Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!

I couldn't resist one last run, with a full moon, on New Years Eve, and a Blue Moon at that. The Denver Trail Runners only went 6.5 miles, and we didn't push. It was worth it.
My plantar didn't like it, and my sprained ankle was getting torqued on the uneven and unpredictable footing, but it worked out. It was great weather. Not too cold, not too windy, and the clouds weren't enough to cover the moon.

With this years incessant injuries, I can't say it was a particularly good year. I managed only on PR. Recovering from the flu, I ran the Salida marathon in the best course conditions ever, which allowed me to get my slow butt across the finish line early. but my year unraveled after that, with plantar faciitis starting during the Moab 100 the end of March and persisting throughout the rest of the year. PF derailed every race I did after that. I didn't start three races, DNF'd three others, and barely finished what was left.
March was my only "good" month, with 221.5 miles.
October was the worst, with only 16.6 miles. My PF would wake me in the night with spasms.

The competitor in me is very bummed. I was really starting to get fast. I was starting to finish in the single-digit percentile of the mass of contestants.
The Zen in me, though, remembers too many lives I've lived that were no so well. I've still managed to do more this year than any other before I turned 45. Even with PF, I'm as mobile as any normal person. I'm not normal, so it doesn't suit me to be so sedentary. It sure beats being partially paralyzed, like I was ten years ago. It sure beats lots of other situations other people have had to endure.
So I still feel pretty lucky, overall, if I don't think too greedy.

I only managed 1265.2 miles this year. That averages out to less than 3.5 miles/day. That's still 2.5 miles/day more than I ran five years ago or any other year of my life.

The graph tells the story of my year pretty well...

Tomorrow, I leave on my one-week vacation. Since my ass hurts all the time, from biking and rowing and sitting, I'm not going to bike. Before I made that decision, though, I did the heaviest maintenance on my bike I've ever done. My PF isn't good enough to run double-digit mileage. So I'm heading into the snowy, frigid mountains with my toboggan to camp, howl at the moon, and watch the snow fall.
Then I'm coming down to stay in a hot springs. I'll soak, and hike, and read, and get massages.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope this new decade is better and brighter than the last.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Still pondering the options for my 50th birthday week of adventure.
My plantar is not good. It's still better than it was two months ago, and it's still on-the-mend. It's just not mend-ed. Trying to do 50 miles would be possible, but it would set me back to square 1. No more square 1!! I've had enough of that!

The Grand Canyon is out because my plantar can't tolerate any steep descents.
In fact, I'm not keen on staying in any national parks because they have too many rules. I want to enjoy myself, after-all, and going from a city to another place with a bunch of rules just sucks. So if I enter a park, it will be temporary day-use only.

I'm looking at mountain biking alternatives, even though the nerves in my ass and hams shoot shafts of pain for weeks from such activities. Cabin fever says I must get out, and I feel I must deserve my 50th birthday. It's hard to feel deserving spending it all between hot tubs, massage tables, and bars.
Don't get me wrong - I intend to spend appropriate amounts of time there also! I just haven't made up my mind where to go, yet, and it may be decided as I'm driving out of town.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vibram Five Fingers

I bought some Vibram Five Fingers 9 days ago. In that time, I wore them at home a couple of evenings, and then I walked to the grocery store and another time to the coffee shop. Tonight, I went running at Wash Park. The trail around Wash Park is flat and manicured, so no worries about twisting my sprained ankle (from my Thanksgiving run), and no sharp rocks or tree roots to worry about poking my feet.

I figured running in Five Fingers would take getting used to. It's not quite like I expected, though. When I think about it, my hips, thighs, and core tighten up. When I don't think about it, my hips open up and it seems so natural. For one thing, there's no annoying 1"+ padded shoe heel that keeps reaching to the ground each step. You can actually step more naturally under your knees without your heel "landing" from some stupid shoe design.

On the other hand, without the padded and structured shoe under your foot, your foot has to work harder, and it takes more abuse. Five Fingers are part of a process - not a final solution. They're little more than rubber slippers, but the toes keep your foot from sliding around and giving you blisters.

A warning about sizing...
I normally wear a size 10.5 shoe. for ultra-running, I wear a size 11. Manufacturers vary in how they size their shoes, so I might wear anything from size 10 to 11.5. I figured that Five Fingers were supposed to be worn barefoot, with no socks. Since I intended to wear Injinji socks, I figure I'd be wearing at least 11.5 for Five Fingers. Well, not even close. I ended up with size 10, and maybe I should have grabbed 9.5? I think maybe 9.5 would be too small, with socks. Without socks, 9.5 would be perfect.
So these are not items to buy online. You'd better try these on. (Okay, I know you sneaky readers try things on in stores and then buy them cheaper online!) I get an REI dividend, so I bought them in-store.

Tonight, I ran 2.5 miles without stopping, then I walked a bit to make sure all systems were "go". My feet were sore but they're ALWAYS sore these days, without any running. It was the plantar that I was concerned about, and that seem fine. So I ran some, walked, ran, walked another 2.5 miles.
Total of 5 miles, and my feet feel fine.
My calves are another matter. They have atrophied. They are so sore.
These Five Fingers will exercise muscles you aren't used to exercising, which is a good thing, but that exercise will cause those muscles to tighten up more, which is what caused my plantar faciitis in the first place! So anyone using barefoot running or Five Fingers to help needs to do it as part of an overall program that emphasizes stretching above all else. Seriously, until your PF is gone, stretching, ice, and massage are the #1 therapeutic remedies - not necessarily in that order.

I'm SOOO happy I can run (some)! I know I suck, and my runs are a shodow of the ultras I used to do, but I'm actually able to pick one run each and EVERY week!!!!