Friday, August 30, 2013

Iron Mountain Trail Run Elevation Profiles

Tomorrow morning Shannon, Jay "Nippes" Spaddie, Harold "Galoot", Brandy and some other friends will be running the Iron Mountain 50 Miler.

I'll be doing the 16 Miler kiddie race with my rival Jeff. Below are the elevation profiles, because Shannon likes data.
Iron Mountain Trail Run 50 Miler

Iron Mountain Trail Run 30 Miler

Iron Mountain Trail Run 16 Miler (Kiddie race)

All 3 for no good reason

Boston Marathon, Umstead Marathon, Uwharrie 40 Miler, Iron Mountain Trail 50 Miler

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 CARA Run for their Lives!

Jorge suffers the indignity of a leash
Dudley Dooright has been my running partner since 2005. But at 8 years old and 85 pounds, it may soon be coming to an end. 
The humidity this summer has been hard for Dooright. Even a short 1.3 mile run to the park and back leaves him panting uncontrollably on the kitchen floor.

And after he crashed and burned in the Dirty Dog 15K, I was resigned to the fact his racing days were over.
But the "CARA Run for their Lives!" 5K/10K kept popping up on facebook, which made me reconsider. CARA stands for Carolina Animal Rescue and Adoption, a great cause for us to support.

Dudley has been the poster dog for the CARA 5K since 2009
That was his first race back in 2009, when he came in top dog, and won a treasured woobie. Since then he has been the poster dog on the race website. How could we not run this again? 
We decided to sign up for the 5K, figuring he should be able to make it the 3 miles.

I wasn't worried at all about Jorge and Jeffery, as they have aged better than Dooright, and are not bothered by the heat as much.

Dooright gets his pre-race ice bath, excited to race again.
Jorge is pissed we made him get out of bed.
Jeffery just wants to know where the food is.

So we packed the pack into the car and headed down to Sanford this morning. The popularity of the race has exploded since we first did it in 2009, and cars were parked far down the road.
The temperature was nice for August in NC, maybe 67 deg and 88% humidity. Still way too hot for Dudley. So after we got our bibs and I doused Dooright down with ice water.

At the race was the second biggest dog I have ever seen.
As any runner knows, the most important part of pre-race preparation is the "unloading of dead weight".
Minutes before the race, Dooright still wouldn't go. I took him for a jog around the park, but he was just too excited to do his business. Oh well, if we had to stop mid-race, that was no big deal. I didn't expect Dudley to be competitive.

Jeffery and Jorge race to catch Dooright
But once again, I underestimated the old dog's love of races.
When the gun went off, Dudley was transformed from a big, slobbering, panting doofus into a running machine with a singular mission. He locked onto the race leaders with laser like focus and took off.

I had to sprint to keep up with him, weaving through the runners to get to the front. We crossed a couple of bridges, and briefly took the lead on a greenway. Here Dooright settled into a steady pace and let a few fast kids pass him.

Jim Wei and the fresh set of twins crushed the field to claim
the baby jogger category.
I was expecting Dudley to wilt in the heat after a mile, but he kept a steady 6:30 pace, focusing on a couple of runners ahead of us. I had a bottle of ice water and sprayed him down every few minutes, but I'm not sure he even noticed..
Hitting the streets of Sanford, we caught up to the 10K runners who had started ahead of us, and Dooright seemed pick up speed to pass other dogs.

I kept waiting for him to pull over take a big poop, or overheat and collapse, but he just kept going.
Here are the splits from my Garmin, showing his perfect pacing:

Avg Pace

At 2.5 miles I missed the turn for the 5K and cost us a couple of places and a few seconds.
The last half mile I could tell he was starting to struggle, so I talked him through it. "Quarter mile! You got this!", and he would surge ahead again. As we approached the finish, I tried to get him sprint it in, but he didn't have it in him.

Hydration on a hot morning
But he did it again! Top dog in the 5K.
Shannon wasn't far behind, with Jeffrey and Jorge.

All 3 dogs were treated to a luxurious post race bath by the CARA volunteers.

The top notch CARA race crew provide a post race recovery bath

Of course, everyone was amazed and
impressed by Jeffery the 3 legger running the 5K

All runners should get this kind of post race treatment.

At the awards ceremony Dudley was a awarded a dog toy and gift card to Omega sports. Maybe he could buy some socks. Or Body Glide.
Dudley licks his lips at the sight of a fresh woobie.

After Dudely received his award there was some confusion and controversy, as the top dog of the 10K did not receive an award, which was unfortunate.

Anyway this was Dudleys 5th race, and his 4th taking the top dog spot. Not bad for an overweight Golden Retriever breeding reject with bad hips and tendency to overheat.

4 years later and a lot more grey.
Still top dog.
Maybe we are both getting older and slowing down. But we'll keep running (and racing) together as long as we can...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Proving why I don't... ow!... DO need shoes.

A fellow angry barefooter.

That Barefoot Guy
You know that guy.
The one weirdo who shows up to the 5K and runs with no shoes on. There are many of them actually, but at any given race there will only be one.

He talks about running "natural", and "feeling the ground", and how it cured all his injuries. He thinks he is proving that we don't need shoes to run.

But secretly he does it because he likes the attention. He likes it when he hears "hey that guy's got no shoes on!". Or when people curse under their breath when he passes them. Or when they mention him in a blog post like this one (thanks Ash).

Well, I am that guy.

Ash of "Another Fn Runner" wins his age group,
in only his second 5K.

What happens if you step on something?
As "That Barefoot Guy" I get this question all the time.
"Uh, I don't know," I shrug, because usually I'm more concerned about how fast or slow I ran, and not worried about my feet. But the truth is I step on things all the time. Rocks, sticks, glass, acorns, bugs, poo, nails, and other things I don't want to know.

When I run the 10 or so miles a week on my local greenway, I am totally focused on scanning the ground ahead of me to avoid such things; but sometimes you just can't see them or avoid them. So when I do step on that little invisible rock or pointy acorn shell, I'll say "ow!" It'll sting for a minute, and then it's forgotten.

The Lump
Probably the worst thing I ever stepped on was a rock on Company Mill trail in Umstead.
This was back in 2008 and I was wearing some pretty hefty Saucony road shoes at the time.

This is an actual photo of my foot,
with the sixth toe right in the middle.
I was stomping recklessly down a hill (you know that rocky one near the start) and a perfectly aimed and rather sharp rock punched its way through my left shoe. Right at the center of the ball of my foot.

It felt like I an electric shock (worse than 110V, maybe 220V), and I let out a screaming curse that is still echoing in outer space somewhere. It took months to heal, and there has been a lump there ever since. I assume that I broke it and there is a little bone spur or something.

It still hurts till this day, and it's the main reason I don't barefoot more. After about 10-15 miles a week it swells up and aches and it's back to the cushy shoes.

"Whew! You been drinking buddy?"

Another Appearance
A week ago Shannon and I headed to the Dog Days of Summer 5K.
It had "Dog" in the title and supported two local animal rescue groups, so naturally we had to run it.

It was an unbearably hot morning, and my head was pounding with a hangover from Shannon's birthday party the night before. The lump on my left foot was also throbbing and tender but it didn't stop me from resuming my role as "That Barefoot Guy", for maybe the 8th or 9th time.

The road was soft, smooth, and clear blacktop. No need to be careful.
Safe and Smooth
The first mile of the race went down a street in downtown Raleigh that was paved with smooth blacktop. The kind of surface that makes barefoot runners drool. It was clean and clear, and almost spongy soft from the warm weather. It felt better than a rubber track.

After a groggy and slightly nauseating start, I started to feel better and the smooth surface lulled me into running faster. The first turn was coming up, which was downhill and banked to the right. I took my eyes off the road to merge into the other runners and accelerate around the corner. My stride was stretched way out into a sprint. And that's when it happened...

I stepped on something.

That's the bastard that got me.
The Rock
The pain reflex sent my knee shooting up, almost up to my chin.
It felt like I had been punched in the solar plexus; the wind was knocked out of me, and I was seeing stars. Only my momentum kept me from collapsing to the ground.

In the smooth and clear road had been a solitary rock, the size of a quarter and the shape of a pyramid.
The thing that made this rock really special, placing it in the "Hall of Fame of Things I Stepped On", is that it managed an absolute bullseye strike right into "The Lump" on my left foot.

If it had hit anywhere on my right foot, or my heel, my big toe, or even my soft arch; it would have hurt, sure. But I would have blamed myself and taken it as a stern reminder to run gently.

But this rock was sentient and full of malice. What was a rock like this doing on a downtown street? It had set up an ambush on this velvety blacktop on the corner of fast 5K course, waiting for me. It had perfectly targeted the tiny 1 cm diameter weak spot of my left foot. 

Just like Luke Skywalker hitting the exhaust vent and blowing up the Death Star, or Bard the Bowman shooting the arrow into Smaug's tiny bare patch, this little rock had made the million to one shot and felled "That Barefoot Guy". 

Though with those analogies, the rock would be the hero, and I am the villain. Hmmmm... 

Take note of the sensible protective foot coverings.

I continued to limp, stunned, for a short way, with "The Lump" ballooning up into what felt like golfball size. 
Finally I stopped to examine it. No blood was coming out. I could still flex my foot without any problem.

Still, considering the way pain was radiating from it like a nuclear reactor melting down, it could have been a broken bone. I broke my arm twice, and that hurt less. The sensible thing would be to drop out and walk gingerly back to the start.

But how would that look? 
"That Barefoot Guy" limping back to the start because he "stepped on something"? 
All those shod runners shaking their heads saying, "Knew that would happen!"

I was only a quarter mile from the turn-around. I couldn't let the Brotherhood of Barefoot Guys down. 
I had to continue. 

As great as the pain was, my anger was equal.
"Really!!?? It had to hit me right there?"

I ran on, only using the side of my foot. Or up on my toes. Still, the lump grew larger. 
As I returned to the ill-fated corner again, I scanned the ground carefully for the evil little rock.

I found one stone in the gutter, but the location wasn't right, so I dropped it. 
Then I saw it, the little chunk of granite that had assaulted me. I picked it up and carried it through the finish line, plotting my revenge upon it.

Turns out that my foot probably is not broken, just badly bruised.
Eight days later, I am still having to walk around the house in cushy slippers to take the pressure off "The Lump". The swelling has gone down some, and I have been able to continue to run in cushy shoes. Though even in those I have to avoid gravel. Barefoot running is weeks away, I think.

Not sure what the lesson is to all of this, other than I can hurt myself with or without shoes, and that rocks are out to get me. Or maybe it is just another reminder that running gently is good for us, and running fast and reckless isn't.

Whatever the case, I'm certainly not giving up being "That Barefoot Guy". There can't be many more rocks out there.

Louise Guardino, Godiva's 70+ age group superstar

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What's your MPG?

What's our vector Victor?

Ran 13 miles in Umstead this morning (yes, my knees, achilles, calf, soleus, and hip are feeling better. Thanks for asking!). I weighed myself before and after, and I lost 5 pounds.

No bathroom breaks, so it was almost entirely all sweat. And because it is summer in NC, the humidity is 99% and none of that sweat evaporated. I am not sure where it goes. I guess it is flung at people passing by on bikes.

Anyway, 5 pounds of sweat is roughly 0.6 gallons. That comes to be 21.6 miles to the gallon.
Better than my car usually gets. Still, I guess for my long run I'll need a gallon jug of water.