Category Archives: Planning

House Wrap

imageWho would ever tell, that the most versatile and one of the most important pieces of gear that I ever carried is a piece of house wrap!

About 8×4 feet, it is the same kind of wrapping material used to wrap houses for insulation purposes. It is called Tyvek and can be purchased at hardware stores at very low prices.

It is hard to list all the uses for it, but I will try here:

I use Tyvek to cover the ground before setting up camp. It protects the tent from dirt and protects the air mattress from thorns and sharp rocks. It also helps keep everything clearn and organized, and for a guy with moderate OCD like me, keeping the camp clean is a must.

imageI also use the same Tyvek, folded three or four times, to cover the ground when I want to lay down my backpack and gear, to rest, for nature call, or any other reason. That helps keep every piece of gear and clothing clean.

When I want to sit down on a rock, cold bench, or on the rocky ground, the Tyvek makes a good clean surface to sit on.

Tyvek is not very soft, and it feels a little brittle. At first I though that would be a downside but instead it is a great advantage because once you fold it, it “remember” the creases and you can fold it again in the same patterns effortlessly, even in strong winds. Try folding anyting in the wind, it is a frustrating experience, except Tyvek. It nearly folds itself!

It is very easy to clean and can be machine washed. I prefer to clean it with a rag because machine washing would make it soft, and then it wouldn’t fold as easy as it does now.

It doesn’t fray, and it doesn’t rip easily. It is also waterproof, and it helps isolate from the cold.

If the weater turns insane I can use the Tyvek to line the inside of the tent to isolate from the cold winds or rain.

Jumping fences can be a pain in the ass. Literally. Dangerous operation. But if you fold the Tyvek 3 times and lay it on the ground you can lay down and simply slide under the fence, and then pull the Tyvek with the gear to the other side. It is so easy it is a joke!

I keep it folded tight and hold it on the under side of my backpack with elastic cords. I can take it out and put it back without needing to take the backpack out. This way it also protects the bottom of the backpack if I put it own the ground for a moment. So even when I don’t even take it out and unfold, the pieve of Tyvek is there helping out.

Best camping gear ever created!

Second run across the USA

April-2013
April
235 lbs
October-2013
October
200 lbs

I am feeling ready! Excited with the progress in my training and still with a few more weeks to prepare. Dropped 35 lbs so far and will probably get rid of another 10 or so before the end of the year.

557575_4165220939512_1233033845_n

On January 1st 2014, 9am sharp, I will be starting the run from here: The end of Venice Beach Pier. Regardless of the weather or how hungover I may be from New Year’s Even celebration. I wish I will see many of my friends there running the first miles with me.

Logo2014

This run across the USA will start from Venice Beach Pier (Los Angeles) and end in South Beach (Miami) probably on April 10th. You can see updates, routes, videos, and news about it here at 100DaysOfMadness.com and also on my facebook page: http://facebook.com/100DaysOfMadness. I will be posting updates on twitter as well: #usa100run.

Thanks to these USA crossers!

These people also crossed the USA on foot, or are doing it at the present moment. They gave me valuable information, support, and encouragement. I believe it is very important to acknowledge their participation. Many thanks to each one of them!

Björn Suneson

Björn has been talking to me via email and through his comments on the web site since I was still in Florida. His encouragement has been very important to me. He is now preparing for his third (yes, the third) USA crossing. I am looking forward to meet him during my visit to Europe this Summer.

Drew Miller

I met Drew on the road near Parker, AZ. He and his mother were super nice with me, we could spend a little time talking. The next day they even brought me a bag of ice while I was on the road! Drew is an inspiration to me and others.

Gary Hause

Gary has an impressive story! Many years on the road, plenty of experience! During the few minutes we spent together we gave me many ideas and valuable advice. I feel lucky that I have met him!

Jeff Grabosky

It was early evening some place East of Austin when I got an unexpected phone call from Jeff. He called to encourage me and to exchange some ideas. What a great moment! Talking to someone who is doing the same thing.

Well… not quite. Jeff is much more of a runner than I am. But watch me, dude! I will catch up.

John Wallace III

John is a supporter of all people dedicated to crossing the USA on foot, and his web site USA Crossers is one of the best references online about who is doing it currently and who has done it in the past.

His encouragement and networking has been very valuable to myself and many others.

Paul Staso

About a week before I started my travel Paul Staso contacted me via email and he gave me some very valuable advice. His web site was also very helpful. I remember particularly a week while I was still in Florida and had a sequence of very difficult days on the road and his encouragement was very welcome.

Skip Potts

Perhaps the most important advice of all: “Be flexible”, I got from Skip. A mutual friend introduced us and Skip gave me plenty of information and answered a bunch of questions.

Zoe Romano

Since we started exchanging messages about a month ago, Zoë has been a constant friend on the road. It’s funny that we are doing similar things about the same time, but in opposite directions. Zoë has been encouraging me, helping find places to stay, and being an overall super positive presence if not in person at least over the phone. In a sport without groupies, without cheerleaders, and without people around most of the time, what a difference it makes to be in constant contact with a fellow runner!

PS: I use the term “fellow runner” very loosely here. Zoë, Paul, Björn, Jeff, Drew… these people run much more, much faster, much better than I do. I have as much if not more enjoyment doing it, but in terms of athleticism they leave me in the dust. But keep watching… I will catch up you speed demons!

Running shoes, the epic novel…

If I knew that running shoes would be such an issue I would have prepared better for this. But hey, for a rookie I didn’t make so many mistakes, let this one slip by, would ya? So here is the center of the drama: I am having trouble choosing, buying, and using running shoes. But first let’s get to what I thought would be the solution from the time I was training in Miami:

Early during the training phase I bought these Vibram Five Fingers and I love them! Sometimes I use them even when not running, just to have the feeling of bare-footing without getting my feet all dirty. I would use them any day in the city. I would use them in parks and bike paths. But I would not use them on the road. There is so much trash, thorns, nails, and glass on the side of the road and on the breakdown lane that the VFFs wouldn’t have survived Florida, nor would my feet. I need some protection from all that trash, so I used these:

These were my old Adidas. By old I mean about 15 (yes, fifteen) years old pair of Adidas that I got while still in Brazil, sometime during the last century. These shoes were so worn out that they were totally flexible, comfortable, and with about 10mm of soles in them there was plenty of protection from debree. They were so light that I could run well on them, and did plenty of running, all the way to Houston. A little over 1100 miles I put on them until they started falling apart and the soles were so worn out that you could see through them. Job well done!

Then in Houston my friend Alain Ducante gave me a pair of brand new Asics racer shoes. I loved them! The feeling was exactly the same of the very old very beat up Adidas, but even a bit lighter! Perfect shoes! Lightweight, cool, and great traction. No heel padding, no bullshit, just great shoes. But the folks at the store told me they would last about 200 miles. They were about right. At 300 miles or so those shoes were done.

That is when I made a mistake. I was in Austin when the Asics were showing signs of serious wear and tear. I decided to keep going and I thought I would just buy other shoes in the next city or so. Bad mistake. When I got to Mason (TX) those shoes were totally spent and I needed something new. Badly! There were no shoe stores, actually no stores of any kind better than a Dollar General. There I found something I thought I would like:

At first I liked them: Very light, very cheap, flat, and I had a good feeling about them. I was very happy and feeling very smart after spending $8, instead of the hundreds of dollars other people spend in shoes. Well… not quite that smart: Those shoes lasted about 60 miles and they were also falling apart.

At this point I was in another little town in the middle of Texas called Eldorado, and of course, there were no stores there better than the Dollar General. So I searched their inventory and found something that looked promising:

These shoes were 50% more expensive than the previous ones ($12) and looked sturdier. They were Female models (I didn’t even know feet have gender) number 10 and felt good enough so I put them to work. The soles started falling apart the very next day. At some point they were so bad that around Iraan (TX) I decided to try again something I only tried in the past after reading Born To Run, more like a funny experiment, but never took seriously:

Huaraches are some kind of sandals popular in Mexico, but what they refer to in Born To Run are the Huaraches made by the Tarahumara indians, basically a piece of car tire with some leather straps. That is how they run hundreds of miles! I was looking at my old Brazilian Havaianas the other day and thought “If I just at some straps to the back they would be just the same thing…” and I was right! I used the old shoe laces from the Asics and when I put them to work I was surprised at how light and easy it feels. I can walk, or run, and they are perfect. The only part I don’t like is that going through the desert my feet get really dirty, and in a part of the country known for snakes and scorpions having my feet out in the open is not appealing. So I like the Brazilian Huaraches but will keep that as a “Plan B” while I test the new possible solution:

These shoes are made by Starter and I found them at Wal-Mart in Pecos, TX. Not great, not expensive ($25), but also not too bad. The structure seems to be better than the previous ones so I am guessing they will last at least until I reach El Paso, where I hope I will find a good running store to buy some high quality minimalistic shoes, or some other racers like the Asics I liked so much.

So here I am longing for my incredibly old Adidas, appreciating the high-tech comfort of a new Asics that won’t last long, and experimenting with some crap I can find in country stores in dusty little towns in West Texas, while the only solution that has been working well and lasting the trip has been some Brazilian sandals with additional straps from old shoes…

Then in Phoenix AZ the store Sole Sports Running Zone gave me a pair of trainers made by New Balance. So far I like them, they are very lightweight and are minimalistic, so I will be running on them all the way to Venice Beach.