Saturday, 29 December 2012

Run, run and run some more

I've been in limbo the past two weeks. I had a nasty, sleep-deprived week of housesitting (two words - "Jack Russells"), got home on Saturday and have been recovering since. Three to four hours of broken sleep a night, over seven nights, broke me. As did picking up dog poop off the kitchen floor at 04h00 - every morning! I can't quite figure how they (I have a feeling it is just the younger one) manage to poop on the floor when I put them to 'bed' at midnight and then I'm up at 00h45, 02h00, 03h00 and 04h30 to let them out (in response to yipping, which I took to mean "please let us out").

What was great about my week with these terrors was taking them for walk-runs every evening. Their dad says that the younger one isn't great at running/walking and that he just sits when he's tired and waits to be picked up. Whenever he sat down I'd talk to him, give him a reassuring stroke and off we'd go again. After a week of daily runs he blossomed into a most lovely little walker-runner and on out last run he didn't sit once! I do find great pleasure in running dogs and watching their transformation. After my dog outings I'd drop them off and head out again for a longer run.

Last year I sat the same house (there was only one Jack then) and I met a fellow runner. Jason lives a block away. A few days before getting to the house I dropped him a note to say I'd be back and we hooked up for a super run the one night. It's fun running in a different area. I invited him over this side on Wednesday so I could show off one of my favourite runs from my home. He really enjoyed the route.

December is usually a good running month for me. There's no rush, the weather is generally very good (I've had a few glorious runs in the rain), friends are often available to join me and I log decent mileage. I've had big chunks of continuous running days and I always feel so much better for it. I'm finding that even three days on and one day off doesn't do it for me as much as when I run seven or more continuous days, even if the shortest run is only 30 minutes. My body thrives off running more and more and more and it just loves running every day. This is a good thing with the five-day Namib Desert Challenge coming up in late March. I don't often run continuous chunks like this with other activities (and laziness) in the evenings, which break up the streak, but I certainly do feel better for it - worth prioritising.

I'm cooking up a run route for New Year's Eve - I'm thinking of a 18h00 start. It will be about 15km at a casual pace and will take in some great viewpoints and sights around the Bedfordview area. If you're in Jo'burg and you're keen to join, please drop me an email so I can let you know final plans (lisa @

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A year of crochet projects

I've recently wrapped up a couple of crochet projects... and I'm almost ready to start on some new ones.

It's amazing how many hours disappear into creating items - and I've put in a ton of them this year. I usually get to work on my projects at night while watching telly or a DVD. For sure, I don't get to see much on the screen - it's more like listening to an audio book. hahahaha.

I started a Ravelry page earlier this year. It's an online resource for knitting and crochet where people share patterns and creations and items made from the same pattern are connected. I knew about the site for a while from searching for patterns and ideas but it was only when I met another crochet fan at a yarn shop that I set my profile up. One of the first things she asked me was, "Are you on Ravelry?". It's like Facebook for knitting and crochet. Sharing is caring.

The best thing about my Ravelry page is that I can put all my projects there. WIPs (Work In Progress) and completed items. For the WIPs you can edit a 'completed' percentage as you progress and it is quite satisfying to move the slider from 15% to 35% to 50% to 75% to 100% - DONE!

You can also put in a start and finish date; it is a super indication of where my time has disappeared to. I'm always busy with stuff, my hands are always working but because I give away most of what I make the items are not here and visible symbols of time spent.

Here are a bunch of things I've made this year.

In February I completed a very special blanket for a very special friend. I've still got it. Waiting for a few things to happen before I hand it over. I started it in late-September last year.

Rafia from the hardware store - turned into an egg basket (this is in use in my kitchen)
Heart keyrings for the girls in my pole dance class for Valentine's Day
A sleeveless baby vest for Lizelle's baby boy.
16 beanies for my winter beanie bombing project
Handwarmers for Lauren's birthday - her office is freezing!
A scarf for my dad's birthday - with long-ways stripes.
Waves beanie for my surfer friend Charlie.

Multi-colour, multi-square blanket. Started in Dec last year and completed in September. If I decide to make something stupid like this again, stop me please! Changing colours every 'row' and sewing in the ends is not a picnic. Looks pretty though. I've kept this one as my 'summer napping blanket'.
Toddler-sized ripple blankets. The grey yarn (lovely and soft) was donated to me by Kyle's mom. These are for the children's home where my cousin volunteers. I made two blankets for them last year. 
Newsboy-style beanies for some little girls. I only know the one girl - the green one with the beige flower (top left) is for her. The girls are between 10-11 yrs and one is 4yrs old. I finished the last one (purple flower) last night. This has been a tough project because I've had to size them from dimensions I found on the web and without a head to test them on (too small for me) there has been A LOT of pulling out and starting over... 
I've decided that I'm not very good at crocheting on request. I'm far more inspired when I know people and am creating something especially for them.

On my list of new projects are:

  • A tea cosy for a tea-drinking friend
  • Another blankie - but this one with single-colour squares of different texture
  • I'm keen to try my hand at crochet 'lace'. Small hook, fine cotton tread and delicate motifs
Colour, colour, colour!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Running on D'MOSS

This weekend I was down in Durbs to teach an orienteering mapping course. I went down a bit early to catch up with my friend Paula and to have some time to play with Deon.

On Friday evening I joined Deon for a little jog to his local pool and back. Lovely to oogle at the beautiful, large trees all over the place. On Saturday morning we were up early-early for a run on part of the D'MOSS trails. D'MOSS stands for Durban Municipality Open Space System. It's a system of open spaces (parks and reserves) linked by a network. It includes some privately owned land too. While D'MOSS is about protection of natural areas, ecosystems and endangered critters it is also about having linked green spaces for recreation - running, hiking, mountain biking etc.

So on Saturday morning we ran from Deon's home in Glenmore on a trail along a large canal and up to the UKZN sports grounds where there's a lovely trail through forest on the property. Looking on Google Maps it looks like this 'canal' is the Mkhumbane river. The lushness and green-ness of the area is incredible. I'm so not used to Durbs.

On Sunday evening we hooked up with Deon's friend Derek (recently moved to JHB but still often in Durbs) to run Burman Bush, an absolutely lovely patch of indigenous coastal forest very much in the heart of Durban. There are a number of trails - we criss-crossed all over the place.

Derek in red, Deon in white and me as piggy-in-the-middle. From the viewpoint in Burman.
While the D'MOSS concept totally rocks I can't find any maps online. On the website there's a thing for maps and then you get their GIS system; but it isn't a nicely presented map of the network of trails linking parks and reserves! In fact, a GIS map does no-one any favours, as you can see below.

Years ago my buddy Fred attended a meeting where a group of people looking into developing sport tourism facilities in the greater Durban region.

"I proposed maps and route markers and signboards linking all the D'MOSS facilities," he says. "It would have been a stunner used by thousands. Instead they decided to spend money on developing the trail corridor along the Umgeni river between PMB and Durban - a resource used by a handful of people."

This is something that really, really needs a good map showing benches, loos, water fountains, picnic spots, view points... Nevermind locals, D'MOSS is a great place for holidaying visitors to enjoy. They really just need some people-friendly maps.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Flight booked for Namib Desert Challenge (March 2013)

I thought I'd take a look at flights this morning for the Namib Desert Challenge (NDC) for next year. The race takes place from 25-29 March 2013. Both SAA and Kulula fly to Windhoek so I pulled both of them up and lo-and-behold, all flights on SAA on the Saturday (23rd) to Windhoek were sold out. I got a flight to Windhoek on Kulula and my return flight (30th) on SAA. Phew! Good thing I didn't leave it longer to book.

On top of a dune at the end of the long, 50-odd kilometre stage. It was frikkin' hot running into Soussousvlei! (Feb, 2009)
I'm really looking forward to this run because I love-love-love stage racing and I've been fortunate to have run in a number of self-sufficient races like Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (Northern Cape) and Jungle Marathon (Brazil); a supported, staged races like Coastal Challenge (Costa Rica) and Namib Desert Challenge (Namibia); and full-service races like Himalayan Stage Race (India) and TransRockies Run (Colorado, USA; in a pair). And then I had three years of the wonderful full-service, multi-discipline staged race, the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (2008-2010; the event is sadly no more).

The format of NDC looks to be quite a bit different to the original format. Initially it was meant to be self-sufficient but after Day 1 we got to leave our food and stuff for the rest of the race behind, only running with each day's provisions. Tented accommodation (with mattresses!) was provided; we just brought along our sleeping bags and all food for the five days.

This year tented accommodation is provided and also buffet dinners each evening! Talk about being spoilt! We've only got to bring along our own breakfast, lunch and running snacks - but we don't have to carry everything with us during the running - we can leave these goodies behind in our tent.

Running this race again will be like running it for the first time because the route has been changed a lot since the first one back in February 2009.

I'm going to make myself a new, colourful pair of Desert Gaiters for the run. It was actually for this race that I created my Version 2 of the desert gaiter design (I created the current Version 3 for the 2010 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge).

Lots of training to be done between now and March next year! Yay!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Three cheers for

A few weeks ago the screen on my Kindle Fire died. I have absolutely no idea how or why as I'd had it for about 6.5 months with not one glitch. I'd been reading the night before and the next night when I picked it up again... nothing but a few coloured lines lying horizontally across the screen. I was away so when I got back the next evening I got online to check out trouble shooting and screen issues in Amazon's support section. I rebooted a few times - nada.

Then, I used their 'chat' option to type-talk directly to a support person. I told her what I'd tried and she replied with (paraphrased), "No problem. We'll replace your unit at no charge; just return your unit to us within 30-days".

There was one catch.

They would only ship to the US (not even the UK). So, that evening I made contact with my friend Sandy in Atlanta and she said she'd gladly receive the unit the post it on to me.

I got back on the chat support, spoke to another person and gave her Sandy's address. The first support person has logged our conversation so it really was just a matter of handing over Sandy's address. This was Sunday night. My new unit arrived at Sandy's place on the Tuesday.

It must have been just over two weeks after I'd first made contact with Amazon that I got an automated reminder saying they had not yet received my faulty unit and that I need to be sure to send it or else they will bill me for the replacement unit.

This time I sent them an email through the Amazon website to say that I'd sent it on X date and that this was the tracking number and that I'd taken a photograph of the registered slip with tracking and could email it to them. I had phoned tracking here and it was confirmed that the unit had left South Africa; our post office said they would be able to track it on their side once it landed in the US. It essentially had been there for two weeks when I tried to locate it.

I got an apologetic email back within a few hours saying that I shouldn't have received that message (I think the person thought I'd got a message saying I was being billed there and then) and that they realised that I'd sent it ("Must be lost in the post") and that they'd made a note on my account that I wasn't to be billed for the replacement unit! How's that!

I did reply to reaffirm the tracking number etc.

Sandy sent me the tracking number for the replacement unit she'd posted on to me. The USPS system showed that it has left the US almost two weeks ago. I phoned our post office track and trace and they had no trace of it. The woman said it would take 10 to 14 working days. Surely if it has left the US and landed in SA it should be traceable, at least to a postal depot? I wasn't totally worried yet but we all know the SA postal system... sometimes fantastic and sometimes stuff gets nicked.

That afternoon I found a slip in my post box saying it was at my local post office (and yet it could not be traced).

I'm delighted to have my Kindle back as I was halfway through a book and an audio book. The brilliant thing about Amazon is that my books (and audio books on are all on my Cloud so all I have to do is re-download them to the unit.

I am soooooo super impressed with Amazon.

Plus special thanks to my friend Sandy for receiving and sending it on to me.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Garden excitement

It's all happening! My plants were taking ages and then they started shooting up. After two days of rain they're looking INCREDIBLE. The rain halted this afternoon and a spot of sun came out so I dashed outside. This is what I saw...

Black berry plant - first berry forming. My green-fingered friend, Barbara, gave me this plant (and a blueberry one too!) It is doing really well.
Three of my heritage tomato varieties are now in their new home -  a new bed I created two or three weeks ago. They've been growing in a pot for AGES! They're now in the fast-growing phase. The ones here are Malawi Cherry, Geranium Kiss and Tigerella. I'm addicted to netting so I've made a protective cover for them. My fingers (and toes) will be crossed over the next few days as they adapt to their new bed and the great outdoors.
Another of the heritage tomato varieties. This is Geranium Kiss. The leaves have a very geranium scent.
This is a 'Teddy' sunflower.
This is the first sunflower that opened. He's now fully open and the others (all on the same plant) are opening too. You can see loads of green growing in the bed and dashes of yellow at the bottom from other sunflowers. Totally joyful!
The tallest of the sunflowers. He's just opened.

An interesting face. The petals are just starting to unfurl. She's going to be beautiful!
This is the high-yield, kitchen-pot-plant cherry tomato plant that seeded itself in the bed that I'd planted the 'parent' in earlier this year. I moved it into the main bed a few weeks ago and it is thriving. These are the first cherry tomatoes growing and ripening. It is a small, squat plant.
Beautiful butter lettuce. Loads of young swiss chard varieties in the background.
An attempt at a photo with my favourite cat (my little angel) and my favourite flower - sunflower! Bracken didn't want to have much to do with this! She's my little gardening companion and she'll easily spend an hour out here with me while I mess around with plants and weeding and netting and cable ties. 

Green night running

As if the xmas O event wasn't fun enough for one day there was the Energizer Night Race on Saturday night. Last year I did the event in an all-girls, four-person team and the year before in a mixed four-person team with my Abu Dhabi teammates. This year the relay was downsized to allow pairs only - so I roped in my buddy Fred to be my teammate. And he gamely allowed me to deal with outfit ideas...

And that's how we ended up in bright green afro wigs and green netting skirts with face paint masks and tons of glo-sticks!

If you think we look good now, just wait. We started glowing as darkness descended.
We were very lucky to have a band of merry supporters in the form of Mike (Fred's son - his birthday! - wearing green wig) and Tezz (AR friend up from Durban), Ephraim (my talented young orienteer from Polokwane - here for an O mapping course on Sunday) and Pam (Fred's wife - her birthday was the day before). Wonderful to have these friends with us.
The event was held in the Modderfontein Nature Reserve and the number of participants was MASSIVE. TOO MASSIVE actually. A good 3000-odd people there for the MTB relay, short and long runs, walk and the run relay.

Sadly there were very few pairs in the run relay (6km each) this year - only a handful of us waited at the changeover. I've got no idea how we did because our times weren't taken. There was too much carnage at the finish line with hundreds of people going through at the same time.

Glowing! Our glo-sticks looked fabulous!
Fred ran first; I took the second leg and got caught in the hordes coming in to the finish. We didn't hang around for the festivities - just too many people.

Tall dude. Leg chair. Pose for photo. Yeah. Check out our glo-sticks EVERYWHERE!
The run route was quite nice but often difficult to know where you were going. We (and other relay runners) initially thought we'd run a wrong loop up a hill but as we all did it it seems to have been right... There was no sign for us at the road junction and down the hill the sign was to my right, pointing straight ahead, instead of in front of me directing me to turn right... I enjoyed the section through the gum trees although I nearly got unstuck a few times because the terrain off the 'trail' was mostly as smooth as the ground making up the trail. Nonetheless, we both had good runs, moving swiftly along the route. Although the weather was a little chilly, it was PERFECT for running.

This is a fun and vibey event with stage entertainment and music. I enjoy this event every year but it is now a bit too big 'n busy for me.

Annual xmas O novelty event

On Saturday was the annual xmas orienteering novelty event organised by my friend Sarah and her helpers from WITSOC (the university orienteering club). And they totally outdid themselves.

With Sarah. Wearing my xmas socks for the occasion ;)
We started off with four controls that we had to find in order - like regular O.

Then, it was a corridor orienteering task. Here most of the map is deleted to remove all but a ribbon of map. You have to stay within this ribbon (the 'corridor') and along the way there were xmas-themed pictures like a snowman, bells, an angel and such. The location of these pictures is not marked on the map so you just have to stay in the corridor and look out for them along the way.

An angel picture on the corridor O section

I bumped into Brian (peeking on the side), Pat and Evan out on the corridor O section.
The third task was a score-O. There were seven controls that we could find in any order. Two of them had questions. Brian and Timothy were running near me and we all got to their first of the two question controls and couldn't find the sign with the question on it. We went to the next. Again, no question. We were puzzled but knew we were in the right place. Just as we started running off Timothy realised our error - the questions were on our control sheet! So, we went back to the first one and continued from there.

The fourth task was a map memory exercise combined with a multiple choice thing. At the 'start' there was an A4 sheet with a section of map and two controls marked - A & B. Then, there was a question that went something like, "Does Christmas Day fall on a Tuesday or Thursday this year?". And the answer was linked to A or B. Brian and I didn't get it as we thought we had to go to both controls. So, off we went to A. When we got there a sheet said that we were wrong (Thursday) and that xmas was on a Tuesday this year -  a map directed us to control B. Ahhhh! At B there was another section of map with C & D. The question related to a control description symbol - what did the symbol drawn (circle with an 'x' in it) represent... a root stock (tree stump) or man-made feature. We got it and shot off to the correct control.

Pat was with me and Brian at this point and as we left for the root stock he shot off to my right - 90 degrees different to me. At the finish I asked him what he was doing and he blushed - saying that he'd gone in completely the wrong direction. He'd checked the map (remember that this was a map memory exercise so the controls were not marked on the map we were carrying - we didn't even have this bit), noted the road and root stock and shot off up the hill. He got to another root stock and realised that Brian and I were nowhere to be seen. He was quite sheepish (as he should be!).

The course wrapped up with a cone grid. Under each cone was a number and we had to add 'em all up to get the answer. 29. Boom. What fun!

The entry fee for this event is a pressie no more than R40 in value. Then, at prize giving, every person that brought a gift along gets to choose a gift from the table. I got a lovely gift with pecan fudge shortbread and Sally Williams chocolate.

Pressie time!
Well done WITSOC. That has to be one of the most fun O events that I've done. Very creative! Thank you.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Play (and move) like a child

At the moment I am so super in love with circus school. Over the past two weeks I've noticed a major improvement, especially when I do moves now that I haven't done/tried in months. On Friday, from hanging (no pushing off the ground), I lifted my toes level with my eyes - straight legs. Twice. I haven't been able to do this without assistance. It's things like this that are SUCH a rush. It's like nailing a PB in running.

I've always been drawn to watching acrobatic acts and gymnastics (my favourite Olympic discipline to watch on telly) but I had never gotten into this stuff until I started pole dancing almost 4.5 years ago. It is so much about gymnastic and acrobatic movements and these are the ones that I do really well, especially the balances.

I've always thought that the way a body should be able to move is like that of a dancer or acrobat. Sure, it takes tons of training and conditioning to be able to put your foot around your neck but there's also a 'non-professional' level of movement that should be attainable. If you can't bend forward to trim your own toenails... that's a problem.

For four months I've been going to 'circus classes' (aerial) and the difference in my strength is absolutely astounding! But most of all I just absolutely love playing there. I also really enjoy the activities where we stand on each other and 'toss' each other. Last week we did a bit more 'tumbling' type of activities. I think of these as more 'clown' movements. I did a really neat handstand, rolling out of it, and also a dive roll. With the latter you run at a mat, jump with both feet - diving for the mat - and then roll (somersault-like). It is just the most amazing feeling to be able to do these things.

Last week there was a new girl and we were doing back arches. She commented, "I haven't done this since school!". There are so many movements that all of us haven't done since school. On the playgrounds we would always be doing hand-stands-up, skipping rope games, head stands, leap frog games... our flexibility and agility at primary school was all-round fabulous.

And then somewhere in high school we stop playing - this kind of play. And from there it's just a downward slide. For me, pole, circus and acroyoga are totally about playing and training my body to do movements that it could do... 30 years ago! I'm very fortunate that over the years my general activities have maintained fairly good flexibility, strength and fitness but I'm always improving.

On Saturday I finally made it to my friend Michelle's 'Flight Club' (page on FB). I've known Michelle for years through mountain biking and common friends (climbing people) and also from pole dance - she is also an instructor. Over the past year she has gotten very much into aerial silks and lyra (metal hoop) and she has set up a regular, social aerial sessions. I did an outdoor session with her shortly after I started circus. This weekend I felt the marked improvement in being able to hold myself up for longer and movements that would have been difficult months ago are very much doable now. These aerial games all look so easy and graceful and elegant; they're mostly not easy!

Here are some pics that Michelle took on Sat. This was my second time doing 'fancy' moves on lyra and most of these were for the first time (like half moon, pike, mermaid, stag).

Lyra: Back arch from top bar

Lyra: balance move

Lyra: forward arch

Lyra: This is called half moon and is my favourite move of the moment. It's like you're suspended from the moon. Very cool.
Lyra: This is a blurry picture of half moon but you get the idea - better angle to show the move. This is what I mean about being 'suspended' from the 'moon'.

Lyra: Mermaid

Lyra: Pike from the top bar. My pikes are getting really good 'cos we drill them a lot at circus classes.

Lyra: This one is called 'stag'

Lyra: (Wo)man in the moon

Silks: Butterfly. I haven't done many fancy moves with silks; at circus class we focus on conditioning with a lot of climbing and grabbing exercises. Michelle talked me through this one and a couple of other really neat moves.
This is a video that was made during class a few weeks ago. It's to promote the fun and games we get up to with aerial disciplines. I'm not very visible in the video but you can see me climbing the silks at about 1:35 and then the back of me during a partner stretch at around 1:53. I'm on the right-hand side (middle level) of the people pyramid.

Friday, 23 November 2012

AdventureLisa's Forest Run

It's happening! After much planning and tripping and scouting and planning and mapping a measuring AdventureLisa's Forest Run is on for Saturday, 9 March 2013!

If you've followed my posts from my scouting outings (I love forests; Another forest day and Scouting. DONE) you'll know just how lovely this area is.

I was out there again for two days last week to run through the route and to log an on-the-ground altitude profile.

As with any profiles, the peaks look big (notice the 25m intervals) but in reality the course really is like the bottom profile. Rolling. No big humps or bumps.

My two days last week were actually quite tough days. On Thursday I left Jo'burg at 06h30 and by 10h30 I was out there. I had only slept for a few hours so I was pooped to begin with and it took me longer than I care to admit to get to 35km... and then I had to walk the 2km back to my car. It was a very run-walk day but just lovely to be out there anyway.

The next day was a much better one - after a good night of sleep - and I did way more running but also a good dose of walking and looking around and enjoying, experiencing the route as the participants will.

I'm on the hunt for volunteers to assist with water stations, feed station and various other bits - like sweeping. I'm aiming for three sweeps to do sections of the course - not one person to do the whole thing. You'll be at the back of the field and I can totally assure you that you'll have a most wonderful day. I'll contribute to your travel costs (shared transport) as well as providing accommodation and meals for the weekend. Drop me a note if you're keen.

There are two entry options: 62km all in one chunk or a pair relay option where the first runner does 35km and their teammate does the next 27km. Online entries opened this evening (thank you Paul) and I hope that we'll fill all 100 places.

Heel cups and tongues

I've been running in a variety of trail shoes over the past couple of months and one of them has been the Salomon XR Mission, which is classified as a 'door-to-trail' shoe. You can read my review in Trail magazine (the 4th issue, which may be Dec/Jan). Wearing this shoe got me really thinking about heel cups and tongues (of shoes, not people or dogs or cats or chickens).

Here's the thing... on MY FOOT the heel cup of the Salomon XR Mission feels high - as does the tongue. When I go steep downhill I feel the back of the heel cup going into my Achilles and when I flex my foot up the tongue goes into my shin-foot bend.

So, I undertook a photographic assessment to see just what the difference was between five different shoes that I've been running. My friend Allison stopped over for a quick hello and she got roped into being photographer and she was also tasked with drawing on my foot to mark the 'height' of the tongue and the back of the heel cup.

The shoes I've got here are:
Asics Gel Fuji Racer (Purple) - men's
Salomon XR Mission (Red) - women's
Inov8 Road-X 255 (Yellow) - Road (men's)
Adidas Response TR19 (Blue) men's
Newton Terra Momentum (Green) men's

Heel cup (click on pic to get a bigger view)

The pic on the end - it shows the markings of the highest (Salomon) and lowest (Inov-8) - but really there's not much difference in how high up the heel all of these shoes come.

Tongue (and ankle shaping)

As before, in practise there really is no major difference between the height of the tongues across these shoes.

The last pic shows the position of the tongue and also the shape of the heel cup. On the end, Allison drew in lines for the Salomon (red) and the Asics (purple).They actually cross over each other with the Salomon highest (only slightly) at the back of the heel and the tongue.

What I've realised is that it isn't so much where the heel cup or the tongue comes to but how padded these areas are that makes it feel so drastically different. The Salomon is far more padded at the back of the heel cup, to either side of foot, just forward of the ankle, and the tongue. An extra millimetre or two on top of your foot, under the laces, makes a big difference to what you feel and perceive. The top of the Salomon tongue is also pretty padded so, to me, it feels like it pokes into my shin-foot bend. It's not higher, just puffier.
It's hard to see in the pic but in real life you notice the shapes of the heel cup and the padding in this area.

Close up of the Inov-8 and the Salomon.
The shape of the heel cup differs between brands and models. Also, women's shoes have a narrower heel. I've been running in men's shoes since before we had women's trail shoes in SA and that's probably why I find the heel of the Salomon just a little narrow for me. The fit is snug so the shoe doesn't slide on toe-off but it is a little narrow - for me. With wear it is opening up more.

When it comes to shoes there's no right answer because it all comes down to what your preference is and what shape your feet are. I've written various articles on what to look for when you buy trail shoes (On buying trail shoes; Choose your weapon) but this is the first time that I've really taken a look at this area of padding in the shoe.

It doesn't make much of a difference when you're standing on a flat floor, but it can make a big difference on steep downhills (poking into your Achilles) and uphills (poking into your shin-foot bend). When shopping, really point and flex your foot to get a feel for how the heel cup and tongue on the shoe moves.