Monday, March 8, 2010

Hash 6


This turned out to be my wife’s first hash.

We met the group at the Boulder Brewing Company. Both of the hares looked muddy and full of burs which gave us a warning of things to come. After a quick chalk talk, we were off.

Nothing to spectacular at the start, just simple paved trails and easy checks. About a mile into it, we came to a check where the trail split into two directions in front of a fenced off baseball field. I thought this would have been a great place to make us climb the fence, but the pack split in two. Both directions turned out to be false trails and we climbed the fence to see the trail head through the baseball field, which lead to another vacant field where we wondered aimlessly until we found trail on a bike path next to a stream. I told my wife that we will most likely be crossing that stream at some point.

After a rather long check back, the trail took us across the stream, into the forest and to our first beer check. Here we talked about the best movies where people get eaten by pigs. Tongue Hole pointed out that Speedbump had already lost the trail and would most likely miss the beer check. The guy with the shirt that read, “Meat is Murder, Tasty Tasty Murder” asked if we should try and find Speedbump. The reply came, “Why would we want to find him? He’s a lawyer.”

As we took off back down the trail which made us cross the stream once again, we ran into Little Head wandering through the forest. In an effort to short cut the trail he got lost and found us by following marks from an old trail. He led several hounds on the imaginary route he took to get there and the rest of us followed the actual trail.

At the next stream crossing, Big Pimp decided she was too drunk to cross and looked for a bridge. By the time we made it out of the forest, only four of us remained. I got a cactus needle in my shoe and had to run the rest of the trail barefoot. The trail led us down some railroad tracks, through a small hobo village and into an office park.

At the circle, Speedbump asked why there was no beer check. I had to drink for having a private party when WWWWWayne asked if I would drive up to Ft. Collins and give him a ride to the next Denver Hash. With the torch Speedbump found on his personal trail, he demonstrated how Hashers can turn anything into a phallic symbol.

Not that it was a race, but the pregnant lady finished first.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Full Moon Hash

My third hash and first full moon hash. I started off wandering the parking lot looking for the other hashers. As it closed in on 7:00, I thought maybe I had the date wrong. That is until, a guy in a small sport's car pulled up next to me and asked, "RU?" I replied with the traditional, "On-on." He told the group is most likely at the bar. Where was my brain, of course this group would be at the bar. I went back to my car to get my re-gift, (the theme for the night), and saw the hares coming off the trail. We did the RU and on-on and they told me to forget what I just saw. It didn't matter since the trail had nothing to do with the location they just came from.

The run started off like any other just in the dark. I don't know if it's because I'm still a probie but not many brought flashlights. The guy from the sports car, he brought a gigantic spotlight.

It seemed like each time we reached a check all directions led to false trails. We eventually gave up on the symbols and found the true trails beyond the false marks. At the halfway point the beer check was at Hooters. We stayed a little longer than most beer checks.

Back out on the trail we followed all the false symbols and eventually landed at quite the dive bar. I don't know who were the strange ones, us or the regulars in this place.

The circle went without incident but I did see someone get their name. Before the ceremony, they asked him his favorite this and that. When asked his favorite farm animal, he thought for a long time and eventually said, "cow."

All those with Just in their name had to leave while they voted on a new name for this guy. At the bar I said to him, "Well it looks like tonight you become a man."

He had this expression of terror on his face and replied, "Why did I say cow?"

I will be one of the hares for the March full moon run.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Frozen VFF’s

Now that the temperatures have fallen to single digits, I noticed something about my VFF’s, they’re not warm. Actually, my feet don’t get as cold as I thought they would. Besides any snow that comes over the top, the main problem is the transfer of cold from the frozen ground through the thin rubber soles to my toes. The main portion of my foot does not get that cold but my toes start to go numb. You don’t have to be a native of Colorado to know this is not good.

I have had several runs which I had to cut short because of numb toes. All the years of frostbite from skiing in below zero temperatures has decreased the circulation in my toes and has made them more vulnerable.

Now I’ve seen the videos of other barefoot runners running in the snow and that’s great for them. If they can do that for an hour long run, more power to them. I am not a barefoot runner to show people how tough I am. Even Barefoot Ken Bob said it’s okay to wear something in freezing temperatures. I run barefoot because it eliminated decades of knee pain. It gives me an incredibly deep relaxed feeling that lasts throughout the day. I have more a Zen outlook on my surroundings because of barefoot running. Frozen feet do not have a place in this equation. Since I want to keep my toes, I’ve looked for winter alternatives to VFF’s.

One alternative are my Teva sandals with a warm pair of socks. This actually works quite well with the only drawback being snow coming over the top or wedging between my foot and the sandal. On dry cold days, this will be my go to shoe. If there is snow or just a lot of wet, I’m going old school with the shoes I wore when I got married. My Converse Chuck Taylor high tops. They are flat, thin, and offer no arch support. Yes, when they get wet they get cold but so does any shoe. A warm wool sock goes a long way to help out here.

If you have any alternatives for keeping your feet attached in the winter, let’s hear about them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1st Hash Run


After months of trying, I finally was able to attend my first Hash Run.

I tried back in August but that’s when I first tore a muscle in my leg. In September I re-injured it again right before a hash and in October I was in Mexico. Even though I’m still nursing the same muscle tear, I decided to give it try.

The group met in the parking lot of a city park. Judging by the number of international Hash Run shirts, it appeared these people were not just casual hashers or maybe Hashing is not that casual. We did a chalk talk to go over the symbols to mark the course, I was introduced as a virgin along with a few other people and off we went.

Right from the start we came to a check which meant the course could go in any direction from there. A few people split off in the different ways until one found the route and yelled, “On on.” Over the next two hours we ran through residential neighborhoods, fields, paths, parking lots, and crossed a very cold river. This was easily the most fun I’ve had running in decades. We even had a beer stop half way through the run. The small piles of flour that marked the route led us behind a grocery store where an ice chest filled with beer waited for us. After a quick drink, it was back to the run.

Several people brought their dogs on the run. Apparently, these dogs had acquired a taste for beer as they felt the beer stop was just as much for them as it was for the humans.

When we finally arrived at the end of the run, which was someone’s garage, I realized I had no idea where I was. My car was parked back at some park I had never been to before and I spent two hours weaving around a part of town I had never seen. Lucky for me the first item of business was to shuttle everyone back to the park so they could get their cars.

Once everyone was back at the house, I got to take part in my first circle. It started off with the Hares, (the ones who laid down the route), doing a down down while the group sang an R rated song. A down down is where you have to drink all the beer in your cup and invert the cup over your head when you are finished which gives you incentive to finish every drop. Next, the virgins, including me, had to enter the circle and do a down down for being virgins. Once we inverted our cups, the Hash Master said, “Congratulations, you are no longer virgins.”

The circle went on for another hour giving out down downs for all kinds of reasons and singing many more songs you don’t want to repeat in front of the kids. Some people had been caught running road races, some sent the Hash Master a stupid email. The people who came in first and the people who came in last were punished with beer. The people who had skipped a race had to do a down down as did the guy who celebrated 25 years of hashing. I had to do another down down with all the other men who needed Rogaine. During the down down for people with new shoes, I was called to the circle for wearing my Five Fingers because they were strange and yes I had to drink a beer from my shoe.

The evening ended with a chili dinner and some socializing. It was such a great time, I know I will be hashing for the foreseeable future maybe even starting my own collection of international Hash Run shirts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Relaxing on the Beach

I never thought anything could be more relaxing than lying on the beach doing absolutely nothing. It appears I was wrong or at least as far as my well being is concerned.

While spending a week on the beach in Mexico (it was rough), I was feeling lethargic and not that well rested. It didn’t make sense, I was doing the ultimate relaxation activity. After three days of this, I decided to go on a nice long barefoot run on the beach. After my first quarter mile, it was as if my body was saying, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been wanting.” I felt more energetic and relaxed all at the same time. The more I ran, the more my body relaxed deep down and felt better overall. I don’t know if it was due to my focus on relaxing while I run or that my muscles needed the blood flow. Either way, running felt better and more relaxing than the lounge chair on the beach.

Another strange occurrence while I ran was breathing too much air. At home, I run between the altitudes of 5,770 and 6,100 feet above sea level. In this thin air, I breathe with a certain cadence of two quick breaths in, per stride, and one out. This helps me set a pace and lets me know how hard I am running. At sea level I couldn’t begin to breath heavy enough to start my two quick in and one out rhythm. I tried to use slow long breathes and became light headed from too much oxygen. I actually had to pay attention to not breathe too much while running. How weird is that?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Race Report – Red Rocks Scramble

I ran in the Red Rocks Scramble a part trail, part road race. There was a good group of barefoot runners, from Boulder, running the 5K.

The other barefoot runners from Boulder at the starting line.

I was the only bf runner entered the 5mile race. Since I was not sure what I was going to encounter on the trail sections of the course, I wore my VFF’s. My goal was to finish the race with an 8:30 mile average.

It has been 27 years since I last ran in a race, but as I stood in the crowd at the starting line it felt like business as usual. The excitement of the start caused me to come out way too fast. By the half mile mark, I was sucking wind hard. I tried to slow down but the trail had so many little hill and

quick turns, it was difficult to fall into my relaxed normal pace. By the time the race moved onto the road, I was ready to loose my breakfast but lucky for me I didn’t eat breakfast this day.

On the smooth asphalt encased by the emblazoned trees at the peak of their multiple fall colors, it was all too easy now to relax and run at my pace. I moved into what I had practiced all summer letting my feet feel the ground and tell how to move.

Hill climbs; I did my round bicycle steps and passed a few runners with ease. The down hill side; I let the road push me as fast as it wanted. Most of the runners around me thought I was racing them and pushed themselves to keep up with me.

On the flats, I stayed relaxed, caught my breath and reserved energy and strength. At the 5K turnaround point about thirty of the fifty people in front of me turned back. For a brief moment, I could see the front runners and entertained thoughts about going for it. But my age and wisdom kicked in and reminded me to run at the pace I trained at or else I will not make my 8:30 mile goal. So I pushed the competitive me aside and let runners pass me as I stayed at my pace.

A few hundred yards past the 2 mile marker, I saw the front runners coming back towards me. This meant they were close to a mile ahead of me and now I’m really glad I didn’t try to run their race because I wouldn’t make it to three miles at their speed. I did count the runners that passed me until I reached the turnaround. There were 25 runners in front of me, not bad for someone who thought about never running again just four months ago.

Two runners ran with me for the next half mile. We were in sync with our strides which kept us linked together. I was on cruise control and didn’t want to push any harder but I didn’t want to stay step for step with them. I wished there were more bumps and cracks in the ground that I could use to my advantage but the asphalt was fairly new.Without any increase in effort, I did something they could not do because they wore running shoes. With each step, I pressed my big toe into the ground which gave a minor extension on my stride similar to the clap skates speed skaters use. It worked wonderfully, I slowly pulled away from these runners and didn’t see them for the rest of the race.

I'm closing in on the 4 mile mark.

Just past the four mile marker, the barefoot runners, who ran the 5K, were on the side of the road and cheered me on. With less than a mile left, I thought, “what the heck” let’s go for it. I started moving up, passing runners who were breathing hard and struggling. Once I entered the woods and back on the winding trail, I was on the heels of a man with short gray hair and a red shirt. I thought to myself, he’s me in ten years. There was no doubt he knew I wanted to pass him and he wanted to keep me behind him. The trail in the woods was too narrow and winding for me to make a move. I stayed right on his heels waiting until after we crossed the bridge and were in the open ground.

Not me, but this is the turn onto the bridge.

As we came out of the trees to the sharp turn onto the bridge, I tweaked the groin pull I had been battling for the last month. It made me stutter for one step but did not slow me down. Across the bridge, we were in the open and I was ready to make my move. As I pushed myself to about three quarters of my full speed, the gray haired man in the red shirt took off like a rocket and left me in the dust.

I did keep this fast pace for the last half mile and finished feeling strong as if I could have run several more miles. I stopped so the race officials could take the tag off my number. When I walked away, I realized that groin pull tweak I did on the bridge was worse than I thought. I could barely move my right leg. Checking the board, I finished with a time of 38:23, a 7:31 mile pace.

Latter, when I saw the bulge above my leg, I realized it wasn’t a groin pull but a hernia. It looks like my future races are on hold until I get this fixed.

UPDATE: What I thought was a hernia turned out to be just a really bad groin pull. In just two weeks I'm already back to running 4-6 miles daily.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Old Cruel Shoes

Later that day, Carlos was overheard saying to a new customer, "Well, that's every shoe in the place. Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes." –Steve Martin-

Once upon a time, when I was a kid, I used to ski every weekend all season long. I would ski the bumps and I hit them hard. I noticed some pain in my knees around age fourteen and by the time I turned fifteen, my knees were in horrible shape. They clicked and grinded and wiggled and hurt all while it felt like I had sand in the joints. Not the normal fifteen year old knee or the normal twenty something year old, or thirty something year old knee. Obviously, this condition came from my love of pounding moguls every Saturday with my friends.

Wait, looking back I now realize there was another event at this point in my life. At age thirteen, I started running track. I really didn’t want to run at all but my friends told me they need me on the track team so our moms could carpool when picking us up. So I ran track and I ran in my blue Adidas gym shoes.

Aren't they awesome.

I didn’t have any trouble running that first year even though I didn’t have the coolest shoes. So I begged and pleaded with my parents to buy me some new shoes so I don’t have to suffer the social embarrassment from my peers which at that time was worse than death. They caved and bought me the most popular brand at that time, Onizuka Tigers.
I had the yellow ones.

If you look at those primitive shoes, you can see they knew nothing about modern running. They were flat and had very little padding. Yet, my knees still felt fine but hey I was still young and had new knees.

Then came 8th grade track and I ran in what I thought were by far the best shoes ever. Nike Daybreaks.

I really loved these shoes.

Look at that big padded heal. How could it get any better? It’s a good thing running shoes just started padding their heals because it just so happens that particular year, (age 14), my knees started to hurt. By age fifteen, I had full blown old man knees and yet I still couldn’t buy beer. But, I couldn’t give up skiing, I loved it so much even though it was tearing my knees up.

So I continued to run track through high school and even went to the Junior Olympics for the 400 meters. I did all this with that painful grinding sand feeling in my knees. After high school I cut back on how much I skied, because of the cost and how much it was killing my knees. But to stay in shape, I kept running, not much maybe one or two miles a few days a week because it hurt too much to run more than that.

Around age thirty I decided it was time to get some decent running shoes and I forked out $115 and plunged into even more pain as I ran. Realizing Nike suckered me for the flare and flash of the new model, I bought another pair for $30. The pain reduced with these shoes but I still could not run more than three miles or thirty minutes due to all the damage I did to my knees skiing when I was younger.

Friends would ask if I could recommend good running shoes. I told them to buy what felt the most comfortable. If that was the top of the line or bottom of the line, go with the ones that felt the best. I made it clear not to fall for the salesmen’s push to go with the most state of the art model and i felt the most comfortable in the cheaper shoes.

Another decade passed and my skiing turned into one or two snowboard trips per year and my running remained at no more than three miles or thirty minutes with the last ten minutes of me hobbling back home from the pain in my knees. Walking stairs hurt, walking hurt, sitting for long period of time made them stiff and overall my running days were coming to an end from all those early years of skiing damage.

One afternoon while I took my 10 year old son for a run, I tried the best I could not to look crippled when I ran. He asked me why I ran so funny and I told him I had old man knees. While we ran around the track, I saw these two guys running barefoot in the grass on the outside of the track. These guys looked like real runners and not someone who was just trying to be “Green” while they ran. I couldn’t understand how they could do something that went against all we knew about running and exercise but it appeared they knew what they were doing.

With my curiosity up, I did a few Google searches and stumbled upon Barefoot Ken Bob. I drank in every word he wrote about why we should run barefoot. I couldn’t wait to try it, in fact that very day I ran my first barefoot mile in the grass. What I absolutely could not grasp was why my knees didn’t hurt. I knew for sure that the damage from skiing would not allow me to run without shoes but here I was running with no pain.

Hundreds of barefoot pain free miles later, I’m walking up stairs with no pain, sitting with no stiffness and apologizing to my skis for blaming them all these years for hurting my knees when it was the shoes. Those evil devil cruel shoes.