Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back in the saddle (er treadmill that is)

After almost 3 weeks of healing (i.e. drinking bourbon, wine and eating copious amounts of doritos) I finally got back on that donkey. My back has been killing me. I'm guessing it's not from overuse (if it is I'm in real trouble). Went to see my favorite chiropractor, Dr. Church and he straightened me out but I am still tender. Mt my left foot still hurts a bit from Huntsville. I did the "fat burn" workout on my treadmill. Set it for 35 minutes, max grade 5%, max speed 8.0 mph. I'd call it a medium effort success. Looking forward to more tomorrow. I don't have a plan yet.

Dear Subway Please Stop Doing This

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rocket City Rocks

Huntsville AL
Rocket City Marathon

Even though it's number 2 for me in Rocket City. When I came to town it was for a very different kind of event. I was coming this year as a new kind of runner. A barefoot runner. Even though I sort of was familiar, I was so focused on breaking 3 hours last year I didn't pay any attention to roads from my new perspective. In fact, this being only my second running of a marathon barefoot, I am not exactly sure I would even know a good course if I saw it. There are not a lot of folks to ask about these matters. My assessment from Saturday now is that Huntsville is a very fast course if you wear shoes. Just looking at the faster than normal average times for my age group indicates that most who come to town, come to race fast. Unfortunately, for a guy with no shoes, the roads, especially in the neighborhoods, are quite rough. It was so chilly that morning I decided to wear socks for the first few miles. I ended up wearing them for more than half the run but I suspect I'd completely worn holes in them much earlier. They did seem to keep my feet warm at the beginning. By the halfway point my feet were hurting badly enough I had to step up on the sidewalk and slow considerably. I ran the first half in about 1:40. Two factors also contributed to my poor showing. I was not able to do any real tempo work on roads. My barefoot transition is still early and it and the miles of chip seal in Peoria prevented that. Secondly, it was quite chilly. I wore tights, something I've never done for a marathon. By mile 15 I was considering stepping off the course as I realized my feet would pay a steep price if I continued but being my last marathon of the season and not having ever completed a marathon without shoes I decided to press on to the finish. By mile 18 I was walking regularly and stepping off the roads into yards and sidewalks to minimize the pain. When I reached mile 20 it was all I could do to muster the will to finish. As I arrived at mile 25 I was heartened by the knowledge I would soon be done and I put on my best face and finished. One other barefoot runner, Matt Jenkins from Macon, GA was there and wrote similar comments about the rough roads. I don't know if I can learn to overcome this kind of surface but I might need to if I want to continue my barefoot running. Peoria, my home town is paved much the same making it very hard to do pace work barefoot. If you read this and have any barefoot tips I can use please comment. Overall, I'm happy with my run. When I finished and went inside it became evident how much skin I had taken off my feet. I hobbled up to my room and my wife filled a pillow case with ice and dumped it in the tub. I soaked my feet in ice water and noticed they began to bleed like two stuck pigs. After pulling them out of the water and tramping across the bathroom floor for a towel I looked down and noticed the mess I was making. I tried to wipe it up with toilet paper but being hobbled I mostly smeared the blood. I threw a hand towel on the ground to step on but my feet continued to bleed into it. When I finally got the feet wrapped and I got dressed the bathroom looked like a serial killers crime scene. Yuck! A week later my feet are much better but still not healed enough to run on.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Officially Faster Than Schroff*

Sometimes you feel like you really earned something and sometimes, well, it just kind of seems made up and not real. I'm still reeling from this. Could it be the shoes? Could it just be dumb luck? Could it be a major breakthrough on my part? Sometimes it's just too hard to say. As we move into the New Year, I think it is safe to say that I am officially faster than Schroff in the marathon. He beat me in every other distance we competed in for 2009 but at distances that really count I ran 2 marathons and both were better than any recorded time Schroff turned in. I could have used either, however, my Huntsville time of 3:49 was good enough. I must just be blessed with more slow twitch muscle fibers than the man I owe my reason to blog. Who really knows for sure? It may also be a miracle. I have been praying a LOT! Better luck next year David. For the record, Schroffy, all you would have had to do was show up ;-).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why no shoes for Huntsville?

Running barefoot is a way of taking a chance at remaking myself if only a small part. Sometimes you need to shake things up to make yourself feel alive. Saturday, I decided to test my limits and in so doing became my best despite the fact my fastest marathon was more than 50 minutes faster than this day. Also, I didn't achieve all my goals. I wanted to run fast enough to qualify for Boston (3:20). I didn't. No matter either that a month earlier I ran a marathon almost completely barefoot at a faster pace. This day I went the whole distance. I like to put my goals out there; put the them far enough in front of you that they are obtainable if you stretch but are not a given. Then go for them with all you have. Sometimes you won't make it, but like Adam White once told me: "Rob, there are no failures only degrees of success". Saturday was a success. I remade myself.

In order to achieve this goal I had to break myself down first. Think of the analogy of the clay vessel. Clay is molded to form a cup. It's the non-being utility of the clay the cup initially depends in order to become something of value. Therefore we must first turn such non-being (potential) to our advantage and get the most utility from it's powerful yet untapped potential. By re-thinking what it is we have always done, and then tying a slightly different approach, we just might surprise ourselves.

Sometimes its the reinvention that is the hardest thing to overcome. We get stuck in a metaphysical sense. What if we are already something but it's not what we really like? What if that something we are, is imperfect or of lesser value than what we know we can become? Isn't it better to be remade rather than remain intact but without fully realizing our potential? I say NO. Sometimes we need to be broken down and pounded back to the dust; only to be whetted and turned back to the clay. By being reborn through our destruction we are returned to our non-being (potential). Why? All because we can serve yet a greater purpose than the vessel we once were. It's a powerful idea. Never stop pressing yourself no matter how silly it seems.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Barefoot in the Moonlight

Last night was a beautiful evening for a run. I enjoyed the full moon and the view of it made of the Illinois river valley from Grandview drive. It was nothing short of breathtaking. The river was calm except for the churn of the current and the moon lit the scene with a warm glow. My run was about 12 miles and started from my house. I'm running much more comfortably without shoes.It no longer seems strange. I still have a rough time on Mt Hawley road but it's slowly getting easier. I was about a block from home when I realized I didn't have my Vibrams. I normally carry them on longer runs "just in case". It was a first to go that far without spare tires ;-). I was OK with that and didn't bother returning home for them. I've not had real problems with foot wounds in a while. When I finished I recorded 11.78 miles. Id have done 12 but nature was calling. I admit I did run cautiously. I didn't have spare shoes and was afraid of landing on something nasty. In the end it was all good. I've not done much barefoot running in the dark but now I am a bit more experienced. Some positive aspects of running barefoot in the dark are that it forces you to focus on sensory feedback and not rely so much on your vision. Relaxing more and trusting myself, I was feeling my feet landing on the ground instead of anticipating the pain of a sharp fact, looking down was pretty much pointless.

Peaceful Warrior Recommendation

Getting ready to race, you never feel 100 percent ready. No matter what training you’ve done. Some amount of self doubt is probably there and that’s natural. Dealing with this in a healthy way is important to achieving your goals (what ever they be) on race day. IMO, at the level you are all at, the marathon competition is mainly an internal battle. It’s less about out kicking the guy next to you as it is about staying focused and sticking to your plan but also keeping and regaining your ability to fight pain and fatigue. Sure you got to be fit. But also, it’s all about overcoming the struggle within your mind to maintain composure (and regain it when you lose it) to overcome the demons of doubt in your head. To help get your minds ready for the battle ahead I highly recommend the movie Peaceful Warrior. The importance of achieving a mental mindset is overlooked as a performance enhancing tool. Clearing the mind of all the unneeded trash on race day will make the difference between a good day and a great one. I hope you check it out, you won’t be disappointed (and your wife won’t be bored watching it either). There are no ordinary moments in this film. I believe it can be helpful.