Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hippie Half Marathon: September 25th, 2010

This race takes me to Hell, MI for the second annual Run Woodstock weekend. I must say this was quite an event and definitely the right setting for my final race of the year. This event is held at a private campground called The Hell Creek Ranch and all the events begin and end at the campground. There were all different kinds of distance events from a 5K all the way to a 100 mile race and every other distance in between. Also, since this event had a Woodstock theme they provided live music all weekend. Before I write about the actual race itself I must write about some events that led up to this run. Here is the classic Run Woodstock Van:

As many of you know, Jess and I have been doing different races all summer. Usually 5K and 4 mile runs. I had a goal in mind at the beginning of the year that I wanted to run a half marathon before the end of the year. Since I have been building up my feet and leg muscles for more then a year in my barefoot style shoes, Vibram Five Finger KSOs, I thought I would surely be ready for this run. I had been thinking all summer about doing the Run Woodstock Hippie Half. As the summer grew longer I realized that I have only built up to about 5 or 6 miles per run and started questioning my ability to go thirteen miles. My good friend Luc Harbarger, who is an avid ultra marathoner, and a fellow minimalist (wears Vibram Five Finger Treks for running) told me that I would be able to do this run without any problem and also told me that if I signed up for the race that he would drive up here and run it with me. That settled it, I had no reason not to do it at this point. So I decided that I need to start training a little harder then usual. This is when my body began to do everything possible to stop me from running this half marathon.

About a month before the race I started to feel a mild pain where my heel meets my arch. I did not let it bother me and kept pushing hard in my training wearing my VFFs and huarache sandals. About two weeks before the race I went for a seven mile run, the longest run I have ever done! The heel / arch pain was pretty bad after this. It dulled out over the next two days. Then on the third day after my seven mile run I went out and did a seven and a half mile run, again setting my PR for distance. This time the damage was really done, the pain had gotten extreme. I tried to do a little one mile run a few days later and had to quit. I did not run for a week and a half and the pain was still mildly lingering. Also, I got a severe cold the weekend before the race. I was thinking to myself, what else is going to happen? The Wednesday before the race I was feeling a little better and did a three and a quarter mile run and tried to change up my form a bit and it seemed to work well. I simply leaned back a little more and bent my knees a little further, this took the pressure off my feet and put it on my calves and hamstrings...the muscles that the human body evolved to absorb shock from running...damn, wish I would have done this sooner :)

Anyway, I was committed to the run and I wanted to accomplish my goal so I figured that I would run as much of the race as I could and then I would walk the rest, no matter what I was going to do this thing! So, Friday rolls around and Jess and I head to the campground after work to get set up. After we got done setting up, brother Luc arrived and we helped him set up. After that we were chilling and listening to some live music on the stage they had set up at Run Woodstock. Also we were cheering on the 100 mile runners who had started at 4:00 PM on Friday. They had a 16.6 mile loop that they had to complete 6 times. This loop took them through the tough trails in the northern part of the Pinckney Rec Area. And yes they had to transverse these trails in the deep dark woods all night in the dark with their headlamps guiding the way. Every time they completed a loop you could see their light coming out of the woods into the campground where everyone would clap for them. The cut off for this event was thirty hours and 32 runners finished the 100 mile event...Amazing! Anyway after the live music finished we decided to crash out since we had to get up early. Here is our camp and also hanging out Friday night:

Jess was the first one up at 5:00 AM because she was volunteering at registration and also the finish line. She was very busy since there was not a full staff of volunteers. Although I will say this event was well organized in most aspects of the weekend. I could not really sleep as I was reeling with anticipation for the run, and it was very cold sleeping in the tent. I rolled out of my tent about 6:30 or 6:45 and Luc rolled out of his tent about the same time. We both strapped on our VFFs and Garmin Forerunner 305 watches. Luc had an extra water bottle that straps to your hand and he let me borrow it, which was nice because I did not have to wear my camelbak. We arrived to the starting line about two minutes before the start and it all happened so fast that before I knew it we were off! Most of the other races were starting at the same time so there was a huge bottle neck of runners entering into the single track trail. After the traffic jam filed down to one lane the running resumed! I felt pretty good for the first mile running through some gently rolling trails. Then at mile two we got out to a nice flat wide trail that lasted a few miles. At mile two I started feeling the heel pain and it got bad quick. I told Luc that I was in pain and needed to walk for a minute and that he could keep going if he wanted to. He said he was going to stick with me through the whole race..thanks for that bro.

So after walking for a minute or two we started to run again. We did not make it very far and the pain was excruciating. So at mile three I told Luc I need to walk for a little while longer. We walked for a few minutes and then I told him I would run for a half mile and then walk some more. Well an awesome thing happened, after that half mile the pain seemed to have disappeared...sweet! The nice wide path lasted for a few miles and then we turned back into the trails in the woods around mile five. The trails started to get kind of hilly and technical. We kept pushing on. In fact, we ran all the way through to about mile ten and a half or so. I also could not believe it when we got to mile 8 and I realized that every step I took was a new distance record for myself. At mile ten and a half we entered into this two mile bow tie loop through some one hundred foot pine trees. They were in perfect rows and there was tons of them. It was really an awesome sight to behold. Plus the pine needle forrest floor was soft and felt good to run and walk on. On the negative side of things my heel pain had come back by now and I started to get extremely hungry. For the last two and half miles we sprinkled in some walking with our running. Here is a few pics of us on the trail and back in the pine loop:

I was really excited to come out of the woods into the campground and see the finish line. At this point both of us ran the rest of the way. It was a great feeling crossing that finish line and seeing Jess who was excited for us. Our finishing time was 2 hours and 38 minutes. I was overcome with shock that I just completed a half marathon against all odds. I owe a lot to Luc who stuck with me through this thing and made me believe it was possible. I thought I would have to walk most of this race but we ended up running at least 90% of the thirteen miles through some tough trails. Since we just burned over 2,000 calories on an empty stomach we mowed through a bunch of cookies and bananas at the finish line. Those were some of the best snacks I have tasted in my life! Here is us right after finishing the hippie half marathon:

After we got cleaned up and Jess's volunteering duties were finished we went into town (Hell) for some pizza, which also tasted great. I guess after running thirteen miles everything tastes great! Jess left Saturday afternoon and me and Luc hung out the rest of the day, drinking a few beers and listening to the music. We also ran into someone I recognized from the google minimalist runner group, Jason Robillard, he is a barefoot running activist from Grand Rapids who teaches barefoot running clinics and wrote a book titled The Barefoot Running Book. Jason was there pacing a friend who ended up winning the 50 mile race. Jason has run several 100 mile ultra marathons. During his most recent one he did 33 miles barefoot and the rest in his huarache sandals. It was nice to meet him after following his discussions in the google group.

That night we decided to walk in the trippin 10K night fun run, since I told Luc there was no way I could run anymore that day. We had free entry into this run since we did one of the Saturday morning races. So we did one loop and by that time my heel and knee were killing me so we called it quits after 3.5 miles. We ended up hanging out by the fire and drinking a few more beers while talking with some of the other runners. Luc and I had a great time hearing other peoples stories and watching as the last 100 mile finisher came in about 9:20 PM Saturday night!! He made the 30 hour cut off with 40 minutes to spare!

Again, this was an awesome event. The races all went well and the trails were well marked, at least we thought so, but I guess some of the others thought differently. Check out the results page to see how many events there were at Run Woodstock. Thanks to Luc for taking all the great pics and video during our run. For more great pictures and commentary on our weekend check out Luc's Blog. Hopefully next year we can get a few more of our friends to come and join in the fun. I am now taking some time off running to let my foot heal up from the heel / arch pain and let all of my other pains heal up. Doing this half has really got me pumped up to take my running to a new level. I cannot wait to get back at it. I am going to train hard this winter and my goal for next year is to complete a marathon. Until next time, keep on keepin on!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kentucky Hill Run 5K: August 7th, 2010

This race takes us to Williamstown, Kentucky. For the last 12 or 13 years in early August we have been going to my friend Jauf's cottage on Williamstown lake, usually for a long weekend. Last year a few of us were getting back into running and we mapped out a 2 mile course and did it mid-day, which started the annual Kentucky Hill Run. This year me and my brother Mike (for those of you who are thinking I do not have a brother named Mike, it is an inside joke..sorry) mapped out a 5K to make the race more official. There are three elements to this run that make it one of the hardest races in the country. First of all, like I mentioned before, we always do it close to mid day so it is extreme heat, you may think this is dumb, but we like to add that challenge. The second element that makes this run hard is the hills. The roads around the Lake have some serious hills which add to the difficulty factor that we love..?? The last element is that we are usually feeling like crap and dehydrated from "hanging out" the night before. Drinking Tequila from a water ski...well, I won't go any further, you guys get the point. This is a pic of what can lead you to dehydration:

So at high noon six of us crazy fools gathered at the top of the hill. I was going to run in my huarache sandals, but decided to go with my trusty Vibram's Five Fingers. Our friend Jackie was the official time keeper of the race and when the clock started away we went. The first quarter of a mile is up a steep incline. A rough way to start, but that's what makes it fun. So Mike and Andy jumped out to an early lead. Jauf and I were in second and Jessica and Eric were behind us. After the initial incline the course flattens out a bit and then goes down a large hill and then right after that we go up another large hill. I was not trying to push myself to hard because honestly I was dying from the heat. After the two large hills we got out to the main road and took a right. At this point in the course it is a bit flat for about a half mile. As I looked up ahead at the leaders I seen Andy running backwards and hanging with the leader Mike. Not long after that Andy went off to the side of the road in distress. Then he continued on before me and Jauf could catch up to him. Then the course took us into an undeveloped sub division which begins a long steep decent down to a cul-de-sac. The cool think about that point in the race is the overhead view of the lake and the rolling hills of Kentucky. Here is a pic of the view from the turn around:

As soon as we entered the undeveloped sub division Jauf took off to go and catch the leaders, I did not have it in me to hang with him. I was still at a 9 minute per mile pace which was good for me considering the heat. As I was going down the incline towards the cul-de-sac Mike flew by me going back up the incline and was in the lead by himself. Then as I was still decending down the incline I went by Jauf as he was on his way back up after the turn around, which is roughly the half way point. He was still a good distance from Mike but slowly gaining on him. I caught up with Andy at the bottom of the turn around and I found out why he had gone off the side of the road. He had been stung by a bee on his ankle. He was hurting from that and the heat was also getting to him. He hung with me for a little while on the way back up the incline. I told him we could drive back to pick him up if he wanted to wait but he was passionate about finishing the run so he kept pushing on. I pulled away from him after making sure he was OK. When I got out of the sub division and turned left on the main road to go back I seen Jess and Eric coming up on the right on the main road. They were unsure where to turn into the subdivision and had gone a ways past it! Here is a pic of the Kentucky Hill Run 5K race course, click on it to enlarge:

I was glad to see them behind me on the main road because they could run with Andy and make sure they all made it back safely. I was curious as to what was happening with Mike and Jauf as I could not see them after they turned left off the main road to head back to the lake. Like I said Jauf was slowly closing in on Mike as they left the subdivision and I knew it would be a good finish. I pushed on through the two large hills and veered right onto a different road that was part of our 5K course which was a gradual decline back to the Lake. Then right near the finish is an extreme incline for about a tenth of mile....what a way to finish! I made it back and was drenched with sweat, and then did the ceremonious jump off the upper deck of the boat dock into the Lake...ahhhh!

I then got the scoop on Jauf and Mike. Jauf had closed in on him through the gradual decline back to the Lake and caught him right before the incline to the finish line. Mike had seen him coming and slowed down to rest until Jauf caught him and then Mike gave it everything he had right at the end to finish as the winner. Jauf finished right behind him in second place. Then I finished third. Jessica came in fourth place followed by Andy (who toughed it out despite his bee sting and heat exhaustion), and Eric. Everyone finished this tough event so we are all winners. I hope that more people get excited about this event as I would like to see it get bigger next year for the third annual. It is challenging and really fun, that is....if you enjoy running up and down hills at high-noon in the dog days of summer feeling like crap from having fun the night before. In the end shotski had it's way with us:

My next race is going to be the Run Woodstock Trail Half Marathon in Hell, MI. I feel best when running in my huarache sandals so I may be wearing them for the half, but I have not decided yet. A couple of people told me they have trouble posting comments on my blog. I think you have to sign up for an account on google and then you can use that login to leave comments. I also think you can start an account on and use that login to leave comments. If neither of those work then I am out of ideas :) Well, until my next running adventure I bid you farewell!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Farmington Founders Festival 4 Mile: July 17th, 2010

This race took me to Farmington Hills, MI which was nice because it is about 15 minutes from our house. It was a nice 4 mile run which started in a park, then went through some residential neighborhoods, and the last part of the run went through the downtown area finishing up back at the park. Phew! It was great to have a 4 mile loop instead of having to backtrack through the course. Jessica did not feel well when we woke up on the morning of the race so she decided to sit this one out. I was disappointed when I found out that the race did not start until 9:00 AM especially because it was already hot as hell outside at 7:30 AM. I later found out why they started the race late, which I will explain later in this blog. I thought I should get there early because I knew they were closing off streets in Farmington Hills due to their town festival and I thought parking may be limited. So I threw on my trusty Vibram's Five Fingers KSO's and away I went. Here is a pic of the race course:

I got there about 8:00 AM and it was perfect timing because I was able to park right where the race started. I quickly got my race packet and was all set. The park got packed with about 300 runners all trying to check in right after I checked in. I had a lot of time to kill so I just did some stretching and walking around for awhile. They decided that the race should start across the street from the park in the residential neighborhood so runners did not have to cross the road that was not closed off. Everyone wandered over to the suburb across the street as some residents were happy to see us but others were a bit weary of all these people standing in their yards. I was trying to see if anyone else was wearing Vibram Five Fingers but once again, I did not see any. Then I noticed one guy was barefoot! I was glad to see that and I eventually caught up to him later in the race and had a brief exchange of how great it was to run without any cushion or padded shoes.

So there was no warning that the race was going to start and all of a sudden the gun went off and we were under way! Before the race my goal was to finish in under 33 minutes since I finished in under 35 minutes during the Fremont 4 miler. As we got started I quickly realized that I was not going to accomplish my goal. This was due to the intense heat and a nagging pain that I have where the heel meets the arch. I think I overdid it in one of my training runs earlier in the week. Went about 5 and half miles and the pain was intense the day after that. Anyway, I thought I would just take it easy and enjoy the atmosphere. About a half mile into the race I caught up with this middle aged woman wearing a wonder woman costume and she had started walking. She sounded like she was hacking up a lung. She may have smoked too many cigarettes the night before. About a mile and half into the race was the one and only water stop. Usually I just pass them up but it was so hot out that I needed some water. Only problem was that they were short staffed on volunteers and only had two girls filling up glasses with water. They were far behind and I had to wait about 10 or 15 second before I got a glass, but it was worth it!

So we were in residential neighborhoods for the first 2.75 miles and then we came up to Grand River, which is the main road going through the town. That is when I discovered that we were running 1.25 miles right down Grand River through the parade route. That is why the race started late because they wanted a bunch of people to be lined in the streets for the parade and to cheer on the runners. There was quite a few people out there watching us run and they were probably glad to be on the sidelines since it was so hot out! We ran by the Budweiser horses and a karate troop who was doing jump kicks in the street. The nice thing about this stretch of road we were on is that it was a slight downhill run the whole way through town. This was a nice treat considering my foot pain and also the inferno like weather. I also realized that my time was going to be better then I thought. So I finished strong and ended up under 35 minutes (34:20) which is not bad for me.

The race finished up back at the park and they immediately posted the results. I got 151st out of about 300 runners and 8th in my age group. I grabbed a bagel and an ice cold water which was very refreshing. Then for the drive home I threw on my new comfy 4mm Vibram sole huarache sandals that I just made. Here are pics of my huaraches and me driving home after the race:

Our next race is in two weeks. It is the second annual Kentucky Hill Run (5K) at my friend Jauf's cottage on Williamstown Lake. There is some really challenging hills in this run...can't wait! Although I am not sure what to wear for the run...huarache sandals or my Vibrams Five Fingers?...ahh, the dilemmas of a minimalist runner.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Camelback 4 Mile Run: June 19th, 2010

This race takes us to Fremont, Ohio. This was an all around great weekend. We arrived at East Harbor State Park Friday night, which is where we were camping for the weekend with Jessica's family. We got our tent set up and just relaxed since we knew we were getting up early the next day to drive to the race. So we got up the next day and learned that our sister-in-law Sarah was going to run the race with us, which was cool because...the more the merrier! So we got to the race, got our registration packets, and we had plenty of time to get warmed up. I was originally going to take it easy in this race since last Monday I stepped on a huge rock and my forefoot was in some pain last week. When the race started I felt no pain and my competitive instincts took over. So off I went in my trusty Vibrams Five Fingers KSOs! Here is a picture of us before the race:

This race was a 2 miles out and 2 miles back course which took us through a residential neighborhood and then out to a country road. There were about 250 runners, so another small race but we had a great time. The residents along the race coure were all out by the street cheering us on, handing us water and best of all...spraying us down with was extremely hot and humid out so it felt great to cool down. Jess swears that if it was not for the people spraying us with hoses then she could not have finished the race. There was also some very good runners in the field. I was still on my first 2 miles out and the leader flew by me on his way back and he was really moving! I later found out that he finished the 4 miles in under 20 minutes, which is an unbelievable time. Another cool thing about this race is they had pacer runners holding signs. As long as you finished ahead of the pacer then you would have that time or better (in theory). Jess's goal was to finish ahead of 40 minutes and my goal was to finish ahead of 35 minutes. Here is an overhead view of the course, click on it to see the blown up version:

So I felt pretty good the first mile and was surprised that I was keeping about a 9 minute mile pace because it did not seem like I was going that fast. The second mile I even felt better and picked up the pace. I was worried that I would run out of gas if I kept going hard in the first half of the race, but I never burned out. The 35 minute pacer was ahead of me for most of the race. I knew I needed to catch him in order to achieve my goal of 35 minutes or better. About 3 miles in I seen the pacer up ahead. So I sped up and caught him around the 3.25 mile mark. I told him "your the guy I have been looking for!" and he just told me to finish in front of him and I would be O.K. I was happy to be at that point so I sped up and left the group that was hanging with the 35 minute pacer. I think I heard someone mumble that I had an unfair advantage because I was wearing my Vibrams Five Fingers and they are really light. Whatever it was I did not care. I was well on my way to beating my goal and there were no aches or pains holding me back this time. In fact, it felt good to be the one passing people up at the end rather then getting passed. So, as I near the end of the race I run underneath the big archway and I am getting my picture taken and I thought that was the finish line, but it was not, I still had about 10 yards to get to the finish shoot. I forgot to stop my watch right away so I think my time was 34:30!

I stood at the finish line and was excited to see Jess finish just in front of the 40 minute pacer! The only problem is that the pacer was off by about 45 seconds so Jess was just over the 40 minute goal. That is still a great time and I am very proud of her. Then Sarah came in after Jess and she did great considering it has been awhile since her last race. There was a steak dinner afterwards provided by Applebees, but we elected to bypass the steak dinner since it was morning and we had a fun day of boating ahead of us. Jessica's brother John and his wife Sara took all of us out on their boat. We anchored off the shore of kellys island and went swimming. We got to see both of our fathers over the weekend, which was cool since it was father's day.

Then Monday we went to see Caballo Blanco speak in Maumee, OH. It was really cool to hear him tell his life story. He is a very interesting guy and he has started one of the greatest ultra races of all time. It is held each year in the Copper Canyons of Mexico with the RarĂ¡muri tribes (the running people). The winners of this race receive corn and money prizes. It has been going on for 8 or 9 years now. Caballo and the RarĂ¡muri are featured in Christopher McDougall's book called Born to Run, which is a great book and I highly recommend it. Here is a picture of us with Caballo:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Composer Classic 5K: May 29th, 2010

This race takes us to the city of Kokomo, IN for the 16th annual Kokomo Symphony Composer Classic 5K. We were in Noblesville, IN for a graduation party and decided to run this race since it was not to far away from where we were staying. We got in town late Friday night and did not get much sleep since we had to get up early and drive to Kokomo, but we both felt awake and fresh on the way there. We got there with plenty of time to spare and it was nice to have some extra time to get ready for the race. There was a 5K speed walking competition which had 29 participants and the 5k run which had 123 participants. This is by far the smallest crowd of the three races we have done this year. It was kind of nice to not have to battle a huge crowd for a change. Also, I was surprised and excited to see someone there, besides myself, wearing Vibrams Five Fingers. The weather conditions were hot and humid and we were sweating before the race even started. Here is a pic of us before the race:

So we lined up at the starting line and the race was off. The course was 1.5 miles long so we had to repeat it. Normally I don't like covering ground that I have already covered, but it was kind of cool to see the leaders as we passed by them on the second loop. I also got to see Jess as I passed her and gave her the thumbs up. The race was on a road that ran through the park. There was geese everywhere and we had to dodge them and all their shit that was on the road. I felt great during the first mile and thought I really had a chance to finish in under 26 minutes which would have been a great time for myself. About 1.5 miles in I started getting some calf pain. I might of pushed it too hard during the first mile. The pain was not bad until about 2.25 miles in and then it really slowed me down. At that time a little kid passed me up and all I could do was laugh. I could not finish strong and got passed up by 4 people on the home stretch, that was kind of disappointing. Here is a pic of the race course:

When I finally got into the finish shoot I realized that my time was actually pretty good. I finished at 26:15 which is a personal best for me since I started minimalist running. I walked back through the course to give Jess a little motivation for finishing the race. She actually did very well too finishing with a time of 31:16. After the race we stuck around for the awards ceremony. To my surprise I finished second in my age group, I was shocked when they called my name to come up and get a ribbon. I really hope there was more then 2 guys in my age group...LOL. Most of the people there knew each other and clapped for the winners. When my name was called a silence filled the crowd. Jess was the only one cheering for me, but we both had a good laugh about that. Here is a pic of us after the race:

There was a few members of the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra there. They played music before, during, and after the race. Not the usual type of music you hear at a race, but "when in Rome." All in all it was a good run. Different then the other two we have done since there was not many people there and it was in a park. It was a nice change and we both set our best times of the year. We also had a great time seeing a lot of Jess's extended family over the weekend. We do not get to see them to often but we always have a great time when we do. Our next race might be the Camelback 4 mile run in Fremont, OH on June 20th. One funny thing that I forgot to mention about the race we did in Chicago, right before the run some guy was weaving through the crowd of runners with a cigarette in his mouth asking if anyone has a light. The irony makes it worth mentioning even though it might be one of those 'you had to be there' moments. I will leave you with a pic of me after getting my second place ribbon:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Commit To Be Fit 5K: May 1st, 2010

This race takes us to the great city of Columbus, OH (Buckeye country!) for the Commit to be fit 5K. The main event at this race was a half marathon, but they also had a 5K and we decided to do that since we are far from prepared for a half marathon. The night before the race we stayed with our friends Seth and Tania who also were running in the 5K with us. We got to bed early and got a good night sleep, which is a good thing since we were getting up at 6:30 AM.

We got up and left for the race with plenty of time before the start, so we thought :) When we got to the area where the race started there was a ton of people everywhere and we were trying to fight our way to the parking garage. Stuck in all the madness we parked about 10 minutes before race start time. We quickly scurried to the start area where we heard the announcement of "2 minutes until race start"...made it, phew! There were no porta potties in sight and of course a few of us had to go, but we held it throughout the race. Here is a picture of jess and myself before the race:

It was really overcast at the start and appeared like it was going to downpour, but the rain held off right until the end of the 5K. Before I describe the race I need to provide a little more information. Our friend Seth has two pair of Vibrams Five Fingers and wears them often. Before the race he had only walked in them and never ran in them. He decided to run the 5K in his Vibram Five Finger KSOs since he did not have any running shoes. I explained to him that running in this barefoot style can cause major calf pain the first time out. So the race started and I immediately lost the other three as there was a ton of people running this event. Then out of nowhere about a quarter mile into the race I see Seth fly by me. Oh boy..I thought, I remembered the first time I ran in Vibrams and went a mile and a half and the calf pain the next week was severe.

For some reason I just was not feeling great during the start of the race. I pretty much just maintained a steady hard pace the whole time. At Chicago last weekend I was speeding up and slowing down a lot. We got about a mile and a half into the race and the half marathon runners split off and headed in another direction. It almost made me feel like I was doing the jog of shame in that split off, but like I said before, I am definitely not prepared for a half marathon yet. To make things worse right after the split off I got passed by the Nestle Quick mascot! Oh well, i just kept pushing on. I caught up to Seth at mile two along a river path and he ran with me for a little ways then I picked up my pace a little so I could finish strong. Here is a satellite view of the course:

As I got on the last straight away of the race I looked at my Garmin 305 and realized there was a good chance i was going to beat my time from last weekend, which surprised me since I thought I was doing bad at the beginning. My watch said I was at 3.05 miles and it seemed that there was still a good distance to go. When I realized the course was not correct (longer) I stopped my watch. Another runner with a Garmin said the course was 3.25 and not the real 5K distance of 3.1 miles. I also realized I stopped my watch before the actual 5K distance and I still had .05 miles to run to get my true time. I crossed the finish line and then went off to the side and ran the last .05 miles setting my time under 27 minutes! I came in at 26:46. The official time according to the results page online is 27:52, but like I said the course was long. I came in 210th place out of 1869 runners overall. Jessica came in at 604th place out of the 1869 runners at a time of 33:01. So we both did pretty good for our second 5K. On the results page our names are switched because we were wearing the wrong tags...even though Jess begs to differ...LOL. Seth came in after me and then Jess came in and then Tania who is pregnant and did a great job finishing the race. All in all it was a good race and a great time! Seth was having a little trouble walking from the calf pain but after a day or so he has recovered quite well. Here is the photo of all of us after the race:

It turned out to be a great weekend. We got to see our friends Luc and Jen that we had not seen in a long time. Also we went to a Kentucky Derby party at our friend Caseys house. Finally we ended up hanging out after hours at our good friends Shawn and Jackie's place with some more of our friends. I would declare our second 5K on our running tour of the mid-west a success. Next stop is the 16th Annual Composer Classic 5K in Kokomo, IN on May 29th. We are going to be in Noblesville, IN that weekend for a graduation party and decided to hit up the 5K.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

5k Race to Wrigley: April 24th 2010

The first thing I will say is this is my first blog. I am going to start documenting all of my official running events. I have become a minimalist runner (running in shoes with no support or cushioning) over the last 7 or 8 months in order to rid myself of some nasty shin splints. The transition has been tough but rewarding. It is like learning to run all over again. The muscles and tendons in your feet and legs take a long time to get strong after sitting weak in shoes for most of our lives. Anyway, I could go on and on about minimalist running but I will instead get to the point of this blog.

My wife, Jessica, and I have been running for exercise and have decided to get into a few races this year for fun. We are trying to hit up some different events around the mid-west so we can travel a bit while we do this. Jessica is originally from the Chicago area and grew up a Cubs fan. So the first race we decided to do was a 5K in Chicago near Wrigley Field. The 5th Annual Race to Wrigley was quite an event. It is a charity event for the Chicago Cubs charities and this year was a record crowd of 8,300 people and raised over $150,000! We were both excited to do this run because Jessica has never run a 5K before and I have not ran an organized race event since cross country in high school (except for a 5K in Toledo, OH about 5 or 6 years ago where I was hung over and completely out of shape for, but I am not counting that one :). We decided to just do the fun run which is not chip timed, and cheaper, but I had my Garmin Forerunner 305 to do the timing for myself.

We got to the area and found an awesome parking space about a mile away from the event, which was great because we were worried that might be a problem since parking is limited and there were a lot of people running in this event. So I strapped on my minimalist running shoes, Vibrams Five Fingers KSOs, and we had a nice warm up walk to the starting point at Wrigley Field. Being a minimalist runner I was looking around trying to find another runners in minimalist shoes. I thought out of 8,300 people I would at least see someone else in VFFs or barefoot but I did not. There were a few people in Nike Frees, but those are not really minimalist shoes. There were a lot of other runners observing my VFFs and mainly they had looks of curiosity. One person asked me about them after the race and told me he was thinking about getting some for himself. Being the advocate I am I talked them up big time and he seemed excited. Here is a picture of us before the race.

So we were about one third of the way back from the starting line and former Cubs player Ernie Banks gave the crowd some words of encouragement and the race was under way. At first I was kind of taking it slow and easy since my transition to minimalist running has not included any really hard runs. The adrenaline from the race started to kick in and all of a sudden I felt great. No pains at all and I felt super light on my feet. I started passing a bunch of people. They were probably freaked out seeing some guy in weird foot gloves floating past them with a big smile. One thing this run did was help me to realize the real benefits of minimalist running. Everywhere I looked there was people slamming their feet into the ground and leaning forward from the waist, and that poor form is a big reason why so many people experience running related injuries every year. There was so much noise all around me from shoes smacking the ground and I was making no noise at all with my VFFs. So this experience helped assure me that my long and slow minimalist transition is well worth it.

About a mile and a half into the race a female runner was doing a few cart wheels to provide us with some entertainment. I had periods of time where I kind of just settled in with a moderate pace because I did not want to over do it and risk injury or set backs. I also had periods of energy where I would pass a few groups of people and settle back into the moderate pace. I started to lose a little steam with a quarter mile to go. Then something made me laugh pretty hard. I heard a guy behind me make the big throat clearing sound one makes right before they spit a huge loogie. Then I heard him let it fly and right after he spit I heard him say "ooh, I am so sorry" and when I turn my head there is a girl runner saying "it's OK" as she runs past with a super disgusted look on her face. I think he accidentally nailed her with that loogie. Anyway the race course took us through the first level concourse inside Wrigley Field and then out we came with a dash to the finish line. I finished the race in 27:18 which is a good time for me since this was the best time I have had since starting minimalist running. I am happy with my result. Here is a picture of the race course, notice Wrigley Field just to the right of the blue X:

After I finished the run I waited near the finish line and about 5 minutes later Jess came through. I high fived her as it was her first ever 5K. The furthest she has ever run before. Jess did an awesome job and we were both excited about the whole experience. I forgot how much fun that organized running events are. It is so motivational to have a bunch of other runners all doing the same thing. The running community is a great group of people in general. I have some soreness in my calves and my right foot hurt a bit yesterday, but is starting to feel better today. I guess those pains just resulted from the fact that I have not pushed myself that hard since starting minimalist running. It was well worth it. We are both looking forward to the 5K Commit to be Fit in Columbus, Ohio this weekend. I will end this blog with a picture of Jess and myself after the Race to Wrigley.