Plantar Fasciitis?!

More Injury News

As if I'm not having enough trouble with injury, pain, and running. Now, it appears that I have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. The pain is excruciating! It looks like I'll be backing off the mileage, just as I started getting into it. I've been icing nightly and bought an ice pack for work. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball provides a bit of relief, and the pain seems to be localized near the heel and instep more than anywhere else on the foot.

I'm sure this is all due to my barefoot running, which places more stress upon these muscles. I did run in my racing flats this morning, and my KSOs this evening. The New Balance MT101s I used at Afton are also minimalistic in nature with little cushion. Perhaps I'm hurting myself more than necessary here. Time for a cushioned shoe with zero drop and perhaps a little arch support while I heal? Newtons need not apply!

Hopefully, I'll be able to bounce back from this one faster than the Achilles tendonitis, which by the way, is healing relatively well, even with my double day today -- a run commute of five miles in one direction, ten mile round trip.

Tomorrow, by necessity, will be a rest day. Funny how I don't own a pair of arch support shoes any more...

Baby News

Meghan has turned in a little early tonight to catch a little early sleep, and Nora's due for her next bottle at 00:30. She's a little firecracker, that one, and she's left Meghan and I a bit ragged. We're making due, and things are getting better on a daily basis. The old habits and tricks for taking care of a baby are coming back, as are the memories of those really difficult nights.

Meghan found a new style of bottle that seems to be performing really well, the Avent bottles. They're sized and shaped more closely to a breast, have two holes instead of one, and have multiple vents that allow air to pass into the bottle. They're touted as helping babies with colic, which thankfully Nora does not have. She hasn't spit-up on me since the switch, so they're definitely worth the investment!

Anyway, time to turn in -- after a quick snack. All of this running has been sapping me of much needed calories!


Race Report: 2012 Afton 25K

Awesome Race!

The Saturday trail race at Afton State Park was awesome this year! We couldn't have asked for better weather. Friday night, Mother Nature delivered to us a reprieve from the heat in the form of rain and wind, and the morning started absolutely gorgeous! Thankfully, the State of Minnesota didn't run in to the same political problems as last year, and we were able to run at the park! The end result was a stupendous experience, almost 30 minutes off my last 25k time, and a chance to cheer on my friends! Suffice to say, I had a blast!

Leading Up to the Start

If you've followed my blogging in the past, you'd know that the last few weeks and months have been filled with challenges and changes. Namely, ITBS from 2010, a pulled or torn Achilles tendon from November, and more recently, a newborn baby! Meghan had been taking the bulk of the feeding responsibilities, since she had still been sleeping on the reclining couch -- she was exhausted, in pain and frustrated. Friday night, it was time for a change -- yes, the night before the race!

We went to bed early, with Meghan taking the first shift of bottles. At 04:20, it was my turn, as Nora's hunger acted a biological alarm clock. I hadn't slept well anyway, with strange dreams of missing high school track meets. Still tired, I was actually grateful for a chance to get up and spend time with Nora. She didn't quite fall asleep after her bottle, so Meghan took over while I got ready for the race. (I learned later that Meghan's fix was to remove the stocking cap from Nora, who apparently was overheating.)

I didn't take much time getting out the door and on the road.

Afton, and the 50k Start

I arrived at Afton about ten minutes before the start of the 50K race. John Storkamp, the race director, was giving instructions about the race and thanks to the volunteers. He also introduced a contest to identify the race number of the man who was sporting a new tattoo of the "Afton Bird" on his person. (I never did find out who it was.)

I looked for Jason Tintes, who I knew was running the 50k, but didn't see him. I would later congratulate him at the finish line after finishing the race myself.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, atypical for this July race. For the last week, Minnesota was hot and humid across the state. Early Friday night, a storm system pushed through and cooled us down. Morning temperatures were not only tolerable, but cool and the air was relatively dry.

The 50K race started without much fanfare, as the runners funneled on to the narrow trail, and I turned around to make my way to packet pickup.

Familiar Faces

One of the great things about these trail races is the strong community. You tend to see the same faces, time and time again; people dedicated to and enthusiastic about the sport, who volunteer their time to ensure a great experience is had by all. I truly appreciate their effort and enjoy catching up on their lives.

Brian Woods, who recently finished the Black Hills 100 mile ultra-marathon in 19th place, and is one of only 6 people still in the Gnarly Bandit Trail Series, was handing out T-shirts. Later, I would see him manning the barbecue, grilling hamburgers. I hadn't seen him since the last Afton, and the 2010 Zumbro race prior to that. He was in high spirits and smiling, as he always seems to be.

In the parking lot, I ran into a woman I ran the 2011 Moose Mountain Marathon with, Marise Widmer. We had both made a wrong turn toward the peak of Oberg Mountain, and then talked and ran together for the remainder of the race. I would pass her on the downhills and she would pass me on the uphills. She finished that race in 6:43, three minute ahead of me!

Shannon Lindgren from DailyMile was also at the race with two of her friends, Leah and Anne (I believe). Shannon had a chance to run Boston Marthon this year! We took pictures, caught up, and wished each other good luck.

Race Start

With MyTracks engaged and tracking my progress, I started out somewhere in the middle of the pack. My strategy for the day was to keep my pace as comfortable as possible, since this was to be a training run for the Fall Moose Mountain Marathon race in September. There were lots of elevation changes similar to the Superior Hiking Trail that makes Afton a great training area. I obviously wanted to do better than last year's race of 3:20, but comparing the two times is frivolous. They were drastically different courses and the weather conditions weren't even comparable.

I tried not to start out too quick, but found myself moving ahead to gaps in runners, trying to get comfortable. My left heel was feeling a bit sore, but not bad, and my right arch was a bit stiff. The shoes were well-fit with two pair of socks, and I was feeling pretty good. For this race, I hadn't found anyone to pace or run with, so I would strike up conversation with people as we went along.

The first part of the track looped South of the starting line, directly into wider, shaded paths. Turning North, it was largely downhill for the better part of a mile or so, when it turned up into a long climb. MyTracks has a neat feature that highlights the track based on the speed that you are running. My strategy to run the straights, hike the uphills, and bomb the downhills, it's easy to see on the map where the hills were.

I was pleasantly surprised on how relaxed I was feeling for the first half of the race, still able to take three or four step per inhale, with four or five per exhale. I don't really know why I paid attention to that metric, but I found it interesting at the time. I did focus on ChiRunning principles, even though I wasn't running in my Vibrams.

At the Western-most loop of the course, we were greeted by Steve Quick, directing traffic for the runners along a short stretch of shared trail. I said, "Hi" and thanked him for coming out. We met up later again at the finish line and talked about running, asthma, and his new project of hiking the peaks of Minnesota.

It didn't take very long before we had run up on to the sunny plains of the park, but because it was so early and the weather so mild, it wasn't the sun-baking experience I had expected for the day. The Africa Loop/Trail was fun in that you could see far ahead of you over the rolling hills of grass. If you haven't had a chance to run or hike Afton, take the time to do so. It is really a special place.

Hills! I have to say one of the most fun parts of this course are the plethora of hills, which range from easy rolling to long slogs, to the steep and technical. Of these, I liked the technical downhill sections best; I have a tendency to "bomb" them. On a few occasions, I swear I passed a good dozen or more people by removing the breaks and letting my wheels spin. You just need to pick your heels up under your rear and let gravity do the work. Keep your cadence the same and pick your way down the hill. The challenge is land softly enough that you have control and don't jar your entire frame. Land with your feet under or behind you, never in front, or you'll ruin your knees. I love it!

I tried to get in and out of the aid stations as quickly as possible, mainly to just keep moving. This approach worked well, and I avoided some of the bottle-necking that happens there. My phone had quit working at 08:30. (In truth, the display and inputs quit working, but the GPS continued to track my progress.) I decided to schedule at least one tablet of salt and one pack of gel per leg of the race, which averaged 2-3 miles per leg (20-30 minutes). The aid stations were stocked well, and everyone was very helpful!

I felt the most tired during the long road stretch along the river, in the second to last leg of the race. My right quad was starting to tighten up, so I concentrated on keeping good form and tried to relax my muscles as much as possible. I walked for a bit, popped another salt tablet and downed a gel. There wasn't much left of the race, so I had to just keep going.

At the Finish

After the last aid station, we had the snowshoe loop left, a big hill up to the road level, and a quarter mile stretch to the finish. I didn't really want to change my strategy now and increase the pace. I was there for a training run, not a PR.

On the last hill, I ran into a young 23 year old runner by the name of Brandon Veber, a Mechnical Engineer from Falcon Heights. He had recently picked up running again following his completion of college, and this had been his first trail race! We agreed to walk up the last hill, then jog into the finish together. He dropped back a little near the end, but I waved him forward to finish side by side.

There was a wave of excitement shortly after I had finished as the female winner, Eve Rukavina-Rembleski of Watertown, crossed the finish line in 4:21:29, 7th place overall. She looked energetic, as if she could run another 25K right then and there. I congratulated her when she had a free moment and she greeted me like an old friend.

Jason was pretty psyched about his finish (5:31:29) as he reconnected with his running partner for the day, Mike Bunda (5:29:10). I had a training run once with Mike last year in Afton and was excited for their strong finishes.

I really love this sport. I enjoy the challenge of it, the community, and the time you spend talking with others who love it the same way I do. I lounged around at the finish line for a good two or so hours, cheering in runners, talking, and eating a fair share of hamburger, watermelon, lemonade, and M&Ms.

What Next?

Eight weeks of training for Moose Mountain Marathon is next! I recognize that my left heel is still not 100%. Saturday night, I iced it and took ibuprofen to reduce the burning feeling. Perhaps it's time to see a sports physiologist on strategies for recovery.

In regards to training, where I need most of my improvement and work is my uphill strength and endurance, and perhaps getting back into a run following the climb. I don't expect my strategy to change much for Superior, but if I can ascend a bit quicker and transition into a run quicker, I can shave off enough time to make it sub-6 hours.

We'll be renting a room or cabin at Caribou Lodge for a day prior and few days following the Superior run. I don't want to run into the logistical issues we had last year with the vehicle, and how much time I spent at the event afterwards. By mid-afternoon, Meghan had been chomping at the bit to get away from the hotel she was at and wasn't expecting my obsession with hanging out at the race site all day. This year, we need to give my family options and means of escape if need be.


People at the Race


Humidity, What Ya Gonna Do When It Comes For You?

Tuesday's humidity was oppressive, and today looks like it will be just as bad. Stepping out the door just prior to nine o'clock to let out Peter has me thankful for air conditioning. I cannot imagine living in a house without it. First world problems, I know. Unlike yesterday, I have not yet gotten my run in. I stayed up a bit later last night taking care of Nora while Meghan had a "Girls' Night Out" with her sisters and mom; she needs more of these, I think. She came home in good spirits and wanted to try sleeping upstairs again instead of the recliner.

I didn't set an alarm, and woke to help Nora sleep once around midnight. I Meghan this morning on the reclining couch again, with Nora in the bassinet. She had come down at two because her hips were bugging her again from SPD, Symphesis Pubis Disorder, something women often have in the last part of their pregnancy as the hormones in their bodies prepare them for birth. Their ligaments and tendons loosen up to allow baby to pass more easily through the birth canal. For Meghan, this problem started much sooner than normal, so she's been sleeping in a recliner for the last six or so months.  You think that might be nice, but it's not really all that comfortable compared to a bed.

It's now almost 13:00, and I've yet to run my mile to keep the "secret" #runstreak going. Honestly, I would like to keep my training schedule on track with a half-hour run, but mid-day on one of the hottest days of the year does not appeal to me at all. I'll do some stretching and maybe fit in a run around Lake Josephine later this evening, maybe after the temps come down a bit. Tomorrow's run will be early morning again, with a short run for Friday and the Afton 25k Trail race on Saturday morning. I'm a little nervous about the race, though I probably shouldn't be. I want to treat it as a training run for Moose Mountain and run the pace I expect there, sub-six hours for 26.2 miles or 14 to 15 minute miles. Given that I train at 9 minute miles as an Easy pace, I'm going to count on the hill climbs to slow me down to a walk.

The diet is still on track, for the most part. I need to pick up some olive-oil Helman's for my tuna and salmon lunches to avoid the vegetable oils. Yesterday's meals looked like this:

Breakfast: 4-egg Omelette with broccoli and cauliflower. Coffee. Coffee...
Lunch: 2 cans pink salmon, Helman's mayo (2 tbsp - has gluten/pressed oil - couldn't avoid it), green onion and celery. Cantaloupe. Water.
Dinner: Polish sausage and sauerkraut, peaches, 1/2 cup rice.

Today, breakfast was also a bit of lunch:

Breakfast: 3 fried eggs, bacon, cantaloupe, coffee.

No idea what lunch or dinner will have in store for us, but I'll be sure to bring some proteins along to the Stokes' house. It's Anna's birthday celebration today, as well as Independence Day, so there will be much partying and swimming.  Enjoy your day off!


Back to Work

First day at work, and it is a cooker out! I chickened out of the morning commute run due to projected record high temperatures reaching or exceeding 99F. Add in the humidity, and that spells disaster in the late afternoon sun. Instead, I opted to run a neighborhood three mile loop. Although toasty, I completed it in my requisite 30 minutes.  Day one of week two done.

Work has been more about catching up on emails and conversing about the difficulties over the last two weeks. With the outage due to an electrical fire at Visi Internet Services, our company is working hard to add in more redundant features to our platform. Things are pretty exciting right now at GovDelivery.

I'm still on the bandwagon with the Paleo/Archevore diet, though I didn't eat anything until I arrived at work around 08:00 this morning.

Breakfast: left-over eggs in a nest (x3), cup of plain vanilla yogurt and a grapefruit, coffee.

Lunch: curried red potatoes, left-over 50/50 bacon burgers, left-over broccoli and cauliflower, cantelope (1cup), orange, water.

Dinner: Rats on a Stick (hamburger, seasoned with Thai red curry, cumin and salt), pineapple, and a romaine lettuce salad with 1,000 Island dressing (a little cheat here -- it had soybean oil in it).

Off to bed!


The Eve of Work

We had a special moment today in the Walstrom and Stokes families: Nora's Baptism! I'll hoist a picture up here once we've uploaded them, so you'll have to trust me when I say Nora was adorable! The last few days, we've been spending time at our in-laws to take advantage of the lake and spend time with out-of-town family. It has made me miss living on a lake, but has renewed my hatred for raking out lake weeds!

It's a few minutes past 22:00, and I'm trying to wrap my head around how this week is going to work out. Baby Nora is not really on a schedule per-se, but she's getting up every three of four hours to eat. Meghan is taking the night shift, and I'm hoping to help out with the morning bottle. She's worried I won't get enough sleep, and I'm worried about her in the same way. We'll work it out, but it might take a bit of trial and error before we get it right.

At least for tomorrow, I plan on getting up at 05:30 to 06:00 to start getting ready for my run to work. It's a five mile jaunt with a few hills (though mostly downhill) down to the Skyway YMCA, whereby checking in on a daily basis, I'll earn my monthly $20 discount with the health insurance company on the membership fees. Worth it, I say. Besides, a consistent daily five miler will work beautifully for training. A run home makes it a double-day for ten miles, but I don't plan on working that part in for a while. In the mean time, a $2.25 bus ride will work out nicely -- slightly more costly than gas and free parking. I'll have to talk to my co-workers about the compensation plan at work for bus travel.

My weekly time goal for running is five hours at an Easy pace, as I'm starting over with Daniels' Running Formula approach again. I did well for two weeks, and then got "busy" again. I've put in some faster runs this week, so I'm not sure what my VDOT (38) based workout points will be. I'll figure it out tomorrow and post here as a follow-up. Technically, I'm on a 7 day #runstreak, which I may as well keep going.

I've done relatively well with the Paleo/Archevore diet over the last couple of days, but without documenting the journey, I'll probably forget what works and what doesn't. I do have to say I've enjoyed my almond-milk, honey, iced coffees -- it was toasty out! I included red potato hash-browns for breakfast, since yesterday's run was so horribly sluggish. Subsequently, by noon I was feeling strong enough for a run, which I would have otherwise skipped. I wasn't terribly hungry, unlike yesterday. I find that I feel more satiated if I sit down and eat a full meal rather than snacking.

Breakfast: Mini-pizza egg patties, hash-browns (not strictly Paleo - but I need the carbs for my running), plain vanilla yogurt (not paleo - but I really, really love it) with grapefruit. Coffee (x2) . Water. Almond milk-honey-iced coffee (x2).

Lunch: (At the Stokes house) Smoked beef roast with bernaise (not sure about Paleo on this, but it should be OK), lunch meats, blueberries and blackberries, tomatoes (fresh) in balsamic vinegar, and a really tasty spinach, candied walnut, and cranberries salad. One glass of white wine (not prohibited, but not part of the 30 day "detox" program). If there was any gluten in the diet, it would have been negligible. I did avoid dairy (though I DO love cheese).

Dinner: (At the Stokes house, again) Basically, the same as above. We ate left-overs from lunch. No wine this time, just coffee.

With that, it's time to turn in. 6 o'clock comes early , and it's almost 23:00 now!