This is my backyard, my playground. It is my coach and my teacher. On this particular day, it was views like this that helped to focus my scattered thoughts and allowed me to be present in the moment.
He took one final step out of crowded suburbia and felt relief as his foot made contact with the dirt trail, still damp from the rain and covered in a fall mosaic of red and golden leaves. The leaves were quieter today and, wet from the rain, left a squish squish squish as his feet moved along the trail. He missed the satisfying crunch of leaves that came with early fall and dry weather but that time had passed and for now he was satisfied to simply drink the cool damp air into his lungs.
Soon the forest had swallowed him up and he ran with abandon, oblivious to the city he left behind and lost to the sounds of nature as he travelled beneath the canopy of trees. Another world, another place. Somewhere he could get lost in order to find himself.
Tomorrow (Oct 28th) starting at 9am I will be running the Columbia Gorge Marathon along the historic and beautiful Columbia River Highway. I signed up for this one about 4 weeks ago so watch me a hack a marathon with smart nutrition and sheer determination!
Have a great Sunday!
“Every single one of us posses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish.” - Scott Jurek, Eat & Run
This man ran 4 minutes 54 seconds per mile for 26 of them to win Olympic gold. One of the more impressive events in the games.
I’m a big fan of personal data tracking. Because of a genetic heart condition, I try to keep an eye on my heart rate when doing any sort of physical activity. I currently use a Wahoo Fitness heart rate strap + ANT+ dongle attache to the phone but I don’t use it that often either because I don’t feel like it I don’t want to go through the process of getting the thing on and just want to head out the door.
This new Kickstarter project seems to offer a simple solution. There have been strapless heart-rate monitors in the past but they’re generally considered to be pretty inaccurate. This monitor looks to be both accurate and easier to use that most heart rate watches. The display looks much more user friendly compared to some of the Polar and Suunto watches I’ve used in the past. I’ve already pledged, how about you?
We all have a past and have probably screwed up a time or more. You can let those moments cripple you, give up and stop living OR you can resurrect, strive to live each day deeply and happily in peace. I’ve learned that our minds and hearts are just as powerful as our quads and hamstrings. Believe in yourself, believe in love, believe in the positive, believe in the impossible, don’t ever give up, and the next thing you know you might just find yourself running a 100 miles!
Hood to Coast is something I heard about a few years ago and I’ve always thought that it would be an amazing opportunity and a great challenge to run it. I had no plans to run it this year but it was in the back of my mind to one day sign up with a team and run it. Turns out I’d be running it a lot sooner than expected…
On Wednesday, my girlfriend called me and said that her team might have someone dropping out and they’d be needing a replacement. I offered to fill in, unsure of if I was in any condition to be running such a race. I hadn’t done any serious running in over a month, so that day I went for a 3 mile run to how my body felt and make sure my knees, which had been giving me issues for the last 2 months, would hold up. The quick run was tiring, but I had no real issues that would prevent me from running so long as my knees stayed in good condition. The next day I got the call that I’d officially be running on the team and that night at midnight we hopped into a van and drove the hour and half to Timberline Lodge at the top of Mt. Hood.
For the next 35 hours I knew that I’d be doing nothing but running, sleeping, and snacking. With that in mind, I tried to pack a cooler full of things that would provide optimum nutrition performance over the course of 2 days of running. Those included Vega Vibrancy bars, a smoothie w/ greens, protein, and coconut milk, coconut water, and homemade energy bars that Jessica made. The smoothie’s blend of protein, micronutrients from the greens, and good fats from the coconut milk provided a good amount of sustained energy during the race and the coconut water helped me to stay hydrated, especially during the 92 degree heat. Jessica’s homemade energy bars packed a nutritional punch as well that helped during the later parts of the race (recipe can be found in Julie Morris’ Superfood Cuisine).
Our team started the race at 3:30am. Why so early? Because we’re not the fastest around and they want everyone to finish on time. The elite runners who usually all run a sub 6-minute pace don’t start until around 5-6pm. Our first runner donned her headlamp and reflective vest and blasted out of the starting line promptly at 3:30am
At the top of Mt. Hood, we saw some lightning way out in the distance that we assumed was out in Eastern Oregon. The storm was moving quickly though and an hour later it was clear that the storm was heading our way. With the first two runners finishing their legs, I hopped out of the van into a sheet of cold, unrelenting rain glowing with bursts of lightning and the sound of thunder ringing in my ear. The storm was now right above us and I ran my heart out, trying my hardest to not think about being struck my lightning. With a mix of excitement and fear, I blew through my first 4-mile leg (Leg 3) with a 8:25min/mi pace which I was quite happy with considering I usually run 9 minute miles and I hadn’t run in over a month.
Fast forward to Leg 15, my second run. It’s now about 2pm on Friday and about 92F outside, a stark contrast to my first run. I don’t run well in the heat and this would be my hardest leg - 7.4 miles with a few hills. My team stopped 1/3 through the leg to refuel me with additional water and coconut water and I powered through. It’s true what my friend Ravi said in a recent post, “Coconut water is like liquid gold during a hot race”. I made it through the heat better than I thought I would but it slowed me down to a 10:30 min/mi pace.
After camping at rest area and getting about an hour of sleep, we continued on the road and shortly thereafter I found myself running my final 6.2 mile leg at around 3:00am through the cascade foothills that lead to the Pacific ocean. I loved this leg the most as it became a personal journey in the quiet dark with my legs moving briskly and my focus sharp. My footfall was light as I treaded along the side of a quiet freeway through the early morning mist, occasionally looking up to see a shooting star in the night sky. The mist made everything eerily quiet and gave a great feeling of loneliness and solitude. Occasionally, you’d see a runner up ahead, their headlamp obscured by the fog, bobbing up and down like a chinese lantern. Despite the 480ft climb, I made good time with a 9 min/mi pace and really enjoyed the solitude of running through the dark and eery silence.
Our team made it to the finish line and we all grabbed a beer and showers at the rental house before meeting the rest of our team to cross the finish line together. The shower felt amazing and a cold beer has never tasted so good.
And because I know people will ask me… Yes, I ran the entire race in my Vibram Five Fingers (Bikila model)
Despite not training and being totally unprepared, I’m really proud of myself and happy with how I performed during the race. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to experience an amazing race with a great group of people. We’re already thinking of team names for next year…
17 mi, 54 Road Kills, 3.5 hours of sleep.
* In Hood to Coast, a road kill is when you pass someone during your leg of the race.
Here’s a few glimpses of the run that I turned into a 7x7 (or 13x7 in this case).
Also, the Hood to Coast documentary is well worth watching:
I often get asked about my Vibrams when I’m running and I’m very passionate and fascinated by the science and history of barefoot running so it naturally comes up in conversation quite often. A few times a year someone asks for resources to learn more and I end up digging through old e-mails to find links I sent out last and copy and paste them to the new person. I’m putting all those here on the blog for quicker reference and posterity. Enjoy!
Power of Running Barefoot
- 4 Hour Work Week Blog - Vibram Five Finger Shoes
- Set Higher Standards - Vibram Five Fingers are Worth it
- Barefoot Running
- Born, and Evolved, to Run - NY Times
- The Once and Future Way to Run - NY Times
- How to Run 50 miles: Biomechanics
- Running Clinic with Barefoot Ted
- Barefoot Running Insighs from Barefoot Ted
Barefoot Running Sites
- My buddy’s Copper Canyon race
- The Psychology of Running Motivation: How to get in the right frame of mind to dominate your training
- 10 Uncommon Superfoods from the World of Ultra Endurance
My favorite barefoot shoes
- Vibram FiveFingers - I prefer and wear the Bikila model, but find the one that fits you and feels good on your feet.
- Merrell Trail Glove - I mostly wear this for hiking but occasionally will put them on for a trail run. I still prefer the extra control and grip that the toe pockets on the Vibrams give me, but these offer a great minimalist experience without the individual toe pockets and they have some nice tread on the bottom.
- Altra Instinct - For those days where it’s too rainy and I don’t want to deal with soggy Vibrams or just want to switch things up and train different muscles. These offer a traditional running shoe look with a wide toebox for barefoot feel and a zero drop heel to encourage proper form.
- Leming Footwear - My all-time favorite barefoot shoe for casual wear. The look great, have excellent barefoot feel, and are totally acceptable in a variety of social situations!
- With the exploding popularity of barefoot and minimal running there are a ton of other options out there as well. If I were to pick one from the big manufacturers I’d probably recommend the New Balance Minimus or Brooks Green Silence. There are also a few lesser-known manufacturers out there like Skora Running and Vivo Barefoot. There are a ton of options out there so do your research, try a few pairs on, and decide which shoes will be best for you. I’m a strong believer in buying a pair of Vibram’s first so that your body and feet can quickly adjust and learn to run in the barefoot minimalist style (fore-to-midfoot strike). Once your form is down, feel free to branch out and try other shoes.