Sunday, June 25, 2006

11th at Double Trouble - 1st AG

Double Trouble 30K Results

The Double Trouble race is made up of two 15K laps in French Creek State Park, PA. Runners can either finish at 15K or 30K, and they don't have to declare what they intend to run up front. It is a fun concept, and Ron Horn, race director, keeps it very comic in so many ways. He makes the runners recite the Double Trouble pledge which pits taunts between 15K and 30K intentions. He gives head starts to runners who come from farthest away or were recently in the armed service overseas. It had been raining the entire week going into the race. It wasn't raining when the race started, but it did during the race. So I wore the Reebok Circa XC shoes.

I ran the first 15K lap in 1:19, and the second 15K lap in 1:27. During the first lap, I just kept thinking, "This 15K is just a warm-up." I walked before I had to if I felt the uphill was putting the lactic acid into my legs. To avoid killing my legs too early, my thinking was often, "Use the uphill for recovery." During the first 15K, I tried to avoid mud and puddles. During the 2nd 15K, I just plowed through all the mud and water. I was so full of mud after the race that I simply threw my socks in the trash. I was kinda mad that the two guys in front of me passed me about 1.5 miles from the finish, and I was o so close at passing them back before the finish line. I was gaining on them, but ran out of road. This was great preparation for the Escarpment Trail Run!

Friday, June 23, 2006


Really hot and humid in NJ today. Felt bad on the run today. Legs felt fatigued, even though I did not run yesterday. More fatigue makes running barefoot less comfortable. Didn't feel comfortable on the grass because lack of rain has made it hard and clumpy. Didn't feel comfortable on the pavement. I am thinking that running barefoot is a fine motor skill, and that fatigue makes it more difficult because the accuracy of the fine movements and muscular balance is upset.

I am not going to make my mileage goal this week for the first time since I created a NYC marathon plan and began to execute it on the first of May. I am not going to make it because I totally missed two days, working at camp at night. With a 30K trail race on Sunday, I should probably only run 4 yesterday and get a couple of long nights of sleeping.

Why am I feeling so fatigued? Stress of ending school and starting camp? Stress of doing more mileage than I planned for the past few weeks catching up with me? From racing on Monday night, drinking beer afterwards, staying out late, then doing a short interval workout on Wednesday? Probably a little bit of all of the above.

I am going to avoid being a slave to my training plan by listening to my body: Run short and slow tomorrow morning so I don't mess up the race on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Double Trouble Plan

I am running the Double Trouble 30K trail race on Sunday. Sherrie asked me what shoes I was going to wear. I am not ready for a trail race barefoot! This was my response ~
Remember, I suffer from early-onset CRS, so don't take this as gospel: The trail varies - mostly Watchung Reservation-like. There is about 1/2 mile on pavement each lap. I think there is even about 1/2 mile of bushwacking. A couple of miles on easy fire-roads. All of which one actually experiences at Watchung Reservation, coincidentally.

Last year I wore road racing flats, Mizuno Spacer. My feet felt fine, but thought they lacked traction: Some of the rocks were damp in the morning and had green algae on them and were a little slippery for the racing flats. Not to say trail shoes would have done any better. They also incurred unexpected tread damage - some separation of the harder rubber that is glued to the lighter midsole rubber.

This year I plan to wear either Mizuno Kaze XC or Reebok Circa XC shoes. They both have rubber "spikes", but are warn down a bit. They are very low to the ground. I will use the Kaze if it is dry, or the Reebok if it is raining, because I think they will be better in the mud. I have not done rocky trails with either shoe, but they have been fine on the towpath. I have a little more confidence in the Kaze because I used them twice for 15 miles, and they were fine. Reeboks only one long run of 13. Plus the Reeboks have thinner soles, and I use them without insoles, but they have better treads overall, which is why I would wear them if it is raining. But it will probably not rain. The Kaze have plastic under the arch, so they will be more protective. This race is practice for the Escarpment Trail Run for me. If the Kaze perform well, I will use a new pair of them that I have still in the box at Escarpment.

For that location in PA, shows a high of only 71 on Sunday ! Which is the third day of scattered T-storms. So I suppose the trails might be a little damp.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Comments While Running Barefoot

I needed a longish run on Friday, so I decided to head out for a 4 mile road loop west before hitting the grass for about 5 more. I am at a point where I feel I can run barefoot on roads at training paces just about anywhere, as long as I don't attempt it two days in a row. So this 4 mile road loop heads right down the main street in Dunellen on the way back. I was psyched that I was taking barefoot running right down the main street during a busy time, about 5:30 PM. I only got two comments. The first was from a woman pushing a stroller, walking with a guy. That group squeezed me over a little, and the woman unexpectedly said, after I passed, "I run just like that too!" I am assuming she meant barefooted. The second comment was out of a rolled-down car window. It was an older car, like a 1980's Buick. Guy slows down, leans his head out the window - I had the impression that he needed a shave, had a fat face, and was probably a smoker that may have even been drunk at the time, on his way home from his post-work bar stop - and the guy yells, "Hey, you forgot your shoes!" LOL what an ass........

Anyway, this hot Father's Day morning I was almost home at the end of a 5 miler. A woman walking a dog sees me approaching and says, "Doesn't that hurt your feet?" I reply, "No, it feels great, take off your shoes and walk barefoot!" She said, "O, I do!" I guess she just wasn't doing it this morning.....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Early Mornings & Late Nights

The majority of my runs from my home take place between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM. Which is fine. I think my body is able to work at its peak during those hours. There is usually ample daylight, but also there is usually the most traffic. But this entry is supposed to be about a couple of runs that I did this week that reminded me of the beauty and serenity of early morning and late night runs.

On Wednesday night, I didn't get out until 9:30 PM because of obligations at home. There had been a light thunder storm in the early evening. The storm cleared out the heat of the day an left the pavement a bit damp. The air still had a lot of moisture in it, and it became that kind of atmosphere where it seems like you can hear little things clearly and sharply - like somebody sneezing inside the house down the street; like a phone ringing on the next block; like a dog barking across town. There were few cars, few stars, and the streetlights carried their light a greater distance from refraction in the moist air and reflection off the damp surfaces. This was a most enjoyable 5 miles. It reminded me of a poem I wrote in 1978, but I can't find a digital copy of it on this computer. I found this, though, with a similar sentiment, and I could have been reminded of it had I remembered writing it in 1993.

The next morning, Thursday, I did a run at 6:15-7 AM. It was barefoot through the wet dew in Greenbrook park. I wrote about it yesterday. It was a very enjoyable run, done at a time that I have been known to say that I hate running. But it set up a day for me during which I felt more awake and productive than usual. It is like when I used to ride my bike to work in my triathlon days, before kids. People used to actually get upset that I was so awake and happy in the morning. I think I will continue these morning runs, if I can get up for them, every-other day perhaps. Even though I layed out my shorts and shirt for a run this morning, when the alarm went off at 6:00 AM, I felt the need to just roll over and sleep until 7:15.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Am In The Home News Tribune Today!

My 15 minutes of fame - Vera Stek's Running Column in the Home News Tribune today. I think the editor cut some stuff, because the last couple of paragraphs are too long and the quotation marks don't exactly make sense.

Here is the on-line article.

Here is the actual, unedited interview in its entirety.

I ran barefoot in Greenbrook Park this morning, 6:15-7 AM. I saw a doe and a tiny fawn on the other side of the Green Brook, which my route parallels. It was the smallest fawn I have ever seen. It looked to be about the size of a medium dog. They stood still and stared at me, probably believing that if they just stood like that, then I wouldn't see them. When I got farther upstream, crossed the bridge, and ran parallel to the brook back towards where the doe and fawn had been, they were gone.

For the last week or so the birds have been practically attacking me as I run by their bushes in the park. They fly above my head, maybe 10 feet up, and squawk loud for a good 30 or 40 yards. It must be hatching time. But I have been running in this park for years and I don't remember them ever being so aggressive. I wave my fist at them and yell back at them that they are safe and I will not bother their families - and to please not crap on my head.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

RVRR Summer Series #1

Ran the first of four RVRR Summer Series XC races last night. My 12-year-old son was 2nd in the Youth 1/2 mile event. I warmed-up and cooled-down barefoot, but the new course went over some roads strewn with gravel, and barefoot racing would have slowed me down.

Unlike past years, the Youth Series races and the Summer Series 5K XC started in the same area, at the "north" end of the park; i.e. towards the right after you drive in. I remember that the Summer Series started there in the 1980's & 90's, so it was sort of a flashback situation for an aging few of us.

The Youth Series was fun for all as usual. Thanks to all the volunteers, parents, and directors Rosemarie and Mark Strawn.

The 5K XC followed. From a parent's perspective, I think it was GREAT that both races started in the same area. It as so much easier than having to get to the other end of the park for the 5K after helping out and watching the Youth races. I can't remember the last time I was actually entered early and warmed up properly for the Summer Series! It allowed volunteers to easily work both races, and it allowed all those impressionable young kids see that adults can continue to enjoy this sport throughout their lives. The course was still basically a two lap affair, but it overlapped the central gathering area four times, because of the placement of the starting line and a quick loopback at the end. Like international cross-country events, it allowed spectators to stay in one place and cheer for people four times. Since the hills were at a different point in the race that I was used to, I learned quickly that I went out too fast, drawn into it by the early flats. My slightly sub-6 minute first mile slowed to an average of 6:23 by the end of the race! I wonder how many other runners experienced such a steep learning curve last night.....

My full account here.

Results here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sunday's Barefoot Adventures

Got up at 6:45. Ran 4.5 barefoot on grass. Went to staff training at LVDC, but the camp director asked me to put something on my feet. I had to wear flip-flops for some of the time, but I removed them whenever we were seated and when I was with my own staff separated from the rest of the staff. Got home about 4 PM and cut my grass barefoot. Went for a second run about 6 miles, barefoot, 5 miles of it was on the road. And I was going quite fast. Like I felt like I can do a race barefoot without damage, given roads that have some decent pavement. I might try to run the 5K Summer Series XC race tonight barefoot. I have done a lot of barefoot running in Donaldson Park at this point, but I will have to checkout the course and make a final decision. It would be very cool to run a fast XC race, maybe place in my age group barefoot.

When I cut the grass barefoot, my feet get green. When I followed the grass cutting with the run on pavement, the green coating wore off and left my feet with some strange coloration effects. I took some photos of them. Am I weird for photographing my bare feet? It is kind of a fossil record of my runs. I used to examine the wear patterns and the extent of wear on the bottom of my running shoes. I don't seem to do that much anymore....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Running with Lance

In my last post I pasted my archived results from the NYC Marathon Web Site. I have not been in that race for 20 years! In 1986 I ran 3:41 and in 1985 I ran 2:48. The reason for the large time disparity is because I had different reasons for running each race. In 1985 I ran the race seriously. I learned how much energy you have to spend just getting to the starting line. In 1986 I ran with Paul G., purposely starting towards the back, purposely out there to enjoy the journey. Both Paul and I stopped on the Varrazano Narrows Bridge to urinate from such a great height. We were two of hundreds doing the same thing. The urine evaporates before reaching the river, I hear. The NYC Marathon running crowd was so thick at the start in that part of the pack, even 21 years ago, that running was difficult. The crowd is tight, and you literally have to run diagonally down the streets to pass people. I think I ran with Paul for about 10 miles, then I couldn't stand the slow pace at that point. I started to work at passing people in that diagonal fashion. I probably ran an extra half mile in diagonals.

So I am in NYC 2006. I bypassed the lottery because I had a qualifying 1:25 time last year at the Liberty Half-Marathon. I have been focused at getting long mileage into my running program again. I am using summer 5K's as my speedwork, trying to ignore pre-race tapering, even for just a day. My plan is to run well at four long events between now and NYC. While I am tapering for NYC, to also run fast at shorter events in the two weekends preceding NYC. I want to run 2:55 at the slowest at NYC.

One of the reasons I was motivated to return to the marathon distance after all these years is when Lance Armstrong stated his intention to run it. Hell, I wanna run with Lance! I am sure there are a thousand Lance fans that want to run with him. He will probably be in the middle of a media cloud during the race. But what other opportunity will I, and the other thousands of Lance fans there, have to run with Lance? We will toe-the-line with equal footing. Just think, me and one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime, competing in the same event. What an awesome situation!