Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three Peas in a Pod, Playing FOOTSIE (blogging style)

For those of you who have been following, asking, and laughing - this is for you. I am actually snagging the entire blog entry from our blogging pal, Michael B. He is the 12 in 12 guy that we keep talking about. Well, it seems that HE planted this idea, KARI started it, I followed suit and, well, here's the WHOLE naked story.....taken right from Michael's blog:

Few weeks back I let it slip that I was looking into the whole barefoot running thing, thanks to the new book Born to Run. I was intrigued by the author's explanation of how running shoes were developed and the possibility that they could be responsible for the lion's share of modern running injuries. The alternative was, naturally, no shoes at all. I was in no hurry to run unshod, as I have a bunch of marathons still to run this year, one of which is RnR Seattle on the 27th of this month, and I didn't want to do anything stupider than I normally would, for fear of injuring myself.

If memory serves, it was the very next day (after I revealed my interest) that my online running bud, Karoline, from Road to Paris blog fame and fortune, hit the road shoeless. She returned unscathed and, apparently, jubilant for the experience. That's when the subtle (?) pressures began to be applied. Kari was a convert, and it was clear her Paris Marathon partner in crime, Laura, was under the gun to give it a try. They go way back, you see.

Laura and I twittered and facebooked a bit back and forth about Kari's, shall we say, intensity?! Yeah, that works. At this point I was feeling a little self-applied pressure to take the plunge, as it was my suggestion that created this monster (used in the nicest way!) in the first place, but, I was still planning on saving myself til after Seattle. Then, out of the blue, surprising me and our friend in Trieste (Kari), Laura dove in last week. She, too, was hooked. I had no choice but to follow suit.

My intent, when I headed into San Francisco at 6:30 this morning was to put in 18-20 miles as by last long run before Seattle. I was thinking about kicking things off (including my shoes) at the Marina, where I could run barefoot around the Green, either on the grass or the pavement path, for MAYBE a mile...just to say I'd tried it.

Got out of the car in my "birthday shoes" (as Kari calls them) and walked across the blacktop parking area to the green. The only thing I could say right then was "damn, that hurts". The parking area is a bit rough. I was sure at this point that this was not going to go well, but stuck to my guns and started running on the grass. It felt good. Nice and damp...and cool...and soft. I was, however, immediately concerned about the sprinkler heads that are almost hidden in the turf, and did not want to hit one of those, so I stepped out on the amazingly smooth and even blacktop path. It did not take long at all for me to be blown away.

I was amazed, primarily, just how much this did NOT hurt. Seems there are pretty much more nerve endings in the foot than almost anywhere else in the body, which might lead one to surmise that, therefore, running barefoot would hurt a lot. But, turns out, all those sensitive nerve endings allow the bare foot to respond and adapt in nano seconds to the stimulus, pleasant or otherwise.

I also quickly felt as though all the energy I was spending was being efficiently used. I was setting a really good pace (for me), with surprisingly little effort. The experience was so enjoyable, that I ended up going around the green seven times, just under 4 miles, before deciding it was time for shoes...and the rest of my run.

Hitting the road again in the new Kayano's did feel good...at first. The cushy heal was comfortable and welcome...at first. But I soon had the feeling that I was leaving a lot of energy in the cushioning, and perhaps, having to work way harder to get the shoes to go where I wanted them to.

Turns out the balls of both feet got a little tender during the barefoot section, which led to the development of one big blister, late into the shoed portion of the run. That was painful enough that I bailed on my 18-20 mile plan and settled for 15...five minutes faster than my previous 15 mile pace.

All in all, I am blown away by what a positive experience this was. I'm not an expert or a coach so I can not say it's for everyone. But if you're game, give it a go. If you do, even if you don't like it, please let me, Laura, or Kari know. We'd love to hear your tales.

Right now, gotta go lance a blister.
Gotta run!

I couldn't have said it better - the part about springy heels in the shoes and what-not. I felt the same thing, but quickly thought that I, too, was wasting energy in that spring that I wasn't wasting in my birthday shoes. On a similar note, I had a blood blister on the bottom of one of my toes from running on the track, but it was re-absorbed the next day.... There was a guy getting his walk in while I was running - he looked at me sideways, but that isn't all that abnormal. I almost told him to take HIS shoes off, too, but thought that would be pushing it!. All-in-all, a great experience that I am happy to have shared with you in cyberspace. I see that Kari ran 3 this morning in her birthday shoes - (Barefoot Chardonnay anyone???!!!)

- Laura

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pictures Speak Louder Than Words!

Taking them off (note my Eiffel Tower socks)

Leaving them behind

Dirty toes when I was done with my barefooted 2 miles.
Off to some trails......

My sneakered feet took to these trails feeling somewhat muffled.

An unexpected bridge

and to celebrate today's feat??? **pun intended**- found this at the liquor store
(didn't know it existed)
Very fitting, don't you think? Sante!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's a Small World Afterall....lalalala

I have been absent, and I find myself saying SORRY again for this absence....again, I am sorry. I am happy to see that Kari has kept herself busy with her barefoot vs. running shoes experiment. It has given us all much to read about and certainly much to ponder, as we question if we should follow suit (I am sure we WILL eventually, because we always do what Kari says. She is a renegade!)

Anyway, today was a fabulous day on many levels.

1 - my first coaching experience is still not over - STILL NOT OVER!! Track and Field is supposed to be a short season, unless you have a SUPERSTAR for a sprinter. One of our boys has sprinted his way through sectionals, state qualifiers, and state prelims ..... and is now seated comfortably in the STATE FINALS tomorrow in North Cicero, New York. A feat which is difficult to achieve in one event, certainly! HOWEVER, he has managed to crawl up this perilous ladder in TWO events (100 and 200.) Proud proud coach, I am. I can't take much of the credit, particularly because I haven't really coached the sprinters. However, I have coached the distance runners so that our other coaches can dedicate more time to the sprinters - we all have our roles to play. So - I am excited to see if he can win tomorrow.

2 - while waiting for my trip to North Cicero, I had a great time tweeting with fellow bloggers Michael B and Karoline. You see, it seems that Kari has decided to become the expert on running barefoot (at Michael's suggestion.) Michael and I have yet to attempt said exercise and are feeling a bit inadequate with regards to this new specialty. I have concerns for my flat feet - seeing as I require gel inserts in my sneakers in order to run with any sort of comfort. Add to that, I am allergic to bees (afraid to step on a bee!!). Kari carried my epipen through the streets of Paris and I have yet to find another friend who will do so in LeRoy.

3 - Kari also tweeted that she has made contact with a fellow LeRoyan who is living in Trieste (small world) and will be getting together on Sunday - OF COURSE, Kari, you must wear the Jell-o tee shirt. How else will Brendan recognize you????

4 - Back to North Cicero - I called a friend who was an exchange student with Kari and I in Belgium. I knew that Aaron lived near Syracuse, because I had spoken to him a few months ago. When I told him that I'd be in North Cicero, how about lunch. He said that the Track Meet was literally in his back yard!! Well, we went out to lunch ( hadn't seen each other in 16 years) and he wasn't kidding when he said it was in his back yard. As I pulled up his driveway, I heard the first call for pole vault weigh-ins!! SMALL WORLD? HELL YEAH!!! So, it was great to see Aaron again - I'll spare you all the details of our conversations, but it was soooooo great to see him.

All of this made possible through the efforts of this blog and our decision to carry forth during and after our quest to complete the Paris marathon!!

What I've learned from running in my birthday shoes

There is a whole barefoot running world out there that I was ignorant of until last week. Here are the two most important things that I've learned from reading into it and trying it myself:

1. No, running in flat shoes does not count. You're either barefoot or you're not. If you're wearing socks, you're not barefoot either. And if you're not barefoot, you can't learn how to run correctly. If you decide to wear some kind of small layer of something to protect your feet from sharp things, you may get injured because you don't have the full sensibility of the nerves in the soles of your feet to tell you what to do, and, if this is the case, you are not allowed to complain. (The barefoot approach is not for the meek or wussy-footed, in other words). That being said, it really doesn't hurt, although some surfaces are more comfortable than others (the idea is the same as the bed of nails-- it's all about weight distribution). Barefoot runners that I have read about do not prefer grass, sand, and other soft surfaces. For them, hard or soft, it's all good.

2. Eureka! Relax your ankles when you run. I tried it this morning (with shoes) and it changes everything. It forces you to bend your knees more and gets your hips into the action, which essentially distributes the work throughout the body, making running, gulp, easier!

Don't worry, friends, I ran barefoot so that you wouldn't have to. If I think of any other things that can be translated into shoe running to help you become a better runner, I will let you know...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm liking the barefoot thing

I know it sounds weird, but it's fun! I split my run in half this morning and wore my shoes on my hands again. No blisters this time. Hey, if Luna can run barefoot, so can I (please don't suggest I run with a fur coat on, though...). For the record, I see the barefoot thing as a once a week occurrence. I don't think I'll be running marathons this way, but it is an interesting experience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I also ran 11 miles

in solidarity for Laura and Russ. It kicked my butt, though. I was sacked out all Saturday afternoon! But trail running is awesome. I can't wait to hear what we're running next weekend!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Did Something Crazy Today

If you've been keeping up on our blog, you know one thing: WE LOVE MICHAEL B. He is our inspiration. As you know, he is running Rochester with Laura this year and next year he is coming to Trieste to run with me in May-- he understands that marathoning should be done with buddies, and we are Best Running Buds 4ever! His constant on-line support and running wisdom have brought us to the point that when Michael B. said "Eat a Mars bar at mile 17!" By Gosh darn, Laura and I did it. When he said "get on Twitter," we started Tweeting! Then he said get on Dailymile-- we were on it in a nano-second.

When you hang out in cyber space with Michael B, you start getting strange ideas, though, because he makes you feel like you can do anything. He's more than halfway through his 12 marathons in 12 months challenge (two of which were one week apart), which made me want to do something crazy, too, like run 100 miles in 10 days (which I want to do in a couple of weeks. I think. I will keep you updated on that one).

Today he tweeted about how he was reading about running barefoot. So I started googling (I had images of Zola Budd and Mary Decker falling over each other in the 84 olympics, OUCH!) and reading about how good it's supposed to be for your feet, your ankles, for curing shin splints (bingo!). They also say there is something about it that makes you enjoy running in a whole new way because you experience it through your feet and not muffled through shoes and socks (um. Ok).

Now, to be clear, Michael B. did not say he was going to DO any barefoot running... but just the fact that it was on his mind made ME want to.

So that's what I did. I ran 3 miles on the bike path wearing my shoes and socks on my hands. I'm not kidding, it was awesome. And it's true: there is something really wonderful about it, I don't know how to explain it, but it's like that freedom you feel when you drive without shoes. It didn't even hurt when I stepped on pebbles, I just lightened up my step. When I could feel my ankle muscles, I felt like I had done them a big favor.

Putting my shoes back on again for the last 5 minutes of the run (in the street where non-runners would see me) was kind of disappointing and I was sorry to do it. Once I had them on again, though, I started flying! Running first without shoes made me a way faster runner when I put them back on again. I felt a lot more efficient, too, like you can't run wrong when you're not wearing shoes because if you do, it hurts.

The funny thing was how many runners I passed wearing my shoes on my hands. Thanks Michael B, for inspiring me to try new and crazy things!

For the record, the soles of the feet are fine. One small blister, but I feel like I earned that sucker.

So You're Not Running the Rochester Marathon?

That doesn't mean you can't TRAIN like you are! Anyone who is up for it, let's do a nice 11-miler tomorrow (or Sunday) in solidarity for our fellow runners: Limaruss, Laura, and Michael B. (although I think he is exempt after last week's marathon...). Let's eat our virtual Mars bar at the 7-mile mark.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Venice

We ran into our friend Cecilia while we were there. That was chancey!

Luna at Caffè Florian (I snuck this picture. This room was roped off actually) at Piazza San Marco.

Not too many people at Piazza San Marco.

Sweetie made me do it.

The train back to Trieste.

Luna Goes to Venice

Here's where we were on Monday.

She almost looks Venetian, doesn't she?

Luna looking down at the gondolas...

You can't see her, but Luna is under the table taking a rest and hoping that food will fall through the cracks of the table.

Trail Number One Part I

We had a four-day weekend so Sweetie and I decided to spend as much of it outdoors as we could. Here's what we did on Sunday. Our hike started in Prosecco. It was about an 8k walk to Santa Croce and back on Trail number 1, which goes along the Adriatic coast.

Here's the sign that told us we were on track. We only got lost once.

We saw two horses.

It was a really nice and pleasant walk. Sometimes rocky, sometimes woodsy.

Trail Number One Part II

This is the way back to Prosecco from Santa Croce on the Number 1 trail. Nice view of the Gulf of Trieste.

I'm looking down at Sweetie and Luna from the look-out point.

Can't get enough of these horses!

Here's the lookout point I was telling you about. Isn't Trieste pretty?