was suspended for blood doping which apparently goes back years covering all her Chicago victories and much more.

On the plus side, Tatyana McFadden who won the Boston women's wheelchair division also won every major marathon this past year and appears unbeatable. Oh, and she won a medal at the Sochi ParaOlympics in skiing.  Truly amazing.

Finally in the non-revenue world of college men's volleyball, Loyola University Chicago plays for the national championship after finishing the season ranked #1.  If all goes well (against Stanford) this would be Loyola's second national championship.  The first was a biggie.  Any of our loyal(a) readers know the answer to this collegiate sports trivia question?