Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Frustrations and Form Work

Everyone here has a car alarm.  For some reason, last night ours decided to go off.  I'm not entirely sure why we have a car alarm - our car looks like a beater.  Maybe it is a beater.

Anyway, the doors locked outside of the market where Nataly was buying diapers and wouldn't re-open.  She was actually able to break in through the back window (effective alarm I know), and drive it home, but now we can't reset the damn thing.  It's incredibly frustrating.  She's supposedly going to call the mechanic who'll hopefully come help us out, but for now I'm not going anywhere - and I need to buy coffee.

On the other side of things, yesterday I worked on a couple of Danny Abshire's form work drills for natural runners.  Similar to the high cadence stuff I've been doing the last several form workouts, I did intervals with 1 minute on and 4 off.  I alternated between high knees and butt kicks.

The high knee drill kicked my but you might say.  In fact, 1 minute long intervals were on the fringe of being too long.  Toward the end of my workout my lower back was screaming toward the end of the interval and I was doing things to compensate.  I should have cut the intervals short, but it didn't occur to me during the workout.  I'll have another chance to be a better self coach.

Got a tough workout on tap for today and I'm feeling tired.  We'll see how that goes.
Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Not sure what to say in this post.  Gotta get something down, but what it is...?

Cuevas is the reason I agreed to move to Bolivia.  It's spectacularly beautiful and now it's my job.  This past weekend I went up there by myself to visit with the caretakers, Vilma and Hugo.  Without their help, Cuevas would just be another beautiful curve in the road, with it Cuevas pretty much takes care of itself.

Hugo has said he wants to show me how to get on the highest peaks.  That'll be great: now to make the time.  It's my hope that after a few months of regular running and exploration with Hugo, I'll be able to take people on guided treks (or runs - anybody want to come with?).  English exclusively (or butchered Spanish I suppose).

The pictures attached to this post are from my run yesterday.  The road was quite muddy and probably wouldn't have been too terribly much fun to trek for prospective tourists, but the scenery wasn't very much diminished.

At no point would I say I was terribly "in" to this run.

I decided to try out some new/old gear for this one to see if it would serve for my longer runs when the weather gets hot(ter?).  It was an older version of the GoLite Hydro Cruise pack.

I have a GoLite Slant which I like very much, but this thing, while nice for the greater water capacity and day hiking, is an absolute no go for running.  Damn thing bounced around for my entire 2 hour run and I just couldn't stop fiddling with it.  Very distracting and now I have some chafing I have to attend to. CamelPack it is for my long runs this coming summer.

Anyway my run yesterday took me down a road toward "Palermo".  As near as I can tell Palermo is a town not on the map.  It certainly isn't on Google Earth, though you can make out the road.  Check it out:

If you click over to Garmin's site, you can also see the file from my run on Saturday.  I didn't take any pictures because I got out late and it was getting dark, I've done this run before and I've got some pics, but don't really want to look around for them - sorry.

Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

Week in Review: Jun-20::Jun-26

Another tremendous week in training, though toward the end I was feeling a bit tired.  In terms of volume and intensity, things were ratcheted up a notch from last week’s un-structured training week. 
I actually had one workout which specifically targeted heart rate zone 3.  To translate that into actual pace and distance terms, the upper part of Zone 3 is probably the zone in which my marathon will be run in November.  The good news from that workout, when I was running on flats, I was ticking over a pace in the low 7s. 
This brings up the other thing I ruminated on while running this week.  Dengue took all of this weight from me and I had been wondering if I’d see any performance gains.  Well, I can comfortably say:  I’m at least a minute per mile faster than last year at a similar point in training. 
Here’s a chart:
For more detail, read on:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Problem with Porcupines

I had the good fortune to meet Geoff at the finish of the Steamboat 50 last year.  He'd finished his race something like 3 hours earlier, but was still hanging out eating pizza and talking to the other competitors while taking care of his girlfriend's daughter.

Were I still in Boulder, I'd probably have encountered him more than once in the mountain parks, but alas that is not to be (for now at least).

Good luck today, Geoff.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guess I've gotta come clean

Ever since crossing the finish line at Run Rabbit Run last year and thinking to myself, "I could actually keep going," I've been thinking about doing a 100.  I haven't said much about it (here) because I haven't really wanted to say anything "permanent".


Monday my wife accepted a new position with a new institute.  In fact, she's the boss.  Now we are one hundred percent set for the next several years.  When we moved, we'd hoped that she'd get set up with a job like this one sooner, but she just needed a bit more time.

This means I've got time to run.

Look at that buckle...
Today I was looking at the website for the Keys 100, an ultra that starts in Key Largo and goes to Key West.  I first came across this race when Googling for "Florida Ultras" some time back and I mentioned it to an old friend - Running Moose.  They haven't opened registration for next year's race yet, but I'll be one of the first entrants for sure.  Hopefully he will be too - I haven't seen Mr. Moose since High School...

Anyway, the reason I mention all of this stuff is that I was reading race reports this morning from the 2010 race and came across the wiki of Jonathan Savage, 2010's Keys 100 winner.  He's got a report from the race, but his wiki has so much more.  Really useful stuff for runners.

So now I have 2 race goals for the coming year.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week in Review: June 13–June 19.

First I should say:  This was the best week of training I’ve had since before the Steamboat 50.  I got out for all of my workouts and I completed my workout goals.
My training calendar says that this was an “unstructured week” but in reality I had scheduled several “key” workouts.  Tuesday, form work, Thursday, strength, and more form work on Saturday.
Additionally I had 2 longer runs scheduled on Wednesday and Sunday.  In all, I logged 42 miles of running and got a tremendous core workout in on Thursday.  Here’s a chart:
For more detail, read on…

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On injuries and barefoot running (Part 2)

What went before.  Short recap:  I ran in normal shoes with orthotics and my feet hurt.  I tried Vibram Five Fingers as an alternative to surgery.

Anyway, after my first several runs in my Vibrams, I realized that it was going to be a process transitioning into the new footwear.  I had more than slight difficulty climbing stairs after a run of anything more than 2 miles and my calves would hurt for days afterwards.

But it wasn't all bad.  Something else was going on.  The pain in my foot (self diagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis) started going away.  In fact, within 2 months of twice per week runs of 3 miles, the pain in my foot disappeared in it's entirety.  I was convinced.  Minimal footwear was the way to go.

Then I read Born to Run.

I was even more convinced.

I pretty much resolved myself to becoming a fully minimal runner.  I understood the challenge, given the problems I'd experienced initially, but I thought everything would be fine.

For a while I logged several miles per week actually barefoot.  Why?  I ran Homey to far one day and he shredded his paws.  I decided, "He doesn't wear shoes, so..."

Our next run together was something like three miles bare.  Cool experience.  My feet chaffed a bit on the concrete sidewalk, but overall I enjoyed myself.  I think our longest barefoot run together was in the neighborhood of 6 miles. Several times during these runs with Homey, I got the "look." The "Wait!  That dude isn't wearing any shoes!" look.

After the Steamboat 50 I had nothing more on my schedule for the forseable future.  A sort of ambiguous feeling I might do the Desert RATS trail running festival in Fruita, but no real plans.  I started really ramping my minimal miles.

I remember a run in VT around Thanksgiving.  In fact, I believe it was on Thanksgiving Day itself.  I got out and ran 11 miles in my Vibrams on icy roads.  It was a good run, but the next day I had extreme difficulty going down the stairs due to the pain in my achilles-s.

I backed off my minimal miles and backed off my miles in total really until January when I started logging virtually all of my runs in my Five Fingers.  I developed chronic Achilles Tendonitis.  I still have it actually, though it's improving.  I hope.

I also experienced something else this year.  "Pain in the top of the foot."  I read up on that and quickly decided to take a couple of days off.  That's gone now and doesn't seem to be coming back so we're good on that front.

I'm a habitually shod runner and I've been running as such for the better part of 25 years.  For me the transition to minimal style has taken 2+ years and is still ongoing.  Since April, I log my 2 longest runs in any given week in the NB Minimus.  There isn't a lot to that shoe, but it's a hell of a lot more shoe-like than any of my Vibrams.

One thing that's different recently is that I've really started adding form drills to my workout repertoire.  I run barefoot around the house with my son using a ridiculously high cadence, or ridiculously high knee lift, or kicking myself in the butt, or skipping.  He thinks it's great fun.

I run a mantra through my head while running out on the roads.  Lift up, don't push off; lift up, don't push off; lift up... This is resulting in improvements in my achilles, but a slight tap on the back of my left heel is enough to make me shudder in pain.

The point of all this is that NYT article seems to be dead on in my case.  There's good that can be had from running in normal shoes and good that can be had from running minimally, but there's bad to be had from both too.  If anybody wonders why I don't run barefoot here in Bolivia, take a look at this post.  There are many, many perfectly good reasons to wear shoes while running.

While all isn't roses in this minimal runner's garden, I am going to continue with the experiment until something forces me to stop or I can run pain free.  My hope/goal is to run the Space Coast Marathon in November in my Bikilas and set a worthy marathon PR in the process.

Anyway, thanks for reading and be careful out there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Added a bit of something to the blog.

You can check out my training calendar by clicking on the tab above.  It's shows my scheduled workouts for the next month.  

In the process of laying out my schedule I discovered I had an extra week.  That's cool.  Right now I'll be using it for an additional preparatory week.  Last week didn't go too well from an accomplishing training goals perspective so I'll try to go better this week.

Today I got out and did an hour of form work.  I ran for an hour in my trusty five fingers and on every fifth minute I increased my cadence to the most rapid foot strike I could manage while still maintaining good form (lift up not push off, core engaged, foot strike under center of mass...).  Each work interval lasted one minute.  I look forward to seeing the graph. 

On a non-running note, somewhere in the last 24 hours my cousin found himself on the summit of Denali.  Well done, Dave.  Dave is singularly responsible for my getting into this whole long distance running thing and I can't appreciate that enough.  Perhaps he'll find himself on the summit of a peak here in Bolivia soon.  Huyana Potosi is easily reached from La Paz and a guided climb can be had for under 500 dollars.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Knee Wha...

This post was supposed to be the culmination of my On injuries and running barefoot post, but as luck would have it, I've got something else to write about instead.

So for the last several weeks I've had a "Goth" toe.  It had gotten to the point to where I'd named it Marilyn.  Black toenails are something I'm familiar with, but this one, well, it is different.

I'm not sure when it first developed, but at some point a couple of weeks ago I noticed dried blood caked around the pinky toenail on my right foot.  I told Nataly that I thought I had a worm living under there and she just scoffed.

I kept running thinking it was just a new manifestation of the black toenail syndrome all runners eventually suffer from if they log enough mileage.  Then the toe started to hurt.

I asked Nataly to look at it several times, but she didn't think much of it.  Black toenail.

Finally this weekend, with some good light she looked at it and declared, "I think I know what this is: 'Knee Wha'."  Cool, I have no idea how to spell that!

Supposedly it's a relative of the tick.  It finds callouses and burrows into them, then lays it's eggs.  This particular one chose my pinky toe.  Sweet!

Nataly spent the better part of an hour and a half last night with a needle picking and squeezing at my toe until no more eggs squirted out and more than half of my callous was removed.

Pretty hideous I know.

Running wise.  Last week I ran 10.5 miles on Thursday to La Guardia, Friday I ran laps of my back yard while Deneb slept (1 hour) and Saturday I got 1.5 hours in the hills behind Cuevas.  That "run" totalled all of 4 miles, but I was completely wasted yesterday - sore and dehydrated.  Ended up flaking on my scheduled workout.

I have an off day scheduled today, and given the gaping hole in my toe.  I expect I'll be taking it.  Tomorrow 1 hour and 15 minutes are on the schedule.  Base 1 week 1 is commencing.

Apologies and thanks for reading,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On injuries and barefoot running (Part 1)

Money, it's gotta be the shoes!
So, I've been an advocate of minimally clad running for some time now.  I can often sound like some kind of evangelical preacher when talking about footwear, but the truth of the matter is there are a bunch of pluses and minuses to running with less on your feet.

The blog post "Are we built to run barefoot?" in yesterday's New York Times "Phys Ed" section highlights some of my personal experiences with barefoot and minimal running.  The article is interesting and worth the read.

I started running more minimal when I realized that the custom fit orthotics I purchased while still a member of the CU Cycling team were actually doing more harm than good when running.  I got 2 pairs back then.  One pair was for my cycling shoes.  They locked my feet in place on the pedal and actually provided a noticeable increase in my pedaling efficiency (power output at a given heart rate).

The other pair I got because they were supposed to be good for you; they would help me with my back pain; the IT band issue I was having thanks to the 20 hour weeks on the bike would likely go away.  I wore them alot when I first had them.  Sliding them into every pair of shoes I had.  Back then, I was running during the offseason to stay in shape for the upcoming racing year.  I didn't race much, but when I did, I wanted to be happy with the way I performed.

After a year or two...

During my offseason, I started noticing pain in the bottom of my right foot, especially when I woke up and first stepped out of bed in the morning.  A few times the pain was so sharp I darn near fell over it hurt so much.  A search like this one (keywords: morning, pain, foot, bottom) revealed I probably had Plantar Fasciitis.  Reading the articles, I became even more religious about wearing my orthotics, and even purchased "motion control" shoes:  the Nike Structure Triax.  It took some time, but my foot pain got worse.

I started thinking that the problem was with my orthotics.  The pain felt almost like bruising and the only thing I could think would be bruising my foot were my orthotics. They had almost as pronounced an under arch structure as a pair of Birkenstocks.  I took them out of my shoe.  My pain improved, my miles increased and my pain became more pronounced again.

I decided to repeat the process.  I stripped down my shoes, not the way Anton did with his NB's, but by repeatedly buying shoes more meant for someone fleet of foot.  I eventually got down to the Nike Free 5.0.  Every time I tried a less structured shoe, I found my pain would diminish for a while and then come back.  I was running out of ways to get less shoe.

Much of my migration from a maximal shoe to a minimal shoe was a hesitant acceptance of the stuff I'd read about barefoot running.  I however wasn't ready to go all in and ditch my shoes entirely.  I started considering surgery.

I read about this: Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.  Google it for more, but here's a link to an abstract from a paper published in '96.  A key phrase from the abstract:
Each time 1000 impulses of 0.06 mJ/mm2 were given around the heel spur.
What does that mean?  Well a millijoule is one-thousandth of a joule and a joule represents the energy necessary to accelerate a 1 kilogram block through a distance of one meter.  When boiled all the way down to it's most dangerous don't try this down at home essentials, this article suggests, that as an alternative to surgery, try hitting your foot repeatedly with a hammer.

Well after reading that, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "I'm already running."

Barefoot wasn't going to happen right away, I had a race to train for and couldn't afford to slack off in the volume, but I Googled barefoot running shoes, and guess what I found.

I bought my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers in the summer of 2009.  My first run in them was 2 miles long and didn't feel too bad.  My second was 3 miles and I could barely climb the stairs at home for 3 days afterward.

I've got what feels like a lot more to say on this subject so I'll cut this off here and come back with part 2 tomorrow or Monday (or Thursday go to Part 2).  This weekend, I'm heading to a land where the internet is nonexistent, but the hills are magnificent.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Garmin TCX files are XML!

Oh freaking yeah!

I can do whatever the frak I want with them!

Graphs of my liking are in your future.

Sorry beforehand...

Overcast and kind of cool.

Got out for an hour today even though I woke with a hacking cough.  It faded as the morning went on and is most likely a lingering effect from the party on Saturday - there was lots of smoke in the air.

One thing which is really remarkable here is how people react to the cooler weather.  As the post title notes, it's overcast and kind of cool, really rather pleasant actually, but the way folks complain about the cold you'd think we're in the dead of winter close to one of the poles.  I just don't get that.  To me, this weather doesn't even warrant a long sleeve shirt and shorts are fine.  Doing the math, it turns out it's actually 71 degrees outside.  Not cold at all, but people are wearing jackets and hats.  When high summer comes I can see I'm going to be miserable.  Oh well.

There was a weird odor outside while I was running.  Sort of like a wet dog.  Not entirely unpleasant, but not real enjoyable either. It was a familiar smell, but I couldn't place it and I'm probably glad I didn't.

Anyway my run was really pretty uneventful.  Lots of sand.  I went 6.75 miles in 1 hour with an average heart rate of 157 beats per minute.  Pretty laid back.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wait! What was that bump?

Saturday was a big day.

I wore a suit.

No really, I did.  Eventually we got home at 3am Sunday and that kind of frakked my running plans for yesterday, but I'll just get out today instead (scheduled rest day).  Bolivians know how to party, Nataly and I were actually home early relative to the others.  Not sure how they do it, and not sure I want to...

Running wise, I decided to take a foray to the West in hopes of finding a road which I thought might have some hills on it.  I was actually looking for one road in specific.  I didn't find it, but had a good time looking for it.  The GPS track in Google Earth helps, and I think the next time I go out I'll get onto the correct track.

This run actually featured the most pavement of any run I've done since moving out of Santa Cruz, but that's mostly because I had to spend so much time on the Highway.  Eventually I wound up on roads like this...

And this sucker (in the distance) was at Mile 6 in my run.  It's short and sweet and slowed me down to little more than a grunt, but it will get visited on a regular basis for the next several months.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, June 4, 2011


...Author's note, this first section was written yesterday on my phone and I don't care to change the date references and such...
This here was arguably the best pizza I've ever made.  Dinner last night, couldn't help but gloat.

I'm currently stuck in Santa Cruz awaiting the magic hour of 2:30 at which time I'll be able to pick up a piece of paper which I needed renewed. Then I'll go wait in another line and hopefully, finally get my residency paperwork finished and off to La Paz.

My run today is a sacrifice to the gods of bureaucracy.  Yesterday though I got a number of running things done.  One thing I've never done is to really work on my form. So I Googled about and found some form drills for barefoot runners. The first link had a bunch of good stuff which isn't terribly surprising considering the author.  While I'm not a fan of his shoes, I am a fan of his philosophy...

The drills consist of things like running in place with a focus on high cadence or knee lift,  butt kicks and jumping rope.  So I spent quite some time chasing and/or being chased by Deneb around the house all the while doing these silly drills (except the rope jumping). He thought it a good time.

I also set up a track consisting of thirty bricks in an oval which I then proceeded to do laps around barefoot. I had thought Deneb would dig this too, but I was mistaken, he rather quickly decided I was working in the (author's note - end of stuff written yesterday) yard and complained "No Ayu-u-da"...

Speed work done, I put on my vffs and got out and ran another 5.5 miles slowly while I thought about picking up my foot rather than pushing off with it.  I actually got in a mile more than I had anticipated because, even though I was tired from the previous 2 days efforts, it just felt good to be running.  I didn't really want to stop.

This photo was taken about 2.5 miles into my run, and the one below is at about mile 3.

Much of my running here is on sandy dirt roads.  Depending on what the weather has been like, the sand can be pretty deep.  Makes for an interesting workout.

Yesterday (really), I finally got my paperwork approved and off to La Paz.  In 3 weeks I'll have a sticker which says I can stay in Bolivia unmolested for a full year.  I was done with that finally around 6PM.  When I called Nataly to hopefully have her pick me up, instead she said, "I've got a few more things to do could you come over here?"

I ran.

Pretty nice spectacle too.  Tan dress slacks, blue cotton button down short sleeve wide open, dress shoes.  More than one person actually laughed at me.  Whatever.  I got 31 minutes running on a day I thought a run would be sacrificed to the gods of bureaucracy - should that be the name of a band?

thanks for reading

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Space Coast Marathon

That's the one.  Maximum elevation on the course is something like 35 feet asl and now I've got 2 more weeks.
I think I'll even go to the pre-race dinner.

Run: 10.01 miles

Got out again yesterday and it was the only thing remotely constructive I did all day yesterday.

This week, I've been trying to get my Bolivian residency status squared away and I was driving into Santa Cruz when I got into a fender bender.  Remarkable it hasn't happened before, but there it is.  Nobody was hurt, but our car has a new ding in the side.

A cop was actually riding in the passenger seat of other vehicle and he said it was the other driver's fault.  I honestly have no idea, the place where we were in the accident is an absolute cluster.  Whatever...

My run yesterday required a bit of willpower to undertake.  I was (am) sore from the run and the raking I did on Tuesday (we've got a big yard).  Eventually though I did get out and 97 minutes later I got back.  Heart rate was high again on the run yesterday, and toward the end of the run I actually gave it a bit of a kick just to see 200 on the tachometer.  I think it's kind of cool to be staring down the commencement of my 41st trip around the sun and still able to hit 200 BPM and not have a heart attack.

Nothing else particularly remarkable about yesterday, today I won't be driving anywhere that's for sure.
Thanks for reading.
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