Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pics are in!

The pictures from the Old Fashioned 10 Miler are available: Capstone Photo

I had such a good race that I actually decided to have a light snack while running it..  Check it out:

Good chips.

I'm kidding.  This was post race and I have no idea why they took pictures of me then.  The photos of me running are much more painful to view.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My dirty secret

I have been running barefoot.

There, I admitted it.  Now before I make it out to be this big thing, I have been keeping it confined to the treadmill and only for about 20 minutes at a time.  It will be nice to get outside and try some real running but frozen rain and cold really aren't my thing.

So how did I come around to barefoot running?  I've been interested in it since I first heard about it but at first I considered it a fad.  One of those things that the media hypes up, because they are the media, which eventually just  fades away into the background.  The original proponents of it didn't really help their case by justifying it as the way that humans have always run and that our foot is a marvel of evolution.  Ebola is a marvel of evolution too but I don't want to get anywhere near that thing.

Eventually though, I began to weed out the obvious "Yeah us!" BS and focus on what the people that were taking a serious look at the subject were saying.  The first thing I found was all about footstrike and to make sure I wasn't landing on my heels.  I began to pay attention to this and to really focus on having a better stride.  A few months of work and I could say that it had become second nature.  Good progress, now what.  I still wasn't ready to go totally over and start buying up Vibrams and Nike Frees; so I got a pair of Newtons instead.  They further reinforced that I had a decent stride (at least I think I do) but they certainly weren't an answer to all my questions.

I was still getting injured, even though they were all minor injuries they continued to occur and   Proponents of barefoot running all claim that losing the shoes are akin to a magical elixir for stopping injuries.  Now I didn't believe it was that simple, but at this point what did I have to lose?  The final break (not literally!) for me came after reading several articles that put the whole idea of going barefoot into easy to realize benefits.  Simply, lose the cushioning and protection of the shoe, make the foot work the way it should and the muscles will get stronger.  Stronger feet equal better balance, better propulsion, more flexibility.  All things that can make me a better runner.  After all, If I want my biceps to get bigger and stronger I don't use a brace to immobilize them.

Ah, it all seems so clear now.  This doesn't have to be about a whole Zen-like lifestyle change or radically changing everything about myself; it can be used as a way of making myself a better runner.  Just like hills and tempo runs and core work, etc.  And it if it helps to avoid injury all the better.  At the very least maybe it will bring back all the fun of a kid running all over the place in barefeet.

Reading about other's experiments with barefoot running has certainly spurred me along and steered me down this path.  I'm not going to be ditching all my shoes and going crazy just yet though; everything has a place and a time.  But I did go try on some Vibram KSOs today.  Very interesting but they are pretty much sold out of the black in my size for the next several months.  So if you know anywhere to pick some up, let me know...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Foxboro Old Fashion 10 Miler; 2010 edition

First off, I don't have any fancy charts like Dave does, but I will try to piece together a cohesive race report nonetheless.

It was a sunny, windy, great day for a race.  Cold enough to keep you on your toes but warm enough to leave the tights and go with shorts.  The only unknown was going to be the blustery wind which seemed to swirl around unpredictably but if I found myself getting cold I figured I could always just run faster to get warm.  Any time there was a bad headwind I made sure to tuck in behind someone and let them take the brunt of it.

As this was the second time I have run this race there was none of the pre-race anxiety about where to park, pick up numbers, where the start line is, etc, etc.  After picking up my packet, making fun of Michael who was working the goody-bag  table, and a last second stop at the porta-john I made my way over to the start.

I saw Maria right near the front so I muscled my way over to her and lined up.  We talked about how Coach Matron has been telling her to just get right in there at the front and not to worry about anyone else.  Better to elbow some people out of the way than to get stuck behind a jogger.  Clearly I have long ago embraced that philosophy as I had no qualms about showing up at the last second and inserting myself into the front lines.

This was my first race since December so as I mentioned in a previous post I was mostly interested in beating my time of 1:14 from last year while also getting a gauge of my current fitness.  I guessed that a 1:11 or 1:12 would be good so I planned on a 7:15 pace.  Now any of you who have been paying attention to my posts about all of my previous races may be able to guess what happened next: the gun goes off, I start to run, and completely abandon all of my plans.  Figuring that there would be some decent hills in the middle part of the race I decided to run on the short side of a 7:00 pace for the first few miles to pad the pace in case.

I had a nice chat with Don just after the start and as he pulled away I settled in for the long run.  Through Foxboro center, into the winding woods, right up until mile 3 I kept a sub-7 pace.  For some reason I slowed down over mile 3 and did a 7:05, but across Rt 140 and I was back to sub-7's.  Just past mile 5 and Gillette Stadium the bigger hills began and this is where I had assumed a slowdown was imminent.

Mile 5.5 I passed a guy wearing a sweet pair of Newtons.  "Awesome shoes, man" I let him know as I passed him.  "Thanks, but you're still kicking my ass!" he exclaimed back.  That's when it hit me, he was right.  I was holding a sub-7 pace without much problem.  I thought I would be slowing down by now but wasn't.  Well, might as well just keep it up and lock in this pace.

Around mile 7.5 is the last of the big, long hills.  This is the one that I wasn't looking forward to but for some reason this is where I have done my best both times I have run this race.  Again this year I found that I just cruised up the hill and managed to pass several people in the process.  Afterwards, I knew that the terrain was all flat so I could open it up a bit.

Mile 8 I got passed, by a chick.  How humiliating, I could have died right there.  Nah, I'm kidding; I called out some encouragement as she went by me.  She was the only person that had passed me in the last 7 miles of the race so good for her.  But that doesn't mean I didn't try to catch her.  Those last two miles I picked it up but she managed to stay just a few short seconds ahead of me.

The final half-mile down Neponset Av was a welcome sight.  I just concentrated on getting to that parking lot and crossing the finish line.  When I finally turned into the chute the clock flashed 1:08:48, I guess I beat my expectations a bit by holding a 6:53 pace. 53rd overall, 15th AG, and 6 minutes faster than last year. So now I will nurse the blister that was a rather painful companion for the last 4 miles of the race and look forward to future races knowing that I am doing well. If this was to be a report on the state of my running ability than I am quite pleased with the results.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not so old afterall

I got carded today.  "So what?" you are probably saying, "Happens all the time".  Except, I got carded for buying a VIDEO GAME!

I asked the guy what the deal was and he said they had to card everyone who looked under 30 if they were buying a rated M game.

"Do I look under 30?" I asked.

"Yes you do." He replied.

"Thank you!" I said, and merrily went about the rest of my day.

Some days it's the simple things in life that keep you going.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hills, baby

I finally got around  to doing an actual workout.  The first in a long time.  I've been doing long runs, and short runs, and the occasional medium run, but I haven't done much in the way of actual work.  So I decided to hit the hills yesterday.  Well, just one hill but I used two sides of it.  Pinckney Street on Beacon Hill is a great street to run up.  Long, somewhat steep, and you can wave at Senator Kerry's house every time you go by it.  See, it's over there on the right in Louisburg Square.

After running up and down the street several times I kind of expected to be stopped by the police at some point.  That kind of money just doesn't tolerate the likes of me bringing down their property values.

The reason for finally getting out there and doing some actual running was that I have my first race of this year on Sunday.  The Old Fashioned Ten Miler in beautiful downtown Foxboro. Three days is enough time to get back all that conditioning that I let slide for the past two months, right?  I feel like a kid that hasn't studied for the final all semester and is now trying to cram it all in at the last moment.  Actually, that sounds like my entire college experience.

The ten-miler will be an interesting gauge of where I am.  I expect mediocrity from myself so at least I haven't set the bar too high.  I did a 1:14:22 last year so we will see if I can best that.  If I do, good for me.  If not, c'est la vie.

Friday, February 5, 2010

100th Post!!

Party like it's my hundredth post!  Because it is!!

What a long journey it has been.  Almost exactly one year ago I made my first post announcing that I had secured a charity spot in the 2009 Boston Marathon.  Since then I finished the marathon, barely, and still managed to keep on running.

Somehow I ran up a mountain.

Ran another marathon.

Got my first overall win.

And took home the GNRC Grand Prix.

It's been a pretty good 100 posts.  All I can hope for now is the next 100 are just as fun.

And with that I leave you with this inspirational video:

Well that's a new one

My knees have been killing me. That's not the new part.  The unusual bit is that I don't think it is actually running related.  Shocking!  They started hurting almost two weeks ago and naturally I just chalked it up to "just another injury" and went about my business.

Saturday the pain led to a rather unusual situation and after Monday's run I decided to take a couple of days off to heal.  So Wednesday night on the way home from work I had some time to contemplate what was going on.  I spent all day in pain and was seriously starting to get annoyed by it all.  I hadn't run in over two days and the pain was worse than ever.  How could that be?

Suddenly it dawned on me, this wasn't a symptom of running at all, this was because of a freakin' virus!  Both a colleague at work and my daughter had contracted the parvovirus B19 known as "Fifth Disease".  Symptoms include a mild cold, a rash, and swelling of the joints.

I did a mental checklist.  Had I had a cold?  Yes, very minor and short lived.  Rash?  My skin was definitely a bit pinker than normal and my cheeks were red.  Joint pain?  Hell yeah.  Yup, I got it too.

So here I was lamenting another injury and the whole time it wasn't my fault.  I instantly felt better about my situation and got back out there for another run today knowing that it wasn't me that was causing the problem, it was millions of little parasites.  My knees still hurt but too bad for them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

One frozen Johnson

Yes, that means exactly what you think it means.

Saturday was cold, real cold.  The kind of cold that has polar bears trying to blend in with the penguins to stay warm. It was 4 degrees at both the start and the finish of the run.

But I was determined to get out there and do some running with the club so I pulled on all of my layers and my new fuzzy hat and headed out into the cold, dark morning.  Surprisingly I wasn't the only idiot that day and about ten other people showed up to brave the elements.  Maybe there is a genetic defect that affects runners, impairing their ability to properly gauge when situations are definitely detrimental to their health, e.g., the risk of freezing your willy off.

Which brings us to the half-way point of the 8 mile run.  I had by now recovered feeling in my fingers after having them go mostly numb within seconds of starting the run.  I was glad that I could feel them again and truth be told, other than the occasional wind on my unprotected face, I was pretty warm.  Just slightly chilled but not to the point of discomfort.  Right after turning around to start the second half of the run my knee began to bother me.  It's been doing this so no big deal, so I stopped to stretch it out a bit.  Only took a minute or so and I was off again.

That's about the time I began to notice a little pain in my manhood.  I chalked it up to the tights, did some adjusting and went about catching up with the group.  Then I realized that the pain wasn't going away, in fact it was getting worse.  There was definitely something wrong with my peter and no amount of adjusting was helping.  What the hell was going on here?  Maybe I had somehow tweaked my tallywhacker and caused an injury.

But the pain was persistent.  All the way back to Vello's I had a burning sensation in my wee-man that was definitely not normal.  It wasn't until I climbed back into my truck and got ready to drive home that I finally realized what had happened; I'd frozen my John Thomas!  Quickly, I drove home, with a short stop for bagels, and began the rewarming process.  Luckily the damage was only slight and I was able to restore my old boy back to its usual self.  So let this be a warning to everyone out there, protect your vital areas in the cold because that totally sucked.

P.S. For those of you keeping score, there were eight different euphemisms used in today's post.