Thursday, June 30, 2011
Over the last few days or so it has become clear that with our schedule as it is we either run at 5:00 in the afternoon or early morning. Here in good ol' Des Moines Iowa its starting to get quite warm (frakkin hot) and I have to factor in the heat when we run. It makes it harder to just go out and run smiley when you have the sun beating down on you and the asphalt glaring up from a days worth of heat soaked in. I am having to concede that I need shoes in this heat and its just not even close to being as enjoyable as barefoot. So somethings gotta give. I love to run. Its simple. I love the feeling of propelling myself forward through time and space of my own accord. Its not a matter of wanting to run its now a matter of making the time in order to remain a sane human being.
Remember how I mentioned I am not a morning person.......take a deep breath.... here goes....
Now I feel refreshed, mellow, and ready for the day and not hot and haggard and like I should be singing bad country songs. There has been lots of talk about running smiley lately, hence the blog and awesome group of people, and I vowed last summer that I would not run when I didn't want to. I needed to remind myself of that and take a different perspective since change was in order. I have to make friends with the early hours. Being happy is work sometimes. Its being able to see past the present discomfort and believe that it will change and the good feelings will come.
I now consider you my friend and ally in this whole happiness thing. Thanks for your sunshine and cool breezes and sorry it has taken me so long. I will send out my good feelings to the world in return for your loveliness.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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Thanks to Global Weirding I had the best barefoot run in the rain today. Not very far. Just to the gym and back. It was a very wet run and it was absolutely fabulous! Even the boring asphalt felt amazing. And the puddles!! They felt so good. The ground was warm, but the water on top was tepid. All the sharp and jabbies were washed away. Really. It felt a lot smoother to run on. The temperature was perfect. I could not help but have a smile on my face the whole way. This storm we are having right now is pretty tropical in nature so the air was too warm for a rain jacket, but I wore one anyway. For two reasons. One, because it had perfect pockets on the inside to fit my shoes (which are required at the gym) and two, well... I didn't want to walk into the gym looking like I just participated in a wet tshirt contest. Ha!
|Post run/workover portrait|
Monday, June 27, 2011
For more, see A Rose By Any Other Name
|Mile 80 and running into the night|
|A wonderful finish. Jason finished in 23:39|
Jason we are all extremely proud of you. Well done Mate!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes."
Yeah I will get my coat (That phrase DOESN'T work unless you have watched "The Fast Show")
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
If you are a scientist working in robotics, please for the sake of all humanity, don't program good running form and bio-machanically efficient foot-strikes into your killer military bots. Thanks.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Right now, I’ve been unhappy with teaching. I don’t know if it’s an early mid-life crisis or an existential crisis, but lately I’ve been feeling less and less satisfied with my job; not dissatisfied as in bored, but as in filled with despair. Teaching what journalists like to classify as “at-risk youth” can sometimes feel like emptying the ocean with a spoon, that there is an endless capacity to put in effort and emotion and time and dedication and yet no matter how much of yourself you pour into it you still come up far short. In the last year and half, as I’ve made room in my life for Nat, I also feel like I’ve been letting my teaching slip, and that after 9 years I’m not nearly as good of a teacher today as I was three or four years ago. I’m feeling burned out, and even more so because I’m not sure if being less dedicated has actually had any negative effect on my students – the only thing more disheartening than thinking I might be giving less than my all is the thought that trying harder and caring more isn’t so much a virtue as a waste of effort.
This is all merely preamble to another post on why I am so devoted to running right now. In some ways it is an escape: from the stress of teaching, of being a father, partner, son, and whatever roles and responsibilities that weigh on me at times. It’s therapy and meditation, an empty place where the mind can rest on tranquility and emptiness. I’ve written many times about running as a variation on Buddhist meditation, and I’ve never felt that to be more true than right now. Yet anyone who practices mindfulness meditation knows the fleeting nature of moments of pure emptiness, of the void, how the mind, out of its lifetimes of habit, by nature seeks out thoughts and worries to work over, like an old Catholic woman running rosary beads through her fingers.
Today I did a short run home after work, just 3.5 miles from High Street, and as usual it was exactly what I needed. There was a cold drizzle falling when I left my school, but by the time I climbed up from the subway in Brooklyn it was merely a high-overcast; still chilly and windy, but not wet. I ran fast and left my school-related worries behind, but like an untrained horse, the mind strives to toss off the reigns of mindfulness and seek out its own well-worn course, returning again and again to those shards of anxiety that have worked their way beneath my skin. The danger during meditation is that one is so accustomed to thought, so habituated to following a worry or fear or desire towards its conclusion, that one can chase a thought down the path of consciousness quite a while before one even becomes aware of it. Today I ran, I reached a place of levelness and peace . . . and then the memory of a specific student would arise in my mind’s eye and before I knew it I was playing an argument over and over in a loop in my mind, levelness and peace gone before I even had a chance to tell myself to stop. Then a conscious effort to set it aside, to return to my breath, my feet, the broken sidewalk in front of me, letting the evenness of the run wash thought aside . . . and then another frustration begging a mental fantasy of rebuttal holding out the promise of catharsis yet actually delivering only increasing frustration and unharnessed emotion.
At one point in the run, my mind wandered into composing an e-mail to two of my former students whom I am particularly close to – my daughters, as I call them – some overly-wrought, dramatic epistle telling them I was giving up, that I couldn’t teach any more, and before I knew it I had worked myself to the point of tears: the furthest possible place from the meditative state I was seeking. So I ran harder, pushed myself into a sprint, held it as long as I could, leg muscles screaming and lungs burning, and eventually my body drowned out my mind. It might be crude, but there is a reason that mendicants and monastics have always found self-flagellation to be an efficient aid in meditation: it’s hard to think when you are having a hard time breathing. I eased back into an easier pace, and for the rest of the run I was fine.
I think another reason I like running right now is because it’s a discrete, self-contained effort: you know when its going to end. If it’s a casual run, I know I’m doing 3 miles, 6 miles, 12 miles, that there is a certain distance or time left, or a definite destination. If it’s a race, there is an even more obvious end-point: the finish line. In the rest of life there are no set distances, no lap-splits, no finish line (at least, not one that most of us are eager to reach). When things get frustrating or hard at work, when balancing teaching and parenting and life seems overwhelming, there is no simple reprieve on the horizon. In a race, on the other-hand, the goal is clear from the outset, and there comes a point when you pass the last mile marker, then you can hear the sound of the finish, the cheering and clapping of the waiting crowds. That’s when, as tired as you are, you push even harder, as you know there is no need to hold back, no need to keep a reserve of energy, because you can just pour your heart and soul into this one last effort before resting. There is no point to running, it serves no purpose, and yet you throw yourself into it wholly and without reservation.
In one way, then, racing is an escape from the unbroken race that is life. On a deeper lever, however, it is not so much an escape from life as it is training forlife. Before you run a 5K, you run a mile; before you run a marathon, you spend weeks on shorter runs, building up your speed and endurance. When you set out to run 26 miles, it seems impossible, just as the sweeping vistas of the next five, fifteen, or thirty years, when taken in all at once, are daunting. Running lets you tackle one, small, nicely delineated obstacle at a time; it lets you practice pouring your heart and soul into an activity that would be worthless, save for the fact that you have chosen to give it value.
“The end of the race is just a temporary marker without much significance. It’s the same with our lives. Just because there’s an end doesn’t mean existence has meaning. An end point is simply set up as a temporary marker, or perhaps as an indirect metaphor for the fleeting nature of existence.” What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Murakami
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Its just the best when you put on some great shoes and start running right out the door. Quite a bit of glass as well as debris from recent storms are littering my route to the cemetery so shoes get me there safely.
The Cave by Mumford and Sons was the first song to come on the playlist. Yes I sang out loud. Halfway up the block I played with a puppy. I had to be mean and try and shoo him home but after a while he got tired running with me and went back home. I figured I would take him to his home later if he followed me all the way but he just wanted to play for a little while.
Had to go around a train but I had the Nada's on so I could bomb down this road without worrying although I could still feel everything just not as intensely. Took the back way into the cemetery which gave me the privilege of leaping over ditches and a stream.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
82 degrees and barefoot. I was running smiley intending to do 10 miles but only did 3.2...NOT because of the heat, because a neighbor stopped me and started to jabber jaw. I'm friendly, but I hate being distracted from my run. Dudes, Dudettes, proper etiquette should be DON'T bother the runner. I hope this doesn't get me kicked out of the Run Smiley collective :)Is there a Tshirt that say "Please Leave The Runner Alone" LOL :)
Thursday, June 16, 2011
|Note the rough aging pavement just perfect for improving asphalt tolerance.|
Guess where I sat for dinner?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Today I decided some tunes while running were in order. It happens every once in a while, though I try not to get used to it because very few races are cool with mp3 players on course and I don't want to link music to my runs. Normally, when I go from a run with music there is a very specific type I'm pumping into my skull at full volume.
Something like this:
Today, however, I decided to mix it up. I was looking for a fun run. So I went with this:
That is correct, ladies and gentlemen. His Weirdness himself, "Weird Al" Yankovik. Because if you want to feel goofy and enjoy yourself during pretty much anything it's hard to do better than Al.
As a rule, when I run with music I don't sing along. It's not that I'm worried people around me will think I'm crazy, it's just that I don't have the air to spare. Tell me though, how am I not supposed to sing along with this:
Impossible, I say!
The album this song is on, the album I was rocking out to today, is called Running With Scissors. How freaking appropriate is that?
Songs about Jedi, Grapefruit Diets, and the great city of Albuquerque got me through the run with a smile on my face. Did I bust a few moves? I may have. I may also have spun my visor around during my first listen through of All About the Pentiums to be more gangsta. Because around here at Dirtbag Fitness HQ we are nothing if not gangsta.
Oh yeah, I ran for 48 minutes, I have no idea how far I went or what my pace was, because I didn't care. That wasn't the point. Getting on the road and trying to enjoy a run was. And I think I succeeded. Booyah.
Jason Robillard from the Barefoot Running University AND the Author of the Barefoot Running Book, is giving away free downloads of his e-book.
The site page for the download is here
Won't be there for long... so go on.. download it and Run :)
Monday, June 13, 2011
|This was the "Hill" we were running.|
Not once but twice. Looks small huh?
Remember this photo was taken
from a distance of over 1 mile away
The week before had been interesting. I had not been feeling 100% and on the Saturday I was quietly hoping I would have an email from Simon saying he wasn't going. I would then crawl back into bed. No luck. As the race is only 15 mins away and is so small, there are no huge cues or line-ups. I didn't crawl out of bed till gone 7AM, so it wasn't as if I was losing sleep. This is pretty much heaven as racing goes.So after the usual pre-race stuff that kind of happens, I get to the race site at about 8:20, register and wait around for Simon. We were planning to meet at 8:30 and I had a few minutes waiting and praying that Simon turned up. Otherwise I was running 9.8K and 2,000ft by myself!
|"Little and Large" a.k.a. Simon and Me.|
So off we went on course and after talking to another running friend of mine, (Megan my trail running hero) we had a little more idea of the course. She mentioned that the last hill was a monster and that one of the main problems is that some of the downhill descent is in the form of a "V-shaped" gully. You have to run down the 25% angled sides with no level path and it's tricky.
The first 1-2 miles was all descent. During 1 mile there was a descent of about 1,000ft. Then immediately after there was an ascent of about 900 ft, again over about 2 miles. The first descent was a blast. We had to take it slightly slower than we would have liked as we were still in a small pack of runners. I didn't mind this, it just meant I had to chill out a little and enjoy the scenery. The track although not as rocky as the last race did have these sections of gully which I did not handle well. About half-way down I nearly fell but managed a fancy little "Bum-bounce" on the side of the gully and was back on my feet without missing a step. Alright, the fact I "almost" fell was not showing my trail-head cred to Simon, however, I have to admit I was fairly impressed by the gracefulness of it. I am not a graceful person, but I liked to pretend that this was a sort of move I perform ALL the time whilst trail running. *cough* In vanity we lay our own disaster!
The first ascent was a daunting reminder that I sucked at hills. I am reminded that I should do more hill training and that Simon was better at hills than I was. Okay, he is 6ft 3 and I am 5ft 2. He does have a little advantage in that he doesn't have as much leg turnover to cover the same ground. However, both of our ego's were beaten when on the start of our first ascent we were passed by the leaders starting their second ascent. (The leader was a guy called Oliver and he won the 10K in 43 minutes - I mean that's not right. That's almost inhuman).
We walked/ran a little up the first ascent. We had picked up some "shot-blocks" that they were giving away at the first aid station. We had both decided NOT to take anything with us on the race, so we did need to take in water and food at each station. I've never had shot-blocks before and I must say, overall if I was reviewing them... my conclusion would be, they are impossible to open whilst moving. It took Simon and I over 1K to get the blasted packet open. The contents were okay, but not anything special enough to warrant the almost animal behaviour we had to produce to open the packet. Teeth, nails, even growling at the packet did not work.
It became apparent during the first few KM, that Simon had a clothing problem. I like smiling during my races and it always made me smile seeing Simon try and pull his shorts up. Sorry Simon, but it was funny.
I kept mentioning to Simon that he didn't need to hang around with me, that if he wanted to go faster he could. "Likewise" he said and we settled into an even pace as we hit the second descent. Half way, down the second descent I was VERY pleased Simon decided to stick around.
We reached the "V-shaped" gully descent again and with the legs getting tired it was harder for me to stay on my feet. Today was all about falling over it seems. All of a sudden, my foot decided to go one way, my knee went another and the rest of my body went in a different direction entirely. There was a crack from my knee and I landed face first. The immediate pain was intense. I knew I had done something and it took a couple of minutes of staying still before I got a handle of what had happened. The bodies natural painkillers took over and Simon offered his hand to pull me up. I gingerly tried it and although sore it seemed okay. I told Simon he could go on, but he decided to stay. This was when I was on the receiving end of "his perfect race"
Simon could have gone and easily run quicker than me. He didn't. He didn't have to walk as much as I did, but he did anyway. He stayed, he kept MY pace and he ran to keep ME company. If it wasn't for him there, I would have gone to the next volunteer and stopped. I knew my leg wasn't the best and for safety I would have quit, but knowing Simon was there, I carried on. I knew if it got too much then I could stop and Simon would get help, but as I had that safety net, I knew I could carry on. He didn't make a fuss, or make me feel guilty about holding him back. We just ran a little, walked a lot more and had a laugh. At that point I realised that those moments you make when you concentrate on the people you are with and NOT the numbers DOES make a difference. I would have been on course for a DNF, but Simon with his quiet friendship meant I could go on. I am very thankful he was there, more so because it validates my thinking that putting other racers before your own goals DOES mean something.
At the aid station second time we spent a few more minutes than before joking with the volunteers. The female volunteer kept saying we were looking great and fantastic. I was covered in mud, my knee must have looked a sight and my leg was full of grazes. I did a look of "Yeah right!" to another volunteer and we had a bit of a laugh about it. We were about 2.5K from the end and about to hit the last ascent of about 800 feet - including the stretch of Cardiac Hill (as we found out it was called). At this point my sore knee was causing me not to pick my feet as much and I stumbled again. I have only fallen on a trail once in over 12 months before this race and here I was flat on my back AGAIN, grinning. I gave a shout "Really? Come on? Are you serious?" to the sky above. Here I was trying to show Simon how to run a trail race and all I showed was that I was exceptionally good at falling over! Simon took a stumble a few meters on, but I think he did that on purpose just to make me feel better. :)
Post race. I am sporting the new fashion.
The clock said 1:30 at the end and after grabbing a cup of water and some fruit I headed to the aid station to get some ice for my knee. Now I had stopped I could feel it stiffening up. The Snow Patrol station iced and bandaged my knee up telling me I needed to get it seen to. I waved off that concern, thinking RICE would sort it out. It wasn't until the next day when my leg looked like a small bomb had been placed under my knee and exploded and my knee was replaced by what appeared to be a large potato did I go to the ER.
Do you think I did something to my knee?
This was taken in the ER. Hoping it's not
the predicted Cartilage damage the ER
doctor thinks. :/
Our final time was 1:26 and we were about 8 mins behind my running hero Megan. So overall we actually didn't do a bad time. Despite my fantastic fall I still enjoyed this race. I still had fun (even after my fall) and I can't wait to hit the trails again.