The bare foot is the best running coach money can't buy.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I've gone over to wordpress

I'm still getting my act together, but figured I'd post this in the event anyone reads this on a feed. The wife nabbed the url, so... there you go. Just about everything made it over there, except for Shannon's recent comment informing me that ac duped me into believing he had frostbite.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Iris' Run To Victory

First I recommend reading her account of the event over at the MadMayo Running Club site. To summarize, she kicked the ass of the course. It was cool watching her run to the finish at a good clip with a smile on her face after five miles. And she finished in the top half of the field!

Of course I wish I could have run; it was weird not hearing the "check out the barefoot guy" whispers behind my back. I was just a regular person. Blew my mind. While there were too many speedy runners in the half for me to have been competitive, I would have placed in the 5 miler. Maybe even won (the winning time was around 33 minutes). Stupid toe.

That said, I like the role of support crew. If this were the cycling world, I'd be a domestique. It feels good to know that I had contributed to Iris' great run,  that I played a part. I also recommend to any runner who gets injured to volunteer at a couple of races while they heal. It's rewarding, fun, and sure beats wallowing in self-pity.

Stupid toe.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bandaids are stupid and other musings

Why haven't I heard of these new adhesive pad things? More importantly, why didn't the doctor or any of the nurses not mention them? I've been changing regular bandaids three times a day. Not fun. Very painful. And to think all this time I could have been wearing an adhesive pad, which I only have to change once every four days.

I finally got a box of Johnson + Johnson First Aid Advanced Healing Adhesive Pads and just slapped one on. It totally covers the wound, as opposed to the menagerie of bandaids that lose their stickiness. I can leave it on for days. If claims and reviews are to be believed, my toe will heal more quickly, too.

To recap: the doctor tells me I have frostbite when it was meteorologically impossible, waits at least half an hour to give me a tub of warm water to soak my foot which, if I had frostbite, I would have needed immediately, then tapes me up with a bunch of cheap bandaids that were too small when there are much more suitable products on the market. Oh, and what do they give a supposed frostbite patient to drink his Advil down?

Ice water.

Next time I have a medical issue, I'll google it and heal myself. That's what's going to happen anyway; I should cut out the middleman.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Big Chicken

Friday, December 11, 2009

Race stats

What with all the toe drama I forgot to post the particulars:
Mistletoe Half Marathon
Time: 1:36:33
Overall: 79th out of 969 (813 finishers)
Age (30-34): 13th out of 56

Lots of speedy guys my age in this one. I was shooting for a 1:39, so I guess I got that! Not a bad way to end the year, performance-wise.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frostbite Update: Not Frostbite

If I have frostbite, the National Weather Service is reporting fiction. They state very clearly that the air temperature has to be below freezing for frostbite to occur. Even in the wet and windy conditions, there was no way the air temp got over ten degrees colder around my feet.

Don't get me wrong, my foot is messed up. Recovery is still going to take a while, and caution should be exercised when racing in cold rain (meaning slow down or don't race at all).

How did I get that diagnosis then? My glasses. They make me look smart. Plus I have good diction, which adds to the illusion. I walked into the emergency room, showed them what probably was the grossest foot they had seen that didn't come from a house fire, and stated that I had frostbite. There's not much frostbite going around in NC, so I think everyone took my word for it. If I were the doctor, I would be tempted to let a patient think his injury is worse than it is, if it means he'll take better care of it.

Lose weight with amputation!

No, the frostbite isn't getting worse. In fact, I'm starting to doubt if I have frostbite at all; just a bad injury. The doctor said the frostbitten area was small - 2cm; I thought he was crazy, given how gory my foot looked, but the other affected areas now look like regular old (but still serious) blood blisters. I still can't put any weight on my right foot, though. Apparently you need skin on your toe for that. Sorry - too gross?

I don't know how much longer I'm stuck on the couch. I do know that I'm going to weigh more once I'm mobile again.The only thing that means to me is I'll be slower and get tired sooner. I think people worry way too much about their weight. I mean really, what does the scale really tell you? Nothing you don't already know. If you're eating your fruits and vegetables, running 20-40 miles a week, and feeling good, who cares what your weight is? Thinking light and skinny = health is kind of backwards, and in my opinion, dangerous (coming from me, in my current state, should say something). Being healthy and active will likely make you lighter and skinnier, although maybe not as much as you would like.

Don't get me wrong, I think weight is interesting. I like to see the fluctuations; it's cool how we can influence the size of our bodies. When I started running last March, I weighed close to 160 lbs. I've been around 130 since July, after Grandfather Mountain. But that doesn't mean anything other than that's what I weigh when I'm running and eating a lot. If I don't run but continue to eat a lot, I'm capable of gaining 30 pounds before I run out of pants.

If I were a personal trainer, I wouldn't stress weight loss. I would train my client instead to learn how to get the most achievement and enjoyment out of the equipment they have, and to help figure out how to get more. Who cares how many calories you burned in that mile - how did that mile feel? If that mile, with practice, feels better, who cares what you weigh? If the runner is getting faster, their runs happier, should they be disappointed if their weight hasn't changed? Of course not!

Everything in moderation, ESPECIALLY moderation. Tis the season, and all. Go ahead and pig out. Accept the fact you're probably going to gain a few pounds, and it might take a while to shed them.

The only question is, do I really believe all of the above, or am I trying to lull the competition into complacency while I'm on the injured list?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sooo... What happened, exactly?

I'm going to try to do a play-by-play of the events of the Mistletoe Half Marathon.

This is going to be looooooong.......

First, thank you thank you thank you to all the well-wishers.

I've been watching mysteries on Masterpiece Theater (Inspector Lewis), so in that spirit let's evaluate the circumstances of the case.

What was I wearing?
1. NIKE wicking baseball cap
2. fleece ear/headband (removed at mile 4-5)
3. poly wicking short sleeve shirt under long sleeve cotton shirt under cotton tee.
4. gardening gloves (my rose-pruners)
5. nylon running pants

Low 40's
rain (not hard, but consistent)
Wind steady at 5mph from the north, with gusts at 12mph around 930am (miles 10 and 11)

What did I feel/do?
At the start:
Waiting at the start was chilly and wet, but not to the point of shivering (I shiver and chatter easily). I could feel the ground just fine; no numbness.

First mile:
8 minutes. I took it easy (relatively) to make sure I could feel the ground fine and my form was good (no overexcited pushing off). Still no numbness, felt I was going to be fine.

Miles 4-5:
My head was getting warm, so I took off the fleece ear cover headband. That was probably a big mistake. My feet felt chilly, but I could (or at least thought I could) feel the ground. To be careful, I was flexing and wiggling my toes every chance I got.

Miles 10-11:
Here's where I think the damage happened. We were in a more open part of the course with fewer trees to block the wind, which had started gusting at 12mph. It wasn't strong, but it felt REALLY cold. I remember saying to the runner next to me "Jesus H Christ, that can stop any time," as my fingers (in gloves) started feeling really chilled. My feet felt warm.

I couldn't move my fingers enough to hang on to my ribbon. I have no idea where I dropped that thing. My feet felt fine. From the top, they looked fine. The bottom of my right foot was nauseating, with a destroyed blister and exposed black patch on the big toe, and a huge frozen blister on the ball, with a lot of blackness underneath. On the left, there was a black spot on the pad of each of the two toes next to the big one. I didn't show anybody and made a bee-line for the emergency room, swearing profusely. I started to feel pain as my feet gradually thawed. Then I put them in a tub of warm water (104 degrees is the suggested temp). The pain of that made me shake. Once my feet defrosted completely, the water felt cool. I thought my feet cooled the water, but the temp had stayed the same.

Here's what I think happened: the gusts of very cold winds at miles 10-11 blew away the heat my soaked, cotton shirts were holding in. My body, prioritizing my vital organs over fingers and toes, sent blood from my extremities to my core. My fingers were freezing because, ironically, they were warm enough to feel cold. My feet, as I said, felt warm. That should have been a warning sign, but I thought at the time it was a testament to improved circulation from running barefoot.

Remember, it wasn't just the 12mph wind from nature. I was running about 7:15 minute miles at that point, or a little over 8mph. PLUS, my cadence was around 200 lifts per minute. Spinning feet = more wind resistance. So we're looking at gusts of at least 25 mph on exposed, wet skin, farthest from my heart, that is repeatedly coming into contact with cold, abrasive, heat-sucking wet pavement. Man, when I put it that way, the outcome sure sounds obvious.

One other possible contributing factor: The day before, I did a quick 3.5 mile run around the neighborhood in about 30 degree (dry) weather. My feet stayed cold to the touch until I took a shower. Instead of warming them gradually, I just stepped into the steam. They were itchy for about an hour later, then felt fine. Maybe I had done a little preliminary damage?

The biggest lesson I learned from this:


This wasn't like the Hawg Run 5k, where my feet were numb for the first mile and then gradually started feeling the ground. The numbness came later, but I wasn't aware of it. It's bad enough not being able to feel the ground when you're in shoes; much worse to think you are feeling the ground when you're not. Up until the end, I was excited to show off my feet after the race. I had my jokes ready (my bare feet are fine, but my gloved fingers are freezing!).

Maybe if I kept my ear/headband on, and wore a windbreaker, I would have been better off. The best option would have been to skip the race altogether, but if I did that I would have regretted it, wondering what if; that envelope was going to be pushed eventually. Better now when I have time to heal.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

MistlefrostbittenTOE Half Marathon

I don't know any details yet other than I finished 1:36something. That's because I was in the emergency room during the award ceremony.

It turns out fellow Barefoot Josh was prophetic when he cautioned me about the weather. Wet and wind are not my friends.

I left the house with temps warmer than forecast - around 42 degrees, but raining heavily - wearing thin socks inside my gortex socks inside my aqua socks. It was a little tighter than I thought it would be. That thought was nagging me the whole drive into Winston-Salem. It was really bugging me.

I picked up my shirt and number and went back to the car. "I'm wearing the Vibram's," I decided. So I make the switcheroo. Decision made.

At the starting line waiting for the gun, the Vibram's got soaked. Which made my feet cold. "Well that sort of defeats the purpose," I figured. So I took them off.

The race went perfectly. My left foot wasn't tight, my hip was fine. My toes felt a little cold, but not as cold as my gloved fingers. After the first mile at 8 minutes on the nose, I ticked off the remaining 12 at a steady 7:15-7:30 pace. I had enough to pick it up at the end. I was exhausted, but very happy with my effort. Until I looked at the bottom of my right foot. I want to be honest and forthright about my barefoot running experience, but I don't think I'll be posting any pictures of the foot anytime soon. Just google "frostbite," if you're into that sort of thing.

Fortunately I parked right next to the finish line. I got in my car and gingerly put a couple pairs of socks, stepped in my sandals (I brought everything today) and hobbled to the ambulance. They said "yup, it's frostbite. Do you want us to take you to the hospital, or can you drive?" Is it that bad? I panicked to myself. "We have to ask." I drove (my car, not the ambulance).

You get funny looks when you tell a nurse that you have frostbite from running 13 miles on a cold wet December day. Sort of a cross between No Shit Sherlock and I Might Need To Sedate This Lunatic. When the doctor showed up, he asked my which injuries were from the race and which existed prior. He (understandably) assumed that a barefoot runner would have messed up feet. "Doc, my feet were beautiful this morning." Those words hit me like a brick. Especially the past tense-ness of it.

An excruciatingly painful warm foot-bath, some bandages, a tetanus shot, some Advil, and a miserable drive later, I'm home. It doesn't hurt too badly, although I almost wish it did. I assumed it had to be freezing to get frostbite. Plus, I recently ran ten miles in similar conditions, and my feet were fine. Iris (the wife) thinks I might have started the damage on my very cold short run yesterday. Who knows. All I know is 1. I can't run for one, maybe two months 2. When I can run again, it can't be in the cold 3. My base training for Blue Ridge is over, and 4. I'm feeling very depressed and embarrassed and stupid.

So there you have it. After 490 barefoot miles, I'm done for the year. At mile 477 the feet looked and felt great. Since I can do little else but sit for a while, hopefully I'll start posting some art.

That is, until I cut off my hand in a watercoloring accident.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bloggy Food Love

I got some bloggy love from Das Mixture for my post about the importance of including fast food in my diet. It seems only right to give it back, so go visit Das Mixture.

Speaking of food, I just stuffed myself with vegetables for lunch after a week of pastry and cookies. Interestingly I haven't gained any weight, but the veggies are sitting in my stomach like a big mac with fries.

New PBCR (Personal Barefoot Cold Record)

I woke up this morning to 30 degrees outside. Normally I like to take the day off before a race, especially a long one, but I wanted to see how the feet felt in freezing temps.

Cold, not surprisingly.

But not bad after the first mile. But here's the question: did the feet actually warm up, or was it the beginning stages of frostbite? I only ran 3.5 miles. What would happen on a longer run? Do I feel like finding out tomorrow? The hot shower after the run made my toes itch like crazy.

My anxiety over the Mistletoe Half tomorrow may be for nothing; the latest weather report says 40 degrees at 7am with a 50% chance of rain. 10am is predicted to be the same temp, but with an 80% chance. Those conditions are unpleasant (at first), but tolerable. If I'm going fast (and generating heat), all the better.

If it's raining at the start, however, I might just engage in a little triple sock action: aqua socks over waterproof socks (they're gortex) over, oh, I don't know, maybe cashmere socks. I'm a delicate flower.

On that note, there's another dilemma/identity crisis. If I run barefoot tomorrow in crappy weather, people will think I'm a tough guy, ergo only tough guys run barefoot. Which of course is the opposite of what I'm preaching: you need to be a wimp to run barefoot. BUT, it's so rare for people to think of me as anything but a wuss, maybe I should just embrace the tough guy persona when I can.

I'll end this post with a quote from my patron saint:
It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. - Woody Allen

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Test coming up

in the form of the Mistletoe half marathon this Saturday. I'm a little worried about the weather: low 30's, chance of rain. The "chance of rain" part is the latest prediction, and the part I'm most worried about. Or more to the point, it's the standing around waiting for the race to start in that weather that I'm worried about. I've never run barefoot in temps that cold before. And rain/sleet/snow? Sheesh. I might be bringing the VFFs along. Don't be surprised if I wear them for at least part of the race.

The feet/rest o' me are doing well with the latest increase in mileage/pace. I've got a mild soreness in my left hip flexor, which I've had off and on ever since I had a job wearing a tool belt. The job wasn't "to wear a toolbelt," just for clarification. I think the soreness has something to do with how I'm handling steep hills; I have a feeling I'm using my hips instead of my knees downhill. Bend the knees! I also have a little bit of tightness on the top of my left foot. That popped up after I tried the Gravel Path of Misery (Farris Park) last week sans vffs, which is ironic. You would think the pain from running/walking/stumbling on sharp rocks would be at the bottom of my feet. But since I find the rocks so stressful, it's hard for me to relax. If I don't relax, ie let my heel touch the ground, it puts strain on all the stringy bits in my foot. Hence, tightness. Just like I used to get when I wore vffs and aqua socks before going barefoot.

So how's that for a preemptive excuse? I almost hope I don't do well. How annoying would it be to find out that speed necessitates cold wet misery? Right now, I think I'd rather be slow in the tropics. Must be February. What? It's only December? Great. Just great.