Thursday, October 27, 2011

I DO NOT HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE (at least not now)

Today is the second day this school year that I drove to work.  Well, it is raining today, so it was a good day to drive, but I also drove in because I am in need of an easier week.  Yesterday was the first day without a bike ride or run for me since Hurricane Irene, August 29th.  I took it off from work and from working out.  I had been feeling exhausted on my commutes on Monday and Tuesday this week - and I was cutting them to the shortest route as it was.  Something was up with my body, because i went to the primary physician to finally have a look at my ankle, and my vitals were high for me.  My heart rate was about 70, and my BP was something over 80.  Two weeks ago I was under 50 resting pulse at 6 PM, and my BP was something over 70.  I don't know if it was over-training, having no complete days off for almost 2 months, or if my body was on a razor's edge of getting sick with a cold or other virus.  My son has something right now, and there is a lot going around here at school.  I am hoping to get a run in despite the rain today.

I had already researched and made an appointment with a sportsmedicine guy before I went in to the primary physician yesterday.  I wanted to get a referral from the primary physician, and was hoping to get it quick and easy.  That did not happen.  He wanted to look at an MRI himself first.  Aetna, my health insurer, let me down.  They put it "under review", so the doc ordered a regular x-ray instead.  Got that, and just heard the result is NO BROKEN BONES! So I have no stress fracture after all - at least not now.  Hopefully the MRI will be approved, and I can get to the sportsmedicine guy next week.

Why I love Injinji

I have complaints about socks:
  1. They start nicely packaged and fit well.
  2. They go through some washes, then don't fit so well.
  3. They get lost in the wash, lost in the drawer, lost in the gym bag.
  4. They get worn out where you need them most.
  5. They get holes and they are done.
 Of the 4 items above, my Injinji socks have only been subject to #1.

Is it the toes that keep them fitting well? Is it the toes that keep them from wearing hard in only select spots?  Or is it simply their quality?

The answers to those rhetorical questions probably do not matter.  The overriding fact is that the Injinji sock works well for runners.  They allow your toes to splay out naturally, especially when wearing your minimal shoes, such as VFF's and Merrell Barefoot models.  I feel that the separation of the toes allows the foot to flex more naturally.  For long runs, the Injinji never folds or flattens or bunches, even when the going is wet or extra sweaty.

I have three pairs of Injinji socks.  I use the thinnest, Performance Lightweight No-Show toe socks when I want the best technical performance in Vibram FiveFingers or in Merrell Barefoot shoes.  It is better than being barefoot in these minimal runners.  I use them for races and shorter trail runs. I have a pair of Original Weight toe socks, mini-crew, that I use for longer trail runs because they keep the trail junk from going down the gaps around my ankles and Achilles tendons.  For everyday road runs, I use the midweight toe socks.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Alex Honnold

When he gets to the top, he can not wait to take his shoes off!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I could run today

I have been away from running.  I have taken the last 6 weeks off from running, except for on 10K run for the LIVESTRONG Challenge.  My last run was the River to Sea Relay on July 30, 2011.  I ran that 10K on August 20, and it hurt like hell.  I wonder if that one run, followed the next day by a century ride with over 4000 feet of climbing, hurt the recovery of my troublesome left ankle.  I was taking off because I was convinced that the pain in my left ankle was a Navicular bone stress fracture.  I knew I was continuing to do it damage by running XC races through July, as well as by running River to Sea.  I was entered in Escarpment Trail Run, but I bagged it in favor of stopping the damage.  That was a big sacrifice; it would have been my 7th straight, and I was already entered.  But that is not an event to do on a stress fractured ankle.  I limped and iced throughout the month of August.  I used an Aircast ankle stirrup as much as I could during that month.  In the first couple of weeks of September I was still feeling enough pain to limp a little, but I stopped using the stirrup and I stopped icing.  In the meantime, I have been riding massive cycling mileage to make up for the lack of running, and to make sure my injury was getting more circulation to enhance healing.  I set the goal of coming out of the running break in better cardiovascular condition than I went into it.  I feel I am succeeding at that goal.  Here are my mileage totals for the last 6 weeks on the bike: 149, 150, 107, 115, 204, 260.  Definitely a couple of lifetime personal records there.  That 260 of last week might be even longer than I ever went back in my 1985-1995 triathlon days.  Amazingly, last week was also a breakthrough in the ankle pain.  I am not limping, but I am still feeling a little pain.  It no longer feels like a stress fracture, but is back to feeling like a connective tissue issue.  Yesterday, I was confident and excited enough to enter the Philadelphia Half-Marathon, which is November 20, because I am sure that I will have enough time to come back and train for it.  So I am feeling that I could run today, but I am not sure if I should.  I am thinking I should wait another 2 weeks, just to be sure, and to start running again with absolutely no pain, instead of just a little.  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


 The Cannondale after the ride

Me after the ride

LIVESTRONG "Phlly" (was really Blue Bell, PA) bike ride - My first century ride since about 1992.

It isn't about me, really.  I raised $1300 for LIVESTRONG.  It's about my sister who has kidney cancer, my mother who died of cancer, Paul K. and others who died, and so many other survivors I run and work with.  Fighting cancer is a lot harder than a little 10K run and 100 mile bike ride.

But here is my report:

GARMIN DIED at 32 miles! I rode the second 50 miles at exactly 3 hours. I am pretty sure the first half was faster - or not because 16.7 MPH comes out to almost exactly a 6 hour century (not including 4 five-minute stops for food, bottle refills, pee, and brake tweak noted below). 4263 feet of climbing, according to the web site and I do not doubt it! Would have liked to have the complete data! The last 12 miles were in heavy rain.

Rode the '84 Cannondale with tubulars. Had to remove the tire guides from the rear brakes at about 35 mi, when the pads wore down from all the downhill braking - thought I needed a new brake pad, but it turned out that those stupid triangular things were rubbing the rim. Sunglasses frame broke at about 40 mi; chucked those. Lost the bite valve from my Camelbak at about 55 miles - end of drinking tube at the bite valve rubs my leg and I guess it worked its way off (I have noticed it pull out a little on rides). All the remaining water ran out, so all the Camelbak did was carry my spare tires from there on in.

It was very cool to ride with so many riders - there were a few thousand, I would say, in wave starts of about 500. Random pace lines at times. Saw lots of the same people over and over. I only saw one other "vintage" 80's-90's era bike. Almost everybody had newer bikes and the gears for those climbs - convinced I really want some carbon fiber and 20 speeds.

Lance Armstrong was there, said some words on the PA, then rode with the first group that were the top fundraisers for a while, then did the whole thing in like 4 hours.

Busy weekend: Friday was the last day of the camp I work at. Friday night was a camp party and some drinking. Had to get up at 5:30 AM to get to the 10K run for LIVESTRONG on Saturday (46 min run was slow for me but my suspected stress fractured ankle hurt a lot as the run progressed). Got about 4 hours of sleep on Fri night. Got home before noon after the run to hang with the inlaws, went for a short hike with them and kids at Watchung Reservation in the PM, then went to a Patriots game Sat night. Prepared for today's ride before we left. (That is probably the reason the Garmin died, because I unplugged it about 4PM on Saturday to pack it.) Got only about 5 hours of sleep on Sat night, up at 5 AM for today's ride. So I got through this weekend double with only 9 hours of sleep!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

15 Miles at Round Valley

Wow, big improvement for me since the last time I ran here. Ran with Swifty and Dixon. Was like running in the NJ rainforest this morning at like 100% humidity. For most of the run I felt comfortable and in control. After about 10 miles my legs and ankles were tired. It was good to feel like I could recover quickly after going anaerobic hills. Wore the new Merrell Sonic Glove with Injinji socks, and they were great on this rocky trail! Got some painful rock impacts, however. Next time I am going to try them with an additional thin insole for a little extra protection. There is enough room in the size 9.5's. If that works, I will definitely use them at Escarpment Trail Run.

I took some photos of the Merrell Sonic Gloves after the 15 mile damp and rocky run today:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Merrell Sonic

A nice present came in the mail for me yesterday.  Merrell sent me a couple pairs of the Sonic, a new shoe in their Barefoot lineup.  The major difference between these and the Trail Glove, is the upper material.  Instead of the mesh the the Trail Glove is made of, it is a thin solid nylon.  This is good, especially when running on trails sockless.  Dirt and small stones were able to get into the Trail Glove.  That could get uncomfortable.  That should not be a problem with the Sonic.

I have not gone running in the Sonic yet.  Tomorrow should be a wet trail run in them.  I will report the results.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Towpath "Train"ing Run 2011

I ran one of the greatest running events in NJ, this past Saturday.  No, it is possibly one of the greatest running events on the east coast!  No lie!  Everything is relative, so I am allowed to be subjective about this, no?

The event is called The Towpath "Train"ing Run.  I believe it was the 13th annual of this event.  It is put on by my running club, The Raritan Valley Road Runners.  The prime mover for this event is Mr. Ray Petit.  Ray is a past president of the club (as am I), and still is the leader of our weekly Saturday morning runs year round on the Delaware-Raritan Towpath.  Ray is also back on the board of directors of the club.  He is a regular voice on all club issues both online and off.  Not many people put as much of their time and their life into the club as Ray does.

Last year I ran the full event, which starts in Trenton and goes to the Landing Lane bridge on the border of Piscataway and New Brunswick, NJ.  It is 34+ miles of running.  It is an amazing event because it is fully supported and it is non-competitive.  It is more of an event of cooperation rather than competition.  The theory is that as the event progresses, more runners "board the train" at different "stations".  The train is the continually snowballing group of runners, and the stops are the various road crossings of the towpath.  Due to this cooperative nature of this run, people can run a lot farther than they would normally.  Additionally, the pace is controlled.  Runners decide to run on a 10:30, 9:30, 8:30, or 7:30 per mile paced "train".  The train "departures" are timed to converge at the end of the event.  Running a selected pace at or slower than one's normal training pace is much easier on the body than trying to run a marathon at a fast goal pace, for example.  You might know how painful the last few miles of a marathon can be at a fast goal pace, and how the your legs can hurt for the next week.  This does not happen with long mileage on the Towpath Train!

This year I knew I was not in the shape I was last year.  Plus I am daily dealing with this phantom pain in my right ankle.  But I wanted to start in Trenton, because I run that part of the towpath less frequently than the portions north of Princeton.  I figured I would go as far as I felt like going, then catch a ride to the last "station" to finish the last couple of miles with everybody on the converging "trains".

I went to bed much too late the night before.  It was about midnight.  (Yes, I am weak and stupid: I was watching the 2nd showing of the season premiere of one of my favorite TV shows, Whale Wars.)  I had 4 hours of sleep for the 4 AM wake up required to get to the 5 AM departure from Grove 5 in Johnson Park.  I rode in Ray's car with Vince to the 6 AM start in Trenton.  (The D-R Towpath used to really "start" at Mulberry Street in Trenton.  It is now fully connected via a rail-trail paved path that parallels US-1 to the section that runs northwesterly along the Delaware River.  The connection was completed during the summer of 2010.)

I had some stomach problems the entire day.  I think I was being lactose intolerant from the Rita's Custard twist cone I had the night before.  Let me just say, I had to use the weeds on the edge of the towpath for a "dewdrop" before the beginning of the run, and again later on just south of South Bound Brook; not to mention the Porta-John at Weston Causeway... 'nuff said.  But it was, none-the-less a factor in the final distance I was able to cover comfortably.

The biggest factor in the distance I was able to cover was the pace.  I really had no business starting at the 8:30/mile pace.  If I had gotten up earlier, I could have been on the 9:30/mile train.  That is where I should have been, given the training pace I have been running this year!  It was definitely a relatively fast run for me; I was feeling uncomfortable for the first few miles, and again from miles 11-16, when I decided to take a ride.

The biggest factor in me being uncomfortable from miles 11-16 was the result of wearing VFF's.  Much of the towpath has been nicely resurfaced with cinder-like surface.  However, the section from a little south of Princeton through Blackwells Mills Road has more gravel, much of it random.  This began to hurt the bottom of my feet, even with the VFF's on.  I had an especially tender spot right behind one of my toes on my left foot.  It was like every random rock hit a nerve there.

So I called it quits at Griggstown Causeway.  Helped out with the water stop there.  Annette drove me to South Bound Brook, a major refueling stop.  We set up the water stop there.  I felt very recovered, and that section of the towpath is in great shape, so I joined the 9:30 train.  The second portion of my run felt much easier at this pace.  Yes, again I was wishing that I started at that pace.  It was so nice to be running with so many people I know.  So by the end of the day I did 22.5 miles of running.  At the end of the day, 15 people ran the full 34 miles.  Something like an event record, in this, it's 13th running.  Total mileage was the most ever also.

I was happy to have to milestones, of sorts.  This was a record distance in VFF's for me.  And the last time I went this far in one day was this event last year.  I had not been over 10 miles in 2011!

At the post-run picnic, much fun and beer was had.  Plus, the actual "Miracle on the Hudson" airplane parked at Johnson Park.  It was on its way to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garmin 405 at Amazon is only $183 Shipped!

I thought that was a pretty good price...   Great deal on 'Garmin Forerunner 405 [$183 shipped!] Water Resistant Running GPS With USB ANT Stick (Black)' by Garmin

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yea, I Know... But there are some great minimal choices here.

Save on shoes, accessories, handbags and apparel at We've got something for everyone and for a limited time, you can save $10 on that special something. Valid on purchase of $50 or more.

Suggest the Merrell Trail Glove and True Glove.  They are $109, but you will get them for $99, with free shipping!

Suggest the Saucony Kinvera.  They are $89 but you will get them for $79, with free shipping.

Suggest the Saucony Killkenny. They are $54 but you will get them for $44, with free shipping.

Suggest the Saucony Low Pro.  They are $44 but you will get them for $34 if you add some socks, with free shipping.

OR just get some flip flops!

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Email Made My Day

I received an email from a friend that I mostly hung with in 7th - 12th grade.  I am a year older than he, and have not seen him in about 10 years.  Here it is, a little edited:
I am on a flight to Orlando for business reading Runners World and reminiscing. In 13 days I will line up to run the Boston Marathon as a 50 year old 3:35:13 qualifier. 13 days later I will guide a buddy in his first marathon in OKC.

It was you who started this in September of 1974 when you suggested I give X-C a one week chance. I'll never forget showing up at the first practice in cut off jeans and sneakers unable to finish the 2 mile warm up!

Three years later my friend, Coach S. entered the scene and brought my enjoyment of running (and performance) to another level.

Here I am 33 years later back at it, running for a cause, my son Jeff. At the end of this month I will have raised almost $200,000 for the A-T Childrens Project since 2003. My thanks to you for inspiring me so many years ago.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We Started It :)

I have been running barefoot for a long time - summer of 04. But I don't do 100% of my mileage barefoot. My barefoot running mileage varies from about 0% in January and February to about 33% in the summer. I built into barefoot slowly back in 04. The rest of my running mileage is in those "minimal shoes". I will admit that in really really technical rocky trail situations I even still use something called a Brooks Cascadia - sometimes I screw sheet metal screws into the bottom of those Brooks when it is icy.

So why don't I run 100% barefoot? It is because I can not run fast enough for good race times when I am barefoot. Shoes allow me to break the rules of barefooting, yet allow me to have all the efficiency and injury prevention of barefoot training. For me, the sum of part-time barefoot running plus part time shod running is greater than its parts. Training and racing in minimal shoes allows me to focus on my speed and effort rather than where I am putting my feet, especially on rocky trails, but also on pavement. Yet, even in shoes I can run more efficiently than I did in those pre-barefoot technique days. I can go farther, faster, with less effort because of barefoot technique.

I was up to almost 100% barefoot running in spring/summer/fall a couple of years ago. But I was pushing it, so it led to Achilles tendinitis and a couple of broken toes. Perhaps as much injury as shod runners experience. I decided compromise is best for competitive running improvement.

And I do try to live life as barefoot as possible to support the running part.

The reason I am putting forth this treatise, is because I think some barefoot runners simply protest too much. Yes, running barefoot is great! It prevents and cures injuries; it makes people run right; it simply feels good! But barefoot running has come a long way in the past couple of years. There are some great choices for minimalist shoes that were not there before. There are finally better choices than aqua socks, duct tape, hurraches and VFF's. Those choices would not have come into existence without us barefoot runners. When people post about minimalist shoes, or use that oxymoron "barefoot shoes", we should not go ballistic. That makes us sound insecure. We should sit back and smile, knowing we started it all.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove Review

I have been given the privilege of being able to be one of the early users of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove minimal shoe.  I got the shoe in November, just after running the Philly Half Marathon.  I have since run 100 miles in the Merrell Trail Glove on many different surfaces.  I have used it on easy trails, technical rocky trails, grass, roads, on a treadmill, and most recently on snow and ice.  I think Merrell has hit a home run with the design of this shoe!  As that crazy new oxymoron, "barefoot shoe", the Merrrell Trail Glove is perfect.  More perfect than the Vibram Five Finger shoe is for us runners.

Click through the "stack" of photos below or See full size photos here.  Some of the photos are from when they were new, out of the box.  Some of the photos were taken after muddy runs, and some are meant to compare them directly to the VFF and to my favorite Saucony Killkenny XC flats.


The first requirement necessary to promote barefoot-like running technique is one that was long missed by Nike Free designers, for example.  That is, there must be absolutely no additional height from the ground at the heel.  The height of the sole materials under forefoot and heel must be equal.  This has come to be called something like "zero toe drop".  I like to call it "zero heel elevation".  Either way, I think you get the idea.  The Merrell Trail Glove has this hard-to-find quality.  Along with a wrap-around effect in the sole structure at the heel, the Merrell Trail Glove winds up with a totally unobtrusive heel.  Forefoot footsrike comes naturally and easily.  Running in this shoe is similar to running in track spikes without heel wedges.  It is a pleasure, especially for those of us that have real barefoot training mileage in our backgrounds.  If you detest the forced heel-strike of trainers, this shoe will make you very happy!


The second requirement to promote barefoot-like running technique is naturally spread toes.  Too many shoes force the toes together instead of allowing them to splay naturally.  The Merrell Trail Glove performs a dual miracle: There is a toe box that is wide enough for natural toe spread, and the rest of the shoe, from the metatarsals on through the heel, fits like a glove (as the shoe's name suggests).  The result is a shoe that allows your foot to move the way it wants to up front and the rest of the shoe becomes one with your foot.  The fit is accomplished through a unique lacing system and great anatomical design.  Additionally, the shoe's interior is designed to be worn sockless, with materials that are receptive to your skin and with no protruding seams (though I have been wearing it with socks during the winter snow runs).


The third requirement to promote barefoot-like running technique is to have a sole that is thin enough to allow for biomechanical feedback.  You have to feel the ground to run right.  The sole of the Merrell Trail Glove isn't too thick for this, and it isn't so thin that you might hurt yourself when on trails.

The sole of the Merrell Trail Glove is made by Vibram, so I am assuming it will last a long time; I can see little visible wear after 100 miles of running.  It is textured for off-roading.  It does not seem to build up any mud on trails, and has given me no traction problems, even on damp trails and snow.  I am thinking that Merrell should market this shoe as a cross-country flat, because it would function admirably for XC runners.  I plan to race my summer and fall XC races this year in this shoe.  Especially since the VFF has questionable traction on grass.  The sole has enough protection for careful trail running over very rocky terrain.  The first time I used them at Watchung Reservation, which has areas of ankle-killer rocks, I was a little worried and got a couple of ouchies in my arch area.  But once I realized I had to simply keep my eyes open and place my feet a little more carefully, I had no problems.  I am considering using these shoes at the ridiculously rocky Escarpment Trail Run this summer.

I would like to point out the advantage of having one's toes inside the shoe, unlike the VFF toe-glove style.  I broke my toe on a trail wearing VFF's when I kicked a root. The Merrell Trail Glove protects minimal trail runners from this hazard.

Overall, the shoe actually looks good.  I am hoping it comes out in some more aggressive colors for us crazy racers.  I am a little concerned about it SRP, which I believe is $110.  For me, that would be pricey, compared to some minimal XC flats that average around $50.


Merrell is concerned about educating runners about the minimal shoe movement.  They have waited until tis month  after months of research and testing.  Here is a press release about their launch of their barefoot running education web site.  You may click here to go directly to the web site!

Here are some screen caps from my posts about the Merrell Trail Glove on my Daily Mile: