Sunday, December 25, 2011

My First Half Marathon

A few days before the Duncan Ridge Trail 30k my dad asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon with him. My first thought was, “Heck yes!” Followed by “What day is that on?” and a “I dunno.”

See, the half was five days after the 30k. Having never run a 30k I didn't know how I would feel, but somehow convinced myself that I could fake the half marathon if worst came to worse(my dad seems to run at a slower pace during his training runs I should be fine). My dad told me he really wanted to run it under 2:30. This seemed like it wouldn't be a hard task, so I agreed and signed up.

Great, so Thanksgiving morning rolls around and I am just starting to feel better from the brutal 30k. I hadn't ran since then, but figured that was for the best. We set out and met up with my buddy Mitch in Atlanta. He had been using the porta-potties for warmth while hopping from wife to friends before the race. He was in an earlier corral than us and convinced us it wasn't a bad course at all.

Pre-race my dad peed about 30 times. I wasn't far behind him. I think we were nervous because we had never run a race that long where bathrooms weren't readily available at every step.

While I waited outside the porta-potties a few people asked me if I was running barefoot. I told them I was, but was carrying my Vibrams just in case. I hadn't run barefoot in a while and wasn't sure how my feet would hold up. I was holding my Vibrams with my dad's Camelbak, which was useful later in the race so we didn't have to hit the water stops.

The beginning of the race was freezing. My toes were slightly numb and I was shivering in my shorts, t-shirt, and compression stockings. After about 2 miles I was warmed up and doing good.

My dad had a master plan of keeping a constant pace the whole race. He saw they had arm thingies that tell you where you should be fore a certain pace. Being the cheap person he is, he used permanent marker and wrote the same information on his arm. Intuitive!

Starting out our first few miles were on pace, maybe a little below, but reasonable. We ran on the outside of the road(only half the road was for runners) and passed a ton of people(mostly walkers).

As the miles past I informed my dad that we were moving a little faster than he said he wanted to. I was fine with this if he was. Over the next few miles our pace increased and we made it down to around 10 min/mile.

Mile 9 came in and some expected pains started showing up. I don't know what the deal is but from that day on I have been having some pain on the outer arch of my foot. I fought through it for the race, adapted my form, tried many things, but eventually it faded and let me run.

Meanwhile my dad is powering through the course. We basically made it a game to see how many people we could pass on the uphills. While people were huffing, puffing, and walking, we were going faster than our whole run. I guess there is something good about living in them there hills.

Finally, the last mile came and we ran faster than the whole race. We passed the finish at the same time at 2:15, even though my chip time was one second slower than my dad's. This doesn't bother me one bit. The main reason I ran this was for my dad and it was his longest run. Good for him!

All-in-all it was a great race. I really had to fight through that foot pain. I probably wouldn't have on a normal run, but this kind of shows me that I can fight through tough pains and not injure myself, unlike what some sports-medicine articles stress. Pain happens. Know your body and know how to deal with it.

This side-of-foot/arch pain is probably something that will go away in a few weeks. I hate that it nags me but I did a 14.5 mile run yesterday and it didn't bother me that much and doesn't hurt today. This relaxes me a bit about the subject.

Well that's that. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 2011 Duncan Ridge Trail 50k/30k Race Review

My day began with 5 scrambled eggs and a slice of toast.

Dave met me at my apartment, ready to go.

Me: Hey do you know how to get there?
Dave: Not really, but I have a GPS. It should take us right there.
Me: Okay, I'll follow you.
Dave: I really don't like it when people follow me.
Me: *are you serious face*
Me: *Loads GPS on phone*
Me: Fine, let's go.

The drive out to Vogel State Park was pretty uneventful. Apparently we took the windy way there, but it didn't matter since we were about an hour early.

We picked up our goodie bag and bib number and waited. It was cold so I was wearing long pants and jacket.

My dad and I trying to keep warm

Chattin' with the Natureboy

Dave, Angela(shiny), and I

Me, Dave, Paul, Angela, and my dad (clockwise)
Finally, Bobby, the race director, gave a speech about the race and we were off! I didn't really pay attention to the speech since I had run most of the course before.

Some were colder than others

The first mile was to get us out of the park and to cross the road. Right before the road crossed I realized that I was hot and threw my jacket in a tree. Hopefully nobody will take that...

The 3 miles downhill to the bottom of Coosa Bald was awesome. We glided down the hill in around 30 minutes. Great time! I felt it was a little fast, but I felt good and didn't want to do anything that messed that up. This was the first aid station. I handed my mom some gloves and kept moving. No sense in stopping when I'm not tired!

The climb up Coosa Bald was pretty nice("climb", "Coosa Bald", and "nice" are not usually used in a sentence). At this point I was glad that I had done the practice run. I had mental checkpoints that really made the mountain easier to climb. At this point I think I was still with Angela and Paul. I really needed to climb faster at this point and went around them. They were smart for keeping their pace, but I just needed to move faster at that point in my run.

Some runners around me started to complain toward the top of the mountain. Once again, the training runs helped as I knew what to expect. After 4 miles of climbing we were in a cloud. The cold mist felt great against my body warmed-up body.

The descent to the second aid station and turn-around point began. We were all lined up on the 3 foot wide trail trying to safely make it down the steep and leafy hill. I felt that I could have went down it a little faster if I didn't have to slow down for the person in front of me(I'm sure I'm not the only one). At this point though, I was just happy to be going downhill. Apparently these two sisters(couldn't have been older than 18) flew past us. They got the right idea!

Soon enough we made it to the second aid station where my dad greeted me with the above video. I didn't know he was taking a video and stopped to talk to him and get my Sanuks out of my bag. The Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sports that I was wearing were pinching my Achilles. Instead of wearing the Sanuks I slid them in my Camelbak just in case. My legs felt good. I saw on my watch that I was 2 hours and 15 minutes into the race. Could I break 4 hours? My dad said “no”, but my mind said “yes!” 

I refilled my Camelbak and drank some Coke. The sugary caffeinated sweetness was perfect. Off I went!
Leaving the second aid station

The dirt road to the “out” was longer and more uphill than I thought. I had imagined that this section of the trail would be my break, but it didn't turn out that way. It was at this point that I started to feel not-so-good. In search for food to eat I found some GU gummies. GU gels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were not favorable at this time or any other time previous to this discomfort. I forced myself to eat the gummies. I knew I needed some of the sugars and other stuff they put in those things that make them great for running.

I was cruising along at 10 to 11 minute miles on this dirt road when some weird things began happening. I suppose this is normal for long-distance or fatigued runners, but my legs started to spasm. First my quads began pulsating, then my calf, then back again, then all together. It didn't hurt, but it did feel weird. I drank more water and tried to get more nutrients in me. The next few miles another woman and I went back-and-forth Tortoise and the Hare style. She would walk a bit, I would pass her, she would run and catch up to me then walk some more, I would pass her, repeat.

Finally at about the same time we made it to the turn-around. She said, “I can't believe we have to climb all the way back up that again!” A little frustrated by the situation myself, I put on my power-walking legs and hustled up the hill. By the time I reached the top I felt like junk and didn't want to run move anymore. My legs were pulsating and were very tired. I played the, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi” game until I made it to about 45. It wasn't making things any easier. Or was it?

Eventually a nice guy came up behind me while I was doing a semi-run/walk. I asked him if he wanted to pass and he replied, “Nah, that finish line isn't going anywhere.”

Now, when somebody is 3 feet behind me I can't help but feel guilty for them. Even though I asked, I still thought he wanted to get by but was being polite. I increased my pace, as did he. We made small talk(I don't really remember what all we talked about). Soon enough we were out of the turn-around loop and making our way back up Coosa Bald.

He continued to hike behind me up the mountain. Have you ever been in a situation where everything is just bad and more bad things keep happening and all you can do is laugh about it? Well I was cracking up half-way up this hill.

Surrounding runners cheered as we made our way to the top. Down the mountain we passed a few runners and really started increasing the pace. I asked in concern of my slowness, “Are you shooting for a specific time?” He informed me that he wasn't and we kept on moving. My legs started going faster and before I knew it I had lost him. Darn, I didn’t' even get his name!(If you are that guy say so in the comments please.)

Moving down the mountain I ran into a group that had a dog. The dog would run 10 feet out in front of them, stop, look back, run back to them, and repeat. I honestly think that dog ran the length of the course twice.

This group was moving a little slower down the mountain than I wanted, so I asked to pass. The guy in front of me yelled, “Passer on the right!” and gave me the go-ahead. I always feel guilty when passing, but everyone in the group gave me nice complements like, “Go for it!” which made me feel better.

At this point I broke away from them. The thing is, the dog followed. It ran by my side for a quarter mile. I figured I and the owner were going to the same place, so it wasn't a big deal. Finally, the dog stopped and went back to it's owner.

Free at last I flew down the hill. My feet glided across the rocky slope. I was doing great until I saw that three feet in front of me the trail was ending! I grabbed a tree and swung around it. Apparently I didn't see the 45 degree turn at the bottom of the downhill. I re-associated myself and decided I needed to pay more attention to my surroundings.

By this time the group had caught up to me. We were starting to hit some uphills and my legs were toast. I tried to keep a steady pace since I was guilty for passing them.

Soon enough it was just me, the dog, and a few members of the group. She asked me, “How much further until the next aid station?” I looked at my watch and saw that we only had 3 more miles to go and said, “I think they took it away. We should have passed it by now.” Her silence was her nice way of saying, “I don't think you are right, but I'll let you find out for yourself.”

About 10 minutes later we hit the aid station. My watch read 16 miles. Odd, I didn't remember the aid station being this close to the beginning...

I decided not to stop. My mind was still set on 4 hours. If I ran 10 minute miles all the way back I could make it! The group disbanded and I was left alone in the woods.

I hit the hill and my legs fell apart. I did not remember that hill being that steep or that long. I was trying so hard to walk fast, but my watch informed me I was moving at a 30 minute mile. “Great, I can't make the 4 hour mark. Oh, and I might get passed by a dog.”

Struggling up the hill I tried everything. I counted, said “if I only get to that tree...”, tried running. Nothing worked. Finally I said, “What if I drag myself up this hill!?” I found a decent sized stick and tried walking with it. It was working! I had sped up by a few minutes per mile(not hard to do from 30 min/mile) and felt a little better. This continued for a long time. Too long.

Battling the hill I looked down and said, “Okay, I'm not going to look around for a few minutes. When I look up everything will be different.” I walked, and walked, and walked. Finally, I felt it was time to look up. I opened my eyes and BAM. Everything was the same. TORTURE!!!

At this point the girl who stopped at the aid station was catching up to me and passing me with the dog following her. She said, “I don't know who's dog this is, but it's following me!”

I laughed. She said, “Come on, we don't have too much longer to go!” I watched her run off into the mountains while I hobbled along. I just couldn't run.

After some minutes of walking another guy with a group passed me. He asked me if I was okay. I have been better.

Not one minute after he passed me he yelled, “Road!”

Oh what a sweet word. I knew the road was only one mile away from the park. I reached the top of the hill and broke into a slow run. As I approached the road I joked with the person next to me that it would be my luck to get hit by a truck or motorcycle after 18 miles.

I remember bits and pieces of the last mile, which involved a few more people passing me. I didn't care. I just wanted to finish.

After the passing I ended up on a road in Vogel. I ran a little bit, looked around, saw a bunch of campers in trailers and felt that I was not in the right place. I ran a little longer until I spotted a man. I asked him if the runners were coming through here and he told me that they were coming out over near some steps(the ones we went in on). His wife then yelled, "They are making a turn right there." This reassured me I was going in the right direction.

I wasn't. How did I get lost this far into the race? I looked at my watch which said 19.4. Since the road she was talking about was right there I decided to see what it led to. I figured I had already run my share of 30k, so followed the road which was marked with markers from the race. I took this opportunity as a time to open up and run a little faster. It felt good on my spent legs. Finally, I spotted the finish line and ran in.

I ended up finishing at 4:45ish, which wasn't bad at all. :) 

Shortly afterwords my friend Leigh finished. She did a killer job keeping a steady pace, which ultimately allowed her to catch me toward the end when I was struggling up the hill. Great job Leigh!

Paul came in around 5:15 I think. I was extremely impressed. He has only been running for less than a year and completed a really hard 30km in short time. Great job Paul!

Angela came in next at around 5:30. Apparently she had been battling stomach cramps the whole way. Her time and smile didn't show it! She gave me a big hug. I think she is getting hooked on the idea of ultra-running.... Great job Angela!

Dave came in around 5:45, which was also great. He apparently twisted his ankle and fell a lot. I need to talk him into getting some minimalist shoes. I have never twisted my ankle and feel like we have a much lower chance of doing it.

The food at the end was perfect. There must have been 30 pizzas and a ton of other food. I was really impressed.

The race was really well organized, especially for the small $35 entry fee. The course was well marked(even though my dumb self got lost) and there was a ton of support from volunteers. I am definitely adding this race to my calendar next year. Maybe the 50km...

Did I cheat by getting lost? I don't think so. I asked others and they all got 19.6 miles, which is what I got. Either way, it was more than 30km, so I was happy. Anyone got a good story about getting lost in a race? If so, post in the comments!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Duncan Ridge Trail Race 30K is Approaching...

This Saturday is the Duncan Ridge Trail Race (30K for me, 50k for the loco). Honestly I am less nervous about this race than any race I have done. These longer runs are great for me because I don't have to stress like the 5k races, which are essentially sprints.

My quads are gonna be sore after this one!(out and back)
Instead, I can relax and enjoy the run. Hopefully I don't hit a time when I feel bad and I actually enjoy it. I hope to run it between 4.5 to 5 hours. I know that sounds slow, but this trail has some hills!

So this Saturday when you are out on your long run think about me dragging my butt up a mountain while eating peanut butter and jelly and whining about my leg chafing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Study at Penn State looking for data

Penn State is performing a study on BF/Min running. It appears to be targeting runners wanting to transition. Here is the link and the survey info to see if you qualify.

Study Website:
Screening Survey: (Username: barefoot, Password: barefoot)

Carpe diem

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Adventures at the Pinhoti 100 Mile Race

When my friend Angela asked me, "Hey, Natureboy Willy is running a 100 miler and needs a pacer. I can't do it, would you be interested?" I sparked up and said "yes".

I have read about many ultras but have never been a part of one. With 3 days until the ultra I checked with my calendar and loved ones. Neither told me to do anything so I made plans to drive to Heflin, Alabama. Granted, when I first heard about the race I thought it was closer, but 2.5ish hours isn't too bad of a drive anyway.

When I arrived at the hotel I was greeted by Willy "Natureboy" Syndram. He shook my hand as I went around the room and talked to the rest of the crew, Josh and Leigh. Apparently I had already met Josh earlier in my life(10+ years ago). They had already set me up an air mattress in the hotel, which was much better than the anticipated floor.

We discussed pacing and crew work. It was the usual stuff. I got the sense that it was going to be a very flexible race, meaning we weren't going to go crazy trying to get everything perfect, but we would anticipate Willy's needs as the race progressed. This is probably the better route for such a long race where anything can go.

4AM rolled around quick. We hopped out of bed, got ourselves ready(as ready as a pace crew needs to be) and headed out.

The start point was a cluster of cars and runners. Imagine accidentally driving down the forest road and finding this festival of runners.

Willy kind of walked around, warmed up, and did his thing.I took some pictures


The Starting Line

After the race started we moved along to the different aid stations. The first was 6 miles away. Karl Meltzer passed by, then a few minutes later the rest of the runners came through. Willy did great and covered it in a little over an hour and was in 4th or 5th place.

The next aid station was near a train track about 6 more miles down. It was so cold there for some reason. I was trying to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The mayor of the town was there talking with some people. He stopped talking, looked at me, and started laughing. "Your so darn cold that you about near tore your sandwich in half!" We laughed and went back to waiting on the runners. Meanwhile a train passed by.

"Oh good a train passed by. There probably won't be anymore for a while." Karl passed through and a few minutes later the rest of the runners started to show up. A few passed by and then we heard it. The train....

A runners came out of the woods, stopped at the aid station, and was yelled at, "There's a train coming! Go!" The runner took off and just made it past the train.

Mmm... An ultra feast! Every aid station was like this. I was impressed.

Willy wasn't so lucky. Since we were on the other side of the track we were able to give him food and tend to him.  Tough luck, but 4 minutes isn't really going to make a big difference in such a long race.

Finally the train passed and Willy was on his way. We got into a pattern of anticipating what Willy needed and getting everything ready for him.

 After a 20+ mile stretch, ending in the Bald Rock trail parking lot(the highest point in Alabama), Willy came in. He was really sick and had just thrown up. Apparently one of his gels was old and really messed with his stomach. We gave him some Motrin and food and sent him along his way. This was past the 41 mile mark, so Josh was able to pace with him for the next 3 miles.

The scenery was very beautiful
At that point I was ready to run. I had my clothes on and was sporting my KSO Trek Sports. I was so happy that my stretch to pace was coming up and took full advantage of the Bald Rock bathrooms(Pooping in the woods is something I am not so comfortable with yet...)

Willy came out of the woods at the next aid station. Leigh asked me if i thought that was him, and I agreed it looked like him, but we didn't see Josh. In a slight panic we checked the radio but Josh was not calling.

A minute later Josh came out of the woods. Awesome! Willy must be feeling good!

Willy plopped down on the chair and did not look his finest. We fed him some mashed potatoes and chicken broth. Hopefully the sodium will get him going again.

Willy and I started our trek into the woods! 10 miles to pace and I have never paced in my life. In fact, all I know about pacing is what I have read in Jason's blog.

Willy was keeping a great pace despite his problems. I could tell he wasn't feeling good and  was very quiet for most of the run. I know as a pacer I am supposed to keep him company, but I know that if I am feeling like crap I don't want people bugging me.

I was trying to keep an eye on him. His stride was pretty consistent, but he was tripping a lot. I didn't put much thought into it since he was approaching 50 miles.

I asked him, "Is there anything you want?" and he replied, "There are a lot of things I want, but I can't get any of them now." Darn, he is feeling toasted. His head was hurting him really bad. Dehydration wasn't a problem since he was drinking, but he was probably lacking some nutrition. I encouraged him to drink more since he didn't want to eat and kept putting it off when I suggested it to him.

I knew an aid station was around mile 5 or 6. Expecting but never seeing it, we progressed down the trial. As we approached the top of a little bend Willy laid down with his arms out in a very relaxed position. I thought, "Is he taking a break?" I rand back and asked,

Me: "You okay man?"
Willy: No answer.
Me: "Shi.. Willy wake up!"
Willy: "No answer."
Me: "**** **** **** Willy wake up *grabs leg and shakes it*"

His eyes opened like he had just woken up from a nightmare.

Me: "Here, drink some water."
Willy: No answer.

As he came in and out I was able to get some water into him. I scrambed through my bag and pulled out the radio Josh and Leigh gave me. I tried to use it and realized I had no idea what I was doing. "What am I doing wasting my time on this radio? Just  use a phone!"

Luckily I had reception and was able to dig through my text messages from Angela and find Josh's phone number. I explained to him the issue. Looking at Willy I though, "There's no way I can carry him. He is going to have to get up..." That is when I thought I heard voices. I yelled, "HEY!" Nothing... Then a second later, "You need help?" "Yea!"

5 or 6 people came down to help. I asked if they were hikers or aid station workers. They said, "We are from the aid station. It's right around the corner!" I told him he was out. A man came behind Willy and started rubbing his shoulders. By rubbing I mean almost ripping the muscles out. The man was yelling in his ear, "Hey we are here to help you! What is your name?" Willy, with a discomforted look on his face replied, "What do you want!?!"

The man asked his name and age, which Willy replied correctly in a weak voice. The man said, "You couldn't have passed out at a better spot." We walked Willy to the aid station, got him some oranges and chicken broth. I really appreciate those volunteers help and everything they did.

Willy got back on his feet. He seemed much better and there were only three more miles until the next aid station, where Josh and Leigh were(the last was out in the middle of the woods and was not open to everybody).  Those last 3 miles were spent mostly walking at a fast pace. I could tell Willy is a hiker. He kept a killer walking pace even when feeling crappy.

By this point my achilles was killing me. I have bruises from a month ago from the Merrell Sonic Gloves. If I had to run again I would need to switch into my Sanuks.

Finally we started to hear music. I believe it was 3 Doors Down. We tried to run out of there but ended up going back to walking.

Willy plopped down in the chair and looked horrible. He was cold and his head was still torn up, so we took him into the warm van to sit down. He fell asleep. After about 15 minutes he felt the same. We asked him if he wanted to go on and he didn't give us a straightforward answer. Josh said, "Well from the way you are looking I can't see you going on. Do you think you can finish this race?" Willy chuckled and replied, "I can maybe do the next section(A 5 mile dirt road section), but I am scared to death to do the 17 mile section after that." With that answer Josh made a good decision and told the official that he was dropping out.

Just like that, at mile 55, the race was over for Willy. Am I disappointed? Heck no! He kept telling me that he was sorry about passing out. I kind of expected it to happen sooner or later, so it didn't really bother me. He made the right choice dropping out. He can learn from the misfortunes of this race and do better next time.

All-in-all I had a great time! It was an adventure I will never forget and I am so happy that I got to run on the trail(it is a really great trail and pretty barefoot friendly).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Duncan Ridge Trail Run - Training Run #2

Yesterday I did a training run for the Duncan Ridge Trail Run 30k/50k. The run was much better than the last because we went out more prepared, both mentally and with gear.

I started off the day eating a large breakfast, something I didn't do for the last training run. I packed two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a bag of candy corn, as well as my usual CamelBak full of water.

This preparation helped me out a lot. We ended up running 15.8 miles on these trails. I ate during mile 3, 8, and 12. This stopped me from hitting a bottom and feeling like crap. Staying full, for me, is really half the battle if not more.

The other plan we had was to stick together(Angela, Paul, and I), run the flats and downhills, and walk the uphills. This kept us feeling good for the whole run!

Anyway, I took some pictures and a video(sorry the audio didn't come out too good on it). I'm really looking forward to this race!

This is where we kind of started
We sure do have some beautiful mountains.

Initiating the "walk" of the "walk/run". It's sometimes hard to remember to run again.
And the video. I have to remember to hold my camera the other way next time...

Sometimes Less is More

More recently I have been running less and less. Have I lost interest? Am I injured? Nope, in fact, it is because I am interested and not injured. Let me explain.

I have an 18-mile trail race coming up on November 19th. Right now I know that I can cover that distance... if I'm not injured.

So what I have been doing is trying to run 3 miles every Tuesday and Thursday, and throw in a longish run on the weekend depending on how I feel. The 3 mile runs are run at whatever speed I feel. I do encourage myself to run them a little faster though.

The long runs are slow. The perfect average pace for me on them is somewhere between 10:30 to 11:00 minutes per mile.

"If you undertrain, you may not finish, but if you overtrain, you may not start." - Stan Jenson

Is this safe? How am I supposed to run 18 miles if I haven't trained for it? My marathon-running-junkie friend Mitch printed me out this article in which the coach encouraged his athlete to do more short runs and less-frequent long runs. The result? A PR in a marathon and no injuries.

This minimalist(in thought and running) training program seems to be working well for me and I am going to stick to it until the race.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chi Running Presentations at REI = Unsatisfactory Use of Barefoot Running

This is a rant. Blogs about my life will be coming back shortly :)

A few weeks ago my mom sent me an email about a presentation at REI named "Barefoot Running Presentation". Great, I thought! I saw that it was promoting Chi Running. Awesome as well! I thought it would be a great time for me to learn about Chi Running since I had already seen Barefoot Ken Bob's presentation and Nicholas Rominav's Presentation on Pose.

After sitting through one hour of traffic I finally arrived to the presentation. I was about 10 minutes late. I asked around the store and found out that the presentation was held in the back, where they keep all the shoes. Ironic I thought, but proceeded on.

When I walked in the instructor was doing Q/A. People were firing away questions and she was answering them. I questioned this structure, since I was expecting more of a presentation.  Unfortunately her answers were not very informative and were mostly examples. These examples were displayed one time and didn't really explain Chi method at all. Meanwhile everybody in the room is sitting in a chair, with their shoes on.

One activity she made us do was stand up and align our hips. I though this would lead to running, but after being instructed to briefly push on my neighbor to see the stability of the bones, we all sat down again.

She mentioned minimalist shoes and encouraged people to transition to barefoot running a few ways, one of which included scaling down the padding on the shoes to minimalist or barefoot. I strongly disagree with this because I feel it encourages bad form.

Oddly the instructor said multiple times throughout the presentation, "... but we are not going for a run today." She also kept mentioning her other workshops.

Soon enough the presentation was over and she passed out papers encouraging people to come to her Chi Running class. This class cost $130! Great, I just sat though a one hour commercial. Three hours of my life wasted.

To sum it all up the presentation was mostly the audience fishing around for answers. Very little was presented in a non-answer form. The demonstations were poor and didn't really help much to understand Chi Running. More importantly barefoot running was not the main subject of the presentation.

So was this the instructors fault or REI? REI could have named the presentation something different. It should have been called, "Chi Running - An Introduction" or something of the sort. The fact that the group didn't run or even take off their shoes irritates me to no end.

Barefoot Ken Bob, you are still my favorite presenter. You taught more by instructing, letting the students experiment, and running with us then I could learn anywhere else.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I haven't written a blog in a long time. But I have not been lazy. I have been doing 10+ mile runs every weekend, along with some shorter runs throughout the week thrown in and some P90X. I am pretty satisfied with my "run whenever you want to and just do stuff" schedule.

I signed up for the Duncan Ridge 30 kilometer trail run. I have never ran a trail race before and am a little intimidated by it. I have been  running the local trail around the lake and found to to be pretty challenging. It is a very steep and rocky loop that is perfect training for "the toughest trail run in the Southeast.

Why not run the rocky course around the corner? I know from past experience that my bare feet do not hold up well there. All of my past experiences there have been bad and I dreaded running there. After getting slightly intoxicated, researching some longer distance runs, and signing up for the Duncan Ridge I knew I needed to get some trail miles in.

 Feeling reasonable I set out in my Vibram Five Fingers. I know I have down-talked minimalist footwear before, but I agree with Jason Robillard that it has its place. This is especially true if you are trying to accomplish a goal in a short period of time, like the one I am. See, I could spend a few years getting used to the rocky trail, or I could slip on some minimalist shoes and run. I still am feeling the rock(oh trust me I am), but I am taking some of the "sensation" out of it. Also, I am glad to report I am able to run significantly further and faster on trails with minimalist shoes on. I'll explain why...

 Caballo Blanco, Micah True, from Born To Run mentioned on Facebook that he had recently ran with shoes on and was able to keep better form than barefoot. This was because of the terrain he was on. See, running barefoot has its place, most definitely. But sometimes a little sensitivity reduction is nice. This is because you don't have to hop around and worry about stepping on every single rock. Instead, you can keep your form and watch out for the larger stones. After running barefoot for a year I can comfortably say that running in Vibram Five Fingers, at least on this trail, is beneficial to me and allows me to run with good form and only a few mistakes along the way(occasionally I heel-strike when hopping over something, but for the most part I am still spot on my normal form).

So moral of the story? Shoes as tools? I guess Robillard was right. Just don't expect me to want to run in shoes all the time or wear shoes in general.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just received Moc 3

I just received my first pair of Moc 3 from Soft Star shoes.....anyone else have feedback on them...

I have alway said that someone should make Vibram KSO's without toes....(I just wanna punch people in the face when they have something to say to me about my "toes shoes"...LOL).

These looked like they may fit the bill.....I waited until I had a good work week and found an extra $100 to throw away. I followed their on line fitting guide and called them direct to talk about how I am VERY picky about fit. I am usually a 11 1/2 men's size..they do not make halve sizes, they suggested I should I have them make me a size 12 based on the sizing instructions.......PERFECT FIT...I have not ran in them yet. Very light, 2mm Virbam soles...They do not look trail worthy, but appear to be good for the road...We think that they are good to wear everyday, better looking on feet than on the internet.....More to come. I do a product review after a few miles...

Moc 3 webpage

Fast forward 2 days

After my first short run (5K), my preliminary evaluation is as follows.

-The Moc 3 with the 2 mm sole has significantly more tactile feedback than my KSO's

-They seemed to be alittle loose into the run...hoping for the 1/2 size options.

-I wish that the sole covered more of the inner arch (it may be because I am flat footed) See picture, I worry that it may wear too quickly here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The 2011 Peachtree Road Race - Part 1

When I was told three months ago that we won the lottery to The Peachtree Road Race I was both excited and worried. I was coming off of an injury and had started increasing my distance again. Unfortunately, I was only running quarter miles(just to be safe). I figured I could run the 10K by the end of the three months, but I didn't expect to perform as well as I did.

Jump forward three months and we are driving in my car for an hour and a half to Atlanta on July the third... without air conditioning. Miserable? Much.

Whitney is laying next to me with a wet towel on her head. Most of the ice cubes in the cooler have melted and the water temperature is rising. "Almost there... Almost there." I say, wiping the sweat off my brow.

Fourty-five minutes later we arrive at a AmericasMart. The place is packed with runners.

I remember Nicholas Rominov, the creator of The Pose Method was doing a lecture. Maybe if we rush we can get to it. Before I walk in I tell myself, "I usually don't run with this method. I really don't use any method, but I'm sure he has something important to say." Discussing gravity, foot cadence, and body posture, Nicholas actually leaves out a majority of things that create a stir in the Pose vs Chi debate, for example foot-strike. The more I listen, the more I realize he just wants everyone to be an efficient runner. I catch myself laughing at his jokes, some of which the surrounding runners aren't understanding. Crazy Russians!

He asks, "Does anyone here think they can run right?" I look around and nobody raises their hand. I think, "Are you kidding me? Twenty runners at a running expo and not one is cocky enough to raise their hand." After a moment of silence and persuasion he pulls someone out of the group, watches their form, and critiques it. This is where I spot a difference between Nicholas and Barefoot Ken Bob. With Nicholas, he firmly believes he is right and that  runners must run his way for maximum efficiency. Barefoot Ken Bob, on the other hand, doesn't correct runners until they have a problem and ask him about it. I believe Barefoot Ken Bob is more of a "You can learn to run by correcting your mistakes and listening to your body. Who am I to tell you what is right and wrong for your body?" This probably has to do with Nicholas Rominov being a coach and Barefoot Ken Bob saying, "I am not a coach, I am just a guy with experience."

Discussing downhill technique with Nicholas Rominov

After the lecture I approach him and start asking him questions about running down hills. I have been having problems with gaining too much speed down hills and stressing my knees. He tells me to not lean forward while going down the hills, while still keeping the Pose form. This is what I feared. I already run down hills this way(of course with my own form). For the record, the best way I have found to go down steep long hills is to use Jason Robillard's skiing slalom technique mentioned here.

All-in-all Nicholas Rominov is a great guy and really a pleasure to listen to, but he is a bit set in his ways. But as it goes, extremists get the most work done in life.

My dad and I just happen to be wearing...
...the same shirt.

Next we start to explore the rest of the expo. Venders are lined up and down the isles. The first spot we hit is the Spibelt stand. Spibelts are great running belts because they are tiny and can hold a ton. I actually end up running the race with them.

Accelerade, a sports drink I had heard much about previously, has coolers of their drink. I try it and am surprised by the watered-down taste of it. I think, "This tastes like a watered-down Gatorade" then I remember that I water-down my Gatorade anyway because it is too thick during runs. On second thought, it is really refreshing! We grab a biased performance nutrition handbook and move on.

My dad points out to me a shirt stand filled with funny shirts. I read, laugh, read, laugh, repeat. My favorite shirt was this one:

The 5-Hour Energy vendor catches my eye. I have only had one of them before, and I liked the way it made me feel. I happily take one. Little did I know that it could be the death of me.

"Oh look! Nuun! Barefoot Angie Bee talks about this stuff all the time!" I fill up a cup with confidence and take a swig... "Meh... It tastes like a slightly better, but still not that great, Airborne." Oh well, not my cup of sports drink.

My eyes widen at the adjacent vendor: vegan protein. I had recently purchased a vegan protien powder and it was one of the worst tasting things I had ever tasted. Cautious, I approach the table and take a sip. It is a little better but, still has that nasty and bitter taste that doesn't leave your tongue unless you eat a pack of Taco Bell hot sauce(a lesson from experience).

I go back to the Nuun, which tastes much better the second time. :P

I get a decent taste in my mouth and spot a group of people being checked for intonation. I chuckle and think, "I have never had this done before. I wonder..." I approach the attractive sales lady/person that is supposed to tell you that your foot is deformed and say, "I am not going to buy your product. I am just doing this for research purposes." She laughs and tells me to stand on this platform, spread my legs, point my feet straight, and bend my knees. Apparently this unnatural position that I am rarely in(never when I run) relates to my running form. Whatever, I do what she says and she tells me that I intonate heavily on my left foot, but my right foot is neutral. I say, "Okay" and leave. And here I am giving Nicholas Rominov hell because he is stuck in his ways!

My dad tells me that I need to talk over at the Merrell tent. Kyle Ballard, a race coordinator for Merrell's Down and Dirty Mud Run, is there. We meet, I give him my card, and we talk about a good way to get barefoot/minimalist runners to run in the barefoot division of the race. Honestly, I don't really agree with barefoot divisions. One, because they are hardly ever barefoot and consist of a bunch of minimalist runners(not that there is anything wrong with that...), and two, because it separates runners in a way that presents barefoot runners as having a handicap. Anyway, I agree to work with him on that and send him some links to help get the word out. At this tent I attempt the pull-up challenge. Essentially, for each gender, whoever can do the most pull-ups wins a pair of shoes. I don't really need shoes, but I try it anyway. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to get some trail gloves. I get to the eighth one and feel myself getting weak. The top person has 41. Nope! Not gonna happen! I drop down and catch hell for doing eight by a bunch of people that didn't even attempt it. :)

All-in-all the expo is a great success. We make plans to take naps and go out to dinner. After stuffing our faces and drinking more than we should the night before a race(where's the fun if you don't feel like crap before the race), I drink a CamelBak and hit the sack.

Part 2... The race.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Running to the Beat

This is the first of three blog posts about heart rate and nasal vs. oral breathing. Today I will cover heart rate and discuss the general experiment tomorrow. 

Typically when I run I am glancing at my watch to check-up on my pace. My pace depends on how much of a workout I want for the run. While using pace is a general way to keep consistency in your running, heart rate is a better measure.

Heart rate is a better measure because your heart rate is proportional to the amount of work that your body is doing in a given condition. I noticed while I was running on the cool beach last week that I was able to run a 9 minute mile with no problem, but as soon as I came home I was huffing and puffing at a 10 minute mile due to the high humidity of the deep south. Comparing pace in this situation is not fair at all!

So what sparked this interest in heart rate? I recently started taking an Athletic Training class as an elective, and the topic was brought up.

We learned some basic formulas that tend to be pretty accurate. I will only use two for the sake of this post.

The American Heart Association, as well as my instructor, claims:
~Maximum Heart Rate = 220 - Age
 While finding this formula I found many people that disagreed with it. I honestly don't think it is going to make much of a difference. Another way for me to find this is to just go running balls-to-the-walls.

Anyway, I am 21, so my maximum heart rate is going to be 199 BPM.

 After finding my resting heart rate I can determine my target heart rate.  To find my resting heart rate I used my Garmin Forerunner 305 + Heart Rate Monitor. I simply laid on my floor and waited until my heart beats hit their lowest point. It is probably best to do this immediately after waking up, before coffee, for better accuracy. It turns out my resting heart rate is 41 BPM.

To find my target heart rate I will use the Karvonen method. This says:
THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × % intensity) + HRrest
But wait. What intensity do I need to be running at? Typically I want to be in the aerobic zone, which is between 70% and 80%. The aerobic zone is preferred if you are training for an endurance event. So let's shoot for some middle ground at 75%.

Now plug-and-chug:
THR = ((199 - 41) × 0.75) + 41 = 159.5 BPM
I now know to get a good aerobic workout I need to be running around 159.5 BPM.

Next, for tomorrow's experiment I will need to find my Healthy Heart Zone, or warm up rate. The intensity of a warm up should be around 50-60% of my maximum rate. So I'll shoot for 55%.
THR = ((199 - 41) × 0.55) + 41 = 127.9 BPM
Now I know when I am doing my walks I should be at about 127.9 BPM.

Later, I will work this information into my experiment. I suggest finding your aerobic heart rate and warm up heart rate and trying to run with them. For a non-Garmin way to take your heart rate, check out this information at the University of Iowa.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A 5K Every Day For One Month

I have been trying to run a 5K every day this month. I have attempted this before and it ended in injury. This time feels different and I am having much less trouble.

So why didn't I announce this 10 days ago? I wanted to know if I could do it. Too many times have I said I am going to do something only to have to stop it for safety's sake.

I find that the little aches and pains that I think could be injuries typically disappear after a few days. Although I would rather not, I am still comfortable with the idea of stopping the streak to make sure that I am healed for the Peachtree Roadrace on the 4th of July.

My current pain is below my first metatarsal. I can still run without pain if I am paying attention to my form(maybe this is a good thing). I believe it has to do with the tendons since I don't remember bruising it. I think it happened because I drove 11 hours without shoes on from North Carolina. I use my toes to accelerate.

Running a 5K every day has taken a toll on me, but it seems to get easier with time. The best part of it is that I may be able to break my current record of 113.8 miles in a month. Today is the 11th(yes I waited a day to post this) and I have almost passed my previous months miles. This is definitely a great way to get the mileage up!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beach Running!

I haven't posted in a few days because I have been on vacation in Frisco, North Carolina with my lover. The beach was really nice and the weather was great. For some reason I was able to wake up at ~7:30AM every day. I have no idea how.

Beach running was different. I am not sure if I like it or not. The first day I ran in my swim trunks and ran in and out of the water. BAD IDEA! I was chaffed for a few days. The beach felt good on my feet, but I think I prefer asphalt. I feel like I actually have to pay attention to my form more since I know that the surface is soft and that I could easily overstride.

Sadly, even though I was running on the beach I only saw one other person running barefoot. Everybody else laced up shoes and avoided the water. Where is the fun in that? I suppose it can be argued that they are training the way that they are going to run races, but it still is sad to see people running in, to quote Barefoot Ted, "foot coffins" while on one of the most forgiving surfaces to run on. There weren't many shells and the ones that I stepped on just laid flat, so protections wasn't really an issue.

On that note, here is a video of me running/sprinting on the beach. The quality isn't great(recorded on my phone). There isn't really a point to this video other than "This is a video of me running."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hot Hot Hot! Blisters!

Sooner or later, almost every barefoot runner will run in a temperature that their feet aren't quite ready for, resulting in a set of blisters. The trick is to know your limits and stop running when you feel is necessary.

Yesterday I tried running in a new location. It has been sooo freaking hot and humid here. I mean, seriously wtf is this garbage?

I was actually running a little earlier that that(around 6:30), and I know it was hotter.

Anyway, when I first saw the new location(Rock Creek in Dawsonville) from the road I thought it would be a tree covered and shaded dream. Unfortunately this was not the case. In fact, 90% of the path was golf-course like, meaning the sun was-a-roastin'!

Great, so I step out of my car and it is hot. It doesn't help that my car has no AC, but I digress... So I start my run. About a mile in I am noticing that my feet are getting more and more tender. I increase my cadence and truck on. Finally, at the end of the 5K I walk slowly through the grass back to my car. My feet are a slightly tender at this point, but there are no signs of blisters!

Now the main predicament comes the next day. My feet are still tender. When should I run? In the cool morning with little recovery or during the hot after with more recovery? Cool morning it is!

I met up with my mom and we did a slower 5K. Its nice to have someone to talk to while running and my mom does a great job with that. During the run my feet held up fine. The only thing that hurt was small rocks that stuck to the bottom of my feet.

After coming home and taking a shower I decided to take a picture of my feet. The burnt skin was starting to show, but it honestly wasn't that bad. I have had much worse burns that I have learned from.

So what is the point of this post? Well I feel like the last time I burnt my feet(early in on my barefoot journey) I was much worse. I could barely walk without the help of a medic, some socks, and a pair of Crocks. My feet are becoming more used to the heat and more durable. Just think if I continue to run in the heat. Nothing could stop me!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

10K PR at the Baseball Fields

I'm pretty excited about this. I have never ran(to my knowledge) a 10K under 1 hour. I just never put forth the effort to keep up a decent pace.

Wednesday I did a 10K. It was unintentional and I just kept saying, "Well why not do another mile?" When I hit the 5.3 mile mark I realized that I could possibly get it under a one hour mark. I ran hard, but didn't make it.

So Friday I set out to do it. Here's the RunKeeper. I basically ran it at a pace that I could still sprint out of but I definitely wasn't running slow(to me at least :P). By the fifth mile I knew I had it because I was only at ~45 minutes. Regardless, I tried to pick up the pace on the last mile: 1) to ensure I would make it and 2) because I enjoy it.

So that's it. I feel good and know I am ready for the Peachtree Road Race. I just have to maintain now and maybe get more used to the distance.

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Day of Crossfit

Originally my girlfriend made an appointment for crossfit, but she couldn't make it and told me to check it out.

I got there and was greeted by a member. He was cool and shook my hand. He led me to the instructor, who seemed like a really laid-back and educated guy.

I introducted myself, discussed my goals, etc. I also asked him if he minded if I went barefoot. He was a little worried I would have problems on the asphalt. I informed him I ran many miles on the asphalt and am fine with it. He couldn't find a reason why not and said sure(huge plus for me!)

I started out with a 400 m jog to loosen up. Then I did 20 situps on a pad(ab something?) with my legs in a butterfly position. He taught me how to do dips and showed me how to do kipping pullups. I need to work on these!

Next we did squats, then the workout of the day. This took a little over an hour and I feel great.

I didn't lift much weight since I am new, but I feel like I can lift more next time.
Well, I just want to conclude that I think I am an addict now. I like the exercises they made me do. I kind of wish they were more functional, but maybe I just came on an odd day. I can't wait for my next session!