Sunday, May 15, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles - Week Ending May 15, 2011

At first glance, this was to be a very exciting week, the weather was to get nicer (Ha, this is Winnipeg, should of known better), I was going to ramp up my mileage again after my muscle strain (double phewee, issues at work got in the way) and this was to be the weekend of 50km Ultra Marathon Redemption (darn flood, we could of ran the course but hip waders and a canoe would have been mandatory equipment). So needless to say, there seems to be a common element from week to week, in my journey of 1,000 miles, overcoming life and everything it appears to be sending my way. Well, all I can say is that perseverance will win out in the end, and I am nothing but persistent (and a little pig-headed to boot).

Now, I expect the weather should start cooperating soon (as May long weekend is nearly upon us), I am bound and determined to not allow work to become a distraction, the flood will recede and leave a pristine course for the rescheduled Inaugural Manitoba 50km Trail Ultra Marathon in August. I am also officially signed up for the Manitoba Marathon next month and confirmation of registration for the Buffalo Runner’s Half Marathon in the foothills of Alberta is slated to open this week. So life is good, and I am having the time of my life, whoever said that life is over when you reach 40. I disagree; Life doesn’t start getting interesting until you reach 40.
So here we go, the week that was:

Sunday May 8, 2011
Barefoot: 2.07 miles
Vibrams: 0.00 miles
Total: 2.07 miles

This was just a quick, short run from the house to meet Nicole and the kids at church; I was hoping to do a little more later. But it was not in the cards, for it was Mother’s Day, and it was all about the wife today. So the kids decided they would surprise Mom with a little road trip out to Narcisse, MB. If you are not familiar with this little jewel of Manitoba, it houses the largest snake dens in North America. Over 80,000 Garter snakes hibernate and breed here, before they head out into the world to travel far and wide. Here are some photos for all to enjoy, a little off topic but what the heck, why not.
Anyway back to the mileage for the day, didn’t do anymore, but I was quite happy with the 2.07 miles I did complete, because they were at a quicker pace and no discomfort from my hip. I was able to average a 9:27 mile, not lightning quick but still good in my books.

Just Leory and a couple thousand of his closest friends

Monday May 9, 2011
Barefoot: 6.65 miles /2.38 miles
Vibrams: 0.00 miles
Total: 9.03 miles

With the success of Sunday’s run, I decided that I would go out for a good paced run at lunch, and I think I achieved that. I left the office and headed out into Transcona proper, through some construction sites, over the railway tracks and cruising down Pandora utilizing the bike path. Made the turn onto Day Street, up to Regent and then west for the return trip. This time I was lucky enough not to get caught by a train at either crossings, so I was able to keep my pace increasing as I went farther. By the time I hit mile 6, I was down to an 8:57 mile, and all I could think was, “I’m back”. In short, I was back to under an hour for the 10km, without pushing it too much. It felt good to release and just run, not concern myself with anybody or anything, just concentrate on putting one bare foot in front of another, and listen to the pitter patter of my soles as they glide over the terrain.

As usual, our Monday night WH3 run was a blast, ran downtown this week. Nothing like running through traffic yelling On On, when you spot a trail marker, makes for some interesting looks from drivers and pedestrians alike. Also must not forget the startled looks on people’s faces when a group of runners just stop and break out into song with actions (right outside a Tim Horton’s no less or by the skate park), can we say ‘show stopper’. A much deserved beer stop at the Forks on the patio for some light conversation about movies like ‘Hot tub Time Machine’ (thanks MD), I did say light. Then of course the trip back running once again through traffic and having a great time prior to circle and a very deserving dip in the hot tub for some relaxing. Overall a great day and night.

Now as per my opening statement, the rest of the week, up to Saturday were pretty much a write off. The weather was awful or work prevented me from going out at lunch (darn site meetings). It even snowed on Thursday, to top everything off.

Now we get to Saturday, ooohhh what fun, this was supposed to be the day of the 50km Ultra Marathon in Spruce Woods, well unless we were all wearing scuba gear or paddling in a canoe, because the water in places was 5 to 6 ft high, check out these photos.

A couple of shots of flooded out Spruce Woods P. Park
(Could this be why the Ultra was cancelled)

Saturday May 14, 2011
Barefoot: 11.75 miles
Vibrams: 19.32 miles
Total: 31.07 miles (or 50.0 km)

Anyway, to replace this Nicole and I decided to run 50km on Saturday around the city and find a route to have Gail and Andy run Sunday morning with us playing the support team. So a very early start of 6:00 am (after picking up the babysitter, thanks Oceane) started us on our way. Now the longest distance I have run is 48.19 km, and Nicole was 45.51 km, so this was going to be personal bests for the both of us. Now to keep with the crappy weather theme, it was quite chilly yesterday morning, so until my feet warmed up, I decided to start with the Vibrams (plus I figured Nic and I should match). This of course carried on till we got to the park and the duck pond, where we had a quick brake before heading back out again. So we headed out from the park, me shoeless and Nic wearing her customary Vibrams. Worked our way to the Assiniboine Forest and down a frozen dirt path back towards Hart’s Trail, with a stop to put my Vibrams back on. With the frozen trail, not really picking up the sharp stones very well, and the concern in the back of my mind that we still had a long way to go and I didn’t want to damage my feet, I figured it would be best to wear the Vibrams until I got more comfortable.

After trucking it across Sterling Lyons we headed towards Fort Whyte to do some more trails. Nic was continuously apologizing for holding me back, in which I continuously responded with, ‘I am where I want to be’, and ‘you’re not holding me back’. Sheesh, what does a guy have to do to convince his wife that he wants to spend the whole day with her (and without the kids too), plus she had the route mapped not me (just kidding). With Fort Whyte and McCreary Road out of the way we headed back towards the City of Winnipeg limits, and Kenaston prior to turning south. From here we followed the new bike paths (some unfinished) around onto Bishop Grandin, past Pembina Hwy, over the Red River to St. Mary’s Road. The half way point was a little dirt clump on the side of the trail just west of Pembina Highway, which will forever mark the spot whether it is there or not (that dirt clump means a lot to me and will not be forgotten). At this point we were at about 20 miles, and it was a straight shot up St. Mary’s to the Forks, for a well deserved pit stop.

Once we finished at the Forks, we crossed Main and headed down Assiniboine Avenue. This was where I discarded the Vibrams again. I really should of taken them off when we his St. Mary’s, but for some reason I was hesitant. Oh well, they were off now, and boy I felt so light in the step, my energy perked, I felt awesome, like I could run forever. I don’t know what it is, but when I go barefoot I feel so energized, like nothing can bring me down, free to just run, my cares and worries just seem to slip away. We passed the 26.2 mile distance with little fanfare (honestly I cannot really recall where it was); as we were focused on finishing the run as we were almost there only 5 miles to go. As we headed down Wellington, I massaged the soles of my feet on the limestone pathway, with a couple gasps from runners and walkers alike. This always amazes me, as this is one of the greatest feelings in the world to run on limestone or gravel; it brings great sensations to tired feet. Just before we hit the park, we passed one of the cities great asphalt road repair trucks (I call it the snuffleupagus, you know the elephant from Sesame Street), one of the biggest wastes of money I have seen. It fills the potholes temporarily with a mix of gravel and tar and makes a big mess that at best lasts till it rains, where the fill pops out and becomes a worse pothole. Anyway slightly off topic, I see this truck go by, and the first thing I think is, ‘Crap I have to avoid sticky tar soon’. Well not two streets later, I end up hitting some and end up with tar on the bottom of my feet and sticky rocks stuck between my toes. Here I am at about 45 km and I have rocks stuck between my toes (3 to be precise), just great. So with little fanfare, I stop to dislodge the stones, and guess what they are literally tarred between my toes, it took me a couple of minutes to wiggle them loose enough to pick them out.

Here we are, getting closer and closer to our goal, with only a couple of km to go, with this in mind we chugged along running thru the park to get the last little bit of mileage in. After a quick detour behind the sculpture gardens and down the path we reached the duck pond with 49.950 km on the Garmin. Crap, so we traveled up and down the paths a little bit by the duck pond (which probably confused a couple of people), to get the last little bit to the goal of 50 km. We did it, it wasn’t fast (a 13:15 mile pace average), it probably wasn’t pretty along the way, but we did it, together. I am so proud of Nicole, she is an inspiration to me, she gets an idea in her head, and she does not stop until she gets it done.

Sunday May 15, 2011
Barefoot: 14.0 miles
Vibrams: 0.00
Total: 14.0 miles

I felt that logging the mileage today was more appropriate to do this week then next, as it will fit the story line better. Sunday was an interesting run, this was to be Gail and Andy’s 50 km run with Nicole and I doing support and pacing. So it started off with a bang, with Gail feeling under the weather and could not go, so Nicole raced to meet Andy at the start for this adventure. This was a really early start at 5:30 am, so Nicole explained the route to Andy and off he went, with Nicole meeting him at strategic locations to make sure he did not get off track. Andy’s pace was really good as he kept surprising Nic as he got to each checkpoint before expected. This carried on all the way to the Waverly and Bishop Gradin intersection, with Andy surprising Nic with how quickly he was getting from point to point. At this pace, he was packing on the miles very quickly.

Nicole left Andy at the Waverly intersection with the next checkpoint at St. Mary’s and Bishop, with the intent to pickup me and the kids and get back there to meet him. Needless to say, Andy beat us there; pretty impressive is all I can say. Anyway, once we got there, I decided that I would start pacing him up to the Forks, and hope that I could keep up with him, since I was still a little stiff from running the 50 km the day before. With not being really sure how my body would react to more mileage the day after the big run, we started out slowly. I must say, after about 100 yards, I felt great, my legs were responding well, my feet felt fantastic, I was pumped to pick up the pace. It took us a little bit more than an hour to get to the Forks as Andy started to slow down a bit, this being very understandable, he was in new territory for mileage. After a quick break we were off again, following the same route as the day before with a slight detour through ‘The Gates’ community to add some mileage up front. We were incorporating a few more walk breaks into the routine as Andy started to wear down, but we were still on a great pace. As we rolled into the park, we looped around the formal gardens and around the perimeter back to the duck pond to meet up with Nicole and the kids. A quick break here, then we were off again to finish the last mile and a half to hit the 50 km mark. It was a great run, running time was under 6 hours, not bad for the first time at that mileage. Congrats to Andy, you did great, and the next one we will run together and push each other to a better time. So for me this was just over 45 miles ran over two days or 72.55 km, I am very pleased with that.

So the total for the week and year date are as follows:

Week Totals:
Barefoot: 36.85 miles
Vibrams: 19.32 miles
Total: 56.17 miles

Year to Date:
Barefoot: 120.39 miles
Vibrams: 54.25 miles
Total: 174.64 miles

Here are some pictures of our Saturday and Sunday Runs for your viewing pleasure.

Sturgeon Creek at 6:00am Sat. Morning

Somewhere in Woodhaven, this picture seemed calm but the wind picked up later.

Me putting my Vibrams back on after a 3+ mile run down frozen limestone path.

Well look at that we are now entering Winnipeg, didn't even know we left

Nicole waiting for me up ahead, she was always leaving me behind.

The Red River at the Town of St. Vital promanade on St. Mary's

The Human Rights Museum at the Forks Still Under Construction and will be for the next 2 to 3 years.

Yes, we did it, that would be 50 km!

Andy running away, check out the cool duck feet.

Andy and I heading out for the last 1.5 miles to make his 50 km on Sunday. Notice I do not have the cool duck feet.

Hoping everybody had and will have a wonderful week.

A gravel path well travelled has massaged numerous bare feet.


  1. I have had my VFF for 3 weeks now and have run a total of 13km over 3 runs. I love the way the feel and the way I run in them. I would love to be able to run the Manitoba Half in them but am not sure if I can adjust that much in the next 5 weeks - any suggestions??

  2. Great question! The only sound advice I can send would be to listen to your body. I have seen some who love them so much and they try to go too far too soon and suffer from injury, which leads to holding you back from your goals. With any distance running I think it is wise to go slowly, and this is the same for the changes you make in your footwear when running in the minamilist shoes. It is hard to hold back when you feel you could run like this forever; your feet are light, the ground feels nice under you, although when your calvs or feet start screaming at you it may be too late. There are muscles that will be developing in your feet and legs that haven't been worked as much before. Again, to much to soon can be painful. The transition from a cushioned running shoe to the minimalist shoe can take some time. In the meanwhile, enjoy your VFF's.

    For more advice I would like to direct you to barfoot running university (on our blogroll), where the writer there (Jason) has teaching skills which will come in handy for your transition.

    Enjoy your running and have fun in the Manitoba half, it is an awesome event!

  3. As I am guilty of going out to far to soon, it may be a good idea to carry your old running shoes in a back pack or stashing them somewhere along the 1/2 marathon route to use as a back up just in case. Have a great run!