Monday, July 24, 2006

Third Time - A Charm?

Today, I finished my third barefoot marathon - my slowest yet, but certainly not without value! The fact that I have covered another "26.2" with my soles bared is satisfying.

The first problem surfaced at the halfway point (Mile 13), when my sides started to ache. Breathing deeply and deliberately through my nose, I thought for sure it would resolve the problem. Or was it water? I had never faced this kind of issue in such a long race.

Fortunately, I ran (walked, actually) into a fellow racer who said that sideaches are often caused by a buildup of CO2 in the deeper lungs and diaphragm. In this case, he was right!

The course is largely downhill with a brutalizing net vertical loss of over 3,500 feet. Despite my relatively gentle stride, the impact began to take its toll, with knees and hips protesting in pain, calves and quads on fire.

Then, when we finally got out of Emigration canyon, by feet were treated to five miles of rough asphalt. The pain in my muscles and joints made it more difficult to maintain proper form, so it was even more punishing on my feet. Did I mention that the temperature was climbing towards 100, as well?

Yes, this had turned into a masochistic self-torturefest, a test of endurance and perseverance. An old friend, unlike most, identified immediately with my barefoot running antics:

"I used to put a metal bucket on my head and bang on it with a spoon. The best part was stopping."

So it goes with marathons: the depths to which you descend make the everyday seem heavenly - or, to paraphrase ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes:

"Sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven."

Ultimately, I finished in a dismal 6:02 - but I finished, barefoot. I think I'll ease up on the mileage, "starting over," so to speak, to rebuild my running.

You'll just have to try it yourself to understand...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Long time, no blog!

The past three months have been very eventful!

In one month's time, I ran my first four official barefoot races:

- May 29th: Bolder Boulder 10K
- June 3rd: Salt Lake City Marathon
- June 10th: Teton Dam Marathon
- June 23rd-24th: Wasatch Back Relay

Right after the SLC race, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about barefoot running in which I am pictured quoted. What luck!

The "Dam Marathon" was 26.2 miles of rough country roads, topped off by the in-town rounds on winter's remnants of crushed lava rock!

My little sister-in-law, Kristyan, has taken it up; we even went on a jaunt yesterday "around the block" near her home.

While it may sound overstated, my life has been forever changed by barefoot running!

It is amazing when you discover and practice such a true-to-life form of exercise. Not only does it benefit you physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Deeply held beliefs are validated and reinforced as you literally inculcate them into your soul.

People tell me that I've lost my shoes; I tell them that I've found them. :)