Running the Lilac 5K

It's been a while since I mentioned running, but this morning I ran the Lilac 5K. I do it each year to get an idea of my average pace and how it changes year-to-year. Since I haven't been running nearly as much as I did in past years by this time, I knew I'd be a bit slower. (And yeah, still running in bare feet.)

The results were posted earlier today and I was #355 of 1148 runners overall with a net time of 28:25 for a pace of 9:09/mile. I finished #205 of 486 men, and 19th of 47 male runners in my age group. Last year I was a little faster.

Ran the Medved Lilac 5K

It's been a while since I blogged — and a while since I ran a 5K race. I ran the Medved Lilac 5K; barefoot, naturally. I completed it in 28:21 "gun time" although they now record net time (from the start line) which I did in 27:56 (which, of course, means it took me 25 seconds to get to the start line.) From the official results, that was 296th of 1,076 overall, 175th of 418 among men, and 17th of 45 among 40-44 year-old males. In all pretty good, I think — and especially so considering how pleasant the weather was.

According to Google's calculations, the net time sets me at 8:59/mile pace which is good although not a personal best. I've been slowly increasing my mileage since I had to quit a while last year, so I don't feel bad about that time. It at least felt good and it was actually just like a morning run. Except that I had to stand around and wait for 15 minutes rather than just doing it.

One thing I thought was funny was the guy right at the end in the gray shirt. I passed him coming up the final hill but he gave a sprint at the end and got past me. I was thinking "I'm going to beat that guy in the gray shirt" and he was probably thinking, "I'm not going to let that barefoot guy beat me!" Kudos to him for pulling ahead by a second!

The Abrupt Stop to Running

This winter I've been doing quite well without a car. Although the weather has been mild enough to bike, I've mostly stuck to walking. And although mild, it's still cold enough that I put on water shoes to go running most of the time (my absolute cutoff for running in bare feet is 35°F when it's wet out and 20°F when dry; usually I transition when it's warmer). And then it wasn't snowy enough to go cross-country skiing except once or twice. And then I got a dog and we'd run together in addition to one more time walking.

So 20 miles a week running in addition to probably 30 miles of walking started taking its toll. A few weeks ago I noticed my left Achilles tendon was a bit sore. I persevered as this kind of thing happened before and that seemed to be fine. But more recently, I just wasn't willing to push through it to run as the pain became too great. I've dropped to about a mile a week, and will cut back even more. I had heard how the body is typically able to repair damage from normal use as it happens, but if it starts falling behind, the result is a repetitive stress injury. I'm just going to assume that's the case — rest and gentle treatment cause the symptoms to nearly disappear, and aggressive use brings them back.

Fortunately I've found that bicycling doesn't aggravate it nearly as much so I'm switching back to that. In turn, that is motivating me to get the bike projects done that I have partially completed. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to sit out the Lilac 5K this year.

Nonetheless, I see the sexy young women out running these early-spring days and all I can think is, "gosh, I wish I could get back to running."

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

Inevitably whenever I tell someone I run barefoot, the first or second question revolves around stepping on glass. So yes, I do get diamonds on the soles of her shoes. And by "diamonds", I'm referring to things you might find at The Herkimer Diamond Mines, and by "her shoes", I'm referring to my feet.

Yesterday I went running. It was kind-of wet out, and that makes it difficult to spot otherwise-shiny glass on the ground. Later last night I was limping a little and thought it might be a flare-up of plantar fasciitis. Come this morning I figured it must have been something stuck in my foot. It was indeed glass. A relatively big piece, in fact, in a relatively sensitive area. So here it is: the big piece of glass I stepped on yesterday.

a shard of glass as large as the "20" in "2006" on a penny

Soft Star Shoes Kinda Suck

Soft Star Shoes custom "Ramblers" designed by me.

The unique and comfortable Soft Star Ramblers I designed

Back in February of this year, I found out about Soft Star Shoes (521 Southwest 2nd St., Corvallis, OR) from the The Running Barefoot Yahoo! Group. I was impressed that they were minimal shoes to begin with, but more that they could be day-to-day shoes that could be worn comfortably. I actually ordered off-the-shelf to start with in two sizes which they shipped out and allowed me to return before designing custom Ramblers. They were even nice enough to send a swatch book of leather so I could really get a feel for the colors. I picked chocolate brown and purple. I had a minor problem after just a short time with them: one the split uppers was more split on one side than the other. They happily took the return and made a minor fix that corrected the problem.

Well, after just about 1 month, I had worn a hole clear through one of the soles. I don't think I was being unusually hard on them — I probably walked no more than 50 miles. I had also made a point of mentioning that I was looking for a long-wearing sole, as they had several options available. They suggested their thin rubber sole which they said is "durable and will last a long time". Maybe we just disagree on what's meant by a "long time", but I am very disappointed. As such, I decided to make sure "Soft Star Shoes" and "Suck" appear in the title, as that's how I assess new products with a simple Google search.

Car tires cut as shoe soles.

Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 soles are H-rated for 149 miles per hour

However, since I liked the style, I decided to have car tires cut to match the soles and stitch the uppers to that. I had made tire sandals before using a reciprocating saw with a metal blade, but the edges weren't well defined and I wanted holes to stitch through. I decided to go with Nifty-Bar, Inc. (450 Whitney Rd., Penfield) who I use for work for their water-jet cutting services. I provided an outline and asked that small holes be laid out along the edge about 1/4" apart. The water-jet machine made nice cuts through the rubber and various steel belts in the tire.

I took apart the Ramblers and reassembled them successfully with tire soles. I don't think I'll have to worry about wearing them out anymore.

Running the Medved Lilac 10K

This morning I ran the The Medved Lilac 10K, barefoot-as-usual. I actually met one other barefoot runner, Carl, who said that he also knows a third guy who looks a little like me named Mike. Anyway, this was my first 10K — about 6.2 miles. I have been averaging 4.5 miles 4 days a week, and recently added a loop one day a week that increases it to 5.2 miles. The 10K, therefore, is the farthest I've run. I decided to hold back and run slowly to make sure I was doing okay. I turned a 1:02:50 official time (10:08/mile) — it's just 3 minutes or so longer than twice my past 5K times so my pace was right on. The competitive part of the race wasn't my strong suit: I came in 966 of 1,258 overall and 66th of 77 other runners in my age group. I finished with lots of energy to spare so I could have run it a bit faster, although I probably wouldn't have moved up much in ranking even if I did. I also felt very good afterward: not short on energy, but also not sore at all.

Not My Best Run

I headed out today on my morning run and decided I'd expand it a little to see if I could participate in the 10 kilometer part of The Medved Lilac 10K and 5K Family Fun Run rather than the 5K I did last year.  Well, things didn't go so great.  The bottoms of my feet were sore, I abraded one of my toes, and I was getting some rash-like feeling where my clothes were rubbing. I'm not sure it was due to the 3/4 mile I added to the course as much as it was just a bad run. Since the wet morning we had earlier in the week (the one with the snow, hail, and graupel — thanks, Gerry for reminding me of the word), my feet have been more tender and generally a bit out of whack. Hopefully the two days of not running on the weekend will be enough, but I may take a "sick day" on Monday as well. No sense adding, well, injury to injury.

Three Firsts

So here's three firsts [say that three times fast!]: first of December, first accumulating snowfall for Rochester, and first run in the snow barefoot.

Last night we got an inch or so of snow accumulation.  I was excited to try running in it.  After all, I've been practicing as the weather got colder.  But, as it turns out, snow — being largely frozen water — takes a lot of heat to melt, and in turn, it feels really really cold. And as a result, this run was spent most focused on running and on the condition of my body, particularly my feet.

It was kind of funny, actually, because I swear I could hear my cardiovascular system curse in surprise as it attempted to boost blood-flow to my extremities. My feet got much colder, much faster than they do even at colder temperatures, and I kept making sure they weren't losing sensation, feeling hot, nor appearing a color other than pink. I wasn't going to push things too far, so I decided to cut my run much shorter and barely covered more than a mile.

After an hour or so, everything was back to normal. Lucky? Not really. Just careful.

Running in Florida

I decided to go for a run while visiting Ali's family in Florida. I've been eating like it's Thanksgiving, and I realized last night that I couldn't pull it off more than one day in a row. So I went out for a 4-ish-mile run. Being accustomed to 35°F, temperatures approaching 80°F with a 70°F dew-point (thanks, Hurricane Ida), I needed all the extra water I had to finish up. Also, I noticed that there's a lot of dirt that ends up on the roads and sidewalks. I imagine it's because of dust from tires wearing down (my feet were much more black than at home), and because the lack of regular rain to wash it away.

Running the Fight Against Violence 5K Run/Walk with Ali

Ali and I went to The Stay Bridge Suites (1000 Genesee St.) to participate in the Fight Against Violence 5K Run/Walk. There was a good turn-out — I guess quite a bit more than the organizers had anticipated. The race headed south along the River Walk through Genesee Valley Park (Hawthorn Dr.) then back through The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr.) and finally returning to the hotel. I joked that if it were closer to the heart of the 19th Ward, far fewer white people would have showed up.

Anyway, Ali ran it in 36:11 and won 2nd place for her age/gender category out of 6 other runners. There were 6 men in my category but I came in 4th among them with my time of 29:54. It's "officially" listed as 9:39/mile on the PCR Timing site which surprised me because that's slower than my 9:33 pace at The Medved Lilac 10K and 5K Family Fun Run [and this time, I think I was the only person running without shoes … people sure seem to like buying those over-the-counter orthopedics]. According to USA Track & Field (USATF), the course is actually 5.20 km or 3.23 miles, so my per-minute time based on that is 9:11.

I was a little disappointed that the promise of a gift bag from UofR and other post-race items were not available, but I can't fault them too much because the turnout was so high they didn't even have enough shirts for everyone. But you know, it doesn't really matter because we had a great time.