Friday, December 31, 2010


Here it is, the end of another year. Tomorrow begins a new year, 2011.

I like to reflect on a year; see what lessons' I've learned well, and recognize others that I know will be back to test me again. I'm also not one for 'resolutions', but I do like to goal set. Maybe it's because I like to plan that it is I like to goal set. Reflecting gives me a place to see where it is I've come from, how far I have made it along the journey, and the goal setting gives me something to reach for over the next little while. Then it will be time to begin again, sometimes it is easy to recognize this as a daily pattern, but today being December 31st I will see it as a yearly one. Until tomorrow morning anyways.

As I met with a very close friend (sister) tonight, I was reminded of the JOY of the journey. Sometimes it takes effort to find joy in the journey, especially when we aren't finding it to be travelled as quickly as we would like, or that maybe we are travelling so quickly that we are caught up in the time flying when we finally slow to check out the scenery we are lost in what we have missed. Our lives are the journey. There is no one destination that we will get to and stay at, until we meet our Maker. Joy has been created for us to find and experience along our journey, until we get home.

Wishing you all JOY to fill your lives along your journey into another year that is filled with awesome experiences; to keep you smiling, loving, living, (running).

As I leave this post I would like to end with another blogger finish, (as my prayers go out to another friend who is soon to be meeting with her Father, Lord and Saviour) I hope you don't mind Mike, and thank you for the reminder with every read of your blog........

It is a great day to be alive!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Great Cause Supported By A Great Person

Just a quick note about a great person with an exceptional cause that should be brought to everyones attention. Catra Corbett, aka the Dirt Diva (see the side of our blog for a short cut), is completing a 46 hour run to help raise funds for The Chance To Compete Foundation. Her goal is to raise $1000.00, I think we can do better than that, don't you? Not only will Catra be running for 46 hours straight she will be starting this endevour on her birthday.

The Winnipeg Barefoot Runners have donated to this great cause to help Catra reach her goal and beyond, take up the challenge and join in, see the attached link to help out. You know you wanna!!!!

Good luck Catra, you are an amazing person, and we know you will exceed your expectations, and we will be following and routing for you along your journey.

B, N and G.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First Frozen Ass Run of the Season

Wonder why only 2 of us showed up....!

This is what some of us are wearing on our feet at -40C. Running in mukluks makes for a pleasant run. The ground is softer beneath your feet when you run on snow and I think this might be the best time of year to start minimalist running for those intrigued with the idea. Nicole made the black mukluks herself with a unique lace up design. Normally mukluks have a looser fit on the calf but it is better if they are more fitted to prevent sliding down when running. If you look closely you can see I tied leather laces around my calf to prevent this from happening and to prevent the pom poms from bouncing around.  A sprinkle of mukluk history while we are on the topic....traditionally women did not wear fur or pom poms on their mukluks so Nicole's  creation has some tradition to it as well as fashion.
There are beautiful places everywhere.  Sometimes they can be noticed more easily when the rest of the city is still asleep.    We are on the edge of the river and behind the sign there were 2 canada Geese in an open area of water. I don't know why some geese hang on like that but have heard some will stick around as long as there is open water. 

In this shot I tried to capture the frosted ice that had collected on Nicole's eyelashes but it didn't turn out.  Near the end of the run  my vision was getting blurry from the frost build up.

...the camera taking its last shot before freezing up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Long Run December 12

Ack!  This is the latest posting to date with only an hour and a half before start time.  We are meeting at 7 am at Timmies on Portage and Westwood.  Its going to be another short one at 5-10 miles.  Dress warm as it is a nippy -40 (with the wind chill) out there.  And this is just the beginning...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Long Run December 5

Nicole is out with an infection and I'll be out late tonight .  We'll start tomorrow's run later than usual... meet at 9 am at Daily Grind Coffee Shop  3393 Portage Ave.  Yippee!  We can sleep in.   Its going to be a short one.  I'm thinking 6 miles.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Barefoot Snow Run - Nov 19, 2010

Some might say I have crossed over the line from 'Crazy' to 'Down Right Insane', if they saw me running around downtown last Friday, decked in my winter running gear and no shoes. According to the majority, I was dressed for the weather (I guess that would mean I fall into the minority category) from the ankles up, but supposedly below my ankles were slightly lacking. I actually felt perfectly fine for the situation at hand of trying to dwell into the realms of snow barefoot running.

Who would of guessed that so many people would be concerned about the well being of my feet?

It was a perfectly balmy day in the 'Peg for November (-10 degrees / -20 degrees with the wind chill) partly cloudy with a pleasant swirling wind. The game plan was to do a 5 km loop from the office, thru the forks, up to Main Street and back to the office, all in all, about 30 minutes due to the surface conditions and expected lack of barefoot traction.

I got ready to go, suited up c/w running toque, scarf, wind repellent gloves, layered shirts and running jacket, and of course my winter Running Room pants (advise from Barefoot Rick stressed the importance of keeping your core warm, and your feet will follow). I decided to leave my Garmin behind this time, as I didn't think waiting for the satellite to be located would be particularly helpful for my bare feet, must keep moving until foot temperature stabilizes. This being said, I headed to the lobby to start my journey into territories not travelled by the masses.

I got to the lobby and looked out the glass entrance doors to 4 smokers all bundled up and shivering, trying to shelter themselves from the wind. My first thought was, 'Hmmm, this should be interesting, hopefully I don't give someone a heart attack (I found out later that all of them were shocked to see the 'CRAZY' guy from the 4th floor still running around without shoes! I wonder who they were referring too, not me!!). Getting a head full of steam, I opened up the exterior door and sprinted down the steps, holding my VFF's in my hands. Around the corner of the building I went and straight thru the first snow bank like a man on a mission, of course I was on a mission, To test the boundaries and go where no Winnipegger has gone before!!

The plan was to do a 5 km loop around the Forks, and see how the feet and toes react, before I tried stretching the distances out further. Let's just say, I have found out the hard way that getting your feet wet in slushy road conditions and then trail blazing thru snow drifts with barefeet, is not the best thing to do. My wet feet froze fairly quickly and I was limited to a 2.5 km run instead. Anyway I digress, so back to the report.

I was very happy at how my feet were responding to the snowy sidewalk and snow drifts both in traction and feeling of the sidewalk. I got some more weird looks from commuters (both pedestrian and car traffic), and a whole lot of finger pointing. I actually felt pretty good, and my feet were fine, I could sense a little bit of numbness settling in though, but I was not prepared for what was to come (this would be the damn slush). I got to a busy street corner, and was surprised to see wet slush all over the roads, not thinking anything of it, I bolted across the street trying to avoid the puddles and ended up bounding thru slush build up and basically soaking my feet. Somewhere in the back of mind, I thought that might not be too good, considering the temperature, and the uncleared sidewalks ahead. But me being me, and ever trying to push the limits, I trudged on thru the snow, causing more looks of confusion as I ran by the bundled masses walking thru the snow.

As I worked my way along Main Street back towards my office, I passed more finger pointing and surprised looks but I really didn't care, I was having a blast. By the time I hit 2 kms the numbness in a couple of my toes was definitely noticeable, but the strangest thing, the rest of my feet felt warm (relatively speaking), I heard that once you get to a certain point your feet start to relegate heat but I was surprised how noticeable it was. My first thought was this is pretty neat, my gloved hands and scarf covered face were colder than my bare feet, who would of guessed.

I pulled into the office and headed up to check out the damage on my feet, they didn' t look to bad at first glance, a little red and the numbness was definitely apparent. But as my feet started to defrost, the numbness was more apparent, and the pins and needles appeared, this of course caused me to dance around my office a little bit, and probably looked a little silly, but it helped push the feeling into my toes.

All in all, everything seemed fine, I expected some minor frost bite to appear because of the wet feet, and I was right, by the time I got home I ended up with 6 toes with frostbite blisters and minor swelling. I drained the blisters to help facilitate healing (and found out afterwards that you should not do this according to the professionals, you are suppose to let them heal and let them break open on their own). I had no ill effects to draining them, but one toe kept blistering up and filling back up with liquid, thus it was drained 3 or 4 times. It took about 5 days for the swelling to go down and the healing to complete, but no adverse effects were apparent. I waited for another 4 days after my toes were healed before I attempted another barefoot run (I will blog about this in a later post), but I was able to run in my Zems quite efficiently prior to that.

So now I know I can run barefoot in the snow, but I believe -20 is my limit, at least until I decided to push the boundaries again.

On On,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Trail Adventure

Showed up at our meeting place to see Nicole had 2 huge trail maps and let me tell you she was pumped to get at them.  I must have had an idea this was coming as I went out last night and bought a new  headlamp.  It was nice to see R and G join us on this fine crisp morning.

Half hour or so later we arrive at the Stables of Birds Hill  parking lot and are greeted by the sound of a rooster crowing. We find the trail entrance easily, even in the dark.  Spotting the bear sign at beginning of trail,  I make a mental note never to run here alone in the summer.

The trail is nice and wide.  Nicole, R and G  have settled in nicely up ahead and there is lots of conversation at this point.  The temperature at this early part of the run is somewhere between 0 to -4 Celcius  but there isn't any snow on the ground yet. We start off with a 4 mile loop as R has to get back to her family in the city as she had some event  to get to.  This was her first trail run and she said she loved it. You always remember your first and I suspect you know right away that you either love or hate it.

After saying goodbye to R,  we head out onto another trail to do a 14k loop.  The previous trail was dry so it was a surprise to find a bunch of huge puddles on this route.  How big does a  puddle have to be before it is no longer a puddle anyway?  There was no way to keep the feet completely dry with all the water but we  did pretty well.   We had just a little dampness in our shoes and vibrams.  It is a good reminder  that we will need  a backup plan for the colder weather.  We discuss varying options, one of which is wearing mukluks and carrying thick plastic bags in our packs so we can slip them on  if we come across surprise wet areas.   At this point the temperature has warmed up a bit, but not enough to stay warm if we stopped.

 There were plenty of well marked signs to keep us on the proper trail.  Still, I managed to veer off onto this other trail as the trees are what had my attention.  Thanks to G for getting me back on track.  This got us talking about getting lost and  Nicole mentioned  that she had her compass with her, but  left it in the car along with the food.  We carry on and G eventually pulls ahead and settles into her faster pace.

We came across this lookout.   If you look closely you might be able to see Nicole and G waving.  I tell them I'll go up next time....cuz we are so coming back again and again to discover all the trails.

In total we ran almost 13 miles and my energy was good for the first time post pneumonia. It turned out to be a  great day for a run!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Seasons R A Changing

Here we are, its November 11th, normally this time of year we have a foot or two of nice white snow, and the temperature has dipped below 0 on a consistent basis. Not this year, we must have really pleased the weather gods or something because so far it has been absolutely fantastic for both weather and temperature. I have ran (up to today) with shorts or my kilt and a technical shirt and of course with no footwear to speak of. Although I do get some weird looks and of course finger pointing, when I go out for my lunch hour runs downtown at work. As even though the temperature has been consistently hanging between 5 and 12 degrees, most people I come across on my runs are bundled up in winter coats or at least heavy fall jackets, and I come along with bare legs and feet and a big smile on my face. I imagine some people are wondering what the hell that lunatic is doing, or am I just crazy. The only thing I can say is I am having the time of my life, and if people think I am crazy so be it.

This brings me to my run today, the weather is a little cooler, I think we were around 1 degree C and -6 degrees with the wind chill, not really knowing what to expect. I stepped outside the same way I was dressing all week, shorts and tech shirt, the wind hit me and I decided I better throw a pair of running pants on instead as all the hair on my legs were standing at attention.

That being done, I headed out for a run not knowing how my feet would react to the colder temperature along with the wet terrain (it had been raining with a mix of snow for most of the day). I headed north getting my feet warmed up (this took about 3/4's of a mile) and I was off to the races, so to speak. I seemed to be going at a pretty good clip, and as I passed a police car sitting on the side of the road, I looked up to see one of the officers pointing at my bare feet and giving me the thumbs up, while the other had this confused look on his face (I was just thinking to myself, please don't give me a ticket for speeding, as I must have been going over 7 miles an hour, lol). I carried on my merry little way and started heading east towards the new asphalt pathway system that the city has put in, very impressed with these, they have done a great job, kudos to the city and the province for investing in these. I passed numerous people out for walks with their dogs, many seemed a little confused at this guy running at them avoiding puddles as he picked his way along the trails.

I was making good time, not because it was cool out, not because my feet were cold and I couldn't feel them (on the contrary my feet were quite warm, it was my unmoving body parts that were cold like my hands), but because it just felt right. I finished the first 5 km in under 25 minutes, which is a PR for me, and I was averaging about a 9:20 mile or so. Then on the return portion of the run, I hit a good stiff wind, this slowed me down a little, but I was still amazed at how great my feet felt. My face was a little numb from the wind and my fingers were getting fairly cold, but damn my feet were perfect. I got some more looks from motorists, especially this young couple who backed up for me at a stop sign, and then I heard the girl in the passenger seat shout, "He's got no shoes", I just smiled and waved, as I shot past them. Even with the wind I finished up back at the house with 6.5 miles or 10.9 kms in under a hour. Thus 10 kms in 57:39, also a PR for me, and my feet were fine.

I did end up with a small blister just behind my toes of my right foot (I am assuming due to the wet sidewalks and asphalt), but other than that, my feet exceeded my expectations for how they did. I was only figuring I would get about 2 miles in before my feet got cold, and not only did I exceed it, I could of gone further, much further.

This looks like it will be an interesting winter, seeing what my bare feet will do, and for how long I can go into a Winnipeg winter running barefoot.

On On.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Michael Franti-"I got love for you"

There is a little surprise in this video. Can you spot it?

This song has been on my running playlist (the faster version with the Spearheads) for the last year and I still enjoy it as much as the first time I heard it. what is your favourite running song?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Long Run Sunday Nov 7

6am meeting at Cavalier and Portage at Tims.   We are doing 10 miles.  Why only 10 miles you ask?  We're following week 2 of  the UTRALADIES 50K event training schedule.  check out the schedule at if you would like to follow along,  and then click on  Ultraladies on left side of screen.  We're assuming the mileage is in miles and not km.  We're also changing it up a bit as we can't help ourselves (adding in a speed or hill run, tempo run, and weights).  We've also moved the days over by one  to better suit our schedules.  Are you with me so far?

Don't forget to "fall back" tonight.  Yay, an extra hour of sleep!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Question Regarding Vibram Five Fingers

We got a question asked of us, and not knowing who or how to reply too, I figured it was best to do a quick blog entry regarding.

Question: Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "April 11 Long Run":

does any one know where in winnipeg i can get a pair of vibrams??? thanks i have just started running barefoot and would like to try a pair

Even though this is only one question, I actually have two answers for this, or one answer and a recommendation per say.

Answer: There is no local businesses that currently sell Vibrams in Winnipeg or Manitoba. City Park Runners is on the short list as a retailer, but they are still waiting to get confirmation and stock for sale. The nearest location that carries Vibrams is Scheel's in Fargo, as well as a another small independent running store (the name escapes me at this moment). There is also a couple of retailers in Saskatoon. If you make to the Twin Cities, there are numerous sporting stores like REI that carry Vibrams. If you visit, they have a function that will allow you to locate stores. Please note if you are going to look at ordering Vibrams online, order from Vibram direct or or when they have them in stock Do not order from anywhere else as there are numerous companies and stores that are currently selling counterfits (yes I do mean counterfits, there is a market for them).

Recommendation: If you have started to learn how to run barefoot, it is my suggestion (and numerous experts on the subject) that you run barefoot until you figure out the right form that works for you. You will change your bad habits (from shod running) much quicker if you learn how to run barefoot naturally. The point is you need to learn how to feel the ground and pick up your feet verse a swinging motion. There is a wealth of knowledge out there at your fingertips from people who have been running this way for years, eg. Barefoot KenBob is one of the pioneers of making barefoot running more mainstream his forum is, Jason Robillard is another big proponent of barefoot running both of these are great resources for not only learning the proper form but for also getting the answers to questions that I know from experience you will have along your journey to 'Happy Feet'.

Also another great resource is The Barefoot Runners Society, a website with barefoot and minimalistic shoe runners that share experiences and knowledge pertaining to this subject. Members are located all over the world and the wealth of knowledge is unbelievable, plus the barefoot running community is absolutely amazing, everybody on there is friendly and just want to help. If you want to check it out the link is and if you are interested in becoming a member let me know and I will send you a invite.

Also the biggest and most important piece of advise I have about learning how to run barefoot
is start slow, listen to your body and your feet do not over do it, and relax, running is suppose to be fun, if you are not relaxed while you are running how can you have any fun.

Good Luck and Happy Feet To You

Barefooting Bob

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zemgear footwear review

It has now been two weeks of wearing the Zemgear footwear, also know as booties. I have very much enjoyed them as it is nice to find an alternative to regular shoes, especially for working in. Over the past two weeks I have worn my zem’s for errands, going to the gym, working and of course outdoor running. These have been the closest and most natural experience to being barefoot I have found yet, giving me a really great feel of the ground, whatever surface I have been on as they are light and feel like they are not quite there. These surfaces include tile, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, treadmill, concrete, asphalt, gravel, grass, and dirt.
The flexibility of these booties is suppler than I have worn in previous minimalist footwear. The bands give a great fit to your foot, whether you have a narrow or a wide foot, they will conform to you. Which leads me to the obvious, there is no support, but that is just what I’m going for in my footwear these days. The grip of the sole has been efficient so far, I have not found then to be slippery on any particular surface yet, although mud is always slippery after a rain, and it is not here yet, but snow and ice will be here soon. They breathe well and wash very well, and they take a day to air dry. I did find that with their breathe ability it can be cold. With the split toe I have been wearing my toe socks in them because of the wind. Out on a long run I found that I did get a bit cold, but we are looking at a temperature of -4C, so I was expecting that. I am looking forward to an order of the round toe where I can use my thermal socks for those cool temperatures.
In total there are 7 styles to choose from. An ankle high version in either a split toe or a round toe, a crew sock height in either a split toe or a round toe, an indoor pair which is a split toe in the lower ankle height, a comfort pair which come down on the foot lower and provide a more sandal look, as well as a junior style which comes in a rounded toe. Currently I have been wearing the split toe original Zem bootie. There is also a variety of colors for the tech bands, pink, aqua, silver, dove blue, and of course black. From their website they sell for a reasonable $29.90 US.

Being a hairstylist I find that it is not really practical to cut hair while I’m barefoot. As much as I enjoy being without footwear, especially inside, I do not enjoy digging out hair slivers from the bottom of my feet. Yes, they hurt, and they are difficult to get to. I have been having a problem this season finding appropriate work footwear for my ever changing feet, but no longer. The Zem booties are perfect, as they look like a shoe, will protect my feet from the hair, and they seem to wash well. I would recommend these as well for indoor use where someone might like a slipper, those of us who get cold feet.
Just a bit of back ground on my feet, shoe sizing has always been a problem for me as I have a long and very narrow foot. Then there is the ever changing nature of my feet which is something else entirely. Mostly the changing feet evolved around the time of my children, and many things happened. At the end of each pregnancy I found my feet had changed and I was required to find new footwear again, but nothing as drastic as to what has happened over this past year of using minimalist shoes. My hammer toes have been correcting themselves! I now have straighter toes, which is how it is suppose to be, although it leaves me with the issue of once again realizing that my foot now has a new size, again. This is where I had the problem of finding a shoe for work that 1. Was not a heal 2. Was long enough 3. Was minimalist 4. Looked great 5. Was narrow enough. Now I have found it in the Zem bootie! It really is quite exciting for me as it is not every day you’ll find a triple A or even a double A on the shelf of a shoe store. A friend of mine who has a triple E width tried them on as well and was very surprised to find that the bootie did not cut into her foot, as she has the opposite problem as I do in finding footwear. The tech bands are very nice to both the narrow as well as the wide foot.

With all this back ground on my changing feet I must mention that I have been trying a pair that are a bit small, but am waiting for my order to arrive for my next larger pair. With this pair I do feel the seam under my heal and have noticed that I have stressed the seam where the sole meets the upper, and after a long run Sunday morning found I had caused a hole here. I have very much been enjoying the booties and decided that with the stretch material it would be fine to take them out finally on an outdoor long run, as I had been keeping them to indoor use and shorter runs outdoors. Even with a hole in them at the stress point where the seam sits under my foot, they washed up very nicely.

I have really enjoyed my Zem booties and am very much looking forward to my next order to arrive; I will need some new colors for work this season! Of course there is also the snow and ice to try them out on.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Post Vulture Bait and Groin Pulls

Well, I thought it was appropriate to be writing this on Halloween (October 31st for all you non ghost and goblin type people), as it has been 2 weeks since my ultra marathon experience and the ghastly pulled groin. I have not ran at all since that race, partially because of finding the time, but the biggest reason, dare I say it, I am scared that I will go for a run and find that my groin will say "I don't think so!!!". I have some friends who have pulled the dreaded groin, and have spend months trying to get back to where they were (some succeeded some didn't), and honestly that concerns me, I like running and have lots of goals to hit over the next few years, so I want to make sure I am ready and not go back to soon.

Now, I have never had this type of injury before, so I really do not know what to expect, I am sure it is fine, but those lingering thoughts in the back of my head persist, and will probably remain until I go out and give it a try. So I am going to make an effort, come hell or high water (hopefully not high water, I can't swim) to go out and put a small run in this afternoon, before taking the skeleton and the tiger out for trick or treating tonight.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Hope and Inspiration

We have been following this Manitoba girl since the beginning of her run and  are rooting for her every step of the way as she completes her Cross Canada Run.  The goal in itself is admirable, but her background story is incredible.  Hope.

Recently Candace was in Winnipeg raising funds for her run.  We were inspired by a radio interview which mentioned that she was in need of a new pair of running shoes.  Wanting to show our support for her mission,  The Winnipeg Barefoot Runners decided to buy her a pair.  This may seem odd considering most of us don't wear running shoes and those that do, haven't bought a pair in years nor intend to.  We decided to purchase them from City Park Runners as we have had good experience with them in the past (awesome customer service).  The owner was so inspired by meeting Candace and hearing her story that he also bought her a pair!  We would like to wish Candace all the best and send out a big thank you to Erik who has an awesome running store and for supporting her run.

My name is Candace Sutherland.
I am currently running across Canada to raise funds for 4 charities in a run I'm calling Vision4Hope. I began this run on March 20th and expect to spend the better part of a year on the road. See the map below for the progress I have made so far.

A run likes this takes money to pay for administrative expenses such as food, fuel, lodging, and vehicle repairs. Right now our funds are very low and we need support. To donate to my administrative account please click here.

Candace Sutherland

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Now Have The Power, Will They Regret It

Well, it has finally happened, G and N have given me my full access to the blog and I am now a full contributing member. Now I do not have to infiltrate the blog with N's access, will they regret this, could this be a uncalculated mistake that they have made, to give me all this power, bahahahahaha (insert scary dramatic music here, maybe something from Friday the 13th or something). I guess time will tell.

An elated new member


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Running of Vulture Bait '10

N, G and Me Before Vulture Bait Begins

The run was just over a week ago, so I feel I better get some thoughts down before I procrastinate to much more. It has been a week of trials and tribulations, so finding time to sit down and write about the highs and the lows of this run (or walk) into the world of Ultra Running has been difficult, but here we go.

N & G signed up Vulture Bait, it seems like years ago (reality it was probably June), and I was intrigued enough and thought it would be fun to try, so I registered in July. It seems like so long ago, but that just shows you how much we were looking forward to this challenge. Lets just say it did not go in any way like any of us wanted it too, not one us finished for a variety of reasons, which I will quickly dive into when I start the next paragraph. Don't get me wrong we were all disappointed in the final outcome, BUT, we all had a blast getting to where we got and the experience was well worth the journey, and look out ultra world for next year, because you have not seen the last of us.

Now that I have stood on my soap box and waggled my finger in anticipation of next year and successful results, I will now dwell into the individual reasons why we did not finish this race. I do not offer these as excuses to why we did not finish, but reasons that will not deter us from our goals next year.

I will get right to the point, G had developed pneumonia the week before the run, and was put onto antibiotics 5 days prior to the run. Needless to say, running 50 kms or even 25 kms is dangerous with any type of illness, but with pneumonia it could be deadly. So G not wanting to miss out on the experience decided to run at a slower pace to the second aide station, which was slated to be about 10 kms (which ended up to be about 13.5 km), so she could at least partake and not feel like she missed what we had all been looking forward to for months. Plus this was her opportunity to test that cool running dress that she had the opportunity to critique, and damn did it look good on her, so good I thought I was seeing double (there was actually another runner that was wearing the same dress there as well, what are the odds.).

N, finished the first 25 km loop, and she was pulled off the course by one of the run coordinators because she did not make the cut off split. This happened for a variety of reasons. N, being N, was concerned about G and wanted to make sure she was ok until she pulled herself, therefore she was not keeping an eye on the time, thus they took some longer stops at the aid stations, stopped to take pictures, etc. This being said she missed the cutoff time that she would of typically had no issue making to carry on with the second loop or the final 25 km of the 50 km run. Needless to say she was a little disappointed that it worked out that way.

Now my story was a little different, I pulled myself out at the 48 km mark of the 50 km Ultra, now most people would say, why would you do that? You were almost done, why didn't you crawl to the finish line? Well, simply, at the time I didn't think I could go any further without doing some major damage to my already pulled groin. I have been involved in sports all my life, and fortunately I had never pulled my groin, and knowing some friends that have pulled theirs and carried on doing some serious damage and they have never been the same. At the time I didn't think it was worth it, so I decided it was time to stop. Now that I have gone over and over the circumstances in my head, I am kicking myself for that decision, because I think I could of finished, but what is done is done, no regrets. At the time I had just finished a combination of 14 kms of walk/runs post groin pull, after running 34 km of real trails (not your typical Manitoba defined trails), that included lots of hills, switchbacks, creek crossings, lots of leave covered rocks and roots and a variety of running surfaces and some of the most gorgeous scenery that you can witness on this type of run. We also had to dodge mountain bikers and hikers coming from in front and behind, which at times was a challenge in itself on some of the narrow and cliff edge trails, where there was barely enough room for one runner at times. Let us not forget I ran the first 34 km barefoot and wearing a kilt, and I had the time of my life.

On to the run report:

It was a perfect day for a run, blue skies, temperatures sitting around 4 degrees Celsius at start time, and barely a breeze blowing, just enough to not allow the air to get stagnant. N and I arrived at the Fanshawe Conservatory Park at around 8:10 am to meet G who had drove down from Toronto that morning with her husband. After a bit of coordinating to find each other, we headed to the starting area to pickup our timing chips and get ready to partake in the day of fun to come. I will be honest I did get some looks as I was walking around in my kilt and VFF's , and the only thing that was coming to my mind, was "What are they going to think when I take the VFF's off and start running barefoot?" This kind of brought a smile to my face, and I just carried on doing what I usually do before a run, a couple of stretches and just trying to loosen up a little. Here we were, 3 odd ducks( a girl in a pair of VFF's (N), another girl in a dress (G) and a guy in a kilt and soon to be bare feet (yours truly)), standing among some really serious ultra marathon runners, were we nervous, not really we were there to have some fun. It was a little nippley out so we decided to go into the pavilion to warm up, they had a couple of wood stoves going, perfect for warming up the feet.

This is the table that we felt was meant for us, we almost missed the starting gun as we had to get a couple of pictures off the start.

N and I warming the toes up next to the big wood stove

And the gun goes off and we are off (can you spot any of us in this picture)

Final warning for the start of the race was called as we were still scrambling around trying to get last minute pictures, gee who would of guessed, as about 30 late comers (including us), high tailed it out of the pavilion and down the hill to the starting area. There was slightly over 300 runners total between the 25 km and 50 km distances, so it was a good variety. Of course we moved towards the back of the pack (one of these days I will have to position myself better), and I proceeded to get a couple of comments about the kilt and the VFF's, so to add to the drama, I bent over to take the VFF's off, to a hushed chorus of, "He's not really going to run bare foot is he?" Yes, Yes I am, I was bound and determined to complete at least half of the 50 as bare as can be (insert dramatic music for effect here). The grass at the start area is longer, and still moist from the morning dew, actually quite a pleasant feeling on the bare feet, not to cold, just right, I had a feeling this was going to be a great day for a run (boy was I in for a shock). I turned my Garmin on (so I thought), turned my I-pod on to get focused, and waited for the mass of runners to start moving to facilitate the start of the race. I didn't have to wait long, I got moving into a good pace setting myself up behind a couple of runners who were slowly slicing through the crowds ahead. This worked very well, until the pack thinned out, and I was able to settle into a 6:30 min/km, not to fast but a good pace until I figured out what type of terrain I would be facing.

The first portion of the trail started with some open areas to allow the runners to position themselves a little easier before the break into the more restrictive trail portions of the course. We ran towards the camp ground areas (this was where I realized my garmin had not started after almost 2 kms, which I quickly rectified) and thru some quick trails and out onto the access road prior to heading down some old tractor trails. By this point the runners were thinning out as the quicker runners distanced themselves from the intermediate runners (more my speed) and the slower runners. By the time we hit the first aide station at the 5km mark, I had fielded numerous questions about my bare feet from runners and volunteers alike.

My favorites were:

Aren't your feet cold? Response, No they are quite fine, how are your feet in those wet shoes of yours?

Your not going to run the whole 25 kms like that are you? Response: Nope, I am running 50 km.
Is there something wrong with your shoes? (I was carrying my VFF's in my hand) Response: Nope, I just don't want to get them dirty.

And my absolute favorite response to the typical question as I am running over gravel was, Doesn't that hurt? Response, Not really it just like a good foot massage or a pedicure. (I actually had one person stop in their tracks to think about it for a second).

Overall I had a lot of comments like you have to have tough feet, or wow that is crazy I wish I could do that.

The aide stations were nicely stocked with water, a electrolyte type drink and lots of goodies like licorice, coke, oranges, choc. chip cookies, gummies, etc. and if you asked for it there was some Gu. I was really impressed with all the volunteers they were excited to see you arrive cheering you on, and getting you what ever you needed. I will say I did spend a little to much time at each of the stations fielding questions and trying to answer them as best as I could, I must try to find some way to defer this to later in the future.

After leaving the first aide station, you head out of a gravel parking lot and up a gravel road hill to the asphalt road that leads you across the dam. I passed a few more runners that were walking up the gravel hill, deking back and forth to avoid the bigger rocks (I imagine it looked like I was playing a big game of hop scotch) as I made my way up the hill. Once I hit the asphalt I picked up the cadence to pick up some speed, as I knew once we hit the trails again, I would be slowing down considerably. The asphalt road carried on for about a km to the park entry gate, where we took a beeline back into the woods. The trail was nice and wide for the first bit and covered with pine needles at least a inch thick (this felt really neat on the souls of the feet), the trail was well marked, and it was not to difficult to follow at this point. Keeping in mind that I was looking at the ground constantly to ensure I did not hit any tree roots, rocks, etc, I had to take quick looks up to ensure I was still on trail. Once we got into the more dense wooded areas the trails were covered with leaves covering all types of trip hazards, and generally not runner friendly obstacles, this is one great thing about bare foot running because you are constantly looking down to see where your feet are planting, you see all the roots and rocks and your chance of tripping is greatly decreased. Further to this, most people who run with shoes swing their legs in a pendulum motion, which will drag their feet just above the ground which results in catching roots and subsequently tripping. Barefoot runners have a shorter stride and literally pick up their feet like you are running in place, thus further reducing the chance of catching a hidden root and taking a nose dive to the ground. I cannot count how many times I heard or saw one of the other runners tripping over a root or rock that was hidden by the thick coverage of leaves on the trails. I still wince when I think about it, damn some of the spills really looked like they hurt. I can proudly say, I did not trip or stumble once.

The course took us around the lake or reservoir (not sure what you would call it), on numerous trails with hills (both up and down, some steep some more gentle, some filled with rocks, some full or roots), switch backs, bridges, muddy areas, across a creek (that is the great thing about going bare foot, no wet shoes), thru a cottage area, asphalt roads, more gravel, along a cliff edge, etc. You name this course had it, along with some of the most beautiful scenery with the trees turning the broad spectrum of colours that you would expect in southern Ontario. I cannot stress enough, how much fun this run was, I honestly was not worried about my time at all (I must also find a way to balance this with my finishing as well, or I might never finish a race in the allotted time allowed).

I also ran with a number of wonderful people along the way, some interested in my running style, some just wanted to talk, or just to say hello and introduce themselves. I must say though, the dedicated ultra runners that I met were amazing, one lady I ran with for a while just had hip surgery earlier in the summer, and she was out running a 50 km, another just finished a 135 km ultra 2 weeks prior, but she wanted to get one last run in for the season, another gentleman was in his 70's and still running ultras on a consistent basis. I was amazed at some of the stories that I heard along the way, the ultra world is filled with some amazing people and characters and for the most part they are non-judgemental, which for a guy like me is a good thing (not like I would care anyway, because I am a little different, and I am not changing for anyone).

Anyway back to the run, after the last aide station on the first loop, I was running with a group of runners for the last 2 km to the eventual finish line, we traded positioning back and forth, I would let them pass on the down hills (as I don't do downhills very well, this is one area I have to work on), and then I would speed past them on the straight aways or the uphills. The last two kms have some pretty crazy hills and terrain (black diamond and double black diamond mountain bike classification trails), so this was a lot of fun. Another great area along the last 2 kms is this narrow path that runs along a cliff that drops off to the water, only wide enough for one runner, this is where we kept meeting a speeding mountain bike racing the other way. How quick can you jump out of the way into the bush? Believe me you learn very quickly how fast you can when you need too. Anyway as I was saying I was running with about 15 other runners as we headed up the last path towards the end of the first loop or the finish line for the 25km, I suddenly felt all alone again as I veered to the left and everybody else went to the right to the finish line, all I heard is "The finish line is to the right!", all I could think to say was, "Yup, I will be going that way after another 25!" I finished the first 25 km in under 3 hours, and considering the trail and the amount of stopping and talking I did along the way I was very happy with that, and I still felt very fresh, and optimistic that I would finish the 50 km in just over 6 hours.

After a quick facility break and a fill up on liquids and some more quick discussions about the kilt (insert shameless plug here for ), I headed out to start the second loop, and did I mention that I was still bare foot. Things were going so well, I was almost giddy, I quickly took off down the trail towards the camp grounds, with a little slower pace, but still acceptable at about a 6:45 min/km. I was all by myself for the first 3 km before I had to slow down and walk for a bit, as I wanted to pace myself for the last 20 plus kms. This was when Connie caught up to me, we walked and talked a bit (she is one amazing lady, she ran 9 ultras this year for over 600 miles including just finishing a 135 km run 2 weeks prior to this race, all I could say was , WOW!). We ran / walked together until the aide station at the 30 km mark, where I stopped to answer some more questions and fuel up, I stayed here a little longer than I wanted to, and Connie was able to break away a couple of minutes quicker than I. Little did I know this would be the last time I saw her till the end of the run.

I started up the gravel hill to the asphalt road that leads over the dam, with my feet being a little more sensitive, I was a lot slower than the first time I was up here. Once again I was able to pick up the pace a little bit on the asphalt until I veered off onto the trails by the park entrance gate. I carried through the trials picking my route with care to ensure I missed all the roots, etc, as I was starting to tire a little but overall I was still progressing well. Things were going well, and I was still making good time until I reached one of the good rocky hills at about the 34 km mark. I was watching my footing as I proceeded down the hill, and as I accelerated and tried to go one way, my groin decided it wanted to go another way. I felt a tweak, and the first thought through my head was, "this is not good, I do not see anything positive coming from this!". I hopped down the rest of the hill, holding my groin, until I reached level ground, and stopped to evaluate the situation. I decided I would give my groin a few minutes to rest before I would try it and see how bad the damage was. I tested it quickly and came to the realization that I would not be running to finish this race, but I should be able to manage a walk/run combination and push to finish. I started back out carrying on the trail running for a little bit until my groin started to complain, then started walking. After about a km of this, I realized I would need to put my Vibrams on because I needed to pay less attention to where I was stepping and more attention to keeping from straining my groin further. So in short, I completed 35 km of the run barefoot before I decided to put the shoes on. I was a little disappointed I was not able to finish the entire thing barefoot, but in reality this was still my further barefoot run to date, so I was ok with it.

I carried on towards the next aide station at the 38 km mark, doing more walking than running and thus my pace slowed significantly. My groin was starting to complain a little more as I progressed. I reached the aide station at the 5:15 mark, and would have less than 2 hours to complete the last 12 kms, still possible, but the further I went the slower I was going. I fueled up with some oranges and some electrolyte juice, answered a couple more questions, and was dubbed "The barefoot kilted guy" by one of the volunteers (I would hear this a few times from this point on till I got back to the finish area). I decided, I was determined to go as far as possible for as long as I could, so I left the aide station at a slow jogging pace, it would not be long before I was walking again.

I made it to the aide station at the 43 km mark at about 6:05 mark, thus I had slowed down to a 10 min/km, this left me with 55 minutes to complete 7 to 8 kms (the course worked out to 51 kms by my calculations), which would mean I would have to average just under 7 min/kms to finish in the alloted 7 hours. Knowing this was highly unlikely as some of the most challenging terrain was in the last bunch of kms, but damn it, I was going to go until I could go no more. So I trudged on hitting the trails with a determination to put the uncomfortable feeling in my groin into the back of mind and finish what I could before somebody decided to pull me off the course kicking and screaming (figuritive speaking of course). I passed a multitude of mountain bikers and hikers, saw some confused looks, as this guy in a kilt steamed past them with a determined look on his face. As I made my way along the trails towards the last aide station at the 48 km mark, I was really starting to notice the ache in my groin. I pulled into the last aide station at 6 hours and 50 minutes, with 10 minutes to go, 2 to 3 kms to finish including some pretty nasty hills. At this point I decided it was not worth damaging my self further, so I pulled the plug on my finish.

Yes, I was disappointed that I did not finish, but the more I thought about it a DNF was not too bad either, considering I had finished 48 kms of a 50 km ultra, 35 km barefoot and with a slightly pulled groin to boot. All in all, that was not to bad, and how many people can say they have done that, not to many by my accounts. It also leaves the point of unfinished business, and the promise that not only I, but N & G will be back next year to not only finish but to finish strong with a good time. This was a great experience for our first dive into the ultra world, we met some great people who shared some great stories and experiences and everybody that we met were very supportive and non-judgemental (which is very important with a guy who wears a kilt and runs barefoot).

I have nothing but kudos to give to the great team of people that not only organized this event, but also made sure it ran smoothly. We will definitely be back next year, and I would recommend this run to anyone who wants to experience an ultra to see how the other half of the running world lives.

On On,

That Barefoot Kilted Guy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Long Run Sunday October 24/10

It looks like we'll do a 10 mile loop and  those who have energy left over will head back out to finish off with 6 mile trail run.  This is to accommode new runners to the group and those gimps whose lungs are not fully recovered.  6am at Westwood and Portage....Timmies, of course!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Nuu-Muu Review

 I like pretty things.  Pretty running things.  Well, up until recently just pretty running skirts.  Shorts have a tendency to bunch up in an area you don't want them to. Skirts are nearly perfect except they don't do anything to hide the belly area if the shirt rides up which tends to happen to me, especially when wearing a backpack.

 I contacted Christine, Founder and Creative Director and Enid, Designer and Maker of Magic at  and they sent me one to try out for Vulture Bait.  It arrived a few days prior to my departure date and I confess to wearing it constantly before even running in it because it is that comfortable and cute.  Luckily I remembered to wash it in time and throw it in the suitcase  on my way to London, Ontario for the race.  The dress came out  of the suitcase wrinkle free and on race day I wore it over a long sleeve technical shirt as it was  a chilly 3C in the early part of the morning.

The dress is an A-Line design made from a polyester and spandex blend  and fits true to size. I suspect there aren't too many  running dresses around even in Ontario as I had quite a few runners ask me about it ( now I know how Bob feels).  I am happy to report the dress did not ride up at all during my run and remained comfortable throughout. Unfortunately I did not get to test the dress to its potential as I decided ahead of time to only run 1/4 of the race due to  having a bout of pneumonia.  However, I did manage one good wipe out on the course.  The dress was unscathed, although my knee was not. I found the dress to be the right length and plan to wear short spankies underneath when running in warmer weather.  This leads to another bonus of wearing a dress for us trail  distance runners who need to use the ahem,  washroom from time to time when there is none around.  I won't go into detail for our more sensitive readers.  Lets just say it will be much easier to manage these awkward situations in a dress.

 I have never seen these dresses before, there are a a variety of patterns to choose from and yet I came across another runner wearing the exact same dress!    We had both heard rumours of   someone else wearing "our" dress but we only spotted each other after the race.  Maryka ordered hers at the beginning of the summer and  says she has worn it to every race since receiving it.  I believe she recently finished a 100 miler.  You can't tell by the photo  but she has mud on her pants and dried mud (in true Vulture Bait fashion) all up the side of one arm and again her dress has come out unscathed.  She said she bought hers because she doesn't like her belly showing either.   I have a feeling we're going to see a lot more of these dresses in the future.

 I love the dress.  I knew I would.  Thanks Christine and Enid.  Happy Trails!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pneumonia and Running an Ultra

It is with great sadness that I will not be running the full course of Vulture Bait.  I might not run any of it at all.  Yesterday I was diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumonia.  As long as it is caught early it generally will not become severe, as long as you take care of yourself during recovery. Running 50k or even 25k four days after  being diagnosed would not be under the category of taking care of yourself.  At the very least it will prolong your recovery.  At the other end of the spectrum you could find yourself in the hospital or  even dead.  You don't mess with pneumonia.  The problem is you don't actually feel THAT sick with this type of pneumonia (unless  you don't get it treated right away).  My symptoms were feeling sluggish for the last 2 or 3 weeks, a persistent cough  for the last 4 days, sore throat, fever, and a mild feeling of shortness of breath which was gradually getting worse.  The good news is that I am on antibiotics and the fever is gone. As a good friend told me yesterday, there are other races. It really should be a no brainer decision.  Having said all that, I am debating whether I could pull off 10 miles before pulling a DNF. This way I can enjoy at least part of it with my barefoot buds.  Waiting to hear from the race director if there is a good point  around the 10 mile mark where my husband could meet me ( translation:  will there be a road nearby that he can drive and pick me up from??).  If not, then I will just sit this one out and cheer from the sidelines.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scoping out the Ultra

Remembering  the race director's words from the Buffalo Run at the start point of the race that the terrain will be tough ( I was glancing  down at a ravine beside me as he was telling us this), I decided to do a little research this time around to avoid the same panicking feeling that comes from the sudden realization you are completely unprepared.

The first thing that popped up on my Google search was an entry asking how many maniacs are showing up for Vulture Bait.

The next entry was a posting from West Grey Runner that I found helpful and am left wondering  if  perhaps I should wear a mouth guard  after reading his review( I paid good money for my teeth thanks to an unfortunate bike accident many years ago).  A few of his main points are:

1)You will fall.   Probably several times.  Every last runner fell at least once on this course.  You can decrease your number of tumbles by chatting less and paying more attention to the terrain.  Exposed roots covered in leaves  is  the  main reason for the high rate of falls.

2)You will be running with very accomplished runners.  Because of the low number or registrants and high number of real athletes ( when do I get to become one of those?), this means  people will probably be on their way home before I even cross the finish line.

3)In the later portion of the race you will find mountain bikers,hikers, and dog walkers sharing the path with you.   You may have to maneuvre around them as some will not  move out of the way for you which will be difficult considering your mental state at this point in the race.

So with that bit of knowledge I hope to set out with a few band-aids, Vegn, and Goo and have a great experience in my introduction to Ultra running.  I would like to finish upright with all my teeth intact, because I know my toenails won't be.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

speed WORK

So I have learned many things this week, one that stands out is a "little information can be dangerous!"

So the story unfolds like this:

We found a great running group a few months ago through some contacts at another group. This group is called 'Roadkill'. They are fantastic! They meet once a week at a track and do speed work together. We have had several opportunities to go, and what we have learned has been so very helpful. Unfortunately I am not always able to go because of the timing and the kids, and how life in general just gets busy. What we have been doing is mimicking what we have learned as well as reading more, with a better understanding of what it all is.

I now know what a 100m stride (pick up) is, and what it is used for- to get the heart rate up before you try to run faster for longer. A 400m is 1 lap around the track. 4 of those is a mile (I can count on a good day). Rest is when you stop and catch your breath (for me that is collapsing onto the ground so I can concentrate fully on breathing), a small break between sets. My belief is that all this is getting the body ready to sustain itself along the runs at a faster pace for a longer amount of time.

We have experienced many different instructions along the way from the coach of this group (he is totally awesome, and doesn't laugh at me, which is nice), but it always begins with a 1 mile warm up, 4x100m, break, then something incredible-the speed work, then a 1mile cool down.
With this small bit of knowledge, when we cannot get to the track where the group runs we find a track in our area and we pretend to know what we are doing. So this Tuesday night we headed out to the track by my place and this is what I did to us:

1 mile warm up (thanks to G for not letting me cut this short)
400m with a 3 min break
800m with a 3 min break
1200m with a 3 min break (I was wavering here about if this was too much? we decided it wasn't?)
800m with a 3 min break
400m with a 3 min break
1 mile cool down (again, thanks to G for pushing me to finish whole)

An hour and 15 min later, we were done.

We have our BIG run in just over a week. I'm so hoping that this is something that would resemble a proper roadkill work out as I'm also hoping this will help us along to our goal of a good finish (that would be without injury). I also remember that in the book "Run like a mother" one of the authors talks about doing a couple of mile sets, and I have heard talk of things called ladders? So I am very excited for the day when I have the time to get back to roadkill, and in the mean time I will try not to kill us as we try to keep up the speed WORK.

Does any one have any favorite speed work outs?

Next, still have to find out about hills? and hill WORK.

Have a great week everyone.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Long Run Sunday October 3/10

We'll meet at 6 am at Westwood and Portage.   We're planning on crashing, I mean cheering on, the CIBC   Run for the Cure runners/walkers. It looks like we'll only do 13-15 miles. Bring mittens or a hat just in case.  Sweet dreams and see we'll you bright and early tomorrow

Want to give a shout out to all the people who are running for Filo, a lovely  elementary teacher who died recently.  If I didn't think I was going to be away this weekend I would have run with Team Filo.  Thought I'd put the website up in case anyone was looking to donate.  Better late than never!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bag Lady

It seems to happen that  when  researching something I come across a  different subject which results in  an entirely different train of thought.  I set out to research the shoes in the  above blog ( looking to replace the swim shoes that have stretched out and flew off my foot yesterday in mid stride). The picture of the Eco-Runner  carrying a garbage bag was quite a sight.   I pick up garbage during a  run  sometimes but this guy really goes out of his way and collects an average of 5 bags per run (1200 bags of trash per year)!   Inspired, I stuffed a grocery bag in a pocket and set off to meet Nicole for a run.  This is how much garbage I collected after only 14 minutes of running.  Crazy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Long Run Sunday Sept 26th

Some of us (ok, me) are in the throes of what is termed the Post Marathon Blues...and frankly I'm sick of this feeling!  Personally, I am looking at tomorrow's run as the official end to this blues thing.  Maybe we'll go somewhere new...and somewhere extra muddy. I have no idea what distance we'll be running as it'll depend on the collective mood ( 20 miles anyone?).  It might be a good idea to bring cell phones and marking tape, just in case ( don't want to do that lost in the woods thing again).

We'll meet at 6 am  unless I hear some enthusiasm for meeting at 5 am ( anyone?).   Location same place as usual.

Post marathon blues?

So here we are, two weeks after the Trehern marathon. It seems to have gone by slowly. There has been so much information about how to train, the Internet is full of training plans. Although I have found very little info on recovery, and what little I have found is extremely vague. I was happy to hear that there was some info on "post marathon blues". This is something that I have experienced, but never really have heard people talk about. G told me she had found some info on it and I was so happy to think that I wasn't quite as insane as I had previously thought. Apparently this is some thing that has been documented, although not well. It seems that an after race plan is something that helps out in this area, a recovery time and future plans keep you moving through this 'down time'. It is interesting how everyone talks about the 'runners high' and no one really talks about the after effects of achieving a goal and getting to the 'now what?' phase of running.

Running is so varied form one person to another, it is so individual, it keeps us all learning about ourselves and our environment. Each run, training or race, is so different and ever changing that there are a variety of guide lines for how to train for different events, and they later become more narrow per runner, as to what works for that one specific person. There are so many ideas and schools of thought, which keeps it all interesting and I don't think I will ever get board trying new things. Although now, with trying a new distance I find comfort in the thought of something less varied, a training plan I can stick to, something concrete to follow, one that is specific to this new distance. Call it a starting point, a diving board, something to expand on in the future. We are looking at the last marathon as part of our training plan for the next adventure, Vulture Bait 50k. I am currently working in an after plan, especially knowing how I can feel 4-5 days after the high from completing a marathon. Not something I'm liking.

Experimenting with nutrition and distance has taken up a large part of running this year, each long run has brought out new snacks (Jeannie's chocolate cake was a nice touch back in Feb.) new ways to hydrate in different temperatures (water and Gatorade freeze well in -20C). Where are we going to feel exhausted? How far until we need to refuel? How are we going to refuel? We have discovered that the 'long run rounds' are great cookies for spring summer and fall, but get too frozen in the winter. The home-made protein bars are best in winter as they are better frozen, and get too soggy in the spring and summer when it is getting warmer out.

I guess the lesson is to plan what you can, then roll with what ever falls onto your path, and to always keep getting up. As I write this though I see Gail has a way more awesome post... so I'm gonna stop here and take her advice to keep motivated....

See you tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Post Marathon and PreUltra Training

So it has been a little over a week since we finished running Treherne, and we are now all trying to heal and start preparing for our first Ultra Marathon in October. It seems a little strange, for some reason I am not concerned about next month, I am not sure why I am not concerned, but I figure I will roll with it until the panic actually starts to settle in.

Because really the Ultra is in less than 4 weeks....... OK, the panic is now starting to come to the forefront. Since Treherne I have ran 2 WH3 runs (totalling about 6 miles) and a 14 km trail race at Birdshill Park for a total of under 15 miles. Now I did run all this with a nice bruise on my left foot and a knot in my right calf, and that is my excuse for not having any additional mileage, but I am thinking I need to ramp this up significantly so I can feel comfortable going into Vulture Bait.

Now Nicole is planning to run 'The Lemming Loop' Trail race on October 3rd (run as far as you can in 3, 6 or 12 hours, she is shooting for the 6 hours), and I am thinking I should do the same. This will give us a good idea of what Vulture Bait will be like, and this will also be good to have prior to starting our taper runs leading up to it.

It is going to be a fun next couple of weeks, and I am loving every minute of it. Now just to find the time to get all the running in that I want to do. Life is nothing if it not full of challenges.

On On,


Monday, September 13, 2010

Treherne 'Run For The Hills' Marathon Part Deux

Well, what a day yesterday was, it was filled with a little bit of every type of emotion. Everything from excitement, nervous energy, determination, a little bit of embarrassment, pain, disappointment, exhaustion, some more grit, elation and finally estatic from achieving the ultimate goal, and I must say I enjoyed every minute of it.

This was my first attempt at completing a full marathon, and from what I am understanding, this is not an easy one, but I have always been up for a challenge. To make things more interesting, I was also running in a kilt and hope to max out the mileage barefoot, yes the people were in for a bit of a shock when I came running around the corner.

This was also Gail's first full marathon, whom both Nicole and myself are very proud of being a part of, it was great seeing her blow by me at mile 16.5, more on this later on. I am also extremely proud of my beautiful wife, Nicole, who not only finished the marathon with only signing up 4 days prior, but also achieved a personal best by more than 5 minutes, I believe that deserves a Woot Woot! It was great to be part of both of those achievements.

Nicole, Gail and Me Before the Start of the Race

My Lovely Wife and I Prior to the Big Race

The run started at 8:00 am sharp at the Treherne Community Club and the weather was perfect for running, not to hot and partly cloudy. It was definitely a good day for a run. I did get some looks as I headed in and out of the community centre, not sure why, could of been the kilt, could of been the VFF's (I like to leave the shoes on till just before the race for the dramatics bom ba da da). I will say I was a little surprised I only had 2 or 3 people come up to me and ask me about the kilt, I was actually expecting a little more. I think Nicole got more questions and comments about her VFF's, which she always answers with a smile.

I want to do this report a little differently this time, expanding on the emotions listed above, it might give you a view inside my head, not like I need another voice in there (just had to include that from Gail's last post about the shirt from Queen City Marathon, makes me laugh every time), as I worked thru the marathon.


This one is easy, I have been looking forward to this run for about 4 weeks, and we were finally on our way driving down the highway from Winnipeg towards Treherne. Gail was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and Nicole was tucked away in the backseat. Nicole and I knew this was going to be a good day for a run due to the following reason, earlier in the morning after packing the kids in the van and heading over to Gail's house, 'Run to the Hills', by Iron Maiden came onto the radio as I started up the car. Nicole caught the irony right away, I was singing along, and it took Nicole to point out what I was singing. This was definitely going to be a good day.

The hour drive out seemed to take forever, but we made it by 7:15 am, enough time to wander around a bit. When we got to Treherne, we were directed to the run location by numerous locals at every corner pointing the way to ensure no one got lost (seems hard to imagine in a town of under 700, but I guess its possible). We got to park about 200 yards from the start/finish line, this was interesting to see this as we pulled up. I could not wait to start the run.

Nervous Energy

I am finding that this happens to me every run, I get those little thoughts in my head, like '26.2 miles, your going to run that, are you crazy', and 'your knees are not going to hold up, why are you doing this to me?' and my favourite 'you could just pull up a lawn chair, have a beer and watch all the crazy people run!'. This is where I think, well I am one of the crazy ones and I don't want to be left behind. Butterflies in the stomach seems to be a common thing for me at these runs, but I find if I get myself lined up to start, and once I cross the start line at the start of the run I am fine, but I have to remind myself not to go out to fast. The nervous energy always seems to propel me to go to fast at the start, which causes me problems later down the road. I was determined not to let that happen this time. So to help curb the nervous energy, I decided I was going to start this run barefoot, to make me concentrate a little more and hopefully pace myself (did I mention that the majority of this run is on gravel/dirt roads).


The 'Start' warning call was made, and the 70 or so full marathoners lined up ready to go, with Nicole, Gail and myself lined up towards the back as per usual. The official start was called and we were off, we started south from the community club on a dirt road out to the asphalt street, and did a quick tour of the town prior to heading out onto the dirt roads. My feet were responding well to everything that was thrown in front of them for terrain, and the dirt roads were in awesome shape with some good tracks and not to many sharp stones. I had a lot of interest in my barefoot running once I caught up to the back half of the half marathoner's, and struck up quite a few conversations along the way until they cut off of our route. The kilt came up (no pun intended) a few times as well. I was quite happy with my progress, I maintained a 9:00 minute mile thru town, but slowed down to a acceptable 11:00 mile once I hit the dirt roads. I was able to carry this for the first 10 miles or so, slowing down when I hit a hill (I am actually faster going up then going down, which I find interesting) climb and descent to about a 13:00 min mile. I used the hills to pass numerous runners that were walking up them, I think this shocked a few people as a guy with no shoes and a kilt raced by them on a hill climb.

I was so happy with my feet, they felt great, and my confidence sky rocketed and the determination kicked in. It became my goal at that point to not only finish the marathon, but finish it barefoot. It would be the longest run I have done barefoot, as my previously best was 16.0 miles, and that being on a mix of terrain but mostly concrete sidewalk (this was dirt/gravel road).

I will say it was kind of a weird feeling as I approached the point where the half marathoners split off from the marathoners (this was about mile 10). I was running with a group of about 30 to 40 runners and then I headed south, and Everybody else kept going straight. Wow, suddenly I was alone, I could see another marathoner way off in the distance, but it wasn't to long before they were gone too. Boy they are right when they said it is a lonely feeling to be a marathoner, but this made me more determined to push on, but it was honestly harder to gauge my progress and my pace even with the garmin not having some fellow competitors to run with.

A Little Bit of Embarrassment

I can only start this section like this, IT WAS VERY WINDY, I had a hard time keeping my kilt down as I ran along the course (of course it was not a wind that blew in one direction only, it changed directions frequently). For the first little while, I was running with one arm arm holding my kilt down, this obviously impeded my speed, as I was unwilling to give everybody around me a free show, considering I was running 'au natural' under the kilt (what can I say I am Scottish). Once I broke off from the pack, it appeared that the wind died down so I was able to go back to a typical running gait with both arms pumping in time with my legs, this of course allowed me to increase my speed. This of course worked great until I reached mile 13.1 thru mile 16.0, here we were on a wide open prairie road and the wind was absolutely crazy. I had to concentrate a little more on my feet placement because the road was getting rather rough in areas and some pretty nasty stones and rocks kept appearing. Because of this, one good gust of wind hit me at just the right moment, and my kilt lifted up, and I swear it was around my neck. I pushed it down quickly and took a quick peek around to see if anybody by chance saw my 'peekaboo I see you' imitation, and I was quite glad that it appeared that no one did. This brought me back to holding onto my kilt a little more often (I must find a way to deal with this on those very windy days), for the duration of the race.


As the saying goes, "No Pain No Gain", well normally I am a big believer in this statement, but on this day, I hit my limit and on a surface I was not expecting. After running, I would say 14.0 plus miles mostly on dirt and gravel roads and my feet felt as great as they did, and seeing the asphalt road ahead, it was no wonder I was smiling as much as I was. Boy, that was a mistake, I hit the road with a vengeance expecting to be able to fly over the asphalt with not having to pay as close of attention to miss all the rocks. Well let me tell you, the first 20 yards was ok, then I hit the unexpected, the asphalt was in such bad shape it felt like I was running on a cheese grater, serrated side up. I danced around the asphalt trying to find a good line that was not all broken and jagged, moving from the right side to close to the middle (did I mention this was a secondary highway and I did see some traffic along the way). To top the bad surface off, the wind started howling again, and it almost felt like I was going farther backwards then forwards, as I expelled a whole lot of energy trying to maintain a decent pace while trying to hold my kilt down. This stretch was about 2 miles and I was thankful when I saw the next water station and the restart of the gravel road. My feet were more soar then when I ran on the fresh gravel previously. I stopped at the water station, grabbed a water, answered a couple questions about the kilt and the no shoes, then started down the gravel road, with a sigh of relief for the moment.


So lets see, I finished 16.0 miles barefoot as I set forth on the start of the second leg of gravel road (this being more gravel than dirt), and now the bottom of feet felt like one big bruise (two if you count both feet). I made it down the road about a 1/4 of a mile, dancing around and not having much luck, even the small stones that I normally glide over with no issue, felt like daggers in the souls of my feet. Disappointment set in as my thoughts of finishing the entire 26.2 barefoot curl up the chimney like a puff of smoke (and then they were gone). At this point I was wrestling with the possibility of putting the VFF's on and decided it might be for the best. So I came to a stop and tried to put a shoe on, imagine someone hopping around off balance on one foot trying to slip a slightly swollen foot into a shoe, while trying to keep the kilt from blowing up and exposing more to the world then I wanted too. At this point Gail caught up to me, so needless to say, being a little embarrassed I gave up trying to get the shoe on, and decided to carry on barefoot a little longer. I started running again, dodging the rocks as best I could for the next 1/4 mile, but not very quickly, in fact Gail was leaving me in the dust, and Nicole was gaining on me quite quickly. At this pace, I was getting nowhere, so with a final sigh of defeat, I kneeled down and started to get my shoes on, it took a little bit but finally success, they were on. With that I was off and running again, you would be surprised with the difference that that little bit of rubber between your feet and the ground makes protection wise. I was able to pick up my speed again to a modest 11:30 mile, sore feet, near exhaustion and all. I know I should not be too disappointed, as I did run 16.5 miles barefoot, and not to many people can say they have achieved that, so I did sneak a smile or two along the way.


Not only was the distance a source of exhaustion, but the wind was causing havoc with the progress that I was making. I was expelling more energy than I was expecting as I hit a gust of wind head on more times than not. It was definitely challenging, and any thoughts of completing this run under 5 hours had just gone out the window, I just wanted to finish as strong as possible. I will admit, some doubts did start to cross my mind, as the exhaustion started to set in, but I decided I was going to push thru it and give everything I had, until I could not go anymore. I decided that I would start to walk up the hills to save some energy and use the momentum of the run down to propel me further. This seemed to work, I was able to push myself further ahead by doing this, another mind game I started as well was to break the run into 2 mile increments (from water station to water station), this seemed to work as well, as the exhaustion was there but it became manageable as I started to break the race into pieces and focus on the small piece rather than the sum of all the remaining pieces. I think I had found my second, third and possibly my fourth wind, and my legs started to move not as fast as at the start but they were still moving. This carried me thru to the 24.0 mile water station (that and 3 Gu's, and some encouraging words and comments from the volunteers throughout).

Some More Grit

By the time I hit mile 25.7 and the last water station (yes they had the last water station at the edge of town), I was almost spent, but with some last words of encouragement from the volunteers, I dug down deep and picked up my pace as I hit the town's asphalt roads. I was determined to use every little bit of grit I had left to finish this race running as fast as my tired legs could carry me. Rounding corners and running up the residential streets as quickly as I could until I saw a curious sight, two direction arrows together going in different directions, not completely sure what it meant (was I to go around the first sign before turning in towards the finish line?). All that was going thru my head was a HHH reference, as I thought, damn it if I am going to shortcut this, so I wheeled around the sign pointing in the wrong direction and headed into the community centre entrance area. By this point, my legs were really starting to feel heavy, but I dug down and ran straight for the path to the finish line.


As I saw the finish line, Gail came sprinting out to get a picture of me as I worked my way to the finish line, I lifted my arms in mock premature celebration prior to her snapping the picture. I was just focusing on the finish line, as Gail yelled something about a beer and beer fairies and at the time it did not register, just the sight of the finish line. As I drew nearer to the end, the announcer called out my name (and got it right) and added the fact that I was wearing a kilt. I was elated with emotion and exhaustion as I gave him the thumbs up and crossed the finish line in 5 hours 25 minutes and 54 seconds plus or minus (now I have a PB to improve on), not the time I was hoping for but I finished and now I can say I am one of the few who has ran and completed a marathon.

Me as I approached the Finish Line and Yes I am Still Smiling

Nicole as she sprinted to the finish line to complete her 3rd marathon

Ecstatic From Achieving The Ultimate Goal

All I can say is 'Woot Woot!' I did it. Now I can focus on the next goal for next month completing a 50 km trail ultra marathon at Vulture Bait. But I am high on life at this point and will not forget this race anytime soon. It was a whole lot of fun, and I will be back again next year.

Kudos to all the volunteers from the start of the race, to all the water and aid stations, thru to the volunteers at the end. Also a big thanks to our beer fairies (Glenn and Jamie), who shared a cold one with us at the end, we look forward to providing the refreshments next year.

And a big kudos to Gail for finishing her first marathon as well (and kicking my ass to boot), you were one of the driving forces to helping me finish this goal. But the biggest kudos goes to my wife Nicole, who not only finished her 3rd marathon after signing up 4 days prior, but also accomplished a PB by more than 5 minutes, she never ceases to amaze me with her strength and perseverance in all that she does.

On On,