Tough Strutter 5k Trail Race Report: The Dawn of Commerce

Barefoot Runner Wears Shoes! News at 11:

I wasn’t really third. Not sure what I was, to tell the truth. See, the organizers (disclaimer: friends of Team Sutcliffe) had limited trail length to work with, so they had to engage in some creative coursery. It was marked well, but to no avail. I got lost following the kid who beat me. It wasn’t his fault – I’m enveloped by a Bubble of Lostness that affects everyone within a fifteen foot radius. So really, it was my fault.

I say third, though, because I was right on second place’s heels when we took the wrong turn, and no one passed us. Realizing we were headed in the wrong direction and about to run the entire course again, we stopped for a second and acknowledged each other. The young runner said, “Well, good race!” and we shook hands. “Tell you what,” I said. “once we figure out where we are, let’s resume racing for what we’ll consider second place.” Following the voices, we found the course and sped up, passing some very surprised people. “Let’s go!” he said, finish line in site. I kept up but couldn’t pass. Good job, kid.

The Garmin said 3.45 miles in 29:48. Usually it’s short on trails.

Turns out we weren’t the only ones to mis-run the course, just among the few who went long instead of short. After a fun sprint to the finish (he got me by milliseconds, but I made him work for it), we were greeted by a bunch of runners who had already completed their route rendition. Some of them went back out to get the distance, crossing the finish twice. Since the times were done manually, the whole event became less of a race and more of a really fun trail run with random prizes. So officially, I was second in my AG and received a very nice medal made from a big stick. The overall top three (to cross the finish line) received huge 20 pound rocks with the Tough Strutter 5K logo painted on them. I was totally cool with that, because I was eating watermelon and delicious cranberry and white chocolate cookies, and that rock looked heavy. Besides, everyone got the coolest prize, which was a nice pint container for your favorite beverage:

Mmm, fermented kale juice!

Fancy straw included.

As the clock suggests, the course was also ridiculously hard (regardless of whether one was on or off it). Very technical and steep. I had to walk before the second mile. Because I didn’t trip or get hurt in any way, I can say it was super fun. I really like trails when I’m not getting hurt.

After the dispersement of the sticks and stones awards, the young gentleman who received second place overall came up to me with the 30 pound rock. “Here, I think we should trade.” He was very serious, like he was setting something right in this wacky, cockamamie universe of ours. Which I really liked, not because I wanted or felt I deserved the 40 pound rock, but because he was wearing a rainbow-striped pinwheel hat.

There we were, about to trade sticks and stones. Me in monkey shoes, him in helicopter hat. Looking around, I saw everybody was making such exchanges, even gifting their capital (Iris got a stick! I mean, medal!). It was a reenactment of the Dawn of Commerce.

I went in search of the kid to unload give the 50 pound rock to him, but he was nowhere to be found. Well, besides Facebook, but that’s not a suitable venue for rock-giving purposes. So now it sits in our yard.

Will trade 60 pound rock for property in Port Angeles, WA...

I Finally Did the Yasso 800s Thing

When I lived in Brooklyn, there was a track nearby that I would run on pretty frequently. I only have a vague memory of that time: I remember fussing with the then new mp3 technology, wedging the iPod Shuffle buds in my ears, listening to Lyric Born, Asylum Street Spankers, and Cake. There was a lot of Old Crow Medicine Show and Split Lip Rayfield too, oldy-timey banjo jamming that in no small part contributed to our decision to eventually move to North Carolina.

The track was mostly utilized by fitness walkers, so I got to be the fastest guy. I had none of my current delusions of grandeur, though. Racing in Central Park, I never bothered to stick around for the award ceremonies. They don’t give awards to the 30th place AG. Still, I would run at a whatever pace, enjoying the music, thoughts drifting from time to time to the notion that maybe this would be better without confined, sweaty feet.

Sometimes I would leave our Greenpoint apartment with shoes on so Iris would think I was just going out for a regular normal person run, then I’d stash the shoes behind the shrubs. I’d run barefoot slowly to the track. So slowly that even Maffetone would tell me to pick it up a bit. I’d do a few laps, scuff a toe in a way that induced more panic than injury, then return home.

When we did eventually move to Cackalacky, I stopped running for a few years. Life stuff. Then, obviously, I started again. Even though there’s a HS track a few miles away, I never went. Yesterday was my second time on the loop in the last three years.

Moment of artyness: notice the lines.

Instead of just running around, I thought I’d try the Yasso 800 thing. My goal was to run 800 meters ten times, with a break in between, times as consistent as possible. I didn’t look at my watch during the run, just went by what felt like a 5k effort each time. Here are the results:


If my perceived effort was accurate, looks like I might have a sub-18 for the PTI 5k! Yasso would also suggest that I have another marathon PR in me.

I think taking a total of three weeks off in April was what I needed.

Looks like I used my feet to smudge up a pencil drawing.

I’ve been running a lot less than usual, too, only every other day. Running slow still tweaks my ankle. So does, unfortunately, running with Sunny (not the running so much as the cat-chasing). I foresee another hiatus after The Scream Half Marathon in July.

Anyway, that’s that. No big concerns, other than the fact that this post was not funny at all. Weird.

The Calfachilankle Explanation

So I went two weeks without running because of a weird pain in my calfachilankle. The pain only occurred when running slowly. I had no issues with running fast, aside from the usual running fast stuff. Last week I started running again. How did it go, you no doubt are asking your internet delivery system of choice.

My answer would be hitchless, as in, without a hitch. Which is exactly what I predicted would be the case if my secret hypothesis was true. So what happened, you ask your little handheld universe.

I’ll tell you:

In a few years, we will discover how to travel through time, and I will have the opportunity to go for a jaunt. I will choose to go back to mid-April 2012, with the sole purpose of stopping myself from running the Owl’s Roost Rumble Half. The first time around, something awful must have happened. To stop me, I shot/will shoot my younger self with a futuristic blow dart that caused/will cause a pain akin to what one feels when overtaxing their aging bodies.

Since I was going to run Owl’s Roost barefoot, I was going to be slow. The pain only occurred when running slowly, as I’ve said before, so Future Me must have programmed/will program the Future Dart to abstain from interfering with the ol’ lung-wringing efforts. Thanks, Future Me!

I’m a barefoot runner and therefore immune to injury, therefore the Time Travel Blow Dart hypothesis is the only one that makes sense. You know I’m right, because I used the word “hypothesis” – twice now, in fact – and that’s a science word.

So how incredible is that? I’ve avoided unknowable tragedy, I’m feeling fine, and I might even be a little faster than before! Oh, and there’s the whole time travel thing in our near future, so that’s neat too, I guess. But whatevs, I’m running again!