Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pilgrim's Story

In the early 17th century, the Church of England under King James I held total ecclesiastical and political authority in Great Britain. Anyone who opposed the church or the state, such as those who believed in freedom of worship, were heavily persecuted, often unto death. A group of separatists (believing the government should be separate from religion) fled to Holland and lived there as a community for 11 years. About 40 of them felt that living in the New World would give them the greatest freedom, so on August 1, 1620, they sailed on the Mayflower under the lead of William Bradford. While on the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for every member of their new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. This was the Mayflower Compact. The inspiration for this revolutionary document came from the lessons taught in the Old and New Testaments - the ancient Israelites were their example.

When the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, 1620, they were met with a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. During the first winter, one half of the Pilgrims died from cold, starvation and exposure. When Spring came, the Indians showed them how to plant corn, fish for cod, and skin beavers for warmth. Many people have been taught that the first Thanksgiving was a chance for the Pilgrims to thank the Indians for saving their lives. It was actually a devout expression of their faith and gratitude to their God, given in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments.

What schools fail to teach is that the original compact by the Pilgrims called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to community as a whole. They had formed a collective, a socialist society, where everything was owned in common and the fruits of their labors were shared in common. The result of this experiment was failure. 

Bradford discovered that the most intelligent and industrious members of society had no incentive to create or work any harder than the least productive members. Bradford wrote that “this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent.” Young men were reluctant to spend their time and strength working  for other men's wives and children without any recompense. They thought that was an injustice. The Pilgrims decided to scrap this style of government.

In its place, Bradford chose to unharness the power of free enterprise by embracing the capitalistic idea of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land and was permitted to market its own crops and products. The result of this new form of society was success. It made all hands industrious. Much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. In no time the Pilgrims founds they could produce more food than they needed, so they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. Their profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. Their success attracted more Europeans and began the “Great Puritan Migration.”

Thomas Hooker was one of those attracted to the new-found freedom and prosperity in the New World. He established his own community in Connecticut. This was the first full-fledged constitutional community and perhaps the most free society the world had ever known. Embodied in his community's foundation were principles such as strict limits on the powers of government, no taxation without representation, due process of law, trial by a jury of peers, and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

The Pilgrims commitment to pluralism (diversity) and individual freedom were streamed into the form of government this great nation fashioned, a government unlike any other the world has ever known, one that cradled a society that has produced the greatest individual prosperity and freedom than any other. Our commitment to those same principles will allow freedom and prosperity to continue to flourish and to keep this nation the greatest on earth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's It Really About? 

This was posted by fellow barefoot runner, Harrish Shetty, at the discussion group called http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/RunningBarefoot/   --  I thought it was excellent, so I am copying it here! 

It is not about "Shoes vs Barefoot"
it is not about " that for millions of years Humans have been running barefoot"
it is not about "that running barefoot teaches you good running form"
It is not about "that running barefoot improves your balance, posture, strength
and stability"
It is not about "faster race recovery with running barefoot"
it is not about "saying goodbye to injuries therefore saving time and money"
it is not about "that you can save money that you spend on running footwear"
It is not about "that there is not enough research that barefoot running is
It is not about "that there is also not enough research that running with shoes
is good"
It is not about "that your feet are your best coach"

Then what is it about???

It is about freedom

It is about being in touch with the Child within
It is about being playful
It is about being amazed and discovering magic
It is about being connected,
It is about dissolving in nature
It is about dancing, gracefully
It is about Poetry in motion
It is about having a smile and not just enduring
It is about being peaceful, joyful
It is about being limitless
It is about simplicity
It is about being vulnerable
It is about being in Love

If you can experience that then it does not matter "to shoe or not to shoe"

Shoeless Shetty

(with a few edits by Me!) 

Monday, June 06, 2011

Fame    -   (meh!)

Some seek it at almost any cost. 
Some avoid it. 
Some (like me) just stumble and fall into it. 

Some time ago I got an email from a newspaper reporter (Mary Ann Albright, Features Writer, The Columbian) asking if she could interview me for an article she was writing on barefoot running. She was happy to find a local barefoot runner and wanted to get my insights about it. We had a nice chat and she asked if I would pose for a photo shoot. The next day I met the photographer at a small local park and he took a gazillion shot of me running towards him, away from him, standing still, showing the bottoms of my feet, running fast, running slow, etc. etc. etc. 

Almost a month later a huge article appeared in our Sunday newspaper - and suddenly everyone I know is congratulating me for being famous. 

I was worried she might write about how insane I was for risking damaging my body or other negative things. I am very happy about the article she wrote. I congratulated her on a job well done. 

Here is the article -- available online to read, at least for now - not sure for how much longer!



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trail Running

Yesterday I hooked up with fellow Northwest BF runner Josh Humbert and friend Dan to run a short section of trails in the Forest Park area in Portland, Oregon.  I have run very few trails in the 7 years of my BF running experience. I felt like a total newby!  Josh was gracious enough to slow way down to accommodate my clumsy efforts. He and Dan floated over the rough stuff with exquisite grace while I seemed to test every sharp rock there!

It was quite cool out, sub 50F (sub 10C) and rainy. The service road from the parking area to the trail head was quite rough and rocky (by my standards). It was maybe 1/4 mile long. The trail itself was a mix of very slimy mud with a few patches of rock & gravel. The constant drizzle of rain only made it more slick as we went along.
We seemed to be more equal on the slimy sections - it was all we could do to keep from slipping right off the trail. There was one section where I became genuinely concerned for my safety. We were going downhill, and gravity was pulling me along faster than I wanted to go. Every time I tried to slow down, my feet started skating across the slick mud. When I stopped slowing down, my speed increased too much, and I knew it would be that much harder to slow down later. I wondered if I was just being a wimp about it when I heard Dan behind me let out a whoop as he also slipped. Josh tried to comfort me by exclaiming several times that this was the most slippery he had ever seen. I wondered what it would be like on a dry, sunny day.

When we got back to the service road and its relative roughness, Dan and Josh glided on ahead of me. I felt like the turtle of the group.

When I was done I found that my left foot had a puncture wound, and it was probably filled with mud. It felt like there might be something solid stuck in there, too. Last night I soaked my foot in calcium hypochlorite powder (pool shock). This converts to "hypochlorus acid" when dissolved in water, and is one of the most effective antibacterial agents (and anti fungal) out there. It has the added benefit that it does not harm healthy tissues at all and it is painless (unlike hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or tincture of iodine.) Last night I sprinkled some calcium hypochlorite powder on a bandaid and slept with it applied directly to the puncture. Voila! No more swelling or pain by morning. I HIGHLY recommend this as a cleansing/healing method. (If you want to try something really "out there" - I know some people who put small amounts of this powder inside of gel capsules and ingest it for health. Search "MMS2" for more info.)

What I learned from yesterday's run:
>  rough surfaces encourage better form, 
>  Josh and Dan are leaps and bounds ahead of me in trail running,
> slimy muddy trails are fun in their own way, very challenging, and something I will not actively search for in the future, and
> trail running has its own unique sense of accomplishment.

Saturday I went out and ran a 10K that was actually a walking event. It was fun, lots of people, lots of stares and friendly comments. I still get a kick out of those people who stare but don't want to be caught staring - and those who have a look of total disgust on their faces (they are just feet, people, pretty common things!)

See you out there!


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Good Run Yesterday! 

I looked up a possible running route by looking at some bicycle trail maps online and then went out to see if they were runnable. I've wanted to find a decent route from Vancouver across the river into Portland. The routes I have tried in the past were not all that great. This one looked promising so I decided to give it a go.

It was mostly very barefoot friendly, except for a couple of sections. I was glad for our heavy rainfall this past week because it seemed to have helped wash a lot of the ice sanding grit off, giving me some smooth pavement where it usually would be very sharp and difficult.

One section of sidewalk was covered by a large puddle about 2 inches deep and twenty feet wide. It was under the freeway where beggars congregate. One of them saw me splashing through the water and said "THAT's what I like to see!"  Huh??

At one point a police car came by, and the officer slowed down to look at me. Probably wondering if I was a danger to myself or to society. I smiled at him and he drove on.

Once I had traversed the out-going part of my planned route, I was needing to find a bathroom. Knowing I would more likely find one if I kept on running, I kept on running. Several places said they did not have facilities open to the public, so I kept on running. Finally I found a place that would let me in, much to my relief, and I was ready to turn around for my return trip.

I took a few different turns on the way back, one of which crossed over an industrial road that had the worst wear on it from all the big rigs driving on it. I just sucked in it and ran smoothly over one of the worst surfaces I've ever encountered. Luckily it was only across about four lanes of road, so it was quite short.

The run back seemed much easier than the run out for some reason, until the last mile or so. I think my mindset has something to do with how well I ran. As long as I felt I had a long ways yet to go, I just settled in and ran easily. When the end of my run got near, I  anticipated being finished a little too early, and so my body said "Done!"

My total distance, according to www.runningmap.com, was 12.25 miles. It was mostly over very wet surfaces, including some water puddles and one section of soft slick mud. I was lucky it had stopped raining for most of the run.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this run! 


12 Mile Run - Vancouver to North Portland 

Monday, January 10, 2011

BTW: Happy New Year

Saying happy new year is kind of trite. What else are you going to say? Crappy new year? 

It fits in the same category as people telling me "Hey - you don't have any shoes on!" (like I don't know?) ((I thought something seemed different ... holy crap! where'd my shoes go?))

So, at the risk of sounding trite and obvious, happy new year to anyone reading this lonely post. I hope my saying it makes your day, or year!

Another Minimalist Shoe Idea

I heard about some kind of shoe/slipper made by a company called Zemgear. http://www.zemgear.com/

They are less expensive than Vibrams, more expensive than water shoes. They come with different colored stripes, and they have a high ankle model. I got a low ankle pair and tried them out. Fantastic for cold weather running! I chose black on black. My wife calls them my duck feet for some reason.

Easy to put on, easy to take off, fit is superb, feel is great, extremely light weight, nicely warm, and I can easily stuff them into a fanny pack without feeling like I'm lugging a bowling ball around. I really like how they hug the arches of my feet. Their design is so simple, I believe I could replace the sole myself if it wears out. In fact, by turning them inside out, it would be easy to duplicate the size and shape of each component part and just make me some new ones out of any material I choose. I think I would like fleece; or maybe felted wool. 

My only problem with them is they soak up moisture like a towel. Not good for wet weather running. This means not good for about 80% of my runs up here in the northwest! But considering I only got them for running during the most extreme frigid weather, they should work out just fine. We only get a few days of truly frosty, sub-freezing weather here. I can run in everything else without any foot coverings. I'm not sure how they would do on icy surfaces yet.

Happy running to you - in any temperature!