Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cool Product Pick of the Week

I've been doing some experimenting with tincture of benzoin, which is available overnight from your Walmart pharmacy for about eight bucks. It's basically primer for your skin. It's not an adhesive per se, but it makes adhesives stick better. Much better! Like, my first photo idea for this blog entry was to show the hideous sight of me removing the BAND-AID Brand Tough-Strip Adhesive Bandage I had stuck to my leg using tincture of benzoin under one half but not the other. Turns out the adhesive in BAND-AID Brand Tough-Strip Adhesive Bandages is pretty damn tough to start with. It was a slow peel. The end with the benzoin, umm . . . let's just say I never though my skin and underlying tissue could stretch that far! Eventually I was able to pull the cloth fibers running the length of the band-aid loose leaving the cross-wise fibers stuck to my leg. One by one, I scraped the ends of the fibers up enough to grab them and pull them off, leaving a square patch very sticky glue on my leg. A week later I decided that the glue had been on my leg long enough so I removed it with some charcoal lighter fluid.

Today I tried some real-deal preventative foot care, using tincture of benzoin. I almost never get blisters on my feet, luckily, but I do get this "pre-blister" from time to time just behind the big toe on my right foot. It actually is a blister, but it is so laughably small and is covered by such thick hide that it really requires no care at all. But no matter, it's still fun to play around with tinctures and sterile lancets and such. I haven't found a local source for the 2" Elastikon tape my ultra-runner friends all recommend (I have no ultra-runner friends.) so I just used part of a BAND-AID Brand Tough-Strip Adhesive Bandage to pre-tape my one known hot spot. After my next death run at Hobbs, I'll get out the lighter fluid and see how my patchwork performed. And after that, I'm sure the novelty of tincture of benzoin will have worn off leaving me bored and extremely well equipped to repair the blister I will never get.

Such is the life of a medium distance runner.

f/4; 1/60 sec; ISO-250; auto flash.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Experiment in Editorial Neutrality

Dave Mows Grass would like to wish Vice President Cheney a speedy recovery and improved cardiovascular health following his successful heart transplant procedure.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Training vs. Learning

[I tried again and was not able to draw an intelligible distinction between training and learning.]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Training Log: Crash Trees!

Tuesday, March 20th: 10 miles or so, 2:00:00.
Ran from ten to midnight in a cool rain. Felt wonderful!

Saturday, March 24th: 18 miles at Hobbs, 3:33:00.
I've been wanting to run two laps of the Little Clifty Loop at Hobbs for a while and finally got to it today. The Clifty loop is long at nine miles but is fairly easy, at least by Hobbs standards. Its two big climbs are both buggers, but the rest is just rolling hills. Till now, I've always walked the big climbs, at least parts of them, but today I really wanted to run them, which I did. Hard work, for sure, but not painful. I actually surprised myself a little bit!

My other objective for the day was to try out a technique for running downhill which I discovered while poking around on this ultra-running page, a collection of handy postings on various topics from who knows what message board. In the downhill section, someone mentioned using "bounce trees," with no further explanation. The idea intrigued me, not as a final answer to the problem of running down hills, but rather as a stop-gap measure to keep my quads from exploding while I develop a more elegant technique. So far, every cramp I've had on my long runs has been caused by a long descent. I (rightfully) do not have enough confidence in my footwork to just lean into a downhill and run, on rocks, at a super-fast cadence. Being out of control frightens me, so I maintain my mid-foot strike and brake with my quads to control my pace. It sucks! That's why the idea of bounce trees interested me so much. I wouldn't mind being out of control for several seconds as long as I knew I had something available to positively arrest my momentum every ten yards or so. Anyway, the rolling hills of the Clifty Loop would provide plenty of opportunities for experimentation before hitting the two big descents.

For most of the first lap, I tried putting one arm up and then aimed just to the side of the trees, so hitting the tree would result in a slight slowdown and a slight direction change. Sometimes the available trees would be arranged such that I could pinball back and forth from one side to the other. This was how I imagined bounce trees at first, and it seemed to work to an extent, but I soon decided it was risky and probably not a good idea, particularly several hours into a run when I'm tired and my footwork is not very crisp. The direction change upset my rhythmic plod, the rhythmic plod being crucial in distance running.

The second lap went much better. I adjusted the technique from using bounce trees to using "crash trees" where I would put both hands up and run dead straight into the tree, completely stopping all forward motion. It took some practice to determine just how much energy my arms could absorb and still keep my face from impacting the tree. You develop a feel for it pretty fast, though. After that, I would control my descent with my quads until I was just far enough from the next available tree, then I would lean forward, let my legs go, and allow gravity to accelerate me towards the tree, putting my hands up at the last second. It worked great!

The other thing I figured out is that, when no crash trees are available, it's best to use the quads to brake on the shallower down grades and just bomb the short but steep sections. Hitting the brakes on the steep sections trashes your quads! I still have a long way to go in developing my downhill technique, but I learned some good tools today. It's the first time I've run this far without a single cramp!

Total for Mar 19 - Mar 25: 28 miles.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Training Log

Wednesday, March 14th: Boatball season opener!
Last year I wore a drysuit for the season opener because the temperature was barely above freezing. This year I wore a T-shirt. It felt like May or June water! It was wonderful to actually paddle a kayak again after six months of nothing but running and biking. My kayaking muscles got tired quickly but I was shocked by how I could sprint from end to end without even breathing hard. I guess my four-hour death runs at Hobbs have been paying off!

Sunday, March 18th: 12 miles, mostly trail.
Couldn't get away for a long run but did sneak in two easy laps of Lake Fayetteville this afternoon. I'm still learning how to keep my body happy during long runs so being able to train in such warm weather this early in the year is a great gift. Until I get these two races behind me, I've decided to configure my runs so I'll pass by my car (aid station) every six to nine miles. That way I can continue to train using the smaller hydration pack I plan to use in the races. Today I actually practiced pulling the bladder out of my pack and getting it ready to refill just as I was arriving at my trunk. I also simulated eating a boiled potato and bullshitting with the race volunteers in what I imagined was classic ultra-running fashion, never having run an ultra before. I spent about two minutes at my car and was off again. An easy run, but what fun!

Total for Mar 12th - Mar 18th: 12 miles.

f/5.9; 1/125 sec; ISO-80.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Training Log

Monday, March 5th: 11 mile night run on sidewalks in right at two hours. Peed in the big culvert next to Tyson world headquarters. Longest hard surface run since the Fayetteville half and no hint of a shin splint. Switching to a mid-foot strike has cured me!

Tuesday, March 6th: Two miles on the Mud Creek Trail (paved) with Mrs. DMG on her birthday. Donald's OT is late enough on Tuesdays that I can get home from work, grab a quick shower, and still go with them to therapy. It's become our one-hour date night! One hour is enough to make it to Taco Bell and back or to run about two miles at the nearby trail. She ran the whole way which made me very proud. Super fun!

Saturday, March 10th: 19 miles at Hobbs, 4:10:00. Absolutely brutal! I planned my course to bunch several really steep descents and climbs late in the run. It was in the low 60s which is warmer than it's been for my other long runs and I was a bit casual with my hydration, carrying only 1.5 liters of water. I managed what I had well, drinking my last gulp about half a mile from my car, but I did get slightly dehydrated. No big deal, just some minor cramping and such, but I'm definitely going to heed the warning! Next time I'll take my larger 2.0 liter hydration pack and also carry a 1 liter soft water bottle as an emergency reserve. I might need more than that as the weather gets warmer. It's a terrible feeling having to manage water when I'm five miles and three big climbs away from my car!

Sunday, March 11th: Rest day.

Total for Mar 5 - Mar 11: 32 miles.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To Hogeye or not to Hogeye: That is the question:

Purchase Receipt

Event Name: 36th Annual Hogeye Marathon and Relays
Event Date: 4/15/2012 - 4/15/2012

Item: Marathon ($75.00 each)
Options: Selected [Support Hogeye, ]
Qty: 1
Subtotal: $75.00

Qty: 1
Subtotal: $6.00

Grand Total: $81.00
Transaction ID: 5942335403
Timestamp: 3/10/2012 12:38:17 AM

f/3.2; 1/25 sec; ISO-400; no flash; macro mode.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Training Log

Saturday, March 3rd: Shoe fitting!

My tax refund hit on Friday so I changed plans and used my one long run opportunity of the week to go shoe shopping. I had been running on the same shoes since early last summer. They still looked okay but the cushioning was blasted. Those shoes were Mizuno Wave Riders which I bought off the clearance rack at Fleet Feet back when all I knew about running shoes was that they should fit well. They did, so I was happy.

This time I went to a wonderful local business I discovered called Rush Running. All of their employees are helpful and extremely knowledgeable about running, but it happened to be Heather who helped me. We talked for some time about my 14-month journey from non-runner to runner; how I run, where, how far, what pain and injuries I've had; we even talked about my running goals. We talked about my current shoes. I explained that I really loved them but that I had gotten lucky with a completely uninformed purchasing decision.

After my interview, she took off to the back room and returned with a neutral shoe from Brooks, one that would not mask my natural foot motion. She put me on a treadmill and filmed my legs and feet from behind with a high-speed camera. As we watched the video together, she was surprised to see that I had a midfoot strike. I explained that I had taught myself that deliberately and that that was what got me from running six miles with pain to running sixteen miles without pain. "Keep doing it!" she said. Then we studied the video some more looking in particular for inward rotation of the ankle, called pronation. We froze the video as each foot was supporting my full weight and neither ankle showed excessive motion. She declared me a neutral runner! I suspected so, as I knew I had somewhat high arches always preferred shoes with no arch support, but it was fun to actually see it for certain. The video also showed that I land with my feet pointing slightly outward. I knew I did that but I didn't know how much. She said there was no injury risk from that but that it was inefficient. She taught me several exercises to help me train my feet and knees to point more forward but also warned me not to consciously try to point them forward while running.

The next step was to try on shoes. I really liked the Brooks shoes I used on the treadmill but thought they would be better for running on pavement, which is not what I'm most interested in. They were plush and luxurious, but the wider sole seemed like it would be a bit clunky for trail running. I tried some new Mizuno Wave Riders, just like I had but two model years newer, and I loved them for the same reason I loved my old shoes. They were light, flexible, snug fitting, and compact, but not luxurious in any way, even a bit austere. I tried shoes from a few other brands that just didn't fit my feet at all. Finally, I tried a mild support shoe from Mizuno that she said would be just fine for a neutral runner like myself. They had a feel that was somewhere between the Brooks shoes and the Wave Riders and were very comfortable to stand in, but after running around the parking lot in them for several minutes I started feeling the very slight arch support and didn't like them. I took the Wave Riders for a spin and returned with a big grin on my face!

Cushioning is dynamic, I guess; you can't judge it by mashing on a shoe with your thumb. I did not realize just how worn out my old shoes were until I ran on some fresh ones! They still had the sensitivity and road feel that I liked, but with just a touch of softness. Wow! Anyway, I thanked Heather for her phenomenal service and eagerly paid full retail for my new shoes. I told her the whole process was well worth doing even though I ended up with the same model shoes I already had. Getting lucky is great, but making smart, informed decisions is even more satisfying. I really can't say enough about the service I received at Rush Running. Just spectacular!

Sunday, March 12th: Took Donald to Boingo Bounce.

Total for Feb 27 - Mar 4: zero miles.