Moving up the Provo River Trail, barefoot, with snow. Fun.

Today was not as fun as yesterday, running-wise. I probably should have taken a day off from yesterday’s run, because my shins were not completely ready. They were tired and a little sore. Almost positive tomorrow will be a bike trainer day.

But either way, for my lunch break I ran about 2.5 miles shod and the rest of my 3.2 mile run BF. I shook things up by running on the Provo River Trail section that runs by Macy’s and North.

I had determined to run the last 1/2 mile barefoot, but knew that I probably shouldn’t. I don’t think that I injured myself, but I’m probably close enough that I need some rest. So I’ll go to bike and maybe even find a pool for a swim (I’m not as strong as my swimming aquaintences from Utah Open Water, who regularly swim in icy lakes) until I’m stronger (hopefully Thursday?)

Anyway, the run was redeemed from it’s depressing sluggish pace when I decided to do the last .2 miles in the snow until I got to my truck. It was fun. Really. Yes, it was cold, but in some twisted way, I quite enjoyed it.

There are some naysayers in terms of my BF and (now) snow running. But I’ve discovered that if I don’t keep things fresh and interesting, I’ll likely slow or stop in my training. That’s sort of my excuse. Plus, how many times have I turned down a run with someone because I don’t have my shoes with me? If I could get to the point that shoes were optional, I’d only have more opportunities for training.

As an afterthought, a day or so of rest won’t be a bad thing for me feet (I’m Irish, now?) my feet. While they’re holding up well (tremendously, I think), I don’t want to just tear them up. I need a little bit of a callous to build up.

 

My barefoot foot, at mile 5

20120124-093031.jpgIf I took the time to map out my foot with captions and arrows, I’d point out that my toes are getting tougher, my forefoot is getting tougher and my heel is probably the most thick part of my feet after 4 sessions of barefoot running.

Now, I really have only put in about 5 miles of BF running, so far, but the results are sort of comforting.  Yesterday, when I finished my three mile run with a 1/2 mile of BF, I noticed that the road was starting to not hurt so much.

I’m trying to build up slowly, only running BF for the last 1/2 mile of only a couple of runs a week.  So one mile a week of BF.  I’ll probably up it a bit to 3/4 mile one of these days.  Just trying to start slow.

I forgot to mention something, yesterday.  I remarked that I tried to run forefoot in my Asics Kayanos, but failed to add that it’s hard to run forefoot when you have a one inch or more drop in the heel.  So I may end up in a lower dropped heel before too long, here.

2012: Year of the forefoot stride?

Well, I just had an interesting run.  I took my usual route and headed for the Provo River Trail.  The only thing that I changed in this run was my stride.  Since I started running, about ten years ago, I’ve been a heel strike kind of guy.

But because of everything I’ve learned in the last month or so about barefoot running, I decided to concentrate on landing fore-to-midfoot.  The change in stride is immediate.  I have a faster turnover, faster pace, and less impact on my knees.  That’s my first impression, anyway.

Comparing today’s run to a similar 3 mile run from a couple of weeks ago, there is one startling difference.  I am about two minutes slower, overall, today.

However, that’s a little deceiving.  Because of my faster turnover and pace, I had to take several breaks.  This is a breakneck pace for me.  Every time I looked at my watch, I was somewhere between a 7:15 and 8:00 pace.  Only 3 weeks ago, my typical pace was about 9-9:30 a mile.  Here are the only differences between 3 weeks ago and now:

1.  I’ve changed to a forefoot strike.
2.  At the end of a few runs, I’ve finished 1/2 mile barefoot.
3.  I ran a trail run on Saturday.

This faster pace presents its own challenges, however:

1.  It’s easier to inflame my asthma at a faster pace.
2.  I wonder about a higher propensity for injury (hopefully this is offset by a forefoot strike)
3.  My energy level felt great, today, but I wonder if I can sustain this pace over a long distance (like a longer triathlon or a marathon.)  This is a big deal, because the goal is not to slow down.

Anyway, very interesting.  I’ll try it again.  I know that my calves and shins are getting worked.  I don’t feel like they’re getting hurt, but I know I need to be careful.

And finally, a disclaimer:

I probably already knew a lot of this.  Many times, when I’ve run with my Dad, he’s told me that I should have a higher turnover rate and that my pace is loud.  This probably translates to running forefoot.  I might have been right, today, but Dad probably was right five years ago.

My first run on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail

This has been the year of appreciating what I have around me, here in Utah.  I spent a good portion of my time in Utah, wishing that I’d been living in California.  And then a few years, ago, I discovered that I was sitting on a goldmine.

In Utah, I can train at elevation- every time I go out of my front door.  I can run two miles down the road and jump into the Utah Lake for a long swim.  I can run or drive two miles east and run on trails…which leads me to my next thought…

Last night I finally made the decision to go and find the illusive Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  I used Google Maps and created a little map to show me how to get there.  Surprisingly, there is an entrance to this just-over 100-mile length of trail.  Just a quick intro:  This is a partly natural trail, in that the formation of it was created by the ancient lake’s bench.  Apparently, water used to cover this entire valley, back when cavemen were complaining about the commute by pterodactyl to Salt Lake City (over I-15 construction, of course.)
20120121-104333.jpg Anyway, I started on this trail, this morning at about 9:15 AM.  I knew immediately, that this was going to be a challenge.  I really don’t run hills around here.  But I could tell that this trail was going to go up and down, the whole way.

It rained pretty much the entire run, so things were slippery and muddy.  This wasn’t a good time to practice my barefoot running, so I laced my Asics up nice and tight, double-knotted, and persevered through an almost-twisted ankle, slight knee pain as hills would send me sprinting and then hiking, sprinting, hiking, etc.

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I’ll definitely be running this trail from time to time.  It’s challenging and will work me into shape for races that have been beating me up (I’m looking at you, Saint George.)

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If you look closely, you can see this trail sort of heading off to the upper-right in this frame.  This was the beginning of my trail and, if I’d continued on, would have sent me down into Springville.

In short, anyone who lives in the great city of Provo (yeah- I said it) is only months shy of being a very fit and healthy human being.  There is so much around us and all we have to do is access it.  For free.  No need for a Gold’s gym; just a healthy desire to get outside and use the land God gave us.

So now I’m thinking that this might be a trail year.  I might need trail shoes.  Or trail feet.

The geeky information on this run can be found here.  (elevation, distance, etc.)

The 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston (Spoiler alert: I was not in the Olympic Trials)

Last Thursday, I took a flight to Houston with The Parents and my brother in law, Mark (and two of his children.)  Houston was home of the Olympic Trials for 2012, and as it happens, my sister Lindsay and her fiance, Timmy, both qualified to run in it.

Mark put together all of the reservations for hotel and travel, so after we got off of the plane in Houston, we headed over to the Enterprise car rental agency and picked up our minivan.  Also, as it happened, Kara Goucher was on the shuttle that took us there.  However, I didn’t have the wherewithal to say hi to her or even bother with an autograph- here’s why:

I’d been sick for days before this trip.  It started with an incidental brush with dog dander.  My asthma and allergies flared up, as they are wont to do, which turned into a nasty flu-like monster, which would not end up releasing me from its grip until the next day.  But I had a plane to catch and an Olympic Trials event to make, so I did my best to convince everyone around me that I wasn’t sick (no one likes the Sick Guy on the plane.)

I spent the entire flight just tucking myself away into the smallest position possible, keeping to myself and sweating profusely.  Sweating eventually gave way to chills and cold, and I chattered as quietly as possible (again, because I didn’t want anyone to start getting nervous- although, in retrospect, everyone probably should have been.)

Once in Houston, we found our hotel, where I curled up and, for the sake of conversation- died.

On the day of the Olympic Trials, I felt much better.  I could function.  I could hold a conversation for upwards of 12 seconds.  I was definitely feeling better.  And here’s the part of the story that you’re interested in…

If you’ve never been to a marathon as a spectator, let me tell you how this works.  You show up, way too early, with kids who are exhausted and (with all due respect to kids) unholy.  Kids are terrors at marathons.  They hate standing, waiting, holding cute signs that they didn’t create for runners that they can’t see, not eating or drinking, because Daddy can’t get his act together and run a marathon in under 5 hours and 50 minutes (sorry!)

But the Olympic Trials are different.  You don’t get into the Olympic Trials unless you can show that you can finish your race before the hot chocolate gets cold, the sun hits a 35 degree angle in the east, or your two hour and fifty-minute playlist ends.  You.  Have.  To.  Be. Fast.  So spectators don’t set up tents, small log cabins, or sunbathing chairs.  These events are over before an entire Star Wars movie can play through (including credits and some extra features, maybe.)  If you had to endure the same type of thing during my Saint George Marathon, you’d be queuing up 7-8 Seinfeld and Simpsons episodes, and (again, sorry), James Cameron’s Titanic- with all of the extra footage.  I hope this puts the Olympic Trials into some perspective.

So as we watched the runners as they ran their loops around the course, I was able to see people that I only get to read about in Runner’s World, or the news.  Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, etc.  These are amazing runners, and it was a privilege to see them.

But here’s the kicker.  It was WAAAAY more exciting to see Lindsay as she’d come around the loop.  She’s got (roughly) the same DNA that I do!  And not to change the subject, but I’d like to answer the age-old question that has been plaguing me for years.  People ask me- “Nathan, why is it that you have disgraced your family with your below-average marathon times, thereby paving the way for a much slower band of Nelsons, such as the children that you have cruelly brought into this world?”  The answer to your question, people, is this- and listen closely:

I don’t like pain.  Lindsay runs through some pretty terrific pain and anguish.  All of those Olympic Trial breeds do.

Take my almost brother in law, Timmy, for instance.  After his Olympic Trials marathon, he had a toe with a mushroom cloud, atomic bomb, hat-looking thing on top of his toe.  He didn’t care.  In fact, after the marathon, he suggested walking around, here or there.  When I finish a race, I’m done.  For weeks, perhaps.  I milk those races for all of my worth.  Days after a marathon, I still ask Wendy if she’d mind dragging me to the kitchen so that I can see if there’s any Frosted Flakes left (she does mind.)  But not Timmy.  He’s tough.  And that’s what it takes to be Olympic Trials material.

Bottom line:  I’m so very proud of Lindsay and Timmy.  They have worked hard their entire lives to get themselves to the point of this level of competition.  It was a privilege to witness their Trials debut.  I feel like I’m closely related to a couple of minor celebrities.

But the next person who asks me at a race how it’s even possible that I’m related to Lindsay Nelson, is going to get an earful from me- probably sometime in the evening, just as soon as I cross the finish line.

Limit Switch on my Trane XE-80

11:40 PM:  Discover cold air blowing through the vents.  Wow.  It’s just one thing after another with these AC/Heating units, isn’t it?

2:06 AM:  So far, I’m batting 3 for 3 in fixes with this thing, because tonight, I managed to get it kicking out heat.  Had to grab the code from the blinkie blinkie thing, look up the error (it’s a code 4, Roger- no, really, it’s a Code 4.)  Code 4 means the open high temperature limit device is bad (usually.)  So after searching around a bit, I located it and took the two wires off and connected them together with some fusable link wire. It’s a little sketchy (read: potential fire), so I have to sort of monitor it while the house is heating.  Once the house heats up a bit, I’ll shut ‘er down.

Tomorrow I’ll have to buy a l190f-30 Limit Switch.  But from where?

8 AM, (the next day):  Woke up and kicked the heat on, but no dice.  Dang, it was just working when I went to bed 4 hours ago!  So I go to inspect and there is no apparent reason that it won’t start.  It’s still jumpered, sans limit switch.  When I power it on, the burner(?) glows and the gas starts, but only two valves work, then the whole things shuts down, again.

So I take a cloth rag and start to clean down anything that might be blocking the gas from its intended path.  Start it up, it works!

11:30 PM:  Work has been busy, so the house has been heating and I’ve been watching to make sure nothing crazy happens, since we’re working without a net (limit switch.)  I make a few calls, but either that part has to be ordered or I have to travel to SLC.  One guy, however, tells me to tap on the limit switch, gently, with a hammer or something.  I choose the back end of vice grips, but still nothing works.

A friend, who is also a neighbor offers to help me and buy the part, but he’ll need to see the part.  So I take the limit switch out and figure, what the heck- I’ll clean this thing up a bit.  But only a bit- I have no idea how sensitive these things are, but once it’s as clean as I dare, I put it back it, start it up…

…we have liftoff.  Everything’s working.  Probably time to buy a new filter, though.

Born to run- Christopher McDougall

This is the book that propels fools to start running barefoot.  I am no different of a reader.

“Born to Run” takes us to a remote area in Mexico, where a group of people, the Tarahumara, who are untouched by modern things have learned to run the way that God intended them to.  They run for fun and for culture.

Our world has become accustomed to traveling by car, eating fast food.  If we run, it’s not for fun, but because we are staving off death by a few more years.

The Tarahumara run for pleasure and they run without the modern shoes that we wear in 1st world countries- that are probably killing our instinctive stride.  When running in shoes, we do our arches a disservice and unwittingly cause the break down of important muscles in our feet.

By running unshod, the Tarahumara have a perfect stride and experience virtually no running injuries (which, if you are a runner in the US, you know how common those can be in the running community.)  The author stops just short of telling us to run barefoot.  But by the end of the book, you can’t help but wonder…

As I have.  Since picking up this book a few days ago, I’ve embarked on a couple of runs that incorporated a little barefoot running.

Who knows, maybe God was on to something before Nike debuted it’s first running shoe in the 70’s…