Aside from some foot pains related to barefoot running, I have now suffered my first real running injury: strained IT band. It started on Sunday night after the Freedom 5k, I took a nap and woke up with a sore left hip. I thought nothing of it even though I had not properly stretched and knew I should have. For the next day or so, it was still sore but then it cleared up…until Thursday. Yesterday, I went for my first run around FAU’s Boca campus between classes and most of the run felt great. I noticed some slight pain and tightness in my left hip but either it subsided or I was simply more worried about the terrible state of the concrete sidewalks at FAU. All of my classes are on the “old” part of the campus where buildings have stood for the better part of 30 years or more, whereas the sidewalks on the newer side of campus — where the fabulous new Rec Center and football stadium are located — are absolutely delightful. They are smooth, flat, single pour concrete, incredible to run on. But those sidewalks on my side of campus? Like running on gravel. Gravel with no give. I was hoping to pull a 5k run but was cut short due to time but I am glad I did not run further because I was in some serious pain after I was done. Besides my feet throbbing from the battered concrete, thanks tree roots!, my pelvic girdle was screaming at me. In hindsight, I simply should have run in the grass or on the road as the sidewalk made me seriously alter my form to heavily overpronate and roll my feet on each fall. Looks like I may be running in my huaraches at school rather than barefoot.

That’s where it all went downhill and it only got worse as the night went on. As I walked to the campus Starbucks, I truly realized how much my hip was hurting and how badly my lower back/girdle was starting to hurt. Eventually, simply taking a step or two sent pain down my pelvis thanks to poor form during my run. Just sitting in class was painful so I ended up leaving and coming home to stretch and I jammed through my typical stretching routine while adding in Mobility WOD’s couch stretch (FYI: it hurts like hell, try the super couch if you like pain). When I woke up this morning, it was even worse and I hobbled to my office to work. Throughout the day I was so uncomfortable that I would go outside frequently to stretch out my IT band. I must have done ten different stretches and it took finally getting off work and onto my couch for the pain to subside. For the most part, mobility has been restored and pain is gone but it is still a tad sore, which stinks because I was going to go to Strong Owl training but may default to TRX Bootcamp if I can get over to campus before sign-up closes.

My running this week was already way down but now thanks to my terrible upkeep and a dumb IT band injury I could have avoided, next week’s training is compromised too. I was hoping to start ramping up mileage to start working on a 10k distance but that looks like it will be put on hold until this band stretches out but at least I can get some free cross-training in since I am pushing off any more races until next month. Plus, I really miss running with my running buddy, I have had to forgo running with him for something like two weeks in a row and it makes me feel terrible. I feel like the worst running partner because of my own stupidity.

Hopefully things will improve next week.

Today is September 11, 2011. Ten years ago, the World Trade Center towers fell and America has never been the same since nor will we ever be, especially the people of my generation and those after mine. Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters were ripped from this world. 343 valiant firefighters heroes, 60 unwavering police officers heroes, and 2753 people are forever memorialized. Over two million brave service men and women heroes have been deployed in the fruitless aftermath of a decade’s long war that will drag on another decade, I thank each and every one of them I encounter whenever I see them. I thank my nephew, who even as an officer candidate and has never been deployed, for his future service to my country. I wish my mother a happy birthday with a smile on this day every year. Ten years ago today, my generation’s Peal Harbor occurred and we will never forget it. I was only 19, just a few weeks from turning 20. Now, here I am 29 and soon to be 30. I cannot recall a day that has gone by where I have not thought about that fateful day.

But today was different. I got up this morning at 6am to run the Operation Homefront Freedom Walk & Run 5k. When I got to the course, I was greeted by over 800 runners, at least 100 volunteers, and dozens of public service men, Marines, and members of the Army. I thanked all of them that I saw, each of them with smiles on their faces and it made me feel so incredibly inconsequential. It was a sad day to be sure but you would not know it from all the laughter and smiles, it was infectious. I ran alone today as my girlfriend could not make it to the event and truthfully, I am grateful for that as it gave me time to reflect on what this meant to me personally. I ended up PR’ing the race with an official time of 31:22, although my Garmin said 29:55. Physically I felt great, I only cramped up mildly about halfway through and the gravel-based concrete was hell on the soles of my feet, but I was never winded, exhausted, or really felt like I was overexerting myself. I did run rather slowly for about half a mile when my feet were really feeling it, I noticed my heart rate dropped significantly, to about 88 BPM down from the 160s. But once the street transitioned to smooth blacktop I immediately picked up pace and finished very strong, pulling fast (for me) 10 minute miles. Out of the 800+ runners, I was again the only one running barefoot with some Vibram runners intermixed into the crowd. It is amazing how much you stand out by simply not wearing shoes.

I spent the entire race thinking of only two things: how much the concrete was hurting my feet and of the service members in my life. I thought about my girlfriend’s father and step-mother, both retired from the Army and Air Force respectively, and of my step-father, a retired Army captain, helicopter and test aircraft pilot who passed away this year. I ran this race in his memory as he inspired and molded me into the adult I am today as much as my biological parents did. He taught me an incalculable number of things about life and what was really most important at the end of the day. I do not think there is any man on this planet that affected my life more than my step-father, even as we fought, argued, and did not speak for months at a time, his hard-nosed attitude effected me greatly. Thank you Chuck, I will never forget you. I miss you and love you.

Ten years ago today, ten years in the future. Never forget, never forgotten.

Ah, I forgot how busy the first few weeks of school are. And I forgot how much I typically hate them. I am going into the third week of classes now and I am ready for the newness to wear off. However, this is a semester I am not looking forward to as it is one required class (Interpretation of Fiction) and one fun class that’s just a lot of talking (Russian art). Unfortunately, classes in my major of Anthropology are getting to be slim, I have only taken one interesting Anthro-related class in the last year. Not only have they scaled back the classes, there are fewer qualified teachers for the classes which really stinks. Many of the classes offered now are not even in my specialization or realm of interest, it is just mostly archaeology classes and Latin American history. Neither of those are very interesting, I promise. North American Prehistory was boring enough and it was chockful of data memorization of names and dates, I cannot imagine doing the same thing for other Archaeo classes where I just endlessly memorize things rather than learn and interpret data. I cannot wait to be done with this major.

Last week was fairly busy. I ran the Summer’s End 5 on Sunday and managed to run another 5k on Tuesday, which completely surprised me. I had come home after school feeling pretty tired and run-down, definitely not the way I want to start an easy run. I was more worried my ill mood was going to make me choose to stop the run shortly after it began, I just felt really negative/down which is not like me. I felt like I was searching for reasons to not run other than I just did not want to. I knew my legs felt good and not to beat up from Sunday but my feet were another question, especially since I had a pretty big blood blister on my big toe. Things went even further downhill as I neared the one mile mark and I was running on some gravel-based concrete that I hate running on, it just makes my feet hurt uncontrollably and I knew it would cut my run short if I stayed the course. Luckily, I found aside road that had a black-top sidewalk that was smooth and cool since it had just finished raining. Once I hit that black-top, I instantly picked up pace and I felt great. I just kept running and running, my body barely felt the effects from running two days prior. I know this is not a big deal to those running double digits but it was pretty surprising to me. I did not run for almost a week after my first 5k, my body just felt ripped up. This time, I simply felt like I had gone out for my normal run and pushed myself a little too hard. Before I knew it, I was coming up on the road to my house and I did not feel like stopping yet so I kept on going. Then I went some more. Then what do you know, I am at 2.5 miles and was coming up to my street and I just felt like I could push on through to 5k distance. Something about that smooth sidewalk just felt so nice on my naked feet. So I pushed on through to 3.1 miles and was utterly drenched in sweat, it felt great. I did not run for the rest of the week but did not feel like I needed to, especially with the schoolwork I had to complete.

The week was rounded out nicely with the start of college football season, which is the only season I observe. Down where I live in Florida, we do not really have seasons based on the weather, it is either hot or less hot, that’s all there is to it. But then we have football season and my girlfriend and I get all geared up for four months to watch games every weekend until December and it is my favorite time of the year. My teams went 2-2 this weekend with TCU playing poorly against Baylor and barely pulling out a loss, Auburn won their season opener just like they played last year (winning at the last moment), Boise State had no problems handing Georgia a loss, and Oregon just did not come to play with a loss to LSU. I was surprised at the sheer number of cramps I saw in all the games I watched. There must have been 4-5 guys cramping up in the first two quarters of play in the 7 or 8 games I watched. Everyone was cramping up and all they did to try and fix it was guzzle down gallons of Gatorade, stretch out, and get IVs put in for fluids. I think they need to take a clue from endurance athletes and fix their hydration regimen. TCU/Baylor and Boise State I can totally understand, it was insanely hot in Waco, TX where TCU was playing and Boise State had to play their first game in years in Georgia humidity, there is no way to prepare or plan for that. But Auburn and LSU? They are used to that stuff and had no logical reason to start cramping so early except due to poor training. They needed more salt and should have taken a page from Mark Ingram’s playbook; last year he was cramping up in the Iron Bowl so he was drinking jars full of pickle juice. I do not know what happened to the pickles but he was drinking that stuff like it was the only thing keeping him alive. I can already tell that it is going to be a good year for college football, a lot of underdogs either won their games over better opponents or played the best they have in years, that is only a trend that will continue over time.

The site will be up and down over the next few days as I am moving hosts from Limestone Networks over to Wired Tree and I am downgrading from a dedicated server to a VPS. This will be the first time in almost five years that I am not in total control of my server or its hardware and it is going to be hard to give up. Luckily, all I need is the web hosting and MySQL hosting, all of my email is handled by Google Apps, which was my only concern. I went with Wired Tree over getting a server from my own company because frankly, I know how awful our hardware is and our support is abysmal, I do not want to go down that route even if I would get a very steep discount. That is just asking for trouble all around and I am not going to do that. DNS should propagate fairly quickly since I will do forced DNS pushes but we will see, I just hope the new hardware is as zippy as my current server. I will be sad to not have a dedicated server but I just do not need that much power any longer and I do not want to pay the bill any more just to run one site. I read a lot of good things about Wired Tree so we will see what happens, the support guys from LSN have been nothing but awesome for the last three years, WT’s support has a lot to live up to.

I am not looking forward to class tomorrow, I think I will go to bed now just to decompress from a long and extremely boring day at work.

Sunday was the Runner’s Edge Summer’s End 5k in east Boca. I registered for the race because it was cheap and they advertised free food, that was reason enough for me to run it. Clearly, I had no intentions of being serious at all during this hot August afternoon.

This was as serious as I was all day

This was as serious as I was all day

This was pretty much as serious as I acted the entire race until I finished and had nothing else on my mind except heading to the restroom. The race itself was held in east Boca and we ran an amazing route that led us from the Runner’s Edge store down Spanish River Blvd onto A1A, running parallel to the beach. I have never run this route and I’m pretty sure I will make an effort to do so in the future because not only was the ocean an amazing sight during the run, the course included some light hill work which I never integrate into my weekly runs. Also, I am pretty sure it will serve me to run there and see some pretty ladies in bikinis, that never hurts as motivation. This was my second barefoot race and proved more to me than the first one I ran in July: my feet can take the pain and it’s way more liberating to run wherever you want without worrying about getting your shoes dirty. I even kicked off the race celebrating my naked feet.

No shoes, jump for joy!

No shoes, jump for joy!

I was the only barefoot runner in this race as well although I did spy one girl wearing some VFFs in the middle of the pack, everyone else was wearing boring old shoes. I did see more Nike Free 2.0 and 3.0 shoes and some Inov8′s this time around, for whatever that’s worth.

This race was coincidentally my first run all week as I started back to school and I was not sure if I would be able to run the entire length since I could not run the full 5k the last time around and my feet were feeling really soft and girly, definitely not up to the task of pounding the pavement. Well, suffice it to say, I managed to run the entire thing except for a span of perhaps 5 seconds when I had to stop because I felt like a rock had implanted itself into my big toe; this of course had to occur when I was perhaps 100 yards from the finish. I managed to cross the line in 32:46 according to my Garmin and this serves as my “official” time since this was just a fun run and no times were kept. I did not manage to set a PR on this race but I had not set out to do so, simply running the time was record enough for me — back in the Run, Sweat, and Beers 5k I only managed to run about 2 or 2.5 miles while walking the rest of the distance. While I finished and finished strong, I also came across the line shirtless, revealing to everyone my blinding white torso accompanied by a lovely farmer’s tan

Topless and no tan, almost as bad as socks with sandals

Topless and no tan, almost as bad as socks with sandals

I am positive no one received any joy out of seeing this, it just serves to remind me I need to go topless more often to even out whatever tan I do have, after all I do live in the Sunshine State. Mental note: stop wearing shirts and just let it all hang out. Overall, I had a really good time and ran better than I expected to given my week-long laziness. My only disappointment was that I came away injured, I suffered a bloody toe of my own doing while trying to kick a rock off of my middle toe. Next time, I will just stop and flick it off rather than trying to use the road to do the work for me, now I only have a hurt toe to show for it.

My runs will probably be light this week until I get my full schedule worked out with my classes but I can be proud in that I ended August on a high note. I thoroughly enjoyed the race while everyone else looked entirely too serious during the whole thing. I saw more scowls and mean faces than I did smiles, I thought running made us all feel good! Just look at all these serious faces!

LET'S ALL LOOK SERIOUS AND PREPARED.  I stood in the back where the party started.

LET'S ALL LOOK SERIOUS AND PREPARED. I stood in the back where the party started.

I look forward to meeting you next year, Summer’s End 5k!

Of course, it does have a title (now) but I must have sat here for 15 minutes in an attempt to think of something and I simply could not do so. It is not for lack of things to discuss, I have plenty, but there are specific things I want to break out into different posts for different reasons. Things I have figured out this week and will be posting about soon:

    1. My primal diet has weened me off of grains completely and I do not miss them at all. While I still scarf down pancakes once a week, I do so because I can and look forward to it, not because I crave them.
    2. Camelbak should not make electrolyte replacement tablets.
    3. As I approach week six of Couch 2 5k, my paces are picking up.
    4. My Nathan flasks are leaky, no matter how tightly I cap them.

This has just sort of been a mediocre week, nothing spectacular has really happened. I ran my first night run on Monday and it was pretty nice, but I discovered that with or without the sun, I sweat an incredible amount. I have actually run twice this week shod, once for foot protection (night run), and once because my feet are still recovering from the pounding I gave them on Tuesday. Both times were the first time I have run in shoes in just about a month and I have noticed that while my form has improved slightly, I am still pushing off on each foot fall and my feet have toughened up but even moderately rough surfaces are hurting my soles. This means that according to all the barefoot rules and tropes, I am doing it all wrong. I realize doing barefoot running requires a lot of reprogramming in the form department, I still have quite a journey ahead if I wish to continue doing it.

I also hit my weight goal of 197lbs this week, although I did shoot up to 198.5lbs the very next day. I was only discouraged a bit but I have noticed that I am not having the huge weight swings everyday like I was a few weeks ago. I am still managing to stay under the 200lb mark for the most part — I did top out at 200 even yesterday — but just a few weeks ago I had a lot more variance in my weight day-to-day than I do now. Typically I am going up or down by a pound each day whereas before, I was fluctuating a few pounds everyday. I am making a much more concerted effort to include larger vegetable portions in my lunches and dinners while keeping breakfast almost entirely protein-based for that extra boost in the morning. Unfortunately, I have been so busy lately that I have resorted to eating mostly canned veggies rather than fresh and I am not too pleased with that. Now that I am teetering around the 197 mark, I will be working my way down towards ~190lbs as my ultimate goal weight. With things going the way they are now and continuing the primal diet, I will probably hit that goal in December or January of next year. I know it is only another seven or eight pounds in total but since I am currently doing no cross training, my body is relying solely on food intake and running to eat away those pounds. That is a lot to ask of my body but it has been pretty compliant so far, so I am confident that I can reach my ultimate goal.

A few days ago, I finally finished off my first tube of electrolyte replacement tablets that I had purchased last month. The store I went to did not carry nuun tablets so I picked up a tube of Camelbak Elixir Orange Alert. I will be writing a more formal review of these soon but to summarize: I wasted the $11 that I paid for them. For casual walking around and milling about, they seem to work fine but for use during exercise, I found them to be useless. I have since purchased a tube of fruit punch flavored nuun and just started to use them today. A review of those will be forthcoming as well.

I am excited for this weekend because I will be doing something decidedly un-metal: going to see Ke$ha and LMFAO in concert. I do not really mask or hide my adoration (and dislike) of pop music, especially stuff that gets me pumped and going like these guys do. Both groups are on my pre-race playlist and the CDs — yes, CDs! — stay in the car for regular rotation. The concert should be a lot of fun and we plan on buying some outlandish gear to fit the outlandish party the concert will turn into. Luckily, I will be buying stuff that is running gear so I end up with some functional stuff too, score!

School starts soon and I am looking forward to it. I really do like having my summers off, especially the fact that I get off at 2:30PM twice a week, but I need a change of pace. This will of course affect my race training but FAU has a nice track and gym that I can and will utilize. I will be excited to use the gym as I heard they will be offering some TRX classes this fall. This will be cheaper than going to a CrossFit facility and decidedly less injury-prone since every CF exercise video I see includes exercises that are designed to get you ripped and ultimately, injured. I do not enjoy watching videos of people plowing through Kipping pull-ups because they are not only known to cause dislocations and other shoulder injuries, the action of kipping itself removes the workload of compound muscular interaction which pull-ups are designed for and places much of the movement into the actual leg pumping (kipping). Back when I was weigh training heavily, anything other than a dead hang/standard pull-up was cheating because of this compound movement removal. Anyway, I am not going to wax poetic on an exercise movement that has clearly improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, CF definitely has its place in keeping people out of useless gyms.

Ah, I have rambled on too much, I will be heading to bed now.