Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Journey to a Barefoot 50-mile Endurance Run: Week 5 of 18

The week started out very promising.  After two weeks of holiday run-around, I had high hopes of completing the training mileage for this week.  Things were going great all week . . . until early this morning when I woke up sick with a cold.  On a more positive note - I bit the bullet last night and officially entered the American River 50-mile Endurance Run!  It gave me a feeling of real excitement mixed in with the fear of "what the hell did I just do?"

As I mentioned in last week's post, I ran my longest, nighttime barefoot run of 14 miles on Monday as a "make-up" run of sorts.  It was a great run and really gave me high hopes for a good high-mileage week.  The week continued to be promising with me hitting all three of my mid-week runs of 4 miles, 4 miles and 6 miles (T/W/TH).

On Saturday, the goal was 16 miles.  After a breakfast of oatmeal with chia seeds, I headed out to Shima Tract, which is a farming island on the San Joaquin Delta.  There are several ways to run the island - a 4 mile loop or an 8 mile loop if you do the whole island (there are various paths to criss-cross the island, but basically the mileage is the same).  The road is a gravel levee road, so I wore my Sockwa G2s to take a bit of the edge off the gravel.  The first couple of miles were uneventful.  Then when I reached the western edge of the island, the road turned north and I was blasted with a full-on headwind.  My pace dropped quickly from a steady 9-minute mile into the 10s.  I thought that the wind wouldn't hold up once I reached the northern end of the island and turned to the east.  Wrong.  By the time I reached the northern end of the island the wind had grown stronger.  My pace was fluctuating between 10 and 12-minute miles.  Even when the path turned out of the direction of the wind, I had to fight to stay on a straight track.

I managed to get back to the starting point at 8 miles.  I was feeling a bit of nausea, so I popped a couple of Hammer Electrolyte pills and sucked down some water from my hydration pack.  I nearly heaved as the first pill went down.  I think it was more that I was feeling bloated or something and my body wanted to exhale when I tried to swallow.  I managed to compose myself and take a relaxing breath and swallowed the second pill and headed off down the road again.

As I rounded the first turn toward the west, the wind had picked up even more.  On the first loop, the wind had not even been an issue at this point (approx. 1-mile into the loop).  I passed a dog-walker who commented, "You're in for a workout today!" Little did she know that I had already been through this once already.

At this point, I noticed my legs were tingling a bit.  I had no idea why.  I watched as a 5-foot diameter tumble weed rocketed across the farm and disappeared into an irrigation ditch.  A few moments later, it shot out of the ditch, up the levee, across my path and into the water.  At about 9 miles, I finally realized why my legs were tingling.  They were being stung by tiny bits of dirt being blown across the farm.

By now, I had turned north again, directly into the wind.  I was being pushed back.  My "running" pace dropped to nearly a 15-minute mile.  I felt as if I were running uphill.  When I reached a cross-island road at mile 10, I decided that I'd had enough of being pelted by small rocks, twigs, leaves and other junk.  I called it a day and headed back across the island.  Even dropping down 10 feet below the top of the levee didn't protect from the wind.  I could hear it actually howling across the island.  Amazing!

I made it back to my truck at about the 12 mile mark - 4 miles short of the goal.  No worries, I thought.  I'll just make it up tomorrow.

Little did I know that the cold my family had been subdued with all week and I had been fighting to not succumb to was about to hit.  Five o'clock this morning, my alarm buzzed for my run.  My throat was on fire.  Damn!  I hit the snooze and went back to sleep.  When I awoke a couple hours later, I was completely congested.

After my shower, I felt dizzy (a symptom my wife had with her cold and ear infection).  I held out for a possible night run.  By this evening I had crashed out on my couch while my kiddos played.  I kept napping in 20 minute increments hoping that I'd feel the energy to go out and run.  No dice.

So, for the week not counting Monday:  Total miles - 26.  Actual miles for the week 40.

Plan for this week:  4/6/6 (T/W/TH) and 18/10 (Sat/Sun).

Here's hoping for a short-lived cold.  I start training some co-workers for an April half-marathon this week, so I hope I get lots of time on my feet to compliment my training schedule.


  1. Terry, are you trying to run 50miles all barefoot, or in minimalist shoes?

  2. Hey Matt,

    The goal is to run the entire 50 mile race barefoot. I will know more over the next few weeks to month. I plan to run sections of the trail portion of the race to scout the feasibility of this. I think it should be fine. My only concern is any fire roads that might be completely graveled.