Monday, December 30, 2013

Shoe Review: Hoka Kailua Tarmac

At this point it is safe to say that I'm a Hoka One One gal. When it came time to get ready for my yearly Turkey Trot 5 mile, I decided to purchase a pair of the new Hoka Kailua Tarmac. I wanted a shoe that was more of a racing shoe than the Bondi B. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy with my Bondis (review). I just wanted a shoe that was a little lighter and not quite as soft in the sole department for a shorter distance event.

I ordered my standard shoe size of 7.5, and I noticed that they felt a little big. The shoe itself appears to be the same length as my other Hoka's, but the insole that comes with the Kailua is the thin insole that is optional with the Stinsons.

I had an extra pair of the regular Hoka insoles so I replaced the thin ones, and my feet were as happy as a bug in a rug. My friend Vickie also purchased a pair of the Kailua and noticed the same thing about sizing. She, too, will be putting in a thicker insole to keep the inside of the shoe from feeling too large.

While there is still plenty of softness to the Kailua, it isn't as squishy as the Bondi B or Stinson Evo Tarmac (review). This was exactly what I was looking for. I also notice the toe box area of the Kailua seems narrower than both my Bondis and my Evo Tarmacs. They feel sleek and fast, and still plenty soft for shorter races. Strangely they weigh slightly more than Bondis. I'm not even sure how that is possible.

Stinson Evo Tarmac and the Kailua Tarmac

Women's Size 7.5 (no insoles) = 7.5 ounces
Bondi Bs = 7.4 ounces
Stinson Evo Tarmacs = 8.8 ounces 
trail Stinson Evos = 9 ounces
Mafate 2 = 10 ounces
Now with almost 80 miles on the Kailuas, I notice that there is more wear on the sole than I would expect. I don't expect to get as many miles out of these Hokas as I have my others based on the premature wear. They are $30 or so less than the Bondis, but I would still expect less sole wear in a $130 shoe.

I won't be giving up my Bondis anytime soon, but I still like these shoes. While the Kailuas cost less on paper, I imagine they will cost more per mile based on shoe life expectancy. If you are looking for a shoe that is light and can last a long time, go with the Bondis.  If you are looking for a shoe that feels faster, go with the Kailuas. Happy running!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mere Christianity

The weather outside is frightful.... yeah, it is. A week or so ago I managed to get on an airplane headed to Washington state with a stop in Minneapolis. Unfortunately the weather and de-icing delayed my departure. With that delay came a missed flight. Since the rest of the flights were full to Washington, I hopped back on another plane toward home. It was a Minnesota day trip. It was also my first time in Minnesota. One of these days I will go back and see something more than the airport.
Christmas Pond, Duluth, Minnesota
While travelling I usually download a book from Audible to listen to, and on this particular trip that book was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I've never been a fiction reader. No idea why. Honestly, the whole Narnia business isn't something I've really cared for as an adult. When I was a kiddo, I did really like the cartoon. I picked this book not because I wanted to read C.S. Lewis but more because others has given it positive reviews, and a lot of Christian organizations seem to push C.S. Lewis... a lot. I figured it wasn't very fair to have a somewhat negative opinion of an author if I've never really read his books on his beliefs. I had also heard over the last year that J.R.R. Tolkien had a big influence on C.S. Lewis's faith. I have to admit I found that a little funny and a little odd for a two reasons. The first reason deals with wizards, magic, and the like. Fantasy books never interested me, and honestly I thought them to be the opposite of Christianity. The other reason was that someone who many moons ago repeatedly laughed about my Christian beliefs said to me, "If you want to understand me, then read Tolkien." He was being serious. I could not help but chuckle when years later I read that Tolkien was an outspoken believer.

As I began listening to Mere Christianity, I realized how off the mark my biases were.I had no idea that Lewis was an atheist who found Jesus.  In this book, he was able to put into words many things that I struggle to explain to others. A relationship with Jesus isn't something that you have to be able to explain to other people, but it sure it helpful to be able to communicate with others rather than saying over and over again, "I don't know how to explain it." There is plenty to explain, but for me it is such a shocking and joy-filled thing that words just don't convey what I want to express. How can I put into words a deep internal change and spirit that leads to joy and peace and have it make any sense to someone? When I was reading Lewis's words, I immediately understood that he was communicating in a way that I have been unable to do. He also spoke of some things I had yet to even think about. Does that mean I can now use his words to explain to a random person in a way that is understandable? I wish, but no. It doesn't work that way, and it isn't supposed to. "Let those who have ears hear." A relationship with Jesus has only to do with Jesus and the person in that relationship. Perhaps that sounds exclusive of others, but it really isn't.

I will go back and read sections of this book again because I want to spend extra time thinking about some of his words. Speaking of, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

"The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort."

“It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong, but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”

“Now we our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't.”

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

“I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.”

"But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Merry Christmas :-)

Monday, December 2, 2013

In a galaxy far, far away....

Okay, really, this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with space, but galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose sounds like a it could be some cool little planet somewhere out there. Turns out it is a carbohydrate found in mammal meat. So instead, this blog post is about ticks. Maybe.

I remember it well, that little steak that made me feel like dying over 8 years ago. I had no idea what it was that made me so ill, but I woke up around midnight feeling absolutely miserable. My hands and feet felt as though they were itching under the skin, and my stomach felt like something out of Alien. Or Space Balls. Let's go with Space Balls because it's just funny...

Luckily when all this started happening, I was using Weight Watchers and tracking everything I ate. I had a doctor who wanted to take out my gallbladder, but before him I met a disgruntled ultrasound tech which turned out to be a very good thing. He told me how he was sick of listening to the doctors complain about all the patients while they were making boat loads of money from those very same patients. He scanned my gallbladder and said it looked perfectly healthy with no gall stones. His next sentence went something like this...

"The next thing they will do is an ejection fraction test.  It will be a percent or two below what they hope to see. They will want to take out your gallbladder. Don't let them do it." Now, I'm pretty certain he wasn't supposed to say those things, but THANK YOU Mr. Ultrasound Tech! The doctor wanted to do exactly what the tech had said. I even went to get a second opinion and was told the exact same thing. Luckily between the two opinions, I began to realize that on the days I was feeling awful I had eaten red meat hours before the episode. I stopped eating it. I got better. I kept my gallbladder which is good because I'm pretty attached to it.

Fast forward 8 years later: That dreaded feeling began again but without the red meat! Or so I thought. Read a blog post down, and you will see a little trail run I did in Tennessee. After that trail run, I had bites all over my legs which I assumed were chiggers. Turns out, they may have been seed ticks. Recently researchers at the University of Virginia noticed that people in certain regions were turning up with adult onset allergies to ... wait for it .... red meat! Those same regions also happen to be where the Lone Star Tick likes to reside. (Tennessee does not sound good to me!)  They have been doing more studies to see if ticks are in fact the root cause of this allergy that seems to be becoming more and more common.

It also turns out that pork is considered a red meat and contains the same carbohydrate, galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose  (aka Alpha-Gal) as beef, venison, and lamb. I had already managed to figure out that it was either pork or dairy causing my issue by food tracking and process of elimination (no.. not THAT kind of elimination). This little piggy went wah wah wah, all the way home. Luckily the pork issue combined with the trip to Tennessee which is where I picked up the initial beef allergy are what put me on track to put the puzzle pieces together. I found a local allergist who had written an article on the topic and went to have the Alpha-Gal IgE test. Results .35 and below are a negative test. My results came back at 18.5. Gee, I guess I really am allergic to red meat, or alpha-gal actually.

So what's the moral of the story? Ticks suck. Why yes they do, but that's not the moral. Allergies are serious stuff. People with this allergy have gone into anaphylactic shock. I joke, but this is serious business. I haven't had beef in over 8 years. While doctors can be great, we have to remember that they, too, are human. They make mistakes. Had I had my gallbladder removed, it would not have solved my issue. We are all an experiment of one, and the more you take the time to research your issues and track what is going on, the better chance you or someone else has of figuring out the problem. Oh, and, last but not least, if a few people act like you might be making up the physical problems you are having, it may just be that the medical profession will get it figured out in a few years. Don't give up!

Turkey burger, anyone?