So as a warning this is mainly me venting. I am not a small man, nor am I a giant, I am 6′-6″, currently am 270 lbs and am active and training daily on running and biking. I am doing this to be healthy and fit, to set a good example for my son. I know I can shed a few pounds and hope to, but I also know that I will never be “average” size.
Now I have recently started to get into trail running more, mostly after running the 5 peaks trail race at Rattlesnake point. This has led me to start looking at new gear, first was shoes. I end up with a pair of Altra Superiors, which are great shoes, but anyone who has bought Altras knows you are to go up by a half a size. Which is great till you make it past 13 then you have to go up by a full size. Normally not a huge issue but in a very wide toe box it can make the shoe feel sloppy, plus it leaves more chance for sliding during descents and accents in the shoe. Again these are still great shoes but if you are going to make the shoe require a half size increase you should offer that increment from your smallest all the way to your largest size.
The next item I was after was a new hydration pack. The one I liked was by Ultimate Direction and is part of the signature series ( AK race vest). I saw this compact but versatile vest and was excited to get it, also it was on sale at Runningfree.com. So I researched, as you should always do, all the reviews I came across seemed to be good. So i checked out sizing and they come in S-M and M-L and the largest size chest it would accommodate is a 40″ chest. Currently that is 8″ to small and so I decided to email the company and ask if they do have any products that would accommodate a larger frame. After reading a friendly email the final verdict is NO. Closest is a vest that goes to 43″ chest. I looked around and anything that seems to be vest like, generally more secure, is made for the “average” sized runner.
So in the end I would be fine if to get these things in my proper size, if I had to order from the supplier or pay a slight premium, but an option should be available. There are people who are bigger and will never be as thin or have feet smaller feet as those who these products are geared towards. However I do participate in the same events as them and am hoping to increase my distances and who knows if all goes well start into ultras. So why can’t I have the same products as everyone else just cause I do not fit the mold they have in their heads.
So about 3 weeks ago Lisa and I set out on our first trail race, the 5 peaks Rattlesnake Point race. Well in the lead up we had been preparing to move and as we all know that can be all consuming. So running took a back burner for about a week and half, only exercise besides lifting was soccer on Friday nights. I am sure you can all see where this is leading.
The eve before race we had our soccer game and thinking that we would not likely be placing well the next day at the race, Lisa and I did not hold back. We then followed that with a few beers and some appetisers to celebrate a great game, again thinking that we were doing no harm on our chances the next day. We would be mistaken.
The next morning came all to early and the breakfast was rushed and incomplete. The drive gave us time to convince ourselves further that this was going to be an unfavorable race. We arrive with plenty of time to warm up and get the bathroom stuff out of the way, even had time to enjoy watching the kids do there little run. It is always a good feeling to see kids being active and enjoy the outdoors. Then the warning that the first groups are to go to the start line, cause they have staggered the people into 5 groups to help with the single track areas. Group 3 is called and Lisa and I line up, here we go, fist bump to Lisa and then wait for the whistle.
So we start off running up a tiny incline up a grass hill, that felt massive for heavy tired legs. I was convinced I was doomed as I came up to the trail, I was already feeling drained and huffing. Though a few meters into the actual trail and everything changed. I was energizer and passing people like they were standing still. It had started to make me wish I had prepared better, but I was still sure I was not going to place in the clydesdale division I had entered. So the race continued and it was glorious I continued to pass those ahead of me all the way to the turn around at the first aid station. Up till now it had mainly been a steady decent, now it was time to go back up. This was a steep single track that was mainly boulders you had to scale. Every slowed to a crawl, legs began to burn and lungs seared in pain. Cause of the terrain I had no time to check my watch, though if I had I would have realised I was off the pace I had set before the race. So I plugged along and ran when I was not ascending in single file up at least two more steep and rocky climbs. I felt drained as we left the trail and head to run the grassy hill in reverse to the start/finish line. I sprinted across and finished my first trail race, Lisa was about 10 minutes behind. She had been running even less than I, cause of a new job and the move. We still both felt good and despite our lack of training we enjoyed the race. Then the standing were posted. I was two minutes back of the first place clydesdale and was sitting in fourth. Anger set in cause I now knew if I had prepared properly and taken it easy the night before at soccer I could not just have placed but I maybe could have challenged for first in my division. So again I let that little bit of doubt we find leading up to a race take over and the cost was potentially a first place finish. Needless to say these mistakes and set backs are not going to happen again. Next year will be all business, and no excuses as to why I failed.
Always remember, the voice in your head saying you can’t do something, is liar. Word that I will remember next year are and all other coming races we enter.
So we are moving to a new house and unfortunately that means we are not getting any training in. But once we are settled I can recap our last race and we can prep for a new one.
Yesterday we took the time to go to Rattlesnake Point near Milton, Ontario. We have a race on June 8th (part of the 5 peaks series) taking place st this park and thought it would be a great idea to see what was a head of us.
This is what we have to look forward too.
Nothing like a narrow up hill.
Lisa running along a very rooted area.
This was daunting as the course was not marked and we were running off of memory of the map. So we had to stop frequently and back track, but we both had the most fun running we have had in a while together. The race will be very challenging and we hope to do well but anything goes on a course like this.
Side note my Altra Superiors were excellent on this terrain, very impressed. Look forward to many more trail runs in them.
As mentioned in another post I am a runner that practises barefoot and minimalist running. I am however not a preacher and feel that everyone has their own path. I feel the best thing is to keep an open mind, and find the way you can run injury free and enjoy the whole experience. I will speak on my experiences and the path I took to get to where I am now, as well as where I hope to go.
As I said everyone needs to follow their own path. 5 years ago I began running cause my future wife Lisa had started while at university. I decided it would be a great thing to do together, and it has been. I began as most would have looking for the most cushioning possible. Some with flash from one of the big companies cause they have obviously been making shoes to make everything better for years, and in some cases that is very true. My case was not one of them, and we will get to that later. My favourites for a while were an Adidas adilite (I think this is the name but it has been many years) and they were great shoes. They were thin and a low heel to toe drop compared to most shoes a the time. But much like other runners I was hooked on the idea that shoes were only good for a few hundred kilometres. So I figured since I could not find these shoes anymore I would get and big cushy pair of Saucony’s. I figured since I had increased my distance I needed some thing to help with the pounding my body had been taking. Everything was going well for the first few months and then one day the front of my shine was sore. I ignored it as it went away quickly after each run. I figured it was part of the putting more distance in, so I would continue doing my set runs and increasing my distance a little each week. But as I know now there are things you can ignore and others you should not. This pain began showing earlier and earlier in my runs to the point that it would arrive after a few hundred metres. So I took time off and let things heal 2 months later I laced up and headed out. No more then a week in and the pain was back. So off to the internet I go, and works to strength calves were tried but did not work. I found new stretches that would help with the pain after the run. However nothing was solving the problem with my shines during my run.
I eventually came across blogs and articles during my search that talked of barefoot running and toe shoes called FiveFingers. The main blog was Birthdayshoes.com, which is an excellent source for information and has a great set of people running the blog as well as on the forum. So he more I read the more I was intrigued by these odd looking toe shoes. (I had see in Men’s Health 2 years earlier, but was sure it was a gimmick or meant for runners with years of experience. Not a large and over weight slow poke like myself.) I eventually decided to just go for it and got a pair of Black KSO from a store called Adventure Guide in Waterloo. My first outing was short only an hour walking around in them. They felt like slippers and got me a lot of weird looks but I was enjoying the feeling under my feet. I felt grounded and free, I so badly wanted to run in them. I didn’t cause I had read enough about the “To much to soon” problem that occurred all to often and I was not going to be a part of that group. I took a few months of just walking and when I finally made day walking around Canada’s Wonderland in my new favourite shoes. I knew it was time to try a short run and t was just about 3 kilometres. It was excellent and the day after was incident free. I continued slowly increasing and wondering would my shines begin to hurt again or something else. Months pass and I was up to 10+ kilometres and nothing, I had found my solution.
I have since bought many more FiveFingers with a new pair of KSO, Komodo, Bikila LS, Classics. All have a use and all preform well. I say I am not exclusive, I have tried vivobarefoot Evo 2 (retired)and New Balance Minimus Trail (still have) and a new pair of Altra Superiors on he way. I tell all those who ask my thoughts and I always say if you try it take your time, even when you think you are ready wait a little more. Also that that it is not for everyone, we are all different and there is no one fix for us all. Though it was the fix for me and I don’t see going back to traditional supportive shoes anytime in the near future.
So It has been almost 4 weeks since Around the Bay. My feet are pretty much back to normal, I am back to training and Lisa and I are signed up for a trail race in June ( 5Peaks Trail Race at Rattlesnake Conservation). All is good, Lisa and I have set goals to improve our times starting with 5 km. Figured it would be a good way to get back on the horse and still have goals. There are a few other races (both on the calendar) we will run between now and June to feel out our progress, though they are road races not trail. However my new training plan has the usual Sunday long run, which after my new shoes arrive (Altra Superior) will be all trails. Great way to strengthen the lower legs and really test yourself and increase your cadence. Also there is nothing like running through the forest and feeling like you are flying, sounds of nature and the river. It is by far the most freeing and calming feeling you can have, in my opinion.
So in the coming weeks I hope to post a reveiw of the Altra Superior and maybe finally do one on my Garmin Forerunner 410.
So I woke up Sunday March 24th ready to go I had everything planned in my head. Breakfast was steel cut oatmeal with berries and coffee with a liter of water. Got all the other business out of the way before my ride showed, had to back track for a race bib, but all kinds of time till the race kicked off. Oh for those who have never been to a big race parking sucks so show early.
So I am standing with my friend Joe in Copps Colosseum waiting till we head to the general coral , at the back, starting to feel nervous and wanting to get going. The waiting is always the part I hate make you do stupid things, like sprint out of the gate or position yourself in the wrong area, this was not one of those times though. The big thing was the unknown, a distance never traveled before and an area I have never run in. On the way to the coral I ran in to my brother and sister in-law which helped shack off some of the apprehension, which was nice. In the coral though it came back along with the hint that I needed to pee but with a line up for the porto potties and time getting close to the start of the race I choose to hold out, wrong choice.
The horn sounds and it is a leisurely walk up to the line then we were off. Started off with Joe and we were holding around a 6:30/km which was the goal for him and I felt comfortable so we ran for the first 8 km together till my earlier decision to not pee came back to haunt me. Joe kept going and I pulled off into a church that was kind enough to be open to allow runners use of the bathrooms. It was a minor detour but it lead to a series of bad choices. To start when I got out I felt light and re-leaved, so rookie mistake I tried to catch up running a 5:15/km pace. Dumb idea, I wasted energy and never came into eye shot of Joe. So after 5 km of being a moron I feel back to a 6:30/km pace. All was going well except I started to get a cramp in my left bicep, no amount of shaking it out or quick stretch was making it go away. So with arms now almost straight I continued to run, royal messed with my mechanics but I was not giving up only coming up on the half way. Pace took a hit too down to a 7:00/km, something simple can lead to major changes. Once you have hit the half way the road grade from center line to curb is drastic and I was not ready for it. This lead to a weak inside left ankle to go from weak to sore and by 22.5 km I had no choice but to walk. I was so mad cause I had 2 goals, to run the whole and to be under 3:30 when I crossed the line. Neither was happening now and I had to admit the minor defeat and change my goal to finishing.
The last 8 km’s (the hilly area for the most part) was a battle of will and understanding limits. It was humbling at points cause ego had to be removed altogether to reach the new end goal. I really wanted to run The Hill but I knew if I did I would not finish the race, so I walked it. Once a the top of the hill I was running for a 2 minutes and walking for 1. This was the pattern till I could see the 29 km marker. Letting my ego and will take over I jogged to the entrance of Copps Colosseum and head in, once I came to the last bend and saw the finish I pushed as hard as I could. I crossed with the clock at 3:57 (watch showed 3:47). It was the first time I have experienced being this drained and excited. I wanted to drop and cry for so many reasons, frustration of failing to achieve my goals, amazed i finished something so challenging and just sheer pain and exhaustion.
I have learned a lot from this and hope to apply the new knowledge to next year, cause I will be back and next year I will run the whole thing and I will be below 3:30.
On another note the support of the community is incredible and it was a major lift at points to see strangers cheering us on. Thank you to all who came out and made us feel like we were not alone.