Monday, 3 June 2013

A PB @ 10K in VFF

-= The lit =-
There was no handing out copies of Byron or Fielding. There might have been the odd author running among the 822 participants, but most of the runners were there to have a good race and enjoy the absolutely great scenery.

Sunday was the day of the literary run in Haarlem. It is a run, I have wanted to participated in for three years, but never got around to do it. On Sunday, I did. The Missus and the young Padawan joined me to the sports-center where the race began.

-= The Run =-
Though, I had not trained specifically for any speed or distance, I decided to have a look at the state of my fitness in this 10K. Despite the light anticipation of the elevation I knew I would encounter, I started with a steady pace, overtaking runners left and right. About three K's into the race, I went up the steep-ish hill that is primarily infamous among cyclists. Though this was a heavy climb, others seemed to be in more pain than I was and I continued my overtaking-streak on my way up.

Near the end of the run, things became heavy and I started to feel the heat of the day. Still I kept up my pace and managed to run a personal best at a 10 K run.

The official time is 50:35, with a 5:03 min/K avg. It is a bit of a pity that my Garmin had trouble picking up a signal in the building that the race started and ended in. This resulted in incorrect registration, so the most correct time and distance I have for this run is the official registration.

-= Shoes =-
To my great surprise, I saw no-one else running in Five Fingers, neither did the Missus. Despite the 822 people in the 10K runner-field, I was likely the only one in VFF's. Still, there were some people in minimalist shoes - I saw one guy in Saucony Kinvara's and another in  a clearly 0-drop, 0-support shoe, I did not recognize.

-= Recovery =-
The balls of my feet were sore because of the cobblestones and the strain caused by the speed of my run. I discovered that there are two things very important in recovering from a run. The one is a pint of buttermilk. The other is a nap in the garden with your feet up on a second chair. Three hours after the race, I was way less sore and was running around the BBQ grilling burgers.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

On independence

There are many reasons why I run. In an earlier post, I mentioned some of the reasons I could come up with while thinking about it. Still, there must be many more - unconscious - reasons why I feel jealous of the runners that I see while doing other stuff (driving to a shop, riding my bicycle to the train station at bl..dy 5:50 in the morning, going for a walk with the Missus and the little Padawan - who, by the way, despite his being three is showing a serious urge to run and some impressive speed in doing so!

-= Stats =-
Among the more concrete and visible reasons why I take so much pleasure in running is generating statistics and numbers. Reading many blogposts and other bits of writing on running, I know I am - thank goodness - not the only one.

As for my numbers on 2013 so far, I feared that they would be a sorry lot. Not only did my sad excuse of an injury prevent me from doing slightly longer runs until a month ago, the long and cold winter and especially the ridiculous wind-speeds were hardly helping in finding the courage to go out. In order to keep running through the winter, I seriously needed to screw my courage to the sticking place (though not as murderously as in the Scottish play: F.ck you, you f.cking f.ck, what do you mean?).


Looking back to the first four-and-a-half or five months of the year, I was happily surprised to find that there were only two weeks, where I did only one run. The rest of the weeks I did two or more. Click the image to the left for a larger view of my Garmin Connect Calendar overview. More detail is in the table below.


+----+-----+----------+-------+---------+-------+--------+------+
| #  | Day | yyyymmdd | Time  | Runtime | Dist. | Y2D    | Pace |
+----+-----+----------+-------+---------+-------+--------+------+

| 47 | Sat | 20130511 | 16:26 | 45:06   | 8.19  | 336.97 | 5:30 |
| 46 | Wed | 20130803 | 20:39 | 39:15   | 6.75  | 328.78 | 5:49 |
| 45 | Sun | 20130505 | 11:01 | 57:16   | 10.14 | 322.03 | 5:39 |
| 44 | Fri | 20130503 | 20:07 | 1:00:11 | 10.13 | 311.89 | 5:57 |
| 43 | Wed | 20130501 | 18:48 | 45:28   | 8.16  | 301.76 | 5:34 |
| 42 | Mon | 20130429 | 19:59 | 1:07:50 | 11.72 | 293.6  | 5:47 |
| 41 | Sat | 20130427 | 13:55 | 55:33   | 9.76  | 281.88 | 5:42 |
| 40 | Wed | 20130424 | 20:01 | 32:38   | 5.84  | 272.12 | 5:35 |
| 39 | Sun | 20130421 | 17:41 | 46:51   | 8.25  | 266.28 | 5:41 |
| 38 | Fri | 20130419 | 20:39 | 38:43   | 6.6   | 258.03 | 5:52 |
| 37 | Tue | 20130416 | 12:34 | 30:31   | 5.84  | 251.43 | 5:13 |
| 36 | Sun | 20130414 | 11:37 | 57:33   | 10.06 | 245.59 | 5:43 |
| 35 | Fri | 20130412 | 18:06 | 38:07   | 6.56  | 235.53 | 5:49 |
| 34 | Tue | 20130409 | 19:51 | 38:47   | 6.61  | 228.97 | 5:52 |
| 33 | Sun | 20130407 | 12:29 | 59:50   | 10.26 | 222.36 | 5:50 |
| 32 | Fri | 20130405 | 10:24 | 47:53   | 8.26  | 212.1  | 5:48 |
| 31 | Wed | 20130403 | 20:10 | 37:50   | 6.54  | 203.84 | 5:47 |
| 30 | Mon | 20130401 | 15:33 | 45:55   | 8.79  | 197.3  | 5:13 |
| 29 | Sat | 20130330 | 15:00 | 47:13   | 8.23  | 188.51 | 5:44 |
| 28 | Wed | 20130327 | 18:56 | 39:19   | 6.6   | 180.28 | 5:58 |
| 27 | Fri | 20130322 | 12:18 | 43:13   | 7.06  | 173.68 | 6:07 |
| 26 | Wed | 20130320 | 19:42 | 38:42   | 6.59  | 166.62 | 5:53 |
| 25 | Mon | 20130318 | 19:39 | 39:50   | 6.82  | 160.03 | 5:50 |
| 24 | Sat | 20130316 | 14:35 | 47:10   | 8.21  | 153.21 | 5:45 |
| 23 | Sat | 20130309 | 10:59 | 44:38   | 8.23  | 145    | 5:26 |
| 22 | Wed | 20130306 | 19:55 | 38:40   | 6.6   | 136.77 | 6:51 |
| 21 | Mon | 20130304 | 12:04 | ?       | 8     | 130.17 | 5:09 |
| 20 | Sat | 20130302 | 15:25 | 47:01   | 8.29  | 122.17 | 5:40 |
| 19 | Wed | 20130227 | 19:55 | 38:25   | 6.6   | 113.88 | 5:47 |
| 18 | Mon | 20130225 | 12:17 | ?       | 9     | 107.28 | 5:09 |
| 17 | Fri | 20130222 | 20:13 | 37:40   | 6.65  | 98.28  | 5:40 |
| 16 | Tue | 20130219 | 19:00 | 29:41   | 5.21  | 91.63  | 5:42 |
| 15 | Sun | 20130217 | 10:26 | 46:59   | 8.22  | 86.42  | 5:43 |
| 14 | Fri | 20130215 | 21:23 | 38:24   | 6.6   | 78.2   | 5:49 |
| 13 | Tue | 20130212 | 19:12 | 31:35   | 5.37  | 71.6   | 5:53 |
| 12 | Sat | 20130209 | 11:20 | 37:32   | 6.66  | 66.23  | 5:38 |
| 11 | Thu | 20130207 | 20:11 | 27:25   | 5.28  | 59.57  | 5:28 |
| 10 | Mon | 20130204 | 15:57 | 37:03   | 6.59  | 54.29  | 5:37 |
| 09 | Fri | 20130201 | 20:20 | 28:49   | 5.01  | 47.7   | 5:45 |
| 08 | Mon | 20130128 | 9:22  | 39:12   | 6.6   | 42.69  | 5:57 |
| 07 | Fri | 20130125 | 16:59 | 37:23   | 6.44  | 36.09  | 5:48 |
| 06 | Sat | 20130119 | 17:05 | 28:46   | 5.01  | 29.65  | 5:44 |
| 05 | Thu | 20130117 | 21:29 | 29:18   | 4.99  | 24.64  | 5:52 |
| 04 | Sun | 20130113 | 11:38 | 40:05   | 6.6   | 19.65  | 6:05 |
| 03 | Wed | 20130109 | 20:30 | 26:04   | 4.53  | 13.05  | 5:45 |
| 02 | Sun | 20130106 | 9:16  | 25:55   | 4.5   | 8.52   | 5:45 |
| 01 | Thu | 20130103 | 17:38 | 24:10   | 4.02  | 4.02   | 6:01 |
+----+-----+----------+-------+---------+-------+--------+------+

-= Independence =-
Today, I was given a copy of Runners World magazine. Reading the first pages, I saw a complete section (Style-Guide) on minimalist shoes. The first thing that crossed my mind was the "First they ignore you" Ghandi quote. But never mind that...

Going over the pages confirmed a feeling that I have had for a while now. Running in general - and running in minimalist shoes in specific - is largely about independence. A runner is independent from expensive and complicated gear - such as a bicycle or weightlifting stuff. A runner does not have to travel to get to and from his work-out area: he is ready to go as soon as he has crossed the threshold of his front door. A runner does not depend on others to go and do what he is good at. A runner does not depend on a particular surface or lay-of-the-land: anything goes (though in all fairness, streetlights do help while doing evening-runs). As a runner, I get to experience the independence of running anywhere, no matter where I am in the world. There is always a good bit of road to be explored.

Being a minimalist runner is even better than being a runner in regular shoes - though my opinion might be slightly colored by preference. In addition to the inherent independence of running, not being limited by a specific brand of shoes or type of sole helps in feeling free. The mere fact that I do not need to go hunting for the new model of the type I bought the previous year - and hoping that the soles, the padding and the support haven't changed too dramatically - makes life a lot easier. This feeling pops into my mind each time I need to run anywhere in everyday life (you know, for public transport, to practice chasing people out of a burning building, to make sure that the young Padawan does not ride his bicycle into a pond). No matter the shoes I wear, I am always ready to run.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Ready for two 10K runs and addicted to running from Zombies

-= Has 't been so long? =-
Running through the winter has been hard. I did stick with it - and found a way to get back on track after my Crash-and-Burn Did-Not-Finish ending of my previous race. Still, the long cold winter with abnormally high wind-speeds did not make my running-life easy, especially having to run at night in the cold and in the dark. At the moment, I am back to doing pain-free 10+K runs and am planning to stick to that distance for a while. I *really* enjoy doing longer distances, but my previous injury has left me somewhat nervous - being forced to do nothing for three months is not something I would like to repeat.

-= Upcoming races =-
There are many ways to remain motivated to run. Despite the difficulty I experience when I need to get out to run, I find energy in the fact that I can run, that running gives me energy and about 42 additional reasons. One of the ways to keep motivated is by having a bunch of co-workers challenge you to go for a run and to keep pace with them. That same bunch of co-workers will be running a 10K near the end of next month. Though I am not yet certain whether I will join them, it does sound tempting to go for a see-what-your-shape-is 10K.

An other run - one that I have already registered for - is a "literary" 10K. I am not too certain what the literary aspect of the run will be, but the route promises to be good - be it hilly for a large part. The two theories I have at the moment are that: 1) Shakespeare will be read to cheer on the runners - as opposed to music being played. Or 2) Instead of a medal, the runners that cross the finish-line get handed out copies of Fielding's Tom Jones. Either way, I will keep you posted as to both runs. Should there be any results or pics to be shared, I will do so in a later post.

-= I Just Realized =-
In a week or three, I will have been a runner for seven years. Starting out with one of the many couch-to-5k programs, I never expected that I would stick to it. Though I keep my running habits as steady as possible, I could not help but being interested in this up-and-coming "natural running" trend. After having read whatever the Internet had to offer on the topic, and having consulted a foot-doctor, I bought my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers three years ago two weeks from today. This means that the same time next year will mark a tipping-point. At that time, I will have run equally long in regular running-shoes and in minimalist shoes.

-= Game On! =-
The Missus and the young Padawan are the gamers of the family. They play all sorts of fun stuff on their tablets and laptops. Fine with me, I love seeing their enthusiasm while tapping tiny blue men wearing white hats and getting them to plant strawberries and pumpkins. My gaming-habit changed in January, when I bought the app called Zombies, Run! The first time I read and saw about this app, I did a short blogpost to express my enthusiasm of the concept - an immersive AR game that requires you to physically run in order to survive.

I bought the app in January, completed it and I have just returned from my first mission of Zombies, Run! season 2. When I started mission 1, I was rather skeptical, but I was soon infected - oh, sorry, no need to get nervous... right? - with the genius of the game! On 16 April, version 2 of the app became available and it was on my phone 30 minutes after the news reached me. My first experience with season 2 was a reminder of the way the game grabs the player. I spent the first half of my run wondering why this not-so-friendly lady was calling me Runner 93 - I'm not Runner 93! I'm Runner 5 lady! - and where the hell trusty Sam is and why is he not guiding me through this run as he should.

I totally look forward to the 59 missions to come, most of which, I will be running in my Runner 5 running-shirt.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Fivefingers and Zombies Run!

How time flies. Though I have been running these last couple of months, there are all sorts of excellent excuses for not posting updates on my blog. Stuff such as work, study, social obligations, London trips with the Missus and much, MUCH procrastination, are the cause of my absence on this blog. Much has happened since November 2012. Some is related to running, some has to do with barefoot shoes and some has to do with - and I promise to limit myself to two sentences on the subject - tech (nerd-stuff).

-= Tech =-

Almost a year ago, the British charity Raspberry Pi, started sale of their $25.00 computer that became in instant hit among tech-folk (myself included), who willingly and calmly waited 6 months to receive the credit-card-sized PC and use them for all kinds of geeky projects. I now have the - to my wife incomprehensible - great pleasure of running two in my home-infrastructure and I cannot promise that I will not find a use for a third one somewhere in the future - after all, it is for a good cause.

-= Vibram Five Fingers =-
Just after my painful ending of the last run I did last year, my friend brought back a pair of Bikila's and a pair of KSO Treks from a trip he was on. The Bikila's are excellent running shoes that were to replace my Speeds (that were rapidly disintegrating after many runs). They are excellent and they run better than the shoes they replace.

I wanted a pair of KSO Treks because they looked So Comfortable in the pictures I saw. It turned out that they are every bit as comfortable as I thought, so I decided to bring them to a London trip at the end of last year and to wear them throughout the training I went there to do. Though my preference for the toe-shoes are still a mystery to the Missus, I did not embarrass her as much as I feared by wearing them to our favorite breakfast place in the mornings (Pret) and the restaurants we went to in the evenings. In fact, not one single person I met (including co-students) seemed to notice my footwear. This helped me to overcome my initial self-consciousness about my shoes.

-= Running=-
Over the previous couple of months, I have been able to resist the urge to remain on the couch on cold, wet and windy evenings. Only when I felt that going on a run would seriously injure my recovery - or when work made running impossible - did I not go out. With a modest 66 K year2date I am - remembering that I could barely walk in September 2012 - totally not unhappy with how things are going. My build-up is slow, but the pain seems to have gone.

-----------+----------+--------
Date       | Distance | Pace  
(yyyymmdd) | (K)      | (Min/K)
-----------+----------+--------
20130209   | 6.66     | 5:39
20130207   | 5.28     | 5:28
20130204   | 6.59     | 5:37
20130201   | 5.01     | 5:45
20130128   | 6.6      | 5:57
20130125   | 6.44     | 5:48
20130119   | 5.01     | 5:44
20130117   | 4.99     | 5:52
20130113   | 6.6      | 6:05
20130109   | 4.53     | 5:45
20130106   | 4.5      | 5:45
20130103   | 4.02     | 6:01
-----------+----------+--------

Recently - about three weeks ago - I added a new element to my running. In October 2012 I mentioned the Zombies Run! game in a post. Though I am not into running with my smart-phone (too large and clunky), I was intrigued with the augmented reality aspect of the running game and as soon as I saw the New Year's Resolution Sale 50% off offer, I decided to give it a try.

After the first mission, I was not instantly convinced. The story, including the zombie-moans in the dark street with no-one around was fun. The run would have been better, if I there had been some music - it took my lazy bottom a while to get my "Powerrrrr" playlist imported into my phone. As soon as I started the second mission, I was into the game. The story-line unfolding while you run with several people talking to you is excellent fun. Hearing Sam calling you Runner 5 and urging you out into the danger-zone seriously raises my adrenaline level. Where I had some difficulty to out-run zombies during the first mission, the tunes of Pink, the Clash, the Fratelli's and Iron Maiden made the chases easy and fun. The game is absolutely motivational.

There are only two dangers involved in running from zombies. One - should you care about such things - is that it is very easy to make a fool of yourself, getting caught up in the game and singing out loud in the moment of victory. The other is that the virtual zombie-chase might make you oblivious of the rest of the world. A non-existent zombie might get what he wants as soon as you inattentively cross the street and get hit by a very real car.