Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles - Weeks Ending July 17, 2011

Whew, what a week, not a lot of big mileage but a lot of fun none the less. I can sum it up in one word:

Trails, Trails, Trails

Ok maybe a word cubed.

Nothing brings a smile to my face like running trails. I don't know what it is, whether it is the connection with nature, the feel of natural surfaces on the soles of my feet, the serenity of running without the hustle and bustle of the city or the bouquets of flowers and foliage that I end up picking up between my toes. No matter how I look at it, I just enjoy trail running much more than running down roads or sidewalks. For me it is the ultimate challenge, some people think I am nuts for running trails barefooted, well other people think I am nuts for running barefoot at all. So I am just trying to appease the masses, and let everybody think of me equally, I don't want anybody to think I am prejudice or something......

Anyway onto the week that was, it was a very good week all in all, some new experiences with some highs and some very humbling moments as well.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Barefoot: 2.93 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 2.93 miles

This was the weekly hash run, the first one I have run in three weeks. Really had no choice but to run this one, as we were hosting it from our house. Nice and Easy (Nicole) with the help of the kids as always laid a great trail, with the all important 'Crown Royal' drink stop. Nothing like a good shot of CR on a hot and humid night when you are running, ahhh refreshing. Anyway no major mishaps on trail, but we had a guest hasher from Scotland join us for the run, so I had to don the HHH kilt in tribute to our guest and my heritage. We learned some new songs and my youngest son due to his uncanny ability to not hold a secret regarding the direction of the true trail at the start was named in true Hasher fashion, 'Blabber Hash'. A name fitting a true hasher, he even got a pop down down to solidify the occasion. Once he was taken back inside, the standard hasher style circle commenced. Oh yes, there was a little bit of field running which I will constitute as easy trail running to start the week.

Wednesday July 13, 2011

Barefoot: 3.98 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 3.98 miles

The City Park Runners Marathon Clinic Wrap up BBQ is a gathering of all the participants and their families at Assiniboine Park for some fun and games. This year (being my first year with this group) was a quick fun run including a 6.0 km with a catch, you had to guess your finishing time. Of course, as always I was fashionably late, so as I ran up to the start line, all I hear is give me your garmin and what is your 6 km time. In total confusion about having to give up my garmin, I thought they said 5 km so I blurted out 27 mins, but I recovered and quickly added on an extra km and screeched out a 'No wait, make that 30 minutes!' All pleased with my quickness of my correction, I didn't think to much about my 3 min km that I would need to do to make this time, ooopps (my best 5 km time is a 26:15). It wasn't till a couple minutes into the run that I realized my mistake, and I thought to myself, 'Crap, I meant 32 minutes not 30.'

To top my adding blunder all off, I started the run off trying to keep up with Alice and Roberto without realizing it. Who was I kidding, as soon as I realized this, I backed off from a pace that I could probably hold for a mile (6 and a halfish minute mile) to a more reasonable 8ish minute mile. I was basically sprinting with my bare feet, not something that I am completely comfortable doing yet. So as we tore around the course, I started to slow down a little more and I finished with just under a 8 min mile average with a time of 31:15. Not to bad I guess considering I did not hydrate before the run and I ended up with side stitches about half way through.

The potluck was great with a unbelievable assortment of foods to try and some good company. I even won a door prize, I let my 4 year old pick it out, and to my delight he chose a pair of running socks, go figure. I run barefoot and he picks socks, irony at its best.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Barefoot: 4.65 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 4.65 miles

This was the Thursday night run with City Park Runners, it was hot, stinking hot and humid. Was originally thinking of doing a 10km run but it was cut short, really it was very hot, and that is all I have to say about it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Barefoot: 3.94 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 3.94 miles

Here we go the start of the Trail Run Series at Birds Hill Prov. Park, this was the first in the series starting at a cool 6.4 km and leading up to the 3hour/6hour/12hour Lemming Loop in October. This is my favorite type of run, I just love trail running, because you just never know what the conditions are going to be like and what nature is going to put in front of you (last year we ran beside some deer for a short distance before they bolted into the trees).

This race started out exactly like most others, some weird looks and whispering things like 'He's not going to run like that is he? and 'Is that the guy that ran the marathon barefoot? No it can't be he was taller and not so good looking!' Ok I made up the last one. I couldn't help but smile and snicker to myself, but really you think people would be getting used to idea by now, and yes it is possible to run this way.

I did see a couple pairs of Vibrams being worn, not including Nicole's and a few more minimalistic styles of shoes including the NB Minimulas and Nike Free's. It is interesting to see more and more people get away from the boat anchors I call running shoes.

The conditions were not the best, quite warm and humid in the open, so I expected very humid once we got into the trees. The RD (Dwayne) advised us the course was very dry and should be fast, all I could think was I would of liked at least a little mud to fly through. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Overall it was a great run, I finished in 35:34 good enough for 35th overall out of 88 finishers, not bad for this barefoot runner amongst a mass of shod runners. I even sprinted the final distance over gravel to the finish line to the total dismay of numerous participants who I passed and spectators alike.

A little dusty and dirty but fairly clean for a trail run. It did feel good to blast by a number of runners in the last bit of the run over the gravel road leading up to the finish line.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Barefoot: 4.25 miles

Vibrams: 1.50 miles

Total: 5.75 miles

To top the week off we were going to participate in a group run with City Park Runners on Hunt Lake Trail at Westhawk Lake in the Whiteshell. But due to unfortunate circumstances Erick (the organizer got sick and had to cancel). But not to be undaunted, we decided to go and run it anyway, so myself, Nicole and Andy headed out to Westhawk to meet up with Gail and go for a run. We also met up with Mark from City Park who was camping out at one of the lakes and did not get Erick's cancellation notice. So here we were, prepping for the run, not really knowing what to expect but excited none the less.

Unfortunately Nicole was not able to run as she was watching the kids on the beach and she graciously sent me out to participate. Have I mentioned how much I love that woman. As the trail head is about 4 to 5 km down the road from the beach, with us all being the die-hard runner types, we jumped into Gail's VW bug and drove up to the start of the trail. No sense wasting good trail running energy on a crappy road now don't you think.

So as we pulled up to the trail, we got out and this sign was the first thing we saw (of course this is a map not a sign but we forgot to take a picture of the actual sign but you get the picture):

There was a big warning on the posted sign that advised, would be hikers, that this was a difficult trail and not for beginners. Well then, this did not apply to us as we were going to run it not hike it. To further push the limits I was going to run it barefoot, nothing like a challenge to start the day. We were all excited to get going on this little adventure, so off we went.

We started off at a cautious pace with Mark in the lead, Andy second and myself and Gail right behind. Not really knowing what to expect, we plowed ahead through some really technical trails. Lots of rock, roots, vertical climbs among other interesting obstacles.

This is where the humbling part of the week comes into play, it felt like we were running for a good period of time (in fact we were) when we got to our first stop point a vertical cliff face that was just awesome to look at, we actually took a picture of it with us on it, but unfortunately I do not have the photo handy so will have to post later. Anyway I looked at my garmin to find out we had been running for about 25 minutes and we have logged a whopping .35 miles, hence the humbling part of the experience. We were definitely not going to complete a land speed record on this trail. I have some photos of the trail terrain that I will post at the end of the blog to give you a little bit of a idea of what we ran through, but honestly the pictures do not give the trail justice. You seriously have to experience it. The views are breathtaking, the trail is difficult and at times impossible to run (vertical climbs up and or down at between 50 to I would say 75 degree slopes). The rocks (or boulders in some cases) are everywhere and in areas where the foliage overhangs the trail and you can't see your feet or the ground another rock will suddenly appear.

We were originally intending to run this trail (approx. 16 km) in about 2 hours and change, let me tell you that was not going to happen. By the time we reached 2 hours we were just over 6 km in and Gail and I decided we would turn back to relieve Nicole of the dubious task of watching the kids alone. Now don't get me wrong, I really wanted to finish the trail, but I do believe there are more important things in life, like the sanity of my lovely wife. So even though my bare feet felt fantastic other than a couple of bruises from the rocky trail, Gail and I turned back and let Andy and Mark carry on. Let me tell you, Gail says she has no sense of direction, well I am no better. We lost the trail going back 3 times and areas of the route were completely unfamiliar, we were so glad that someone took the time to mark the trail with flags and signs or we would of probably ended up in Ontario or something. We were also some glad that we ran into a trio of hikers that were frequent hikers of this trail and new it like the back of their hands. I will say, I did not come out of the run (or quick hike) unscathed, as I played pinball with my little toe off a bunch of rocks and I seriously thought I broke it. But even with all the bruising and swelling, my strong feet appear to have prevailed as it seems to be a deep bruise only. Yeah for strong feet and toes. I did end up putting my Vibrams on for the last mile and a half out just to ensure i did no more damage to my toe, but even so that was still over 4 miles of really crazy trail barefoot, and to me that is pretty impressive.

Anyway to bring this to a conclusion, it was a great run, and Andy and Mark did finish the run, both out and back, and both myself and Gail are determined to finish this with Nicole, so we will be allocating a good part of a day to complete this next time. For any of you out there that wants a good technical trail to either hike or run (for ultra training) this is it, it has a little of everything and a great view along the way.

My very bruised and swollen little toe

A close up of the damage, I seriously thought it was broken, but apparently not as I can move it with no issues today.

This is some of the trail that we ran up at Hunt Lake, take this and add rocks and boulders and you have most of the rest of the trail. lots of fun.

This was one climb that we had to make this is the mild one, the majority were more of a vertical for the climb or the descent. It was really cool how my feet had no issue with this.

With this week coming to a end I conclude with some numbers:

Week Totals:

Barefoot: 19.75 miles

Vibrams: 1.50 miles

Total: 21.25 miles

And for the year to date:

Year to Date:

Barefoot: 352.61 miles

Vibrams: 72.76 miles

Total: 425.37 miles

Until next week,

Keep your feet strong and free!!

On On,


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