Back from the Beach

Barefoot Quagmire. I went to the beach (Englewood Beach, FL) and had a cabin right on the water (15 feet away!). Sunday morning I felt ripe for a barefoot run, feeling like 9-10 miles would be about right. I headed north from in front of my cabin and the sand was firm and clean. About a half mile up it started getting soft. Then the Gulf shells were collecting in the surf and making the going tougher than a soft Alaskan sled dog trail. I quit the beach after 2 miles and cut over to the asphalt road. That was tolerable for about 200 yard until it got too hot and rough. I walked home and resigned myself to being a shell scavenger. I found a few keepers and enjoyed the open water and boats.
Hot Teamwork. Monday was another day. My vacation party had five runners in it and we decided to go for a run at 830 am (actually too late). Two wanted to go no more than three miles, one might stretch to 4 miles and the other in training for his cross country team had to go 45-50 minutes no matter how far it was. I was going long and mayber further.
We took off in sneakers up the tree shaded tropical 2-lane road along the gulf that runs the spine of the key we were on. We stayed together, me dropping back then speeding up to run with each of the other four runners. At 1.5 miles out I told the 3-milers they could turn back now. I pulled up to the 4-miler and ran with him until the 2-mile post and he felt good enough to go even further. At 2.5 miles he stopped to walk and freed me to move up to the XC runner. He was way ahead and I closed in on him and found him stopped and waiting just as I reached the 25 minutes out point. We turned together to return home and were surprised to see the 4-miler had continued to chase us, even with some walking. We caught up to him and passed him, pacing ourselves to run the faster clip that we craved.
The heat was about 85 and the humidity thick enought to slice. I felt fantastic and ran it home hard. It was nothing compared to the soft shelly sand of yesterday.
That gives me about 63 miles for May, 13 better than the average I want for the year. Miles in the bank and I feel great.
In 4.5 weeks I'll be in Rhode Island and the cooler air. I can't wait to run up there.



Well the best was last: school is O-U-T. No more students misbehaving or teachers losing their cool...at least until summer school starts. I'm taking a 4-day weekend at the beach with plenty of doing nothing and running. Want to come?
Earlier this week, I went for a light run then succumbed to what I thought would be delightful:
A massage. Wednesday night I went in for a 60-minute massage by a highly recommended specialist. The experience was quite nice and S. truly manipulated every muscle so that they were no longer knotted or clicking over bone. Every crackling pocket of lactic acid was annihilated. Every part of me was treated to the full treatment. My favorite places where I asked her to linger were my formerly frozen left shoulder, my hands and my feet. Ahhhhhh.
After an hour she said I should drink a lot of water. I assured her I would. I drank well Wednesday night. I slept solidly without waking until 645 on Thursday.
I could not move. I was a slug when I woke up. I could not make it move. A run was out of the question. I was sore in a strange kind of way. It wasn't painful but I was bruised. What a workout I had had. I was an hour late for work and no less than three people had been looking for me since 0800. Well one day in nine months isn't too bad. I'll try not to let it happen again.
It took me until 200 before I regained any semblance of body and mind control. Thank goodness I didn't have anything serious to deal with.
Today I ran a very easy three miles. It was not so easy but I look at it as a base to regain the form I had before the massage. Who ever heard of a massage just beating the crap out of you?
I look forward to some barefoot running on the beach this weekend, That'll help me set a monthly mileage record.
Have a Happy Memorial Day.


Can't Stop Running

I wrote last time about the race and watching a Little League game. I felt so good after the race that my plan was to come home and go for a little 6 mile run to meet my weekend mileage goal. Scratch.
Well Sunday I got up and said, WTF, let's go. So I went out and did 9.5 miles at a 9:25 pace which wasn't too bad for a long run substituting for a recovery run. I can't stop running!
That is a great feeling, especially when nothing hurts!!


International Drive 5K and other national encounters

Garage Gym. Before I tell you daily musings and big news I have to say to Jon in MI that nothing could make my anticipation of the garage gym more enticing than imagining it in the same way as it served its purpose in American Beauty. I loved that flick.

PR History. There was a time - in the begining - when I decide to run seriously again. It was the fall of 1999 when my older son joined his cross country team at high school. His effort sparked mine and brought back memories of the cross country club I helped start in my high school days. We formed the club because it was a boys boarding school with strict rules that harbored few excuses to leave campus. Well there was a girls school 7 miles away - straight up a mountain - so you can understand why I formed the XC club; but that's another story and I digress.

In the fall of 1999 I put on some old Reebok walking shoes and started running. I ran my first race, a 5K, in January of 2000. My records indicate I ran that very first 5K in 24.22 which became the dreaded 5K PR I could never beat. Now, granted, I am not getting younger but I surely wasn't so swift of foot in worn down walkers coming off no more than three months of training; or was I? For six years I have suspected I made a transcription error in recording my time or I lied to myself for some stupid reason. I could digress into that dark well too but will not for the sake of brevity. Well, I didn't believe the number was real because it took me three years before I even came within a minute of that PR time and another year to close within 20 seconds of it. Yet it existed and I could not bring myself to delete it. It was the curse.

I-Drive 5K. This morning I woke up late to run that little 5K I was aiming for. I overslept by 20 minutes but was relaxed, had time and ate a Snickers peanut butter marathon energy bar with a bottle of water on the drive down.

With 20 minutes until the start I went for a 9 minute warm-up run and found the first half mile of the course would be downslope. I registered the thought that that meant there was an upslope somewhere along the way too (Smart, huh?). I stood about 20 feet back of the start line where all the shirtless fasties were staring down the road ready for the horn.

There it is and off we went. I quickly realized I was running fast. My form was a little ragged. My breathing was edgy. If I was a race car I'd say my chassis was a little loose. I tried to regulate the breathing and focused on my foot strikes. I have found in recent training that barefoot running had me rolling from outer heel to inner ball joint to absorb shock and minimize unknown beach debris. Back on roads I focused on landing the foot flat and straight. It shortened the time my foot was on the ground and increased my pace. I stuck with that. First mile marker ahead: 7:31.0. WHAT!???? Oh cr*p. It was 75 degrees out and humid as all get out and I was on the fastest first mile pace I'd ever been on. And remember that upslope? I had forgotten until then and now knew there was doom ahead.

Onward. Still a little loose but feeling strong from all those long runs I've put in recently. There's no breeze. It's hot. No shade. Mile 2 marker ahead: 7:34.5. Holy moly. I started thinking about a PR. Could I bring this old sled back into the garage and PR? As I trekked on I tried to do the math in my head to figure out how much time I could spare. I turned a corner and there was a breeze again.

As nice as the cool air was it wasn't helping my legs. They were slowing. I took the stroke down a little to save what I had for the end. I thought I saw the last turn ahead. A mirage. The pack was still running straight. I slumped in stride and took a long time to recover mentally.

When I did reach the real corner I felt good. Now how long would this final stretch be? It couldn't be too far. Wow - there's the finish lane! I refocused on form and efficient running despite the upslope. Third mile: 8:18.8. Okay, you bonked, dummy. Across the line: 24:17.0! Ladies and gentlemen, the PR ghost of 2000 has retired.

I was so pumped I stayed around for the awards ceremony. I finished 5th in my age group which was the best I've ever done. I chatted with some younger fasties who placed in their age groups. Gosh, I felt like a racer, not just a runner.

Of course, Jon in Michigan can pop out a 24.17 without breaking a sweat while carrying a piano on his back, so I remain humble.

Little League Flashback. On the way home I drove by the local Little League park. The Reds looked like they were about to play a game. Being a reformed Little League dad I was drawn to the field to see if a young man named Martinez was playing today. His dad and I ran another little league 10 years ago when my oldest and his oldest were playing on the same team. I was the league president and he was my vice president. We hadn't seen each other in several years while he was living in Virginia.

Sure enough it was the Reds. Sure enough young Martinez was easy to spot in the dugout. He looked just like his older brother did at 11. I looked around for his dad and spotted him on a cellphone pacing the field beyond the center field fence. Just before game time, Dad came over and we greeted each other and reminisced about the good old days spent at ball fields. From there we talked family, sports, business, politics and the filibuster he'll be leading in the U.S. Senate next week. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said we can tune in on CSPAN2 from 10pm to midnight on Tuesday if we really want to watch him carrying it on. Sounds riveting to me; yawn.

So it's been a nice day so far. Maybe I'll go out and swim in the pool for awhile. Bd-bd-bd-bd-bd-bd, that's all folks!


Topping off the tanks

Tuesday was a day to run easily, top off the training tanks and focus on Saturday's little 5K. I'll go again for a jog on Friday morning and stay fit in the garage gymnasium (all 20' x 10' of it).

In the meantime, state assessment test results came in from the capitol. The state showed gains and so did we. We even outgained the state average, to close the gap between our slightly lower scores here in Urbania and the 66 other counties. All is not perfect as our three worst schools appear to have gotten worse. Opportunity transfers are hell, among other things. We soldier on.

In the face of that I'll be in retreat on Friday for a 3-day weekend prior to next week's 4-day weekend. I need some chill time. Don't you, every once in awhile?


Found my Hot Weather Run Zone

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Went downtown to see who was running at 0700, the usual start time for area running club folks.
A big crowd was exhibiting its parallel parking skills on Park Avenue.
Lots of fit runners were stretching and chatting.
A group of five fasty men took off and I thought I would pace along.
That lasted about 2 miles so I settled into my own pace and took in the sights.
8.1 miles - not quite the 15K I promised Pam - put me back on the avenue in 1:13.33.
Pace was just over 9/min mile. Heat, humidity and sun are beginning to rise ever so slightly.
I felt great and just might go back out again tonight. We'll see.
I hope your run was fun today.

At 4pm I broke down and had a hot fudge double sundae with chocolate chip ice cream and drumstick ice cream. Mmmmmmm. Heavenly.


Speed Thrills

Yesterday I went up to the track for some speed work. With a 5K race next weekend I was needing some speed. Speed work always seems to loosen up the muscles that get so accustomed to tempo runs, long runs and easy runs. I mean, we're talking about airing it out. Ahhhhhhh.
I did my warm up mile jog then started with a hard paced 1600m. It felt great and I had a sense that I had adopted my barefoot running style that has a way of minimizing the impact of the foot and heel. I land on the rear outside side of my foot and roll over and through to push off with the inside ball of my foot at the front. An amazing awareness came over me. So did some idiocy as I managed to erase the lap time on my watch.
I next did a 1200m and was smart enough to look at the watch at the end which read 5:45, a PR. Again I discovered a new way to erase it unintentionally; and I did it as I was starting my 800m which bummed me out and I didn't put in quite the effort as I crossed in a pedestrian 4:02.
For the final 400m I was raring to go and just kill it. A neighbor jogged onto the track and chatted me up as I approached the start line. I said it was time to roar and said bye. I always do better with an audience and smoked it in 1:36.5. My previous PR was 1:46.6. Bring on some fasty runners. I'm getting better at the same time I'm getting older. I am feeling good!


Barefoot Rules

I am amazed at how well my legs, especially my calves and knees, survived 7+ miles barefoot running on the variated beach surfaces on Sunday. There is no soreness, tenderness or anything to complain about. If anything, I think my foot steps and gait benefited from the forced natural mechanics of running barefoot. I am now a big fan.
Today I ran 4 miles thinking it would just be an easy run but the legs and lungs just wanted to air it out. So I played the legs like a Churchill Downs jockey would. I just let out the reins and let 'em run. I pushed 82% HR which is a fair tempo rate. My time and splits were competitive so I have to log this as one of the good days.
Next time it will be some speed work at the track. 1600/1200/800/400. There's a race next weekend (the 20th?) and I am aiming for a PR despite the rising humidity and heat index.
See you on the track.


Barefoot Long-boy

Happy Mothers Day. That salute to all you hard working overwrought mommy runners out there in Bloggyland. If you didn't have a good day today there is something seriously wrong going on and you need to make it known.
My Day. I performed all the obilgatory good deeds today to keep me a father/husband in good standing. I fixed banana pancakes with bacon and organic drip coffee for everyone. We drove to the beach (actually the 17 year old drove to the beach; his first foray on the big highways). I read the paper while being driven so that I would not freak out and overcorrect every driving indiscretion. That's what moms are for, no matter what day it is.
Before the beach we stopped for vittles from Publix - a trio of Ultimate sub sandwiches. Once at the beach we picked a nice quiet spot where no voices overrode the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. We ate fairly soon since it was midday. After a spell I suggested a walk.
Shuttle Still Standing. We walked a mile+ down to the steel cable fence on the beach within a half mile of the Space Shuttle Discovery. The bird was supposed to go up in about 10 days but has been postponed until July when I'll be up north. She was still on the launch pad and looking like she'd be taking the shuttle shuttle back to the Vehicle Assembly Building fairly soon. It is still a way cool site to see, sitting there pointing to where few of us will ever go.
By the time we reached the shuttle my lunch had digested and so I bid adieu to the mother and son to take my barefoot long run.
Barefoot Long-boy. It was 10 minutes back to our chairs so I dialed in my mind to go for a 30 minute north and back jog for a total of 70 minutes. I set that as my goal. Having never gone that far barefoot before I was wary but feeling the call of fellow RBFers to set high goals and overachieve them.
The first mile was the toughest. The sand was soft and full of shells. The tide was starting to come in so I had to run sideways on a steep grade. I didn't mind the occasional wave washing over my feet; in fact, that was a highlight. Dodging the occasional 2-4 year old was tricky and keeping an eye out for the fishermen's near-invisible nylon lines out into the surf offered another hazard. Once I passed the populated beach zone I was into an area that was virtually vacant. Last summer's hurricanes had rendered the boardwalks impassable so no one could get there without a long walk. I had flat firm sand and nothing but sunshine and surf. It brought up memories of the barren beach that is a haven for plovers across the dunes from Quonochontaug Pond in Rhode Island.
Anyway, I was cruising along and ran into another patch of people and soft sand. The camber was not so bad and I started imagining how my legs, knees and feet would feel when I turned around, changing the stress points on my muscles and joints.
At 30 minutes out I did a U-turn and was pleased to be running into the breeze now. That would be good for perspiration evaporation. The change I felt in my legs et al was immediate on the new slope. I went tenderly for awhile to let them adjust. When I hit the wide open stretch on the way back I was moving along like the world was all mine. The last mile in the shelly, sloped soft stuff was not as fun. My lower back ached from the soft footing adjustments I had to make. When I got back to my part of the beach I was very pleased to have made the distance without sanding my foot and toe soles down to the quick. My legs were a little stiff but I stood in the waves drinking a bottle of water and let the waves massage my calves. Once I recovered fully I lay down on the bedsheet and closed my eyes. The sound of the waves was enough to wash all negative thoughts from my head.
Gone Home. Unfortunately the mom and son were tired of waiting around for my return and wanted to go home. So we did. Once there I fixed burgers on the grill and had a nice cold beer to wash it down.
The grand finale: a heaping bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
How was your day? Can you top mine?


Post Posts

Yes I did run last week - twice in fact. How well did I do? Well let's just say there was serious pilot error by the guy pressing the buttons on the Polar and both times he managed to lose the file which had the details. Let's not go into how that happened. Presume I was having a Mia Goddess kind of week.
How did I feel (which is probably more to the point)? I loved running both times. I ran easily both times. I ran four miles both times. I had good vibes both times. Then ...
Thursday I stood up after a meeting and felt an immediate pain in the ball of my left foot. I've had it before and it's weird. If I try to walk normally it hurts. If I favor it it's okay. If I use my toes to grip the ground and push off it feels better and doesn't hurt as much. So I walked funny the rest of the day, went to bed and woke up Friday having forgotten my foot hurt. Strange. It went away.

Tomorrow I'm off to the beach for some barefoot running. It should be a beautiful sunny day. I hope yours is satisfying too.


No stop

Saturday was as hot as summer blazes down here so I was pushing to get out early. Since the rescue squad came by at 430 to attend to a neighbor, I was certainly up early enough. Lack of adequate sleep aside, I opted not to run the river again. I'll save that for another weekend and beach escape. It just wasn't the week to go for tranquil and serene. I had a mission unrelated to the environment to work on this time out.
I ran my 6-mile Lake Virginia circuit expecting to run into runners in a popular 5K race (every finisher receives a tree to take home and plant). My timing was a little off and I saw the last of the racers strolling back to the start area (it was a point to point race requiring a bus ride or walk back to the carpark).
When I began my run I thought I would go easy and forever. I had that sort of mindset: just not stop running. I followed my route and missed the 1-mile mark for lap timing while my mind wandered. I caught myself and beeped in for the rest of the markers. With the last mile ahead of me, I saw that my time was pretty darned good. I thought about Mark's POSE stride and worked to lift my legs more. I scurried on home and was pleasantly surprised to see I had set my #3 PR time for that circuit. It's always been a tough top ten PR time to crack these days. I was quicker when I was younger. Needless to say I was elated with the time while everything else in my head just bounced along for the ride.