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The Road To Sparta” (2016©) — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Road To Sparta” written by Dean Karnazes.  Karnazes may not be the “Dean” of ultramarathon runners, but he is certainly one of the sports most famous names and faces. Karnazes lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I also was raised and currently live), and, from his writing, appears to have totally adopted the ethos of being from Northern California.  Clean air, physical fitness, sometimes single minded pursuit of one’s goals, etc.
The book is another semi-autobiographical book about Karnazes.  His other book (which is reviewed here) is titled: “Ultramarathon Man“, and deals more with his various runs – particularly the Western States One-Hundred.  This book is about his being descended from Greek immigrants and him getting back in touch with his roots in his native country via participation in an ultra-run called “The Spartathlon.”  This run recreates the run which Pheidippides made from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans to help the Athenians resist the Persian invasion of Greece at the beach of Marathon.  Not to spoil the story (as it is ancient history), Pheidippides ran about 150 miles to carry the message (request).  He then ran a similar distance to carry the reply (“Yeah, we’ll come, but not for a few days”).  And then, … wait for it… he ran from the battlefield (Marathon) to Athens (about 26 miles) to carry news of the victory.  And then he died.
The race isn’t so spectacular.  Karnazes “only” has to run the initial portion (Athens to Sparta).  Oh, yeah.  You have to run the race in a “similar” time span to that of Pheidippides – 36 hours.
If you are a serious distance runner, much of the book will seem self-affirming as you will probably relate to the action and feelings of a ultra-distance runner.  If you are not a “serious” runner (or athlete), you may still relate, but you’ll probably also find Karnazes’ descriptions of the Greek countryside a bit flowery.  Make that extremely flowery.  Almost (but not quite) off-puttingly so.  Almost…  On the other hand, if you are just an average reader, you may really like all the verbiage.  I was kind of in the middle.  Parts of the book made we want to strap on some shoes and go out for a jog.  Others left me feeling like he had been assigned a set number of words to get the book published and he was going to reach that number with the same determination it takes to run an ultra.
Final recommendation: strong.  I enjoyed the history.  I enjoyed most of the descriptions, particularly when he was talking about the people out in the Greek countryside.  And I enjoyed the re-telling of the actual Spartathlon he ran in.  Ultimately, a good running book should make you want to lace up and hit the pavement.  As mentioned above, this book did that for me.  I picked the book up at Half-Price Books off the $3 rack.  A steal at that price.  I’ve already used a couple of quotes on my blog and I’ve got about another dozen or so hi-lighted for use in the future.
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On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright
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Anybody running beats anybody walking, and anybody walking beats anybody sitting.
  —  Tom Bunk
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On This Day In:
2017 Effective Stimuli
2016 Dave’s Not Here, Man
2015 Blink
2014 The Struggle To Educate America Continues…
2013 On Elections
2012 Warm Smiles
Pick Your Poison
2011 Straight Shooters

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As a runner, you have to face the truth about yourself on a regular basis, and it makes you more honest.  You can’t pretend to be faster than you are.  You can’t pretend that you are better prepared than you are.  You cannot pretend to be a runner, you actually have to run.
   ―  John Bingham
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On This Day In:
2017 A Long Shadow
2016 Learning, Experience, Chances or Money
2015 The Critical State
2014 Dawn, n.
2013 Ouch!
2012 Just Lookin’ Around
Still Growing
2011 But Do You Want To?

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Suddenly, when the run itself is the goal, there are no more bad runs.  Suddenly it doesn’t matter if we don’t finish within our goal time — or don’t finish at all.  What matters is that we tried, that we enjoyed the process.  What matters is that we got out there.
   ―  John Bingham
From his book:  “No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running
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On This Day In:
2017 By Far
2016 Until…
2015 Or Infinitesimal
2014 I’ve Looked At Clouds
2013 Undiscovered Ocean
2012 Feeling Old? (Part 2)
2011 What About Freedom?

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Shoe review:  Itasca (manufacturer) Fairview (model) $25 (sale price) / $45 (current price)
I haven’t done a shoe review in quite a while.  Mostly because I haven’t been jogging much the last couple of years.  The spirit has been willing, but the heart (and various other parts) have not been entirely cooperative.  Be that as it may, this is my review of the “Itasca Fairview” hiking / walking shoe.  It can be used as a “heavy” / off-road jogging shoe if you don’t mind a stiff and knobby soled shoe.  I don’t.  I purchased this because I prefer a hard wearing inexpensive shoe.
First, the price was very good.  It was on sale at my local Big5 Sporting Goods store.  I was able to find my size (14) and it was wide enough for my “dogs”.  I have “paddles” for feet (much wider toe than heel area), so normal running shoes, which tend to the narrow fit, don’t really accommodate my feet.  As I began jogging a few years back with a mid-sole strike, my arches changed and I became no longer able to wear many of my older shoes.  My left foot (arch) in particular bars me from wearing size 13 shoes and most size 14 slip-ons.
I found these shoes very comfortable for my slow and steady jogging style.  I started off with a 1 mile jog and by the end of about 6 weeks I was consistently jogging about 4 miles a day.  Enough to get my 10K steps goal on my Fitbit.  All in all, I would estimate I jogged fewer than 100 miles during the pairs use and, if you add in another 50 (generous) miles for cool-down walks, I’d say the shoes were blown out by 135 to 150 miles of use.  By way of comparison, a good running shoe will probably cost you about $80-$120, and it is recommended you replace them every 400 miles or whenever they feel like they’ve lost their sponge under your forefoot.  So, the price I paid was about 1/3rd of a running shoe and the use was about 1/3rd.  I guess that’s considered equal value for relative cost.
Another significant factor on the shoes use is that I am extremely heavy (350+lbs) and therefore very hard on soles.  That is part of why I look for stiffer shoes with heavier tread – they tend to take a beating better than normal running shoe models.  Of course, the trade-off is you have to jog less upfront when the shoes are newer so you can break them in without giving yourself horrendous blisters.

Fresh from the box

Fresh from the box

View of new soles

View of new soles

Soles After 150 miles

Soles after 150 miles

Tops after use

Tops after use

After use:  You can’t really tell from the image, but center forefoot is completely worn through to the sponge padding under the forefoot.  The tops, on the other hand, were practically without blemish.  From the start, the shoe felt like I was jogging with a pair of wooden slats under my feet.  Again, on the other hand, the tops were very comfortable (once broken in), even when tied tightly.  Had the soles lasted another month, I would say the shoes were a very good value.  As it is, the best I could say was these would be good value (at sale price) if you were either normal weight or were only going to use them for actual hiking / path walking on the odd weekend out and about.
If you look at the “Soles after” image, you’ll probably notice a lot of outer heel wear and some “tippy-toe” wear.  The heel wear is from the daily walking where I do a lot of heel striking.  The toe wear is because I seem to push-off a lot when I do my jogging.  I should clarify.  I don’t “really” jog.  I would describe it as slogging (“slow jogging”) – basically, a little faster than walking with a jogging / shuffle motion.  In general, my heels wear out on my walking shoes, my forefoot wears out on my jogging shoes, and the top wears out if I try to get the comfortable light-weight mesh uppers common to many true jogging / running shoes.
Final recommendation: reasonable value for the price (I paid).  I went back to Big5 to get another pair.  Like most “sale” items at this type of discount store, “my” store no longer carries this model.  I also looked on-line and Itasca no longer manufactures this model.  It turns out other Big5 stores in my area do carry this model, but the current price is almost double what I paid on sale.  At that price, I leave them on the shelf…  I can find “real” running shoes for that price.
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On This Day In:
2017 Unseen Here, Too
2016 Criticized Anyway
2015 Sometimes The Truth Hurts
2014 All Agreed, Say “Aye”
2013 Two Books, Two Movies
Just Because
2012 God’s Requirements
2011 Greater Purity

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We were not designed to stand still.  If we were, we’d have at least three legs.  We were designed to move.  Our bodies are bodies that have walked across vast continents.  Our bodies are bodies that have carried objects of art and war over great distances.  We are no less mobile than our ancestors.  We are athletes.  We are warriors.  We are human.
   ―  John Bingham
From: “Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running
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On This Day In:
2016 And Without Expectation
2015 Just Do It
I Am A Runner
2014 Some Things I Learned (Mostly) In The Army:
2013 Who You Are
2012 Mine Stands
2011 Aversions

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Well, at long last I got back on the pavement!!  This morning, I forced myself out of my nice warm bed, strapped on my Keds and went out to pound some pavement.
The sun was just up.  The sky was cloudless and clear blue.  The frost was everywhere…  Despite my doubts and the persistent questions (“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?“), I managed to slow jog around the block three times (1.2 miles total according to Google maps).  This was my first time out doing anything other than walking my dog since mid-November when I had my electrical cardioversion.  I felt terrific, like I could go forever…  But tomorrow is another day.  I finished with a cool-down walk of my dog – for another mile.  All told, about 45 minutes and 2.2 miles.  And so it begins again (I hope).
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On This Day In:
2016 The Best Of Circumstances
2015 Reverberating Silence
2014 Wrong Again?
2013 Improper Faith
2012 One More Rung
2011 Sunday Morning Earlies (Hugging trees and smiling…)
Hurry
Updates On Life
2010 It’s Gettin’ Deep In Here

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