Sunday, September 13, 2009

I love running! Yes, it’s Fall, the temps are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are starting to turn. Our Reach the Beach Relay team members, the Red Eye Runners, are packing for the big race this weekend. Life is good.

It’s weird. After Vermont 100 last year, I dedicated this year to climbing, and despite working like a mad dog at my new job this summer, I managed to get in some good climbing. On Labor Day weekend, I had a great time climbing with my friends in the Adirondacks. The climbing is always hard in the DAKS, and I love every minute of it. After an incredible weekend, I felt strong and felt like I had finally returned to my old form. It was a magical weekend…as so many of the DAKS trips have been.

Running has been on the back burner. The Goat and I manage to get together about 1 day per week and then 1 day on the weekend this summer. Over the past month it’s been even less. I didn’t run at all while in Colorado, and I even think I lost my Garmin Forerunner on the trip (ouch!). I ran once with Goat since returning from Colorado, and was a bit concerned about being ready for this weekend’s race in NH.

So, I guess I forgot how much fun running can be….

I read “Born to Run” by a guy named McDougal on my trip to Colorado, and was captured by it. It’s a “must read” for any serious distance runner. The book discusses our genetic development as runners and how we are a running people and provides some good history on ultrarunning in Amercia. It also talks about how running shoes have been detrimental. Barefoot (or nearly barefoot) running is the way to go according to sources in the book. I was curious and decided I would give it a try at some point.

While I knew I needed to get a couple runs in before the race this weekend, it was hard for me to get motivated without a running partner yesterday (Goat is in Utah playing in canyons or something). So, I was surfing the internet and decided to check out AJW’s blog. Andy Jones-Wilkins won Vermont last year, and he is a great guy. He ran 3 100’s this year with his last being Leadville. His pacer at Leadville, Kevin Sullivan ( I think he was second at VT100 last year), took a video of Andy during the race. In one clip (, Andy is puking his guts out. As I watched it, it brought back memories from my Vermont race. The sick thing about it is that it got my psyched to run! Is that sick or what? I mean it got my animal instincts going like you wouldn’t believe! If you get a chance, check out the clip…not for the puking…but for what Andy does afterwards. He has such a positive attitude, it blows me away! Ultrarunning is as much a mental challenge as anything, and that is one reason Andy is so darn good at it!

So, I started running at the reservoir and felt like a slug. My right ankle starting hurting from the start, and I was afraid that too many days off had made me susceptible to injury. I ran on, hoping things would improve. The first 4 miles felt like work, and I hoped my super powers would kick in at some point. Keep your head up, run with good form…run like the animal that you are. I peeled off my shirt, and let the beast come out. Damn…it feels good to be a runner again. The last 3 miles were sweet, and I had a big smile inside. Yeah, I’m a runner!

Today, I met Dawn for some early climbing. It was nice to see Dawn, but I honestly wasn’t into the climbing. After Colorado and the DAKS, toproping in CT is hard to get psyched about… I was thinking about running. Dawn talked about training for Boston and I was happy for her. I wanted to run.

Afterwards, I went for a run on a flat trail in Farmington. It’s single track through fields and around a river, then onto a bike path. I ran easy as it was my first back-to-back run in awhile. It was pleasant, and I thought how cool it would be to try barefoot running. With about ½ mile to the car, I decided to peel off the shoes and go native. I ran on a hard packed single track section around a corn field, and was amazed at how good it felt. I was moving much faster than I expected. A lady walking on the path said, “That looks like it feels good!” and I acknowledged that it did indeed feel good. Flashes of Zola Budd (remember her) in the Olympics ran through my mind. I was feeling great!

Then, I hit the crushed stone/cinder path. Ouch! It was like running on needles. My feet are as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom, and the stones were having their way with me. I opted to run in the grass next to the path. This worked well until I realized a lot of people were walking their dogs along the path, and I guessed I was probably running through dog poop. Ewwww! Gross! So much for running like an animal! Time to get a pair of those Vibram Five fingers. Have you seen them…they look like rubber gloves for your feet…run like a frog, my friends!

Anyway, I finished the run and felt great. I really think that doing a little barefoot running is a good thing to strengthen your feet and improve your stride. Give it a try!

Looking forward to seeing my friends at RTB this weekend. It should be a blast!

It’s good to be a runner again!

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