Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Barefoot AT Hike - Fontana Dam to NOC

Hello Barefooters,


Fontana Dam NC in the Rain
4 Amigos at the Start
Wow, where did September go?  It was a very busy and fun month.  I started off with a quick two day business trip to CA which included a nice barefoot run in San Jose.  I came back that weekend to get ready for my two week trip on the Appalachian Trail.  I left on Monday and drove down to Fontana Dam in the remnants of Hurricane Irma.  I did a barefoot walk across the dam and back, and then went to meet my hiking buddies (Steve Walker, Bill Johnston and Bill Schulke) at the Fontana Dam Shelter (aka the Fontana Hilton).  Shortly after arriving and sitting by the campfire, we witnessed a loud Crrrrr-ACK and looked up to see a large tree falling just 75 yards from the shelter...although it was down the hill, and not dangerous from our position, this would be an omen of what was to come for the next week of walking in the woods...Many downed trees and branches to hike over, around and through!

"Pack Off" break on the trail
Barefoot on the AT
It rained pretty consistently through that first night in the shelter, but began to clear up nicely as we started our 29 mile, 5 day hike from Fontana Dam to NOC (that's Nantahala Outdoor Center) and yes, I went barefoot.  My thought was to switch to sandals as needed...and as it turned out, I never unclipped them from my backpack the entire week.  As hikes go, this was actually a fairly easy schedule, hiking only 6 or 7 miles per day, although some of the elevation changes were extreme.  This was the perfect opportunity for me to try barefoot hiking once again, while I had done some sections in Virginia this way a few years ago, that time I only went for a mile or so and then had put my shoes back on as we were trying to do 12 mile days on that trip. 
Barefoot Coffee Break

Bill Johnston
This time was different.  With lower mileage goals, I took it slow, and did a full "pack off" break each hour, moving about 1 mile an hour on average.  This pace allowed for good careful foot placement as I walked.  And there were many things to avoid.  Of course the usual rocks and roots, but now with the wind damage there were MANY acorns on the trail along with downed leaves, branches and whole trees.  The acorns liked to hide under the freshly fallen green leaves and found my arches over and over again.  But again, slow careful foot placement was the key whether going up or down the mountains.

Hurricane Irma wind damage on AT
Tent Under the Laurels
We camped in the shelters the first two nights and after that I broke out the tent...mainly because that third night there was no shelter, but after that I used the tent every night since I remembered how easy it was to set up.  No sense carrying it if I wasn't going to use it.  Backpacking is all about conserving weight in the pack.  It's nice as you go along day after day, literally "Eating your load" and the pack weight keeps getting less and less.  I start with a roughly 35 pound pack which allows for full tent, sleeping bag, cooking system, 5 days of food and oh, 1 pound of unused sandals!  This time I also experimented with a reduced sleeping pad.  Instead of the traditional roll out/blow up Thermorest pad, I used the backpack frame pad integral to my borrowed First Ascent pack.  This pad is part of the backpack frame, but is Velcro removable and can be used as a camp seat as well as unfolded at night to make a half sleeping pad.  It's not quite as comfortable as a full pad, especially on the hard floors of the shelters, but worked very well when using the tent and saved about 2 pounds (and lots of space) in the pack.
The Motley Crew Ready for Kayaking

After 2 days, one hiker (nameless) got injured (rolled ankle) and opted to leave the trail with another of our 4 at Stecoah Gap while Bill J and I marched on toward the NOC.  We stayed together more than previously now that the group was thinned by 50% but we still separated on the trail each day...no matter who you a hiking with, it usually turns into a solitary effort for most of the trail.  The nice part about this is you have lots of "alone" time to think about life and get extra praying time with God.  In my case, these were mostly breath prayers, looking for help and safety with the next step or trail section.  Barefooting definitely makes my prayers more necessary and immediate as sometimes without it, I would be completely paralyzed and unable to move forward or see clearly how to get around, though or over the next obstacle in my path.  There is always a smooth part of the path...a better way forward...if we wait for Him to direct our steps.


Kayaking was Fun
We did make it to the NOC where we were met by two other Indiana hiking buddies, Paul Peak and Shelley Lea.  We stayed at the Ash Cabin for week two, which was a nice change of pace from the trail.  We played golf one day at Smoky Mountain Golf Course and rented inflatable kayaks another day for a 4 hour "Class 2" (yeah right) float trip back to the NOC.  On Wednesday and Thursday, Shelley and I hit the trail Southbound from NOC to Wesser Bald Shelter...5.5 miles out + one overnight + 5.5 miles back.  For this 11 mile adventure, I did use my new Merrill hiking shoes...I figured I paid for them I might as well use them while I'm here (but I think I still prefer barefoot if I can go slow and at my own pace)  Paul Peak joined us each day for the 1 to 2 mile section closest to the NOC.  He was a sight for sore eyes on day 2 as he was carrying a beer cooler back pack which made the last two miles SO much more enjoyable.


As far as running, I took a big ZERO for the first week of the AT experience but did get in a couple of runs in week two along the somewhat dangerous Hwy 74 leading into and out of the NOC. 
Shelley, Paul, and Dan - week 2



The last week of the month was spent up in Traverse City Michigan with my work collegues on a team building exercise where at one point we built a Rube-Goldberg machine with 22 people, 7 teams and 35 individual motions...it was a neat experience.  The weather was nice in upper MI and I got in a barefoot run each morning, one with my collegue and new running buddy Ravi on the first day of the conference.  The last day I went long and ran straight up and back on MI-22 for a nice 14 miler.



BCHS Class of 1982 (26 of 145)
Now I'm down in Seymour IN at my step-mom Helen's house where I got to come and enjoy my 35th High School Reunion last night in Brownstown IN.  John Nichols and I met for golf at our local course Hickory Hills in Brownstown and then we met up with 26 classmates last night for the party.  It was so good to see everyone and reconnect.  Our class is fairly good about doing this every 5 years or so and I'm always amazed at the diversity in the students of BCHS and where they've all ended up over the years...of course in a class of 145, there are still many we don't know what happened to, or where they are, but FaceBook has helped us stay connected for this one.

I'm hoping the nice weather continues in October and I can get back on pace for another 2000 mile year.  We'll see what God provides. 


Stay Safe and Enjoy the Fall Weather!


Barefoot Dan


September Mileage (running only/not counting hiking miles = 191.8 miles)



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Over 300 Barefoot Miles in August

Hello Barefooters,

Saturday 16 mile run to Tipton Co. Line and Back
Well the Summer is drawing to a close and the kids are back in school... 
But there is something I really love about August and this one was memorable.  I really enjoy the dry warm weather and the ability to get in some good long runs before work each day.  My runs are pretty much all with the headlamp and based on the time available and the weather.  Most days I run between 4am and 6am which gives me just enough time to get ready and then put the girls on the bus by 7:15am.
McGregor Park Hike
It seemed like my body finally woke up and began acclimating to the higher mileages (finally) as I was steadily falling behind in my normal 2000 mile year pace.  I was able to rack up some of my highest weekly totals of the year so far with a 75, 80 and 70 mile week.  And this last week looks like it will be another 70+.  At the start of August I was 215 miles behind the 2000 pace but by the end of the month I pulled that number down to ~50.  Yes, I'm a "mileage geek" who actually keeps track of that sort of thing.  It is actually a pretty difficult thing to do (running 2000 miles in a year) knowing that your AVERAGE weekly mileage needs to be 38+ miles per week and also knowing that December through March don't usually yield those high miles due to cold weather, so you have to "make hay while the sun shines" in August and September!  Still, it doesn't even feel like work sometimes when you "get in the zone."  And that's what I absolutely love about barefoot running...some days I might go out for a 4 miler and feel so good I just extend it and go for a 14 miler!...I would NEVER have done that in shoes!! 

Pretty view on practice hike
Sunny Hike - Testing New Shoes & Socks
Of course since my September may be pretty light on actual running miles due to my 2-week Appalachian Trail hike, I will probably be way behind again by the end of Sept!...but oh well, I'll make it up again somehow.  The other complicating factor will be two business trips in the month of September as well.  I will be going to CA the first week of the month and then to Michigan the last week of the month.
 
 

Still, I am REALLY looking forward to this AT hike.  It will be good to be out "alone" in nature for an extended period of time.  We will be out for 2 weeks with 8 guys, one week on the trail and one week in a cabin.  We are doing a very nice section of the AT in North Carolina starting at Fontana Dam and ending at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) which will actually be pretty light daily mileages and (I hope) allow me to do a significant portion of the trail barefoot...we'll see what God provides...I did a portion in Virginia barefoot but always put my shoes back on before the end of the day...I may not have shoes this time and go with only sandals, we'll see...still two more weeks to decide that.  Either way, it will be fun.

Rocky Trail Somewhat Mimics the AT
I have done some practice hiking trying out the different footwear.  At McGregor Park which is just 2 miles from my house, I have now done 3 practice hikes with a full 36lb backpack.  Each time I hiked the outer trail (which was originally the only trail there) and it is a 1.6mile loop.  The first one was a few days ago in the heat of the day with the hiking shoes and the new Ininji socks.  They worked very well and I got no blisters or rubbing. 
The 2nd time was in the cool of the morning and I went completely barefoot.  Only one lady was on the trail but she did stop to ask me about barefooting and the benefits.  The crushed gravel trail was definitely slower in barefeet but there were some grassy sections to help my average speed.  The slowest gravel sections were about 1MPH which is what I pretty much expected. 
Ininji Socks With Sandals
New Combination!
The third trial hike was with the Ininji socks and the sandals and this seemed to be a pretty good combination as well.  Granted there are no major ups and downs in McGregor Park, but I think the sandals will be a good alternative on the Appalachian Trail in a couple of weeks.  My test hike speed with both the shoes and the sandals was about 3MPH with full pack, of course this will be somewhat slower perhaps when I hit the higher elevations and mountain climbs in North Carolina, but it was a pretty good test and served to give me confidence if nothing else.  As always, with the weather, terrain, and how the body feels...I will have to see what God Provides...He hasn't failed me yet!

Well, Enjoy The Fall, and God Bless!

Barefoot Dan


August Mileage = 321.71 miles (biggest month of the year so far)

Monday, July 31, 2017

New York State of Mind

Hello Barefooters,


As the Summer rolls on, I'm continuing to rack up barefoot miles, although still not at any record setting pace.  We've had some cooler, rainy weather lately, but overall it is turning out to be a pretty normal Summer so I am getting in some really good longer morning runs with the headlamp.  Sunrise is noticeably later now than it was in late June which causes me to have to leave on the headlamp later and later.  I do enjoy being able to come back after my runs and dive into the pool in the backyard to cool down prior to showering up for work.
Saratoga Spa 5-Mile Trail
Sarah on the Trail
 


This past week I've been on vacation in NY with my family.  We had a wonderful, relaxing week making memories as a family.  The vacation actually started last Friday evening with a drive up to Howe in northern IN to visit Linda's Mom and Dad, Frank and Mary, and to celebrate Mary's 80th birthday a few days early, before beginning our drive out to NY.  We took the family out for breakfast at the Howe Diner on our way out of town.  The first night was spent in Geneva in the Finger Lakes Region of NY.  Then we continued on to our main destination:  Saratoga Springs, NY. 
S'mores by cabin in Saratoga Springs


My wife Linda had booked us a cabin in in Saratoga Springs from which we were able to launch our daily sight-seeing excursions.  It was a nice "tiny house" which comfortably slept the 5 of us.  We had a fire-pit off to the side which allowed us to make a fire and some S'mores on one of the non-rainy nights and and enjoy the great outdoors.  At least two of the overnights were rainy so we were appreciating the fact we weren't in our normal tent and fighting the dripping ceiling!  I skipped running the first morning in Saratoga Springs due to the rain but was able to run each of the next four mornings.  Each day I did the same 7.9 mile out-and-back down the mountain to the restaurant in Wilton NY.  This allowed me to stretch the legs on more hills than I am used to in my normal flat Indiana running.

Our daily excursions took us into the Adirondacks, one day to the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, another day to Saratoga Spa State Park and another to "The Wild" at Tupper Lake, NY.  Each day we got in a lot of hiking and I got a chance to break in my new Merrill hiking shoes which I was hoping to use on my upcoming 2-week Appalachian Trail hiking trip in September.  However, on the second day which included a 5 mile loop hike at Saratoga Spa, I began to develop a blister under the callous on my left pinky toe...same toe that caused me so many problems on my last AT hike two years ago...So much for spending the money on "good" hiking boots because these were the same as my cheapie hiking shoes which I left behind in Liberia after my January mission trip.  Its the same old, same old...I HATE SHOES!!!  Maybe I will look into some heavy duty hiking sandals before Sept. rolls around.
Times Square



Anyway, after 4 days we checked out of the cabin, parked the car at the Saratoga Springs train station and took the 4-hour Amtrack ride to New York City for two nights in our Time Square hotel, the Gallivant...again all booked by Linda (she is a pretty good travel agent!)  I had left the hiking shoes in the car and only brought my sandals to NYC and was VERY happy about that choice.  We did a LOT of walking in NYC, one day walking all the way from Time Square to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan to view Lady Liberty.  We also took in the 9/11 Memorial Museum at ground zero.  This was an excellent museum and I highly recommend for anyone visiting the city.  It was very well done and brought back (somewhat regretfully) all the same emotions I felt in the days, weeks, months after 9/11.  This was an excellent, unedited and un-politically-correct version of the events of that time period and there was a LOT of detail I hadn't seen before.  Believe it or not, it was actually somewhat overwhelming to be there and I saw many reduced to tears at the displays...Linda and I both became emotional at different times during the visit but both at the display showing the jumpers and the discussions by those who had witnessed this.

Broadway
We got to enjoy two Broadway shows while in town:  "Waitress" and "School of Rock."  Both were excellent, but "Waitress" ranks as the number one Broadway show I've ever seen (of the 6 I've experienced).  We also went to the NY Museum of Modern Art.  I was pleasantly surprised as it was very good and included Van Gough's "The Starry Night" as may Picasso's, Jackson Pollack's etc.  We got the full New York food experience and really enjoyed the late night "slice" and got pizza after each of the Broadway shows...it's fun eating pizza at Midnight with the family!


At Museum of Modern Art
Each of the two mornings, I got up and went running barefoot in the blocks around the hotel.  The Garmin was definitely more accurate than the I-phone app MapMyRun although both seemed to get confused from time to time with the tall buildings all around.  I only ran less that three miles each day and did have to dodge broken glass on a couple of occasions.  I ran with the headlamp the first day and without the second day as it was later in the morning and there are so many light around Time Square it's almost daylight 24 hours anyway!  I definitely wouldn't want to run all the time in NYC but for 2 days it was tolerable and gave me a chance to go out and get some GOOD food-truck coffee each day before the family woke up.

Amtrack Train from NYC back to Saratoga Springs


On Saturday afternoon we took the afternoon Amtrack train back to Saratoga Springs and then drove a couple hours to our last hotel which was also in the Finger Lakes Region, this time in the town of Auburn.  All in all, this was a very relaxing and enjoyable vacations with the family and I feel like we make some pretty cool memories.  God is Good!!


Enjoy What's Left of Your Summer!


Barefoot Dan


July Mileage = 206.98 Miles

Friday, June 30, 2017

Barefoot Summertime!

Greetings Barefooters,
Nice pink and orange sunrises lately!
I hope you are enjoying the summertime as much as I am.  I love the warmer temps and being able to go for long runs with the only thing holding you back is how the body feels and how much time you can afford to spend.  Most (all) of my runs are done pre-dawn with the headlamp, even on the weekends, in order to get the coolest time of the day.  The days are some of the longest of the year right now and I'm usually turning off the headlamp around 6am and doing the second half of my run in the early daylight.  I have a newly created 10.3 mile loop down Hinkle road south across Hwy 38 and into the new subdivisions.  This 10 miler is the staple of my pre-dawn runs and has allowed me to rack up some big miles as of late.  That being said, I am still way down on my running totals from the previous few years...but I still have half a year to catch up!

I got to run in two new locations this month.  Linda and I went to "Dome School" in North Branch MN to learn some techniques for working on our geodesic dome house.  This was very eye opening and we learned a lot.  It also allowed for some early morning runs in and around North Branch which is a very nice quiet little community just north of Minneapolis. 
Additionally, the following week, on my way back from a MI business trip I stayed in Marshall MI and got in a 10-miler that morning as well.  As soon as I got back to the hotel it started to pour so I was glad to be carrying my Iphone, both for the MapMyRun output as well as the Accuweather Radar!!


While I am ramping up the miles for the summer, I'm also learning to "listen to the body" and only do what feels right.  Some days it feels like I could go forever and other days I don't feel like getting out of the driveway!  I've found that big miles Mon, Tues, and Wed.  lead to a "backing off" on Thurs which is what I did this week only running a 4 miler yesterday and then 1 mile this morning after 3 ten milers back-to-back-to-back earlier in the week.  The short 1 miler this morning was due more to rain than how I felt but I let the weather kind of dictate my runs as well.  With respect to both the body and the weather -- I just take what the Good LORD will give me each and every day, without forcing it, and that works out pretty well. 


No real marathon goals until later in the year so it's a good time to just take it easy and enjoy the barefoot summertime!  Happy 4th of July all!


God Bless,


Barefoot Dan
June Mileage = 206 miles






 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Barefoot in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore

Hello Barefooters,
Singapore by Headlamp
Rainy Indonesia
God is good and by His Grace I was able to run in a brand new country this month:  Indonesia.  I also ran once again in both Malaysia and Singapore this past month as well as many runs right here in Indiana.  The middle of the month was consumed by a 10 day business trip to Asia but this allowed me to get away from the rainy Indiana weather...only to find even more rain over in Asia!  While I basically went to all the same places as last year on my Asian trip, this time we stayed overnight on the Island of Batam (Indonesia) which allowed me the chance to get my first ever run in that country...fourteen barefoot countries, and counting!   

 
Malacca Long Run
It was a pretty uneventful trip overall, but I always enjoy the early morning headlamp runs (wherever I am) to help reset the body clock and overcome the jet-lag.  That being said, I've been back for over a week and feel like I'm just now getting back to normal sleeping habits.  Linda and the girls are now out of school so we are getting fully into the summer mode...hopefully I can still get up early enough to get in some long runs before work each day. 

Last week was my biggest week of the year so far mileage wise (45 miles) and this was also my biggest month of the year (147 miles).  I seem to have finally gotten out of my winter-funk and can string together some longer runs...so far this week I've already run a 13 miler and a 9 miler...so this morning I slacked off with a 1 miler.  Sometimes you just have to rest a little!
Welcome back to Indiana - stubbed toe!


A couple of days after getting back from Asia I was on a nice 13 miler and feeling pretty good when all of a sudden I dragged the left toe (again) just slightly and stubbed it pretty good...really made me mad too since it has been over a year since I did it last time!!  This picture is actually 24 hours later but it was still throbbing pretty good the next day.  Even though I had this injury, I never took a day off and it never really affected my running (although I have been a lot more CAREFUL lately!)


I also got the pool open once I got back from Asia and was pleased that it only took a couple of days to get going (chemically) with no major equipment repairs this year...although I did find a few tadpoles living in the cover since I got a later than normal start this year with the business trip and also the cooler weather.  This also changes my morning routine as I'm able to dive into the pool after each morning run...although 70 degrees is a little cool for a morning dip...hopefully warmer temps are just around the corner.


Pool is open - green to blue in 48 hours!
We didn't go to the Indy Race (as usual) but did have a nice relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.  On Monday we took the girls over to Turkey Run State Park and got in a couple of nice trail hikes despite the huge crowd which apparently had the same idea! 
Memorial Day Hike at Turkey Run SP

The "strenuous" trail was quite nice and offered some great views between the 3 different wooden ladders which are part of this particular trail.  However, the most strenuous part was waiting behind the 3 dozen other people at the top and bottom of each ladder.  But, all in all, it was a very enjoyable day with excellent weather. 

Our family is looking forward to a nice relaxing summer.


God Bless,


Barefoot Dan


(May Mileage = 147.4 miles)



Monday, May 1, 2017

Barefoot in Belize, Honduras, Mexico, oh...and Nevada too!

Hello Barefooters,
Windy Day in Costa Maya, MX
A rainy April in Indiana has come to an end...and it is still raining!  But what else should we expect for April?  Actually we have had some really good weather this month, although you wouldn't know it from looking at my mileage.  I've sort of been taking it easy and just getting in some minimal miles each day so I didn't have to post a ZERO!  (reminder to all--this is a good reason to keep a running log--it does provide daily motivation!)  Looking back over my past monthly totals, this was my lowest monthly total in over two years!  But it feels good to take it easy and not feel like I have to kill myself every day with miles...


The month started out on the 25th anniversary cruise which was fantastic.  We left out of Tampa with stops in Roatan Honduras, Belize City Belize, Costa Maya Mexico and Cozumel Mexico.  We had only been to one of these stops before so it was a big adventure.  We travelled with my brother Dave and his wife Annette who we had shared our wedding day with back in 1992.  So when we got to Belize we found a nice secluded place and renewed our wedding vows.  It was a neat experience.  Time flies when you're having fun and we're praying God blesses us with another 25 years as well.


Each day on the ship I was able to get in a run on the deck of the ship.  The track on 10th deck of Royal Carribean's "Rhapsody of the Seas" is advertised to be a quarter of a mile but my Garmin shows it to be a little short.  Each day (Monday thru Saturday at least) I would go up and get in 12 barefoot laps on the semi-rubberized surface.  Each day was quite different with the surface sometimes wet, sometimes dry and the conditions sometimes hot, sometimes cool and almost always a little windy.  Some of the days we were already "in port" and other days we were out at sea, so it was always interesting to see what my Garmin GPS watch would give me for the supposedly 3 mile total.  Based on the in-port days I believe the 12 laps gave me 2.72 actual miles but the three "days at sea" totals were 8.16, 7.72 and 3.91 miles, each of which depended on how fast the boat was moving on those days.  And on the particularly windy day coming into Costa Maya, the 3 miles also felt like a run through a mountain pass due to the pitching and rolling of the ship and the brutal "stop you in your tracks" headwind on one side of the ship followed by a "knock you off your feet" tailwind on the opposite side of the ship!  But I did appreciate being able to get in at least this minimum amount of exercise each day, since I was basically gorging myself the other 23 and half hours of the day on the excellent food which was constantly available.
Business Trip to Reno NV


The only other travelling I did this month was a trip out to Reno NV to visit a supplier mid month.  This afforded me some cooler, low humidity runs in the mornings, although I didn't get too adventurous and pretty much kept to the 1 mile loop of concrete sidewalks around the hotel.  Still, I did log a twelve miler the last day there before flying back...sadly, this was my longest run of the month!! 


The rest of the time back in Indiana I concentrated on lawn care and some outside projects including cutting down 3 trees...with probably still about 3 more trees to cut plus some other basic tree trimming activities.  My golf league also started up in April...so see, I have lots of excuses for my low monthly total!  Maybe I will pick up the pace a little in May (or maybe not!)


Enjoy the Warmer Weather!


Barefoot Dan
(April Mileage = 86 miles)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Yet ANOTHER Florida Attempt

Last Snowy Footprint?

Hello Barefooters,

First Flowers of Spring
Well Spring has sprung, and more importantly Spring Break is here and I am looking forward to a week off from work in the sun.

March was yet another busy month and I got in some good barefoot running with the milder temperatures and the buildup to my 82nd marathon.  This was my second marathon of the year, my 9th barefoot marathon and as the title indicates:  Yet ANOTHER Florida Attempt.  This was my third attempt at the State of Florida in the continuing effort to get all my marathons under 4 hours for the 50Sub4 quest.  But alas, it was not to be.
Fargo ND, so cold the trees turned blue!


The week before I was able to "temperature cycle" on a business trip to chilly Fargo, North Dakota.  Here I got in 3 colder runs of 6, 4 and 2 miles in both the afternoon sun and 18MPH winds as well as the cool dampness of the pre-dawn hours.  Here is a picture of the beautiful scenery on my last pre-dawn run in Fargo before flying back to Indiana to get ready for the marathon.

Once back in IN, I got in a ten miler at one-week-out before beginning my quick taper of a 9-mile Monday, 8-mile Tuesday and zeros for the rest of the week.  My buddy Earl Strong and I started driving down on Thursday and took two days to get to Ormond Beach, FL for the Tomoka Marathon.  Upon arrival, we spent Friday afternoon at the packet pickup and then went out to drive the course (my standard ritual).  I was pleasantly surprised at the absolute smoothness of both the pavement and the wide-striping for about 
Course Pre-drive @ Chief "Tomokie" Statue
90% of the course.  What I was most worried about was the rough 2.5 mile section through Tomoka State Park at miles 19 and 20 but felt more assured after seeing the road in person.  There were very rough gravel sections in the middle of the road but seemingly smoother edges, and tire tracks including some sections with a "soft" carpet of piled up leaves along the edge.  I purposely did not get out and barefoot walk any of these sections, since I recalled "psyching myself out" the day before the Shiprock New Mexico Marathon a couple of years ago by walking the rough stuff.  I figured, it won't change anything now...no sense in worrying about it during the first smooth 19 miles of the race!  I figured I would just maintain my conservative 8:45/mile pace throughout the race and try not to give back more than a minute per mile during the rough stuff...sounds like a good plan, right?


The other concerning factor was that the low temp for the area was now no where near the 50 degree range it had been for the past few weeks.  The low temp on race morning was 60 degrees with a predicted high of 77 and a 4-hour finish temp of around 70.  The humidity was 71%, also a little higher than 
Tomoka Starting Line
"comfortable" for Indiana winter runners like Earl and myself.  Even so, I was pleasantly surprised that I was easily able to keep my 8:45 pace going early and using the RaceJoy App for the first time ever, kept hearing predicted finish times at each of the early mile splits of 3hr:50min to 3hour:52min which was encouraging.  However, just 10 miles in I began to struggle holding the 8:45 pace.  After much prayer and digging deep, at mile 12/13 I began to get comfortable again at the 8:45 pace...still I knew that I should not be struggling this early to keep pace and this would be a bad omen for things to come.



...oh and did I mention there was a 15 minute delay for the planned 6:00am start time due to, of  all things a train accident, so add 1-2 more degrees to the already warming temps...oh boy...


While there were pace groups available at this race I purposely chose not to run with them for fear of crowding and not being able to pick my line (steps) as I needed to find the smoothest path.  Still I did try to keep myself within sight of the 3:50 pace group led by Kimmy and the 4:00 pace group led by Mike.  At mile 18.8 upon entering Tomoka State Park I was about equi-distant between these two groups...pretty much the perfect spot considering the early conditions.  Now to just hold a +1 pace (~9:45/mile) or so for the rough miles...I was eager to see what would happen.


Then disaster struck...


The "packed dirt trail" (as advertised) was literally nothing more than a gravel road and sections I thought would be somewhat smooth and do-able, were anything but do-able.  Using both my Garmin running watch and the RaceJoy App on my I-Phone, I soon realized I couldn't even hold a 14:00 average and even that was too painful to continue. 
Within 200 yards, I was reduced to walking and even though I periodically began to gingerly run/jog some sections, my average pace for
Let's Get This Party Started!!!

both miles was about 25 min/mile.  While I was extremely disappointed, I decided to keep moving forward and finish the race...and there was no easy "Hop on the Bus" option like there had been at Shiprock two years ago during my first and only DNF of my marathon career.  After exiting the park, I took pride in making the next mile in 12:11 but then to add insult to injury, mile 22 (which Earl and I drove incorrectly the day before) actually diverted into a housing subdivision along the Titus River with no sidewalk and extremely rough Florida style shell pavement which turned into another 21 minute/mile for me.  After exiting this additional rough stuff, and back to the main smooth road ,I pulled each of the last 3-4
Finished!...finally
miles down to 11 something.  This felt good to do, but...too little...too late!  The damage was done and the minutes had already piled up against me.  I finished with my 2nd slowest barefoot marathon ever...argh!


Earl was waiting for me at the end and we compared notes.  He had wanted a sub 2 hour half marathon but also succumbed to the heat and ended up at 2:10 instead, not ideal, but not as big a miss as mine had been.  I told him that I briefly toyed with the idea of taking my 50Sub4 shirt and a can of lighter fluid and starting a fire...but I calmed down and now am looking a other Florida marathons to attempt.  It won't be for a while as it is definitely warming up now.  Next attempt will have to be November or December at the earliest.


One nice sideline on the trip, we got to meet up with Earl's daughter Brittani and her husband Ron who live just down the road in Titusville.  We got to catch up with them and
Ron, Earl, Brit, Dan @ River Grille in Ormond Beach
have a pre-race carbo load meal at River Grille, a nice seafood restaurant in Ormond Beach, the night before the race.



Now its off to Spring Break, oh, back to Tampa FL of course.  Linda and I are going cruising once again, this time for our 25th wedding anniversary.  We will be departing Tampa for Honduras, Belize and Mexico on a 7-day Royal Carribean Cruise.  This will be our 4th cruise but first one with this company.  Additionally, we will be celebrating with my twin brother Dave and his wife Annette, who are also celebrating their 25th...oh yeah, did I mention we had a double wedding?  We will be renewing our vows somewhere in Belize...I'd better get to writing mine!  Hoping for some good barefoot running on the track on top of our ship "Rhapsody of the Seas!"


Happy Springtime,
Barefoot Dan


March Mileage = 131.47 miles





Tuesday, February 28, 2017

End of the Month Already!

💚Hello Barefooters,
Well this month certainly went fast for me, how about you?  I know it is a short month and all, but with the busy month of January now passed, this month still just flew by.  I spent most of the month recouping from the Africa mission trip and getting caught back up at work.  I only had to travel once this month and that was a short trip up to Livonia MI and back.  February is also "birthday month" at our house with Linda's on the 10th, mine on the 24th, with Valentine's Day sandwiched in between.  Needless to say, lots of chocolate around the house and lots of extra running required!


The nice thing was we had excellent weather for most of the month.  Definitely not your typical February.  Temps peaked into the 50's and 60's later in the month and I was actually able to play golf with our UMC men's golf group on Sunday, Feb. 19th.  I shot a 42 so I probably won't be playing again anytime soon and can savor that abnormally low score for a while!  I got some pretty decent running in with the good weather and kept my weekly average above 25 miles or so which is usually very hard to do in February!


This was a good thing since I need to stay in relatively decent shape for the upcoming Tomoka Marathon on March 25th.  Earl Strong and I have planned to do another marathon road trip (as we used to do so often) and make it a nice 4 day weekend.  We will start driving on Thursday, run the marathon on Saturday and get back home late Sunday.  It will be great to have Earl along to help me celebrate (God Willing!) my final completion of the 50Sub4 circuit to get all 50 States run in under 4 hours.  As you know, my "fail" at Disney Marathon of 4 hours 11 minutes last month left me looking for yet another FL marathon. 


Well, I will keep it short this month in honor of February (a short month),


God Bless and Enjoy the Warm Weather,


Barefoot Dan


February Mileage = 102.23 miles

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Out of Africa

Good Morning Barefooters,
Headlamps Bobbing Down the Road in Ganta 
Thanks for your patience, my post is a little late...our team just arrived last night back in the US after a two week mission trip to Ganta Liberia (western Africa).


It was another excellent mission trip with many "God moments" and also afforded the opportunity to do some great barefoot running with some old and new-found running buddies:  Gary Adams, Brian Fulk, Kelly Kurth, Mark (our Liberian bus driver), Konah Drougbay and Zephaniah (who just joined me one morning mid-run!)  There was a different mixture of runners each of the 9 mornings we ran, and only once the whole trip did I venture out alone.  All the runs were between 1.01 to 4.26 miles and were on surfaces ranging from smooth asphalt to VERY rough, rocky footpaths and backroads.  The morning temps were always hovering around 80 degrees F and it really didn't rain the whole time we were there, so dust & smoke were always a factor on these pre-dawn headlamp runs.


Black Mamba - uh, dead!
One morning we even came across a black mamba snake (don't worry, it had already been killed) but had to walk back to it with Travis to get a picture.  It's head had been crushed and Trav was surprised that no one had picked it up yet to make a meal of it (it did disappear later in the day).  We never saw any live critters on the run other the spiders, large ants and the occasional dog (tame) and chickens.  I was always a little leary running the edges of the paths hoping not to find any live snakes...although the edges often times afforded the only relief from the sharp rock.  I escaped with no major injuries and had only a few arch bruises and a deep heel blood blister the second day up in Ganta.
"Brave" runners - Brian, Dan, Gary



The activities on the mission trip included 4 different vision clinics, networking of the school's computer lab, hanging signs in the "zoo" and some small construction projects like hanging a light and a porch swing.  For those of you who've been there before, please come back and see the amazing progress on this project.  The building of the ARC (Agriculture Research Center) has taken 5 years to complete but has been an amazing labor of love by many different teams and was the God-given vision of Travis Sheets (founder, Hope in the Harvest Missions Intl.)


Earlier in the month of January I had attempted to run the Disney Marathon barefoot in under 4 hours to complete my quest to run all 50 US States in under 4 hours (50Sub4 Marathon Club).  Had I completed this goal, I would have been the 92nd finisher in the club and the first of the year...BUT I guess God had other plans!  My epic fail at the race was disappointing overall but I still enjoyed the trip and would recommend the Disney marathon to others...it just wasn't my day.  The weather was a cold 37 degrees at the start (RARE for Florida!) with a 17MPH wind.  Additionally, the races from the previous day had been cancelled due to lightning so many of those runners gained entry into the marathon the next day.  While they were all in corrals behind my "C" corral, it did add to the congestion getting from the baggage drop to the start line and I ended up having to RUN/JOG to the start line so I was anything BUT relaxed as I started the race.  It was a 5:30AM start and after standing around shivering for 2 hours prior, I was really not in optimal fast racing condition. 
With Lecia at Disney
 4-hour Pace Leader and fellow 50Sub4 Wannabe
I did keep the requisite sub-nine pace for the first 16 miles or so but then the wind, the winding turns, and the rough surfaces all combined to slow me down.  I still had about 3 minutes "in the bank" as we entered the ESPN sport complex at mile 16 but the roughness turned more severe, as the runners were directed onto the gravel baseball diamond infields and various other weird surfaces...so I slowly, and painfully, gave back my banked minutes and watched the 4-hour pace group swallow me up and spit me out as they marched onto the finish in the last 2 miles.  The pace group let by Lecia Williams Holley (new friend I met just after the race), ended up not quite hitting their required pace either and besides, I knew they had started a couple corrals behind me and that I would need to be a couple minutes ahead of them at the finish to have a chance at the four hour mark.  Also, of all things, my Garmin watch locked up halfway through the race so I wasn't able to get accurate paces from about 15 miles on which only further distracted me as it all slipped out of reach...arrgh!  Still it was beautiful to experience the pre-dawn LED lit Disney Castle in the Magic Kingdom and the other Disney parks as well as the Disney character photo-ops...I only stopped at one but I can't blame that for my 11minute "miss" of 4:11.



Oh well, now I just need to go back to Florida again to secure the 50th state.  Earl Strong and I have a plan to go back in late March to try again.  Earl and I ran many of the 50 states together the first time around so it will be fun to do another road trip with Earl to finish this circuit as well.  More to follow on that one as I continue to recover from the very busy month of January.


God Bless You All,


Barefoot Dan


January Mileage = 95.4 miles