Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 Running of the Bulls 8K

Barefoot running is sooo last year. Lucha Libre is the new fad.

While barefoot running has proven to be a balm for my "runner's knee", it has also opened the door to a veritable cornucopia of new ways to hurt myself.

For today's pain, I chose a thorough foot tenderization, accented with a worrisome bruised heel.
And from this I learned an important lesson, one that is best represented with an analogy:

Running Barefoot  
is to
Running Barefoot Fast 
Walking on an icy patch
is to 
Playing pro hockey

In other words, running barefoot fast requires a great amount of skill and years of training (which I don't have). Just jumping into it can result in a metaphorical puck in your teeth.

Joke is on Me
It started Wednesday with the annual beatdown at the Carolina Godiva track workout.
I have been running with Godiva for 3 years, but I just realized that these track "meets" are really an elaborate joke they play on new members. (Der Scott is yet another victim)

George Jr. running track

Normally a track "workout" is a series of repeats at some moderate pace. Instead Godiva has 5 timed events of different lengths all in 2 hours. Ostensibly these are "races" with results and winners.
But you are not supposed to actually race all the events as hard as you can. That would just be stupid.

Well, I wish some one would have told me because I'm not too smart. I didn't even make it through the last event. And this morning, 3 days later, my legs were still wrecked and my feet were raw.

So as we lined up at the start this morning, I worried about hurting myself further.
My barefoot mileage has been paltry:

Total for year: 94
Highest mileage week: 11
Longest run: 5

Certainly not enough to be racing. This would be a long run for me, but with moderation, I should be able to finish it without serious damage.

So I put myself in with what looked like the 7:30 pace group.
Shannon totally dissed me and moved way up in the pack. "Huh. I see how it is..."

Rival: Shannon
Shannon has always been a rival on mine since the first time I talked to her on the phone in 2003.
I had just run my first marathon, in time of 4:08 and thought I would impress her. No luck.
"Oh, just finishing a marathon is huge accomplishment", she said with her 3:30 time.

Lately I have been faster than her. But she has completely blown away anything I have done by winning Uwharrie in 2011 and then running a 100 miler.

So I feel no sense of shame touting my win-loss record over her.

Rivalry Stats
Total Races vs105
Record vs (W-L)102-3
Greatest Victory2009 Frosty 50K (-0:00:01)
Worst Defeat2011 Bayshore  (+1:12:55)
Next RaceThe Scream
Current StatusMarried

Mile 1
I started out relaxing, running by feel, focusing on my form, lifting my feet, small steps... you know, all that crap. The crowd seemed to moving at a decent pace, and I was chatting with the Lucha Libre guy.
But then I looked at my watch: 8:00 min/mile. Shannon would be much faster than that.
"Crap. I gotta try to catch my wife"

So I stretched the legs out and started weaving through the pack.

Mile 2
Around here I spotted Shannon up ahead, and pushed a little harder. Suddenly I hit steep downhill which is terrifying to me without shoes. Blogger Greg's wife got a great shot of the frightened look on my face:

"Holy-crap-steep-downhill! LIFT LIFT LIFT!"
(photo from Greg)
I had to spin the wheels like crazy to keep from tearing my feet up. At the bottom, I fell in behind a guy in a blue shirt who kept hocking up huge luggies onto the pavement.

"Hey buddy! What is your problem?", I telepathically scolded him, "Can't you see I'm running barefoot here?"

Mile 3
While trying to overtake Shannon, I ran my fastest ever barefoot road mile: 6:33.
My feet felt fine, but I was breathing pretty hard and my quads were pretty sore from track. I don't think I would have been much faster with shoes on.
With ninja like stealth, I snuck up on Shannon and pinch her butt, and ran by feeling quite smug and superior.

"Eat my dust, Ultra-Woman"
(photo by Ultra Woman)
Mile 4
Shortly after I was struck by instant Karma.
The smooth asphalt suddenly turned into a giant cheese grater. I think it was the notorious "Chipseal" I have heard barefooters talk about.
I went from running to just hopping "ow! ow! ow! ow!". I danced around, jumping up to the sidewalk where I could. Even the gutter, with all the broken glass, hypodermic needles and dog poop, was preferable to evil  pointy blacktop. Shannon nearly caught back up to me there.
Lululemon cheerleaders. Pushing overpriced yoga pants to soccer moms

Mile 5
Fortunately the smoothness returned before she caught me.
Van Halen was playing on a boom box around here.
"Jump! Jump!", shouted the Lululemon cheerleaders. I jumped.
The road was under construction with strips of gravel I had to leap over.

I stomped down another steep hill into the old Durham Bulls ballpark. Here I was greeted with another new running surface to experience: The cinder "warning track"

Cinder. Wonderful for exfoliating the
dead skin cells... and the live ones too
I have always thought the word "cinder" meant little pieces of burnt wood. That might actually be nice to run on. But, news to me, "cinder" is also is the name of a volcanic rock which they break up and use for the outside "warning track" of ballparks.

It felt like broken glass, but there was no escaping it. I hopped gingerly around the field, desperately holding in a torrent of profanity while a stream people ran past. "Those shoes are bad for you, you know!", I shouted internally.

I didn't know it, but Shannon was closing fast and nearly caught me at the finish line, just 3 seconds behind. Still, a win is a win. Chalk up #103, my curly haired friend.

Seconds later, we were joined by the 2011 Godiva female runner of the year, Cathy Wides. She is a world class athlete, recently scoring a 90% age graded ranking in the USA Masters 8k Championships.

Four Godivans finish within seconds of each other:
me, Shannon, 62 year old super woman Cathy Wides, and Dorothy
I spent a moment savoring another victory over a rival, and then inspected my feet. I suddenly realized that my left heel hurt like hell. I don't know if I stepped on a rock or what, but hopefully it is just a bruise.
Other than that there were the usual "hot spots" on the toes and lateral edge that I get when I run too far and/or too fast. I can walk on them... sort of.

Afterwards we re-hydrated with several refills of Gatorade Cream Ale from Fullsteam, and hung with the 30 or 40 other Godivans in attendance.

Steve enjoys a post race breakfast ale

Shannon's dad, who is visiting from Milwaukee, celebrated a 2 minute 8K PR!

The rest of Shannon's photos are here.

Thanks Bull City! Another great race!