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.

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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."

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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

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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.

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Pictures from Running

I went for a run this morning and brought along my camera.

Along the canal path a recently painted note appeared on the trail. I always get a chuckle out of it: it says, "JPL Lock of Love" in a heart with an arrow pointing to the guard lock and the date 7/5/05.

Painted tag on the Canal Path near the west guard lock that says "JPL Lock of Love" in a heart with an arrow pointing to the guard lock and the date 7/5/05.

"Lock of Love" tag that appeared about two weeks ago.

Then I get into Genesee Valley Park (Hawthorn Dr.). I've always appreciated Frederick Law Olmsted's designs for paths to be varied in an ornamental fashion without becoming inefficiently winding.

A trail heading west in Genesee Valley Park

Heading West in Genesee Valley Park

For months now, I've noticed that nearly every car parking in the lot by Building 520 on The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr.) is in a handicapped-accessible parking space. I commend the University for their progressive thinking to hire people of different abilities. Of course, things weren't always that way.

The University of Rochester Building 520 parking lot shows all but one car parked in handicapped-accessible spaces.

The University of Rochester Building 520 parking lot.

I think it's funny how pervasive cultural norms are. When I say I run barefoot on sidewalks and streets, about 90% of people say, "what about glass?" I seem to be gifted and have an instinct to not step on things. When I run, if I just look toward the ground in front of me, my brain automatically sets my footfalls so I don't step on things — all without thinking about it consciously at all. Of course, when I see glass, I make a deliberate effort to go around it: I'm not concerned that I'll cut myself badly stepping on a big piece, the nearby tiny shards that get stuck in my foot are more likely and terribly irritating.

Broken glass in front of 185 Elmerston

Broken glass in front of 185 Elmerston.

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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.

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Barefoot Running in the Snow (for a little bit)

This morning it was around 28°F and I went out for a run. I guess I went around 1.5 miles, and in the last 300 yards or so, I took off my water-shoes and did it barefoot. The sidewalk was snow-covered and quite cold. But, like the last time I did this on Monday, I felt my feet try to heed the call for more warmth. My theory is that I can increase the circulation enough that I might be able to go out for long periods of time. That, however, won't be for quite a while.

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Back to a "Full" Run

Since I got diagnosed with plantar fasciitis (damaged tendons on the bottom of the foot) last month, I've been taking it easy on running (and yes, still barefoot). I've added the calf-muscle stretches and have been building up my runs — both in duration and in frequency. When I was first diagnosed, I was running about a mile once a week. I've since built that up to twice a week, and today I went out for my "normal" run of about 2 miles.
My bad foot hurt a bit, but it didn't flare up as it had originally. It's a bit sore, but in that stretching/healing kind of way rather than the damaging/tearing kind of way. So far so good … hopefully I'll be back to 3 times a week before the snow flies

Oh yeah, and I had to go back and edit this because I forgot the reason I thought to post an entry in the first place: that I find it so amusing that I make a wake in the air, causing the leaves to rustle behind me as I run past.

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Barefoot Running with Stretches

This morning I went out for another run barefoot. The last few weeks I cut back as my right heel was hurting — I felt it was indicative of an inflammation on my Achilles tendon and my chiropractor — Dr. Karen Santini at The Greater Rochester Chiropractic Office (30 Allens Creek Rd.) agreed. She used a cortisone ultrasound application and suggested I add calf muscle stretches. In a brief search I couldn't find a description (or pictures) of what she had showed me, so I'll have to explain.

She said there are two calf muscles: the gastroc (or, more formally, the gastrocnemius) and the soleus. To stretch the gastroc muscle, stand on a stair or step. Put one foot backward so your toes and part of the ball are on the edge of the step. Keep your calf relaxed as you shift your weight backward onto that foot, allowing your heel to drop below the level of the step. To stretch the soleus, put one foot on the next step as before with the heel hanging off. Keep your calf relaxed as you shift your weight forward onto that foot, allowing your heel to drop below the level of the step.

I gave it a go and it seems the run went fine — if I did shorten it to 15 minutes or so.

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Back to a bit of barefoot running

Just a brief update from the running file: I went out for a 15-minute run and did about half of it with water-shoes on then the other half barefoot. It was about 27°F outside and a light snow had made the ground damp. When I got home, the coldest part of my toes were still only around 50°F. It felt good to get back out there again after a wintry hiatus.

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