Excluding Myself From the Vibram Settlement

Photo May 26, 2 58 13 PMEarlier this month, Vibram — makers of FiveFingers “toe shoes” — announced a settlement in a lawsuit in which they were accused of misleading their customers about the virtues of their FiveFingers shoes for runners. The claimants were apparently injured during transition to running in the shoes, and argued that Vibram made false claims about the efficacy of their shoes.

I’ve been running in FiveFingers shoes for several years, including at least two half marathons. Based on information on the Vibram website and everything I read about transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running, I made a gradual and purposeful transition, starting with intervals of about a tenth of a mile alternating with walking over a total distance of about a mile. I alternated running with traditional running shoes and FiveFingers. It was a gradual and frustrating process.

Not only did I not get injured, but the very reason I made the switch was that running in traditional shoes had resulted in a knee injury that necessitated arthroscopic surgery to my right knee. My reaction to that injury was not to sue Adidas or Nike, but rather to fix my problem and find a solution.

These days I run 20+ miles per week in my Vibram Bikila EVO’s, which are my fourth pair. I run a combination of trails and sidewalks. I’ve run in several organized races so far this year, including a 5K (3 miles), an 8.5 mile time-prediction race, and a 13.1 mile half marathon. I’ll do a 10K (6 miles) on the Fourth of July and another half marathon on Labor Day weekend.

I could very easily request my $90 settlement from Vibram, but I refuse to be a party to the actions of these idiots and their shyster lawyers. Below is my letter to Vibram’s lawyers, opting out of the class.

June 6, 2014

Vibram FiveFingers Class Action Settlement Administrator
PO Box 449
Philadelphia, PA 19105-0449

RE: Valerie Bezdek v. Vibram USA Inc., et al., Case Number 1:12-cv-10513-DPW (D. Mass.) Exclusion Request

Dear Sir or Madam:

I believe the claimants in this case are both ignorant and deceptive. Ignorant in that they didn’t read or couldn’t understand the massive amount of information available to runners transitioning to minimalist running, including the extensive information on the Vibram website itself, and deceptive in that they have mischaracterized how this product has been represented by Vibram.

I believe this suit to be little more than a way for a small number of amoral lawyers to collect nearly a million dollars while setting aside only $2500 for each of their clients. The claim is false; the claimants are lying; and their lawyers are some of the worst excuses for human beings to ever walk the planet.

On principle, then, I must request to be excluded from the Class – not as a way to preserve my right to sue, but as a way to object in the strongest possible terms to the very idea that anything the claimants have said has any merit.

I do not save receipts for products I have no intention of ever returning, so I cannot file an objection to the settlement, which was my first inclination. Suffice to say I believe it is very gracious of Vibram to agree to this settlement given that the claims are so fallacious.

I am the proud owner of four pairs of FiveFingers Bikila running shoes for which I am requesting exclusion. I followed the instructions on the website and in all the literature related to transitioning to minimalist running, and had none of the experiences described by the claimants and their lawyers, who are woefully stupid and disgustingly disingenuous.


Craig Rairdin

How NOT to Stream Live Video from your iPhone

Today I thought it would be cool to stream video of my run to the Internet. I was sure there was an app out there that would do it, and sure enough there is: UStream.

I installed the app and went through the process to set up an account. At the end of entering my data, it said there was already an account for my email address. That was weird; I had never downloaded this app before. I suppose it’s possible I’ve tried installing this program in the past, so I figured I’d ask it to send my password to me and I’d log in to this mysterious, already-existing account.

When I clicked the “forgot my password” link, it asked for my account ID, not my email address. I entered the most likely account ID I may have used in the past, and it told me there was no account for that ID. So I entered a second account ID I sometimes use and sure enough, it said it was sending password reset instructions to me by email.

I waited and waited for an email but it never arrived. So somewhere out there, the person with the account ID “craigr” got a mysterious email asking him to reset his password.

In the meantime I decided to log in with a different email address and was able to set up a new account. I proceeded to the next step, which was to connect my account to Facebook so it could notify my friends when I was broadcasting live video. I got the familiar “connect to Facebook” dialog and entered my Facebook login credentials. Facebook asked for my permission to share all my personal data with UStream, and I agreed. This led to a screen that said, simply, “Success”. There was one and only one button for me to push. It said “Cancel”. I waited and waited but nothing happened. I finally decided to push the Cancel button, and sure enough, it canceled my login.

After trying a couple more times I decided to do an end-run around this stupid process. I went to my iPad and logged into their website using my newly established account. Going into my settings page on the website, I enabled the option to connect to Facebook. Facebook seemed to remember I had given it permission to interact with UStream, so that all went well.

Returning to the iPhone, I exited the application and re-launched it. I tried connecting to Facebook but with no luck. The program simply doesn’t work.

I still think it would be cool to broadcast live during my run and somehow interact with people. UStream is definitely NOT the way to do it.

Why I Run

I’ve never been one for sports or exercise, adopting as my life verse “bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Tim 4:8a).

A while back someone asked my dad why I started running. My dad had an interesting answer. “I think he got a new phone that had a running program on it that let him track his location with GPS and keep track of his time, distance, heart rate and a bunch of other stuff. I think he started running so he could play with all that stuff.”

That’s not too far from the truth. About seven or eight years ago I started working out when my doctor put me on cholesterol and blood pressure medication. I was doing 30-45 minutes on an elliptical machine three days a week. About three years ago I was heading down to my dark basement on a beautiful spring day to work out when I thought, “why not run instead?” So I headed out the front door to see how far I could run. I ran until I got dizzy and my stomach got upset, then walked home. I got in my car and drove the same route and found I had run about three quarters of a mile.

Two days later I headed out again, this time with a program on my iPhone (RunKeeper, www.RunKeeper.com) that tracked my distance and time. I made it a mile before I couldn’t go farther.

I read online that it helps to run short intervals then walk for a minute or two. I started running quarter mile intervals with 2 minute walks in between and found I could cover 2-3 miles without wearing myself out.

A knee injury took me out the rest of that year (2009). I started up again the following spring and got my running intervals up to a mile and a half by the end of the summer, with total distances around 4.5 to 6 miles of running.

By now I was hooked. I enjoyed the challenge of running. Being able to track my progress on RunKeeper’s website was highly motivating. Running itself is hard and at times, boring. But it’s like the guy who was pounding his head against the wall. When asked why he did it, he replied, “Because it feels so good when I stop.” when I’m done, there’s a feeling of accomplishment.

This summer a friend told me she does the same kind of interval running, but runs 5 minutes then walks 1 minute. I switched to that method and increased my distance to about 7.3 miles.

A change in my work schedule made it more convenient for me to run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I added a Saturday morning run to my schedule. Three weeks ago I had a crazy idea and turned left when I should’ve gone straight and my usual 7-mile route became a 10-mile route. 10 miles wasn’t bad.

I told my friend about my weekend run and she said, “If you can run 10 you can do a half marathon (13.1 miles). So the next weekend I made another left turn and my 10-mile route became a 13.1 mile route.

The problem with running farther than you’ve ever run before is that you first have to run as far as you’ve ever run before, then you have to keep running after that. At about 11 miles I was re-thinking my decision but then I hit 12 and it seemed like a waste not to go all the way. I made it 13.1 miles in just under two and a half hours.

The following Monday, my sadistic friend said I should look for a “real” half-marathon to run. I went online and discovered the local running club was sponsoring a half-marathon the very next weekend. $36 later I was registered for my first official half-marathon, which I completed in about two hours and 23 minutes, beating the personal record I set the week before.

I told you all that so I could talk about technology. The core of the technology I carry with me is RunKeeper running on my iPhone. To that I add a pulse rate monitor from Wahoo Fitness (Www.wahoofitness.com). This provides real-time heart rate data to RunKeeper.

So that RunKeeper can calculate calories burned, it needs to know my weight. So I have a Withings WiFi-connected scale (www.Withings.com) that automatically uploads my weight and body mass index (BMI) to a website where RunKeeper can access it. This has the further benefit of tracking my weight loss without me having to create a spreadsheet and update it manually.

That’s the computing technology that keeps me running. But there are some other products that are essential. First, A Speed 2 hydration belt from Nathan Sports (Www.nathansports.com) lets me carry 20 oz of water or Gatorade along with a pouch full of “energy gel” packets for replenishing electrolytes (they’re what plants need) in long runs. (For runs that are ten miles or more I need more liquid so I have to plan my run to pass a water supply).

Absolutely essential are NipGuards (www.nipguards.com). Running longer than an hour or so causes a lot of nipple abrasion. Running without a shirt is not an option for me (I run past a school, and the sight of me shirtless frightens small children and some animals), so affixing a pair of NipGuards protects me from embarrassing blood-streaked shirts.

I’m currently running in Mizuno Wave Rider 14 shoes. These lightweight shoes give me a medium amount of support and cushioning without getting in the way of the normal flexing of my feet. The provide less structure than the Asics I was running in before, but are lighter and more flexible.

Other than my winter running gear, I’ve been able to find good shorts and shirts at Target. You need something that wicks moisture away and lets it evaporate, as opposed to a traditional cotton that will just hold sweat.

So yes, a lot of why I run is all the cool toys. But I can’t dismiss the feeling of accomplishment watching my times improve and distances get longer.