Monday, September 26, 2011
It Must Be The Shoes
Hard to believe that seven short days ago we were at Hampton Beach up in New Hampshire, having just run almost 200 miles in under 26 hours. It feels like a long time ago and a world away already. I have delayed writing about the experience so far, not because it was bad—in fact the opposite is true. It was once again a great experience. Reach the Beach is everything I love—short, demanding, intense and then over.
But all week I have felt like there was nothing worth saying in writing. Then it struck me today that I do indeed have something to say about my experience at Reach the Beach this year. The captain of The Rosie Ruiz Fan Club, (my wife Erica), assigned me a tougher draw than she has in any of the past years. This time I had three legs totaling just over 19 miles. Two of the legs had big hills smack in the middle. And when it was all over I had run my 19 miles in under 8 minutes per mile. While not speedy in absolute terms, this is fast for me. In fact, if you go strictly by time it is my single fastest long run ever.
The reason Erica had enough confidence to give me some hard legs was that my training had gone very well all spring and summer. I ran a half marathon in New York City in March and another in Philly in May and both went well. After Philadelphia I had some toe troubles and needed to switch over to Vibram’s five-finger barefoot running shoes. I was a bit nervous about making the switch, but I needn’t have been. I watched several people start too fast with too many miles in these shoes and I did not want to end up hurt. So, I took it very slowly and built up my miles gradually. By the end of the summer I was able to do a 14-mile run in the five-fingers without any negative repercussions.
Looking back, my toe injury was pretty serendipitous. I didn’t even know it at the time, but I think I was getting a bit bored with running. I did the same 4-mile route from my home 3 times a week. My long Sunday runs were all along the same ugly New Haven route. By changing over to new shoes and having to refocus on how each run—even each mile—was making my body feel, my running became interesting again.
So, my 19 Reach the Beach miles were all run in those same Vibram five-finger running shoes—which are, by now, needing a good wash and dry. Or maybe replacement.
I have a couple of half marathons coming up in the next two months (Shelburne, VT and Rehoboth Beach , DE) and I think running in the Vibrams will help keep my interest going a while longer. I hope so—I am trying to run a half marathon in all 50 states and these will be just states number 9 and number 10.
Anyway, the infusion of interest and enjoyment given to me by my switch to Vibram’s has got me wondering if maybe some other small change might make the rest of my life feel more exciting again. Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe a new pair of jeans and my job will be thrilling again. Or a haircut and my marriage will be like new.
Or maybe I’ll just take to wearing my Vibrams all the time—they have already proven their worth and effectiveness. Don’t mind that smell---small price to pay for making everything seem new again.