Running the Lilac 5K with Ali

If you recall, I've been doing some running to work up to the 5 kilometer race in The Medved Lilac 10K and 5K Family Fun Run which was today.

I ran a "long" 5K run on Monday and Tuesday, then a "short" 2 mile run on Wednesday, and another "long" 5K run on Thursday [hmm … like a train whistle warning a crossing] before resting up for the race. Well, I did it. And yeah: barefoot. And I even beat 30 minutes, finishing in 29:35 according to the PCR Timing Official Results for this years race (which placed me 397 of 864 overall and 21st among the 31 male 35-39 year-olds). This is great because I beat my 35:58 official time for the Corporate Challenge in 2001.

Ali ran too and, despite admitting not training enough, ran for the whole race and finished in 37:31.

But the remarkable serendipity of our runner numbers was the amusement of the day. We were each given random numbers and she got #123 and I got #321. The odds that I would get the same digits as her number in the reverse order was (given 864 runners) about 1 in 863. If you figure on the specific combination of 123 and 321, that's something like 1 in 745,632. Pretty neat.

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A Rainy Barefoot Run

For those of you following my barefoot running progress, I thought I'd post a couple minor updates.

I just got back from a run in the rain.  It's about 60°F outside and a constant misty drizzle. I decided to try running wearing my swim shorts, figuring they would handle water better than the cotton shorts I would ordinarily be wearing (and so far, only once this year: I'm still in sweat pants for the cool mornings.) Things went very well as I had no trouble with them.

I also ran my practice 5K course (well, more-or-less 5K) for the first time yesterday. I am working up to run the The Medved Lilac 10K and 5K Family Fun Run on the last day of The Lilac Festival so I figured I better get my distance up. In all, it wasn't that hard although noticeably a bit longer than my usual run that's about 2 miles or so.

I'm also following the advice of Ken Bob Saxton (a.k.a. Barefoot Ken Bob) on the The Running Barefoot Yahoo! Group because I've had some ankle pain recently. He said — in response to someone else's comment on the same thing — "I often have ankle soreness, especially when I fail to run on a variety of surfaces, especially surfaces with lots of variation," and added, "the solution is to run on uneven terrain, even if just for 50 or 100 yards, seems to be enough to 'break up' the groove, once in a while." As such, I've been taking a detour once or twice a week to run through the short trail that runs from near The Genesee River-Erie Canal East Guard Lock (440 Kendrick Rd.) into Genesee Valley Park near the bridge over Hawthorn Dr., then continue on through the park on the uneven grass. That seems to have fixed the problem.

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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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Burning Man: WTF?

Sondra and I got on the road on Sunday around 10:30 in the morning, headed for Burning Man. Once we picked up groceries at Smith's (1740 Mountain City Hwy., Elko, NV), we figured it might be possible to arrive just after midnight — a first time for both of us. As it turned out, we arrived around 4 a.m. or so. It was interesting to arrive then, but I much preferred arriving in daytime. We slept on the ground until dawn then hunted down a spot — Bonneville at 5:15 — which was pretty centrally located.

We got the tents and shade set up, then the dust storm started. It was not only a harsh storm by Burning Man standards, but it was relentless. It lasted until dark. We tried getting around to pick up ice and such, but it was nearly impossible to do so. The shade I built got blown down, having snapped two segments of 1/2" water pipe. Fortunately they were just extension pieces so I was able to make the shade again, only it was short enough to hit the tent.

We finally got out to see things at night. I got the chance to try Ecstasy for the first time. It was apparently quite pure (sometimes, I guess, Speed is added which makes one more interested in dancing, or Cocaine is added which makes it suck). I liked it a lot. It created a sense of empathy with others which allowed me to easily put aside feelings of annoyance with others. I tended to look deeply at people and feel bonded with them. Its other dominant experiential effect greatly reduced my awareness of minor bodily irritations — achyness from the day, for instance, but also irritations like holding a flashlight.

Anyway, I started getting tired quite late and decided to head back to camp. Unfortunately I got hit with irresistible tiredness and ended up falling asleep on the way there. I became aware of walking in the dawn and slowly realized that I was not, in fact, dreaming, but experiencing reality. I got back to camp and got some sleep. Tuesday morning I got up and hunted down my trike that I left behind — someone had found it and brought it to their camp on the Esplanade where I found it. The light tube got damaged and the backpack went missing — fortunately only containing some water and a dust mask.

I had signed up to volunteer to work at the sound stage in the Center Camp and I actually made it on-time, despite having not seen a clock in more than a day. I worked the mixing board and learned a lot about using a large board. The performances were not all that interesting, and the four hours went by quite slowly. That night was my night off: each year at Burning Man, it seems I take one day and get some sleep … Tuesday was it this year.

For the rest of the week, things were pretty much the same … relatively pleasant weather and total boredom. Somehow, Burning Man didn't quite happen — it was more like a mock-up of Burning Man where people camp in the desert but don't bother to bring any good art, or try to act with tolerance, or act like a community at all. It was quite strange.

I think "The Bummer" was the art piece that summed up the whole event. It was a 4-times-or-so mock-up of a Hummer vehicle. From a distance, it indeed looked like it was intended, but I had to ask, "what's the point?" I mean, okay: a big Hummer … umm … and? Up close, it was like a plywood clubhouse. It had no detail inside, and it was apparently just dimensionally correct on the outside. I really didn't get it at all — and that's pretty much what all the artwork was like. Some were better than others, but none that I saw exceeded a modest level of mediocrity.

Saturday brought another horrendous day of dust storms. Sondra and I decided to call it quits. We got things packed up in the slightly-less-bad storm that continued into the night and left around 11 p.m., just a bit after they burned the Man figure. By 5 a.m. we made it to The Lovelock Inn (55 Cornell Ave., Lovelock, NV) which had beds and showers. We got on the road on Sunday refreshed and made it back to Colorado by the next night.

Along the way we tried to think of anything good about this year's Burning Man: something specifically awesome — anything, in fact, like what we had experienced in past years. Alas, the only maximal adjective we could come up with is "worst", only qualified by "ever".

Thankfully, we escaped it.

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Traveling through 7 states and one district

On Saturday the 5th, Ali and I got the station wagon packed up and we hit the road toward Pennsylvania. We stopped for a breakfast snack along the way and got a couple of the breakfast wraps from Subway. They were entirely awful and expensive relative to the modest amount of food and low quality. The bacon was chewy like a dog treat, the egg was flavorless, the cheese tasted fake, and the tomato pieces I got on mine had so much dye to make them red that a few drops stained my shirt. What a way to start the vacation, eh?

Fortunately we stopped for lunch at Selin's Grove Brewing Co. (121 North Market St., Selinsgrove, PA) for lunch. It was excellent. We had a buffet of assorted appetizers — all of which were coincidentally vegetarian. Next stop was American Vintage Bed and Breakfast (5740 Thompson Rd., Stewartstown, PA) where we were staying for the night. We planned to relax in the hot tub but ended up talking with the proprietor for a few hours instead on all sorts of things. It was great fun. We were in the area for Ali's niece's and nephew's Baptism and we went to her brother's house later on. We got back to the B&B late but got into the hot tub anyway and had a relaxing soak. I guess technically it's a "spa" which is different from a "hot tub" and different from a "Jacuzzi" — it had water jets and a pump but the water temperature could only go up to 104°F which was fine by me.

Sunday started with an excellent homemade breakfast at the B&B. Then it was off to the Baptism so we went to church for the morning service. It was a "progressive" church so they had a rock band that wasn't bad, although like every other Christian rock band I've ever seen, subtlety and metaphor apparently do not concern the songwriters. The service itself was pretty good although a bit light-handed when it came to encouraging people to be more like Jesus. We were all quite amused at the suggestion to embrace the Holy Spirit by "sucking face with Jesus". I guess it's not just Barack Obama's preacher who says some peculiar things.

Monday morning I managed to squeeze in a barefoot run around the neighborhood. It was hillier than where I usually run and I think that running down a hill is how I ended up with a blood blister on the ball of my right foot. Thankfully it didn't hurt much at all. Later that day we explored an antiques store in the nearby town and went to Brown's Orchards and Farm Market (8892 Susquehanna Trail South, Seven Valleys, PA) which is a neat, sizable farm market.

Tuesday we headed out from there and went to Washington D.C. to visit with my brother, Adam. He was still at work but set us up with parking at his apartment building. He suggested we check out Lindy's Red Lion (2040 I St. NW, Washington, DC) for lunch. We took the metro — the stop is a block away from Adam's apartment — to the Foggy Bottom stop near George Washington University Hospital (2300 I St. NW, Washington, DC). Lindy's had great food at cheap prices. I had their hamburger topped with with fried onions and ranch dressing … so good. From there we started walking.

We passed The White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC) which I found to be a bit creepy because of the security — I had the feeling that everyone was treated like an enemy of the state. Maybe if it was guarded more like a national treasure than like a military compound then I'd think differently. In any case, we headed around the corner and got to the National Mall. Even though it was only an hour before closing, we decided to visit National Air and Space Museum (Independence Ave. SW at 6th St. SW, Washington, DC). There's a lot of cool stuff there — often with descriptions that are just as cheesily written as at any other museum — but the items are things like real moon rocks and actual airplanes.

We headed out from there and went to a few bars with Adam once he got out of work. First was The Big Hunt (1345 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC) which was having a chicken wing special. For some reason, D.C. chicken wings seem to be boiled or roasted and then covered in Red Hot … at least they weren't terrible, just unusual. I was amused at the menu because — along with all the other domestic beers — a Pabst Blue Ribbon was $4. Anyway, we stayed out late and headed back to Adam's to sleep.

We left around noon or so and decided to head back through Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to I-88 to get to my parents' house. The idea was to avoid rush-hour in New York and instead we got to Binghamton around 5 and as such, saw no appreciable increase in traffic. Ali finally got to eat at Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In (5 Schonowee Ave., Scotia) — a locally-run fast food joint that's a de facto Capital District landmark.

Thursday we got going around noon again and headed through Vermont and New Hampshire for a scenic tour to get to see Jan and Shannon in Dover, New Hampshire — right by the little bit of coastline that separates Maine from Massachusetts. Visiting them was the highlight of the trip — it really has been too long. We headed out to a fantastic dinner at The Dunaway Restaurant (66 Marcy St., Portsmouth, NH) that night before returning to go to bed.

Friday we got up and Jan gave us a tour of downtown Dover. A charming little town … although the New Hampshire political climate of "spend nothing, ever" showed. We went to Newick's Lobster House (431 Dover Point Rd., Dover, NH) for lunch. They serve some great seafood: they're right on the bay where it comes from. The place is also huge and looked like it could seat 500 people — and it apparently does quite often.

We left early on Saturday (well, around 9:30 anyway) and headed back through Massachusetts. We stopped by my parents' place one last time before finishing up the long haul back to Rochester. In all it was about 1,500 miles of driving (for the whole trip, silly).

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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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Running Barefoot and Glass

Yesterday I went out for a run and mixed between water-shoes and bare feet depending on whether the pavement was snow-covered or not, respectively. Due to the minor thaw I was even able to get out onto the canal path. It was around 25°F outside. I decided to run barefoot through the snow-covered sidewalk on the last 100 yards down the street. Naturally my feet got extra cold but I'm trying to get increased circulation and I figure the way to do that is to train my feet that they need it — not so bad that I get frostbite, but enough that it's uncomfortable.

Anyway, this morning I got a sharp pain my toe. I figured I'd stepped on something yesterday, although it could have been around the house or any time since yesterday morning. It looked like a sliver of some kind so I dug around and cleaned it out. When I finally got it, I realized it was a tiny piece of glass. I was so excited: I finally got cut on glass! It's usually the first thing anybody says when I say I run barefoot on pavement, "aren't you afraid of glass?" Well usually I don't run through it — I pay attention to the ground when I run. But I guess in the winter I can't see it under the snow so I might get a cut now and then.

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Running, but not barefoot

I got out to go for a run this morning. I figured I'd try going barefoot in the snow that still covered the ground. Well, I barely made it three houses down the street like that. I had read on the Running Barefoot Yahoo! Group that you can use some very minor foot cover (like water shoes or special footwear for barefoot-like running) in such conditions successfully. Figuring I wouldn't be able to hack the snow I had brought along water shoes which helped a lot. I ended up running comfortably for 15 minutes or so (I took a short course to try things out) and found that my feet were a lot warmer than they have been.

I had thrown out the theory that, like the callousing from barefoot running in the first place which seems so counter to "conventional wisdom", that humans might be able to adapt to the cold weather as well. I know this kind of running — well, running in general — does improve foot circulation so it's not out-of-the-question to get to a point where I'm able to run in extremely cold conditions without danger or discomfort.

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