Friday, September 30, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles Week Ending Sept 25, 2011

all photos courtesy of City Park Runners

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were a little hesitant or unsure about something, when your brain and body are not on the same page. One of those moments when you need that extra bit of encouragement from a friend or maybe just a kick in the rear end to get you going?

Or in my case Sunday, I heard a whole bunch of comments like, "What are those on your feet?" "Ummm Bob, you forgot to take off your shoes?" Or my favorite, "Bob your not running in those are you?"

It's really interesting being known to run barefoot, its either complete shock and dismay when someone who has never seen you run before notices the non-existent foot gear, or total confusion when someone you know sees you in something other than bare feet. Yesterday I was taking part in a great little event put on by City Park Runners called 'A Run Through History' in support of Variety of Manitoba when the both of these situations happened. Lets back up a bit and I will start from the beginning.

It was going to be a great day, the sun was shining, the weather brisk and cool, a slight breeze coming out of the north, overall perfect conditions for a run. Nicole and I set out with the kids to Lower Fort Garry for the 9:00 am race start time and arrived there with lots of time to spare. I checked in at the kit pickup location and secured the race bibs for both Nicole and myself. Unfortunately Nicole was not running as someone had to watch the kids while the other ran, and this is another reason why she is the best spouse in the world for her willingness to give up her run and let me complete mine. Now Nicole did get out to run early Sunday with Gail, and I was glad for that, because if she did not I would of felt very guilty and it would of been interesting trying to figure out how to make it up to her.

For some reason, I was not feeling my usual get up and go to take off the shoes and just run. So as we walked down this nice new asphalt path towards the fort and the start line. I noticed I was still wearing my Vibrams, which I pondered was a little weird, usually I ditch the shoes first opportunity I get and stretching my legs on this new asphalt with shoes on was a little strange even for me. So with a quick head shake to loosen up the cobwebs, I took off the VFF's and started doing some quick sprints to get the blood flowing. I didn't think about the shoe thing again till we reached the gravel entrance to the fort, and I stepped onto the cold (and I mean cold) very pointy gravel. After a couple of interesting steps, I turned and looked at Nicole and said, "Hmmm maybe I will be using my Vibrams today after all." So I proceeded to put them on and carried on my little way to the kit pickup table. I ended up getting a couple of comments about the shoes that were currently covering my typically bare feet, but I was for some reason this morning I was a little leery to run without them. Strange considering I have ran over worse gravel and in colder temperatures, so this really made no sense to me.

As we gathered at the start line, more comments started coming as running friends and associates alike started to notice my shoes. About a minute before the start of the race, a friend stared at me with a look that spoke to me with something like this "What the hell are you doing mister barefoot runner, get those shoes off your feet." With a shake of my head, I suddenly thought to myself, what am I doing, why am I wearing these, I hate running in shoes. So with a smile and a grin, the VFF's came off and they were thrown towards Nicole and the kids for safe keeping. With that it seemed all was right in the world again. I got back into the running pack, with some "Alright now that is more like it!" and the standard whispers of "He's got no shoes on" and "He's not going to run like that is he." All I could think in my mind was, "Oh yes, yes he is" as a smile creeped across my face.

Then there was the call of Ready, Set, Goooooo!, and we were off. It was slow going for a moment or two as the quicker runners maneuvered to the front and the runners like me made our way through everybody else. But once we got going, we got going. The gravel I was so worried about at the start was still a little cold and stabbing at the bottoms of my feet, but I just got into my high tempo running gait and 'Ninja-toed' my way through to the asphalt path just outside the gate. To explain what I mean by 'Ninja-toed', this is when I use a very light step at a very high cadence so basically the bottom of my feet barely touch the ground. As my foot starts to touch down, I am already starting to bring it back up, creating a very light and silent running stride (hence the reference to Ninja). When I run like this, you will not even hear me coming, or at least that is the objective.

As I turned onto the asphalt path which leads to River Road, I turned on the jets and just started running (some say I float along). I passed a bunch of runners and was just enjoying myself as I scanned around looking at all the trees changing colours. I actually forgot about running for a couple of minutes and just enjoyed the scenery as I cruised along until I approached the turn onto River Road. There was C my personal trainer directing the runners on where they were heading. With a Go Bob Go, and my quick response of "My core is missing it's workout something fierce" with a smile on my face, I rounded onto River Road. I continued to catch up and pass runners along the way and all I could think is wow I feel great and my legs were responding well, this is going to be a quick run. As I looked to the right, you could see the Red River through all the colour changing trees, it really was quite the sight. All I could think was this would make for some great pictures. What a great day and a great location for a run, thank you City Park for picking such a perfect venue.

I looked up the road, and could see the turn around spot in the distance as the first place runners headed by me, I figured I was only about 5 minutes behind the leaders (honestly that is not to bad for me, I was quite impressed with that).I still had a lot of umph left so I started to pick up the pace a little bit. I passed by a whole lot of familiar faces heading back the other way with a whole bunch of 'Way to go's' and 'Great run' and so ons I felt absolutely free and was having a great time. As I made the turnaround and started the trek back to the finish line, I passed a whole bunch of runners I knew including Laura, Elaine, Leslie and Erika, they all appeared to be having a great time and why not.

Heading back up the road, I was really not trying to look at my Garmin to see how far I had gone or how fast I was running, but curiosity killed the barefoot runner so to speak. So with a quick look I was surprised to see that I was just above a 8:00 minute mile and I was approaching the 2 mile mark. Wow, I was so surprised I almost tripped over my own bare feet, I had never been able to run that pace before in a race. I just started to smile, that was when I heard some whispering behind me, "I have to catch him, I can't let Bob beat me!" That was Laura, her competitiveness breaking through as she partnered up to catch me. Well I figured I would make it harder for her, so with a big grin I picked up the pace ever so slightly to make it a little bit more challenging. Now Laura is a great runner and a good friend so I have no problem if she beats me, but I was trying to not let it be to easy for her. I knew in the end she would probably pass me but I wanted to milk it for all it was worth and I did. I didn't let her pass me until we were back onto the pathway to the fort. As she did pass me, I told her to go finish it off strong because I was going to come back at her if I could. I think this motivated her to push quicker, I was just having to much fun so I let her go (I probably wouldn't of been able to catch her anyway at least not yet I am working on it).

As we rounded the corner back onto the gravel road into the fort, I heard a couple of people gasp as they noticed my bare feet. All I could think as I started the loop around was I was going to go as fast as I could and hit that finish line flying. I swear my feet barely touched the gravel as I did not feel anything (I finished the gravel portion at a 7:44 min/mile pace which is absolutely crazy fast for gravel) and then I heard Erick call out on the megaphone, "and here comes Barefoot Bob". All I could do was smile as I crossed the finish line. I finished in 25:17 officially which is still a minute faster than my personal best 5km time. I was shocked because I was only shooting to break the 26:00 minute barrier and I absolutely killed it.

Congratulations to all the runners who finished hard (Laura finished in 25:02 which is a great time and the winning time was 17:18 by QF and SK was a half of a step behind at 17:19), and to the others that finished their first official 5km run (congrats LM with a 36:48 good run). A great thanks to the organizers Erik, Cheryll and the rest of the staff at City Park Runners as well as the volunteers for Variety the Children's Charity of Manitoba for putting on a fantastic event. Of course we cannot forget about all the volunteers who took time out of their day to help make this event a great success. Last but not least to all the spectators and the fort staff who dressed in character to keep everybody entertained for the day with a little bit of history to go along with the fun. I am really looking forward to this event next year. You never know, I might be trying to break the 24:00 min barrier by then.

Some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Thanks again to City Park Runners for the photos and to putting on such a great event.

Look at those great jackets

And we are off, 'See Sheldon Run'

A beautiful day for a run

One and Two come in neck and neck

John coming in strong

Laura, how dare you beat me

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

Lookout world you haven't seen the last of me!

Damn that is a great jacket.

He got the biggest cheer, running with a coffee carafe like that.

What a beautiful sunny day in Manitoba

Can't get any better than this.

Lower Fort Garry

Lower Fort Garry volunteers in period costume

Milling about before the run.

So after such a great run I have to end off with a great Chinese quotation:

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

or a more topic related quote could be:

"A journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's bare feet."

To carry on with my mileage reporting for the year:

Monday, September 19, 2011

WH3 Red Dress Run 2011

Barefoot: 0.00 miles

Vibrams: 4.25 miles

Total: 4.25 miles

Note: I am sure there are some questions about the above item, let us just say I was a little concerned about what I was wearing at the time of this run to have to worry about watching for broken glass, etc in downtown Winnipeg as the sun was going down. I am going into no more detail than that, but it may lead into a future post, and yes there is pictures but I am not going to post them even if you say pretty please.

Tuesday September 20, 2011

Lunch Run at Work

Barefoot: 6.95 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 6.95 miles

Thursday September 22, 2011

Run From Work to Charleswood

Barefoot: 11.60 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 11.60 miles

Saturday September 24, 2011

Run With City Park Runners

Barefoot: 5.30 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 5.30 miles

Sunday September 25, 2011

A Run Through History 5 km

Barefoot: 3.11 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 3.11 miles

Total for the Week:

Barefoot: 26.96 miles

Vibrams: 4.25 miles

Total: 31.21 miles

Year to Date:

Barefoot: 598.24 miles

Vibrams: 80.20 miles

Total: 678.44 miles

So with the above numbers I will cross the 1,000 km (or 619 mile) mark barefoot since April by the end of this week. Even though I will realistically not reach the 1,000 mile mark this year (unless Winnipeg decides to have Hawaii type weather for the rest of the year, NOT!), this is a huge successful venture in my books. This also gives me the modivation to reach for the goal again next year.

But on that note, lets see how far I can get in the upcoming weeks before the snow flies and the city starts putting chemicals that burn the bottom of my feet back onto the sidewalk.

Until next week and the confirmation of the completed km's.

May your souls tread lightly over the gravel that is life.

On on


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles - Week Ending September 17, 2011 Bismark Marathon Edition

So this has been an interesting week, since last Sunday when I ran the entire Treherne Half Marathon barefoot on gravel to the dismay of a lot of people, and accepted an invite to join a friend on an excursion to Bismark, ND to run there on Saturday, I have found out alot about the resilience of my feet and body in general.

Lets start with Sunday, after I finished the half, my feet were a little tender, ok that would be an understatement they were down right sore. After running 13.1 miles on gravel (with about a mile reprieve on asphalt) that was very understandable, I figured I would have tender feet for a couple of days. I was wrong within hours my feet were back to normal, my calves were a still a little tight the next day and my big toe was still sore from my toe drag at mile 10 or so, but other than that my feet felt fantastic. Also note my toe healed up nicely in a couple of days. I was even able to do some trail running Monday night out at Kilcona Park with the WH3 barefoot and it felt fantastic, no ill effects of the race the day before.

But just to be on the safe side, I did not run the rest of the week, since I committed to going to Bismark with Mike (from See Mike Run), I wanted to ensure my feet were ready for what I was thinking was going to be a fast half marathon. Nothing like a last minute decision to run a race, within the last two weeks I have signed up for 2 runs at the last minute (Treherne the Wednesday before the race and now Bismark the day before). The crazy thing is that on the trip down to Bismarck, I was contemplating running the full instead of the half because I didn't know what I would do waiting the extra approx 2 hours for Mike and David to finish after I was done. So as we drove the 450 miles (not km's eh Mike) to Bismarck I tossed the idea of throwing caution to the wind and running the full marathon around. So here we are driving for about 7 hours to an American city, trying to figure out what race I was going to complete. We arrived in Bismarck around 6 pm and headed straight to the race pick up / registration area which was located in the mall which was adjacent the Scheel's (a really cool sports equipment store similar to MEC and REI). Still completely undecided which way I was going to go, I started the registration process and got to the run selection and checked Full, I thought why not you only live once, right?

Now lets put this into perspective for all you runners and non-runners out there:

  • I have not ran more than 16 miles since June 17th in one shot (only adding 10.2 miles onto of my max run, no problem).

  • I haven't trained for a marathon at all and definitely not at race pace.

  • I was still battling my breathing issues, carried my puffer through Trehere just in case and would do the same here.

  • There was a killer hill to tackle not once but twice (1.5 or so miles up at a 5% grade incline)

  • There was chip-seal on the course

  • There would be off and on rain throughout the run and a pretty good head wind

  • Of course I was running barefoot

That all being said, I was pumped to get out there and run. It was really interesting, as I was registering, one of the ladies behind the table noticed my Vibram shirt and mentioned that her son runs in them, and Mike mentioned that I actually run barefoot and would be running tomorrow that way. That was when all the hoopla started, all of a sudden they were quizzing me so they could write down my bib number, my name and contact info on a separate sheet, for at the time some unknown purpose. It really didn't hit me until the next day what it was, but I will expand on that later. I just answered their questions, smiled and we headed out to go check in at the hotel and then off to Olive Garden for some pasta and beer (a traditional pre-race feast).

With a 7:30 am start time and really not sure where were going and how to get there (thank you Garmin GPS), we wanted to ensure we were up early enough to ensure we had plenty of time. After we got back to the hotel, it was a early bedtime to try to maximize on the sleep that we would probably not get and true to form all three of us didn't get much. Pre-run jitters are common, as you start to run the course in your head and lay out and try to perfect your strategy for the day ahead (note: I have found this really never goes to plan but so be it I still do anyway). It was interesting to hear this never goes away, I found out that David who has run over 80 marathons and a number of ultras (including The Canadian Death Race and numerous other 100 milers) still has this happen as well.

Mike was up at around 5:00, I dragged my butt out of bed at around 5:20 and David fell out of bed at about 5:35, a quick shower, dress and prep for run and we headed downstairs to hit the continental breakfast and a coffee. Met some other runners from Ohio and Kansas who seemed a little over dressed to me wearing touques, tights and heavier running jackets, but they were ready to 'Get 'Er Done!' (That one is for you Mike). Here I was planning to wear my shorts, tri shirt (which is sleeveless) and my arm sleeves for the start, along with my bare feet, must be a Canadian thing, overheating is not a good thing in my mind. Anyway, we piled into the car and headed out to find the run, thanks again GPS for pointing us in the right direction. About halfway there we picked up a runner who was walking along the side of the road looking rather chilled. He in fact was from Houston Texas, and was only wearing his running gear which consisted of a muscle shirt and shorts, he was very grateful for the ride. He was unaware how far it actually was from the hotel to the start line so we were glad to give him the opportunity to warm up before running the full marathon. As we arrived we started to get ready, I took off my long sleeve shirt and my VFF's but left my Injini toe socks on to keep my toes warm, I did get some looks from other runners as I was walking around in socks (just wait till those come off, hee hee!).

It wasn't long before everybody started lining up at their posted target times, we all settled on a 4:00 goal (I say this with tongue in cheek) and positioned ourselves in that area. Off came the socks and the OMG's started with earnest and with them the questions. Now I do not think myself an expert in any stretch of the imagination (with only about a year and a half of experience) on barefoot running but I do like to pass on my knowledge if people are interested. This race seemed to be one where there was a lot of interest, I had numerous conversations and questions with runners, volunteers and spectators alike on the way i run. You would almost think this 'Barefoot Running' thing was catching on or something. After the National Anthem was sang (and she did a fantastic job), we counted down from 10 to the start, it was nice to hear everybody get louder as we approached one..... and we were off!

It's always interesting how runners always position themselves in time areas that are realistically beyond their capabilities, even at the start. I love optimism (and I will admit a 4:00 marathon for me is a stretch but I can keep that pace from the start for a number of miles), but Mike, David and I must of passed numerous runners in the first few minutes that couldn't keep up that pace at all. For some runners this could be very frustrating, if they are looking for a time or a personal best to have to weave in and out of slower runners that they really shouldn't have too. I personally say, even though it is frustrating, you have to keep a positive outlook and be happy they are out enjoying a run, because not that long ago you were probably exactly like them. Life is to short to let little things like that get to you, enjoy the day.

On to the race, let me say it was a blast, they had friendly volunteers and for a smaller race and not ideal weather conditions there was some very enthusiastic spectators along route. I kept pace with Mike and David for probably the first 10 miles or so, which was fantastic for me because they are both stronger runners than I am. The course of the start was on a bike or runners asphalt path so it was a little congested until things started to thin out, but once it did it was smooth sailing. I had numerous conversations along the run (which did slow me down a little bit) with runners along the way, either with runners that had started the conversion to barefoot or wanted to give it a try but were a little hesitant, too the runners that thought I was totally nuts but amazed at the same time. I ran and talked with a younger guy from Bismarck for about 5 minutes about how to start running barefoot and what not to do. I was amazed at how enthusiastic he was, I almost thought he was going to stop and take his shoes off right there, but luckily he didn't he still had a good 24 miles to run. I do not know what it is about running, but you can talk with a complete stranger about anything and there is no problem, no inhibitions at all everything is fair game. One girl I was talking to about barefoot running suddenly changed topic to bodily functions and noises without a bat of an eyelash. This is someone I met not 2 minutes before, where else do you get that. This is another reason I like to run.

As we trucked along the course, we started heading to "the Hill", that would be Mary's Hill towards the The University of Mary (she must of been important to have a University named after her) which was located on top of a plateau to the north side of town. This hill was very interesting, not usually on the course the race director had to change the route due to the flooding of the Missouri River, thus the hill was added (not once but twice - at mile 5 and 18). It is a on paper, one mile long at a 5% steep grade incline up towards the University (officially I would say 1.5 to 1.75 miles up to the top by the University but who's counting). This was going to be a challenge for us flatlanders but of course we were up for the challenge. Along the way to the Hill we passed a couple of young musicians playing away to help inspire the runners. It put a smile on face to see a couple of teenagers playing their hearts out in the cold and drizzle as they were. One had a full drum kit set up and was going at it like a wild man and the other was a younger teen who was strumming Smoke on the Water on his electric guitar. Very impressed that they took the time to do this, they were still going at it as I passed them for the second time on the second lap, pretty darn impressive. There was also a harpist playing at the University grounds as well, I would think her fingers were probably pretty cold strumming the strings for 4 hours, so kudos to her as well. The view at the top of the hill behind the University was really impressive, you could look into the river valley and even with the fog and mist it was still a pretty impressive sight. I of course had to stop and take some pictures, as I decided that I was going to play tourist on this little adventure and I was having so much fun. As I started up and headed towards the first Relay Transition Point, the strangest thing happened, I heard some guy on a bullhorn calling out relay numbers as they came into the transition area (not unusual) but then i heard him announce the following, " Look out folks, here comes our Barefoot Runner, give him a big cheer when he goes through!" I really didn't think much of it, I waved, high fived a bunch or spectators and runners alike, smiled and thought to myself, wow that was nice, and carried on my merry little way towards the down the hill part of the run.

As David and Mike pulled away once we got down the hill and headed back to the end of the first loop, I got once again into a conversation with a couple of runners who were running the half marathon, they were having the time of their lives and you could see it all over their faces. Not really paying attention to my pace I ran with them for a while, fielding more questions and comments, having a few laughs and just enjoying the run. They started to slow a little bit and I said my goodbyes and good lucks and slowly pulled away. My legs and feet felt fantastic, there was no sign of fatigue at all, and I was keeping a good pace somewhere around 9:10 mile, which I was ecstatic about. I then started running with this one older gentleman who was running a leg of the relay, I believe he was a city engineer as he was telling me about the earth dikes that were still along the side of the road and how they had just finished clearing some of the dikes off the course route that week, kudos to the city workers who helped get the course in as good of shape as it was. He also told me he wanted to run the half but he was out early putting all the race signs out so he decided that the relay would still give him the chance to run. Awesome stuff, I like to hear stories like this, it shows dedication, unfortunately I did not get his name but I know he finished strong.

Once again, I was coming around the corner towards relay exchange number two, when once again "I hear, "Here he comes give a big cheer for our barefoot runner, Bob Nicol from Winnipeg". I really didn't think much of this once again, just thinking that's strange why did they announce my name as I ran through with some more hi-fives, etc. As I headed to the half way point and the end of the first lap, I started thinking to myself, 'How did she know my name?' (this also happened at the rest of the Relay Stations as well, very humbling. Shaking that off I proceeded to the half way point, and came up to the only area that was really a little confusing, there was a volunteer standing on a split in the path asking the marathoners as they came through if it was their first or second time through? Me not really comprehending what he was talking about, said, "Damn only the first time, I am not that fast", thinking he was talking about finishing of my second loop. Nope, it seems the start of the second loop consisted of a loop inside a loop so you pass that junction twice in about 15 minutes or so, a little confusion but I guess it could of been worse. As I ran towards the half way point (and the finish for the half marathoners), I once again heard, " Lets hear a big cheer for our barefoot runner, Bob Nicol from Winnipeg who is running the entire marathon barefoot today!" At this point, I started wondering what the heck is going on, this is a little weird, I am no where near the front, I do have a good split with just over a 2 hour 13.1 miles but really. Then as I pass the announcer he gives me a big thumbs up and a quick reference to 'Born To Run' being a great read and wishing me good luck on finishing, as I was the only barefoot runner.

I was a little taken aback by all the attention, but figured ok, lets finish this baby off. I headed out on the final lap, with a little bit of a slower pace but still good in my books. As I finished the loop I came up to the volunteer who directed me around the first time, and joked with him see you in a couple of hours, he smiled and cheered me on. The second loop was very similar to the first time around a lot of chatting with everybody, I got to see a really cool drum solo, and the guitar player was still cranking it out as I ran by. Everybody was throwing comments my way about my feet and I was having a great time. I even started playing duck, duck, goose with another marathoner as I would pass her, then she would pass me, then I would pass her. We did this the entire rest of the race. Going up the second hill I decided to walk a good chunk of it to conserve my energy for the final push to the finish, this was a good thing as there was a killer headwind as well for the entire distance up the hill. I ran down the hill with a fresh abandon, just letting go and with a great tail wind to boot, I have never had that type of energy at this stage of the run (was around 20 to 21 miles). I cruised to the bottom, and stopped for my one potty brake and a gel stop. I think the volunteers thought I was crazy because I was grinning from ear to ear and even started picking up some of the cups around the garbage can that missed (must be a Canadian thing). Off I went to catch up to my duck, duck, goose partner, when I noticed that she was slowing down quite a bit, so as I passed her I told her she had to run in with me and I wouldn't take no for an answer. She smiled, agreed and I took off ahead, so I got a couple of minutes ahead of her and started to walk to let her catch up and pass me, even though I felt fantastic and could of ran it in I was having fun and I wanted to help this runner get in. So once she got about 500 yds ahead of me, I started running again and passed her with a 'Duck', ran ahead stopped and started walking again, in which she passed me again with a smile and a 'Goose'. This happen a couple more times until we were at about mile 25 and change, this was where Valerie from Nebraska and I started running together to the finish. We also picked up Melissa who was part of relay team (who were running in support of a friend with cancer), Melissa started running a couple of years ago to get active and has lost 60 pounds since starting. She was doing awesome but I could see she was starting to falter a little, so on went my 'Motivational Speaker Cap' and I told the both of them, let's go we are almost there, and I want to both of you to kick my barefoot Canadian butt. They both laughed and the closer we got, the more I pushed them to finish. You could see Melissa's teammates cheering her on in the distance and that must of inspired her as she took off from the both of us, it was great to see and put a smile on my face. That was when I looked at Valerie and told her, now its your turn and egged her on through the finish line. She beat me by 3 seconds. Official time was 4 hours 36 minutes and 55 seconds. With a quick hug and thank yous from both of them we parted ways, it was fantastic to see. This is another thing I love about running, to see them as they crossed the finish line was priceless, and why I will continue to run.

Even though i could of shaved some time off my finish, to me it was not about that, it was seeing the looks on everybody's faces as they crossed the finish line realizing if they push themselves that little bit harder, they can do it and have done it. To cap this off I had a great time running this race and even though it was not a personal best, I will not forget the fun that I had and discovering how my body and feet have adapted. Previously, I could of never imagined running a marathon, let alone one without training for it, I be thinking this ultra marathon thing could be possible after all.

There are some pictures at the end of the post for your viewing pleasure.

Here are my miles for the week:

Monday, September 12, 2011

WH3 Run at Kilcona Park
Barefoot: 2.35 miles

VFF's/NB Mimimus: 0.25 miles

Total: 2.60 miles

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bismark Marathon

Barefoot: 26.37 miles

VFF's: 0.00 miles

Total: 26.37 miles

Total for Week

Barefoot: 28.72 miles

Minimalist: 0.25 miles

Total: 28.97 miles

Year To Date:

Barefoot: 571.28 miles

Minimalist: 75.95 miles

Total: 647.23 miles

The drummer on course kept a good beat

Young guitarist, sorry so blurry tried to snap photo as I was running by.

This was the path were on for the majority of the race, not to wide but it was doable.

Me before heading up the hill, this was around Mile 5 .

Harpist at the university grounds, very nice lady.

A look from the plateau behind the U of Mary down into the river valley

Another view from behind the U of Mary.

Have a great week everybody,

On on,


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Long Run Sunday (not really) Sept 18/11

We're going to meet 6 am at Timmies by Unicity, NOT Westwood and Portage.  We only have an hour to run  so it'll be short and sweet.  Bring your rain stuff, just in case.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles: The Treherne Marathon Edition

So I want to start this post out with the following comment, "When you bring beer to a marathon for a post run celebration, do not forget the bottle opener!" I learned this lesson first hand this weekend, and it will be a lesson that I will not soon forget, nor some people will not let me forget......

As we finished the run and headed back to the truck to settle in to watch the rest of the runners come in and have a beer with some friends, I realized I forgot the darn bottle opener. Now normally this would not be a problem as most domestic beer is twist top, but on this occasion I decided the night before to get fancy and bring some imports (Samuel Adams and a European brand that currently escapes me) and these both required bottle openers. Have you ever seen a bunch of runners who just finished a 13.1 mile run try to think of ways to get beer bottles open without an opener, well I can tell you it was not a pretty sight. To top it all off, we were driving our new truck that we had purchased the day before, so standard supplies were limited. To give you a quick synopsis of substitute bottle openers used tried they are as follows; A spoon, a crow bar from my tire changing kit, a key, my round belt buckle, finisher medals, etc. Lets just say we had very limited success in opening the bottles, but we all have matching flesh wounds on fingers to show for our efforts. It never occurred to any of us until the last bottle was opened that the seat belt in the truck would of done the trick, and if it wasn't for the magically appearing Bottle-opening Fairy from Stonewall with the lighter trick that felt sorry for us struggling, we would probably still be there sitting in the field with blood everywhere trying to get them open.

Let us just say, do not have beer available and forget the bottle opener if you have a bunch of Hash House Harriers around, I will not be living this down for quite a while, I be thinking. Anyway enough of that, lets get on with the breakdown of what I consider my favorite Manitoba run. On on!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011, a day important for two reasons. One being the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, that should and will never be forgotten. I am in awe of the strength and resolve of all the survivors, people involved in the rescue as well as the families of the victims in the face of adversity that was bestowed on the world that day. To the communities and volunteers that helped out in regards to diverted flights and passengers throughout Canada including but not limited to Gander, Moncton, Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver, etc. The kindness and compassion shown on that day will not be forgotten by any and all of those involved, and for that I salute you. To the victims that were senselessly murdered that day, you will not be forgotten ever, and may you all rest in peace.

Secondly, this was also the running of the 7th Annual Treherne Marathon, a great little event put on by a small town in Western Manitoba right at the base of the Tiger Hills (about 90 minutes west of Winnipeg on Highway 2). We, the Winnipeg Barefoot Runners all ran the full marathon last year and loved it, but due to training issues (none of us trained at all), we decided to run the half marathon this year instead. I was also trying to complete the entire run barefoot, and if you know anything about this race and course you will know pretty much all of it is on gravel country roads. Therefore approx. 12 miles of running gravel roads with my bare feet is pretty much my limit this year, I be thinking.

It was a great morning for a run, sunny and at the start not to hot, but we all knew that was going to change as the temps were suppose to reach 30 degrees by the afternoon. There was also no wind of any significance, just a gentle breeze at best, almost perfect running conditions. The turn out was great, not sure of the final count but it appeared there was more participants then last year, which is always good to see. I hope this run grows a little bit each year and they continue to put it on because they do such a great job, and some of the bigger races could learn a thing or two from the organizers of this event.

The first leg of the run goes from the community center located in the center of the town out to Railway Avenue and then thru some residential streets back towards the gravel road that runs past Hwy 242 towards the start of the Tiger Hills. It's great running thru the residential streets with the cheers and the sound of 'Chariots of Fire' playing on the piano coming from the window of one ladies house as you run by. Lets just say, it is very inspiring the amount of effort this little town of just over 650 people put into making this run a success and making all the runners feel welcome and important. This is one of the reasons why I like to support this run, other than the run itself. The other reason is the scenery, it is absolutely stunning watching the sun rise up over the golden fields and look out over the horizon when you reach the top of one of the hills (complete with a visual cue via sign that says 'Turn around and look at the view') it is absolutely stunning, and I personally believe that all the runners do exactly that, turn around and take a look, because I know I did.

It is also interesting to be running along the route and be passed by a farm vehicle heading out to the fields, with the driver waving and smiling at all the runners as he passes by. It brings a smile to my face as I listen to the runners around me say, "Another Hill?", yes there are a few on this course, including a couple with some pretty good grade inclines, brings that hill training into perspective (too bad I don't do much of that). I have to say, I have heard some good advise about running hills, take them slow and easy so you don't burn yourself out, take the downhills quick it will even the time loss out. Although I was not concerned about time and just wanted to enjoy the race, I was pleased at the pace I was able to maintain even through the more technical areas, my feet were handling the gravel well and I felt my form was good as well. That was until about mile 8 when the small sharp pieces of gravel started to appear all over the road, or at least when I really started to notice it. I was still running strong albeit quite a bit slower as I tried to pick my way through the rougher patches, this was quite challenging because there really was no clear areas. For those of you that are unfamiliar with running barefoot on gravel, it really is a treat for your feet normally, standard gravel roads utilize a smooth larger stone mix. But some will also mix in small man made crushed rock into the mix especially over the winter months to help with traction. Lets just say this is not fun to run on, the rocks have this nasty habit of sticking into the sole of your foot no matter how lightly you step, they were slowly starting to bruise the thick skin built up to protect my feet. So you end up doing a lot of stopping to brush the rocks off and a lot more fancy footwork to try to avoid them. I was doing a little more walking then I would normally do (usually I only walk at the aide stations while I drink water) to try to save my feet. This of course slowed my time down considerably. But that was ok, because that allowed Nicole to catch up so we could run in together to the finish line. We got to run the last 2 miles together, which I truly loved because we usually do not get to many opportunities to run together, and I cherish all the times we get too.

I also got to run with Mike from See Mike Run (a great blog that we follow, see right side for link) for a portion of the race as well. We had a great chance to talk and discuss items along the way which I enjoyed immensely. Mike also invited me to accompany him to run the Bismarck Marathon the upcoming weekend as well (more on this later). I also want to use this time to promote a great upcoming event that Mike is putting on called Ted's Literacy Run, check out the link at the end of the blog for more information. Come on out and support a great cause.

I was able to finish the run from start to finish completely barefoot, which was my goal, it was not a personal best, but that is not why I run, I run because I like to run and to just enjoy myself. I met some great people along the way and heard a lot of positive feed back which always brings a smile to my face.

We also had the pleasure of seeing and cheering the first marathoner right through to the last as they crossed the finish line and that was really cool. We had a great time, we all accomplished what we set out to achieve, me completing the run barefoot, Nicole getting her mojo back (she completed the run in her VFF's) and Gail (Midella Depac) also getting her mojo back (she finished in her NB Minimus's). With this run I believe everybody might be back on track for a great running finish to the year.

Kudo's to the race director and all the volunteers who once again put on a great event, and we will be back next year to not only run but also pose as the 'Beer Fairies' at the finish line for all that may want to stop and chat.

Here is my mileage for the last week starting from the Treherne Marathon and going back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Treherne Marathon

Barefoot: 13.15 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 13.15 miles

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Run With City Park Runners

Barefoot: 8.95 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 8.95 miles

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Run From Work at Lunch

Barefoot: 7.25 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 7.25 miles

Monday, September 5, 2011 (1)

Setting of WH3 Trail

Barefoot: 3.84 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 3.84 miles

Monday, September 5, 2011 (2)

Running of Set Trail WH3

Barefoot: 3.23 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 3.23 miles

Week Total:

Barefoot: 36.42 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 36.42 miles

Year To Date Totals:

Barefoot: 542.56 miles

Vibrams: 75.70 miles

Total: 618.26 miles

Just to expand on the above notation, I will heading to Bismarck on Friday to participate in the Bismarck Marathon on Saturday. Thanks to Mike for inviting me, and I look forward to the challenge, the expected good time and the opportunity to meet many new people along the way. I am very excited to bring my barefeet to this course and hopefully share my passion for this type of running with a whole new set of fresh faces. Hope to see you there, and would it not be cool if I ran into another barefoot runner or two at the race. Well lets wait and see.

Also some more information on the Run I was mentioning above called, "Ted's Run For Literacy", it is being held October 23, 2011 at Kildonan Park in Winnipeg see link here: for registration details, etc. Come out and support a great cause.

Until next week, when I write about my experiences in Bismarck.

On on,


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preparing For The Treherne Marathon 2011


Sunday September 11, 2011 at 8:00 am


Treherne, Manitoba

The Course Map

(Notice the Town of Treherne up at the top of the map)

I call this 'The Little Marathon That Is All Heart'

So here we are, last year Nicole, Gail and I all ran the Full Marathon, and this year we were not sure we were going to run this race at all. Until this week (Monday night to be exact), with a fist bump Gail and I promised to sign up for the half marathon. Nicole is still on the fence, but I am going to sign her up tonight at 11:55 pm for the half because I can. There are a couple of reasons why this race is a must for the three of us.

The first is as per the label that I put above, this is 'The Little Marathon That Is All Heart', with a population of 646 (as per their website), this town comes alive with runners which will close to double their population. The whole town appears to get involved with this event from the volunteers at the start to the aid stations and to the rest of the town that comes out to cheer everybody on. The food is fantastic, the atmosphere is electric and it is a great time from start to finish. I have not met one person yet who has ran this race who has had a bad experience or anything negative to say. The race director does a great job of organization and communication to ensure that everybody has a great experience. I must say this is one of my favorites to run.

Secondly, we made a promise to some runners last year that this year we were going to bring the beer for the finish line, and all of us being proud members of the local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, this is a promise we cannot break.

This is going to be a interesting run, because realistically none of us have really trained for any type of race, but we will be relying on our determination, good looks and charmisa to pull off a good run (Well at least two of us have the good looks down, I am a little lacking in this area). As Nicole put it, "We are going to suck!", but darn it we are going to have fun 'sucking' (now remember this is a pg rated blog so get your minds out of the gutter!)

Thirdly, I am on the Marathon Poster and the brochure (me, my bare feet and my kilt), I cannot not go now, what would my adoring public think if the guy on the poster was not running this event. Can't have that now, can we. Note I will be running this event barefoot but the kilt will be left at home this year, last year it ended up around my ears a couple of times with the wind and I don't want to give everybody a free show (but for the right price, maybe, no nevermind I am happily married).

So if you got nothing planned on Sunday and you are looking for a good time, head out to Treherne and join the fun, its going to be a blast.

Also just to clarify there will be no Early Sunday Run this week, as we will be running in Treherne, see you next week.

On on,


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles - Weeks Ending August 28, 2011

Have you ever wondered why most runners do the crazy things that they do?

I know I used too. I couldn't figure out why Nicole or anyone else would want to go running at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning on a Sunday, or why she would want to run in the middle of winter at temperatures that most people didn't like to even venture outside in, run 26.2 miles or more, run while she is sick, etc. It totally escaped me why runners put themselves through what I used to believe was premeditated self-induced torture.

I just could not figure it out, that was until I found the 'Love of Running' for myself, now I see no issue with any of the above nor quite a few other examples that some people just look at me, shake their head and mumble something like, "Your crazy!" Well maybe I am a little crazy, but I have found a passion for something that is helping me keep in good shape, improves my quality of life, helps reduce stress, make some new friends and most important of all helped bring me out of my shell. Most runners don't care if I am a little bit of a nut, they just see me as another runner, all be it with a bit of a odd twist.

Anyway, I am getting off topic once again, so I will jump back into the 'Crazy' that is the runner and take you through a little trip that was called, 'My Last Couple Of Weeks Of Running'. Which truthfully did not amount to much, since I have been fighting this breathing issue for about the last 4 weeks, lets just say it has put a real damper on any serious progress.

It has been interesting, distances of between 15 to 20 miles have never been a issue for me, I have found that once I pass the mile mark and my legs get warmed up and my breathing regulated I can just put it into cruise control and run. But for the past 4 weeks I have been fighting and fighting to get enough oxygen into my lungs to keep the blood flowing to my muscles, and it has been a losing battle. I can almost say, I know what a asthmatic feels like, finding it harder and harder to maximize my oxygen intake, as it seems like 50 to 60% is the best I can achieve lately. This is most noticeable, when I push past the 6 mile mark or try to push the envelope so to speak by increasing the pace beyond my current comfort level. The harder I try to get more oxygen into my lungs, the more I start to cough and wheeze, which reduces my O2 intake, which hampers my ability to keep my muscles working properly. What further complicates things is that when I stop running, I start to cough uncontrollably and it feels like the passages to my lungs just completely close causing me to fight for any type of air intake at all. I try to make this as inconspicuous as possible, as I know that it will ease up in a minute, but I am quite sure that if someone saw me they would be thinking I was having a full out asthma attack. I get enough attention as it is with my bare feet, I don't want to add to it with this. I have started taking some Chinese herbs for this on the advise of my Acupuncturist and it appears to be helping, as well as some crazy inhaler that I have just gotten prescribed to me from the walk in clinic. Hopefully these items will help me conquer this issue and allow me to get on with running.

So as I said above, running has been limited for me lately but I am still trying to get out when I can. I even was able to run a race, all be it a 10 km run called the 'The River Run' at the Forks near the end of August. It was not my best time, but considering the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and my breathing was not good, I will take the 57:16 time that I finished in. Kudos also go to Aldo and Ed who also ran that race and ripped up the course with a sub 40 min and a sub 45 minute run respectively (the only thing that would of made it better was if they were not running in shoes). I was the only one representing the barefoot runners but there was a VFF wearing that I am sure finished in the top 3, so I consider that a victory in itself.
As I mentioned above, my runs have been fairly infrequent, but I have completed a lunch hour trek, a couple of WH3 runs, a couple of runs with City Park and even a couple of late at night runs with no lights (very interesting and let me say your form has to be good and your steps light for those).

I do hope I can overcome this breathing issue soon, because even though my goal for this year is probably not going to happen I want to finish strongly and log as many miles as possible prior to the temperature dropping below my limits.

Here is my logged mileage for the last few weeks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Barefoot: 4.33 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 4.33 miles

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Barefoot: 11.25 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 11.25 miles

Monday, August 22, 2011

Barefoot: 5.37 miles / 4.25 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 9.62 miles

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barefoot: 5.67 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 5.67 miles

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Barefoot: 6.08 miles / 2.25 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 8.33 miles

Monday, August 29, 2011

Barefoot: 4.75 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 4.75 miles

Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011

Barefoot: 9.75 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 9.75 miles

Total This Blog Entry

Barefoot: 53.7 miles

Vibrams: 0.00 miles

Total: 53.7 miles

Year to Date:

Barefoot: 506.14 miles

Vibrams: 75.70 miles

Total: 581.84 miles

Everybody have a great week, get out there and enjoy the good weather while you can, as any Winnipegger knows, the snow and the cold is not that far away, no matter how long you choose to ignore it.

On, On...........

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 4 Long Run

We'll meet at 5:00 am at Timmies at Westwood & Portage.  Sorry about the early time but I am presently watching Running the Sahara and figure if those guys can get out at that hour every day for 90 days then so can we (for tomorrow, not every day.  Puh-lease)! We're aiming for 19- 20 km with a quick coffee stop in the middle.

Here is a little teaser of the movie.

See you tomorrow!