Destruction test 1

Leo Sho-Silva had the honour of being one of two runners to ‘Destruction Test’ our Mark #2 Speed of Light suits over 20 back-to-back runs. Doing this in Glasgow in mid-winter added a further frisson of difficulty/madness to the challenge.

Leo is a great believer in the long slow run. By slow we mean slow (heart-rate 120bpm) and long (50-70 miles a week). His second great discipline is to go out in absolute darkness very early in the morning and run the quiet streets, whatever the weather and however he feels.

He does this with a ridiculous degree of humour and fortitude, often training with singular focus for month after month to work towards one marathon the following season. We love his dedication (he trawls obscure websites and endlessly tweaks his training schedule with new tips and ideas).

Imagine if you will, Leo padding through the streets of Glasgow, glowing like some alien that has just been dropped from a fictitious planet. His feedback will form the basis for the final design of the light suits and if it (and he) can survive the sleet, snow, rain, wind and frost of an average Scottish winter it should survive in the summer too!

The following represents a selection of his scribbled notes as he came back in from his daily run. It is a mark of the man and his mission!

December 2011

Day 1
05:00hrs: The light suit doesn’t go on as sweetly as the trial suit had done the previous evening. Firstly because my two young kids, who had designated themselves as the Velcro thigh, knee and ankle team, were a no show and the other being the straps had ‘velcroed’ themselves willy-nilly.

The reaction of the sleepy public was mixed varying from strange looks to “Got a light big man!!?”

Day 2
05:15hrs: I was more careful hanging the suit up this time so had it on in a couple of mins. Not yet confident enough to try it on blindfolded.

Run went smoothly and managed to keep heart rate at a low level this time. Hardly saw anyone this time. Weather was appalling.

Day 4
04:30hrs: I’m beginning to wonder whether maybe running in the evening would be a better idea as the few folk who see the suit are half asleep and would probably explain the muted response.

Day 5
This morning I forgot to monitor the calf straps and this time the right slides down instead of the left!

Day 6
05:15hrs: Again I forgot about calf straps and again it’s right leg….JINGS!!! Obviously memory not too hot at 4:30ish am.

19:58hrs: I decided to try an evening run. The kids wanted me to run into Kelvingrove Park so they could see me through the window. Along the river was pitch black and I was thinking to myself that the head lamp adds a sense of security, and if there were any psychos lurking about I could see them early and then make a mad dash towards them …let’s see how psycho they really are!

The blinding sleet and freezing wind certainly added to the atmosphere, the torch was great as it gave me a clear view of a massive more-than-ankle-deep puddle which I went straight through thinking it was tarmac! It was tarmac I saw thanks to the strong light – it was the clear five inches of clear freezing water above the tarmac I didn’t see….anyway onwards and upwards.

Out onto the warmth of Great Western Road and I’m wondering why people are staring and filming me on their phones…

“Look its Robocop. What’s wrong with his calf strap!!?”

Day 7
03:40hrs: Spring up sharpish this morning. It’s Thursday, the day of my mid-week longish run, so it’s always an early start. Body clock still in summer time- obviously not a big fan of GMT.

As my daughter keeps reminding me, Thor is the god of thunder and only one thing happens on Thor’s day – you get soaked!

Not only was this an opportunity to really test the MKII on Thor’s day, I have decided to ditch running shoes and go for barefoot running. Well not quite barefoot, I mean this is Glasgow (winter) after all. The closest I can get is a pair of mega flat 70’s retro style Puma sneakers with the insoles removed so no support nor cushioning and mesh uppers…nice.

This was going to be a straight out for an hour and straight back. Not only was it freezing, it was pelting down. My hands were frozen after five minutes – only one hour 55 minutes to go.

I’ll tell you one thing – the light suit does not give off much heat nor does it keep the rain off…likewise my Pumas.

The suit is again bearing up well to the rain although this time it feels heavier than usual. I was expecting the ankle lights to struggle with deep puddles but so far so good.

The beauty of ‘straight out and back’ runs, apart from them taking you as far away from home as you can, is that at the turnaround point it’s ‘home time’ so it feel as if the run is over and you’re just going home and every step is taking you the quickest way home.

There I am, standing in a humongous drop of water, staring at my watch, frozen to the core, covered in lights at 5am, dripping wet and an old bloke walking his soaking dog says “Morning!”...I’m thinking “Do I just jog the 20 minutes home or do I turn around and take the one of the many longer routes home?”

Day 8
06:00am
Setting off for an easy one hour and I’m back in ‘I’m a Major Dude in a light suit’ mode and where’s my public!!?...although the test seemed a bit irrelevant after all the damage caused by the storm so cut my run short and went home.

Day 11
17:45hrs
An evening run at an easy tempo around the west end (again) and I’m not sure how to be in the suit. Am I to be the friendly happy “Hey everybody check out me in my light suit”, or the cold calculating terminator type? Probably come across as both going by people’s reactions.

Running at night with Ray Bans!!?...Maybe not ..Balaclava and Ray Bans!?....I used to love DEVO, so maybe…

As I’m running along the Clyde opposite the Science Centre: “Haw MUISHTER!!!!!..... Wait!!”

I look round and these young kids come running across Bells Bridge a bit too quickly as it took them an age to get their breath back. They tell me the suit looked amazing from the Govan end. We chat for a bit.

These kids, bored out their skulls, see something they’ve never seen before and they’re over like a shot wanting to know more, with no hesitation asking “What’s the story driver?” I could tell that they would be blown away with Speed of Light but I think to myself there is absolutely no way they would have a chance of seeing it…a million miles away. Maybe the image will stick in their minds. They took some photos wishing me good luck as I made my way. I thought kids never ever say good luck.

Day 12
05:00hrs
An easy slow jog as my ankles feel as if trying to adjust to the near bare foot running style, suit starting to feel heavy, starting to get twinges in my lower back behind the battery pack.

Day 13
05:15hrs
Ankles are on fire

Day 14
06:15hrs
Tendons are on fire

Day 15
04:00hrs
Ankles still burning

Day 16
06:00hrs
Ankles are just really, really hot and stiff so decide to get out anyway, what is it they say? – rest a muscle, train a tendon. I quickly donned suit and headed out the door. Whoahhh!!..Hold on there…it’s ankle deep in snow. Not the nice puffy crunch crunch stuff but that horrible poor-man’s freezing, but not frozen enough, slush. Yuck.

Decided to shorten my 2.5 hr to a 1.5hr. After 30 mins I think ‘Oh this it how it feels running in your socks in slush’...let’s just say my ankles weren’t burning …well not in a hot way anyway….not even thinking about the light suit….or ankles for that matter. This is definitely a dead-sea-salt-bath-up-to-the-neck moment. Images of a barefoot runner’s frost bitten toes I saw on his blog start to jump into my head.

I stop turn round and head home.

Day 17
05:30hrs
Wake up and ankles feel fine, just a very relaxing easy hour run. My ankles feel a lot stronger than ever. Life is good and Light Suit is my friend.

Day 18
05:15hrs.
Jump out of bed stand on each leg on my tip toes and there is no ankle pain. Decided to ‘bank it’ and went back to bed.