No loss of Enthusiasm!

After a couple weeks  months of abject laziness therapeutic inactivity  I finally got over to the Y for a couple miles on the  track last week.  Since I last posted in October, I officially gave up trying to get the tendonitis in my heel by continuing to aggravate it.

I was considering getting a pair of the Vibram 5-Fingers but a friend of mine told me that 3 out of 3 of his friends that bought them ended up with stress fractures in their feet from ramping up mileage too quickly.  I could just run barefoot because the discomfort of THAT would prevent me from running too far too fast.  But…. and this is a BIG but…I HATE going barefoot.  Anywhere. Except  the beach. No, even the beach.  The sand gets too hot.I don’t even like walking across the kitchen floor barefoot.  And after 54 years of being cradled in comfy, protective shoes my feet are not likely to respond to being beaten up very well,  so it’s more miles in my Nikes.  I still think they are too soft.  The kind I really liked are Nike Reax.  It is a model that Nike sells only through Kohl’s I think.

Thank you all, for tuning in to read about my feet.  I had my longest week last week (11.6 miles) since 2011.  I have come to the conclusion that thinking about running, writing about running, and reading about running has not had the same effect on my waistline as actual running.

I also read this gem.

Answering such burning questions like ” Is it normal for my dog to chase his tail?”  After reading that article/slideshow, anyone will find reading about my feet utterly compelling.

Soapbox Tuesday

Last week, we in Sycamore suffered a tragedy.  A local man was riding his bike to work in the morning, was hit by a pickup truck and killed.  To avoid disseminating information  I have only second-hand knowledge of I won’t repeat any details or opinions of the specifics, but this incident reinforced some of my currently held beliefs.

State laws regarding bicyclist‘s rights notwithstanding, bikes and cars don’t mix.  I don’t mean I don’t ride on the street.  I DO. I DO follow the rules of the roadI DO signal turns. I DO stop at stoplights, take my turn at stop signs, and get in line (off to the right) in traffic.  I DO make eye contact with drivers. I also claim my lane by riding away from the right edge.  The danger of getting hit comes from not being seen.  Riding in traffic is VERY dangerous, and the outcome of any disagreement between vehicles is predictable.  If you are on a bike, you lose! And you lose in a big way.  Helmet or not, it makes no difference. My in-traffic attitude is whomever is driving the car has the right of way.  When I’m driving a car I give cyclists a wide berth and make liberal use of the pedal in the middle. And do any of you see the people riding on the wrong side of the street? What are they thinking?

All of this vigilance is not conducive to endurance training. So my training rides are different.  I do most of my bike training on the weekend in the morning, out on country roads that basically just wind through corn fields.  I have set routes that I know are not well traveled.  Saturday morning and last night I took a circuitous route around the great “twin cities” of Sycamore and DeKalb that concentrated on bike paths instead of highways.

Quite scenic, but hard to get any real speed on.  Then there are the pedestrians, children, geriatrics, et al that have every bit as much right to be on the bike path as you do getting in the way.  Sheesh! What’s a guy supposed to do? I use an app on the PC called  Great for measuring distances and elevation changes and mapping out routes etc.  Maybe someday I can get computer-savvy enough to insert one of my maps in my blog.

Spin classes at our local YMCA start this week, so I’ll go spin.  Strong quads really help with running also, and I can use the time off my feet to heal my foot.

Riding that Skeleton Horse to the Gates of Hell

Monday evening I got all puffed up with pride that I ran 10K on Sunday and remembered that the day after the long run was an important day from a workout standpoint.  A nice, easy, short run was in order to warm and loosen up my tired muscles and help purge any remaining lactic acid from my legs to facilitate rapid healing. It was getting late and I didn’t feel up to wrangling the dogs on the short bike path I frequent in town, so I packed up my bag and went to the Y.  As I was driving, I started getting this funny feeling deep down in psyche.  I checked in at the front desk and proceeded to the locker room where I changed into my running togs and my minimalist  cheap shoes…again the vague nagging feeling. I intended a gentle trot on a treadmill in the “Wellness Center” but had to pass through the “Fitness Center” on the way.  One look at the 1/10 mile indoor clay track of the Fitness Center and that vague unease  turned into a demon cobra. Gnawing and writhing through my self-control. And the only way I could wrassle it into submission was: Speed Intervals!

Demon Cobra for Speed Intervals

I was doing pretty well until my second set of sprints when I felt the sharp pain of “oops” in my right foot.  I had aggravated that damn fasciitis again!  NOW I slowed down! NOW I did stretches with a nice long cool-down. NOW I limped off to the steam room.  I said at the beginning of my blog that I’d probably be my own worst enemy and here was the white-hot pain to prove it.  The limping and gimping around the house was fodder for my 18-year old’s hoots of derision.  My wife gave me looks of disdain.  I iced it, I rubbed it, I used all manners of incantation.  At one point I even invoked a deity! (JeeezuzChrist that hurts!)  I thought for sure I did some real damage.

But then an idea struck! Wrap it up in a bandage.  You see it in the NFL all the time.  And all those cool athletes in the Olympics always had various parts of their bodies taped up (for no obvious reason).  I could have gotten this stuff for 10 bucks

But instead I got this stuff for $.99

It’s made for horses!

It is a fabulous product for taping up feet!  It is made to tape up horse ankles I guess, and it REALLY HELPED  the pain in my foot.  It doesn’t lose it’s “stretch”, so it applies consistent pressure to reduce inflammation and swelling.  It’s tough, applies easily, tears off the roll easily, stays on your foot, no matter what, doesn’t stick to skin or hair, and is utterly impervious to water, sweat, and foot stink!


Here’s my nasty foot minus the nasty, brown blister on my big toe.

I have taken the week off from running, hoping to get this heel problem under control.  Poor time management and shortening daylight hours have made biking impractical during the week, but I’ll be out there for a long ride Saturday.  I should be able to get some nice pix way out in the country.  You know, where the deer and the antelope play.

Maybe I’ll try the Pumpkinfest 10K  route Sunday…And take it easy on the intervals until I’ve lost another 20 lbs. See you on the road!

Hitch Up the Chuck Wagon and Call the Dogs!

No pithy topic, no deep insights, no half-cocked rants.  Just a short report on my second 6 + mile run in as many weeks.  I took the dogs out Sunday morning…a truly glorious day… and got out there early enough (read that “too cold”)  to beat the weekend bicycle traffic.  I even encountered a couple other runners!  I wore my heel-bangers and once again concentrated on form as much as possible.

3.1 miles to the east is the turnaround spot.

I typically start here at the Sycamore Speedway. “Bob-Jo” to us locals.  Unfortunately the last remaining original owner (either Bob or Jo) was killed in a freak accident a few years back when a tire on a race car flew off and hit him…True story!

The knuckleheads were off-leash most of the time and gave me occasion to have a wonderful spiritual experience, as well as an extra workout.  They had gotten about 10 yards ahead of  me and were suddenly overcome with interest about something off to the side of the trail.  Upon catching up, I saw they were both tucking into a pile of cold dog shit like someone opened  a 2 lb can of Mighty Dog, sprinkled it with Milk Bones and left it in the weeds. Actually, I have no evidence that it was from a dog.  It could have been from some homeless dude wandering the path at night. Or a rabid horse.  No, it wasn’t horse poop. There was some of that, too and they totally ignored it.  Whatever excretory marvel it emanated from, it was completely disgusting. This part was good for acceptance and patience.  The screaming at them was a good extra workout to develop diaphragm strength.  And the return route offered me the  opportunity to correct as I attempted to bodily drag 100 lbs of  drooling, 8-legged, coprophilous, slathering, snarling poop-snoopers away from the rest of their little treat.  God-I don’t know WHAT gets into them sometimes!

And 3.1 miles that way lies my pickup and a big jug of water for the dogs.

Usually when we get back to the truck I share the gallon of water I bring for them.  This time I let them lick it up themselves.  I waited to get home to have a drink!

I was slow.  I did the 6.2 miles in 1:14:57 for a pace of about 12 mins flat.  When I consider I couldn’t run 2 miles without walk breaks in June, I guess it’s coming back pretty quickly!  It looks like I will be able to finish the Pumpkinfest 10 K at the end of October, but it’s unlikely that I’ll beat my 2010 time of 58 minutes.

Hey, Nike! I got a question!

Why did my foot stop hurting when I stopped running in my expensive running shoes?

My plantar fasciitis seems to be about 90% normal.  To what do I owe this miracle of healing? I think it was the barefoot/minimalist shoe running I’ve been doing.  That  made my whole foot work to support my running body, not just my heels.  However when I went long on Sunday, I wore my old (new) heel-banger Nikes and just made sure I landed on my forefoot and midsole as much as possible.  I knew my feet would hurt regardless of what I wore, but thought the padding in the Nikes would help.  It didn’t.  My foot hurt about the same amount as last week when I went long with my Wal-Mart specials.  The really hard thing to understand is that when I wear my Nikes to work (in an office) my foot hurts all day, but when I wear my 5-year-old steel-toed 4 lb Chippewa Engineer’s boots (motorcycle boots) I have essentially no pain at all.

The most comfortable shoes ever?

More diet opinions.  I  think cabbage is a wonder-food.  I love the stuff. Everywhere I would eat bread or pasta, I eat cabbage.  Sliced into rafts, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with black pepper and microwaved it can be the base for all kinds of good eats.   I’ll eat it instead of rice with Chinese food or top it with Red Beans (instead of Red Beans and rice). You can steam the outer leaves and use them as wraps for burritos etc. to avoid  heavy tortillas.  You can also make sandwich wraps with them or roll Italian beef up inside of one with Gardiniera.  Cabbage is loaded with vitamins and fiber. And (this one is for my daughter) ANTIOXIDANTS. And it helps your body clear itself of TOXINS.  Go over to the Science Based Medicine website for opinions on those two subjects by people far more qualified than I!

I have fought my weight my whole life and Cabbage seems to fill a need in my appetite/soul that could previously only be filled by bread, rice, potatoes, or pasta. Which I’m convinced have been conspiring against me all these years to keep me soft and fat.  And although correlation is not the same as causation, my results are indisputable.  Since I cut out bread, pasta, rice, and obvious extra sugar sources 5 weeks ago, I’ve lost 14 lbs.  Of course eliminating those items meant eliminating footlong subs, pizza, HUGE piles of spaghetti, M&Ms, cake, ice cream, etc. etc.  I have eaten these things once or twice  in the last 5 weeks (except the candy-I’ve been positively celibate) but I’ve treated myself a couple times to ice cream.  I’ve never been a big soda pop drinker, so that wasn’t much of a sacrifice.  I think staying away from a lot of carbs helps your blood sugar stay more level.  Without the big spikes and drops in blood sugar it’s much easier to moderate your intake.

When you ARE being conspired against, it’s NOT paranoia!


Destination: UTICA

French canyon starved rock

hi French canyon starved rock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve heard of “destination weddings” (Las Vegas, Hawaii, etc.) and I needed a little extra motor-vation to go on an extra-long run, so to make it more fun, I’d go on a “destination run”.  A quick look at the map revealed the following: To the North lies Wisconsin, the verdant forests and lakes choked with rich Illinoisian’s cabins. To the East, the cesspool of humanity called Chicago.   West it only says “Here be Dragons”. But…ah, to the South lies the Illinois river, Starved Rock State Park and the little town of Utica, IL. home of the historic Illinois and Michigan canal. It’s a disused canal, and a lot of it has been filled in but there is a towpath running parallel to it and goes through some nice river valley scenery…Ideal for a Sunday run!

So I loaded up the K9 running club – Izzy and Riker and off we went.

Close quarters in the pick-up’s cab, but these two knuckleheads behaved themselves…mostly.

I just realized I didn’t actually take any photos of the towpath. Doh! There were lots of cyclists, but no fellow runners. I left Utica, ran 3.4 miles west to US. 39, turned around and went back.  6.88 miles total and it took me 1:27.  Unbelievably slow, but I made it.  To tell the truth, I was done running after 1:10, and walked/ran the last bit.  The dogs were ecstatic to be back to the parking lot where we all had some ice water, beef jerky, and watermelon out of the cooler I packed in the bed of the truck. (Of course they eat watermelon-rind and all!)  Riker and Izzy lazed in the shade while I packed up our lunch and generally hobbled to the pit toilet and back.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of cyclists on the path, so I had to keep the dogs on a leash.  I made a super-cheap double dog leash out of clothesline, zip ties, duct tape and an old turned spindle as a handle a couple of years ago.

No, it’s not a medieval torture device, but that’s not a bad idea. And it passes the ultimate K9-10K  test: It’s cheap!

It hooks the dogs together.  Izzy is a “dragger” and Riker is a “puller”; I just hang on in the middle and let them drag and pull on  each other.  If I have to let go to fix my shoe, or something, it’s easy to loop around a branch or my arm and they won’t get away from me.  They have never run off when off the leash, but bikers sometimes get nervous that they will get chased.  About the biggest danger they pose is that they are oblivious to the need to get out of the way!

The ride home was uneventful with Riker sitting on top of Izzy as she laid across the seat with her head on my lap…Awwwwww!  I need to make some kind of platform in the front seat so they can both lay down up there.  When I take them to the Great Western Trail in  Sycamore they just ride in the bed but I’m not comfortable with them back there while I blast along at 70 mph. I mean 55mph.   Here’s a question: How do you transport your dogs to the running path?

So the run was a barking success. I’ll have to look back at some old running logs to see how long it’s been since I ran that far.