Zero Drop is a bit exhausted from the past weekend's footwear fireworks that occurred here and over at Runblogger. Needless to say, some good came out of all the to'ing and fro'ing, with ASICS head researcher Simon Barthold extending an olive branch to footwear and gait scientist Dr. Craig Richards. Let the Research Studies Commence! Minimalism vs. Maximalism! Meanwhile, Zero Drop just learned by reading a short comment on Barefoot Running University's site that President Barack Obama is a big fan of ASICS Gel Kayanos. So we looked for a photo of the shod Chief Executive, and lo and behold, we quickly found one of him although it was taken a month before the 2008 election. Better yet, he's walking barefoot on a Kailua beach while holding his ASICS shoes in one hand. Talk about Barefoot Change You Can Believe In! (For another photo of an U.S. president who also liked to walk on the beach, go here. Nixon was a big-time heel-striker, and for good reason!)
Mad kitchen-scientist Tom Dickson has delighted millions of YouTube viewers with the all-powerful blender called the Blendtec. The whirling blades have destroyed golf balls, light bulbs, iPhones and iPads, and much more. In this video, the diabolical Dickson makes a foul-tasting, coffee-less frappe out of an Nike Air Max 90 from the early 90s, a sole from the Frees, and Air Current shoe. Bon appetit!
Lightweight, zero-drop, gorgeous eye-candy for the feet, Saucony's new 4.4-ounce slipper-like minimalist running shoe, the Hattori, looks like a sleek, sure-fire winner. It's also been one of the more anticipated shoes in the running blogosphere. My pal Nick Pang at Minimalist Running Shoes explains the keen interest: "It’s Saucony’s lightest and most minimal shoe that is designed to be like an extension of your feet. Saucony is the first big footwear manufacturer to go into the minimalist running shoes category with a zero drop. New Balance started with 4mm differential for the Minimus line but will soon have zero drop shoes. Brooks Pure collection is starting at 4mm differential too. Asics 33 collection is at 10mm differential. Nike Free Run collection is at 7mm differential...Runner's World called this shoe a ‘strength training tool’ and not a racing shoe. I personally think any shoe can be a racing shoe but a training shoe must have durability. To me, the Hattori is a minimal neutral shoe designed for speed work and racing."
But what does the name "Hattori" actually mean? A tasty meat dish at Benihana's? Gesundheit in Japanese? And why did a footwear company based in Massachusetts decide to use a Japanese name for its new less-is-more running shoe? (If it were a Japanese footwear company such as Asics or Mizuno, one can understand, but neither of these companies seem all that interested in going zero drop; Mizuno, in fact, has recently gone hyper-maximalist with the nightmarish-looking Prophecy). Saucony isn't the first to use Hattori. The name has long been used by a top-of-the-line Japanese swordsmaker, kitchen knife craftsman, anime cartoon ninja character, as well as in video games, and in Quentin Tarrentino's film Kill Bill, a swordsmith-turned-sushi-shop owner is called Hattori.
All these diverse Hattoris descend from the greatest one of them all, a legendary historical figure in one of Japan's most significant periods of samurai culture, Hattori Hanzō, who
lived in the 16th century. As a powerful samurai of the Sengoku era, Hattori helped ensure the safety of Tokugawa Ieyasu who become the ruler of united Japan.
Okay, class dismissed. Now go for a run...
So that's how it's done? Dr. Mark Cucuzzella has had a busy April and May. Here's he's leading a bunch of kids in doing "hand-clapping" pushups before the Harpers Ferry race he put on last week. In April, Mark spoke at the Boston Marathon sports medicine conference. Two days later, the 44-year-old ran a 2:37 marathon. Oh yeah, in two weeks, his natural running and walking store, Two Rivers Treads, is moving to a larger ground floor space in Sheperdstown, West Virginia.
These super-long boots first appeared on the dance floor of Mesquit Rodeo nightclub in Matehuala, Mexico. Male dancers wore flashy pointy boots, and unwittingly triggered a footwear-fetish craze that has now spread to nearby cities and crossed the border into the U.S. These Aladdin boots on growth steroids can measure up to a yard long, and resemble a rattler about to strike. Have you ever seen a toe box like this before?
Who is "Dr. Food," what is she doing at a Taco Bell in southern Michigan, and why should anyone really care? Dr. Food's real name is Kerrie Saunders, and she has a doctoral degree in Natural Health, and is author of a popular book, "Vegan Diet As Chronic Disease Prevention." She also hosts a talk show and regularly writes for VegNews. When this photo first surfaced on the website Jalopnik in September 2010, the doc offered this rather cheesy response on her own website: "We ordered the Bean Burrito minus cheese, which IS vegan and free of veterinary hormones and veterinary antibiotics." Okay, but what about the other ingredients in that Taco Bell burrito? Nutritionally sound? Or something you wouldn't even want to feed to a hungry chihuahua? Zero Drop looked into the matter, and here's what it found:
Water, Ground Corn Treated with Lime, Cellulose Gum, Propionic Acid (to preserve freshness), Benzoic Acid and Phosphoric Acid (to preserve freshness), Guar Gum, Amylase, Sodium Hydroxide, Methyl Paraben and Propyl Paraben (to preserve freshness).
Pinto Beans, Soy Oil (Trans Fat Free Shortening with TBHQ and Citric Acid to Protect Flavor), Salt.
Modified Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Salt, Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Spices, Garlic Powder, Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Extractives Of Paprika (Color), Xanthan Gum, Malic Acid, Caramel Color, Potassium Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Trehalose, Natural Flavors, And Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added As A Processing Aid.
These trump l'oeil towels initially fooled Zero Drop into thinking they were real. No, they have absolutely nothing to do with blow hard and bouffant king Donald, but are actually the marketing brainchild of Axe shower gel who used 'fake sexy" to launch its shower gel product in the United Arab Emirates in 2007. Axe gave gyms these towels to hand out to their patrons. One assume it was men's only health clubs in this Moslem country. One wonders how these towels would fare in the U.S. It would kinda make your post-workout shower and towel-drying a bit more interesting. But there should also be a woman's version with a man's legs and hands.
The SEALs take down of Osama Bin Laden is one for the history books and a Hollywood movie probably within the next year or so. Many of the nation’s best-conditioned soldiers are Navy SEALs. You have to be an all-around strength and aerobic warrior, even more so than a decathlete. Currently, there are now about 3,000 active-duty SEAL members, divided between teams in Coronado, California and Virginia Beach, Virginia. SEAL stands for Sea-Air-Land.
It ain't easy becoming a SEAL however. The physical testing is so rigorous that only twenty-five out of a hundred recruits pass—an astonishing 75 percent failure rate. When a candidate can’t take it anymore, he rings the infamous bell near the beach and his SEAL dreams are toast. During “hell week,” recruits must cope with only a total of four hours of sleep while going through five and a half days of nonstop running, swimming in the cold surf, and rolling in wet sand.
Here are the absolute minimums for BUD’s (Basic Underwater Demolition) SEAL training physical testing, with average competitive scoring numbers following in parentheses: five-hundred-yard swim using breast- or sidestroke in 12:30 minutes (8:00), 10 minute rest; minimum of forty-two push-ups in two minutes, two minute rest (100); minimum of fifty sit-ups in two minutes, two minute rest (90 to 100); minimum of eight pull-ups with no time limit, 10 minute rest (15 to 20); run 1.5 miles wearing boots and fatigues in 11:30 (9:00 to 10:00). After successfully passing these physical hurdles, SEAL hopefuls are then required to pass more difficult training segments such as the land-warfare phase in which they must run fourteen miles and swim 5.5 miles.
TO READ MORE ABOUT BECOMING A SEAL, GO HERE TO READ BOOK EXCERPT: A retired member and training officer of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, Don Mann is the co-author of the new book, The Navy SEAL Survival Handbook, with Ralph Pezzullo (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012) Don Mann is also the author of the national bestseller Inside SEAL Team Six and has for the last thirty years been associated with the Navy SEALS as a platoon member, assault team member, boat crew leader, or advanced training officer; and more recently program director preparing civilians to go to BUD/s (SEAL Training). Up until 1998 he was on active duty with SEAL Team 6.
To celebrate the British Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Gayles Chocolates have created a limited edition Royal Wedding chocolate high heel shoe and named it, The Kate. According to its website, "the solid chocolate shoe is made from premium white chocolate with a dark chocolate jewel shaped toe decoration and lightly dusted with non-toxic edible pearl and sapphire colored luster dust. As with all of our large chocolate high heel shoes, it is packaged in a clear plastic purse with a satin bow. The shoe measures 7 inches long and 5-1/2 inches tall." So if you are jonesing for some non-running related endorphins, get pumped up by chowing down on these white-chocolate, high-calorie high heels.Though you might feel too nauseous to even think of running afterwards.
One wonders how many Gu's you can stash in this marsupial-like T-shirt. Looking to buy one (it costs 30 bucks), then go here.
It was sad to hear the news that the great Grete Waitz had died, at age 57. She was more than a marathoner and larger than the two grand statues erected in her image in Oslo, Norway, and EPCOT Center at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Nine New York City Marathon wins and all her records didn’t say that she was truly a class act, a genuine human being, a rarity. In some strange way, she reminded me of Johnny Cash—a real individual in a sea of crazy people vying for a piece of her. Yet, she remained sweet, and real, and quite private.
We first met at a running camp, around 1980, where we were both lecturing. She didn’t say much as her English was very limited. But her presence inspired everyone there.
She wondered what that large strange device was that I would be lecturing about the next morning. It may have been the first and last time she put on a heart rate monitor. I set the crude audible indicators, and we went for a run on the track to get accurate mile splits. I said, “Just run at your normal training pace and let’s see what your heart rate does.” Prepared to gently explain she was running too fast, Grete was exactly on the pace that I had determined should be her ideal training heart rate.
“It’s instinct,” she replied, after a long pause to search for the right word. I agreed. Part of my lecture would be that many athletes had lost their natural instincts and the heart monitor would help get it back. She still had hers.
I recall working on her recently-injured foot, and as I was about to manipulate one of the bones that was recently fractured, I thought to myself, “I’d better not screw this up or both our careers are over.” She recovered well.
A couple of years later I ran into Grete at the New York City Marathon’s elite athlete hotel suite. We talked about life on the road and it’s funny twists and turns. Her English was better, but her presence had not been tarnished by the wear and tear that affects many road warriors.
Her first New York City Marathon win several years before we met was somewhat unexpected—Grete was ready to retire from racing, having been a successful 1500 and 3000-meter runner. Retire, go back into teaching, and start a family. But her marathon win in 2:32:30, also a world record, changed all that. She had never run more than 13 miles before. Now she was hooked on the longer distance. She won the London Marathon twice, the Stockholm Marathon once and the world championship marathon.
Though married, Grete never had children. It’s commonly known that nulliparous women—those who don’t have children—have a higher risk of a number of cancers. But Grete helped many people throughout her life—that was what she was all about. She did this through her involvement in the Special Olympics, and a cancer care foundation she set up. And, she did it by being herself and allowing that great energy to inspire others.
Take a super close look in the photo of the footwear of 1951 Boston Marathon winner Shigeki Tanaka, 19, of Japan, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, who crossed the finish line in 2:27:45. He was running in "tabi" or split-toe shoes made by the Kobe footwear company called Onitsuka, named after its founder and which is best known today as Asics. Tabi running shoes were modeled after the traditional Japanese sandal which had a strap between the big and second toe. For some reason, the tabi running shoes were discontinued several years later, and when Phil Knight's Blue Ribbon Sports started importing Asics, they featured a standard shoe design. Many years after its break with Asics, when Blue Ribbon Sports was now called Nike, it created a split-toe running shoe called the Air Rift, but it never caught on. And in January 2006, Asics came out with two new split-toe collections, Tai Chi Tigress and Marathon Tabi, which sported colorful Japanese spring motifs. Only a limited edition of 4,400 pairs were produced, and they rapidly sold out. Today, one American footwear company, Zem makes a split-toe aquatic sock that it's trying to market to the barefoot running crowd. Looking back, however, at Tanaka's marathon victory just six years after the close of World War Two, one is curious about several things. Why didn't the split-toe running shoe become an instant hit? Were Americans still too uncertain or untrusting when it came to "made-in-Japan" imports? Obviously, the shoe appeared odd and unfamiliar. But the tabis were much less weird-looking than the Vibram FiveFingers that surfaced some fifty years later. With VFF's continued runaway success, will tabis see renewed consumer interest, especially among American runners? What is it like to run in them? And perhaps instead of calling them split-toe, why not call them "Tabi TwoFingers?" Oddly enough, the new Fila Skeletoes have only four pockets for the toes, doubling up on the two smallest toes. Then again a few years back, Nike had once played around with a split-toe design, but sales weren't all that great.
Runners are notorious when it comes to littering in a race. Marathon courses often look like an Antietam battlefield of discarded paper cups, emptied Gu packets, and sucked-dry orange slices. And now to this list, we can add disposable running pants and tops. Some outfit in Indiana called Sheddable has come out with a line of jackets and pants that are made from a poly-spun blend of polyethylene and polypropylene. Supposedly, they are waterproof, windproof, machine washable, and have tear-away perforations on both sides. Cost is only $10.35 each. At that low price point, why would a runner want to hold onto a Sheddable top or pants after warming up? They'd be tossed on the ground. For really cheap waterproof and windproof shells, nothing beats a Hefty trash bag.
By now, most runners know who Kelly Gneiting is, and what he did to achieve insta-celebrity fame. Gneiting, 40, a former national champion sumo wrestler who weighs 400 pounds, finished the wet-and-windy L.A. Marathon in nine hours, 48 minutes and 52 seconds, which probably set a Guinness world record for someone his size. And what girth! His waist measures 60 inches. His slow pace averaged just over 22 minutes per mile, so it might be imprecise to call him a runner. Or jogger. He walked a great bit, while developing painful sumo-size blisters on his rain-soaked feet. Men's winner, Markos Geneti, of Ethiopia, about a third the size of Gneitlng, shattered the race record by almost two minutes with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 35 seconds. That computes to a 4:49.7-mile pace, or nearly five times as fast as Sumo Cum Laude who wasn't even the last finisher (about a dozen other stragglers followed in his bearish wake.)