Monday, October 30, 2006

Healing Run

Today I decided to challenge myself, after several painful, disappointing runs last week. I was determined to have a successful run. I chose to follow my tried and proven running route so I wouldn’t have any surprises. It was a crisp Fall day, lots of leaves on the ground, temperature about 52 degrees, sun shining brightly.

I ran 10.3 miles today, really trying to keep my form true and correct. It paid off. I had a very nice run, felt like I was “in the groove” the whole way. I concentrated on pulling my feet up a little higher than usual, just to make sure I was not pushing off in any way. I also concentrated on placing them straight down beneath me. I felt like I was really working my thighs, in a good way, by keeping my legs bent in an "S" curve, strengthening them and my hamstrings.

I successfully negotiated some “corrugated” cement sidewalks. I ran into several sections of ouchies in several places where little acorn-like seeds were scattered on the sidewalk. I just tried to step through them as carefully as I could -- mostly successful! My feet did not scream at me like they did last week. The best part is that I returned completely fired up and energized. A picture perfect day and a most satisfying run!

Call me happy.

Goodbye Garden

Last night we had our first frost. And it did freeze well in my backyard. I still had a lot of lettuce that I was planning on picking. Oh well, its all frozen now! Just the same, I'll wait until later today to see if any of it survived enough for one last picking of lettuce. I pulled out my pepper plant, some tomato plants, and some other things. I'm waiting to see if I still have raspberries that are pickable. Once I'm done picking them I plan on cutting that monstrous bush back to more tame dimensions. I'm worried that all of those overripe berries that have dropped off will grow into a jungle next year! I'm going to be busy hacking out extra shoots that grow in the wrong places. I have a number of carrots still in the ground. They last all winter if you mulch well over the top of them. I don't think they suffered any last night. I also have a lot of onions. They are the sweet variety, so they won't winter-over in the ground. They never grew very large, some are maybe 2 inches in diameter, most are smaller. So tonight I'll pull them up and see what shape they are in and figure out how to use them up quickly. Maybe I can dry them.?

So my lush garden is quickly being scaled back to the dry dirt, waiting for next year's new crops. I love the growbox method of gardening. Once its set up, its the absolute easiest to care for!

Happy barefoot gardener,

Painful Record Week of Running Barefoot!

Last week was one of accomplishment and pain. Accomplishment because I ran a personal best total mileage for the week. Pain because I kept on going over areas that turned out to be rougher than I expected. Monday I ran 8.5 miles as reported earlier. I rested on Tuesday to let my feet recover.

On Wednesday I plotted out another course that I hoped would be nicer to my feet. On the map, at least, it had sidewalks all along the route. It was pretty good for most of the run, but one area had older sidewalks that were quite weather beaten, so they were very rough and raspy. I changed by route and cut my run a little bit shorter than I planned on and headed back. While I was running this particularly rough section a lady stopped in her car and asked if I was alright. She must have figured only an emergency would make a guy run down the road barefooted!

When I got to within a few miles of finishing, my left foot developed a very sharp pain in it. At first I thought I was getting a stress fracture (again - same place as one previously). But it felt different. So I thought maybe I had gotten a glass puncture or something. I stopped and checked for fresh signs of new glass wounds, found nothing obvious, and so I figured it must be an old piece of glass I got in my foot one time that I couldn't get out, even went to the doctor's for some probing, and he couldn't find it either. I think its lodged in there but sometimes gets worked a little loose and starts poking places that hurt. My foot was painful and kind of swollen at exactly the same spot where that old piece of glass was stuck in my foot.

So I carefully finished my run by the most direct route possible. Still -- I logged in a 9.75 mile run!! Yippee!

I decided to see how I would do if I ran the very next day, so on Thursday I headed out again. This time I planned on running an old, tried and proven course. It was going very well, along predictably smooth surfaces through downtown Vancouver, a very rough but manageable short section that resembles corrugated cardboard, only its sharp cement ridges - as the sidewalk bends to run along the edge of the Columbia River. Then it was quite smooth running from there on.

I ran a couple of miles along the waterfront sidewalk, keeping to the smoother edges as much as possible, then kept on going towards Wintler Park. They had even made some areas better than it was last year. New pavement on some of the cross streets made intersections a lot smoother and nicer. Ahhh! I love new, smooth asphalt!

Once at Wintler Park I ran down to the water's edge to experience the sand and cool water. My feet felt a little tender, but not all too bad. Then I looked off in the distance and saw the I-205 bridge a few miles away. I thought how nice it would be to run all the way to the bridge on the river's sandy bank. So I took off. There were places in the sand where it got kind of rough, lots of pebbles, shells and glass. I was careful as I could be, but I could tell my feet were starting to complain. I went as far as I could before the sand ran out, then returned and started to retrace my steps back to my office. The closer I got back to my work the more my feet were complaining. My left foot was feeling some stabbing pains again and was a little swollen, and the soles of my feet just complained in general. I ran gingerly the last mile to my office, took a shower, and patted myself on the back for another long run. This one was a 10.25 miles run -- nice even if it was painful!

I was also happy to have logged in the most miles I've run in a week barefoot! 28.6 miles!!

Now, I just need to condition myself a little more and hold true to good running form so my feet don't get so upset with me! I know I can do it -- I have run 12 miles before without any problems! It all comes down to keeping the proper form consistently throughout the run. When I get tired I sometimes let my feet start slapping the pavement too much.

So, I rested my feet the rest of the week and that weekend. Well, almost. On Saturday I mowed my lawn barefoot. It was therapeutic. It was soft and gave my feet a gentle stretch and massage that they needed! By Monday my feet felt completely well again. Ain't the body wonderful??


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rough Run

Last Monday I looked on my map ( and plotted out what looked like would be a nice run taking me to areas of the city I have not visited before, hoping to run about 10 miles. It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and I thought I would increase my distance a little bit.

Maps don't tell you all you need to know.

Turns out that a lot of the course I planned to run did not have any sidewalks at all. Worse, they didn't even have shoulders on the roads! I came through this one section which was nothing but broken up pavement, gravel and glass for about 1/2 a mile on the very edge of very fast moving cars. I hoped it would just last a short distance and then I would get back to nice sidewalks. Not so. The road split -- one that wound its way up through some very dark, shady trees and had even less of a shoulder -- no room for me plus cars that were speeding up or down this windy, narrow road in the shade.

So I opted for the other route, which also had no shoulders, but was straight and out in the open. I realized that almost all the traffic was coming from one direction only, so I crossed over and ran on the less busy side without very much interference from traffic. But the road was very poor condition and rough. I found a softer tar repair strip that I could run on for about 1/2 mile which was very nice, but then it was grimace and pain time.

By the time I had gone about 7 miles into my run, my feet were very sore and complaining a lot. I finally found my way down to some businesses with long parking lots that were smoother than the roads. After that I got onto some familiar sidewalks and was able to limp my way the last 1 1/2 miles. Once I got back on smoother surfaces I got back into a better running pattern and it wasn't so bad.

Even though my skin was worn fairly smooth from that run, it still felt very nice to have done it. I won't do it again, though.

I had to cut it short because I could not get to the areas where I originally intended on going.

Total distance: 8.5 miles


Friday, October 20, 2006

Glass Field!

I went on an easy 4 mile run today over unchartered territory. I mapped my intended run on the computer first, then went out and executed it.

It was quite a bit rougher than I expected. Lots of gravel alley-ways cutting across the sidewalks I was running on. I could have just run in the street, but the sidewalks were a little bit smoother.

I ran past a home daycare and a lady was in the yard with about 8 little girls playing. One of them saw me running and yelled, "Hey, look!" All of the girls stopped what they were doing and stood watching me run past. I was waiting for some comment, but they were all fairly somber and just stared. Hmmm, I don't know what to make of that.

I wound up running next to Clark College in Vancouver, WA. On the sidewalk was a fairly large area of broken glass -- probably about 4-5 meters long with glass bits scattered fairly evenly throughout. I could have run around it by going out into the street, but at that point cars come around a bend going fairly fast and it was too risky. I'll take glass over cars any day.

I thought about turning back and crossing over the busy street to the other side, but then that little voice in my head suggested, "Maybe someone saw you coming and put that glass there just to test you. If you turn around you'll let yourself and them down!" So I just aimed for a course through the glass field that avoided the largest shards, keeping mainly to the smaller flakes and specks, and I *really* focused on non-abrasive foot placement!

When I came out the other side I stopped and looked for any damage or remaining pieces and found nothing at all. I swished my feet through some grass just to make sure and was on my way. I felt like I passed "the test," whatever it was.

It was a slow run, but nice to get out and see new neighborhoods.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Evolution Made

The Bumblebee once ran so swift and so sure,
and ever so quietly on her bare little feet,
Then said an old otter with wizened fur,
“You can’t run barefoot; an impossible feat!”

The otter extrapolated, interpolated and said:
“Its against science! And its against reason!
“It violates nature and – Oh Dread,”
“You might be committing Faunistic treason!”

The Bumblebee, thinking, became dejected,
Bereft of solutions as to what she should do,
For to ambulate was now scorned and rejected,
So without another thought, she just up and flew!

“You dare to mock us with your sleight and your cunning?”
The scientists scurried and clamored to say,
“Impossible! Preposterous! Go back to your running!”
But the joyous Bumblebee smilingly flew away.

After she thought she couldn’t, she didn’t,
But before thinking she couldn’t, she did!
So, grateful to the Nayers who said she couldn’t,
She found her true talent no longer hid.

Its not in the saying that we do what we can
But its by doing, that we say what we’ve done,
To ponder may squelch it before it began,
But by already doing it, we’ve already won!

10/19/06 by Ryan

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reporting In

Yesterday I went on an easy 6 mile run. Form started slipping at the end, but overall a good run.

I decided I needed to start running more frequently. Better if I could run nearly every day. So today I went out on a run so I could go two days in a row. I didn't know how far I would feel comfortable going.

I started off feeling a little tender, so I was taking it slowly. Continued tender for the first two miles, but not too bad, so I ventured up towards the OHSU hospital again. Between miles 2 and 3 are some rougher sidewalks so I got to practice my careful foot placements. I went past Portland University. Got a lot of stares from the young brains there. One blond preppy looking girl gave me a look like, "Ewwww! For gross!" I was wearing my "It Takes Balls" t-shirt. Maybe she was offended by that. Or maybe she just smelled me. Who knows?

After mile 3 my feet were not feeling as tender any more. Something about the rough surfaces making the concept of tenderness a relative issue. Or something like that. So I kept on going up towards the hospital. I thought I would take a shortcut and save myself some distance. I ended up going up this steep, rocky trail. So awfully rough! I thought for sure that would shorten the length of my run. But once I was back on asphalt again I adapted and continued.

I got onto the sidewalk with the curbs that I ran on last time, only this time I stayed on the sidewalk and continued practicing my careful foot placement. I passed this lady running with her dog. She exclaimed, "No shoes??" I answered, "Nope, not needed!"

I turned and ran up by the Veterans Hospital, got myself kind of stuck in a back parking lot. The map said there was a road through there. I couldn't find a trail to get across this steep ravine to the OHSU hospital area, so I opted to enter one of the buildings and climb the stairs up to a long sky-way. I mean, its a long sucker! Slick, polished tile floor, windows on both sides. Very nice! It was full of people coming and going, patients with oxygen tanks, doctors, nurses, etc., (plus this sweaty old barefooted guy with a rude t-shirt.) They probably thought I was a psych patient. I expected to get rushed by security guards at any moment so I was looking to make a quick exit. I wonder if I left foot prints on their nice polished floor?

I took an elevator down to a parking garage. I've never seen so much glass on any of my runs as there was inside this garage. It was everywhere. I pity the doctor's car windows that must be getting smashed in all the time. I finally found my way down to street level and ran down the hill to re-trace my steps back to the Point of Beginning. I kept on wondering when my feet would get hyper-sensitive. They never did. I think its because I really focused on keeping my form true the whole run. That, plus I didn't walk very much. Walking hurts my feet. My hip muscles were getting tight the last mile or so. I never knew I had muscles in my hips! I passed a guy doing some squatting, stretching exercises. They looked like they might be good for me to try.

My miles today: 8.7!

It will be interesting to see if I am up to running tomorrow as well.

Happily tired,


Thursday, October 12, 2006


Today I went running. I intended to repeat my run up near OHSU, which would have been a 10 miler. However, I noticed along the way that my feet were feeling more tender than I expected so I knew I wouldn't be running the entire thing.

As I approached the beautiful tree-lined parkway that leads up to OHSU and the Veteran's Hospital I passed three medical student looking fellows all dressed in green scrubs. They got off a bus and were walking up to the hospital. I thought it was odd that they were wearing scrubs around in public. I thought scrubs were supposed to be clean and sterile, but these certainly wouldn't be after walking around in them outside.

I ran up to the pathway I ran on last time, and even did some curb balancing like I did before. Strangely, I again passed those same three green scrubbed students. They took a short-cut that I didn't know about. I felt a little satisfaction in flashing them my proud bare feet - twice! Maybe instead of thinking "You can't run barefoot!" they might think "HOW do you run barefoot?" Instead of going up to the end of the parkway this time, I turned up a little side street and went right up to the hospital itself. I was thinking thoughts about "the mouth of the lion" or "the belly of the beast." The road led me past OHSU School of Dentistry and then up by the Doernbecher's Children's Hospital.

By the children's hospital I noticed a number of girls ranging in age from about 8 to about 16 walking up the incline into the hospital. The common feature that stood out most was that each was wearing some kind of cap or scarf to cover their bald heads. Thats the result of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It was touching and moving to see these little souls each involved in their fight for life. Here I was being somewhat of an ass, running barefoot under the noses of doctors just to provoke them or get them to think a little bit, and here were a bunch of innocents involved in a race for their very lives -- a race I'm sure some might not win. It put things into perspective.

I left there feeling humbled and grateful that I have been blessed with a very strong and healthy body and mind.

My run was 7.5 miles, a little shorter than the 10 miles I had planned on doing. After seeing those kids, it kind of didn't matter to me much any more if I ran the full 10. I was happy just to be out running. Period. I smiled a lot at people on my way back to the Point of Beginning.

Celebrate Life.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Another T-Shirt Idea


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Observations While Running

I went on a 10.5 mile run today - a bit of a stretch for me! I tried to stay true to correct form and did quite well as far as my feet are concerned. My legs, though, got very tired and stiff. Maybe I was too tense.

I went on a "revenge run" - kind of like my Nike Teaser. Only this time I ran up to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) just to show those know-it-all doctors what a barefoot runner looks like. This comes about from an experience I had last Spring where an OHSU doctor went riding past me on his bike and told me, "You can't run barefoot! You'll ruin your hips! I KNOW - I'm an orthopedic surgeon!" He was gone before I could engage him in the finer aspects of running barefoot.

So I was running along this very nice road that runs up to the hospital and smiling at all the cars and other runners and walkers that passed me. Nothing much exciting happened. One guy in a nice car really stared at me hard. But no snooty doctors said anything to me this time. I stopped at one red light and a mother with a bunch of kids in the car were waiting at the intersection. One of the kids, about 7, pointed me out to the others and then all eyes were on me. I smiled and held my foot up for them
to see that I really was barefoot. They all smiled back and waved. I ran by a bus stop and a mother and little boy about 4 were waiting. The little boy saw me coming and was watching me in fascination. I was waiting to hear something about being barefoot, but instead he said, "Mommy, that man doesn't have any pants on!" I laughed. It must have looked this way because my running shirt came down almost to the bottom hem of my running shorts.

Here's my interesting observation:

I was looking for the smoothest surface to run on. The road and sidewalk were asphalt, with the road being smoother than the sidewalk (more traffic & wear). There was this 10" wide paint strip separating a bike path from the main road. I tried to run on it, but that put me dangerously close to speeding traffic. So I opted to run on the raised cement curb separating the sidewalk from the bike path. It was smoother than the other surfaces, especially where it was covered with old moss growth. The curb was about 5 inches wide and was raised about 6" to 10". I must have run about 2 miles just on the curb, most of it uphill.

At first my balance was precarious and I had a hard time staying on it. Then I thought about how I needed to "run from the core." As I focused on this, my balance became completely natural and automatic. I was even able to let my thoughts wander and still keep on the curb. This was a great lesson and exercise for me.

Second observation:

Rick told me something about landing on a triangle area of his foot with a lot of the initial weight put on the outside part. When I was coming down the hill I decided to just run on the sidewalk and work more on my form. I imagined a "golden triangle" on each foot, along the right edge and towards the middle of the ball of my foot. I tried to make each step land on this triangle and roll back towards my heel from there. This made it so the area beneath the big toe was not the primary focus. This made my running a lot more enjoyable. It was almost as if my foot was just this little area, like goat feet. I ran all the way back to my car imagining each step landing on the golden triangle.

All in all a very satisfying run, although my legs were a little stiff and tired -- probably from only having low mileage this past few weeks.

I'll have to keep in mind running from the core and landing on the golden triangle in the future!

Happy and tired,