Category Archives: General

Badass Runner Profile: David Wilson

2014-12-27 15.50.24 Name: David Wilson

Home State: Born in Illinois, live in North Carolina

BAR: When (and why) did you start running?

DNW: I would have to answer this, first, by asking: “Which time?”  When I was still in the US Navy I was stationed at the Fleet Deception Group (it’s called something different now).  We supported teams that deployed – I worked in the calibration lab.  There was a lot of down time, and we all turned to sports – running, the Captain’s Cup Tournament – whatever.  I had never run much more than the mile and a half I had to to pass the readiness test – but I went out one day with a woman who worked at our command, Chief Horak.  She regularly ran longer distances.  That first day, she took me out two miles and back two miles, and it was then I realized two things.  I could run – and most of the distance was in my head.

10393152_809998062419305_997126472320061640_nThis is on board the USS Gaudalcanal… we had runners active all the way through the Suez Canal.

 

 

I ran a lot of miles there, and it culminated in my winning (along with a buddy of mine who I sadly cannot remember a name for) second place in the Captain’s Cup Decathlon – over 30 team division.  We had do a lot of crazy things (not a standard decathlon, thankfully).  Bowl one game.  The most out of 25 free-throws.  Throw a football for distance and accuracy, but in the middle there was a 40 yard sprint and a 2 mile run.  We won because we were at least average at everything (including the final leg – a 200 meter swim) and VERY good at the two mile run.  We beat at least one Seal Team in that competition and I still have the trophy.

I ran off and on after that, usually in the 3-5 mile range, until two years ago August, when I realized I was nearly 240 pounds and headed into old age in less than stellar style.  I went out, and I ran a mile and a half.  It took me twenty minutes.  I kept doing it, lengthening the runs, and before I knew it, I was going out for four, five, seven… and I signed up for my first half marathon.  Once that step was taken, I kept going, adding mileage.  I ran a 17 mile training run (whole other story in that… I wrote about that on Facebook… involved rednecks, getting lost for an extra five or so miles, and barely making it home)  I ran that first ½ marathon, the Dismal Swamp Stomp (you can read about that here) and never looked back.  Since then I’ve amassed a wall full of race medals, mostly 5 and 10k distance, but some halves – and last fall – out on my own – I completed my first marathon.

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So the quick easy answer I avoided is – seriously running, two years ago because I was in danger of becoming old and fat.  I’m still in danger of growing old, but maybe I’ll do it more slowly.

BAR: Why do you run / walk now? What motivates you?

DNW: My health, the road, my friends – all these things motivate me.  Nature – I just love to run.  I wrote this back in the sprint of 2014 to sort of answer this question:

I am a runner…

I am not an Olympian,
But if you put one foot
In front of the other,
You will meet me on the road.
I have not trained all my life
To slice seconds from time.
I have not suffered for speed,
Or left my heart on the track
Or the road.
I am a runner.
The wind is my friend,
The road calls to me.
The miles are a flickering slide-show
Of places, and tings, sweat and dreams
I trade sleep for miles.
I run between the cracks of life.
I am not an Olympian,
But I am a runner
And we all meet, eventually…
On the road.

David Niall Wilson

6-27-2014

BAR: (Sherri Morgan):  How did you deal with your ankle injury physically, mentally & emotional (or all that apply). Also, how did you keep or get your motivation back to get back out there?

DNW: I would like to say that I was a trooper – that I gritted my teeth and pushed through, but the sad fact is, it was miserable.  Only my family got me through a time when even standing up from my chair was a chore, sleep was rare, and activity / exercise almost non-extant.

It didn’t help that the doctor I was working with was anti-running to start with.  He was not supportive in any way of what motivated ME to get better.  I ended up using the crutches as an exercise platform, and, of course, being very, very impatient.

The accident happened in January.  (Another side-note – the hard rails between trampolines at the Cloud Nine Trampoline Park are dangerous – no give whatsoever.  I can’t reccomend anyone visit that particular facility) When I got in to the doctor, a few days after the accident, he x-rayed it and said there was a tiny sliver of bone broken loose.  That sounded okay… but what I ended up with was major surgery, and I didn’t get that until February – which pushed my recovery out even farther.  With the snow and bad weather I ended up having my first post-operation evaluation with photos sent from my phone, and removing my own stitches when the time came as well.

The hardest thing for me was not to push too hard and too fast, and to keep a positive attitude.  Again, my family helped with that.  I threw myself into other work – my publishing company and writing – and did all that I could to stay in contact with the runners I interact with daily on Facebook…

The actual “getting back out there” has been a challenge as well, because at first the mobility was very limited in that ankle, and now that things are loosening up, I have found my stamina and discipline have slipped.  At least I’m moving forward again.  On a side note, the two races I missed – The Dismal Swamp Stomp ½ marathon and the Newport News Once City Marathon are comping me for the next race, so I’m back on track (if a year later) working toward the first official marathon and a PR at the Dismal Swamp.  Always be yourself… unless you can be #Badass. ALWAYS be #badass…

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BAR: (Joe Hempel) People usually listen to music when they run, it keeps them motivated. You listen to audiobooks, does it help more than music and if it does, why?

DNW: I don’t have a lot to compare it to, because I have never really listened to music while running.  I’m just too lazy to put together a playlist and make it happen, I guess.  I’ve listened to baseball, and audiobooks.

I started listening to audiobooks while running simply to expand my reading time.  I’m an author and publisher, and my reading time for pleasure is severely limited.  Mostly, I read audiobooks, and only in the car – or when running.  As the runs got longer, the amount of reading I could accomplish followed.

On a really long run, you can lose yourself in a good book.  I also find that books about running are helpful.  A few times I could almost picture myself running the trails the authors were telling me about in their books – and at least once I’ve run back through a darkening storm at a particularly eerie place in a novel by Neil Gaiman, or Clive Barker.

My thought is that music would be more useful to help with pacing, but that audiobooks are good for distracting yourself from longer runs – giving you something to think about instead of glancing incessantly at your Garmin.

Longest race : Official race – ½ marathon.  Personal race: 27.2 miles.

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This is my daughter Katie finishing the “Cub Run” at the Dismal Swamp Stomp (you can see my hand chasing her … after the 1/2 I had nothing left in the tank.  Was proud of her.

 

 

 

 

Hardest course: The Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll ½ marathon…  not so much because of the course itself – it’s not horrible – but because the race is run in the heat of August, and the humidity was dropping people like flies.

Hardest race for you: Also the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half – and for that same reason.  I run in the heat a lot to acclimate, but I was nearly dead by the end of that one, and about to cramp in my right calf (no doubt from dehydration, despite all the water stops).

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Images from the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon (My favorite is the one showing me beating Batman)

Favorite race: In case others wouldlike to try it): For sentimental reasons, and because it’s a flat, easy, beautiful course – The Dismal Swamp Stop ½ Marathon.  I ran my first ½ there, and all along the trail I was accompanied by butterflies, big and small.  The Intercoastal waterway runs down one side of the trail – which is the setting of one of my novels (one of my favorites of my own books).  There are also bears, though you seldom see one on the trail…

Favorite course:  My favorite course is one that is used for a lot of local Elizabeth City, NC 5k races, though I’ve expanded it nearly to ½ marathon length by taking more roads.  It runs along the Pasquotank River – past some beautiful homes, around curves and turn-backs.  I discovered (by accident) that if you run past the normal limits of it you come to the back end of a DIFFERENT 5k course I ran last year called “The Battle of the Albemarle” and if you combine all of both roads you can make a passable ½ marathon.  Anyone who’d like to run it – just get hold of me and come on down!

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Images from the Pasquotank River Trail

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

DNW: There was a time when I had no answer for least favorite, but I do now.  As much as I like pushing my time on a 5K – it is just too short.  Even my daily run at lunch is more than 4 miles – running harder for 3.1 feels like a cheat, particularly after getting psyched up to run.  So far I’d say my perfect distance is around 10 miler.  I ran a 9.11 mile liberty race last fall and found it just about perfect.  I love the pressure, though, of hitting the ½ marathon and I am very much looking forward to my first official full.  If I don’t find one before it, I’m signed up again for the Newport News One City Marathon next March.

PRs: 5k: 24:20 / 10k: 53:26 / half-marathon: 2:19:38 / marathon: 5:31:14

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner / walker, this year and beyond?

DNW: In January of this year, I broke my left ankle pretty badly.  It’s been a long recovery, but it’s coming together finally.  My bucket list last year was simply to finish my first official marathon.  That is also my goal now.  I can also see myself running a 50K at some point, but that’s down the road.  The other goals are to get my 5k and 10k back down to where they were last fall so that I can be competitive at my age – 55.  I’m an older guy, but I figure I have ten or fifteen reasonable years of running at one level or another ahead of me, and that’s thousands of miles.  It’s one of the things that makes me smile.

My other bucket list item is to run with people who have inspired me.  Lisa Davis, Jamila Williams, again with Joseph Leon Guerrera (and hopefully Yeti) – Katrina Gay, Joe Hempel, my old Navy buddy Roland Curit – CM XMan, Mari Merchant and Sherri Morgan, Thomas Gouard – and my dream runs with Dean Karnazes, Adharanand Finn, and a few others who have written books that inspired me.  I would also love (at some point) to run in the Copper Canyon in Mexico, but trail running is not a good idea with my ankle, so maybe not.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes?  Why?

DNW: I have to answer this at length.  When I started running again, I had just read Born to Run, and I bought some shoes from Vivobarefoot – I became a bit of a fanatic for the barefoot running thing, and I learned a lot.  For one thing, there is a lot of good and bad information.

The barefoot shoes helped me fix my running style, no longer cracking my heels.  It removed back pain and built up my calves, and increased my distance.  The lack of padding probably damaged my feet.  Next, I moved on to Altra shoes…they offered more protection, but still had the zero drop at the heel…allowing my feet to spread out in their wide toe-box and to run naturally.  I still run in a pair of Altra Torin 1.5 shoes, but have added two pairs of HOKA shoes, the Hauka and Clifton models.  I feel like with the damage to my ankle, and the distances I want to run, the extra cushion is vital.  Shoes are an ever-changing thing for me…

On a side note, during the work day, I wear either Vivobarefoot Gobi half-boots (barefoot WALKING I still support) or Altra casual shoes – a little more cushion, but still flat and natural.

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BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

DNW: I have tried several types of hydration belts.  I have a camelback that I used on my one marathon foray, and will use on anything fifteen or more miles that I run on my own, because where I run is in the country and solitary… I wear a NATHAN hydration belt for shorter runs with 1-4 bottle capability, and my ROAD ID in the front pocket.  I also have a GU Pack in case I end up feeling weak on a run.  I am bald on top, so I wear a hat…and I like compression style socks when it’s cool enough.

What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

I have a Garmin 310X which is wonderful, but a little big – and a Forerunner 210.  Currently, though, I have moved over to a Fitbit Surge, and for the worn-on-the-body equipment, it suits me best.  It keeps the heartrate without a chest strap, and feeds all sorts of helpful info to the app, including your sleep, calories for the day, steps, etc…

For tracking my runs, I use Mapmyrun – I find that though there are comparable sites at Garmin and Runkeeper and other places, this one accepts the widest variety of devices, and I have a network of friends there.  Not to mention 1500 miles worth of runs that have been recorded.

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

DNW: One foot in front of the other.  Don’t believe you can’t do it, because you can.  Distance is mostly in your head, and don’t run to please anyone but yourself.  For me, the actual running is best when I’m alone, except for races, but if you need the motivation, there are TONS of groups out there.  Everything from virtual races where you can get the same medals and bibs, etc. as for an official race, to groups who run together occasionally, and bigger groups who run all the time.  Running is a personal sport – and it can be wonderful.  Enjoy it.

I find a lot of support in online groups, and have also been motivated by fun challenges, like being part of “Moonjoggers” where the accumulated miles of a LOT of runners are currently adding up to the distance from here to Mars…

Badass Runner Profile: Mari Merchant

11652053_10206378365954784_1607116043_nName: Mari Merchant

Home State: South Dakota

Website / FB page / Etc. where people can keep up with your running:

www.facebook.com/mari.merchant

www.facebook.com/marisjourney

BAR: When  did you start running?  Why?

MM: In January 2013 I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I was closing in on weighing nearly 400 pounds. I started by walking 20 minutes every day. As the weight came off it got easier and I went farther and faster. I don’t remember exactly when my walk turned into a run but it sure did! Since that time I’ve lost 175 pounds.

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BAR: Why do you run now? What motivates you?

MM: I still continue to run to help with weight loss as I’ve got about 20 more pounds I’d like to lose. However, I mostly run because I enjoy it. I almost always run solo as it gives me time to myself to clear my mind. It always makes me feel better and I have so much more energy throughout the day when I run in the morning.

Longest race: Half Marathon

Hardest course: Med City Half Marathon. Rochester, MN. This was not only my first half but the first 9 miles were rolling country hills that had not been in any disclaimers I had read!

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Favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it): Deadwood-Mickelson Half Marathon. It’s a trail race that runs through absolute beauty! We ran along flowing creeks, over old bridges, through rolling countryside with mountains off in the distance.

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

MM: Just for my normal every day morning run I like 5-6 miles. However, for races I prefer the half marathon because it takes some time and effort. It’s not a quick race done in less than 30 minutes but it also doesn’t have me running 5+ hours.

PR: 5k: 27:26 / 10k: 56:12 / half: 2:14:25

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BAR: You almost never seem to miss a day of running… do you have any advice / tips / stories about the difficulties of finding and planning around that?  How supportive is your family?

MM: For me, it’s easy. I make my health a priority and running is a part of that. I wake up earlier than the rest of my family and go out in the dark to get a run in. During the frigid South Dakota Winters I hit the treadmill at the gym. I used to make all sorts of excuses for why I couldn’t make time to exercise but one day someone said to me something along the lines of how I can talk about all these different TV shows I watch but couldn’t make time for working out. That comment smacked me awake! I gave up watching TV about 2 years ago and ever since I’ve had no excuses!

My family is very supportive. My husband gets the kids up and ready for school (when it’s in session) and he makes dinner several times per week because I’m usually working out right after work. My family comes to almost all of my races to cheer me on. During training runs my 11 year old son will ride his bike along with me (he has asthma so cannot run) and my teenage daughter has even signed up to training for a half marathon with me this coming September!

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BAR: Do you belong to any running groups, other than Team Badass?

MM: I vaguely remember the facebook conversation that started Team Badass. I do believe I was telling Sherri Morgan just how #badass one of her pictures were right around the time we needed team names and somehow Team Badass was born. I don’t think a single one of us really knew each other in person but we all had our passion for running in common. Plus…. we were all #badass!

I joined the Sioux Falls Running Club last year but their runs are so far away from where I live that I never really had a chance to run with the group. This year I didn’t renew my membership because of this. Honestly, I enjoy running solo most of the time anyways!

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BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

MM: This year my big goal is to complete Ragnar Great River in August! I also hope to complete the Sioux Falls Half Marathon with my teenage daughter at my side!

I don’t have specific plans for the future but I do know that I want branch out and do more challenging runs as well as trail runs! Spartan looks like a blast and I’ve been eyeing the Yellowstone Half Marathon.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes?  Why?

MM: I have like 9 pairs of shoes. For outdoor running I switch between my Brooks Glycerin, Saucony Triumph and Asics Gel Nimbus.  On the treadmill I like my Brooks Pureflow and Saucony Kinvara.  I have others but these are my top favs. I still haven’t dug into looking for trail shoes but plan to in the near future as I rather enjoy trail running and recently found an awesome trail just 2 miles from my home!

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BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

MM: Gotta have headbands! I prefer BondiBands with the 4” width as I have lots of long hair that gets out of control. I also really enjoy the arm band they make to hold my phone when I run with music. Most importantly I wear my RoadID every time I go out!

There are all sorts of gadgets I’d love to try but money doesn’t grow on trees. L

The fancy gear that a runner needs for the harsh Winter months in South Dakota appeals to me every year as I run bored out of my mind on the treadmill. The night vision glasses and LED shoelaces would be pretty cool to try while running in the dark too.

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

MM: My current running GPS watch is the Garmin Vivoactive and I love it. It’s not gigantic and it looks kind of like the new apple smartwatch. I wear mine every day into the office as a regular watch too because it looks great, tells time, and the battery lasts forever.  I use the Scosche Rhythm + Optical heart rate monitor during workouts. It has Bluetooth and Ant+ connectivity which is very nice. It’s extremely accurate and I wear it on my forearm instead of the annoying band around my chest!

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

11143090_10205774909828758_1231978116553501973_nMM: Just do your personal best and don’t worry about others. Even some of the best of us that run every single day still don’t have the fastest or best pace! As long as you’re enjoying the sport and look forward to it, then you’re on the right path!

 

Spartan Race Memorial Discount

Just a quick note … I’m coming off a broken ankle suffered in January ( on the 1st, of course, starting the year off right) and am just getting back out on the road.  I’m sorry the site has languished, but I’m working on fixing that in big ways… we’ll start with this…

The good folks at Reebok SPARTAN RACES are offering a code starting  TODAY… save up to $40 on a race entry using the code.  These are some badass races, folks… we’ll be doing more race entry giveaways later this year.. for now:

2015 Running goals / resolutions. We have them

2014I finished off 2014 with a little over 1180 miles …

I finished my first 1/2 Marathon (and several others)

I ran my first Marathon.

I broke 25 minutes on a 5K on a treadmill and just over 26 in a timed race.

Here are my goals for 2015…

At least 1500 miles, and a steady 100 or more miles per month.  Break 25 minutes in a timed official 5K.  Break 55 minutes on a timed 10k.  Break 2 hours on a 1/2 Marathon.  Run at least two marathons – The Newport News Once City Marathon in March and (hopefully) the NYC Marathon in November (if I can figure out logistics).    I want to keep pushing distances, and work a bit more on speed.  I am going to begin (slowly) to get bck into the old “P.I.G.” workout I did in the US Navy – consisting of a lot of abs and pushups – PIG is for Pain is Good – suitable for #badassrunning I’d say.

I want to meet, and run with, a lot more of the people I’ve met online.  I MAY try an 50K …what the heck, it’s only four more miles, right?  How hard could that be?   What are your goals for 2015?  What did you do in 2014 that you ar proud of?  Hit us up in the comments, and don’t forget to click on our post about the SPARTAN race and leave a comment for the chance to win a race entry.

-David

SPARTAN RACE UPDATE – WIN A RACE ENTRY!

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When you think about running, and you add the word “Badass” to it, you can’t help but think of the Reebok SPARTAN RACE – obstacles, running, pitting yourself against the odds.  Badass-running is happy to provide a news update on these amazing races, and to announce our THIRD Race-entry giveaway.  All you have to do is share this post, and leave a comment to enter.  It’s good for one entry into a Spartan Sprint anywhere.

The new 2015 Spartan season pass has been released with lots of great perks, the 2015 World Championship Spartan Race is moving to Lake Tahoe California, Joe Desena’s “Spartan UP!” the podcast is launching soon and the first ever Spartan Cruise is happening in March.  To see some great photos of past races, and to catch up on all the new information visit: SPARTANRACEMEDIA.COM 

DNW – #Badassrunning.com

Carbo-Loading – the real deal

I have always read you should eat pasta the night before a race.  I’ve also heard over and over how you need to carbo load, and so, I have done the things that people who vaguely understood it told me to, and thought I was on the right track.  Let me be straight.  I read an article tonight that opened my eyes.  I have run out of gas / fuel on long, long runs and now I sort of know part of why.  You need to carbo-load for 2.5 to three days prior to a race.  Cupcakes? Not carbo-loading (lol) In any case, here is the link to an article on proper carbo-loading.  I plan to use it on my next long run.  See how it works out for you:

The Right Way to Carbo-Loadpasta-openpic[1]

2014 – The Road to 1000 Miles, A Marathon & More

aimhigh2014 has been quite the year for me, as a runner.  Back in January, I was sweating the approach of April, and my first 1/2 Marathon. I was averaging 8-10 miles a week … long runs were in the 6-7 mile range and I was mostly on the treadmill.  In March, I did what has become a traditio for me.  I went out to run the 13.1 to prove to myself it was not beyond my reach.  I ran closer to 18 miles that day.  I got lost.  I learned a lot and got so dehydrated I was a wreck for days.  In April, I ran the Dismal Swamp Stomp (already registered again this year) and ran it in two hours and forty or so minutes.

I have dropped from 235 pounds to 195 and stayed there.

In May, there was the 5K a day in May challenge.  I started strong, and I was kicking major butt through the first 3/4 of the month, but in the last week, I injured my foot (I think it was a stress fracture).  Inestead of resting – I had a 5k race I’d signed up for – I powered through.  That cost me the 5k a day in May, and it cost me what would have been my first 100 mile month.  I was out of commission for nearly three weeks, and had a major paradigm shift in shoes from minimalist Vivobarefoot shoes (which made my feet strong but offered little protection) to zero-drop Altra shoes (which I still love).

In June I got the belt buckle that I wear to this day – 100 miles in one month, and I had to do it (basically) starting on the 13th with almost no miles logged.  I passed the 100 mile mark, and have gone more than 100 miles every month since.  I am still learning to properly take care of my feet, but I work at it, and I will not go through that injury mistake again.  Somewhere along the middle of June I signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon in August in Virginia Beach, and continued running.  As often as I could, I stretched the distance,  eight, nine, ten mile runs.  They were hard, but I found my 5K and 10k times getting better.

In August, I cut twenty minutes off my 1/2 marathon time.  I ran on, and I continued to up my distance.  I think it wsa in September when I signed up for the Newport News One City Marathon – even signed Crossroad Press (my publishing company) up to sponsor mile #13 (at that time it was as far as I was certain I’d go).

I ran a lot of miles in October, working my way up.  I did a 17 mile run and felt fine at the end.  Went shopping and mowed the lawn.  Still, that thing that always itches at my mind…itched at my mind.  I asked for (and got) a Camelback hydration pack for my birthday in October.  In November, I strapped it on, filled it with water and snacks, and headed out to run a marathon.  Just like the first time…I got lost.  Then I got found and figured out where I was, and I made that course stretch to the 26.2, despite having missed a major turn.  At mile 23 the love of my life brought me a bottle of Power-Ade.  I ran on, and I finished the marathon in 5:32 … so now I know.

Today, I broke my 5K record.  Last January I was hovering around 30 minutes on my best day for a 5K …  Today, I ran one in 25:42.  To cut off five minutes in only 3.1 miles…not as easy as it might seem.  Particularly when you ar 55.  I can see myself trimming it farther in the year to come.  All of my running  goals for this year plus one have been met.  Below is a small photo gallery of the year’s fun… and here are my stats since I started running seriously again a year and a few months ago.  Thanks to all of you who have helped, encourged, laughed, and even those of you who doubted…

ltstats

1509252_627002177385562_2339177033203130631_n 1560418_666679526751160_3530911555378125794_n 10153147_723186664433779_4494383650738960157_n 10288702_776483342384576_379417839108321102_n 10307388_697833150302464_424842975923841996_n 10371733_648796958539417_379936933376732447_n 10624577_708439112575201_3167275576885964716_n 10629559_705252976227148_8680488976994091742_n 10658897_705283222890790_844512759714725799_o 10659225_699883833430729_9128987897942379913_n 10662178_705283239557455_6222798063712425941_o 2014-11-18 15.23.17 2014-11-15 15.34.41

26.2 Miles – What I Learned from Them

26.24On Monday, 11/10/2014, I set out from home at about 8:30.  I had on my Altra Torin shoes, my Camelbak “Marathoner,” a birthday present from the family, several protein bars and Gu packs, my MP3 player, loaded up with part III of SWANSONG by Robert McCammon, and my game face.  One of the things that has characterized my running is the desire to get past the “I wonder if I can” stage of preparing for a race.  My first marathon was supposed to have been in March – The Newport News One City Marathon, which I’m looking forward too.  Still, that’s a winter away, and winter is the worst running time for me.  Right now I’m coming off hundreds of miles of training over sprint, summer and fall, and I just could not wait for March.

I had a plan (If you’ve read my posts about running long distances on my own before, you know that was futile).  I had a course set that should have brought me home just over 27 miles.  It was a reasonably simple map, and I carried the instructions with me, but there was a point – no road signs – where it just says, left, right. left right, and then turn right.   There were, of course, more options in that stretch than there should have been, and on that crucial final turn, I went…left.  Somehow.   I was supposed to run in to Elizabeth City, NC, and then loop back around toward home on familiar roads. Instead – when I finally poked my head back out onto Highway 17 about halfway into the run (a little over, maybe 14 miles) I was almost in HERTFORD, NC – the exact opposite direction from Elizabeth City.

By this point I had already nearly been blown off the road by a truck, chased by two packs of not-exactly friendly dogs, and gotten directions from people in two very “rural” yards.  One couple informed me I was way off track, but still better off than they were.  Their car woul dnot start, they were stranded, and they could not RUN all the way to the highway…made me smile.

So, anyway, there I was.  What I did was start calculating in my head.  I turned and ran back toward home, and just before hitting 16 miles, I turned left again, crossed back over the highway, and took the route I normally take on my 12 mile track (the one I got lost on LAST time).  26.21 26.22

I figured it like this.  No way I was not running the full 26.2 after all the preparation, and after telling everyone I was going to.  I planned to run half of what was left, turn around, and run back to that same point on the highway, then make it the last couple of miles to home and be well over my 26.2.   Except, what happened was that before I had quite hit that halfway point, I hit the final turn on my 12 mile course…and I took it rather than getting lost (lol)  So… on I traveled.  More dogs … a caterpillar … By this point I was at about 20 miles and speed was no longer an option, but I was still moving.  I stopped for a moment and called home at about 22 miles.  Trish was kind enough to drive out and bring me a bottle of Gatorade at mile 23.  I also gave her my camelback at that point, which helped.

The Gatorade was like magic.  I’d had a lot of water, and I still had water left, but it was no longer really rejuvenating me at all.  Of course, when I gave her the Camelbak, I forgot that my phone was in it – so I was then cut off, and had sent my “Mapmyrun.com” app home.  I kept going.  I had the Garmin watch, and it was going strong.  When I hit the turn to home, I started thinking.  I was going to be short.  Not a lot, but it was going to be – like – 25.78 … no good.  In the hardest running decision of my life, I turned AWAY from home and ran anouther 3/4 of a mile.  That was the defining moment.  After that I swung toward home, and I still felt okay…end in sight.

I walked / ran / stumbled the last mile … managed to remain upright through a shower … and plopped into my chair.  Then I got UP and drank a root beer, and a pepsi, ate an “Outshine” fruit bar, and got back IN to the chair.  Trish had gone to get Katie from school at this point.  Then I got UP again, ate a baloney sandwich and took the dog for a short walk.  The next time I got into the chair, I stayed until dinner…

So now I know.  I can go the distance, and complete it.  It feels good to be part of the 26.2 club…and today – after one day off – I’ll head out for my recovery run smiling.  25 miles from now, I will post again… that is when I will hit 1000 for the year, and I think I’ll take a look back at it for highlights.  Feelin’ kind of #badass today.

I did this (without planning to) on the USMC birthday.  To all my marine buddies, active and retired… Ooo freakin’ rah.

-DNW

Barefoot / Minimalist Running – My Experience

When I started out to run again, it wsa partially fueled by a book a friend of mine suggested that I read.  You’ve probably guessed already that it was “Born to Run,” and if so – you guessed right.  I love that book for many reasons.  That friend took it more to heart than I did.  He made his own sandals, and as far as I know, to this day, he runs in nothing but those thin, rubber-soled throwbacks to a different time.

I tried the sandals.  They never worked out for me.  What I did instead was move on to VIVOBAREFOOT shoes, which are about as close to barefoot as you’re going to get (there is tread on their trail shoes).  I found all of the warnings to be true.  My calves killed me for a very long time.  If I didn’t pay attention and avoid heel strikes, my feet hurt.  Rocks became a problem.  I stuck with it.

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By May of 2014, I had run several hundred miles, all of them in a variety of Vivobarefoot shoes.  Here is the important takeaway from that period.  My form improved drastically.  I moved to a mid-rolling to toe strike.  Most of the pain in my legs, feet and lower back disappeared.  I still wear Vivobarefoot casual shoes to work and for day-to-day wear.  To my knowledge, this is the only company providing a variety of attractive shoes you can wear to work and still experience a nearly barefoot feel.

gobi

At the end of May, however, I had a sort of forced epiphany.  It really isn’t a stretch to figure out that if you are running close to barefoot, your feet are in danger of injury.  Constant pounding on pavement can cause stress fractures.  Rocks and other fobjects in your path are a much bigger dea.  In May, I was flying through the first of several really big challenges.  5K a day in May.  At least 3.1 miles every day.  I was up near the very end.  I had a couple of timed 5K races at that point, and I was determined to do well in them.

Except I stepped on a rock right after the first one.  My foot hurt.  I knew I should have stopped running for a while, but I had a race coming up that Saturday.  I ran it, and actually even got a good time, but I knew before and ABSOLUTELY knew after, that my foot was messed up good.  Pretty sure it was a hefty stress fracture.  I was off running completely until almost halfway through June.

I knew I had to something for my feet, so I went back to the research – as always – reading reviews, studying reports.  I found ALTRA Lone Peak trail running shoes.  These were “Zero dro” – meaning, there is no drop off from the height of your heel to the height at mid-foot or toe.  Just like Barefoot.  There was cushioning in the shoes, and at the time, the more important thing – a metal rod running down the center (a thin one) to protect you from rocks.  I ran in those shoes nearly a month, and was able to get back up into higher mileage, though very slowly.  I noticed recently that during that recovery, my form went ot hell.  The heels on my Lone Peaks are worn half away, and I *never* strike my heels anymore.

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Since then, I have come to understand that it’s the form that matters.  Zero drop shoes promote a natural mid foot to toe-strike stride, but they also provide some protection against pavement pounding.  I now runin a rotation of shoes – the Lone Peaks (though I’m phasing them out due to the heel wear) – Altra Torin running

torin

shoes (very comfortable) Altra Intuition shoes – more of a standard, day to day shoe – not quite as comfortable as the Torin because they don’t have as wide a toe-box, but solid protection.

intuition

I’ve just ordered The Paradigm – another Altra model, but one with more cushion (and still Zero drop) for protection on the longer runs I’m going to be needing to prepare for the Newport News One City Marathon next March.

paradigm

The bottom line is, I think that the barefoot running is a great training tool…  I believe absolutely in keeping your heels off the pavement, and I think flat – zero drop shoes with wide toe boxes so your feet can naturally spread out – are the best bet (for me they are aboslutely the best).  The key is not improving your form at the expense of your feet – learning from the barefoot style and form, while keeping the “common sense” notion of protecting your feet in the forefront of your mind.  There is no one perfect shoe – everyone evolves through a string of them before finding a perfect fit .  My hope is that – from my own experience (over a thousand miles of it now) I’ve cleared up how minimalist running has improved my life, and my fitness, and how I’ve combined that with lessons learned through pain and many miles to conclude that whatever type of shoe you choose, it needs to protect your feet.  If you mess them up – you can’t run.  Sorry Roger – no more sandles for me.

-DNW

Motivation – Challenges – They Help Runners Excel

When I started out a little over a year ago, running sad little mile and a half bursts from  my house, I had motivation.  I was getting too heavy.  I felt tired all the time.  I needed a “comeback” and so, I set a goal.  I wanted to run 100 miles from August when I started to my birthday that October 28th.  I came in ahead of that challenge, and so, I set another one.  I signed up for the Dismal Swamp Half Marathon in April, trained all winter, and again – I succeeded.  Then there was the 5K a Day in May challenge (I fell slightly short of that, three days, I think, because I injured my foot).  In July I signed up to finish 100 miles in July and get a nifty belt buckle.  I wear that buckle every day, and have exceeded 100 miles a month ever since.

100miles

 More recently we had a team challenge in one of the Facebook groups I’m part of.  We were supposed to pick a mileage goal from August 1st to October 1st.  Unfortunately, I thought it sayd August through October, and I said I’d go 300 miles.  I only got 237, but that’s fine… it was the challenge that did it.

Now I’ve set myself a new challenge.  I’m not only a runner, I’m an avid football fan.  I’m not only an avid football fan – I’m a rabid SAN DIEGO CHARGERS fan.  I live on the east coast now, and that makes it hard.  I haven’t seen them live since one of the companies I worked for a while back took me to see them in the new Redskins stadium.  We lost, but that didn’t matter.

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This year, I’ve decided that, since I can’t stop myself from saying “WE” are going to go all the way this year, and since I know I can’t get out on the field and help, that I’ll do SOMETHING … because it’s better than nothing, and because it is a new goal. I have several now, and I’ll see them all complete about the same time.  I will run 1000 miles this year (probably by early December).  I will also run 254.6 miles between the 1st of October and the Superbowl – the distance down Highway 8 from San Diego to Phoenix.  I figure, if they are going to work all season to get there, the least I can do is put in some personal effort.

If you’re a fan, and you have some bit of Chargers memorabilia – shirts, hats, bandannas, whatever, and you want them to go with me on one of my runs, send them along.  If you have suggestions on how I can use this running to benefit a charity, I’m all ears.  If you happen to know Philip Rivers, let him know I’m out there, pounding the pavement and thinking about February.  Heck, I even have a Jackalope decked out in all my running “Bling” – race medals, a Chargers pennant – and who knows?  Virtually running across the mountains into Arizona, I might see a relative of his…

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If you are a runner – keep finding goals.  You are welcome to join our Facebook Group –Team Badass, Miles & Smiles.  We’d love to have you.   Me?  Time to hit the road.  I’ve only done 11.5 miles in the last two days, and I have a LONG way to Phoenix…

David Niall Wilson