Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Dog Days of Spring

We're 10 days into spring and already I'm starting to see more of my online running posse hit the doldrums, weather through injury, mentally, or like me, through sickness. The training in starting to pile up and it's leaving its toll.

I was knocked out by some kind of flu for three solid days.

Nothing like sitting around grousing when you're unable to run. I remember well - I was a miserable sot two days after I broke my toe in January.

Determined not to stew in my funk I at least decided to get out of the house today and do some work at Starbucks. That felt good - it was a beautiful day and lots of people were out and about.

Felt good enough in fact that I came home, threw on the running gear and went for a run. I chose a route where I could circle back early if I felt like it.

But I didn't. So I pressed on and got in a good five miles.

Welcome Spring - the season of rejuvenation!

The lemonade from the lemons is while I may have missed a couple of days training I was able to rework my training plan to turn this week into a rest / recovery week. I'll throw down a couple of easy runs over the next few days and kick it back into gear next week.

And that's reason #73 I love running - nothing like a good run to kick your tude back into gear!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annie Leonard and the Story of Stuff

Seattle is fortunate to have a program called Town Hall which regularly invites renowened guests for lectures - economist Paul Krugman, Moby, etc.

Annie Leonard was at Town Hall on March 24 to discuss her new book named after the famous web video The Story of Stuff.

If you have never seen The Story of Stuff it is an articulate and digestible movie about ... stuff. Material. What we use and consume. How it affects us. What our impact is on the world around us and what this really means to us.

Everyone should watch the video.

I regularly talk about running. But I'm not just a runner and need to speak about things that inspire me whether it's from running or not. And to be frank Annie Leonard is truly inspiring. And her message needs to be heard.

To be honest there is no way I can summarize or discuss this topic with the passion, veracity, or intelligence in the way that Ms. Leonard does. But this problem of what we consume, how much, and how much is left is of great concern to me.

Three facts stood out at me last night in her talk:

  • Overall humans consumes 1.5 planets worth of resources a year.
  • The United States has 5% of the world's population yet consumes 35% of the earth's resources.
  • If the top 3,000 corporations externalize about $2.2 trillion of their costs a year which is roughly 1/3 of their profits.

OK, the last one requires a bit of explanation but it basically has to do with the costs that corporations push out to us consumers.

Alright, that's heavy stuff. The best part is that the message is not demoralizing. If anything Ms. Leonard is hopeful that we can solve the problems that we've created for ourselves.

How? The small stuff is good. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As runners one of the biggest impacts we can make would be not to drink bottled water.

But her argument is we need to flex the "civic" muscle in our brain versus our "consumer" muscle. Join organizations that are doing something about this - invariably these groups need help.

As for me I need to figure out how to become involved. I'm tired of sitting on the sidelines and need to do my part. Sacrificing is difficult but as a runner I know about sacrifice and dedication in pursuit of my goals. I'm passionate about food so it may be something in that area or maybe something to do with toxics in our consumer products. The good news is there is no shortage of problems we need to tackle.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Killing It!

I really love running. Especially right now.

In mid-January I broke the 4th toe on my left foot - clean fracture. From mid-December through the injury I had been running at least once every two days and my New Year's resolution (which I never make) was to hold that pace all year.

Needless to say my injury put a severe cramp in my style. I would be sidelined for six weeks. I was immediately restless that I could not go outside for a run. I had a two week trip at the end of January and so all of my training ground to a halt. I had planned to run back in Kansas and on the beach and Florida. Instead I spent those two weeks hobbling around in hiking boots to keep my toe stable.

This time off was of course the right decision, as hard as it may have been not to run. The silver lining is that I dusted off my bike which I had not been in over a year. I started commuting to work to get some easy miles on the bike in. I rode around West Seattle and enjoyed some lovely rides with great views.

Best of all was how quickly my passion for running returned as soon as my six weeks were over. I eased back in - tried to take it slow. First a three mile run (of course the evening of my follow-up visit with my doctor), then four, then five. I scheduled a 10k to push myself to get miles in. I got back on the track as soon as I could to start working on speed. I've taken the shoes off and gone for a couple of barefoot runs.

The point here is right now my training is clicking on all cylinders. I hit a PR on my 10k by nearly three minutes. I am on pace for my June marathon and hope to run very strongly. I'm confident I'll be able to ramp up my long runs in a slow and steady fashion.

I am loving running right now. And I want to be able to come back to this post whenever I need to in order to remember how good it can be.

I hope your training and running is going just as well!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mercer Island 10k 2010 - Race Report (and a PR)

The Mercer Island race has turned into quite an event - I ran the 8k in 2006. Today's race was quite bigger and quite and very well run. Lots of volunteers. The anchor of the race is the half marathon but over the last four years they've added a 5k and 10k and removed the 8k. The race also starts at the community center at Luther Burbank Park v. downtown which is quite nice.

I decided to run the 10k to get my tempo training primed. I have wanted to run the half marathon for awhile but due to my toe injury in January I didn't have enough long runs in me for that.

Weather was perfect - low 50s and overcast. It started to rain just at the end of the race.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Barefoot Running - Just Do It!

It's always fascinating to me when I can look back and recall a specific moment in time when my life took a distinct turn. As it relates to barefoot running it occurred on April 21, 2009 when I read The Daily Mile article The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money? 

Part of why I run is to challenge myself both physically and mentally. Something in this article spoke to the part of me that allows me to challenge myself and my long-held belief that in order to run I need to wear running shoes.

Hell, they're called running shoes for a reason right? 

Probably because that's how they were marketed. But I digress.

As with many moments where you make a sudden turn it's not immediately clear that you have and it's the little moments later that more clearly reveal the path you find yourself on.

These revealing moments happened over the next 11 months.

In June I bought my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs). As I was in the middle of training for my first marathon it was July before I did my first runs. While I had embraced the idea of running barefoot I had not properly considered that I might need to learn how to run barefoot. The result was some blistered feet and low-grade shattering of my newfound illusion. I put the VFFs on the shelf for a bit.

Fast forward to December and someone recommended Born to Run which has become something of a manifesto for the barefoot movement. Like many others I tore through the book in just a few days and then began evangelizing the idea to those that would listen. I had begun to ramp up my training for the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon and was preparing to start running in my VFFs. Unlike my summer training I read more on the techniques of barefoot running (my one complaint of Born to Run is that it did not get into the details of good running and diet practice), primarily focused on Ken Bob's site

As luck would have it I broke my toe the morning of the day I planned on making my first VFF run. Not only did this stop my training but it put a hitch in my plan to introduce VFF and barefoot running into my training. With six weeks off I knew I'd have to add miles to my training as quickly (and safely) as possible and so when the toe injury healed it was back to shod running. Sometimes it's just too easy to justify maintaining the status quo.

Along the way I've found more compatriots in the barefoot / minimalist running world. The news of the Prof. Daniel Lieberman study on foot striking has gotten a lot of press. Finally, I saw a screening of Running the Sahara in which Charlie Engle preaches to "just get out there and do it - what's the worst that can happen?" This movie and Charlie really have a way of getting you to challenge yourself.

So the worst that could happen is I went for a barefoot run tonight. One mile. And it was glorious.

The irony is all I had to do was follow the advice of the largest shoe manufacturer and "Just Do It!"


I should note that I may not have been terribly ardent in my advice to take any introduction to barefoot running SLOWLY. Regardless of how many miles you currently run you are almost invariably relearning to run as a barefooter. The most noticeable effect will be that your calves and ankles will be quite sore after your first several runs. I highly recommend reading the "beginning barefoot" and "how to run" posts on before your first barefoot run.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon - June 27, 2009

The inaugural event was announced summer of 2008 - I believe I was #508 to sign up. The marathon bug had bothered me for several years and I had bailed on several races for a variety of reasons which is really the subject of a separate post. Suffice to say I was going to commit to this one.

As noted previously I did not put in a lot of base running miles in over the winter. I made a classic mistake I'm sure - try to squeeze in as many miles as possible and build the long miles. I had previously followed the FIRST running plan for a successful half marathon so did the same for the marathon. I did my first 20 mile run Memorial Day weekend and in the next week or so realized I had developed an IT Band overuse injury. I took it easy for the next four weeks and skipped my 2nd 20+ miler. I had no idea how I'd feel on marathon day given the lack of miles in the previous weeks. My plan - if I had much of one - was to run 10 minute miles and slog out a 4:20 finish.

Old Race Reports - 2007, 2008 and 2009

I have not done a remotely good job of maintaining this blog ... at all. Want to start off by doing some short and sweet race reports from the past 2+ years.

Christmas Rush - Dec 8, 2007
I have run the Christmas Rush three times and it has grown in popularity each year. I PR'd my 5k in 2006 with a 23:37 (and place 3rd in my age division). The course is built for PRs - it's flat, along the Green River and wraps a golf course and residential community.