Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Barefoot Experiment: Episode Four

Yesterday I did my first real test as far as barefoot running goes.  Running a slow mile in the soft grass is easy enough for most people to accomplish.  It is not a very good indicator, however, if barefoot running is right for you, and it does nothing to for your form, so I've heard.  Running on hard surfaces is supposed to be where you start.  So that's what I did.

Originally I set out to run barefoot for three minutes.  I drove to the Birke Gilman Trail, parking near Fred Meyer because I had a few things I needed to pick up.  This trail is smooth asphalt with the exception of street crossings.  Sounded the perfect surface for my first time barefoot.  Once I got there I decided that three minutes sounded a little too conservative so I decided to go for five.  I set my garmin to go off at two and half minutes and was off.

Felt strange and foreign and first, and people always give strange looks to people with no shoes on.  I was more nervous than I should have been.  It very quickly became very natural feeling and the smooth asphalt was a wonderful surface to run on.  It was a little rough running across the few street crossing in that part of the trail, the ball of my right foot found a rock that I didn't see.  Other than that, like I said, it was very comfortable and natural feeling.  My timer went off and I turned around.  Not sure what happened but it took me longer to get back back and my five minute turned into five minutes and fifty seconds.  It is what it is.  After that I went back to my car so I could dust off my feet and put on my shoes and go for a normal run.  I had a hard time getting a decent picture with the blinding sunshine but here's how my feet looked, happily dirty.

My planned run with shoes was only two miles.  I haven't been running much lately and quickly realized how much fitness I've lost when I ran a three mile run that felt like it should have been 10.  The first thing I noticed, and it's probably just from switching from one to the other so quickly, my legs, mainly my shins, were feeling a little achy and fatigued right off the bat.  Before I had even gone half the distance as my mini barefoot run.  I really don't know if that means anything but I thought it was interesting to note.  My two miler felt long (out of shape) but good.  Feels good to be getting back out there again.  I also stopped by the running store today to try on a pair of Merrell Pace Gloves.  Oh yes, those will be mine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Great Barefoot Experiment: Episodes Two and Three

Part One

A couple of days after my short little walk, barefoot, I decided to try a bit of a longer walk.  I decided to go around the block.  Which doesn't seem like much but going around my block equals six blocks, rather than four.  I put on my headphones and headed out.  It was a really nice day and I was feeling really calm and just happy to be outside.  Work has been a bit stressful lately.  I walked down to the end of my block, turned, and found a really cute, kind of friendly cat.  He (she?) would come up to me but would back away when I tried to pet him.  After a couple of minutes I decided to move on.  Well,  I only made it a couple of step before seeing a very large, very beautiful, white cat.  This cat came right up to me, no hesitation, and shoved it's head under my hand.  I happily petted him, which caused the other cat to suddenly abandon all reserves and come running over for some love too.  That was the highlight of my walk, even though I hadn't gotten very far.  I love cats, but can't have one.  Lately it almost seems like they find me.  Like I have some kind of cat radar that tells them to come running and get some love.  I should have taken pictures but the mailman came along and started asking if they were my cats and making conversation.  I didn't want to look like the creepy cat stalker so decided to keep walking.  My husband was only running to the bank and then we were leaving for dinner.  The rest of the walk went uneventful.  I did have to walk up a bit of an incline which I could feel more on the balls of my feet, but not too bad.  Made it home and felt good.  No residual effects the next day.

Part Two

Skip ahead to Sunday.  I was signed up for a local event called The Barefoot Mile.  I volunteered in lieu of race registration.  People kept yelling at me, as least that's how I interpreted it over the internet, to take it really slow and you're supposed to walk first, and blah, blah, blah.  Yes, I knew all that but the two walks I did do were fine and the barefoot mile was on flat ground in soft grass.  At the worst, I knew that I could wog it.  

Got there an hour early, as directed, and my volunteer duty was to walk the perimeter and look for any litter, sticks, feathers, rocks, debree, and goose poop and pick it up.  The idea was to get the course as barefoot friendly as possible and knowing that I was running that course I was glad that I picked up all the things I did.  Feathers = sharp.  Rocks = ouch.  Zip tie pieces = almost as ouch as rocks. Goose poop = gross.  Along with random things like bottle caps, those round plastic pieces that come up a milk jug when you open it, an old tortilla, etc.  They gave me gloves and it was really not a big deal.

There were only maybe 20 or so people there and we all gathered at the start line and the race director counted down and blew the horn.  I was quickly left in last place.  I was fine with that.  This was for the experience and not a race where there was a real winner with a prize or anything.  A quarter mile or so in, the ladies in front of started walking so I didn't end up being dead flat last.  I loved the feel of the grass beneath my feet.  The running felt easy, natural, and effortless.  I didn't feel any sort of twinges, aches, or pains.  Once I got the feel of it, I tried to pick up the pace a bit.  About a quarter mile from the finish, as I was happily running along, suddenly there was this intense pain in my toe, and it continued and caused me to stop dead in my tracks to see what the hell was going on.  What did I find?  A bee.  On my toe.  I could see it's little ass poking into my toe.  Fucker.  I flicked it off and the stinger wasn't in very far (caught her in the act?) so I was easily able to pull it out and keep going.  That last 1/4 mile was interesting, to say the least.  Stinging, burning pain, along with the feeling it was swelling.  I didn't stop though, I was finishing that damn mile.  And I did, and other than the bee sting I felt great.  The race director offered to have his friend/volunteer get me ice but another runner had brought a first aid kit and had some sting ointment stuff that he put on there for me.  I think it helped but I'm really not sure.  It's been more than 20 years since I've been stung, and quite honestly, I was surprised at how much it hurt.  Maybe it was because it was on the top of my toe?  I put ice on it when I got home, which helped, but it continued to ache for the rest of the night.  After the swelling and redness had calmed down for the most part, I realized that the little bee bitch didn't sting me once, she got me twice.  Guess the stinger didn't come out the first time and rather than flying away and surviving, she had to go and finish the job.  That explains a bit more why it hurt so much more than I thought it would.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't hurt.  Which was good news since I had to work today, hence needing real shoes.  The only thing I've noticed at all was that it still felt a little puffy and it itched.  Not crazy itch, more like a healing itch.  I looked at my toe and laughed. It feels so much better today yet it looks so much worse.  Kind of like a bruise I guess.  Looks worse when it feels better?  I have no clue.

Pretty obvious which toe got it, huh?

My husband looked at it and thought I had it wrapped with a bandaid or something, lol.  I have some of the funniest looking injuries sometimes.

Anyway, the main point here is that I really loved running barefoot and if I can do a mile with no issues, I think it's okay for me to start there and build up.  I have yet to run on asphalt but plan to try it tomorrow for a half mile and see how it feels.  Knowing now, how much I enjoyed it and how easy and natural it felt, along with the bee sting, I'm really wanting to buy a pair of Merrell Pace Gloves.  Running barefoot but with foot protection, exactly what I need.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Great Barefoot Experiment: Episode One

I've thought a lot about barefoot and minimalist running over the last couple of years.  I've never really decided to just dive into it.  I didn't know enough about it.  I really like the look of the Merrell Pace Glove and decided to look into running minimal.  The first thing I learned was to walk, not run, to begin.  I also read that it was recommended that you train your feet and legs to run barefoot before running in minimalist shoes.  It's supposed to give you the proper form and technique.  I've read at least four different articles, from both pro and con perspectives.  I've read the Runner's World Barefoot Forum stickies and learned more tips about going barefoot from the Merrell website.  Armed with all of this information I decided to go ahead and try a short barefoot walk, up and down my block.

Our sidewalks are not smooth.  They are cracked and rocky.  Not loose rocks, the concrete is worn and rocky.  Our streets are not any better as the side streets are also concrete, rather than asphalt.  I would have preferred asphalt but due to tummy issues I needed to stick close to home.  I hadn't really decided on how long or far I would go, I just went outside and starting walking.  Slowly, very slowly.  My feet were feeling every little thing.  The pebbles, the embedded rock, ant hills, etc.  It was actually mostly nice though.  I used to be barefoot all of the time.  My feet were callused and could handle almost anything.  They are obviously not that tough anymore and definitely need some toughening up.

I live about 3/4 of the way down my block.  I walked the shorter distance to the closer side street to begin with.  I turned around and decided to walk down to the other intersection.  My block is actually the length of two blocks.  The two side streets I live between are both even numbers, skipping a block.  This is pretty common around here.  Anyway, I made it down to the other end of the block and again turned around.  When I got back in front of my house I had made it to almost 9 minutes and slightly over a quarter mile.  I decided then to continue a little farther from my house and back to make it an even 10 minutes.  I didn't feel anything wonky.  No strains, cramps, weird feelings, nothing.  I know, it was only 10 minutes but the fact that I had no issues whatsoever leads me to want to continue and also leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, barefoot running might be right for me.  My next walk will be longer and on asphalt so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Seattle Rock&Roll Half Marathon

I've been delaying writing this post because, honestly, most of the day is a blur to me.  I got there early and did my obligatory group photos.

Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs

Seattle Greenlake Runners Group

After that I wandered around a bit, found baggage check and checked my back pack.  Stood in line for the porta potties, you know the drill.  

Then the waiting begins.  If you've ever done a Rock and Roll event and you're not a fast runner then you know what I mean.  I was all the way back in corral 38, which meant that there were 38 corrals in front of me.  Yes, 38 because the Elite is just E.  Took me an hour to finally get to the starting line. 

I had originally planned to take it easy and have fun.  That plan went out the window soon after crossing the starting line.  I really wanted to see how well I could do instead of taking it easy.  So I pushed.  Mile after mile, I pushed.  I was so focused on just keeping a steady pace that I barely noticed much of the race, I was in my own world.  I did notice the bands.  Some were pretty good, others just okay.  The I-90 tunnel sucked major monkey balls.  It's long and there's no breeze, no air, just thousands of people and all of their sweat.  Yuck.  By the time I got to the last few miles my pushing had caught up to me.  I really struggled in those last three miles, but especially the last two.  My legs hurt, I was hot, cramping, and a little dehydrated.  I wanted to be done.  Finally, I could see the finish line.  We were going up a bit of an incline and I was having trouble not walking.  I was spent.  I told myself that we were not walking across the finish line, move your ass, you can do this.  I  crossed the finish line with my dignity intact but there was no sprinting, I could barely keep a decent pace.  As I was approaching the finish line one thing kept going through my mind.  This must be what they're talking about when they say they left it all on the course.  I felt I had left it all on the course.  My finish time was 2:45:51.  Not my best but not my worst either.  A time that I'm happy with.  Here's my Garmin info, if you're so inclined.

I got my medal, stopped for my finisher photo, got loaded up with food and drink and then tried to find gear check.  I was so out of it and turned around that I practically walked all the way around Seattle Center before I found gear check.  At least I found it.  Got my stuff, wandered a little, and decided that I just wanted to go home so I walked to the bus stop.  The bus driver announced that he wouldn't charge anyone who ran that day.  Nice man.  When I went to transfer to the next bus, it just flew right past up.  Did not slow, did not stop, just passed go.  So, I walked that mile home instead of waiting for the next bus.  Good way to work out the muscles, right?  

I realized after the fact that I had not hydrated well at all going in to the race.  I tried to hydrate as much as I could but there is only so much water you can drink before it's swishing around and causing pain and discomfort.  After I got home and made myself something to eat, I just couldn't keep my eyes open to save my life so I gave in and I slept.  And slept.  And slept.  I had a headache before I fell asleep but it had gone away with food and water.  When I woke up that afternoon, it was back with a vengeance.  Yep, I was definitely dehydrated and I had pushed myself much harder than I should have.  I still had a fun experience for the most part and will definitely go in to my next half marathon a lot smarter.  I can't get my official photos so here's a link to my photos.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Last long run before RnR

There's this route I've dying to run.  I mapped it out on mapmyrun and decided it would make for a great run that was both challenging and scenic.  I tried to run this a few weeks ago but it was sunny, no breeze, and warm.  I was dehydrated and it was just a recipe for disaster so I had cut that run short.  Last weekend I did 10 miles, but on a nice flat and easy paved trail.  It was my first double digit run sine March.  Not good when you have a half marathon coming up on you faster than you thought was possible.  It was tough but I made the distance and it helped boost my confidence, only if a little.

My husband wanted me to take him out to buy a scooter.  I had told him that I needed to get my long run in today because it was last chance for a quality long run before the half.  He agreed that he would take the kids to get dinner so that I could run.  I started off a lot later than I had originally planned but I had eaten plenty throughout the day and felt good to go.  I had originally put on a tank and a skirt but when I stepped outside it was raining and really windy and felt really  cold on my skin.  So I ran back in the house, quickly changed into a short sleeved shirt, and for the second time in less than five minutes, I was on my way.  Of course, now the rain had stopped, it was just a little rain cloud that had passed by apparently.  Now I could really feel the humidity.  It was 71 degrees and 80% humidity when I left the house.  That's not good for someone who is not only heat sensitive and gets overheated easily, also not so great for asthma, but especially for this pacific north westerner who is not used to that kind of humidity except in much cooler temps when it's always raining.  I trucked on.

Made it to my first incline and did pretty well.  It was gradual and I didn't notice it so much.  Got stopped behind the draw bridge.  Again.  That makes two days in a row I've been delayed by a draw bridge.  I have no luck with these things.  Bridge down, moving on.  Here I come to my first real hill.  It's not terribly steep but it took its toll on me a little bit but I made it okay.  Most of the run from here on out was up a very long and gradual incline, then I turned into a steeper but shorter incline.  Went downhill and flattened out for a couple of blocks before I came to the big hill.  Which you can see is steep enough that it has concrete grips built into the sidewalk.
I took a minute to catch my breath and prepare myself.  I knew this hill was in this route and I was determined to make it up without walking.  So, up I went.  Slowly, but surely, I made it to the top, without stopping.  Winning!  Here's a view from the top.
There was still more hill to go, but this was the steepest part so I wasn't too worried about the rest.  Plus, I knew that once I made it all the way up it would be mostly downhill or pretty flat from that point  on.  So I kept shuffling on.  Those first few miles were tough.  I'm not going to lie.  Between the humidity and the hills and just not being able to find a groove, I walked a lot more than I had anticipated I would.  Oh well, it's just a training run and I knew it would be a bit of a tough one going in.

Finally, I make it all the way and turn onto Magnolia Blvd.  Magnolia Blvd. is where people with money live.  It's a known scenic drive and not just for its views of the sound.  Huge, gated houses that you can barely see.  Some of them you can see very well.  Perfectly manicured lawns, amazing views, these houses are worth in the millions.  I didn't take any pictures of the houses, I didn't want any of the people living there to think I was some kind of creeper.  So on I went until I did reach the part where you have the great views of the sound with no houses to block the view.  It was a typical grey Seattle day, but the view was still a nice one.  Always is, in my opinion.
The sun was trying to peek through the clouds.  It was also blessedly windy running down this long and winding road.  Helped me feel a lot better and cooler.

After I turned away the most scenic part of the road, I came across a little park.  Thankfully they had a water fountain and I was able to fill up.  I was already almost out of water and only about halfway through my run.  I was sweating like crazy and just really needed the extra hydration.  I'm thinking I may need to save up for something that carries more than 24oz of water.  I continued on, feeling pretty good and finally in a groove up until coming up on the Magnolia bridge.  I'm always a little afraid of running over bridges and this one is decently high.  I was determined though, I have gotten over my fear of the draw bridges, I could do this.  There was view point of downtown before running across the bridge so I stopped and snapped this picture.
Not a bad view of downtown.  Too bad it wasn't clear or you could have seen Mt. Rainier in the back round.

The say the bridge was windy would be an understatement.  I had to hold on to my visor, which means that the winds were most likely over 20mph, probably above 30mph.  The sand on the sidewalk was getting into my house and I could feel pebbles smacking into my face.  It was not pleasant at all and I couldn't get off that bridge fast enough.  Got to the bottom of the bridge and started heading back towards home.

This last stretch was uneventful.  I was able to keep a pretty even pace, didn't have to walk at all.  I did make a quick stop at the gas station to pick up a gatorade for later and ran the rest of the way home with that.  My feet were hurting and my legs were tired but I still felt good.  I felt that I did pretty well, especially considering the circumstances.  RnR is barely going to be hilly at all and while it will probably hurt a bit, I know I'll be able to finish with dignity and not get a PW.  Here's my elevation chart for today.

Once I got home I had a nice big glass of dark chocolate almond milk and stretched out a bit before heading to the shower.  Just one more easy run this week and I'm as ready as I can be to Rock and Roll!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birthday Run

My running has been slacking.  Again.  Pathetic, I know.  Well, I took four days off (two extra) to have a long weekend for my birthday and planned to run at least a couple of those days.  Too bad I was crazy busy the first days with errands and such.  The third day I slept in and relaxed and on my birthday I told myself I HAD to run.  No excuses, get your lazy ass out the door and run.  Originally I thought about running 11 miles because that's exactly a third of my age.  I decided to try for 10 and hope for the best.  I have not run more than seven miles since March.  I knew it was going to hurt but I hoped it wouldn't hurt too much.

I was doing ok for the first five miles.  A little sluggish feeling but going about the speed I should've been running.  I did need to use the bathroom at around mile four so I detoured into a park to use the restroom.  Also, my right calf and hip were cramping up so I took a couple minutes to stretch them good before continuing on.  Right around mile six is about the time I started to feel like I wanted to walk.  I bargained with myself to make it to mile six and I'd allow myself a walk break.  This continued on for both miles seven and eight.  After the last walk break I told myself, it's just under two miles.  You can make it a measly two miles without walking.  Now suck it up, buttercup.

I made it the rest of way without walking but I was definitely feeling the mileage.  I had also forgotten my headphones and when you're on a paved trail that is mostly deserted and not near traffic, the miles seem to last for ever.  It was nice listening to birds and nature but distracting enough to make this run really enjoyable.  To mix things up a bit I drove to the U-district to park farther north on the trail for some new sights.  It was really pretty.  Mostly woodsy, views of Lake Washington.  The park I stopped at had a beach and a family was there feeding the geese and ducks.  I was glad to get back to my car though.  Luckily, there was a water fountain at the trail near where I parked and I was able to refill my water bottle.  On longer runs and when the temps are warmer (not in this case) my 24oz water bottle is just barely enough.  I'm going to need to invest in hydration pack, especially if I'm going to start marathon training.

Here are my splits for this run.  Overall, I'm pretty happy.  I don't feel my pacing was too uneven, except for the last mile where I found some extra gas I didn't know (or realize until after the fact) that I even had.

13:46 <----short walk break
14:14 <----longer walk break
13:46 <----short walk break

This weekend I will go for 11 miles.  Next half marathon is in just over two weeks, eep!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So, I have this crazy idea...

That I could put on my own 5k event.  I've always had the idea but have never been serious about it before. I started looking up information on what it would take to put on a race.  At first it seemed overwhelming and nearly impossible.  However, the more I learn the more possible it seems.  There are a lot of little things that need to be worked out.  I started breaking it down.

First, I knew that I wanted a run that helped raise awareness for celiac disease.  There is nothing like that here.  To go along with that I needed to pick a charity or two that I want the proceeds to go to.  I emailed the Celiac Disease Foundation as well as Seattle's Gluten Intolerance Group to get more info on what they do and how they do it.  I've been reading a lot these last few days.  Runner's World has a really helpful guide and has helped to steer me in the direction I want to go and to help me to understand what I need to do to get there.

Some of the things to think about, other than charity, are sponsorships, race bibs, timing, photos, prizes, goody bags, and end of race food and activities.  Told you it was a lot.  There's also mapping a route and obtaining necessary permits.  There are flyers to be designed, printed, and distributed.  Possibly even posters to put up in local businesses.  I did find out that RoadID has a sponsorship program and have already registered for that.  I have the number for the permit department at Discovery Park and plan to call them tomorrow to get more information.  The other place I have contacted so far is Udi's.  I asked about obtaining coupons to go into the goody bags.  I still haven't figured out who I want to contact for food and water for the event.  I'd really love it if a gluten free company could donate bread or bagels.  That's one thing that I've never been able to have at the end of a race.  I can usually only eat the fruit.  I want this to be a fun event but I really want it to cater to the gluten free crowd and those who support it.

Other things to think about are shirts and prizes.  Do I want medals for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place?  Do I want something else?  I'd like to get tech shirts printed but I don't know how much it will cost.  I suppose I would need to get people to start registering before I knew what kind of shirts and how many.  On the other hand, I can't let anyone register for anything until I have a date, name, and prices figured out.  I need to learn about graphic design.  I bet my husband would help with that.  I also need some way of taking donations for my charities but hopefully I can get forms or something from the charities for people to fill out.  See?  Trying to set up just a small event is no small feat.

So, I suppose my next steps are figuring out how much I would need to charge for registration, coming up with a name, and a date.  Ideas welcome!