Are you too old to run?

105 year old sprinter
105 year old sprinter

Running is a state of mind.  And age is just a number. How do I know that? This guy is 105 and still setting world records with his sprinting. And I just finished a very easy post for day 97–it’s not as impressive as his accomplishment, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless. Maybe if I keep this up and train hard enough, I can beat his record when I’m a 105!

Huckleberry Half Marathon Barefoot

Barefoot Runner with Bigfoot Huckleberry Half Marathon Welches Oregon
Barefoot Runner with Bigfoot Huckleberry Half Marathon Welches Oregon

This morning (August 8th) I think I became the first person to run Huckleberry Half marathon in Welches Oregon with 4mm sandals. Whether I was the first person to run the event barefoot or not, I received an awesome Wooden Bigfoot Medal–it’s dangling around my neck in the photo and had a lot of fun.

What a great event! No one said anything about sandals until we hit the streets. Thankfully, a majority of the comments were positive.

Things people said to me as ran. “You’re a beast” (in a good way). “That guy’s wearing flip-flops.” “All the crazies are passing us!” (To which I replied, the key phrase is “PASSING!”) “Let’s catch the guy in flip-flips.” (His friend’s reply, “I’m trying, but I can’t.” And neither of them did. I dropped them on one of the many hills.)

Although scampering across the streets in barefoot sandals made me a celebrity, it also took its toll on my feet. After three miles, I discovered why no one else wore minimalist footwear: the Huckleberry Half is NOT a barefoot friendly route! The streets are  long slabs of jagged, gritty gravel.  The roads climb slowly then level for a short distance then fall again, then climb again, then climb some more, the result is a route that never takes its fangs from your legs. My quads and calves are still sizzling from the lactic acid and my tender feet and toes are battered from the ragged asphalt. It didn’t help that I hammered  my left heel on a rock the first mile. The 13.1 miles were a struggle. The run was much more challenging than I expected and my time was much slower than I anticipated. But it was well worth it.

The volunteers and other runners were fantastic. I‘ll be back next year, even it’s just for the novelty of having teenage cheerleaders swish their pom poms in the air as I cross the finish line. BTW, I ran it in 1 hour 40 minutes 56 seconds.

The twenty seventh day of marathon training

Got up at six and ran six miles at slow lumbering pace. My right foot was still a little tender from my weekend fifteen miler. Thankfully, my marathon training schedule has me running lightly this week, thank God.

How I Tricked Myself in to Running 15 Miles this Morning

If you don’t wedge clay properly, it will explode in the kiln. Wedging also aligns the particles making the clay much more receptive to shaping and throwing. Right now, I suck at wedging. My “wedging” technique makes the clay pliable, but it also fills it with ballon sized air-pockets. Don’t even get me started on the difficulties I face with throwing clay. Yesterday, I was almost in tears because everyone else managed to throw a cylinder, while I was left with a spinning spitting sodden heap of grey mud. I was tempted to throw it across the room punch myself in face. (When I was a teenager I gave myself a black eye–seriously, I used to hit myself that hard). But I didn’t. Instead I just breathed and when I did happiness filled me up. Somewhere in frustration and madness of trying to shape the malleable pieces of earth–the same earth God* used to form humans–there is joyfulness.  It’s astonishing what failure in ceramics teaches me  about running.

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep. I kept thinking about my failure to wedge properly and also somewhere smashing through my brain was the fifteen mile run I had to do in the morning.  It thrashed my thoughts, leaving me jittery and awake. I kept thinking about how I would have to work a full day after running fifteen miles. It was depressing. Try as I might, I couldn’t fall asleep. Then brilliance struck: Why not call in sick? That way I could sleep off this insomnia and have time to recuperate from my long run.  With that one thought, I skipped happily into dreamland.

Without an alarm, I arose at six o’ clock. (I was planning to sleep in until eight). Since I was up and felt rested, I decided to strap on my heart rate monitor and GPS, slip into my blue shorts,  and drape on my white shirt. The first two miles were horrible and I questioned my decision to run a marathon, but by mile four my youthful vigor kicked-in. The carbohydrate packs and homemade gatorade helped tremendously.  Mile twelve was difficult, and the last three miles forced me to dig deep, but I did and I found a treasure chest of strength and stamina. I finished my run in under two hours, which is right on track with my goal pace for the Boring Oregon Marathon.

Since I would’t have had to have left for work until eleven, I had plenty of time to stretch and rest. After a long hot shower, going to work didn’t seem so bad; so, I pulled on slacks, flung on my short sleeve dress shirt, and headed off to work. I wasn’t even stiff or sore. I did, however, let  out a few great yawns, but I was fully functional. Maybe, I’m not so bad at wedging after all.

* I use God and reference Genesis rhetorically, I am a pantheist.

Shaking my bones on day 22

I love the way the morning smells, especially when the a light drizzle wets the fresh pavement. This morning I tossed my bones across six miles of rain soaked concrete. For twenty five minutes, I ran at my “10k pace”. Since I don’t have a 10k pace, I guessed that my 10k pace would be somewhere in my anaerobic zone.  Therefore, I forced my heart to pump blood at 149 to 154 beats per minute. It took effort, but it was worth it. I set a six mile PR. Tomorrow I run again, but not as fast.

Boring Marathon Training Day 18

I spun the grey clay with my wet hands into a cylinder on the pottery wheel. It was perfect for a few seconds, then it collapsed because I held my fingers in one place too long. The clay responds to the slightest movement, especially when it’s wet.  It’s is brutally honest. As my instructor says, “It remembers everything.”

Today was a strength day. Tomorrow is my long run.

Barefoot Boring Marathon Training Day 16

Fitness is a sexy bitch: Shit’s getting real! My right foot has been giving me slight problems. I’m running in the 4mm connect Xero shoes. They offer absolutely zero support and no cushioning whatsoever. They merely prevent the rough Oregon roads from chewing and stripping the skin from my soles. The thin sandals expose my soft toes to the sharp stone spikes cemented with clay into the trail. The angled rocks brutally smash into the tender, bruised point between my toes like a medieval morning star. When they strike, sharp bolts of agonizing pain fire my straight into my cerebral cortex forcing me to shout and curse, but not to limp. Luckily, my marathon training program offers plenty of recovery days, so the pain  isn’t stopping me from achieving my goal.

In other news, I bought a hydration pack for my upcoming long runs. Last week, I ran twelve miles, which is about as far as I can run without taking water and carbohydrate gels. The unwatered twelve miler brought me a little too close to my danger zone. After my run, my arms and legs were caked with salt, I could literally  scrape off the white crystals. They sparkled in the sun’s light. In the kitchen, I felt a little woozy and had to steady myself by clutching the sink.  My stomach was queazy.  Fortunately, it wasn’t anything that an orange, a banana, and a glass of water couldn’t cure. I recovered enough to work a full day afterward.

By the way, I ran six miles today.  Twenty minutes of my run was at 85% to 90% of my max heart rate. I felt great, but I was a little disappointed over the laggardly pace. I’m well within my target marathon pace, but I secretly I want to run much faster. I know I’m training for a sub four hour marathon, which I know I’ll achieve easily, but a part of me believes I’ll run the marathon in under three hours. 

All this marathon talk has me excited for tomorrow’s early ass morning run. See you then.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 9

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family  is in its own way a latch-key teenager girl with braces standing on the front porch hurling insipid insults at me as I walk by on day 9 of my marathon training. No, I wasn’t cheating by walking on a training day.  And, Yes, the girl was real. Why then was I walking and not running? Today is NOT a run day, it’s strength day. I like to supplement my strength days with three to four mile jaunts around the neighborhood. As I passed a green a  townhouse a shrill adolescent female voice shouted an ugly insult at me from across the street. I won’t repeat the invective. I pretended not to hear her, but I slowly doubled back. I’m glad I did. As soon as I reached her house, her mom pulled into the driveway. I took the golden opportunity to inform the mother about her daughter’s unfortunate comments. It was beautiful timing. I got a well deserved apology. I don’t think the girl was a cruel person, just young and impetuous.

Whatever happens, I stuck to my training. When I arrived home, I lunged, lifted, squatted my way through Jillian Michael’s Thirty Day Shred.

See you tomorrow.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 8

I didn’t want to get out of bed at five thirty this morning. I was too comfortable. Besides my legs were a little sore and I didn’t sleep well. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion…Once I got my ass out from under the sheets,  I strapped my on running sandals, but  the damned cord snapped. If you don’t own running sandals, then you don’t how much it motherfuckingsucks to retie them. It’s a fine art to get the delicate tension just right, especially when you’re using the “permanent knot” method. After fidgeting, cussing, and igniting the knot with a match*, I realized that had another impediment to overcome: my GPS needed to be reprogrammed. I needed to update my intervals. Thankfully, the update went smoothly.  Even so, I was frustrated because I was on a tight schedule. I need to get my runs before work. If I don’t run before work, the run hangs over my head like a well fed elephant. It also means that I’ll be stuck running in the heat or if it’s too hot, then waiting until eight or nine, which means going to bed at ten or eleven, skipping meditation and reading.

Fortunately, I was able to get out of door at a reasonable time. I had to force myself to break into a jog: It is by will alone I set my mind in motion… Once I cleared a few streets with my freshly tied sandals and my GPS programmed, I had a good run:

After a two mile warm-up, I ran ten sets of intervals: 2 minute fast (80-90% effort) with 1 minute recovery.  All told, I ran over six miles. Some of the intervals were unintentionally uphill. I didn’t plan them that way, it’s just the path of my regular running route. I don’t get much recovery uphill, but it tones the fuck out of my heart without staining my lips–for lip staining, I need the juice of sapho.

It is the day of the Mentat. This post it just to let you know that I’m still training. Check back tomorrow, perhaps there will be some of Paul-Muad’Dib’s wisdom.

 

* Setting fire to the knot shrinks it, thereby saving your foot from excessive agony.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 5

More than once I’ve asked myself whether I shall turn out to be the Superman or the Lex Luther of my own life. Each of us are given a fist full of earth. Some plant gardens, other throw mud pies, and some let the dirt slip between their fingers. Of course, we weren’t given the earth, we emerged from it. This planet truly is our mother. As the miles slide by, the bullshit of normal life lifts and there is nothing but breath: time dilates and contracts by its own weird logic.  Today, I ran 7.4 blissful miles. What does tomorrow hold? Check back to find out.