Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Barefoot Reflections

Happy New Year Barefooters,

Frosty and Snowy Runs in December
I hope everyone had a great 2013 and is looking forward to some great barefooting in 2014.  I know I am.  As I look back over the past year I can hardly believe how quickly (relatively) my body has adapted to this new sport.  I've now been at it for about 2 & 1/2 years.  I'm also coming up on my 2 year anniversary of the last time I EVER ran in shoes at all (albeit Vibram 5 Fingers).  Amazingly, at this time last year I was reporting that I had just acheived my first ever 500 barefoot mile year.  Shortly after that, I set a goal of running 1000 miles in 2013 and later upped it to 1500 miles in mid October since the 1000 was already done!  I was pleased to be able to run 5 different races this year.  All 5 races turned out to be BPRs or "Barefoot Personal Records."  That is the great part about switching over to barefoot running...I get to reset all my PR's without shoes.  So far, of course, my speed is not up to the levels I had with shoes although I was particularly proud of the Highway Half Marathon in October which turned out to be a 1:46:27 or an 8:08 pace for 33rd place and 4th in my age group and placed me in the top 8% of all runners...not bad for barefoot!  This race was also special since it was the one and only time the runners could run on the (at the time) unfinished highway. 

Biggest Barefoot Year Ever
But the thing I find really amazing about my current fitness level is my renewed ability to go LONG, while slowly trying to get the speed back.  The month of August was particularly mind blowing with respect to distance records.  I ended the month with my highest weekly (90miles) and monthly (251miles) totals EVER (with or without shoes) and also my longest ever training run barefoot which was over 20 miles.  This month taught me a lot about myself and what kind of recovery my body needs between long runs.  I was amazed at what the soles of my feet were able to take and the ablilty to move beyond pain in a way I was never able to do with my shoes on.  To those of you out there trying to increase your mileage, just keep at it and know that as you build up your soles and continue to improve your "soft landing" technique you will be able to go longer.  I can't guarantee everyone will be able to surpass their shod mileage, but you should be able to come close within about a two year period if you stick with it and don't give up.  So whether your goals are distance related or speed related (or just to DO it) just go at it slowly and remember not to fall into the TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) injury trap and end up having to take a lot of time off due to stress fractures, stress response, or related injuries.  As I've said before, a lot of my chronic running injuries simply WENT AWAY once I started barefoot running.  No more knee, hip, back or achilles pain.  Of course you can still hurt yourself barefooting, but the nice thing is that it will probably be a true overuse injury and not related to the excessing pounding and injury to the skeleton caused by those "protective," "safe" and "padded" foot coffins...er, shoes.

Have a Healthy and Prosperous New Year Barefooters!

Barefoot Dan

December Mileage = 127

2013 Mileage = 1507

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sad November - RIP Jim Kelley

Hello Barefooters,

Rest In Peace Jim Kelley - a great friend

Well the month of November started off on a very sad note, as I lost my good friend Jim Kelley who was struck and killed by a car on his evening run up in his hometown of Grand Rapids Michigan.  Jim was a fixture in the central Michigan running community and had been a great "long distance" friend who I ran 3 different Boston Marathons with as well as the Los Angeles Marathon back in 2011.  Here is a picture of Jim and I after attending the expo prior to the LA marathon.  Jim was a great Christian man who cared deeply for others and was a great encouragement to other less gifted runners (myself included).  Jim is survived by his wife Teri and kids Corey and Amber.  Jim, I know you're in heaven right now and enjoying some of the greatest long runs ever!
The next week I was on a business trip in the Chicago area and got to experience not only snow but some of the coldest temperatures of the season so far.  One morning, prior to a customer meeting I ran in 18 degree temps although it was dry and I only ran 1.05 miles!  This was no problem as I had gotten in a nice 15 miler back home prior to the business trip.  As most of you know, I had set the goal last month of running 1500 barefoot miles by the end of the year.  This meant I needed to average 38 miles per week, which I bettered in each of the weeks. 

San Antonio TX - rainy city run
 The next week I was fortunate to go south on business to San Antonio Texas and got in a couple of great city runs there.  The first first day was a warm 73 degree run around the grounds of the Alamo for a looping 7 mile run in the dark (with headlamp).  The second day was rainy so I waited later to start and got a little more daylight.  But the temp was only 53 so it was a little chilly in the rain, but still better than Indiana!  Still, it's always strange running in shorts, headband and gloves!  That day I ran 7.6 miles until the Garmin went dead and had many people comment on the barefoot run through the city.  I even had a lady come up and run with me the last few minutes and tried to pick my brain about barefoot running and how to get started.  I encouraged her to give it a try but told her to go ahead and ramp up first to marathon distance (from her current long of 15) before she tries the barefoot thing.

This past week was Thanksgiving and I got in three nice longer runs up in Amish country dodging buggies, bikes and horse poop.  I enjoyed the smooth surface of the white line along Highway 120 running around Howe Indiana.  This was definitely needed after the many large meals including lots of pie!  I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  Mine was definitely nice and relaxing.

With the mid 40 totals each week in November, I now only need to average about 30 miles each week in December to close out my 1500 mile goal.  This is good since I will be travelling this week to NY which along with colder temps expected, may decrease my weekly totals.  Again, no promises, but 1500 is still the goal.

Everyone stay safe, enjoy and remember the Reason for the Season!

Barefoot Dan

November barefoot mileage total = 186 miles
(coldest temp = 18 degrees in Chicago IL, warmest temp = 73 degrees in San Antonio TX)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween Barefooters! + New Barefoot PR

Happy Halloween Barefooters!

Here in Indiana our Trick or Treating has been moved to Nov. 1 due to the monsoon-like rain today.  But of course, rain doesn't stop the barefooters.  I got in a 4 miler early this morning but wasn't able to dodge all the raindrops.  That's two days in a row running on wet pavement and now I have a nice blister on my right pinky toe to show for it.  It was a little disappointing when it showed up after my 8 miler yesterday and I was surprised that it didn't hurt too bad to run on it again this morning.  That completed my month at 140.6 miles and sets me up for my next record breaking attempt which I'll discuss a little later.

Overall this was a great month and the highlight has to be the Highway Half Marathon on Oct. 12th.  This 13.1 mile race was a "one time only" race on the as yet unfinished Highway 31 bypass.  It's always nice to run without traffic to worry about, plus this was one of those unique experiences I just had to be a part of. 

Garmin Download of Highway Half

The road is a limited access highway so we entered and exited the road via an on-ramp and runners then had their choice of running on the slotted concrete or the asphalt shoulder...of course, as a barefooter, I chose the asphalt which was much softer and many of the shod runners did as well.  My goal was just to try and better my BPR in the half marathon which was set earlier in the year at the Indy Mini Marathon.  Thank God it didn't get too hot by the end and I was able to get the new PR by 11 minutes, running an 8:08 pace for a 1:46:29.  Yeah!  A new barefoot PR! 
New Barefoot PR!!

I actually had an even faster pace going for the first 11 miles but the last couple miles did not have the asphault shoulder and the combination of being tired, the slight uphill, and running on freshly cut concrete slots, slowed me considerably.  Still I was able to hold on to 33rd place (of 394) and 4th in my age group (of 28).  Hey anytime I can go barefoot and still break the Top 10%, I'm definitely happy.  I was the only barefooter at the race and got many comments, before, during and after the race.  The race director (my good friend Terry Townsend) warned me at the beginning "Watch out Dan, there's lots of rocks and glass out there" to which I said "I won't even feel them" but he was right, there was a lot of debris.  The glass was weird and seemed to be in little piles, almost like it was a sand being mixed into either the concrete or paint.  For the most part it was avoidable, but sometimes the debris forced me back off of the asphault and onto the concrete.  Still I was very happy to be able to keep up that fast of a pace.  It feels really good to have some of my speed back, finally, after 2 years of building the distance and foregoing the speed (a definite early disadvantage of barefooting).  The only damage was a small blood blister on the ball of the right foot, just below the pad, shown here. 

Small blister from Highway Half (one week later)
 I actually was feeling this hot spot during the race but figured I'd keep "going for broke" the last 4 miles or so.  Still, it was just a small clear blister immediately after the race and didn't turn into a blood blister unitl sometime the next day or so.

The next week I pretty much took it easy running just 28 miles and followed up the next week with a 48.  On Oct. 24 we had our first snowfall and I did a 10miler that morning.  Another fun run that week included a run to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  That Saturday morning literally as I was walking out the door to do my 8 miles or so, I got the text from CVS that my prescription was ready to be picked up.  So I decided to grab my ID and "co-pay" and run the 4 miles to the pharmacy (into the wind), go to the "drive through" window and then run the 4 miles back.  What the heck, I figured, I might as well save some money on gas while saving money on shoes!  My good friend Ben was the pharmacist on duty that day and he just laughed...he told me later that the pharmacy technician asked him afterward "Did that guy not have on any shoes?!"  

So during this 48 mile week I also made the decision to try going for one more record breaking goal for the year.  As some of you know, I set out earlier to run 1000 miles barefoot for the year, but of course I've already reached that goal.  I'm currently at 1194 miles for the year.  So now I'm trying to hit 1500 by the end of the year.  It's still a pretty big goal which will require an average of 38 miles per week.  That may be tough to do since the weather gets kind of iffy in the months of Nov. and Dec. but we'll see what happens...no promises!

Happy Trick or Treating and Stay Safe Out There on the Roads!

Barefoot Dan

Monthly Mileage for Oct = 140.6 miles
Highest Temp Run for Month = 73 degrees, lowest = 28 degrees


Monday, September 30, 2013

Barefoot on the Appalachian Trail

Hello Barefooters,
I took it pretty easy in the month of September.  I really needed a bit of a rest after trying to kill myself in the month of August breaking my weekly and monthly totals from back in my shoe wearing days.

Above the NOC on 13 mile hike with Fritz
I basicallly just ran what felt comfortable each day and tried to nurse a couple of slight injuries from all the overuse of the record breaking.  The method was sucessful and after the first two weeks I felt like I was right back to normal.
My big run for the month was actually just an ad hoc day.  I went out on my twins Megan and Sarah's 13th  Birthday and ran from the bus stop in the dark with my headlamp.  About 2 miles into the run I decided to try to run a 13 miler in their honor.  That is the neat thing about barefooting, you can just go out for a 3 miler and end up running 13!  My other motivation was that I knew the following week would be on the Appalachian Trail and would probably not include that much "actual" running.  The 13 miler at least gave me some respectable mileage for the month.  That being said, I really only ran about 59 miles for the entire month!

Feels so GOOD!!

But the last week was very eventful with my MAN-cation to the AT with buddies, Steve, Fritz, Bill, John and Rob.  We started out the week at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) in North Carolina.  Our trip included hikes and white water rafting in SC, GA, NC, and TN.  The white water was exciting to say the least.  You can see some examples of how NOT to do it at the end of the blog.  We definitely were not rafting professionals (and it shows!)  But we had fun swimming and getting pulled back into the boat. 
Bill, Fritz and Dan at lunch stop on first Full Pack day
For the week I was able to rack up 60.1 miles on the AT and actually did 12% of it barefoot!  Yes, that was 7.2 miles (spread across 5 days) barefoot on the rocky, root-covered ups and downs of the AT.  It might sound painful to some, but believe it or not I was actually looking forward to the barefoot section each day just to get out of my sweaty klunky hiking boots.  It felt good to actually FEEL the trail instead of pounding my toes into the ends of my shoes.  I ended up with 3 pretty good sized blister on the inside of my toes, not from the barefooting but from the shoes!

I am hoping the blisters heal up in time for my next race which will be on Oct. 12th in Kokomo IN the Highway Half.  During this race the participants will be able to run a "one time only" half marathon 13.1 miles on the as yet un-opened section of the new Highway 31 By-Pass (or as we call it the by-pass of the by-pass) before it opens to traffic later in the year.
Well, I'll let you know next month how it went.

Happy Barefooting,

Barefoot Dan

Monthly Mileage for Sept. = 59 miles (not counting hikes)




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Triple Record Breaker! - 90 Mile Week, 252 Mile Month, and 20 Mile Training Run

Good Morning Barefooters,

Barefoot in Austin TX

I've been enjoying this late Summer with some barefoot long runs and setting some new records at the same time.  I continue to be amazed at this body God has given me and it's amazing power to heal and recover.  If you would have told me I'd be able to do this distance back when I started barefooting just two years ago I would have laughed.  To think that I've been able to ramp up from just a mile or so every other day, to actually surpassing both my weekly and monthly totals IN SHOES is not only incredible but definitely a gift from God.
The month started off strong with a week where I just continued to push and push and ended up with 70.08 miles which (I thought) beat my all time record with shoes.  I celebrated and relaxed by running only 17 miles the next week.  Then the third week I put in a respectable 40 miles or so and was feeling pretty good.  So last weekend, I began to wonder, "Hey, what about trying to break my monthly total in shoes as well."  This was not quite as easy to research since my running logs keep my weekly totals but not my monthly.  I had to dig back through 18 or 19 years worth of Excel files and even went back to my paper logs in the early 90's.  I had to do a lot of manual adding and/or reworking of the totaling columns to get my monthly totals.  Surprisingly I was coming up with some high (but beatable) totals.  First I found a 192, then a 196, then 199...uh oh a 209, and then 215 and finally the high of 221...when all of a sudden I made a horiffic discovery.  That 221 month back in Sept 1996, also included a week when I ran all seven days of the week, starting with a half marathon race on Sunday, full week of marathon training, and a 23 mile long run on Saturday which gave me a 75 mile total for the week.  This was indeed rare, even back then because I have always taken Sundays off.  The only time I run on Sunday is when the actual race is on a Sunday.  But since my spreadsheet only totals Monday through Saturday, I had missed this higher total when doing my research for the weekly record.  So I hadn't broken my shod weekly record afterall...I was still 5 miles short!  Oh no!  Most people would probably say "oh well, nevermind the stupid record"...but, of course, I couldn't let it go.  It's kind of like a sickness!
So, I did the math, taking Sunday off, 6 days to run (once per day), that's about 12 to 13 miles per day...yikes...I thought, well, I'll just take it one day at a time.  Of course, since it was August, it was also hot so I would have to run in the early cool of the morning...before sunrise.  That meant headlamp and flashing taillight...and watch out for rocks in the dark!  To further complicate matters, I had a business trip planned to Austin TX for Tues-Thurs. with early morning flights and meetings, so that meant VERY early morning runs.
Smooth sidewalk in Austin TX
I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to find a good smooth piece of pavement in Austin to do these long runs on, but my prayers were answered after quite a long search I found a nice stretch of sidewalk in an industrial park just 3/4 of a mile from my hotel.  Surprisingly, the temperature in Austin the first morning was actually 2 degrees cooler than back in IN, but still 72 degrees.  The first day in Austin netted me 15.3 miles but the second day I only went 14.1, as I began to get a sore spot on the ball of my left foot.  The concrete was a little more abrasive than I had thought.  At the time, it felt like disaster and I was sure I wouldn't be able to continue the high mileage when I got back to Indiana.  To make matters worse the flight back on Thurs was delayed several hours and I ended up switching airlines which ended up loosing my bag.   No big deal, usually, but the bag had my headlamp and my Garmin w/chest strap in it!  Oh well, on Friday morning, I got up early and with the feet still very tender, I thought, it's now or never, and I'd take them to the breaking point with at least my 9.5 mile loop.  They still felt "ok" so I extended to 12.65 (still my shortest total of the week but it poised me well for the record attempt on Saturday since it put me over the 70 mile mark with still one more day to go.
So this morning I woke up VERY sore and stiff, but figured, worst case, I'll go out and run 6 to beat it by 1 and then go from there.  Well, I kept praying, and He kept answering and I extended once, twice, three times to go a full 20.18 miles (which is my longest ever barefoot training run...I have gone barefoot longer but only in a marathon race, not in training).  Again, I couldn't even believe it as I was doing it!
Here are the log entries for the week: 

13.772:10:100:09:2760MonWestfield IN - 5:47 am
14.362:21:540:09:5373TuesWestfield IN - 3:37 am
15.32:33:540:10:0472WedAustin TX - 3:37 am
14.12:32:130:10:4879ThurAustin TX - 2:18 am
12.652:07:000:10:0263FriWestfield IN - 4:40 am
20.183:30:570:10:2772SatWestfield IN - 4:22 am

And even though I felt like giving up at least three different times this week, He never gave up...I was glad to have stuck with it, the weather held out (no rainouts) and the body just kept recovering.  I'm pretty stiff and sore while writing this but believe it or not, the feet don't have even one blister.

Half Week =34.86, Week 1=70.04, Week 2=16.94, Week 3=39.68, Week 4=90.36 miles
August Monthly Total = 251.88 miles

* Week 4 and Monthly total break my previous records IN SHOES of 75miles and 221miles resp.

Barefoot running is a pretty good metaphor for life...just take it one day at a time, and you never know what you might achieve!

Praise God.

Happy Barefooting,

Barefoot Dan

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Barefoot Running in Kentucky

Hello Barefooters,

Petting "Kiki" and enjoying the cool tile floor, barefoot in Africa!
 It's been another busy month but I was able to squeeze in nearly 100 barefoot miles for the for the month of July.  The month started out while I was still in Liberia finishing up misson trip #1 and enjoying some great barefoot runs on the muddy trails (roads!) in Africa.  I then came back to the US and spent two weeks getting caught up on work and grass mowing before heading out for mission trip #2 to Red Bird Mission in Beverly KY.  During these two weeks in Indiana I had hoped to really ramp my miles back up and jumped in with a 5 miler on that first Monday back, only to develop my first two blisters in months!  (one on the ball of each foot)  Pretty disappointing.  I think the issue was a combination of two things, sudden decrease in mileage (only ran 21 miles in 2 weeks in Africa) and running on much softer surfaces (probably 15 of the 21 miles in Africa were on mud/dirt trail vs. asphalt roads)  Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, but that first day back on 5 miles of asphalt, I may not have been concentrating on my form as well as I should have and didn't stop when I felt the first sign of blisters (hot spots).  This is a good (if painful) lesson to learn, that ALL barefooters should remember:  LISTEN TO YOUR FEET - they are the best coaches you have.  As soon as you feel a hot spot, STOP.  Otherwise you are just asking for blisters which take time to heal and usually decrease your ability to go long.  Another complicating factor was that it had begun to get very hot and humid in Indiana, and that means running at first light (coolest part of day) to avoid hot or even warm pavement.  
I took the next day off completely, but it was too late, the damage was done.  After months of barefoot running and good built up callouses, a couple of blisters take quite a while to resolve.  Regardless, I still got in a couple of good weeks and kept my weekly averages above 20 miles.  Then it was off to Red Bird Mission with our church group (Team Red Bird) where we had another awesome mission experience.  We were blessed to work on two different houses:  one was a kitchen renovation and the other a dining room floor replacement.  
Morning run with Jack at Red Bird Mission - Beverly, KY
I ran the short trail out to the Red Bird Christian School each morning, most times twice and later in the week had a running buddy, Jack Critser.  Jack is a high school sophomore and more of a basketball/football player than runner, but by the end of the week he was really getting into it!  We enjoyed rising early each morning to get in a 3.5 to 4.0 mile run in the misty fog in time to make it to breakfast devotions by 7:15 am.  This was Jack's first mission trip and also first time doing daily runs and I think he really enjoyed both.

Now that I'm back home, the weather cooled off nicely, and I've finished the month with a 7.5 and 10.1 miler but due to this mornings much need rain, I cut today's run short so I won't be breaking the weekly mileage record this week...but maybe next week!  (plus the blisters are still healing).

Stay safe out there barefooters!

Barefoot Dan

July Mileage = 99.71 miles    

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Barefoot Running in Canada and Africa!

Hello Barefooters,
This was quite a month and sorry, but I'm a little late posting since I was out of country at the end of the month.  The month of June included the Lutes family vacation to Canada as well the start of the Hope in The Harvest Mission trip to Ganta, Liberia, Africa at the end of the month.
The month started with yet another record breaking week of 52 miles in the first week of June.  This included a business trip to Chicago during which I turned in 4 consecutive days of 11 miles each on June 3,4,5,and 6.  I knew I would be taking the two out of country trips later in the month so now seemed like the time to bank some mileage. 
Then once the kids finally got out of school, we headed north for our Canadian camping adventure.  This trip was our family's first "out of country" vacation and we planned a driving loop around Lake Superior.  The first stop was at Sault Ste. Marie, MI and two nights of camping in the Soo Locks Campground.  I got in a nice run the last day from the campground, shown here.
We toured the locks by boat and had a nice time camping and cooking over the open fire.  We bought some fresh Michigan asparagus on the way, which we cooked in butter in the skillet over the fire...it was VERY tasty.  We started each of our mornings with bacon and eggs over the fire...my mouth is watering as I type, just remembering the smell!
Barefoot campground route along Kaminastiquia River
Next we headed north and crossed into Canada.  We decided to make the long haul to Thunder Bay, Ontario and camp all our Canada nights in one spot to minimize the set up and tear down.  It was a long drive but very scenic and we wound up at the Fort William Campground which was right outside the Fort William Historical Park.  We toured the park one day and toured a nearby amethyst mine on another day.  We finished our 4 day stay at the Kakabeka Falls on the Kaminastiquia River and a visit to the Observatory/Planatarium at Fort William Park.  I was able to run all four mornings from the Fort William Campground and ran different routes and distances each day from 4 to 7.5 miles.  We then drove back down through Duluth, Minnesota stopping at Grandma's Saloon for lunch (marathoners know Grandma's as the finish line for the annual Grandma's Marathon which was held the following weekend). 
We stopped that night in Deforest WI, where I got in a nice early morning barefoot 10K run through the dairy country just north of Madison.  The roads were so smooth I felt like they must have been paved with butter!
After this it was home to get caught up on work and the grass mowing, before heading to Africa (Ganta, Liberia) for a 16 day mission trip with Hope in the Harvest Missions International.  This trip came together rather quickly through much praying and soul searching.  God assembled a great team for this trip, bringing together widely varying professions including teaching, farming, medical, engineering, political, clergy and publishing.  We were all blessed through this work and were doubly blessed by the wonderful people of Liberia who received us warmly with their friendly smiles and their true joy in discovering new ways to enjoy the bounty God gives us all each and every day.  We shared a program called "Farming God's Way" which teaches Bilblically based farming techniques geared to increase production and care for the soil and and the natural "God's Blanket" of mulch from the previous year's crop.  Other team members shared by teaching classes such as knitting, water color painting and Bible study.  One team member worked to catalog the campus library books.  We also assembled a green house, and installed gates and fencing.  My buddy Steve Wand built a much needed potting bench which now graces the green house entrance. 

Parachute games at VBS in Ganta, Liberia
The Bangladeshi UN contingent in Ganta brought earth moving equipment to help us clear the land for a new farm field which will begin a mechanized verion of Farming God's Way. 
Once the field was cleared we used our new "one row" planter to plant this first mechanized planting on the mission site.  We were also blessed by the folks at Christ UMC in Westfield IN (my home church) who donated an Essentials Kit for the Alpha program which is used to revitalize and grow Christian congregations around the world.  We trained 4 local pastors to bring this Alpha experience to their congregations over the next year.  Another highlight of the trip was a 3 day VBS in which 180 kids attended...the parachute activity (shown above) was the nightly high point of the activities.  Before I went on this trip, I was very unsure whether I would be able to do any barefoot running at all due to the poor condition of the roads.  But, I was surprised to find that I could actually run the roads around the guest houses, and did so with my buddy Tom Miklik and new friend Jakub Kysel (who is from Slovakia). 

Running buddy Tom and new Liberian friend Samson

Tom ran with me for several of my runs in Ganta, while Jakub was with me when I explored the "streets" and beach in the capital of Monrovia on our last day in the country.  We enjoyed the sandy surfaces of the streets and then once we got to the beach, we actually ran part of the beach section in or near the actual surf.  This beach has a severe slant, so after only about 1 mile or so on the beach, we headed back to the guest house.  It was a great ending to an awesome trip and a beautiful experience where I met many new friends both in Liberia and Slovakia as well as back here in Indiana.
Monrovian Beach Run with Jakub
Looking back at the month , I ran about a total 19 barefoot miles in Canada, 20 barefoot miles in Liberia and look forward to running more in the future.  For the month of June, the total was 114 miles which was much better than expected considering all the travel days and other activities.  So, barefooters, If you ever get the chance to go to Liberia, to share your faith or any other reason...GO!

Run Safe,

Barefoot Dan

Friday, May 31, 2013

Barefoot in May in Indy

On the Indy 500 Track

Hello Barefooters,
Crossing the Bricks
I hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer and all the great barefoot opportunities out there.  May was another great month which included several interesting highlights. 

To start, on May 4, I was blessed to run my first ever barefoot Mini Marathon in Indianapolis.  This race is a half marathon (13.1 miles) which begins and ends in downtown Indy and includes one lap around the famed Indy 500 Track.  The day was absolutely perfect for barefoot running even though some complained it was a little too humid and windy.  Most of the surfaces were fairly good although the Indy track itself is not really the best for barefooting.  This extremely hard asphault surface is "combed" for traction which doesn't feel too good on the feet because of the rather sharp edges. 

However, for whatever reason, this year the "yellow shirt guys" weren't on the infield at the track keeping runners off the grass. And so myself, and about 100 of my closest friends, ran a single file line on the grass just inside the track. 

Relaxing with Dirty Feet!

 This definitely saved the  feet on the back straightaway and through turns 3 and 4.  On the front, the course takes the runners off the rear pit entrance below turn 4 and then angles back onto the actual track.  I closely hugged the pit wall which was not only shaded but had a smoother surface for about the first 6 to 8 inches away from the wall.  As others knelt down to "kiss the bricks" I floated on by on my way to some of the fastest mile splits of the day.  Coming out of the track the runners hit a head wind but I hardly noticed as I was having such a great day. 

I finished up at 1:57 which gave me a BPR (Barefoot Personal Record) and met my goal of "under 2 hours" with a pace of 8:56 per mile.  I enjoyed hanging out it the finishers area in Military Park afterward and joined several friends at the Club Kokomo Roadrunners tent, an annual tradition.  Although I hadn't run this race for the last couple years, this was my 19th Mini although, again, my first one ever as a barefoot participant. 
I sort of took it easy the next week, although still ran 21 miles for the week and included a 4 mile "Run With A Cop" at the Blue Mile in Carmel with my daughter Megan and buddy Fritz.
The following week, I turned in my highest ever weekly total of 50 miles.  This week culminated with a barefoot run for the American Cancer Society in our annual Relay for Life.  This year, our team raised over $12,000 to help fight cancer.  Thank you all for your donations to this worthy cause!  The next two weeks were 30miles and 25+ which are still high weekly totals and the feet/legs seem to be holding up very well.  Last week I was on business travel out to New York and enjoyed a couple of scenic runs around Roaring Brook Lake just off the Taconic Parkway as I drove between NYC and Fishkill.  It was neat to just pick out a running course by looking a Google Earth on the computer (while still in Indiana!) and then going out and running that course.  On my way up to Fishkill, I stopped and did just one lap (3 miles) but the next day, on the way back, I did two full laps plus a side loop for a full 7 miles. 
Scenic Barefoot Run in New York

The surfaces were pretty rough and this route was hilly, so that was more than enough.  Then this morning, back here in Indiana, I ran 5 miles in a torrential downpour which was quite exhilarating.  Again, the feet held up just fine and got a good washing at the same time.
Next month will include a family camping trip to Ontario Canada and the start of my mission trip to Liberia for Hope in the Harvest.  Looking forward to a few barefoot runs in both of those places.  Hmm...I wonder if my Garmin will work in Africa?

Stay Cool Barefooters!

Barefoot Dan

May Mileage = 140 miles (also included a record 50 mile week)
2013 Mini Marathon - First ever "barefoot" half marathon

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Record Breaking Barefoot Month! - 160 Miles

Hello Barefooters!
Spring Break in Myrtle Beach & barefoot everyday of course
April was one for the record books!  I continue to be amazed at these feet God has blessed me with!  My in-between run recovery time has been drastically improving as well as the duration of my individual workouts.  The month of April included four consecutive "Highest Weekly Barefoot Total Ever" weeks.  That's right...each week I broke my all time record for barefoot mileage...4 WEEKS IN A ROW!  I started off the month in Myrtle Beach SC at my sister Jill's house.  This was our annual Spring Break with the family but the first one we had spent in Myrtle Beach.  We had a great, relaxing vacation and each morning I was able to get up and run a third of a mile to the beach and then pick "left" or "right" for my morning workout.  I probably bored everyone to tears on Facebook by posting my daily Garmin downloads but I really enjoyed each and every day on the beach.  One of my favorites is shown below.

Myrtle Beach Rave Run - 8.1 miles to Cherry Grove Pier

It just seemed so natural!  Each early morning run was synced up nicely with low tide so I got to be out on the flattest part of the beach and most days ran right in the actual surf.  The beach total for the week was 33 miles.

After returning home, I began the next week sort of "missing" the beach but found something very interesting.  I was able to still employ my "beach mentality" even while running on the asphalt!  In other words I felt like I was still running on the sand and trying to pick up the feet quickly with each stride...kind of like trying to run WITHOUT leaving any footprints in the sand!  This allows you to sort of begin to "pick up" the feet BEFORE you put them down...I know, it sounds impossible but as with so much of barefoot running, it's all in your head!  The important thing is to get that visual image in your head of your foot coming back up toward your body BEFORE it actually touches down.  This first week back included a business trip down to Georgia, during which I incorporated a nice long run at Falls of the Ohio State Park (in Clarksville IN) and some Spring like runs near Atlanta GA and Nashville TN.  The barefoot total for this second week of travelling was 37 miles (Another all time high!)

Pulled this piece of glass out of my heel (8 hours after the run!)
After returning home yet again, I had some early morning runs in the dark (with the headlamp and flashing red light for safety) and continued to increase my daily and weekly totals.  Even though I was running every day without a day off in between for recovery, the feet continued to respond well and always seemed to be ready for the next day.  This week back in Indiana netted me another record week of 42 miles!

Then I turned north toward Michigan for week-long automotive conference for work after discovering a new 8 mile course just to the south from my house.  I was able to enjoy a daily run of a least 8 miles each day in Michigan during this week.  Two of the days I ventured out to Kent Lake (near Milford MI) and did the metro trail around the lake.  One of these days was 37 degrees and featured rain mixed with snow pellets, but I still made it all 8 miles around the lake.  Other days I explored the I-275 metro trail which turned out to be VERY ROUGH indeed but did connect to some nicer trails and sidewalks in the local neighborhoods of Novi and Farmington Hills.  Needless to say, by the end of this week my feet were trashed and needed rest but I put in an "easy" 3 miler back home on Saturday morning to give me a weekly total of 45 miles and another record.

Now, I'm simply resting with very few miles this week in preparation for my first ever Barefoot Mini Marathon in Indianapolis.  I've done this race 18 times but always with shoes of course...this will be my first experience to run the iconic Indy 500 Track in my bare feet and I'm looking forward to it!  If you would like to support my fundraising quest for Relay For Life just click here and help fight cancer as I run a barefoot half marathon.

Keep Those Miles Up Barefooters 
& Enjoy Spring If It Ever Gets Here!

Barefoot Dan

April Mileage:  160.9 miles (All time barefoot high)
Week 1= 33, Week 2= 37, Week 3= 42, Week 4= 45, Apr 30 = 4

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Out Like a Lamb...

Happy Easter Barefooters,
March turned out to have a few weather challenges but overall was a great month with some high running totals -- over 100 miles for the month which puts me well on my way to a 1000 mile year.  The month started with the Amboy 5K Race in Amboy IN.  This was a great little Sat. morning race and I brought along my 12 year old daughter Megan to challenge the out - and - back course.  What I didn't remember (from my shod days) was how ROUGH the middle mile of the course is...sort of Chip and Seal on steroids which made for a slow and painful middle mile of the race.  But hey, it was a BPR (that's Barefoot Personal Record!) at 25:17 or an 8:09 pace overall.  This was good enough for 2nd in my age group (Male 45-49).  After finishing I ran back to cheer on Megan and ran the last half mile in with her as she captured 1st in her age group (Female 14 and under)!  
It's always nice to bring home hardware!
Megan got a BIGGER trophy!
Afterwards we enjoyed the post race pancake breakfast (the best part of Amboy!) and chatted with other Kokomo Road Runners as the awards were handed out.  It was great to share this experience with my daughter and also break the 5K BPR I had just set back in January on the trail run (Night Flight 5K).  As the month progressed we had a couple more snows but God always provided enough sunny and dry days in between that I was still able to get in several good training sessions.  I was able to run 4 or 5 days each week in March even though a few runs were on wet pavement.  On March 5th, I completed my longest run of the year so far at just over 11miles, followed by a couple of 8 mile runs later in the month. 
I finished out the month with yet another BPR at the Westfield Underground RR 5K on March 23rd.  This race commemorates the fact that Westfield IN was once a stop on the infamous Underground RR network back in the days of the civil war.  This race is run on city streets with about 3/4 mile on the trail in Asa Bales Park near the end.  While there were a couple of rough patches, this course is much smoother than the Amboy course and as a result much faster for us barefooters.  I started near the back of the pack (maybe too far back!) but enjoy passing the other runners early on, and actually continued to pass runners the entire way.  The last quarter mile or so was very interesting as I passed one individual who turned out to be a podiatrist.  He kept surging and trying to re-pass me as we neared the tape but I had plenty left in the tank and kept turning it on to fend him off.  Afterwards we laughed about it and he told me he just HAD to pass me since he was a podiatrist and I was barefoot!  I thanked him for speeding me up...turns out (according to my Garmin) that I ran the last 0.1 mile at a pace of 5:26min/mile! 
Overall, this was again a BPR of 23:40 at a 7:38 Pace which was good enough for 64th out of 429 participants and 4th in my age group.  Since they only went 3 deep in the trophies I finished just out of the hardware, although the runner just ahead (my friend Bill Kirsch) and just behind (my new podiatrist friend Dave) both recieved hardware in their age groups!
After another nice snowstorm (10.5 inches!) and some sunny days immediately after, I got in several nice long runs for the week, just in time to head south for Spring Break with the family.  This year's plan has us stopping in Maggie Valley NC to visit my pastor friend Laura Jones and then heading over to my sister Jill's house in North Myrtle Beach.  Hopefully the weather will continue to improve and we'll get in some beach time with the kids.  And hopefully a few early morning runs on the beach which will be a big change from the Indiana snow!

Enjoy the warmer Spring temps!

Barefoot Dan

March Mileage = 106 (New Monthly Barefoot High Total)

Week 1 (partial)= 4, Week 2 = 35, Week 3 = 21, Week 4 = 20, Week 5 = 26

Friday, March 1, 2013

In Search of a Dry Road

Good Morning Barefooters,
February is in the books, and looking back over the month it was remarkably consistent.  Even though we had our share of snow, ice and rain during the month, God still provided a few dry days in between to help get in the longer runs needed to keep up the mileage.  I have had sort of an undeclared goal of trying to acheive 1000 Barefoot Miles in 2013.  For those mileage hounds out there, you know that getting to 1000 miles for the year, requires over 19 miles per week.  Since I always take Sundays off, this leaves only 6 days a week to squeeze in those 19 miles.  Either 3+ miles per day or 3 days of 6+ with a day off in between.  That is a pretty agressive schedule when you start to add in snow days.  Last year it would have been easy since the weather was so mild, but this year we were lucky to get 2 "dry" days per week.  So this requires keeping the mileage low enough on the "wet" days to not due damage to the feet and high enough on "dry" days to keep the weekly average going.
Of course the other factor with Indiana roads in the winter is all the salt and calcium chloride put on the roads to keep them clear.  Remember, salt is basically MEAT TENDERIZER so when you couple that with wet roads the feet can't do super high mileage, at least not multiple days in a row.  So it was challenging this month to watch the weather forecast and take advantage of the dry day that typically precedes the next big storm, knowing that I would have a low (or zero) mileage day following the storm.

Longest Run of the Year (so far...)
 The temperature cooperated as well and I was able to keep most of my runs in the 20s or 30s.  However, my first run of the month was also my coldest barefoot run ever on Feb. 1 at 5 degrees!  This was of course a "dry" 5 degrees, but nevertheless, a very short run of 0.41 miles, hardly worth logging!  This was my shortest run of the month while this past Tuesday allowed for my longest run of the month (and year!) at 9.62 miles.  This was a beautiful sunny day with a temp of 34 degrees and little or no wind.  I didn't actually set out to go that far but when I got to the 4th mile of my planned 6 mile run, the road back home was closed due to power line work.  So I decided rather than back tracking I would just make my loop bigger.  I turned and went down Little Chicago Road to Highway 38 and then back home.
You can see my Garmin download of the run here.  I enjoyed the smooth surface of Little Chicago and once I got to Hwy 38 I pretty much stayed on the white line which was smooth as well.  Of course the issue with both of these roads is high traffic and requires a constant watch ahead for cars.  When they don't get over, you need to be ready to dive into the weeds or the rocky edge of the road.  Most of the drivers in the area are very considerate of runners and either slow or make way as they approach.  I usually try to wear either my orange gloves or my neon green sock cap to make myself as visible as possible.
Well, the mileage is listed below, and as you can see I got in at least 3 "above average" weeks in February.  I will need to continue this trend if I'm going to make up for the 2 weeks down time from January.  Looking forward to some Spring racing, maybe including the Amboy 5K (and pancake breakfast!) this Saturday (tomorrow) if the weather cooperates.

Enjoy the rest of your winter and STAY SAFE!

Barefoot Dan

February Mileage = 81 Miles

Week 1 = 1, Week 2 = 20, Week 3 = 25, Week 4 = 20, Week 5 = 16 (weeks 1 and 5 partial)