Sunday, August 12, 2012

Umstead unbooted

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. -- Scott Lynch quoting Henry David Thoreau's Walden

A bit faster than white trash, slightly sexier than a hobbit.
Surgery + 16 weeks. I was finally cleared to begin running again. Happily, I am over it now and have instead decided to launch a new exercise regimen as a Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest champion. Eating 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes burns hundreds of calories. Further introspection and my wife's sage counsel reminded me, that I can not afford another line of hobby clothing. My current collection of technical shirts repel perspiration very well, but are not highly rated for the thicker mustards commonly paired with hot dogs. And, in an ambitious but not well thought out attempt to outshine Imelda R. Marcos, I have been adding to my running shoe collection at an obscene rate. Nobody buys more running swag than the injured and grounded.

I felt there should be more blurring in this picture. Scott must
have been really moving to get such a still image.
In the 4 weeks since my last post, I have enacted a plan to join the ranks of those with strong feet and crazy opinions. As I have to start from near ground zero, I decided to convert to barefoot running and later after cultivating decent form, minimal shoes. When I rolled my ankle and ripped the Brevis, I was running in minimalish NB MT101s, Nike Frees, and Saucony Kinvaras. Following the blogs of AC, BF Josh, Maple Grove BF Guy, and Der Scott, obsessed with minimal footware from internet clearance sales, and for the sheer joy of freaking out my endocrinologist I see for diabetes, I began a barefoot strengthening program. Over the last month of recovery I completed 2 walks a week barefoot. I started on the sidewalks around my house and worked my way up to 5.75 miles over many different terrains. Last week I started wearing Kigo Drive's to work every day with the inserts removed.
This delicate pin striping on the ankle de-emphasizes the  stubbiness of the foot.
All this sole preparation laid the foundation for my first run back from the invalid purgatory that is rehab. Der Scott volunteered to brave the mad distance of just over one mile at insane speeds of very near 5 mph to welcome me back to the sport that killed Pheidippides and is often unkind to nipples. We met at the Harrison side of Umstead and hiked 4 miles of Loblolly, before braving the paved technical road that runs by the ranger's residence. We finished without incident and I completed my first run after surgery barefoot. It was over just faster than a Peter Frampton song. There was wind, elevated heart rate, lightly increased breathing, a slight bouncing, a whiff of endorphin; experiences unattainable on a walk. It was magical.
Risk evaluation: Immediate feedback and low dorsiflexion
hazard vs. hookworm.

My pre-surgery millage is months, maybe over a year away, but today I stood at the base of that millage mountain. Just 6 months ago this rate of progress would be a total failure and I would have had the elevation, heart rate, distance chart to prove it. Today, it marked the beginning journey of a, I think, wiser runner. I hope to protect my ankle with a lighter strike that forefooting provides. Somebody called me boom boom at Uhwarrie as I was descending a hill and destroying the local environment and likely my body. My goal now is to distance myself from that tag. 

Surgery +17 weeks ushered in my first 2 mile run (in Newton gravitys). 192 BPM (it was the humidity, I swear). Two 1 mile treadmill runs sans shoes this week. And a nice 6 mile hike (last 3 miles barefoot and a .5 mile run). I was able to join my work compadre Chris for the hike and mini run. A man of questionable politics, but with a very fetching bald head and a stride of ridiculous proportions, he has adopted a healthy diet and commenced a new exercise regime. He is tall enough for me to call him Bolt. I was very pleased to have his company and share his outlooks. He saw Umstead State Park for the first time today. I felt privileged with the opportunity to share my favorite place. We hiked Sycamore and even ran in the last 1/2 mile. I think he might be hooked. 

How to turn 1 mile into an Ultra.