Monday, June 27, 2011

Downtime is over

After my stellar half-marathon performance, I figured I deserved a week off. Then the next week, when I knew I need to get back into my training plan, the warm coziness of my blankets in contrast to the cold morning air, sucked me back into bed too many mornings. But finally this week, I got back on the plan. This is quite critical because I didn’t run the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya this weekend. That was dependent on me getting to Kenya for other reasons, which didn’t pan out, but in addition, I kind of gave up on the idea a couple of months ago when I figured out that it would have cost me at least $450 US, even with someone else paying for the ticket to Kenya. Woo wee, too rich for this volunteer’s blood. So that one stays on the bucket list. I intend to be living in Kenya in the near future, so I’m sure I’ll have another chance.


And I totally lucked out. The Victoria Falls Marathon is happening at the end of August. There is a Peace Corps volunteer here in Katima who also runs (she’s really a triathlete) who told me about it. So we’re both going, and maybe some other Peace Corps and VSO vols if we can get them inspired. There will be a full marathon, which I am planning to do, a half-marathon which she is doing, and a 5k. I’m trying to get Peter, the Nigerian volunteer who lives here at Cheshire Home also to think about the 5k. He doesn’t run, but he does long walks and plays football, so he’s thinking about it. I think it will be fun if there are a whole bunch of us.


But the marathon is now only 9 weeks away, so that scared me into getting my butt out the door this week, even though it was coooold. I’m also working (virtually) with a personal trainer in the UK who is giving me two workouts a week that work all the rest of my body – core, arms, back, etc. It’s great because he’s done MovNat and the workouts he gives me are very much like MovNat and get me moving in different ways and using different muscles. And they are pretty short – 30 minutes or so – and intense, and somehow knowing it will be short makes it easier for me to both fit them in and actually do them. That’s good because they are mostly way out of my comfort zone – a lot of movements and stuff that I am not used to doing.


Today’s long run was 12 miles, but now I’ll be building up again in preparation for the marathon. I ran in my New Balance Minimus shoes which did keep my feet warm (for the first time in weeks), so that was nice. But I noticed after the run that my feet really hurt. First of all, my calves are super tight (leftover from doing my tempo run on Friday in VFFs, I think), but it is more than that. The outside near my toes is achy. I think it is because the shoes have some sort of ridge there. I have felt it before, but either it didn’t bother me as much or I zoned out and didn’t realize it. Hmmph. It could also be that my feet are starting to spread some from walking and running barefoot and in really minimal shoes (like the VFFs or my Luna sandals).


Brooks, whose shoes have always worked really, really well for me, is designing new shoes with Scott Jurek (who advised them on the Green Silence shoes, which I have and like a lot). Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, they will NOT be zero-drop shoes, but will continue to have at least a 4mm differential between the toes and heel. This is very frustrating for me. I wish I could just run totally barefoot, but so far my feet aren’t tough enough to do that all the time. I love the Luna sandals, but they still give me blisters between the toes if I go too far in them (like 8 miles the last time. . .). And the biggest problem is that my feet get cold. Really cold. Like they go numb.


In fact, if anyone has any ideas how to remedy that problem, I would love to hear them.


It seems a bit crazy to me that I’m so cold. I mean, the temps in the morning are probably between 45-50 Farenheit, which doesn’t seem all that cold (intellectually). But to me it’s freezing.


My hands get cold, too, but I can just wear gloves or socks or pull them into my jacket or shirt. Honestly, even the Green Silence don’t warm my feet up because the tops are so meshy, though I haven’t broken down and worn wool socks yet. I may have to do that. I have at least another month of cold weather – maybe even colder than it has been because the wind has just started. I was talking with Dickson, the Cheshire Home handyman who is helping get my bike working, and he told me that July is the coldest month because that’s when the wind comes. The very next day after that conversation the wind came! It comes off the river and is chilling. The biggest difference is that it does not warm up in the middle of the day the way it did in June (when it was cold in the morning, but as the sun came, it warmed things up – usually causing a 40 degree difference between the temperature at 6am and noon).


Since Brooks doesn’t look like they are going to deliver for me, I’m now on the hunt for some zero-drop road shoes that aren’t squishy cushioned (that’s the thing I really like about Brooks – they tend to be “hard” which feels better to me) and are warm enough to keep my feet warm. I am getting a pair of the new Merrell Lithe Gloves which I am looking forward to trying out. They are zero drop trail shoes. I had a pair of the Pace Gloves, which have this funny elastic heel counter which tore my ankle so bad it cut into my Achilles tendon. After wearing them twice, I gave up. But a big shout out to Merrell Customer Service – I posted my bad experience in the Huaraches Google group and one of their reps saw it and told me who to contact, which I did, and they offered to send me a pair of the Lithe Gloves, which are similar, but have a softer, more normal heel counter like the men’s model. I have great hopes because otherwise, the Merrells fit my feet very nicely and they soles have great grip without having lugs which would make them hard to use on the roads. Since I have a mile or so on asphalt before I get to dirt/sand roads, that makes a difference. Given how long the mail takes, I’ll probably get those around the beginning of August. I’ll let you know how they work out.


So, three runs this week which is one short, but I’m back in the routine now. Next week calls for four runs including a long run of 14 miles.

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