2010 stats and notables, 2011 goals

Just finished my last run of the year, a nice barefoot 3.6 miler. I’m feeling much better today, though still coughing a bit. I’ll go long on Tues or Wed, then taper time.

Here are some numbers and stuff from 2010.

Total mileage: 1733.9
Avg pace: 8:57

The year started out slowly, waiting for my toe to heal (heal to toe?). I jumped into training for Blue Ridge once I was all together again (maybe a little bit prior to that). I survived, then it was on to Grandfather in July, a month that also featured meeting ac, getting sick, a disfiguring tick attack, and a broken toe. I guess I should say running with ac was the highlight. I did puke right after meeting him, though.

The second half of the year was more laid back and social. The Blue Ridge Relay was a wonderful experience and left a permanent mark on my running brain. While the Salem Lake 30k was a bust for me race-wise, I enjoyed the racing while it lasted just as much as the walking at the end. Plus I got a good pic out of it:

It's called a "Hitch Kick." Photo by Shannon (I think): http://maryshannonjohnstone.blogspot.com/

Then I decided to stop dilly-dallying and run faster. No more easy runs – I ran like I meant it every time out. Instead of exhausting myself, I found ways to be efficient and roll with it. October was my most prolific month with not only the most miles, but at a record avg pace (it was busy at work, too).  November was faster, and while there were fewer miles I snuck in my own marathon. The last month has been tough – Run To Victory took a lot out of me, then I got sick (again? I blame not being a recluse. Hermits never get sick, I bet).

Which brings us to now, with me trying not to spill tea on my laptop. Here’s what the year looked like in the form of graphs:

Total races: 16
1st place in AG x5
3rd place in AG x2

2 relays – the Massacre Marathon and Blue Ridge
2 marathons – Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mtn
1 30k – Salem Lake
2 half marathons – Danville and Run To Victory (1st in AG for both)
3 10k – Mocksville, Freedom Run, Run for the Rub (1st AG, course was short; I really should adjust my PR column)
1 8k – Run for the Greenway (3rd AG)
5 5k – Run to the End Zone (1st AG), Trail Mix (first barefoot trail race), Kernersville (3rd AG), Beat the Heat, Goblin Gallop (1st AG)

Not surprised:
sub-20 5k
marathons in mountains were slow, agonizing
training inconsistent, unstructured
I ran on the track only once
attacked by ticks (feet thankfully not scarred)
broke a toe running with Sunny the dog
experienced outrage fatigue, stopped giving a rats about podiatrists
podiatrists return the indifference
started loving hipster music again (thanks a lot, Angie B Hotz)
beer has become a daily staple

three 5ks were sub-20, plummeting pace in general
no foot modeling contract
I discovered the awesomeness of relays
I didn’t run many trails
I ran the marathon distance all by my lonesome, unplanned
even Arcade Fire? Yup. Now I’m Ready to Start… wearing low-riding, big-belted, too-tight jeans.

So, what about 2011? No plans, no goals. I hope I continue to get faster, stay injury-free(ish), bump into more blogosphere friends in meat space, enjoy life, and most of all, not be boring.

OK, fine. Here are some goals:
Finish the Charleston Marathon strong and fast
Be in as many pictures taken by Shannon at Umstead as possible
Sub-19 5k
Sub-1:30 half
More gravel work (ugh)

Blah etc Blah. Thank you guys for hanging out and exchanging witticisms. I look forward to reading about your progress on this dusty old road of existence. May all your victories be triumphant, your tragedies comical.

Podiatrists and the foot cult

My first reaction to the latest anti-barefoot blah-dee-blah printed in The HuffPo was, are people still talking about this? I skimmed through to see if there was anything new or interesting worth responding to, but instead found the same-o same-o. The guy targets “barefoot shoes,” but his criticism is against barefooting in general.

Before I go any farther, let me clarify that when I say “podiatrists” I mean “podiatrists who know nothing about running but feel entitled to give advice anyway.” I’m sure there’s some scientific legitimacy in the field, I just lack the motivation to find any. Diagnosing and healing broken stuff, I suppose.

Everyone who reads this blog by now knows all the arguments that makes debating an anti-barefoot podiatrist akin to challenging a dead man to a duel. Sure, you could fire a shot, but you don’t really “win” and you’re just making things messier. So I’ve pretty much stopped thinking about them, and feel little need to waste time on a topic which only affects those who wish to be affected.

Iris however made an interesting tangential observation that I feel deserves comment and got the brain juices flowing: who died and made the podiatrist king (second death reference in this post; is being sick making me dwell on my mortality?)? That is to say, running involves the entire body, not just the feet. Yet the podiatrist has cornered the market on medical advice for runners. Frankly, I’d rather hear what a hip specialist has to say on the topic of running, because there’s more room for error with how I move my hips than how I move my feet. I mean, once you get the feet, you get it. You can focus on using your feet to help you figure out the best way to move the rest of your body.

I’ll get back to the main topic in a sec, but I think this is important to mention, re the hips: it’s the twist that alleviates the pain and injuries that would otherwise result from thudding. Here’s what Dr. Chubby Checker has to say on the subject:

Come on everybody!
Clap your hands!
All you looking good!

I’m gonna sing my song
It won’t take long!
We’re gonna do the twist
and it goes like this:

Come on let’s twist again,
like we did last summer!
Yeaaah, let’s twist again,
like we did last year!

Do you remember when,
things were really hummin’,
Yeaaaah, let’s twist again,
twistin’ time is here!

Heeee, and round and round and up and down
we go again!
Oh, baby, make me know you love me sooooo,
and then:

Twist again,
like we did last summer,
Come on, let’s twist again,
like we did last year!


Seriously, throw out all of your how-to-run tomes. This song tells you all you need to know about running form.

OK, back to the foot. So how did the podiatrist accrue so much influence in running culture? They don’t offer anything of value; every other doctor would recommend exercise for a weak body part. Only the podiatrist recommends atrophy. People go to podiatrists to be told they’re weak and unfixable. That’s weird, especially for a culture like running culture that is so motivated by eradicating weaknesses. I had once thought that the runner-podiatrist relationship was a result of human desire to damage oneself, but that doesn’t answer the question, why the foot? Put on your tinfoil hats everybody, I’ve got another theory.

Above, I wrote “once you get the feet, you get it.” By “it” I mean how to use the feedback from what your feet feel to run smoothly. Most runners don’t get “it.” Their body tells them they’re missing something and it has to do with the foot region, but they don’t know what that something is. So they buy fancy colorful shoes that look all science-y and sporty. They buy bounciness and cushioning. The buy arch support. They buy stabilization. Deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole they go, all the while asking “what is it feet? What do you want? I give and I give, and pay and pay, and still you betray me.”

What they are feeling is the sensation of a severely underutilized body part, but don’t know it. They just feel something is amiss below the ankle. They fixate on that one body part, and ignore the rest of their flailing corpus. The culture feeds this fixation, dividing people into under vs over pronators, high vs low arches, Nike vs Adidas, heel vs toe strike, all culminating like a chorus of Amens to the angry and inscrutable Foot God. Every god needs a human representative, and for the foot worshipers that is the podiatrist.

Next time you’re at a big marathon expo, look around. You’re in a tent revival full of foot worshipers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my feet, just not on their own. They’re a part of my entire body, one part that has to work together with the rest. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they want when they want it, no different than my hands or head or… um… hamstrings (O alliteration, your siren song is strong! Damn! I did it again!).

Back to the podiatrist – any anger and fist-shaking at them is misdirected. That is, if you’re a podiatrist skeptic of the angry, fist-shaking variety. They are just a reflection of what individuals want. They didn’t step up to a mic and say “excuse me, you runners, we’re in charge now, what we say goes.” What happens is runners and media seek out their advice. We’ve given them that authority. So really, it’s probably best to ignore them until one of them says something interesting. It’s not like they give a rats what I think.

Anyway, tally hoo. The wife made an interesting comment that turned into a post, now I shall once again distance myself from the sordid subject of shoddy silliness and focus on freaking out about Charleston.

I’m sick. And a contest!

Well trip to my Lou.

I’m at stage three, which is the sneezing stage. Stage one was fever, stage two cough, now I’m sneezing with valves open. I did run today, and it was tough.

Last week I pushed past the 50 mile mark pretty comfortably in only four days. On Friday I logged 22.5, with a 6.5 miller in the morning, 16 miles around the Farris Park loop after work. I was a little under-fueled, but I felt pretty good. Then that night, not so much.

It’s a good thing I haven’t been trying to stick to a plan, because I’d be pretty worried about how these interruptions would affect my performance in the Charleston race. To tell the truth, I’m not really worried. I’ll run as well as I can. If I suffer or finish slower than I predict, that’s an argument for the importance of the last weeks before the taper.

Speaking of prediction, let’s make this official. I’m going to finish the Charleston Marathon some time between 3:12 and 3:35. It really depends on how the flatnees works for me. Do I need hills to mix it up? Or will I be able to zone in on a pace and lock into it for the duration?

I’m hoping I feel 100% in a couple of days, when I plan on going long one more time before the race. If I don’t, I don’t.

So here’s the contest: predict my marathon time. Go ahead, look at my training log. Keep in mind I haven’t finished an official marathon anywhere near my predicted time-frame.  I did run the distance by myself at 3:34ish, though.

Anyway, you have until Jan 14th to make your prediction. The closest prediction (over or under) gets some art. DNF and DNS are acceptable predictions, although they must be accompanied by an exciting and entertaining explanation.

PS I won’t be offended at slow predictions (relatively speaking, etc etc etc)  if you make it funny, ie, “You’ll finish in 4:43 after a painful collision with a sailfish.”