Category Archives: review

Early Thoughts on a New Dance Belt

I’ve historically danced in a Capezio … um, I can’t remember the model number at this moment, but it’s on my underpinnings page (I’ll link this later, too …  if I keep this up, I’ll have to change my surname to “Linklater”).

Today I took a page of of the Monty Python Playbook and said, “And now for something completely different” — Body Wrappers’ M006.

I don’t think a single class can provide a really complete sense of how anything functions, but here are my initial thoughts:

1. The Construction Is, Indeed, Quite Different
I’m rather short-coupled. There’s about a half inch difference in the width of the elastic on these two models, with the BW M006 coming in wider.

The functional difference is rather greater: while the upper edge of my Capezio dance belts rests a couple inches below my navel, the BW M006 rests right at the bottom edge of my navel. (Edit: I think this is because of the way the pouch is designed, really; turns out that’s important.)

This will take a little getting used to and makes it clear that there’s still a little insulation going on there — though not enough to cause the top edge of the elastic to roll. In short, evidently I have a spare tire, but it’s a bike tire (appropriately enough).

On the other hand, in all other ways, this thing is really rather superior in the comfort department. Kind of makes me wish I wasn’t so bleeding conservative about these things.

To be fair, an uncomfortable dance belt is a thing of horror and a hell forever, and you generally can’t return them (or even, at our local shop, try them on first — besides which, they don’t carry this model). In short, because Bodies Are Different, choosing a dance belt falls somewhere between Voodoo and the Dark Arts for many of us even with the help of the entire Internet.

In terms of comfort, the major difference been the two models is the construction of the thong bit, which is flat and unobtrusive on the BW M006.  The one on the Capezio is basically a small rope. This makes sitting down for any length of time miserable for me (broke my tailbone when I was 10).

2. Holy Elastic, Batman
I now have two black dance belts and two tan ones. Both of the tan ones are apparently possessed by angry pythons. Is tan elastic inherently stronger than black?

I do suspect that dance belts are manufactured under the assumption that you’ll wear them until they literally fall apart, and that the manufacturers accordingly make the elastics a bit stronger than they need to be, lest we injure ourselves down the road.

3. But Nothing Moves!
If anything, the BW M006 is even more secure than the Capezio whatever (sidebar: why can’t Capezio use less bizarre model numbers?).

4. Sweat
I’m not that certain which of these dries faster. That said, the fact that there’s not a random panel of some different fabric in the middle of the BW M006’s waistband is good by me.

Overall, I’m really quite happy with this thing. I think, given the construction, I will also try the M007, even though (GASP!) the waistband is only 2″. Maybe I’ll be able to convince Denis to try it, too.

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Gotta jeté! (Okay, that was terrible.)

Things: Two Brief Reviews

“Mulberry 2” legwarmers (61cm) in light blue from Sansha:
These got their first run yesterday.

I quite like them so far.

First, and perhaps most importantly, they stay up even though my thighs are unreasonably large. Given Sansha’s reputation for sizing for extreme ectomorphs, I wasn’t actually sure they’d make it up past my knees. In fact, they did. For full disclosure, I intentionally popped one stitch in the top hem on each warmer before class yesterday morning, since they were just a hair tighter than I liked them right at that one spot. This doesn’t seem to have affected their performance, but did make them rather sublimely comfortable.

Second, they have stirrup feet and are thin enough to layer, which is really nice. My other legwarmers are just Tubes and not long enough to pull down onto my feet while still keeping my knees warm, so they do nothing for my arches, leaving a gap between “extreme fluffy warm-up socks” and “light socks or naked feet in ballet shoes.” (Yeah, you’re right — this is a First World Ballet Problem.)

On cold days, I now have the option of pulling my legwarmers on over my light socks, then layering the fluffy warm-up socks — which are lined with faux lambswool and warm as all heck — on top of everything.

I don’t usually wear shoes during most (often all), of barre, but if I do put my shoes on, or if I decide I need leg warmers at centre, these leave the contact patches on the soles of my shoes free. I don’t have to wear them inside my shoes to accomplish that end.

The ribbed silk blend knit has a roughish hand, which can be a little problematic in a tight sous-sus, but which is otherwise helpful, as it keeps the warmers where you want them (it doesn’t work as well on bare skin). It’s also warm and breathable.

I’m considering the purchase of a second pair of these in another color (just for variety). The light blue is really nice with my all-black ballet class wardrobe; with my old neon-green legwarmers, the whole thing screams, “PUNK RAWK! \m/,” which is okay but feels a little weird when I’m visiting a school where I’m not a regular.

The light blue legwarmers with the black-on-black tights-and-shirt, meanwhile, politely says, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to work. Do you mind if I share your barre?”

Not sure yet about laundering, though. I admit, I tend not to wash my legwarmers all that frequently, less by intention than by default. I tend to shove them into my dance bag and forget about them.

Silk is a great insulator. Yesterday evening, it was too warm to bother wearing warm-ups atop my tights when we went to cirque classes, but the temperature had dropped considerably by the time we left. I dug my Mulberry 2s out of my dance bag and threw them on, and they kept my legs from freezing.

In summary, the Mulberry 2s are warm and long. Size is doable for thighs measuring 50cm/~19-20″. The texture provides a fair bit of grip, which is both good (they stay up) and bad (sous-sus can be … interesting).

“Silhouette” soft ballet shoe by Sansha:
My initial impression of these has been quite good. The Silhouette combines the refined appearance and durability of a leather shoe with the flexibility and ventilation of a light canvas one — specifically, thin canvas panels in the arch afford a close fit under the foot and allow the feet to breathe a little better. I find that they really display a well-arched foot very nicely; there’s no bunching under the arch to obscure things.

I often forego socks in my ballet shoes, and these were quite comfortable without socks. Sansha’s footliners tend to feel quite nice.

I am especially pleased to report that no rolling-off of the heel occurred in my Silhouettes even when I was stretching with my foot in the barre (the same goes for my new Pro1cs). I think that’s a question of fit, though. Although I wear a narrow in normal shoe sizes, in Sansha’s sizes a medium or wide seems to work better.

My sole (ha!) caveat is that the foil ink on Sansha’s soles can be … um … interesting the first time or two you wear a new pair. Both of my pairs of Pro1cs have been slippery; the Silhouettes are squeaky.

You guys, it is hard to tour lent or promenade when you’re trying desperately to hold in the laughter. On Wednesday, I just about died every single time. It was like, “Squeaky … squeaky … squeaksqueaksqueaksqueakysqueak…” all the way around.

I’ll review the Silhouettes further in the future. I didn’t wear them very much on Wednesday, so if I make it through more of class on Saturday, I’ll have better data. So far, though, so good.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to part 2 of the Semiotics Workshop, which should be fun, and then we’re going to see Moving Collective! I’m really excited about that.

À bientôt, mes amis!

Danseur Ignoble: I’m Feeling Much Better, Really?

Okay, so as always, this recovery process has been slower and more annoying, with more minor setbacks, than anticipated.

Someday, I’ll learn to take the Hoped-For Duration of Recovery and simply multiply it by three or four.

“I’ll be over this in a week or so” will then mean “I’ll be over this in, I dunno, three weeks or a month, give or take,” and I’ll be much less frustrated when, after a week, I’m not Good As New.

Anyway, I am feeling much better, but still not perfectly well. Still also tenaciously clinging to the hope of having something worth auditioning on the 4th. If we bust our buts (yes, pun intended: You know, “When the deadline’s neeeeeear, and it don’t look good — Who you gonna call? BUT BUSTERS!”), we might … maybe? … SHOULD! be able to at least put together a respectable audition, if not one that will make everybody say OMG WE MUST HAVE THESE GUYS!

Maybe.

In other news, we saw The Scorch Trials today and spent the whole movie making Burning-Man related jokes.

It actually wasn’t too bad: its storyline was fairly predictable “twinks versus the old ppl conspiracy versus alien zombie plague” fare, but both installments in the Maze Runner film adaptation series have done a good job mostly avoiding cringe-inducing romantic subplots whilst providing enjoyable visuals and action scenes, even if elements of those action scenes do frequently make one ask, “Haven’t you guys ever seen a movie? Hey, maybe standing around and waiting for all of the alien plant zombies to awaken within two meters of your tasty still-fully-human faces is a bad idea. Wait, what the … WHY ARE YOU CLIMBING THE STAIRS?!”

Oops, potential spoilers below for ppl who care about that kind of thing, so here comes a More Tag:

Read the rest of this entry

Quickie: Plans

On Wednesday, B. and I were chatting during the quick break between barre about how we’d both lost so much ground to injury this year (she with a stress-fractured foot; I with my calf and then my toe). I was like, “Can you believe we were doing brisees last year?”

Anyway, that’s kind of a theme for me, right now. In some ways — mood-wise, ballet-wise — I’m sitting at the bottom of a long climb back to where I want to be.

Fortunately, as a cyclist, the ability and willingness to climb ridiculous hills was and remains one of my strengths, and I feel like maybe I can translate that over to the rest of my life.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to climb this particular set of hills quickly. Just that I know myself well enough to recognize that I’m probably going to make it (even though I’m in that weird place, right now, where you’re rational enough to know that the voice in your head that constantly yammers on like, “You’ve squandered your potential and will never amount to anything now!” is a crazy voice, but not yet in a place where you can make it STFU).

Anyway. So I’m gaining ground more slowly than I would like, but I’m gaining ground.

I guess I can pop in another bike-racing analogy, here: one time, Timothy and I raced Death March while both of us were recovering from various winter illnesses, including some kind of gut thing that was going around. In short, neither of us had been able to eat like a normal person for several days, and we were what a long-ago Arnold Schwartzenegger might have termed “weak little girly-men,” and we did nothing fast, least of all climbing … but climb we did, and (as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting here in my living room, writing this post), we lived to ride another day (in fact, the next year we came back and roundly spanked half the field, although we were in turn roundly spanked by the other half).

Sometimes it sucked, and sometimes we walked our bikes, but at the end of the day, we kept going and eventually made it back to the ranch without having to ride in the Broom Wagon.

So, anyway. I’m not all there yet, but I’m not ready to wait for the broom wagon, either.

As such, here are some plans for upcoming posts, with no particular timeline in mind (though next week would be nice):

  • Two Cooking With ADHD posts:
    • What To Do With 10 Pounds of Chicken Leg Quarters (Because They’re On Sale)
    • How To Make Bread And Influence Impress People
  • One hopes, a string of Ballet Class Notes, as my foot can definitely handle at least 3 classes per week at this point if I don’t jump too much.
  • Maybe a post about writing? I am doing that still.

In other news, I am rocking along in Homemaker Mode and actually rather better at it than I used to be.

This is comforting.

Some of it, of course, is the Miracle of Modern Medicine (go, Adderall!), but some of it is simply a function of the fact that, amazingly, I do appear to be able to learn.

I’m hoping my friend Robert (Hi, Robert!) will be able to come visit before we head out to the desert; maybe when he does I’ll ask him to collaborate on a Cooking With ADHD Video Post, since we have two different flavors of ADHD and we might find different things helpful.

Oh, and I just read Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, and I highly recommend it (if Regency-era romping bisexual sword-wieldy people sound like your cup of tea).

That’s it for now.

Maybe if I ever manage to get Cooking with ADHD rolling, I’ll expand it into a guide for the ADDle-pated Homemaker. Goodness knows I could use one!

Val Caniparoli’s “A Cinderella Story” at Louisville Ballet

I’m going to keep this brief, because I’m soooooooo tired.

This was, simply put, a really surprisingly great show.   Very different, very modern choreography; great music; awesome set design; excellent execution by the dancers — but the acting element was what really stole the show.  (Also: Loved the wacko stepmother.   She was brilliant!)

Dancers embodying their characters; playing with them; blurring the line between “dancer” and “actor” — that makes for great ballet storytelling.  No awkward pantomime.  One rather hilarious allusion to Swan Lake.

Enjoyed immensely; highly recommended.   Did cabrioles all the way to the car (but only on the left leg!).

If you can go see it, do! 

One caveat: some younger kids (and some less creative adults) may not groove on the very abstract storytelling approach.   Our nephew (who turned 7 in January) really enjoyed some scenes, but a lot of it went right over his head.   However, dance-mad kids with some ballet training will either love it (if they love dance, period) or haaaate it (if they’re classical ballet purists).

Ballet Squid Chronicles: Pathetic Attempts at Unitard Photos

So I bought a Eurotard unitard to go with the “Keep Calm and Rond de Jambe” shirt that Kelly gave me because I want to write a review of said uni.

Turns out is actually kind of hard to get good unitard pictures in my house, and that I’m kind of terrible at it anyway.

Take, for example, the following:

image

In my messy washroom. At least I had the sense to move the Catbox?

This was the best shot I got of my legs.  Probably the best shot, period, because of course it is.   Everyone loves pictures of someone else’s bathroom.

Oy vey. Love the placement of the J-trap and the, um, wild Bohemian hair moment I’m having?

So I tried again in the bedroom.  I had to place pillows in front of the bedstead so my legs were visible, since that’s kind of the whole point.

image

I did not actually intend this to be a picture of my lower torso.  Awkward. 

(I might be able to crop it for use in my Amazon review.   Maybe.)

So I tried a little passé.

image

Not my best moment.

You guys, it’s hard to passé whilst operating a phone, even by voice-command, even if you don’t take it to relèvé.  This is The.  Worst.  Passé.  (Case in point: turnout weak, working leg too low and overcrossed, and let’s not even talk about my swaybacked posture).   If I’d tried relèvé, I wouldn’t be writing this, because I would have face-planted into a mirror and died.

Also, the camera angle makes my legs look like they’re two different lengths and circumferences and stuff.   At least it’s a half-way decent picture of the unitard itself.

image

I figured I’d try just a plain old relaxed first position.   Chopped off my own head.   Maybe that’s for the best?

In the end, this is the only half-way decent shot I managed:

image

Whee.   One whole leg.

So there you have it.

Exciting pictures of my unitard.   Le sigh.

Clearly, I am going to have to get someone who knows what they’re doing to take review pictures for me.

My only consolation is that the pictures Denis took for me were even worse.   I won’t saddle you with those.

Anyway, I tried a little aerobic dance workout in these.   So far, so good.  I don’t want to take them off, because they’re so comfy, so that’s a good sign.

Not About Bikes or Ballet: Telecanter’s Receding Rules; Also, Books (About Ballet)

The first part of this post comes to you by way of one of the new banners I cobbled together last night from some clip art.

If paying for it isn’t in the budget, I like to use public-domain images (or my own original art) for things like banners. Once in a while, I’ll shamelessly gank a base image for some other, grander transformation project, but it’s easy to properly credit the source in those cases.

My ballet squid is no exception — and the squid part came from Telecanter’s Receding Rules. If you’re a fantasy author or a tabletop RPGer, Receding Rules is an awesome resource. Not only will you find reams of public-domain clip art that you can use to make, among other things, ballet squids (how’s that for a random encounter?), but Telecanter’s thoughtful suggestions for building tension and excitement into tabletop role playing games translate really nicely to the realm of fantasy writing.

As a writer who occasionally finds himself in need of a random, foreboding-but-mostly-harmless encounter for some character or another, I found Telecanter’s post, “Discretionary Monsters,” particularly edifying.

In short, if you’re a writer or a gamer (or a lazy blogger in search of some clip art), you might want to give Telecanter’s blog a look.

Books
Amazon knows I am both a bibliophile and a ballet nerd, and as such has fiercely honed its ability to recommend books against which I can muster little resistance. Thus far, I’ve been fairly good about resisting for the most part — I’ve only purchased five (four are Kindle books, which — thanks to their generally-lower price points and the problem of instant gratification — are much harder to resist).

Only five.

Heh.

It began, of course, with Apollo’s Angels, Jennifer Homans’ thoroughgoing history of the art form. This book has already been reviewed by every ballet blogger on the face of the planet, so I’m not going to devote a ton of time to it here. The bottom line: if you like history and ballet and there’s enough geek in your blood to let you appreciate the academic tone, Angels is worth the read (regardless of Homans’ thesis that ballet is dead). I made it to the eighth chapter before the flurry of late-semester school stuff snowed me under; I haven’t picked it up again yet because I’ve been in Irresponsible Non-Academic Mode all summer.

Somehow, this led to Winter Season, the brief but highly-engaging journal of a NYCB dancer near the end of the Balanchine era. Toni Bentley’s voice is clear, engaging; perhaps even effervescent. There is an immediacy to it that makes the book a quick and compelling read.

Of course, since it was brief, I had to find another ballet book to chase it with. This led to Stephen Manes’ Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear — a sort of “embedded field report” about Manes’ time observing the Pacific Northwest Ballet. It’s as enjoyable as the title suggests; but nonetheless a book you can read episodically. I have been enjoying it in dribs and drabs (between mystery novels — a recently-acquired taste — and ballet classes).

The most recent addition to the pile is Ramsay Burt’s The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities — a book that has proven to be even dryer and more academic in tone than Apollo’s Angels (it’s okay, I’m totally into that kind of thing: I’ve got this, I’m a Professional Student). You can tell it’s going to be very academic without even cracking its virtual spine, since the “cover” is surpassing plain, with an abstract design in blue topped with plain white text (it’s also marketed as a textbook). This one is definitely not reading-in-bed-after-you’ve-taken-your-Trazodone material. I think I bumbled my way through about eight pages before giving up last night. It seems very promising (if not ballet-specific; Burt also addresses the broader world of theatrical dance), but also very dry.

I suppose I’ll keep working on it while I wait for Ballet Technique for the Male Dancer, which is sort of the hard-won prize of the lot. Amazon recommended it; several very good reviews confirmed its promise — and then I realized it was out of print and, at the time, around $80 for a second-hand paperback copy in “good” condition. I popped it in my wish list and assumed that was never going to happen. Since then, for whatever reason, a number of copies have surfaced for around $40. Last night, I took a deep breath ($40 is like 3.1 classes!) and bit the bullet. Unfortunately, since Ballet Technique for the Male Dancer is an actual physical, printed book, I will just have to wait ’til it gets here.

Anyway, that’s it for the moment. That last little blurb isn’t so much a review or a recommendation as an expression of my existential angst in the face of having to WAIT FOR A BOOK (ZOMG!)*.

No class today; tomorrow, we’ll be doing Essentials and possibly a random tandem ride.

Notes
*Yes, I’m making fun of myself.

About the Bike: 2013 GT Karakoram 2.0 — and A Bit of Miscellany

First, the Review

I owe a number of longer-term reviews on a number of topics.  I figured I’d start with my most recent major bike acquisition, the 2013 GT Karakoram 2.0 now lovingly dubbed “Mountain Monster.”

At first glance, the Karakoram seems as unlike my Fuji Roubaix (AKA “The Fearsome Fuji”) as it gets.  It is not really all that light (though it’s also not all that heavy).  It’s much more upright.  It has clearance for some pretty big tires.  In short, it’s a mountain bike — and its mountain-bike breeding really shines through when you take it off-road.

That said, some of the qualities that make the Karakoram shine on the trails are qualities it shares with the Fearsome Fuji: sharp handling and the kind of mind-reading feel that make the Roubaix my absolute favorite road ride.

You can absolutely fly this bike by the seat of your pants.  It responds brilliantly to countersteering.  I relish the experience of railing sharp turns on the Karakoram by dropping my weight deep into the outside pedal and then just letting the bike kind of lie down towards the inside of the turn*.  Exceptional balance means you can give it a lot of lean before you begin to feel like you might be risking road rash.

In short, the Karakoram is wildly nimble.  I am far from being an accomplished off-road rider, but during this year’s Death March attempt, I rode the Karakoram through and around and over all kinds of stuff.  At one point, my rear wheel slipped on a branch hidden under some muck and the bike’s responsive handling saved me from careening into a tree.  A better rider would even have made it out of that tight spot without stopping (again, I’m pretty half-baked off-road).  Simply put, the bike is well-balanced and responsive: ideal qualities in any road or off-road ride**.

This nimble handling also translates well to an urban environment.  While I don’t think the Karakoram will ever be my go-to century bike, as an urban on-road commuter, it actually gets the job done with a fair bit of elan.  Road obstacles can be smartly avoided, and the hydraulic brakes’ stopping power comes in mightily handy when oblivious pedestrians or drivers fumble into the road without looking.

That said, in terms of rider experience on the commutes, there’s a trade-off involved: a more upright position offers an awesome visual field and helps keep you visible to drivers, but it also means that you catch wind — lots of it!  Even when tucked down over the bars, I’m still in a more upright configuration than I’m used to, and I definitely feel the air resistance.  In less-aerodynamic winter kit, it can feel like riding in a parachute.

Coupled with Maxxis’ 2.10″ Aspen tires — which are fantastic on trails but can really soak up your effort on the road — this means that the bike is slower to accelerate and slower on the climbs.  Yesterday, on a Karakoram commute, I rode a not-insignificant overpass climb into a stiff headwind and found myself really fighting to maintain a pace above 10 MPH.  Make no mistake — this bike climbs, but it does so slowly, and seems to prefer to do so in tiny little gears.  That said, in the right gear combo, pretty stiff climbs can seem fairly effortless — as long as you’re not pushing for speed.  I suspect the right tires could go a long way towards mitigating this effect if you plan primarily to commute or tour on-road on a Karakoram 2.0.

Commuting-wise, between geometry and fat tires, the Karakoram encourages its rider to spin smaller gears.  That’s good for me, because I remain an inveterate masher, and spinning will indubitably leave more in the legs for ballet class 😛

Coupling a high cadence with a low gear, it’s not difficult to maintain a 14 – 16 MPH pace on the flats on this bike once you’re up to speed.  Likewise, the enormous gearing range means you can basically ride it up a wall, albeit slowly.  Still beats the heck out of walking.  Moreover, the bike descends like a freaking rocket.

Shifting is crisp and responsive (and continues to function, with varying responsiveness, even in mucky conditions).  Braking is nigh miraculous: the hydraulic disc brakes that come stock on the Karakoram 2.0 are both powerful and nuanced.  You can modulate speed with great sensitivity and still stop fast enough to scare the crap out of yourself.

Maintenance-wise, the bike seems to be pretty much “wash-n-wear.”  After the mudfest that was Death March, a good bath and a shot of chain lube got it shifting perfectly again.  Shifting adjustments should be no sweat (I haven’t needed to bother yet; I took the bike in for a full shop tune-up before the race); braking adjustments will be more involved due to the hydraulics.  I plan to pay someone else to mess around with those, for the most part.  There are limits to my expertise, and I’m fine with that.

At around 30 pounds, the Karakoram could be lighter (and, indeed, you can lighten it up considerably with a few easy-but-pricey upgrades: lighter wheels, etc.); however, it doesn’t feel heavy when you’re riding it.

Experienced off-road racers looking for race bikes should probably look elsewhere, but for beginning-to-intermediate mountain bikers, the Karakoram offers a lot of bang for the buck.  Likewise, experienced off-road racers looking for a fun bike for non-racing rides could enjoy the heck out of this machine.

In summary, the GT Karakoram 2.0 is a very solid bike at its price point (especially if you can snag one on clearance, like I did — I paid $500 for mine).  As an entry-level off-road 29er, it’s stellar; likewise, it shines as a slowish-but-steady urban assualt bike.  For gravel racing, I’d reserve it for races with true off-road sectors; drilling away for hours on gravel climbs or flats really asks for a less upright position.

For loaded long-distance touring, I’d say that GT’s Karakoram 2.0 is quite admirably suited (and comes drilled for a rear rack), but if you’ll be any distance from places where you’re likely to find good bike shops, you might want to swap out the hydraulic brakes for a set of mechanical ones***, which are better suited to field maintenance.  Nobody wants to carry around a bleed kit and hydraulic fluid on a backroads tour of anywhere.

The 29″ wheel size could potentially make finding tires and tubes harder in some parts of the world, but the Schrader-drilled stock rims offer flexibility: more retailers carry Schrader tubes than Prestas, and you can inflate them at gas stations, with most readily-available air compressors, and with cheap, widely-available hand- and foot-pumps.  You can also use Presta tubes if you snag a couple of those little converter sleeves to go over the stems.  Though I actually like Presta valves better, my imaginary “world-touring” rig is specced with Schrader-friendly rims for all of these reasons.

If you’re seriously considering the purchase of a Karakoram 2.0, go ahead and pull the trigger.  I doubt you’ll regret it — for the price, you’re getting a reliable, capable bike that can be dressed up for racing or down for touring in rough country, not to mention a metric shedload of fun.

Next, the Miscellany

Things to remember for Saturday’s ballet class:

  • When your heels are on the floor, keep your weight in them.  The idea is that your weight goes in a column straight down to the floor.  This makes you stable. I have a habit of keeping my weight in the balls of my feet all the time.

    This is great when you’re supposed to be on the balls of your feet — like in relèvé, for example — but kind of a bad idea when your heels are supposed to be on the ground. I suspect this is the child of my favored gymnastic discipline — floor exercise — coupled with cycling, though I’m also one of those freaks who run on their toes.  Or, well, jog.  I don’t know if you would call what I do these days “running.”  Anyhoo!  I remembered on Monday (after class, of course ._.) that standing flat-footed with your weight in your toes doesn’t work so well in ballet.

    If your foot is flat on the floor, you want to keep your weight in your heel; it stabilizes the whole column.  If your heel is on the floor but your weight is in the ball of your foot, all kinds of craziness happens, and then you sprain your ankle.

  • Chaines turns, which I grappled with and finally remembered how to do on Thursday: don’t over-rotate.
  • Frappe: it’s not a coffee drink, so don’t do it like you’ve just had five espressos and a shot of cocaine.  Also don’t do it like you’re angry at the floor.  Both of these approaches result in the suede bits on the bottoms of your ballet slippers sort of sticking.  Also, both of these approaches look ridiculous.

Other things to remember:

  • The fact that I’m starting to feel human again is not an excuse to overcommit to a million things and run myself into the ground.  My dance card is currently full to the point of bursting.
  • Fill out FAFSA, zomg.

In other news:

  • I am registered for Fall semester.  I should graduate in December.  THANK G-D.  I love school, and inevitably I will do more school once I’m done with this school, but I am so ready to NOT be an undergrad anymore.
  • I am not taking summer classes.  The plan for this summer can be summarized in one word: ballet.

That’s it for now.  Keep whatever side down is supposed to be down 😛

Notes

*Sure, I’m gonna lose some knee skin this way sooner or later, but the soaring feeling is worth it.

**…Also great qualities in a life partner or best friend.

***You can’t go wrong with Avid’s BB7s.

Initial Review: Mizuno Wave EVO Cursoris Running Shoe

Tonight I got a little run in on the treadmill.

Since this involved first clearing all the accumulated detritus (including, oddly enough, an ottoman) from the treadmill, I got a bit of a shuffling-things-around workout as well. Once I had that sorted, I did 30 minutes at an easy jogging pace with a little warm up and a little cool down. Chased the whole thing with a bunch of stretches.

My new running shoes — a pair of Mizuno’s Women’s Wave EVO Cursoris shoes in electric pink — performed as nicely on the treadmill as they did on the pavement on their solo voyage.

According to the product description on Amazon.com, they’re designed to “facilitate transition to a midfoot stride;” since I run that way anyway, they’re much more comfortable for me than are shoes designed for folks who prefer a heel-strike landing. I don’t think there’s necessarily one right way to run that will work for everyone, so if you’re a confirmed heel-striker and that’s what works for you, these may not be your ideal shoes. That said, they are a very light, fairly “minimalist” shoe that gives you a good feel for surface beneath your feet, so they might be worth a shot if you’re looking to shave off some grams (do runners do that?) and maintain good ground feel.

Reviews online note that these shoes pack a wide toe box, and they’re right. They’re like duck feet! Initially, I was concerned that the wide toe box might not work for me, but it actually does. The midfoot narrows enough to keep everything in place, and that wide toe box leaves a ton of room for heat to dissipate. The idea is to feel like it’s not there, and that’s pretty much how things work out. My feet feet pretty happy in there, with plenty of room to breathe.

The enormous and numerous ventilation holes are also nice: the upper is basically a double layer of mesh. This keeps your feet from overheating both during indoor workouts and, presumably, when it’s warm outside. I look forward to seeing how they fare this summer.

The color, of course, is fierce. I have owned pink shoes before (my little rubber slip-on shoes that I bought to bring with me on bike-camping trips are black with shell pink accents), but I have definitely never owned hot pink, yellow, and black shoes with iridescent leopard print accents before. I think Mom was surprised that I bypassed red shoes and bought pink ones (the red ones didn’t suit my feet as well), and I’ll admit that a part of me thought, “These shoes may be to femme even for me,” but they’ve really grown on me.

Retail on these puppies appears to range from around $80 to around $120. I got them at TJ Maxx for something like $40, which is a pretty nice price. They had quite a few pair available at the Wethersfield Shopping Center TJ Maxx, so if you’re in the area and in the market for new running shoes, you might give them a look.

Thus far, I really like these guys. I think they’re going to work out well for me. I can’t even say I did my homework before I bought them; it was pretty much a whim — buy some inexpensive running shoes a quick jog while on vacation. It seems like I picked a pair of winners.

In a Nutshell: Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Minimal drop
  • Good ground feel (minimal “padding”)
  • Well ventilated
  • Ideal for mid-food landing runners

In a Nutshell: Cons

  • Probably not ideal for heel-strikers
  • Not really suited for outdoor runs in cold weather

Cooler Weather Brings Neoprene Socks

Once upon a time, long ago, I bought a pair of Nashbar’s “Ragster” sandals. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a review of the same.

Since then, my Ragsters have been on all kinds of rides, on all kinds of surfaces, all over Kentucky and southern Indiana. They even went for a ride in Washington, DC.

Now, after more than a year and untold miles on the bike, they look a little worn, but they’re still holding up just fine.

The Ragsters are my go-to everyday commuting shoe. They’re blissful on the bike and decently comfortable off, a feat they accomplish by sacrificing a measure of stiffness (they’re not built for racing, but well over 90% of the riding I do isn’t racing). In fact, I would say that their only weakness is that, being sandals, they’re not really adapted for colder weather.

Thus, neoprene socks.

I have a feeling they’re really designed for cold-water dives — they look a lot like scuba socks, complete with “fabric magic closures” and those little bumpy dots on the bottom for grip. However, I ordered my neoprene socks (and a matching pair of gloves) with the intention of using them under my mountain bike shoes during the Gravel Grovel and other cold-weather mixed terrain adventures.

This week, we finally started seeing some cool mornings: temperatures in the upper 40s (Fahrenheit). I broke out my fall kit: wind vest, arm warmers, bib knickers, mesh-backed full finger gloves (which do the job in temperatures from about 40F to about 80F) … and, of course, the neoprene socks.

I wasn’t sure how they’d do. Would the socks fall down? Would they play nicely with the Ragsters? Would my feet get swamp rot and fall off by the end of my first class?

I’m glad to say that the answer is a resounding: “No. Yes. No.”

At this point you can call me a believer. The socks fit just right. They keep my feet nice and warm in the chilly morning air. On cooler days, I wear them over the tall socks that I think of as “knicker socks.” In the afternoons, when it’s too warm for the neoprene socks, I just peel them off and toss ’em in a pocket (inside out, so they’ll dry). I tighten up the toe strap on the Ragsters a little and I’m good to go.

My feet stay warm, but not so warm they’re uncomfortable. Thus far, they haven’t developed swamp rot. I don’t feel like I’m spending the day sloshing around in puddles of my own sweat. In short, the neoprene socks are doing their job rather nicely.

I haven’t yet had a chance to see how they perform in a downpour or when dipped in a creek. I plan to orchestrate such an opportunity soon. It will also take some while to sort out the question of durability. At only $10, though, if they last even one season, they’ll have proven themselves an acceptable purchase. Winter kit can be pricey, and these are less expensive than bike-specific toe warmers or shoe covers and definitely less expensive than waterproof winter bike shoes (of which I already have an acceptable pair, but one which is not at all suitable for racing).

The company that sells these, LTD Commodities, also sells a pair of neoprene gloves with grippy dots. I bought those, too, but they probably won’t see use ’til we get a good, cold rainy day. The fit is solid, though, and I’m looking forward to trying them out.

Pix and an immersion-test review forthcoming.

Stay dry out there, and keep the rubber side down!

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