Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


15 Comments

Review: Merrell Women’s Dash Glove

First off, I’d like you all to give me a pat on the back for finally breaking out the old DSLR camera for my review shots. Up until now I’ve been a lazy ass and have been taking pictures of shoes with my iPhone camera. And while the iPhone is not bad for drunken bar night candids and quick snapshots of weird people at Walmart, I can do much better with the Nikon I paid $800 bucks for and therefore should really be taking out much more often. Besides it saved me about an hour of Photoshopping.

With that said, on to the review.

Fun fact: I didn’t actually have to do a review on the Merrell Dash Glove. Before I met any contacts at Merrell, I was lucky enough to win them from a giveaway on Running and Rambling‘s awesome blog (which I read pretty religiously). Soon as I learned I’d won them I decided to write a review, because up until now I have had nothing on here from Merrell, one of the biggest minimalist shoe companies out there.

Looks
The look of the Dash Glove is bar none. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments from friends, coworkers, even strangers on my pink and purple pair (titled “Ultra Marine” on their site). They look as great under a pair of jeans as they do on the roads. Lots of right-on color choices too. I almost went with the juicy orange-toned “Lychee” color instead, they looked good enough to eat. Much kudos to Merrell’s designers on the look of this shoe – they got feminine and sporty all at once, something not everyone does right.

Fit and Feel
How do they fit? Well, as most of you have heard at least 27 times, I have really wide feet. My only previous experience with Merrell’s barefoot shoes before winning the Dash Glove was of a pair of lime green Pace Gloves that I bought and nearly maimed my poor feet, from their obscenely narrow width (this was before learning that they offered a wide width version). But that’s for another post. What that experience earned me, though, was a wary fear of purchasing anything else from Merrell. So I suppose it was sort of good that I won these shoes. No monetary risk if I didn’t like them. I figured I could give them away to my friend Killeen if they didn’t fit me, because she has a much narrower foot.

So the first time I wore them, I put them on with jeans and wore them to work. At the end of the day I still wasn’t 100% sure about them. They do have a much wider sole than the Pace Gloves, but it was still narrower than I’m used to. I figured they would probably give me some major foot problems if I ever wore them on a run.

So in typical Trish Reeves fashion, I wore them on my 4-miler the next day.

And I’m glad I did, because something interesting happened to this shoe once I got running. The mesh upper started to soften up after about a half mile (probably from sweating – which I didn’t do at work the day before), and molded to my foot. I wasn’t wearing socks so it got a little swampy in there (and I did get a little blister on one big toe), but by the end of my run the Dash Glove really did earn its name. I have been pleasantly surprised.

One interesting, if contradictory thing, about the fit of the Dash Glove is that it is rather constricting to my mid-foot. I would typically find this to be a disadvantage, given that the constriction is technically a form of support, but I admit I like the help (sshhh – don’t tell the minimalist shoe gods). Doesn’t make my foot work quite as hard and keeps the tired away longer.

But it also keeps me from wanting to recommend this shoe to a newbie minimalist runner, because I believe a beginner should run in practically nothing until they get their form down (more on this below).

I’ve put about 30 miles on these babies so far, and you can see the footprint I’ve made on them in all the pictures (I prefer taking worn-in photos – you can see brand new shoes all day long on company websites). I very much like these shoes, they are quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Minimalist vs. Barefoot
The biggest thing to know about the Dash Gloves is that they’re actually the most shoe I have ever worn running since I went barefoot/minimalist two years ago. Most of the shoes I tend to reach for the most can be described as “slipper-like” or “kind of like a sock dunked in Plasti-Dip.”

Although they are definitely zero-drop and by anyone’s definition, absolutely a minimal shoe, the Dash Glove has a thicker, firmer sole than anything else in my closet. So to me they definitely fit more in the “minimalist shoe” category than the “barefoot shoe” one. Because of this, in my own (only slightly humble) opinion, a beginning minimalist runner might be better off first perfecting good form in a more lightly-soled shoe than the Dash Glove, because this shoe has just enough sole thickness to shield poor/heel striking form.

With that said, after two years of minimalist running experience, the thicker sole has been nothing but a relief to my feet. After about 6 or 7 miles, my feet typically start feeling a little beat up, especially on the roads where my forefoot hits the ground in the same place over and over again. Those extra millimeters of rubber between foot and pavement kept the beat-up feeling at bay for much longer. Last week’s 11-miler in these shoes was on the hilly streets of Boston, and the balls of my feet thanked me when I was done.

About six months ago I probably would have shunned such a statement. I would have proclaimed that if my feet can’t handle 7 miles of pavement, they didn’t need more shoe, they needed more training. But now I am starting to see that everything, like the Dash Glove, has its place and its moment.

And to me, the perfect place for the Merrell Dash Glove is the long road run, and it will be my shoe of choice at my next half marathon, coming up in the next few weeks.

My only question to Merrell is this: Since these shoes are basically the female equivalent of the men’s Road Gloves, why didn’t they just call them (Women’s) Road Gloves? The word “Dash” just doesn’t come to mind as easily. Just me…?

RELATED ARTICLES

Advertisements


8 Comments

Smile like a Bad-Ass

 

Last weekend, I ran 12 miles.

It’s been six days since then, and so the triumphant feelings have dulled a bit. But the fact remains that I did it. To many of my readers, 12 miles is barely a long run. Even to me that distance isn’t much of a big deal anymore. It’s just four 5K’s back to back; a ten-miler plus twenty minutes. I’ve done it before and will again. But because of how this run felt and how I handled it mentally, it was as if my glass ceiling finally got smashed to pieces.

It wasn’t about the number of miles run. It was about the number of miles run with a smile on my face. It was the fact that by mile 11 I wasn’t obsessing about my sore feet or about how far I was from home like I usually do, instead I had a big, fat, bad-ass grin on my face.

A little back story. The last time I reached the 12-mile mark during a run, I was crying. It was the famously hilly Great Bay Half Marathon and I had tweaked my IT band at mile 7 because I didn’t know how to run downhill properly. I was in pain, I was disappointed by my performance, and I was tired of running. Worst of all, I was in a shitty mood during my first half marathon when I should have been enjoying the achievement.

Like I have done on some other regrettable occasions in my life, I let my bad attitude ruin what could have been an amazing experience.

But this week I was a completely different person. I crushed those miles. Yes, they were long…I won’t pretend that they were not. It took me longer to complete this trail run than it took me to finish the Great Bay Half Marathon on roads. This run was comprised of several out-and-back mini runs, so I would never be too far from my car and could make pit stops to drop clothes or get more water (which probably helped a lot). At times I was cold, because I was only wearing a long sleeve tech shirt over my tank top and the wind got through it during walk breaks. There were too many people near the start of the trail with unleashed dogs and I kept having to strong-arm Oscar to keep him from jumping at them. The effort screwed up my form and by the last pit stop my IT band was bothering me for the first time in 10 months.

But my mood didn’t falter, not once. When I hit the trail head at mile 9 I dropped the tired pooch off in the car for a short nap, and continued on for the last three miles. With better form my knee hurt less, but I still needed occasional walk breaks to ease the strain. At 10.5 I turned around for the last time and said to myself, “You got this, Trish. You’re a bad-ass distance runner, and you’re amazing. You’re about to run 12 motherf***ing miles.” It sounds dorky as hell now, but at the moment it made me smile so hard my face hurt a little. It’s amazing how far a little self-motivation can go when you’re alone on a deathly-quiet wooded trail.

At 11.25 the song “I’m Too Sexy” came on my iPod and I danced a little while I ran, bopping my head until I was dizzy and laughing at an old joke between my pal Lynsey and me. I thought of Lynsey and how I wished we could be finishing this run together. Then I stopped because my knee was screaming. Walking felt like a massage on my tired hips. My feet didn’t even hurt like they usually do – or if they did, I was in a mental state that kept it from annoying me. I ate the last of my mango slices and praised them for giving me the best (chemical-free) energy surges throughout the whole run. I ran through the weird concrete tunnel under the road for the last time and finished the water in my CamelBak. At the very end I passed a runner just starting her journey for the day and I was glad to be finished with mine.

When I reached the car I said to myself, “See how easy it is to run these miles without that shitbag attitude?” Yup.

The truth is, no matter how far you can run, no matter how many hours you put into training, it’s all about attitude. You can drop out of a race, you can injure yourself during training, but you don’t have to let your discomforts and limitations determine your mood. After all that I learned on this one 12-mile long run, I know that if I had the choice to finish the Pinelands 50K in a shitty mood or DNF it with a shit-eating grin on my face, I’ll take the DNF.

Because I feel like more of a bad-ass when I’m smiling.


4 Comments

Guest Post: How I Accidentally Became a Runner

Post by Monologuer Killeen McGowan

When my running gal pal Trisha asked me to Guest blog for Barefoot Monologues, I was happy to oblige. I love writing, I love running. What’s to lose? And then, I drew the biggest blank a writer can possibly draw.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that when I run, I just run. I don’t have a training plan, and I don’t have specific goals. I just go outside, and trot along beside my dog, doing very little besides breathing, and encouraging my brain to allow my legs to keep moving.

That said, it finally hit me that there’s no better topic to cover than my own story. The story of how this very-much-a-non-runner became a girl with a numbered bib and Brooks-brand trainers (that’s Brit slang for running shoes, Yankees).

So, lace up. (Can I say that on a Barefoot Running Blog?) Here we go….

Summer, 2010

My firstborn was about ready to give up nursing, which meant I had to fulfill a promise I’d made to myself. I had to start exercising. While I had shed all the baby weight I’d gained during pregnancy (and then some), I felt that the moment I ceased to breastfeed was the moment I ceased to have an excuse not to be active. See, nursing burns 500 calories a day, and with that burns all of your energy. It’s pretty cool to sit on the couch with your suckeling bundle of sweetness doing all the work for you, but along with the perk of being skinny, came the drawback of feeling weak. I wanted to toughen, and strengthen, and I felt an exercise plan was the way to go as soon as baby was through with the boob.

It just so happens that around the time my milk production days were over, I was also quite overwhelmed at work. There was a lot going on, and without getting into juicy corporate details, we’ll just say I needed an outlet. So, one weekday evening, lactationless me rooted through the front closet, unearthed some beat up old TJMaxx-deal-of-the-day sneaks, and hit the pavement.

It felt SO great to just hammer out all my stress on that road. I live on a circle of a street, and it measures out as a near-perfect half mile loop. I ran two laps, dying, but thrilled. Next night, I did it again, adding a lap. Before I knew it, I went from a deathly half-mile to a strong, confident 5K. While I’d dabbled in running as a teenager, it never really spoke to me. Now, it was exactly what I needed, and I was hooked. I was a runner!

The rest of the month was full of little, personal, after-dark 5K’s. After eight or so of them, it became quite clear that my bargain-basement shoes were going to kill me, however. I spent a few weeks hardly able to walk, with advice from my marathoning neighbors (who’d seen me racing our neighborhood track) that I just might want to slow down a bit. I couldn’t tell you how fast I’d been running then, as I wasn’t about to be bothered with timing myself. Yet if these folks thought of me as a speed demon, I’m sure it was too fast for my own good. The knives that suddenly took up residence in the backs of my ankles were also a pretty reliant source; I wasn’t being a “smart” runner. Too far, too fast, too quickly. Well, darn it.

I partially have my runner hubby to blame. He’d encouraged me to stick with running for a month or so before investing in fancy footwear. I can’t point my finger too harshly, as yes, I’m notorious for starting new hobbies and ventures, only to lose interest a few weeks later. But we’ll just say he felt TERRIBLE to see me limping along as a result of his own, damaging advice. I felt equally terrible, completely forced to give up my new favorite stress-reliever, not to mention now having difficulty with the necessary act of walking. I feared I’d never run again. But, that didn’t stop me from buying a real pair of running shoes, from a real, running shoe store.

A few weeks and a hundred dollars later, I was back in business. My first re-do run was during our summer beach vacation, and it rocked my world in the good way. The seascape awed me, the ocean breeze delighted me, and the fresh, salty air all but gave me wings. Upon coming home, the new challenge was now in settling for my boring street without losing interest.

Fall, 2010

Enter Trisha. We’ve been friends for over a decade, and we have the world of social media to thank for reuniting us after losing touch in the post-college years. Because we live so close to each other (7.6 miles, to be precise), it was a great excuse to meet up and run. Our first jaunt together bore the slogan “4 miles or bust!” as I don’t believe either of us had ever braved more than 3.5 in one shot. We were quite perfectly matched.

Trisha, however, was far more into the running world than me. She had her Vibram 5-fingers before they had reached phenomenon status. She had a chunky, techy watch with lots of buttons. She had clothes that were made for running, hydration belts, GUs, and all the other schwag that runners use to enhance performance. Meanwhile, I carried a bottle from my husband’s fuel belt, MacGyver’ed to my waist with a hair elastic and a big rubber band (a system, I must admit, I still use to this day). Each run, she’d ask me how far I wanted to go. My reply was always the same: “It’s up to you. It’s not like I’m training for anything.”

Though Trisha wasn’t officially training either, the words “Half Mary” were on her lips every other step. For awhile, it was in the context of “I’m not sure I could ever run 13.1 miles…” but I could tell she already had her mind made up that she was doing one in the early spring. Eventually, she bit the bullet and signed up for the Great Bay Half in early April. I continued to come along for the ride, agreeing to 6 and 7 mile runs with the thought that I had nothing to lose should I accidentally over-do it again.

Winter, 2010/11

Another reason Trisha and I were well-matched is because we both love running in cold weather. Her training (and my non-training) spanned over the dead of winter, thus the majority of our runs were in below-freezing temps. I can remember the look of shock on my Mother-in-Law’s face on Christmas Eve as I suited up for a run with snow flurries swirling outside the window. Our January Jaunts and February Frolics were some of my favorite runs together, as braving the icy streets and sub-zero windchills gave me an air of bad-assedness that I’d never experienced before.

After hitting 9.7 slushy miles with Trish on one grey afternoon in the last week of February, I decided it would almost be stupid NOT to sign up for the half marathon in question. While I’d never run a race, never timed myself on a solo run, and certainly never considered the notion of paying a fee to run, it would definitely be an accomplishment.

The day before my birthday, I told my husband I’d finally made up my mind: I was registering for the race. As a very motivated, driven, enthusiastic, think-big kind of guy, I figured he’d be ecstatic.  So, I was rather blindsided by his adversity to the idea. “I think you should wait a little longer,” he said. It kinda caused (okay, it did cause) a fight. He kept up his less-than-convincing side of the argument for a good ten minutes before I defiantly hit the “Register Me!” button on the Great Bay Half Maration online registration form. Then, my husband spilled his beans:

“I signed us both up for the Wallis Sands Half Marathon in May as part of a birthday present to you.”

We look back on this moment and laugh… but at the time, I’m pretty sure I went into panic mode. In mere seconds, I’d gone from never running a race in my 31 year long life, to being signed up for not one, but TWO half marathons, which were only a month apart from each other. While it was sweet that my husband had utter confidence in me (so much so that he decided to do what he thought I never would and commit me to a Bona fide distance race), it was also, um… ballsy to make the decision for me. “I didn’t think you’d ever do it, but I knew you could, and I wanted to help give you the experience,” he justified. It actually was a great idea- it’s just that neither of us expected me to have the same idea.

Along with an experience, he also gave me a Garmin watch. Funny enough, it was the same exact watch Trisha had; ugly, yet topnotch. And thus, it got a lot of use in that next month. Those watches beeple-boppled in unison as we kicked it into high gear, obsessing over our pace, and completing each run down to the perfect tenth of the day’s desired mile.

Spring, 2011

“These Legs Conquered the Hills of the Great Bay Half Marathon.”

I’ll take Things You Don’t Want Printed on the Back of Your First Ever Complimentary Tech-wic Race Tee for $1000, Alex. I hadn’t ever run more than ten miles in one sweep. And, most of my longer runs were on fairly flat terrain. So, when I picked up my race number and tee at the expo on the day before the race, I started to wonder what the heck I’d gotten myself into. Then, Trish and I drove the course, chiding ourselves, “It’s not that bad, right?” as we lurched over hill after dirt-road hill. My stress-relieving activity had just become altogether stress-inducing. Ackkk!

I could go into great detail over the race itself, but this story isn’t about running my first race It’s about how I became a runner: by accident. It wasn’t my intention to run long distances, nevermind do it timed, in a pack of people. But, I did. And, I lived up to my new tee shirt, too. I smiled every step of the way.

The old saying goes, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Well, I have a revision. How’s about:

“You can do anything, if you don’t put your mind to it.”

In other words, sometimes our rationale is our own worst foe. If I’d set out on that first haphazard jog in my shitty shoes with the knowledge that by springtime, I’d be running a distance greater than my daily commute to work…? Gosh, I would have freaked out, and listed a million-and-one reasons why I’d never be able to go that far. Even if I’d believed I was physically capable, I’m sure I’d have disclaimed that there just weren’t enough hours in a day for me to commit to a training schedule. Yet, by not committing, by simply doing something I liked to do, I achieved what I never knew I could.

2012

These days, I’m back to three mile stints around town. Just the other day was my coldest run to date – 9 degrees.  I’m totally not kidding when I say I enjoyed it immensely! My original drive to run habitually was in order to strengthen myself. I can happily say that it worked, as running has made me a physically and mentally stronger person, as well as one that’s more tolerant of the cold. J

It’s hard to say what my future in racing looks like. Quite truthfully, I’m most drawn to the simplicity of the sport: just walk the door and start moving. (With some intelligence, that is.)

I look forward to my next accidental achievement, which very well could be barefoot running. After all, I’m already a minimalist when it comes to everything else.


17 Comments

So I signed up for a 50k Race…I mean, how hard can it be?

Thanks to Vanessa Runs‘ awesome helpfulness, here’s my answer:

Yeah, you read it right. Back-to-back long runs. Thankfully, the real commitment to craziness, according to this schedule, doesn’t start for a whole month (thanks to a smart commentor, Jason Fitzgerald, for catching it – because I thought it was this week – yikes!). But, I mean…did you see week 11? That’s 24 miles on Saturday and then 10 on Sunday!

Gulp.

Okay, okay. Maybe this isn’t so out of bounds. I did want to increase my weekly mileage this winter anyhow. And I can (hopefully) run without hurting myself if I go nice and slow. I mean, I’m not going to win the race anyway, so forget that. But because I’m REALLY slow right now, I can work on speed during the week, along with some lifting and strength workouts.

I will admit something, though. I am not holding myself to the full 50k, if it becomes unreachable to me that day. I promise not to beat myself up if I have to stop after the first of the two 25k loops (and then beg the race director to let me pretend I’d signed up for the 25k, to avoid a DNF). With that said, if I spend these next four months training my ass off and manage to not get hurt, then I can’t see why a marathon wouldn’t be possible. And once I get to a marathon….well, what’s five more miles? Right?

But I am not completely obtuse. I know that most people train for years and years to get to ultra-marathon status. They run these things with serious goals in mind, besides beer and social networking. They are lithe and strong, they have earned their runner’s bodies, they can easily run a mile in under 7 minutes, and they haven’t eaten ice cream in at least 18 months. And most importantly, yeah so they’ve already run at least a few 26.2’s.

But me? Well, I’m a slow-as-fuck runner who averages between a 10-12 minute mile (these days it’s 12, and sometimes worse), I’m overweight, short, and I haven’t picked up a free weight in…at least 18 months. And I’ve never run more than 13 miles in my entire life. And that one time that I did? I didn’t even do a great job, I ran down a hill wrong and busted my IT band.

And I worked hard for that half mary. Busted my ass, even. I lost weight, worked my way up to three 10 mile long runs and one 11 miler. But since that didn’t seem to work for me much in the end, I think maybe this time I’ll go about it in a completely different way.

Oh, I am going to train. I’ll try my best to knock down all those back-to-back long runs. I’ll start doing strength training to even out. We’ll see how it goes. But if something starts to hurt? I’m going to stop and rest. If it starts to feel like a job? I’m going to stop and rest. If I can’t get all the miles in? I’m going to spend more time at the gym doing strength training. I’m not going to stress about it. I’m going to call these next four months of training The 50k Slacker Program. The way I figure it, I may actually be the least experienced person at the whole race, and my completion of it will be out of sheer dumb will, kind of like Forest Gump running cross country. And because I’m going into this just to have a good time, I’m going to let my Slacker attitude prevail, all the way.

So with that in mind, I have 5 possible goals for this race, in descending order of successfulness:

  1. Finish the 50k and drink my first beer as an ultra-marathoner (take that, disbelievers!)
  2. Finish the 25k and have time for more beer
  3. Drink Jason Robillard’s share of the beer while he runs 50 miles
  4. Drink beer with a bunch of cool barefoot running people like a total slacker
  5. Walk around barefoot drinking beer and wearing somebody else’s cowbell around my neck (they give away a cowbell instead of a medal, how cool is that?)

No matter what happens, though, I will come away from these four months fitter, lighter and stronger than I am today. So even if I don’t complete a single one of these goals on May 27th (although I’m pretty sure that walking around barefoot with a beer in my hand won’t be much to tackle), the Pineland 50k will have done me a whole lot of good.

So what’s to lose, right?

(except dignity, self-respect and the ability to stand?)


9 Comments

The Runner I Am

It’s Thanksgiving night. As I sit in a quiet house, belly still full from pounds of comfort food lovingly prepared by family, head still spinning from those hours of catch-up conversation and several glasses of wine…I’m remembering how just before this day last year, I decided to train for my first half marathon.

I think last winter, the project of training for such a long distance (for me) was the most memorable and fulfilling thing I accomplished all year. And I have decided that I am going to do it again, and I am going to start training tomorrow. Now, when I say I’m training for “the half marathon”, I don’t mean that I have signed up for any races yet (I have one or two in mind, sure, but that’s beside the point). Nor do I mean that I have printed out any sort of training program with the ridiculous intention of starting it four months before spring race season (though I do find training programs mildly helpful as a guide for safely ramping up mileage). What I mean is I want to get myself mentally and physically back there again — to the place of running in the cold winter days and loving it, piling on the mileage and being thrilled about my ability to complete it. But this year, naturally, I want to improve my outcome. I want to have a better race. I want to pay closer attention to my eating habits and be lighter come race season. I want to improve my form. And most importantly, I want to enjoy it even more than last year. This year my resolution will be to quit all my whining and run smiley, even if it kills me. Okay…that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Because, someday, I want to be an ultra-marathoner, and hopefully by then I will have become the runner I want to be.

And what is that?…the runner I want to be. What kind of runner am I now? Do I even qualify as a runner? These questions have been spinning through my mind for a very long time now. Then just the other day I read an article* by Kate Kift (the creator of the Run Smiley Collective) called “What is a Runner?” And it had a bit of an effect on me. Not too much of what she said surprised me, she and I are on the same page about most running-related topics – many barefoot and minimalist runners are. But she concentrated quite a lot on how others label us, and to me she seemed to paint the “runner” label as sort of trite and one-dimensional. But that’s probably because she has so many other hats, occupations that fill out her life, that she’d much rather be associated with them instead. And that’s totally cool.

But lots of people think of Kate Kift as a runner, myself included. Doesn’t she think of me as one? What about all these other runner people that we consort with?

Perhaps some of these amazing barefoot runner personalities don’t think of me as much of a runner. I can’t run fast – my fastest mile ever is barely under 9 minutes (and that was just a one mile run, no hills, on a really good day). I’m neither a Vegan nor a Paleo dieter. I’ve never run farther than 13 miles, nor have I run more than 21 miles in a week. I don’t have a slim runner’s body. Up-and-coming minimalist shoe companies aren’t tossing any free trial pairs into my mailbox. I don’t write books about running, and my blog doesn’t usually generate more than 50-60 hits a day. Being the fence-gazing, super-ambitious chick that I am, I think I’ve been stuck on all of this a little too much lately. I’ve got all this useless anxiety about my place in the world of barefoot and minimalist running. I can’t stop wondering: should I even be calling myself a runner, counting myself amongst these crazy badass barefooters, writing articles on the subject as if I’m some kind of authority? What do I even have to contribute, that one of these guys can’t bring a hundred times better?

But many of my friends, coworkers and my loving husband (i.e. people who don’t run) call me a runner. Some are even generous enough to say I’m a good one. I relish in the label. Know why? It gives me an identity. A place to exist in the world of my peers. And their role for me doesn’t include parameters like speed, distance or miles per week. They just see that I do something I enjoy, and they applaud and appreciate me. When they hear I ran 8 miles on Saturday their eyes get big and it makes me feel like a rockstar. It brings me back to the first days of my long training runs last winter, and how big my eyes got when I saw the mileage on my Garmin. “Yes, I really did it, and I am awesome!” I would gush at myself. I was proud. It was enough then. Why shouldn’t it be enough today?

So when it comes to whether I’m a runner or not, whether you are a runner or not, it really is just about perspective. A runner isn’t a person who gets endorsed by shoe companies, or who is an authority on the subject of good form. It isn’t the woman who ran the longest ultra marathon, or the dude with the fastest 10k time. A runner is simply a person who runs. But I’d like to add: a runner is a person who loves to run. This is the runner I am. I shouldn’t forget that this year.

*Also read Kate’s follow up article on Jason Robillard’s site: “Definition of a Perfect Runner


Leave a comment

Repost: Blisters, Snot Rockets and Frozen Tears

Last weekend I sprained my ankle on leaf-covered trails, like I do almost every year. It’s angering, but it may also be a badly-needed lesson that I absolutely CANNOT wear traditional running shoes (forget what my podiatrist says), and that I MUST stop blowing off those ankle-strengthening exercises.

Although I am out of commission (AGAIN), I remain optimistic. There isn’t a lot of swelling and I know I’ll be back on my feet soon enough, and hopefully doing my cool-season long runs again before I know it.

In the meantime I think I’ll repost one of my favorite blogs on here. I wrote it last winter after my first 10-mile half mary training run, and it still makes me smile. It’s fittingly called “Blisters, Snot Rockets and Frozen Tears: What I’ve Learned on My Quest for the Double-Digit Run.”

Please click here to view.

As always, thanks for reading!


4 Comments

The Final Countdown

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this blog. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been too busy [running] to post. But the reality is that sometimes I’m so afraid to be uninteresting, that it keeps me from posting at all. I have two drafts started on other topics, but haven’t finished them. I’m going to have to work on that.

My half marathon is this Sunday. Which means I’m finished “training,” I’ve done all the prepping that I can, for better or for worse, and I’m tapering for the week. In case you’re reading this and you’re not a runner (assuming I even have readers) , tapering means significantly lowering the amount of miles you run over the course of a week or more (depending on the distance of the race), following the height of training. The whole point is for your body to be rested, primed and refreshed by the time race day hits.

My last long run in training was my longest, fastest, best performance thus far. Up until then I’d been pushing against a wall of 12:00 miles. I swear, every time I’d look down at my Garmin I would see an 11 on the pace meter…but would still turn up pretty much exactly a 12:00 pace by the end, every time. It was frustrating. I know, I know, a lot of folks will click their tongues and say that for a beginner distance runner, 12 minutes is a fine pace. But I felt like every long run had some setback that kept me from running as fast as I knew I could: either I hadn’t eaten enough, was running hard trails, too many hills, had a sore something-or-other, or got too winded from chattering with a running partner (more on that later). This last run did have one setback: I brought my Boxer, Oscar, and even though he’s been known to run pretty endlessly with me, he just didn’t seem to feel up to snuff that day. I’m not sure if he was tired, feeling yucky, sore, bored, or if his backpack was chafing. I was practically dragging him behind me for the last 4 miles. I felt bad, but I was 4 miles from home, it was too cold to walk, I was too prideful to call for a ride, and besides the dog wasn’t showing any outward signs of needing to stop (i.e. limping, panting, excessive water consumption, tail between legs). And I was averaging an 11:15 minute mile, so I wasn’t willing to give up my personal best for a pooch who was just being stubborn.

(For those of you who might be worried about Oscar’s well-being, don’t feel too bad…once we got home he happily ran figure-8’s around the yard for twenty minutes).

Don't let this sad face fool you; Oscar is an ultrarunner.

Anyway, even though 11 miles was the most I’d ever run, and even though the last mile was pretty mentally rough, I got through it in my best time: 2:04. I beat my 10-mile pace by 7 minutes and I was pretty darn satisfied with myself. I also didn’t take a walk break on the “colossal hill” that gets me every time. Not even for a second.

The upside (or perhaps, the down-side) to having done so well that day is that now I have a mental time goal for my first half. I know your only goal at your first half marathon should be just to finish it, but I can’t help myself. My current comfortable running pace is about 10:45-11:00. My best long run was at an 11:15 pace. If you factor in race-day adrenaline (the same adrenaline that let me finish 5 miles in 52:00 at last year’s Turkey Trot – a pace I have yet to ever match over that distance in training), then perhaps that can get me down to an 11:00 pace. And an 11:00 average pace will get me to the finish line in 2 hours 23 minutes.

Seriously, this stuff is way too easy to get all over your face.

I’m trying really hard not to hold on too tight to that time, but I do believe wholeheartedly that, barring any major catastrophes (injury, sudden unforeseen energy depletion, energy gel mishaps, runner’s trots, etc.), I should hope to be able to finish in less than two and a half hours. I am running with two friends of mine, one who is in much better shape than me and will likely spend the entire race pretty much just pacing me (that is, unless I can convince her to try for a better time, which I know she can do – she just isn’t as competitive as me, a.k.a. she is sane). The down side to that is since she’s in such wonderful shape, it won’t be a problem for her to converse heavily throughout the entire 13.1 miles. But if I’m trying to maintain an 11-minute pace, I don’t want to waste too much energy pushing hot air out of my lungs. I think I learned on my lone training runs that while it is much lonelier to run without a buddy, it’s much easier to put out my A-game. Unfortunately for me, she’s fun to talk to and it will be difficult to 1. tell her I don’t want to talk without feeling bad about it, and 2. actually not talk. Maybe I’d better bring my headphones just in case. Heh.

Race-day jitters aside, I feel pretty accomplished that I even finished training for a half marathon at all. I mean, isn’t that the hard part anyway? You can’t run a distance race unless you’ve put in the hours of training (or unless you’re a running demi-god, like my friend Meg Fox). I know – I hope – that one day I’ll look back on my peak running weeks during this training (20 miles) and think it’s not a lot of miles to run in a week at all, but at this junction it has been a big challenge. Just like last September when running a 5K race was a great challenge for me, and when 4 miles was my long run. The expectations get bigger as you move forward, but the mental challenge never diminishes.

I live for those moments in life when you realize you’ve just gone and done something you never thought you could do. Up until a couple of months ago I never thought I could run a half marathon, but on Sunday I will. I can’t wait.

Stay tuned for the race report!

In case you were wondering, yes, I did name this post after the song by Europe. And yes, the hook has been stuck in my head ever since. (video contributed by Larry Gibbons)