Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2500 Miles in One Year - New Barefoot Record!

Happy New Year Barefooters,

I hope everyone is enjoying this special time of year with friends and family as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  I'm also hoping everyone is looking back on a good year of running and now plotting out their course for an interesting 2016.  As I look back over the year, I'm almost amazed at what I was allowed to accomplish with my newfound passion of barefoot running.  Barefooting has completely changed my running (and changed me as well!)

Today, I'm celebrating my biggest annual total ever of 2525.25 Miles of barefoot running.  This large total has sort of been in the back of my mind all year but was definitely not the main focus of my running or my goal setting.  Of course as the weekly and monthly records were set earlier in the year, I again had a large annual total, which sort of made it a no brainer.  I actually hit the 2000 mile mark back on Sept 26 (quickest date ever) so I knew last year's total of 2222 would be relatively "easy" to top. 
The 2500 mark sort of "came into view" by mid November, but with much needed rest and impending colder weather, I had sort of given up on it by the first week of December.  But then the weather began to turn milder and I got serious about the 2500 mark for the last two weeks of the month, which meant daily double digit averages.  I figured, "Oh Well, I'll rest next year!"  I've enjoyed these last two weeks off from work and got in some great warm December runs, actually turning in an 18 on Christmas Eve and then a 21 a couple days ago so I could take today off completely and write the blog!

With the big total, I started looking at my all time numbers and came up with the following interesting facts:  I've now run 22.8% of my all-time miles barefoot (6,958 barefoot vs. 30,536 miles total).  I've been running for over 25 years but only the last 4 have been barefoot.  And yes, this also means I've now run around the world at least once but only in shoes...barefoot total is still only a quarter to third of the way around the world!

Also for 2015, I looked back to note that I have run in 5 different countries and 10 different states this year alone.  This included my first ever barefoot marathon outside of the US back in January when I went on the Mission Marathon Trip to the Canary Islands (part of Spain) with Athletes in Action.

My Top Ten for the year 2015 would go something like this (chronologically):

1.  1st International Marathon ever - Grand Canary Island, Spain - Jan. 2015 
2.  Barefoot Running in Philippines, June
3.  Biggest Barefoot Month Ever, July = 333.33 miles
4.  Biggest Barefoot Week Ever, Aug 22nd = 111.11 miles
5.  Biggest Barefoot Month Ever, Aug = 370.05 miles
6.  Biggest Barefoot Week Ever, Sep 26 = 125.25 miles
7.  Biggest Barefoot Month Ever, Sep = 404.04 miles
8.  Fastest Barefoot Marathon Ever, Delaware, Oct. = 3 hours, 45 minutes, 0.9 sec
9.  Barefoot Running in Austria/Germany, November
10.  Biggest Barefoot Year Ever, 2015 = 2525.25 miles

If you look closely at the chart above, you see that my 3 record breaking months were actually back-to-back-to-back in the months of July, August and September.  The other astonishing thing (to me) is that these records came during what could be considered a "transition year" at work.  As most of you know, my company was bought out last year and my work and travel schedule have changed, although not too drastically.  But through it all, I was able to maintain the high mileage daily running, primarily by shifting to very early morning running...oh, with a headlamp of course!

Another tidbit discovered while "number crunching" is that my daily average is now 6.91 miles (without counting my Sundays off) and is 8.06 miles (if you discount the off days).  This gives me a weekly average of 48.5 miles, which is another all time high, of course, with or without shoes.

I pray that God will continue to bless my running and all of you other barefoot runners out there as well.  If you haven't done it already, I would encourage you to pick a new goal (or three) for the New Year!  I hope to meet some more of you in 2016.

Stay Strong,

Barefoot Dan

Dec. Mileage = 241.8 miles 


Monday, November 30, 2015

Just Do It!

Frosty Fall Leaves - in Villach Austria

Good Morning Barefooters,

If some of you out there are still on the fence about your next running goal, I'll pass along my mantra which I borrowed from a Nike ad 20-some years ago:


These three small words have been on the bottom of my running log for as long as I've been keeping track of my daily mileages (at least the electronic spreadsheet version) since about 1994.  Whenever I pull out the log to think about the next marathon or the next distance or speed goal and whether or not I've got what it takes to get it done, those three words just keep staring back at me...JUST DO IT!

Of course, this shouldn't replace the planning stages for a big goal like running your first ever marathon, taking on the challenge of a first Triathlon, or even for switching from shoes to barefoot.  But, it's like anything else...if you JUST think about it or TALK about it and never JUST DO IT then what is the point?  I mean, at some point, this intellectual activity has to stop so that the physical activity can begin.  And then, it is literally as simple as putting one foot in front of the other...stepping out the front door and doing it.

If you don't ever JUST DO IT, you'll always wonder if you could have.  And after all, what's the worst thing that could happen?...if you really hate whatever it is, you can always go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before.  And then at least you can say that you tried it.  As the great Henry Ford once said:  "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right!"

The nice thing is that this philosophy can apply to just about anything you need to do, including NOT doing something.  If you are injured and need rest, then instead of feeling guilty about taking time off from running you can JUST DO IT and take a zero day (or week) to get healthy again.  Anytime we apply the JUST DO IT mantra we get ourselves out of the "over-analyzing mode" and move forward with what needs to get done.
Morning Headlamp Run on
River Path in Villach Austria

That being said, right now I'm taking some time to let my ankle continue to heal.  Even though I did take some time off after the Appalachian Trail injury I think it still needs some more time off.  I rested for two days over Thanksgiving break and I'm looking at taking even more down time.  Since I've already hit my mileage goal for the year, I didn't see the need to just keep piling on the miles.

The month of November was pretty interesting, however, since I was out of the country for the first two weeks of the month.  I was on a business trip in Villach Austria for the first week and in Munich Germany for the second week.  I got in some interesting runs in both places and actually ran every day in both places (except Sunday).  This was in spite of a rather nasty self inflicted toe injury the first day in Villach when I stubbed my toe (hard) on the bed in the hotel room...just walking over to look out the window! 
Villach Toe Injury - Stubbed Toe

The picture shows the fourth and fifth(pinky) toes nice and purple after about 48 hours.  It didn't really hurt when I ran, just when I put them back into the shoes each day for the business meetings.  This continues the trend for my messed up right foot...it seems like every blister, pain, stress response, etc...always happens to THIS foot.  Anyway, I actually ran about 25 miles each week while overseas and got in my coldest run of the season (30 deg. F) prior to leaving Munich.  

The weather has now turned colder back here in Indiana as well and I have now run as low as 27 degrees F.  We had quite a snowstorm last Saturday here but I got in a nice 15 miler in the dry, dark, pre-dawn hours ahead of the big first wet snowstorm of the season.  I enjoyed my Thanksgiving break this past weekend and I'm now on a business trip to Michigan for the next couple of days.

Enjoy your winter running,

Barefoot Dan

(November Mileage = 146.12 miles)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Barefoot Personal Record - 3:45 Marathon

Happy Halloween Barefooters,

Beautiful Drive to VA

Finish of Delaware Marathon
I'm happy to report that my speed is improving following my recent high mileage workouts.  I'm not completely convinced that the high miles led to the new Barefoot Personal Record but I was very happy for the improved time (more on that in a little bit).

The month started off with a week of NO RUNNING while I joined 4 hiking buddies on a 50 mile, 5 day hike on the Appalachian Trail.  We hiked a very beautiful part of the trail in Virginia know as Shenandoah National Park.  It was absolutely gorgeous and we had near perfect weather the entire trip.  When Mike (Maroney) and I arrived on Sunday Oct. 4, the locals told us it had been raining for the past 11 days straight. 

AT Hike - Start of 5 day hike
Our compadres arrived later that evening--Steve Walker, Bill Schulke and John Bitner--and we bunked out in a cabin at Skyland Resort before beginning our 5 days of Northbound hiking and camping.  The weather cleared the next morning and the beautiful Autumn colors exploded all around us.

This was the third time I have hiked with this group.  We are what you call "section hikers" in that we only hike a particular section of the trail.  This is as opposed to "thru-hikers" which hike the entire 2159 mile trail in one season.  The middle guy in the picture (John "Churchill" Bitner) actually thru-hiked the trail back in 2010 as a Sobo (South Bounder) but now he comes out every year or so with us hiker wanabees and shows us the ropes.

It is quite a commitment to thru-hike this trail and requires quite a bit of planning and coordination to re-supply and carry just enough to get you to the next point without breaking your back trying to carry everything you "think" you might need.  Thru-hikers are a different breed and it was an honor to get to get to meet several Sobo's on our trek through VA which is the lower half of the trail.

Toe Surgery in Tent

Duct tape can "fix" anything!
We hiked about 10 miles a day although some days were a little longer.  On the second day I began to develop very bad blisters on both pinky toes due to the moist hiking boots (remember:  Me and shoes DO NOT get along!)  Before arriving at the campsite that second night I had already popped the blister on the left foot and the right foot looked like a balloon ready to pop!  I was pretty bummed out about it and not really sure what to do.  As I began to worry about the barefoot marathon coming up in one week it was all I could do not to panic...I had to just pray and "Give it to God" knowing that somehow He would work it out.  One seasoned veteran (Sobo) at the camp that night told me to "duct tape 'em" and keep going!  And that's what I did.  I performed minor surgery in my tent that night cutting away SOME of the loose skin on the left pinky toe to keep it from wrapping back under the broken blister and causing worse damage.  I then bandaged the popped blister and then wrapped both pinky toes in duct tape.  It worked surprisingly well.  The right toe never popped the whole rest of the week and with nightly "drying" and re-taping each morning I survived the week.  Many answered prayers during these last several days since I knew the DE Marathon was coming up in 10 days and may have been in jeopardy.

Coffee Break on Trail
One highlight from the hike was on day two when I spotted a black bear while all alone on the trail.  I heard a lot of rustling in the trees overhead as I hiked near Elk Wallow Wayside and at first thought it was just another bunch of gray squirrels which I had seen numerous times already.  But this was a LOT of rustling leaves from something BIG, and as I looked up about 30 yards off to the right of the trail, I saw a large black bear climbing down the trunk of a tree...he stopped half-way to the ground...perked up both ears...and then he and I locked eyes with each other!  I just kept moving along the trail, not really sure what was going to happen.  He immediately climbed the rest of the way down the tree, the bottom of which was below 
Snake by My Tent!! 

grade, so I couldn't see which way he went as he got to the ground.  Oh no!  Again, I just kept on moving away and looked back frequently but never saw him again...but boy, did that get my heart rate going!  I was the only one of our group of 5 that saw a bear all week (and survived to tell about it!) so I felt pretty fortunate.  Other wildlife sightings included deer close enough (and tame enough) to pet, gray squirrels, chipmunks, birds and of course a 6 foot black/white snake on day 3 just 10 feet from the tent I just set up...I watched him climb into the trees to get some sun and he just left me alone after that.

RR Crossing on Appalachian Trail

Another sort of injury occurred during the hike as I started lacing my hiking boots very tight to avoid the slippage which seemed to be causing the blisters.  While this did keep my feet from sliding around in the boots, it seemed to put a lot of stress on my ankles.   My right ankle began to swell on the third day and even after loosening the boots it didn't seem to recover.  Again, more healing prayers were answered as I finished off the week and took each day "one at a time" to try to recover before the marathon just one week away.

Autumn on Anthony Road,
a "Tunnel of Trees"
I did begin running that next week (back in Indiana for only 4 days) but really took it easy.  I left the now "loose" callous in place on the left pinky toe and prayed it wouldn't become an issue for the race on Saturday.  The callous was basically a hinged flap and I figured if I cut it away I would be forcing myself to run on the new tender skin underneath.  Earlier in the week, I had been contemplating calling up the race director and getting a one-year injury deferment and changing my flights and hotel...but what a pain!  But by the end of the week I was gaining confidence and knew that God was with me, as always.  I prayed for good dry weather and just to make it through the weekend.  After all, this would be my third marathon (attempt) for the year and I was still yet to have a "good" one.

Start of the Dover Delaware Wounded Warrior Project
Monster Mash Marathon - October 17, 2015
I flew out to Philadelphia on Friday and drove down to the Monster Mile (Dover International Speedway) to pick up my race packet at the base of the Monster statue.  My hotel was less than half a mile away and I got to bed early after a full day of carbo-loading (Breakfast @ Cracker Barrel, Lunch @ Longhorn Steakhouse & Dinner @ Applebees!).  Race day (Saturday, Oct 17) was absolutely perfect race weather.  About 43 degrees at the start, dry and no wind.  I was one of the last runners to the starting line (on the actual track) and got lots of stares and comments, being the only barefoot runner there.  It was a combination Half and Full marathon so we were a little conjested the first 6 miles or so but not bad at all. 
Monster Mile Statue
I went out trying to keep the early miles just under 8:45 but actually eased into a quite comfortable 8:16 pace and couldn't seem to slow it back down.  Between 6 and 12 I ran with Keith and Joyce (fellow 50 staters) and enjoyed the relatively easy miles.  At mile 13 I stopped at a Port-o-let and never really caught back up to them.  My pace slowed some in the last 6 miles but never enough to blow my goal average of 8:35.  I came within 1 second of my overall time goal of 3:45 with a brand new Barefoot Personal Record of 3:45:00.9 which beat my previous BPR (Wyoming last year) by more than 5 minutes!  This was good enough for 50th place overall and 8th in my age group.

Liberty Bell Sidetrip

I stayed around for the "after party" including barbeque and beer and traded war stories with the other runners.  Many other 50 staters were around and even a couple of "50 Sub 4" wannabees like myself.  Once the sun disappeared behind clouds and the wind began to pick up, the crowed thinned and I headed back to my hotel to rest up for the trip back to Indy the next day (had to stay over Saturday to get a reasonable price on a flight).  The next day I arose early and drove south to Slaughter Beach and then back up north toward the airport. 
A REAL Philly Cheese-steak
I went down to downtown Philly, and stood in line to see the Liberty Bell before heading over to the Red Owl Tavern for a REAL Philly Cheesesteak and a beer...then I headed to the airport for the plane-ride back.

I ran a little last week but surprisingly the right ankle continued to ache all week.  I decided to take this whole last week of the month off and see how it feels before doing anymore running on it.  Next week I leave for two weeks in Europe (Germany and Austria) so I'm not sure how much running (if any) I will do over there.  I'll just take it easy if I do start back up and relax, knowing that I've already hit all my distance and time goals for the year.  Not sure which marathon will be next but I still need a sub 4 in both Florida and New Mexico to finish out the 50Sub4 thing.

Happy Trails & God Bless,

Barefoot Dan

October Mileage = 86.18 miles (low, but lots of much needed rest!)