Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nike Mayfly, Nike Free 3.0 and Nike Flyknit

Nike. Nike. Nike. I confess. I've been a fan of Nike for as long as I can remember. Nikes generally fit my feet well, and the Swoosh is cool. I've worn other brands over the years and I will again, but I'm usually happy with my decision to purchase Nike.

My current choice for running footwear (and I do choose footwear right now) is a rotation of 4 pairs of Nike Mayfly. "Four pairs of shoes!", you might exclaim."Did you win the lottery, Kelly?", you might ask. No, no. The shoes are reasonably priced. You can find them online for less than $50 per pair. No links here, Google it.

The price is attractive to me, but more so, they are a very lightweight shoe, around 5 ounces. There isn't a whole lot to the shoe. They are a minimal shoe, but not in that category. The Nike Mayfly is a racing shoe by design. Nike warns (on the shoebox and on the shoes) not to run more than 100 km in these shoes, or 10x 10Ks. They were not designed for durability which is why I'm rotating four pairs. They were designed to be fast.

The upper is a material uncommon to most shoes and unfamiliar to me. As best I can describe the upper material, it reminds me of a plastic shopping bag. The material seems like it would tear easily, but over the past few months, this has not been a problem. I've been running sockless in these shoes. On one occasion, I got a few blisters after a long run. I'm thinking about adding a thin sock (Softwick) for this reason, and for the fact that the shoes are getting pretty smelly. I intend to run a fall marathon with these shoes.

Is this shoe the end-all, be-all for me. Not really. It seems like runners are always thinking and planning ahead. When's my next race? Am I training appropriately? Am I fueling correctly? Can I get my body lighter? Should I wear shoes (Ok, not many runners ask that question, or answer it negatively anyway)? When should I get another pair of shoes? What shoe should I buy? Well, I'm no different.

I visited The running store in Cookeville today, Foothills Running Company. Brian Shelton opened it last year and seems to be doing pretty well. Brian is a very friendly guy and apparently loves to talk running. He was wearing a pair of Nike Free 3.0. That just may be my next running shoe.
Down the road, I'm really intersted in this new shoe Nike introduced this year, the Flyknit. But with these other Nikes that cost over $100 I may have to start playing the lottery, or just save my pennies. Or maybe I can convince Nike corp to send me a free pair in return for my "fair-and-balanced" review on my popular blog. Yeah right, as if. But I'll do my part for Nike, check out their creative shoe porn.

I'm curious. What do you think of Nike running shoes, or just Nike in general. Leave your commets below, and have a great day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eat More Kale

You have probably heard in the news about Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, and his comments on family. He said,
We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
So, this successful businessman is taking some heat for his opposition to same-sex marriage. He is shunning at least what, 10% of potential customers who could be gay, and maybe more from folks who support same-sex marriage, but are not gay.

Same-sex marriage is definitely a hot political topic. I understand why the press focused on it, but I'm bewildered by his latter comment, "we are married to our first wives." First wives? So Mr. Cathy doesn't support divorced families? Is he interested in potentially shunning more than half his customers who are divorced?

Maybe he just doesn't choose his words very carefully. Or, maybe he isn't sensitive to people who don't fit into his ideals. Maybe he's a bully. Consider the video below, which humorously accounts Chick-fil-A's lawsuit against a T-shirt guy in Vermont for making T-shirts with the slogan "Eat More Kale".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Watermelons in My Garden

Check out these melons. This is the first summer I've attempted watermelons in my garden. I'm not sure what took me so long. Well, maybe it was my nomadic lifestyle.

So I'm not sure when to pick em. They are getting big and green. I'm thinking of picking the biggest one off of the vine tomorrow to see how sweet it is. Any comments on what I should do?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Michael Arnstein The Fruitarian Finishes 16th in 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon

One thing I love about the internet is following obscure events that I would normally be oblivious to. For the past two days, I was following one of those events every few hours, the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon. Have you heard of this one, that really long race in really hot temperatures that is mostly uphill. It starts in Death Valley, California in the middle of July at 282 feet below sea level and finishes 135 miles later at 8,360 ft on Mt. Whitney. For a better description, listen to Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes":

If you finish it, your reward is a belt buckle. It seems to me that only really crazy people bother to sign up for this race. And so I thought it was fitting when I heard that a guy who only eats fruit signed up. Michael Arnstein, the guy who calls himself The Fruitarian, finished this race a few hours ago as I write this post in 16th place out of 96 crazy people runners. His time was just over 31 hours.

Michael Arnstein in middle, photo by BW135 RD Chris Kostman
Honestly, I don't think that Michael Arnstein is crazy. I admire his conviction and have been learning about his lifestyle through the internet. And look at the guy, does fruit make you fat? Yeah, he runs a lot and burns a lot of calories, but he also eats a lot of fruit (see my previous post about him). And he's in very good company. Check out his race pace compared to the overall BW135 champion, Mike Morton, as well as former champions Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed. I also added Art Webb's race pace to the graph. Art was a little slower. He's just some guy who has completed 14 Badwater races and set a personal best time and age group record this year. He did this at the age of 70.

It's curious that all five runners had a similar overall pacing trend. It's not a coincidence when you consider the elevation profile of the race route.

Michael Arnstein finished in 16th place, one place ahead of Pam Reed and four places behind Dean Karnazes. For awhile, as the pace chart shows Michael was ahead of Dean. Congratulations to all the Badwater finishers, but especially to the guy that I was rooting for, The Fruitarian.

I think one of Michael's motivations for all this running is to show what's possible on an all fruit diet. But I'm sure not everyone will share his perspective. Some will say, "Hey, he probably woulda beat Karnazes and others had he swallowed a plug of meat." What do you think? Does Arnstein's fruit diet help his running performance, doesn't matter or hurts it? Leave your comments below.

Monday, July 16, 2012


You may have noticed a little ad over on the right-hand side bar, or an add previewing my Youtube videos. That's because I added monetization to my blog and Youtube videos recently. This is more of an experiment than a get rich quick scheme. Maybe only if I acted like Youtube Fred would this be a get rich quick scheme.

I'm curious to know what the value of traffic is. My hypothesis is that a view is worth a fraction of a penny, like maybe $0.001. My blog has existed for just over a year and I've had about 13,000 views. So if I monetized from the beginning, I would have raked in $13.

There's one problem with this calculation. It's something called a payment threshold. Adsense (Google's monetization department) doesn't write a check until you have surpassed $100, or in the case of my hypothesis: 100,000 views. And I don't know if there's an expiration date on views or if it accumulates from month to month?

So can you help a brother out and click away?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hubei Provincial Museum

Wuhan is in the Hubei Province of China. During my stay, there were a few days were I had the opportunity to be a tourist. On one of those days, I visited the Hubei Provincial Museum.

Hubei Museum on Blue Sky

It is one of the best known museums in China with over 200,000 ancient cultural relics. I only digitally captured about 100 of those remnants.

One of the exhibits features artifacts from the tomb of Marquis Yi dated around 433 BC. Yi was the ruler of Zeng during a part of the Warring State Period (476 BC - 221 BC). The tomb was discovered in 1977 in Hubei when the People's Liberation Army was destroying a hill to build a factory.

The tomb was constructed of large wooden timbers and divided into four chambers for a total area of about 2400 square feet. The smallest chamber contained military artifacts. Another chamber contained the tomb of King Yi and 8 tombs of young women. A third chamber contained 13 more tombs of young women. The largest chamber contained the most famous discovery of the tomb, a set of 64 bianzhong or bronze bells along with stone chimes, flutes and various string instruments. Weapons, women and song: modern man hasn't evolved much compared to 2400 years ago.

We were treated to a bianzhong concert using replicas of the original instruments that were on display in the museum. The zhong bells have a special oblong shape which produces two tones depending on where they are struck. The bells can play a complete 12 tone scale, predating the development of the European 12 tone system by about 2000 years.

I walked away from the museum have a greater appreciation of Chinese culture. If your perspective of China is one of a developing country, bear in mind that they have had thousands of years of trial and error experience.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Adapting Cultural Norms in Wuhan

The guy with his shirt pulled up looked strange and funny to us, but it was a fairly common site. Other behaviors that caught me off guard were folks spitting on the sidewalks, hawking a loogie, standing too close and slurping their noodles. I don't want to give the wrong impression here. I enjoyed my stay in China and would readily visit again. I respect a culture that has existed for thousands of years, and there's plenty good about it, as my other Wuhan videos show. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I dont have a shoe fetish, they were gifts.

"Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Unless you are a big fan of Scott Jurek, I would consider borrowing this book before purchasing it. For those readers not familar with Jurek, he is an ultramarathon running legend. He has won the Western States 100 Mile race 7x, the Badwater 135 Mile race 2x, the Spartathalon 2x, the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon 1x (as popularized in "Born to Run"), the Minnesota Voyageur 3x, the Zane Grey 1x, the Bull Run 50 Mile 1x, the McDonald Forest 50K 1x, the Diez Vista 50K 2x, the Leona Divide 50 mile 4x, the Miwok 100K 3x, the Silvertip 50K 1x, the Diable 50 mile 1x, holds the US record for the 24 hour race and has placed in the top 5 of too many ultramarathons for me to count.

My chief criticism is that "Eat & Run" just scrapes the surface on many events in Jurek's life. Perhaps the title has both a figurative and literal meaning, never spending too much time on one thing. There are 21 chapters, but each chapter is only about 10 pages long. I think the book could have easily been twice as long given more character development and story telling. In the end, it felt like Jurek and cowriter Steve Friedman strung together a list of race reports.

Besides Jurek, the main character development throughout the book is about his life long friend Dusty Olson and his mom. Dusty is presented in chapter 1 with the greeting, "Get the fuck up!", in reference to Jurek lying down on the Badwater course. Early in Jurek's life, Dusty was a competitor to Jurek, but later, he became Jurek's #2 as he was a pacer in many of Jurek's ultramarathons. Their friendship seemed strained which probably was not helped by Dusty's insults and disparaging remarks towards Jurek, or as he called him, "The Jurker". At one point they stopped communicating altogether.

Jurek's mom had multiple sclerosis. This appeared to have a great influence on Jurek's path, to the extent that he became a physical therapist after assisting with his mom's physical therapy treatments. Maybe due to his mom's illness, Jurek had to do a lot of chores around the house, from cooking and cleaning to stacking firewood. His relationship with his mom was better than the one with his dad. His dad was the disciplinarian. If he asked why he had to do something, his dad would reply, "Sometimes, you just do things." This became Scott's mantra throughout his ultramarathons.

One character who received little description was his exwife Leah. He mentioned how they met in Minnesota and some of their early years living in her parent's basement, but there wasn't much introspection about how their relationship fell apart. On that matter, Jurek only said that Leah told him he wasn't funny or interesting, that they married too young and that she fell in love with another man and wanted a divorce. That was a pretty heavy blow in only a few short sentences.

To the casual observer on the internet, it would appear that Leah left Jurek for Ted McDonald, the barefoot runner whom Jurek befriended in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. The only mention of him in this book was in reference to the runners in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon, "A man named Ted McDonald, who called himself Barefoot Ted because he recently started jogging without shoes." From the internet, it's clear that Barefoot Ted went to Greece with Leah and Jurek for the Spartathalon 2007, just months before Leah and Jurek split. Jurek devotes a chapter to this race in his book, but there's no mention of the storm that had to be brewing between the three of them.

Maybe I'm being a bit of a rubber necker here, but one of the theme's of Jurek's book is about how he had struggles in his life and how he overcame those struggles. A wife leaving you for a friend ranks pretty high for a struggle. I can only assume that Jurek is respecting their privacy or it is still too painful to analyze in too much detail. Or maybe I'm making too much of it. Sometimes shit happens and it doesn't matter who the names are.

"Eat & Run" ends with an epilogue about his record setting 24 hour run in France. I had the impression that this race was a redemption for him for both a personal and professional point of view. Personally, he spent his time in France content with his new girlfriend, Jenny. Professionally, he set a US record for a 24 hour run after a year of not winning any major achievements. He even transformed his mantra into, "This is what you came for." It was obviously the ending to his professional ultrarunning career as he stated that he had done what he set out to do and now it was time to rest.

My chief compliment to "Eat & Run" is that I appreciated Jurek's description of how he became vegan. The book was just as much about fuel for his runs as it was about how fast he ran. The book's title was fitting. He did go into considerable detail about how he fueled his runs, including recipes. It makes me wonder if this book will help popularize a plant based diet among runners.

In between reading chapters of "Eat & Run", I listened to a podcast interview of Dr. Timothy Noakes ( For those not familar with Dr. Noakes, he is the author of "Lore of Running", a well respected book on the science of running. In the podcast, Dr. Noakes explained his personal history with weight gain and how he lost weight on an Atkins low carb diet after reading an Atkins diet book and Gary Taubes' books. This is a huge reversal from his opinion (or scientific work) as described in "Lore of Running" on the running performance benefits from eating carbohydrates. Dr. Noakes even suggests for folks to rip out the nutrition section from his book, or if you wait, he is rewriting the book.

Dr. Noakes' view on a low carb diet for runners is the opposite of Jurek's carb-filled, plant based diet for training and racing and winning ultramarathons.What's interesting to me is that Jurek stated in his book that he reveres Dr. Noakes for his scientific work to explain endurance running, specifically in regards to the central governor theory ( I'd love to hear Jurek's thoughts on Dr Noakes' reversal on carbohydrates, or his reversal on hydrating in general (

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lychee Fruit and the Fruit Market

I've been veggin out the last few days on vacation. It's Tuesday, so here's a twofer from my Wuhan trip.

One of the things that I wanted to do in China was eat durian fruit. It's a tropical fruit native to southeast Asia. Some folks in Wuhan told me that durian is the fruit that smells like hell and tastes like heaven. Some people find the odor of durian so offensive that hotels in Thailand where it is popular post signs banning people from keeping durian fruit in their rooms. One description of the odor is similar to sweaty socks. That's curious to me because I always thought Doritos smell like sweaty socks, and people love the taste of Doritos.

Durian Fruit

Unfortunately or not, I didn't find any durian in Wuhan. There just wasn't enough time to search it out. Here's a video searching for the fruit in a market down a back alley.

I did find some lychee fruit. Here's what it looks like:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Modern Shopping Plaza in Wuhan China

Before I visited China for the first time, the video below was not what I envisioned a communist country would look like.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Electronic Markets In Wuhan

This aint your Best Buy. Imagine Radio Shack, broken up into a bunch of little shops, times a thousand or so. In China, if you want a camera, you can find one. If you want a computer, you can find one. If you want a radio, you can find one. If you want to build a radio, you can find the radio parts. Every size, shape and color. China lacks for nothing, except maybe some clean air, voting and internet access.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Running in Wuhan China

The hotel where I stayed in Wuhan, China was along the Yangtze river. This location provided some nice scenery for outdoor activites. 

Most days I ran outside early in the morning. I was a little concerned about the air quality in general, but at the ground level along the river with all the vegetation, it didn't seem that bad. At least I don't appear to be any worse for the wear.

The park pathway along the river was scenic enough that I brought my camera one day. The below videos from that run are my two favorites from the trip. The park was busy with people enjoying some daily exercise and other fun stuff. You may have heard the expression, "just move". That's what these Chinese folks represent. I wish I saw more of this stuff in the USA.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Chinese Wedding

While I was in Wuhan, China, I stayed at the Riverside Holiday Inn. It's a nice hotel, perhaps 3 or 4 stars. There's an Irish pub, a Chinese restaurant (duh), a Japanese restaurant, a Western restaurant, an executive lounge, a coffee bar, a karoake bar and a couple of reception halls.

The reception halls are visible from the main lobby. They appeared to have a lot of activity. I caught one of those activities on camera, a wedding. I was told that it is very common in China to have weddings in hotels. This particular wedding had a game show feel, so I thought.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Traveling to Wuhan China

Over the next few weeks I'll post videos from my trip to Wuhan, China. These videos would have been posted while I was visiting China, however, there are restrictions. Sites such as Youtube, Facebook and blogs are not universally accessible. It was one of the few ways that I knew I wasn't in the USA, more on that later.