Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Bloody Good Barefoot Run

After the regional high school cross country meet, my buddy Chuck swung by and we did a run together on some of the trails at Twin Brook. After talking to Chuck about it, I decided to up the ante a little on my barefoot running, as there were quite a few long sections of trail that were pretty rugged compared to the grassy fields and beaches with packed sand I have been doing all of my barefoot running on. Chuck was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, probably a much better choice mostly because of a few gravely sections (which reduced me to a walk).

As you can see from the picture above, it wasn't flawless. I kicked a rock or root really hard about a mile or two into the run and consequently fell pretty hard. I immediately got up and started running again, not wanting to give the pain a chance to settle in. Fortunately, it looks worse than it actually is. Even after I stopped, it didn't feel so bad. No biggie.

That little incident aside, I was pleasantly surprised at how I did on trails with much more rocks and roots. They were pretty easy actually, only the aforementioned graveled sections were a nuisance. And also that rock or root that I kicked. However, it was a good little test. Glad I did it. Looking forward to a longer run tomorrow!

Ran 4.3 miles @ 9:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/162
Trails, varying terrain and pretty muddy.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy overall.
Barefoot, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

R.I.P. Plantar Fasciitis (August 2008 - October 2009)

I've been meaning to mention it on the blog, but about a week ago I came to the realization that the plantar fasciitis is 100% gone. Its slow death was somewhat anti-climatic, as the past few months I had only felt it as soon as I got up in the morning and after the walk to the bathroom, it would go away. Now that's not even present. Good riddance.

I without a doubt think the barefoot/minimal shoe running helped. The PF was on its way out anyway, but the barefoot/minimal shoe running definitely gave it a noticeable push. I've read running barefoot can cause PF. Bunch of crap, if you ask me. Probably more shoe company propaganda. For me, it was just the opposite.

So, with that in mind, I strapped on the heelless road shoes and got in a touch over five miles before cross country practice started. Hit it at a pretty good pace, and though it was some work, at the same time it didn't require all that much effort. I seriously haven't felt this kind of speed and ease of pace in years. I attribute that mostly due to the fact that I took things really, really easy coming back form the stress fracture and taking my time with everything. Looking forward to starting to add some longer distances next.

I reached the practice field before the team, so kicked off the shoes and got in another 1.2 miles barefoot before the team arrived. Afterwards, shoes back on and ran 8/10's of a mile back to the school. Good day.

Ran 7.1 miles total.
Ran 5.1 miles @ 7:21/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 157/165, Heelless shoes (modified Asics GT-2120).
Ran 1.2 miles @ 8:28/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 146/152, Cool down run immediately after, done barefoot.
Ran .8 miles @ 7:15/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 146/156, Heelless shoes, run back to school after XC practice.

Paved roads for shoe run, grassy field for barefoot run.
Slightly hilly.
Around 50 degrees, sunny.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Five in Perfect Autumn Weather

Ran the warm up and cool down with the cross country team, extending a mile on to the warm up. One thing I've been noticing in the past week or so is that the quicker paces have been coming easier. Most runs I look at the data and I've been pleasantly surprised by the pace. Sweet. Obviously a good sign.

The cross country season will be winding down soon, with regionals this weekend and states the following. I'll be looking to kick things up a few notches as a result, as it'll be easier to focus on my own running and I'll have more time to do so.

While I've been enjoying the Zen aspects of running the past several weeks, my attention is starting to drift towards races. I just need some goals. I'm looking at the Massanutten 100 this May. Before then, I might do the Hyannis Marathon... but Massanutten is a higher priority.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:15/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 155/167
Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:37/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 155/167
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Faceplant in the Mud

I set out to explore the snowmobile trail known as ITS 89, or Rt. 89, which connects all the way to Canada. It runs near my house mostly along the powerlines, and they've done a lot of work on the trail over the summer, so I was anxious to check it out.

Long story short, they did a great job on some key boggy sections that now make for some great running. Not all of the dots are connected yet though, but it's coming. I wouldn't mind contacting the trail workers and volunteering at some point, as I know I'll be making more frequent use of these sections in the future.

Anyway, I had contemplating bringing my camera along, and at one point on top of a big hill, I really wish I had... the fall colors looked spectacular. I figure we our pretty far past our peak for colors, but seeing the trees from this higher vantage point was an awesome, colorful sight.

However, a mile or so later I was really glad I didn't bring the camera. During one boggy section of trail that hasn't been worked yet, I was moving along at a pretty good clip. What looked like a shallow puddle in front of me turned out to be a mud pit that literally swallowed my entire left leg. I'm glad I didn't lose a shoe. I got out took a few steps, tripped and did a full-on faceplant in the mud.

After that, I pretty much decided it was better to navigate around this section so I bushwhacked into the woods and found my way around it. I mused I'd run into a trail I knew of up ahead that would lead me back to the powerlines, and I found it pretty much exactly where I thought I would.

I then came to a road crossing, standing there caked in mud waiting for a few cars to pass. I caught one lady's look, an obese female who was looking at me as if I were some sort of monster (the feeling was mutual).

After crossing the road, another troublesome boggy area had been "fixed" and it was a joy to run on it. I eventually reached an impasse though. I could see the trail on the hill ahead of me but couldn't quite figure out how to get to it. I mused I would have enough miles for the day if I turned around here though, so I didn't bother looking too hard and decided to head back.

Great run and a fun little adventure. Overall pace was slowed down because of some of those problem areas, but I was quite pleased when I saw the numbers. On the more runnable sections of trails, I was running at a pretty good pace (for me) despite the mud from yesterday's rain, which helped make up for it (several miles around 8:30/mile pace). Good day.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/168
Muddy trails with some very boggy sections, some bushwhacking involved, some dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Run in the Cold, Cold Rain

Great run in the elements today with Ian, Jim, Randy and Don at Pineland Farms. This is definitely one of those days where it helps to know that you are running with folks and feel committed to going, as with the steady, cold rain falling it is all too easy to stay in bed under the warm covers and take your time sipping coffee and procrastinating the day away.

We got in a pretty good pace for these trails and this distance. Felt great out there, but again, like last week I had pretty fresh legs because I wasn't able to run much during the week... this time because of a chest cold. Probably not exactly smart to run in this kind of weather as a result, but I'm over it enough where I felt it was an okay risk to take.

Dressed well for the weather. Moeben sleeves really shine in cold rain. I guess it's because it's a good combination of material, fit and thickness.

Afterwards, we refueled on coffee at the Visitor's Center and then checked out the cyclocross race going on nearby. Looks like a really fun sport! Great mix of athletic ability, technique, and simply having balls (especially on those downhill muddy sections).

Ran 7.2 miles @ 8:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/168
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, steady rain.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Teeny Tiny Run

Just did part of the warm up and cool down with the XC team. Unfortunately for the runners, the regional meet tomorrow has already been postponed due to expected heavy rains and wind. There are some pluses to the postponement though, but I still feel bad for the kids since they have to wait another week. They are definitely raring to go.

As for me, I'm fine with the shorter mileage I did today, as I plan on doing longer runs both Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow especially will be interesting with the weather.

Ran 1.2 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/147
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmod, but wish I brought the mods), long pants, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Post Chest Cold Run

I reluctantly took the past couple of days off due to a chest cold, obeying the adage that states it's more or less okay to run if cold symptoms are from the neck up, but don't run if it's in the lungs. Fortunately, it's pretty much gone and I was also otherwise feeling great, so I did a short 5K run at an easy pace to test things out before XC practice got under way. All systems go.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast.
New Balance (really old pair, forgot my real shoes), Shorts, short sleeved shirt, jacket (shed after a mile), cap.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Fitting Compromise

The XC team had a two-mile time trial on tap today, and I had originally planned on running it with them. However, I felt pretty crappy on the 2.3 mile warm-up run. Felt tight and not very energetic. I had run it at an okay lick, so I convinced myself that the warm-up run and the cool down of the same distance would be enough.

But then as the runners were doing the time trials, I was getting chilly. One of the kids came late, and I decided to compromise my plans and help pull him along at least for the first mile. This worked out well. I'd say it translated to about a 90% effort for me, and I was happy to squeek in one second under 6:00.

The mile course is a hilly one also. Check out the elevation chart below.

Ran 5.6 miles total.
2.3 miles @ 7:41/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 153/165
1.0 mile @ 5:59/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 159/171
2.3 miles @ 7:53/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 157/168

Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d, very hilly for mile course.
Lower 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmodified), Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leapfrogging at Pineland Farms

A bunch of us met at Pineland Farms this morning, including Ian, Kate, Jeff, Mindy, Tim, Lilly, Jim, Tom, and a couple of others folks I had met for the first time and forgot their names. I haven't been able to run much this past week (busy with work stuff, but I had really just planned things poorly for running), so I was looking forward to hopefully making good use out of my fresh legs.

With most of us donning extra clothing for the colder weather (Jim still started in shorts), we all set out for various distances and paces. Long story short, I got in the distance I wanted, but also went at a much faster pace than I had anticipated.

This was due in part to the fresh legs, but also due in large part to Lilly. She's a fast downhill runner, and I'm not. So on the downhill stretches she would blow past me. But being that the hills are rolling at Pineland, there would soon be an uphill, and I would catch her and pass her on the climbs. Repeat... over and over again. Then take it up a notch every few hills.

As a result, our game of leapfrog had me going at a faster pace than I had anticipated. It was a great workout. Granted, an easier pace might have been more prudent at this stage, but it was fun and I held up just fine. It was tough though, but in a good way. My own little personal guideline is that anytime the pace is less than 9:00/mile at Pineland, especially when you're doing more than 10 miles, you're flying pretty darn good considering the relentlessly rolling hills. Pleased with the HR data as well.

Afterwards, we saw Kate had just finished her run and the three of us headed over to the visitor's center, got some very refreshing hot apple cider and ultra-awesome homemade cinnamon buns, sat on a big comfy couch, and chit-chatted while gazing at Mt. Washington in the distance. Great way to end a run!

Ran 14.4 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/173
Very hilly.
Lower-mid 20s warming to lower 40s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, long pants (shed for shorts), windbreaker (shed for long sleeved shirt), beanie (also shed).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Abbreviated Workout

Just a quick workout with the XC team yesterday. Did part of the warm-up and the cool down, and jumped in a few 400M quarters here and there at a fast, but not full-on, pace. The cooler weather is making running nice for now... hardly any sweating.

Ran 2.2 miles, including 4 X 400M @ around 5:45/mile pace.
Paved roads, grassy fields.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmodified), shorts, short sleeve shirt, windbreaker.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shades of Gray

For much of last night and this morning, I debated what run I should do, if one at all. On one hand, I've run the past four days in a row, and a fifth day would arguably counter my resolve to take the post-injury running period (which I've deemed to be about two months long and am about halfway through) slowly and steadily, especially with the last two days at eight miles each day. A rest day today would seem logical.

On the other hand, I've been feeling really good lately, and I really wanted to run. With that in mind, I was immediately thinking exclusively of longer runs around my house, all eight miles or more.

Being the genius that I am, it didn't occur to me until much later that a good compromise would be to just get in a short run instead. Duh. Funny how we think in extremes sometimes and situations come across as an either/or situation, or to put it slightly more colorfully, black and white. Often times, the shades of gray make more sense.

The short trail run in the woods out back was a good one. Saw one hawk (probably a red-tailed hawk) and another large bird that might have been an owl, but it could have been a hawk as well. Gorgeous weather out. Perfect running weather in fact, with temps in the mid-50s and sunny. As a result, the pace was a bit on the faster side, given the technicality of the trails.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 8:43/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/168
Technical trails, small section of fire road.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Asics Trail Attacks (heelless), shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cold Temperature Limits of Barefoot Running

Winter is approaching, and the number of days where running barefoot outdoors are unfortunately limited. A sub-freezing night warmed up quickly today though. By the time I left my house it was in the upper 30s, and at the coast it was a bit warmer, giving Blaine and I temps in the mid-40s at the start of our run at Old Orchard Beach.

We got under way at 9am, and a mile or so into the run we both noted our toes were a bit numb. Nothing bad and it was definitely tolerable, but we both agreed that just a few degrees colder would be doable but would pretty much suck. That being said, Blaine showed me a link to a forum where a guy describes a way to acclimate your feet to colder temperatures. Interesting.

As the temperatures continue to drop there's also a natural acclimation. For example, I ran half the run today in a windbreaker. In mid-winter, this morning's temps would have had me running happily and comfortably in just a short sleeved shirt. Point being, I'll see how much longer into the season I can go barefoot as the body makes adjustments, but there will definitely be a point where I'll have to stop until spring, obviously.

The run went smoothly. Body felt great with no aggravations what so ever. Calves did feel a little tight towards the end of the run, but nothing unusual. Sun broke out of the clouds the last few miles and it felt perfect out. Excellent little run.

Ran 8.0 miles @ 8:37/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/153
Beaches with packed sand.
Very flat.
Mid 40s to start, lower 50s to end. Mostly to partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, jacket (removed at halfway mark), short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Running Barefoot at Twin Brooks

I helped my buddy Jeff at the Craig Cup 5K today. He's the race director for the event and I helped work the finish line. Great to also see Stephen, Kelly, James, Val, Carter, Blaine, and others there as well. Thanks to Jeff's superb organization skills, the race went smoothly and everyone looked like they had a great time.

Hard not to have a great time this time of year. The leaves are nearing their peak colors and the weather, while a tad warm for this time of year, was still very pleasant. Great day for a run.

After the race was over, I got in my longest barefoot run to date. I stuck to multiple loops on the athletic fields, which are all grass and very barefoot friendly. Only real obstacle was dodging the occasional Soccer Mom. Blaine joined me for about half the mileage, and like me, he's also coming back from injury. We discussed barefoot running and races for much of the time.

I had originally planned on around five miles at around a 9:00/mile pace, but I was feeling really good so I went a little farther and faster and was able to do so very comfortably. I'm very happy with my post-injury progress so far, and am also really enjoying running as a result. Really nice to just concentrate on the Zen aspects of the sport without worrying about any races on the immediate horizon.

Ran 8.4 miles @ 8:16/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/161
Grassy fields.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Running in the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary

I had to travel to Lewiston for a teacher's conference today, and I arranged to meet up with my friend Val for a run at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary afterwards. Great run, but I was taken a bit by surprise at the terrain.

No offense to any birders out there... I really enjoy trying to identify our fine feathered friends myself and keep a couple of bird feeders out back and really enjoy seeing who flies in... but when Val mentioned we'd be running in a "bird sanctuary" I imagined flatter terrain that would be relatively easy for those who might not be in the best physical shape to get around.

Not the case. Any birders looking to cover any ground here better have some strong legs, because the sanctuary features many intensely steep hills that are also pretty technical. I loved it, and was pleasantly surprised. The woods are awesome, featuring some older growth trees and cool terrain.

Val and I went along at an easy pace, chit chatting about running, work stuff and just life in general. Was really glad she brought me here, she was great company and it was fun to explore new trails. And, the weather cooperated as well, with no rain falling. Only problem was some chaffing issues, but thankfully it was a shorter run.

Ran 4.4 miles @ 10:03/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 141/164
Trails, mostly technical with some smoother sections.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Barefoot in the Park

The cross country team was running varying distances and routes around the school, so I opted to run loops on the grassy fields at a park where they would appear out of the woods here and there while I ran. Did a mile warm-up in shoes to get to the park, then 5k barefoot. Afterwards, shoes back on, ran with a couple of the girls for a short while on the way back to the school.

Have to drive up to Lewiston tomorrow for a conference. Would like to drag my butt out of bed early (very early, a la Andrew) and get in a run before I head up. More rain expected in the afternoon. Not sure which is the bigger deterrent for me, super early run alone or soaking run in cold rain... so we'll see what actually happens. If I wuss out entirely, will punish myself over the weekend.

Ran 1.0 miles @ 8:26/mile pace with shoes (Asics GT-2140). AHR/MHR - 136/152
Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:28/mile pace barefoot. AHR/MHR - 140/152
Ran .8 miles @ 8:51/mile pace with shoes (Asics GT-2140). AHR/MHR - 136/154
Total miles: 4.9

Paved roads (first mile), grassy fields (barefoot), fields and trails (run back).
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, partly sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pushing the Pace

Was really happy with today's run. It was tough though. Really tough. Pretty much all of my runs over five miles during this post-injury period have been at a very relaxed pace. I decided today to push it. There were physical cob-webs to shake, as well as mental ones. I had no idea until now they were so thick, but I'm happy to have pushed through it.

I did the same route as Saturday, though this time the mileage was 1/10th shorter since I opted to walk once I hit the driveway at the end of the run.

Around two and a half miles of this route are on fire roads where the surface is smoother, but most of it is still quite hilly. Still, you can pick up the pace easier on those sections.

The rest is rugged, rolling, technical trails. I made it a goal to have all of my splits under 9:00/mile. During mile four, this almost came in jeopardy during a steep climb up a very rocky hill. I did it though in 8:52, and that was a nice little victory.

Ran 8.5 miles @ 8:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 160/177
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, partly sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cathance River Run

I drove up to Ryan and Danielle's place up in Topsham this morning for a trail run. Mindy joined us as well. Of course, Danielle is preggers (but not for long!), so unfortunately she couldn't really join us.

We hit the Cathance River Nature Preserve and got in eight miles on the network of trails there. Great area. The river itself is beautiful and lots of neat bogs on the land as well. I mused a few times that quite a few areas would be prime owl territory.

We kept the pace pretty slow. I actually thought we went faster, but I guess the slippery rocks, roots and bridges helped keep the pace down.

Afterwards, we mowed down Ryan's famous omelets. The dude really does make a mean omelet. And Danielle's chocolate chip pumpkin bread was also to die for. Nothing like good grub after a trail run! Thanks guys.

Ryan also brokered a deal with a ski friend of his and I got a great deal on these Rossignol Xium skate skis. Can't wait for winter!

Ran 8.0 miles @ 10:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/160
Trails, lots of slick rocks, roots.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rain, Mud and Trails

Rainy weekend, but those can make trail runs kinda fun. I hit the woods out back this morning, running an extended version of one of my regular routes, but ran it counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. This afforded me the chance to tackle a mile and a half long technical stretch on a downhill (starting at mile four), instead of climbing up. I liked this, as it was good practice, since running technical downhills is definitely my weak area.

Kept a good pace throughout. I continue to be pretty happy with my progress. The rust continues to come off at a good rate and I'm simply having fun running without major, nagging injuries getting in the way. I noticed a good quantitative measurement of this by comparing my heart rate and pace of today's run with this run last month. Same terrain, heart rate numbers are identical, yet today's pace was over :40 per mile faster.

Ran 8.6 miles @ 9:13/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/165
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast, light to moderate rain throughout.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mixed Bag

After a week filled with doctors and dentists appointments and grad school, it was nice to finally rejoin the XC team this week. Practice was a bit later today, affording me the chance to get in a little over five miles before helping time their workouts.

I took a long loop to the park that was a little over four miles and ran that in the heelless shoes. While waiting for them to arrive, I took off the shoes and ran a little over a mile barefoot before they got there. Afterwards, shoes back on and ran back to the school.

Nice, chilly weather out there. I was dressed fine for running, but while helping time the workouts, it was clear I was under-dressed. Leaves are really colorful now. I love this time of year!

Ran 6.1 miles total.
4.2 miles @ 7:55/mile pace in heelless shoes. AHR/MHR - 150/164
1.1 miles @ 9:12/mile pace barefoot. AHR/MHR - 142/153
.8 miles @ 8:33/mile pace in heelless shoes. AHR/MHR - 142/150

Paved roads (shoes), grassy fields (barefoot)
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, mostly cloudy.
Asics GT-2120 (heelless), barefeet, shorts, long sleeved shirt.