After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Is Happening In 2014

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: December 31, 2013

There is light after the storm

I am going to do things a bit different.

Well actually a LOT different in 2014, than I have in the past when it comes to my running.

Okay Harold, we have heard this crap before, you are going to change your running and that is so going to change the world!

In other words what in the hell do you want to try this time - Harold?
What I want to do

This article gives a pretty good overview of the direction I am sort of heading. In other words - no S.M.A.R.T. goals and focusing more on "just doing" or the process. This is a huge change for me and I know that many out there will disagree with my decision to do this, however, it is a change that I feel I have to make.

So I will:

  • Run,
  • Have fun,
  • Work hard,
  • Stay close enough to my training plans,
  • Do my best,
  • Don’t get injured,
  • Don’t die (Inside joke – yes I am a member of the Idiots Running Club),
  • Then repeat.

Yes, I have things that I want to do, but I do not feel that I need to say I am going to run a certain time for a particular distance or race. I have found that those kind of goals did not work for me in the past and that when I attempt to use S.M.A.R.T. goals for my running (yes, I know how to develop and use them - I was a Special Education teacher for 10 years and it was part of my job to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for my caseload).

When using S.M.A.R.T. goals I tend to focus too much on the goals I have set, forget about enjoying the journey to get there and if I do not make the goal, blather on and on, about my failure(s).

Which is unfortunate, because often the journey to the goal is often more important than simply achieving a measurable goal.

What do I want to during 2014:
  • Avoid injuries
  • Use and comapre the McMillan and Hanson Half Marathon training plans to see which one works best for me
  • January – Run - Central Maine Striders January Thaw - Belgrade
  • February – Run - Joshua Chamberlain Half - Brewer
  • April – Race - Race the Runways Half Marathon – Brunswick
  • April – Race - Joseph’s 5K – Fairfield
  • May – Run - Sugarloaf 15 - Kingfield
  • June – Race - Rail Trail Half Marathon – Augusta
  • June to August – Volunteer at the Quarry Road Trail Race Series
  • July to September – Run the Bond Brook Trail Race Series
  • September – Race - Rise ‘N Shine 5K – Augusta
  • October – Race - Maine Half Marathon – Portland
  • October - Run - Treadfest - Augusta
  • November – Base Building
  • December – Base Building

There is a difference between racing and running in a race and I want to enjoy going to races more, than trying to race every one. Which means that I am not going to race as often, but I am going to run in a lot of races and go have fun at them. However, if I miss one of the above races, I am not going to get all upset by it.

I am sure that I will pick up a few other races over the course of the year, especially a few more trail races.

Other Changes

I am going to start using Strava as my primary online running log, instead of the Garmin site. I just like Strava's interface better, the only thing I don’t like is the constant in your face reminder to go pro, but unless I find a specific need, I will stay with the free site. I still plan to upload to the Garmin site once every couple of weeks, but just as a backup.

Strava Screen Shot

2014 RunLog Spreadsheet

2014 RunLog

There are some minor changes to formatting and I have added a column to score each run numerically to give me a little more information and show patterns. By having my spreadsheet I am able to have access and control my own data - just in case. I know that sounds old-fashioned, but you never know the changes that might happen to a website – any website, so I am more comfortable doing it this way.

I will keep blogging about my daily runs, but it might be a little more sporadic when it comes to routine runs that are on Strava and I share on Facebook or Twitter that way.
Focusing on What is Important

Sometimes we get so caught up in measuring what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it.

For me running is very simple – I do it because:
  • I can
  • I want to
  • It is something that I enjoy doing
  • It helps me stay at a decent weight
  • It is my social outlet

Running can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. In 2014 one of the things that I do want to accomplish is make my running and things I do related to running more simple.
The reality is that

My running successes or failures are not major news wire stories or running mags top news and are not really all that important to anyone but me. I am not going to win any major or minor races, break world records and I am certainly not going to make my living as a professional runner.

I know that I am a middle of the pack runner and am just an old fart who has run for a long-time. As I keep getting older, I have begun to finally realize (reluctantly) that I need to re-focus my running, to make it so that 30 years from now I am still enjoying running.

That doesn't mean that I won't work hard, try to run fast (for me) or do dumb shit from time-to-time, but it does mean that some changes were necessary. I think that I have identified and started the process to make some of the changes that I need to do.

I am sure that I will find more things that I will change during 2014.

One thing that I have to remember and that I forgot or more likely ignored over the past couple of years is that:

For most of us, focusing on improving our training methods, possibly finding a coach, getting to a healthy racing weight, eating right for you and developing mental toughness will give you more bang for your buck and do more to lower times than the style of running shoes we wear or the gear that we use.

Sometimes we focus too much on the gadget/gear side of the running equation, when the answer is a lot more simple.
Just Run!

Having all those measurable goals and objectives was making running too much like work, which is the last frigging thing that I want my running to be about. Then when I couldn’t meet my S.M.A.R.T. goals for whatever reason, it stressed me out, because I was “supposed” to meet that goal. Yes, I am also a recovering Type “A” personality and still have issues with that old - if I say I am going to do it, by damn I will!

It will be interesting to see how this year goes without using the S.M.A.R.T. goal system that I have used so unsuccessfully for so many years. It is definitely a huge change for me, and it will be interesting how this former Special Education teacher will adjust to going without S.M.A.R.T. goals and if it makes a positive difference to my running in 2014.

That is the great thing about being a runner, we get to try all kinds of different things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, but it tends to work differently for each of us.

Here is to a GREAT year of running in 2014.

What do you want to change or accomplish in 2014?

2013 – Looking Back

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: December 31, 2013

What a year it was – I say that with a great deal of sarcasm, gritting teeth and even smiling. To me 2013 was a year of injury, contemplation, disappointment, frustration, introspection and change.
Take the bad with the good :-)

I could stop writing here and the above links or images would give a good over-view of what happened in 2013, when it comes to my running and social media.

Of course, I will not stop here; I want to add some details in.

Whine alert! I believe that I was on my way to a GREAT year running and in social media marketing, which by then had become inseparable. It was supposed to have culminated in successfully running the Marine Corps Marathon 30 years after I finished in 1983, as a “sponsored” runner.

That is until I screwed up in training (I did it - no one else), during the first part of May and then a few weeks later, raced too hard at the Miles for Mills 5K and partially tore my left Achilles tendon. That was when my house of cards came tumbling down around my ego.

You know that “Oh what could have been – the if only …” (fill in the blanks) kind of thinking and feelings. To be honest, being injured from May through November (that is how long I was rehabbing that damn thing) was frustrating and resulted in many unexpected changes to my running and life.

During the first half of the year my running and social media marketing work had become so intertwined, that I was having a difficult time separating where one stopped and the other started, which I know now was a huge problem. The injuries gave me a much needed timeout and reality check, that allowed me to look honestly look at what I was doing.

When I did that, I saw many things that I did not like about who and what I was becoming. I am going to leave it at that and simply move on with a smile on my face, with many lessons learned.


2013 Summary

A quick look at my running stats since 2011 (after knee surgery):

                      2013          2012         2011
Total:             1,773.38    1,861.9     235.3
Total Runs        307            334           94
Weight              155            148         192
Average Run        5.80           5.52        2.5

Total miles - Walked 933.11

*These totals do not include 12/31/13, one day is not going to make a big difference in any of the totals.

One of the things that I am proud of is my walking totals. I had over 900 miles of walking this year and I count those miles as my cross-training. I am not keen on strength training/weights, swimming, bicycles or other cross training options. I just like to run and I know that is my weakness, but it is what I do.

Nope, I did not set a lot of PR’s, but I what I am most proud of is that showed a lot of resiliency and bounced back from injuries and the tough times that I met.


The partial tear of my Achilles tendon and subsequent recovery dominated my summer, fall and winter running, changed a lot of what I did and I have written about it ad nauseum.

The injury - a cankle

I also found out that I have a Tailor’s Bunionette on my right foot, that is the reason for my pain or discomfort, on long runs, when I wear running shoe that are too narrow in the forefoot or has an overlay on top of the Bunionette. It felt good to find out that the issue with my right foot for all those years was not in my head, but had a reason, that I could do something about, with exercises and being more aware of what I wear for footwear.


I still cannot believe that I ran in over 20 different running shoes over the course of 2013, with varying degrees of success.

However, I did find a brand/style of running shoes that actually worked for me – Skechers GoRun Ride 2’s. I bought two pair of them and had zero problems running in them for any distance. 

Unfortunately, the update to the Ride 3, included a frigging overlay over my Tailor’s Bunionette and even though I liked everything else about the update, because of where the overlay was, I couldn't run in them – which sucked. It means that I will have to squirrel away a couple of pair of the Ride2’s and keep looking for that shoe style that allows me to run long run without them bothering my right foot.

Due to the failure of the Ride 3 to work for me, I am now experimenting with the Pearl Izumi EM/N2 Roads. Although I only have around 30 miles on them, they have exceeded my expectations so far, especially at faster paces. Only time will tell if they will be as good as I hope they will be on longer runs outside (I just have to get some decent weather and the roads to be clear to find out).

TheWife bought me a Garmin FR10 last Christmas and I really, really like it. This model does not have all the fancy bells and whistles of the higher priced models, so I use it more as a fancy running watch that gives me data that I can use after a run, rather than worrying about all the other data that a fancier one would give me, during a run (which knowing me would be a huge distraction, since I am a bit of a gadget freak).

The only thing that I really dislike about the FR10 is how long I have to wait sometimes for it to get a GPS signal. Which is frustrating as hell and makes my neighbors wonder even more about me – if they do not have enough to wonder about already. Especially, when I am standing at the end of my driveway dressed for a run doing nothing, but looking pissed at my wrist for 5-10 minutes and then start running. They must think it is a novel way to warm-up, when it is actually just GPS watch waiting.

Blogging/Social Media

The big thing I did was my decision to get out of social media marketing, close my other blog “A Veteran Runnah”, start “A Runnah’s Story" to get back to blogging for me, not some artificial online persona, who was starting to resemble me less and less.

Yes, my blog stats have gone to “hell in a hand basket”, I tend to take part sporadically (at best) on social media platforms that I used to frequent and you know something I am having a hell of a lot more fun running now than I did before I made that decision. My running is no longer my work, it has gone back to being something that I can simply enjoy. Being a crazy runnah.

My 10 most viewed blog posts since I established “A Runnah’s Story” back in August:
  • It’s Gotta Be True – It’s On The Internet
  • Using You Only Faster for My Spring Marathon Training Plan
  • Starting Over – A Runnah’s Story
  • Skechers GoRun Ride2 OG – 200 Mile Review
  • Should’a, Could’a, Would’a
  • First Snow of the Year and 10 Miles Done – RunLog 11-26-13
  • First Look and Run in Skechers GoRun Ride 3s
  • Skechers GoRun Ride2 – Made it Past 200 Miles
  • 20 Pair of Running Shoes in 2013 – Oh My
  • Racing, Running and Walking Are Different

Those may have been my most viewed posts, but they were not my favorite one. My favorite post did not get that many page views or comments – it was too personal and too long.

However, that is not why I shared my choices on here – I wrote it more for me to look back and remember the reasons I made the decisions that I made last summer.

Becoming a Barbarian Again
What were my goals for 2013 and how did I do?

1. Keep running fun – It is not a job.

Not too good during the first part of the year, I let my focus on preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon and getting so wrapped up in becoming a great social media marketer, that I let them consume my love for running. It got to the point where I felt I “had” to do this, I “had” to do that to prepare for MCM or how I wrote and blogged. After the injury, when I decided to not run MCM and discontinue A Veteran Runnah, it was done with pretty much a sense of relief. I know that since September that I have enjoyed my running more than I ever have.

2. Listen to the words of advice in my old tagline.

Be positive, be strong and keep smiling = great things can happen :-).

I did pretty well on this one, especially the second part of the year.

3. Be Me.

I think that when I created this goal that I unconsciously “knew” that I was going in a direction that I was unhappy with, but that I was too far into what I was doing, to easily slow or turn things around without upsetting the apple cart I had loaded up. After I finally figured out that I could not physically run the Marine Corps Marathon and was not renewed on my weekly blogging gig with Anthem, things became easier for me to change.

I did and I am much happier with the direction I am now going.

4. I will not sweat the small stuff

I am doing a better job than I ever have.

5. I will control my social media presence

Since September this has not been an issue, I take part when I want to and do not feel pressured to do so, if I am not on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or any of the multitude of other social networking sites or miss a chat, I don’t worry about it.

6. Improve my running form

I am not too concerned about my running form – whatever I am doing now seems to be working well for me. I don’t really care whether I heel strike or land wherever on my foot, instead, I have worked more on running efficiently, with my feet landing more under my bent knee and running tall. If I do those things, I think that my form will take care of itself.

7. Continue to participate in the social aspects of running

I still “talk” with other runners online, and take part in the chats that I want to participate in. I stopped racing for the year after the Rise ‘N Shine 5K in September. However, I have been active with the Central Maine Striders, doing weekly group runs and am getting to know more people in the local area than I have in the last 10 years.

My measurable 2013 Goals:

  • Run at least 2,013 miles in 2013.
    • Nope – didn’t make it, I “only” managed just over 1,700.
  • Run at least 300 days in 2013.
    • Nope – I ran over 300 times, but did not run 300 days.
  • Run a sub 20:00 5K at the Joseph’s 5K in Fairfield in April
    • Nope - I ran a 21:24 -- missed the goal by 1:24.
  • Run a 10K sub 45:00.
    • Nope - I have not run a 10K yet this year.
  • Run a sub 1:35:00 at the Rail Trail Half Marathon in Augusta in June
    • Nope - Deferred the race registration due to injury in 2013 and have registered for the 2014 race
  • Run a sub 3:30:00 at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in October.
    • Nope - I decided to withdraw and will not be running a marathon in 2014.
  • Run at least 13 races in 2013.
    • Nope – Only 9 races
  • Stay under 150 pounds all year.
    • Nope – I did not do it.

Even though I did not meet even one of my measurable goals, which in the eyes of many would mean that I did not have a very good year.

That assumption could not be further from the truth.
The reality is that

To me, 2013 was a very successful year, just not in the way that I envisioned, when it started.

I had highs, lows, disappointments, injuries and other setbacks this year, but through it all I have not stopped wanting to run and been resilient, mmmm more likely too damn stubborn about wanting to back to it.

Many of the choices that I made in 2013 were not easy, but I do believe they were the right ones for me.

I know that I am looking forward to the start of 2014 and finally putting 2013 in the rear view mirror.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nike Free 4.0 v3 – 50 Mile Review

A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: December 19, 2013

Nike Free 4.0 v3

Well actually it is more like 75 mile review, but oh well, I wanted to do a few more miles in them before I wrote about the Nike Free 4.0v3 to be sure of how I was feeling about them.

Why, Harold you have run in the Free series before (3 times), so you knew pretty much what to expect when running in them - right?

Yeah, but…

The more I run in them, the more ambivalent I am about them. I like many things about them and then again, I am starting to “remember” why I did not keep running in the Nike Free’s.
Let’s back up for a minute.

I got the Nike Free 4.0 v3 more because I needed wanted a pair running shoe’s now and they had worked for me in the past. Not because I was all hot and bothered to go out and get another pair of Nike Free’s.

When I bought the Free's I was frustrated (let’s be honest – I was pissed and disappointed) about the update to my favorite running shoes not working for me and when I went out to get another pair of my old shoes, the last pair in the area had a defect that made it so I would not buy them.

The Nike Free 4.0 v3’s were the only running shoes that fit me well enough to buy immediately, that was in the local area. I didn’t want to drive down to Brunswick, Freeport or Portland to find a pair of new running shoes (looking back with that 20/20 hindsight – I should have).

This was not a rousing way to start your relationship with a pair of running shoes, getting them because they are the last shoe’s standing, instead of “I want that running shoe”. It usually means that I end up with a pair of shoes that see a lot more closet or locker time, than time on my feet.
So how have they worked out for me?

In a word


They are running shoes that I can run in, but not the shoes that I want to grab and go run in for most of my runs.

What in the hell are you talking about Harold?

The Good
  • The Nike Free 4.0 v3 is a fast feeling running shoe for me and I want to run faster than my training plan has me running for now. Which is a good thing.
  • They are comfortable (for the most part) and are a great looking running shoe – at least in my opinion.
  • I really like the uppers on the Free’s 4.0 and it works well in the winter to keep my feet warmer (probably too warm in the warmer weather though).
  • When I run on the treadmill, I like them a lot and they are very comfortable for running up to 7-8 miles.
  • They were in that $80-100 price point that I don't like to go above.

The Bad

It is definitely a rock collector; they live-up to the Nike Free (series) reputation for gaining weight during a run and having to empty the sole unit out after each run. This is more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Harold stop it – be honest. The way that the Nike Free sole units are designed the shoes collect small rocks and pebbles, which often ends up being a pain in the ass during a run. Especially when you have to stop and clear out a rock that is poking through to your foot or clicking on the tar with every step, then after the run having to clean out the sole unit of all the crap in there.

The Nike Free 4.0 is not quite wide enough in the toe box for me to run long distances comfortably in them.. After 7 or 8 miles, my right foot begins to get uncomfortable, the discomfort has not quite gotten to the level of pain, but at the same time, it diverts my attention from just running, to thinking about when is my foot going to start hurting. In other words, I am thinking more about how my foot is feeling or how I “know” it will feel if I keep going, instead of focusing on just running. I am not a good enough runner to do too many things at once and the level of distraction that I have after a while in these shoes, gets to be too much.

During our recent Deep Freeze on a 11+ mile run (yes my right foot bothered me the last few miles), the temps with a wind chill were below zero and by the time I got to the 6 mile point, the rest of the run felt like I was running on boards, not a fairly cushioned running shoe. However, I did learn (the hard way) that I still do heel strike more than I want to admit, because my heels hurt for 2 days after the run. Which is a good thing to know and will help me think about what shoes I will get in the future. 

Nike Free 4.0 v3 Sole View

The tread doesn’t work worth shit in the crappy outside winter weather running (which is the way it is until after sometime in April). If I run outside in snow/sleet/ice or slush in these shoes without something like YakTrax over them, I am going to be on my ass quickly. They are definitely more of an indoor or 3 season shoe for me.

Unfortunately, when I run longer distances in the Free’s, I do notice that my hips bother me a lot more than, when I run in my other shoes, even though the other shoes have over 400 miles on them. Historically, this has been an issue I have had with the Nike Free (series).

The reality is that
The Nike Free 4.0v3, is a good shoe, that works for a lot of runners and deserves more respect than I am giving it.

Nike Free 4.0 v3

However, while they sort of work for me and do okay up to around the 10K mark, they do not do what I really want from them, which is to be my primary running and training shoe.

I expect a lot from my primary running shoe: run my long runs, be able to handle tempo paces, recovery runs and even some easier trail/dirt road running. I know the prevailing theory is that you have a multiple running shoe rotation to change the muscle usage, but I still prefer to have a primary running shoe that I do 80-90% of my running in and then niche shoes for racing, trails or track workouts.

Unfortunately, when you buy a pair of running shoes more because you are frustrated and they are not really what you wanted or need for the conditions you will be running, it is hard to get all excited about running in those shoes.

They will become my gym/treadmill running shoes and when the weather warms up next spring, I will use them for faster paced workouts outside on the track and tempo road runs up to 6 miles or so, which is more what they are designed for and where they seem to start bothering my right foot too much.


Do I like the Nike Free 4.0v3 – yes, but no I do not love them. They are a running shoe that I will use as a niche shoe in my running shoe collection, but they are not the primary running shoe I want to run in for most of my runs.
Nike Free 4.0 v3

I guess the comment that says it best – I do not feel as though I want to run in them, but that I can run in them and there is a huge difference between the two for me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How was My Year of Running - 2013

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: December 12, 2013

Running at the 2013 Joseph's 5K - photo by Sue Morris

Each year Amanda over at Miss Zippy blog, puts together a series of questions to get us thinking about how our year has been.

What was your:
  • Best race experience?
  • Best run?
  • Best new piece of gear? 
  • Best piece of running advice you received?
  • Most inspirational runner? 
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Here are my answers to her questions:

Best race experience?

The 25th Annual Joseph's 5K in Fairfield, back in April, I ran a post-55 PR and finished 4th overall. 

However, it really wasn't about how I did that made this race the best race experience, the best part of the race was seeing people who I hadn't seen for a while and the whoopie pies I got for winning my age group. Julie you did a GREAT job as race director for this race and everyone who volunteered to help out was awesome!

Quarry Road Trail Race Series.
Even though I didn't run in a single race, it was definitely the best race experience that I had this year. It was a weekly trail race series that I volunteered to help with at Quarry Road from June to August, while I was injured.

I got to meet so many great people during the series, many of which I still see, friended on Facebook and some I run with now. I got to see running from a different side and give back to the sport that I love, which is something that I believe we all need to do.

Racing to me is doing your best during a race, then interacting and enjoying the company of those who are at the race either as runners, spectators or volunteers. Racing to me is becoming more about the people we meet there and how we treat one another that makes the race experience great or not, not time you run or where you place.

Best run?

Although it ended in a partial tear of my Achilles tendon, without a doubt it was the The Miles for Mills 5K Race on May 27th. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I think that that post says it all and yes I would do it again, even knowing what the result would be.

Best new piece of gear? 
Timex Ironman Watch. I know going old school and back to a simpler time. I got this as a present and found it invaluable when I was coming back from my injuries. It allowed me to just focus on running, instead of worrying about my pace, splits and all that other stuff that we worry about during a run, when we wear a GPS watch. I still use it on my recovery run days or runs that I really just want to relax and not worry about anything but the run during the run and still have the time to put in my running log.

Skechers GoRun Ride 2 running shoes, they did everything I wanted from a pair of running shoes. I just thought that shoes are a different group and deserve their own mention.

Best piece of running advice you received? 

Be who you are now, not someone else or who you used to be. Comparing what you do as a runner at 56 to what you did at 26 makes no sense and is not productive to being the runner you can be now.

Most inspirational runner?

Travis Mills - a disabled veteran that I met on May 27th at the Miles for Mills 5K in April.

Travis Mills in the Miles for Mills 5K

The picture says it all. Any words I try to use would only diminish what he is doing.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be

Patience - to know that having an injury is not the end of the world. That even though it doesn't seem possible you can and will return from it, sooner if you have the correct mindset/attitude and be willing to follow the PT's recommendation (well for the most part).

Maturity - Learning to grudgingly accept that as you get older, you have to change expectations and especially training methods to keep improving or even keep running. It sucks, but it is the way things work whether you like it or not.

Actually, it has been a pretty amazing year, that has had highs and lows, problems and injuries to overcome, along with time to just enjoy life. There have been a lot of changes this year and as the year comes to an end, I am very happy with the direction that those changes are taking me.

I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be an amazing year and that the things I learned and the strength gained (both mentally and physically) will help me become a better runner and person in 2014 and beyond.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It is hunting season and it is time to be seen!

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: November 5, 2013

It is that time of year again, it is hunting season, that means that there are and/or will be people in the woods with guns or bows - where it is legal. That means if you live in many rural and some urban areas, runners are or will be sharing the woods, backroads and trails with hunters.

It doesn't matter if you agree with hunting or not -- hunters are going to be in the woods over the next few months and there are some common sense things that you can do to help make sure you are safe.

Here are some of the things that I do to stay safe, when I am running in rural areas, on trails or other areas I know people hunt, during hunting season:

1. Wear bright colors

Preferably flourescent orange, hunters are trained to look for other hunters, who are also supposed to wear orange to stay safe. So it makes sense for a runner, who runs in areas that "might" have hunters, to wear orange. If you do not have orange, wear the brightest colors you have - you know the same ones you wear to ensure that motorists see you. Bright yellow, reds, blues are all colors that are very visible and should be noticed by hunters.

Wear a brightly colored hat - two articles of bright clothing make you more noticeable.

DO NOT wear white, brown, gray, black or other dull/drab colors that could be mistaken for animal colors.

Personally, I have taken to wearing multiple brightly colored clothes to run in most of the time, whether it is hunting season or not. This is to help ensure that drivers are more apt to see me and hopefully act proactively to avoid hitting me - at least that is my hope.

2. Avoid Running at Dawn or Dusk

These are the times when game animals move the most active and this means that these are the times that are most dangerous for humans to be moving around on rural roads or trails. If you must run during these times, USE, not just carry a light - critters don't have lights, humans do. Wear reflective piping or vests and don't be afraid to whistle or make noises that humans normally do, if you believe that hunters are around you.

If you live in an area where people hunt and you typically run during these times, change your routine if you can. Yes it is an inconvenience and no one likes to change their routine, just because someone else is out there for a few weeks of the year and you are out there year round. However, hunters are going to be out there whether you are or not. If you can't change your routine, make sure they know you are there.

3. Be aware

This is good advice for any time of year. Look at the local game laws - when does bow season start? When does general firearms season start, is there a youth or resident only hunting day, when do those seasons end? Yes, as someone who uses these areas, it is your responsibility to know these things if you run/hike/walk in areas you know people will be hunting. The hunters definitely know these things and have been waiting all year for hunting season to start.

Look to see if there are vehicles parked in places they normally are not, are people riding around or walking around in fluorescent orange? Do you hear more strange noises coming from the woods than usual (hunters attempt to call in, game animals - usually you can tell the difference (secret - if it is a noise you don't normally hear in those areas - look for fluorescent orange) ;-)

4. Avoid Confrontation

You may not like or agree with hunting, but getting into a disagreement over its merits when you are in running clothes and the hunter is carrying, is dumb and potentially dangerous, especially. If you have the misfortune of running into a slob hunter (it is what I call those hunters, who shouldn't be in the woods and are probably have the same attitude as those drivers who aim at you when you are running on the roads).

When you see hunters if they are on stand or in the woods, just wave and keep moving, 99.9% the hunters will probably grimace at you, wave back and just want you to get to hell out of there. Unfortunately, some slob hunters might yell at you questioning your parentage and tell you to get to fuck out of my area and don't come back, etc. - don't give them the pleasure of a response, use the adrenaline boost to go a little faster and get out of there - it isn't worth the hassle and besides it will interrupt a perfectly good run.

Although and to be honest, I have been known to use the middle finger salute as I keep going - I don't recommend it, because it only escalates the situation, but it has made me feel better and let's the hunter know my feelings about what they are saying, but the best response is just to keep going and ignore their ignorance.

5. Be Respectful of Landowner Rights

If you see a posted sign on the trail, road or area you are running on, respect that sign. If it includes 'no trespassing', etc. respect that the land owner doesn't want you on their property whether you are running or hunting. As inconvenient as it might be, turn around and find an alternative route to finish your run.

It is something to think about, especially if you are running on trails, logging roads or private roads, during hunting season (actually year-round) is who's property is it that you are running on and what the right of way rules are for that area - do you have permission to use that area.

That person who is out hunting might just be hunting on their own property and you are the one who is trespassing (breaking the law), so if a property owner asks you or tells you to not run on their property or to turn around - they do have that right and you need to follow their instructions.

This is something that I find that many runners forget about - property owner rights supercede a runner's right to run where or when they want to.

The reality is

that it is hunting season in many areas of the country and to be safe, we need to do a couple of things slightly differently - it is the way it is and it doesn't matter if you are pro hunting or anti-hunting.

I have been that guy sitting in my tree stand when some "stupid" runner comes along and scares away whatever it is I am hunting and I have been the runner who has been verbally assaulted and confronted by slob hunters when I have been out running.

I will continue to be a hunter and I will also continue to be a runner during hunting season. However, I will do everything within my power to keep myself and others safe when I am doing either one.

It means that runners and hunters both have the responsibility to use common sense, to make sure that the woods are a safe place for either to do the activity of their choice.

The bottom-line is that if we use some common sense, hunters and runners can co-exist quite nicely.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Skechers GoRun Ride2 OG - 200 Mile Review

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: November 3, 2013

Skechers GoRun Ride 2's

The Skechers GoRun Ride 2 (Orange-Gray) have been my primary running shoes since I bought them on 9/25/13. No, these were not a free media sample, the money came out of my pocket and I bought them at a local shoe store.

Since that day I have only run in one other pair of running shoes (on a trail run), one time and you know something, I haven't had ANY desire to run in anything else!

They are my second pair of this model and style, just a different color and have been used primarily for running.

I had just over 200 miles on my first pair of GoRun Ride 2's, but found that I was wearing them for everything and everywhere, because they were so comfortable. I wanted to see how a pair of Ride 2's would do durability-wise just for running, otherwise I have a feeling I would still be running in the blue ones.

The GR Ride2's do something that no other running shoe has done in a long, long time - they simply let me run.

They are comfortable, don't cause my Tailor's Bunionette any pain and the most important thing is during all my different runs (speed work down to a 6:00 minute pace, long runs 13+ and everything in between), I forget they are there and focus on other things - which is what a good, no a great pair of running shoes are supposed to do.

They still look fantastic. Usually I am fairly tough on the uppers of my shoes and they typically they look a lot worse for wear. Except for the wear on the bottoms, I don't really see that much difference from when they were new.

Below is a photo of them after my first run in them.

New Skechers GoRun Ride2's on 9/25/13

Yes, the GR Ride2's do feel more cushioned than some other shoes I have run in and you know something, I like the feeling. They are still very flexible, light and most importantly to me and as I said before they are extremely comfortable to me.

The biggest concern that I had about these shoes was how long the outsole would last.

I was very pleasantly surprised, the outsole has lasted better than I ever would have expected. Yes, there is some wear on the soles, but I expect that from ANY running shoe.

Skechers GoRun Ride2's outsole after 218 miles.

Notice the lack of wear on the back of my heels after 218 miles!

The biggest problem that I have with the GoRun Ride2's - both pair that I own is their tendency to pickup rocks in the heel unit. It is not a major problem, more of an annoyance and inconvenience than anything. They are easy to quickly pop out during or after a run, but it is something that I don't like about the shoe.

The other thing that I have an issue with is their availability, there is only one store that carries them locally and I prefer to look at the shoes and try them on before I buy them, instead of buying over the internet. That way I can see if a shoe has imperfections or how more importantly that it fits the way it is supposed to, which reduces the number of returns that I have to do.

One thing that I did learn about using these shoes just for running is the different wear patterns that I have when I walk versus when I run and how that affects my running shoes.

My first pair of GR Ride 2's that have over 500 miles combined of running and walking. There is a definite difference in wear patterns between these and my new ones that I use only for running.

The reality is that 

the Skechers GoRun Ride 2's have been the best running shoe I have run in over the past 2 years and might be the best shoe I have ever run in. We will see if they make my magical 500 mile mark or not. Even if they do not, the price point and level of comfort that I experienced in both pair of the GoRun Ride 2's that I have worn to this point will still place them very high on my list of all-time great (for me) running shoes.

Some people might not like the "softer" feeling and might have different experiences with the wear on both the upper and outsole, but for me and how I run, these are the running shoes that will be on my feet for a while and when they do finally wear out, will be what I put on my Christmas list as replacements.

To put it more bluntly - I like the Skechers GoRun Ride 2 running shoe more than I do any other I have run for way too many years and will be buying another pair within the next couple of months.

All I can say is I hope that Skechers doesn't screw around with these shoes too much, when they update them to version 3. These shoes work too well to mess with them too much. At least that is my not so humble opinion on this matter. :-)

The one thing that I would like to see on them is a little reflective trim for when I run low light conditions as part of my overall reflective safety clothing.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Race Anxiety - What it Actually Feels Like

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: October 11, 2013

Photo by Sue Morris

Imagine that you have one of your major goal races coming up this weekend. It is an important race that you have trained hard to prepare for this race.

You have big dreams and goals for how you will do.

Then when the race comes around, you want to be somewhere else, to be honest anywhere else, but at that race.

That is how I feel for most of the races I go to, it does not matter how big or how small they are. It got better for a while, but it is starting to raising its ugly head again.

Where did it start?

I am pretty competitive, sometimes I am just too damn competitive.

In high school, I did not run or compete at the level, I could have or in some of the more important meets or “Regionals”, because I just could not do it. I couldn't go.

I was too scared of failure, to have my own visions of glory dashed against the rocks of reality. 

I would fake being sick, go somewhere else, create reasons not to go, fake injuries and all the other tricks to get out of doing something that scares the hell out of you, so you do not have to show others “how good” you really are.

Fast forward from 1975 to 1985. 

I started to get better as a runner, nothing great, but regularly breaking 6:00 minute miles for distances up to 10 miles. My times were continuing to get better and I even had a couple of delusions of grandeur.

However, as I improved, my personal expectations of what I should do at races and in training increased exponentially. It got to the point where I/we had some very unrealistic expectations and goals for my running, you know those delusions of grandeur and "if only I...".

When I failed to meet those goals during a race or even in training, I became miserable and was not fun to be around for days afterwards.

In other words, I became an asshat and my running, especially my racing was negatively affecting my personal and professional lives. Those unrealistic expectations destroyed my enjoyment of the sport I loved and increasingly caused me to dread going to races.

How I Felt back in the 80's

Here are some of the things I felt the weeks before most races on my schedule, especially ones that I wanted to do really well or was racing against a particular person that week:

  • All you can think about is how you are going to do in the race, from fantasizing about keeping up with the fast runners, to what your actual race strategy should or will be,
  • your work suffers,
  • you get moody and easily agitated – you snap at others, are cranky,
  • instead of sleeping you toss and turn for hours on end, which means you wake up bleary eyed and tired,
  • you start to eat more and more comfort foods.
  • you have stress headaches most of the week
  • the bottom-line is you feel like shit
  • you start to ask yourself if feeling this way is worth it

As race day gets closer, the stress only gets worse:
  • you start to question if you even want to go
  • you start looking for reasons not to go to the race
  • if one of those reason does come up, you use the excuse and will back out to save face, but then you feel even worse, “I could’ve done it”, I could’ve been great” or from Rocky “I could’ve been a contendah”.
  • you are eating crap food for emotional comfort – you know the stuff you never eat unless you are totally stressed out
  • you are physically sick and feel even more like shit

Finally - Race day 

  • You don’t sleep much the night before and more than likely the nights before that
  • you are sick, nauseous, your head aches and really don’t want to get out of bed - sometimes you don't
  • you are really looking for any reason (big or small) to not go to the race - sometimes you find one
  • you look at your hands, they are shaking, trembling
  • you are don’t want to get ready to go - sometimes you don't
  • you finally get out the door and go back in 3-4 times to get things that you think you forgot
  • you get in your vehicle, grip the steering wheel with a death grip and say “I can do this” - sometimes you don't
  • while driving to the race, you try to find a reason to turn around - sometimes you do
  • when you get there you sit in the car for 5-10 minutes getting your courage up to go to the registration table, get your number and swag - sometimes you just drive off.
  • go to the bathroom multiple times, thinking to yourself, I still have time to get out of here - sometimes you do.
  • isolate yourself from other runners - you just don't feel like socializing or talking more than you have to.
  • go find a bush and puke
  • think again, I still have time to get out of here, I don’t have to do this - sometimes you do

You line up at the start 10-15 minutes before the start of a small race (30-45 minutes of a bigger race); knowing that once you are at the start, you will not leave, except to go puke over at the side of the road.

The gun goes off
  • Everything is suddenly fine - You are running,
  • During the race, none of the crap you were thinking about bothers you, but you are tired, the stress of the previous week has destroyed your ability to run at your best and most of the time you miss your lofty expectations.

After the Race

  • After everything is over, because you do not usually meet your expectations for the race or the goals of others:
  • you start to beat yourself up on things that you could have done differently, better or dug deeper during the race.
  • you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the camaraderie of the post-race celebration because you usually don’t have anything to celebrate
  • you just feel as though you have let the world down and you need to get out of there
  • you just feel like shit for days after the race.

Did I experience all of those things at every race – no but I have experienced all of them and some others enough times to know them all very well.

Post 1986

Small wonder I stopped racing between 1986 and 2012. Racing had stopped being fun, became something that I dreaded doing and became such a negative part of my life.

Between when I stopped racing in 1986 and then started again in 2012. I have faked injuries or sickness, not gotten out of bed the day of the race – saying I felt too sick to run, turned around halfway to a race, or worse gotten there - then left before the race started, even though I was at the race site, had pinned my number on and had even gotten through the warm-ups.

Running in a race had just become such an overwhelming thing, that I couldn't bring myself to do, even though I really wanted to.

Race Anxiety

What I felt was/is called race anxiety; it is completely different from race-day jitters. To me and others who endure It, it is an overwhelming feeling that we cannot control.

Unfortunately, the only successful strategy that I found from 1986 to 2012, was not to run in races. That no racing strategy, well It worked to an extent, but I missed out on the parts of running that racing has besides the competition - the part that affected me so negatively.

I missed out on the camaraderie and friendships of other runners who shared many of the same interests that I have.

Back to racing

When I started racing again in January 2012, it was damned hard for me to do!

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 was to run in races. I finally decided to run the Central Maine Striders January Thaw race in 2012, but I basically did it the day before the race and didn't have that long build-up to contend with, you can read my race recap.

My photo after the January Thaw 4.5 Miler in January 2012

Unfortunately, not all of those negative feelings I had back in the 80's, when I am going to a race have magically disappeared. Most of them are still there each and every race that I have gone to over the past couple of years.

The only difference is that I have been able overcome them by reminding myself that going to races is something that I really want to and I just have to do it, especially if I wanted to run MCM and be around other runners. Those issue I had with the old delusions of grandeur are much more rooted in reality, instead of the clouds.

Getting older has helped that part of the problem more than a little -- that added maturity thing that seems to happen as we age, but every so often I have to kick myself in the ass and come back down off those clouds when I start thinking I am a better runner than I really am.

In May, when I injured my Achilles tendon, badly enough that I could not run for a while and eventually had to withdraw from the Marine Corps Marathon – my huge goal race was gone and I didn't have anything to replace it.

When that happened many of the feelings that I had been successfully combatting, burst out and beat me about the head and shoulders, like the flying monkeys did to the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

I raced a few times at the end of July/start of August and was so disappointed with my times compared to where I had been back at the end of April. After the last race in Skowhegan, I did not race for almost 2 months, August 4th to September 27th; even though I had several opportunities and could have raced just about any weekend, I wanted.

My race anxiety issues had clawed its way out from behind the wall I had built for it and was starting to take control again.

I kept talking and write the good talk, attempting to move forward and not let it seem that anything was wrong to anyone, especially myself.

Getting Ready for the Big Race

So as I got ready to run the Rise ‘N Shine 5K on September 27th, based on last year's experience I had set some pretty high goals for myself.

My original goals for the 5K:
  • I wanted to defend my age group win
  • I wanted to race this race, not just run it
  • I wanted to break 20:00 for this race
  • There were certain runners, that I fantasized keeping up with

Some of the obstacles were:
  • The pain I would have to embrace to race it
  • The damn hill at a bad place in the run. No the hill is not really that bad, but where it is in the race messes with your head

My Achilles injury

In reality I didn't have any doubts that my Achilles injury was going to make it so that I knew that couldn’t/wouldn’t achieve most, if any of the above things.

My realistic and public goals for the race were
  • Don’t be stupid and re-injure my Achilles
  • A Goal – Sub 22:00
  • B Goal – Sub 23:00

Reality had given me other goals, but my expectations did not change in my head. I just could not get the person inside of me accept less than what my original goals were, even though I knew they were not realistic.

So in the weeks leading up to this race, I started to experience many of the race anxiety symptoms that caused me to stop racing back in 1986. I noticed myself retreating into my shell and I found myself looking for reasons to not go run the Rise ‘N Shine 5K, even though I really wanted to go – crazy huh!

The worst part was that even though I attempted to put my Rise 'N Shine 5k race in positive perspective, I was still frustrated and beat myself up over the results. I found myself falling back into the way I felt after races back in the 80's and I do not want to go there again.

My Own Worst Enemy

I have finally figured out that I am my own worst enemy when comes to racing. I put too much artificial pressure on myself to meet very lofty for me goals, many of which are or were unrealistic and then when I do not meet those goals, life sucks and my expectations become a very stressful part of my life.

What am I Doing now to overcome it?
  • Writing about it - publicly. If I air out my dirty little secret, my race anxiety has less power over me
  • Be honest with myself and how I am feeling
  • Continue participating in my local running community and online.
  • Keep signing up and going to races
  • Focus more on the enjoyment and social aspects, versus the competitive aspect of running in a race. I am never going to be a contendah.
  • Keep writing at A Runnah’s Story, after all you cannot write a running focused blog, without talking about races you have run in - well I could, but only writing about my training runs is going to get pretty damn boring.
  • I need to find a huge goal race again, so that I have an over-riding reason to keep practicing and going to races, so I just do not bail and stop racing again.
  • Eventually find a running coach to help me with my training/racing.

Writing this post was one of the hardest posts that I have ever written, it exposes a side of me that is not very flattering and shows weaknesses about myself that I have kept private for many years. After all, the way I was raised I am supposed to be able to overcome stuff like this, instead of running away and hiding from it - which is what I did from 1986 to 2012 and sadly began to fall back into again recently.

Is my race anxiety something that will ever go away completely – probably not. I am smart enough to know that this is one of those demons that I will continue to battle to some extent, as long as I run and compete in races.

The reality is that after writing this post I am more confident that overcoming my race anxiety issues is something that I can do a better job of in the future, especially since it is now a public beast, not just something whirling around inside of my head, without any outlet or place to go.

The secret I believe for me to be successful in this battle is this:

I really do enjoy the company of other runners, and I dislike running by myself all the time.

I think it is kind of funny - I am pretty much a huge introvert and the primary part of the solution to this race anxiety issue for me is that I want to be around other runners. Strange how things work sometimes, when you stop and take a good look at something that is bothering you and what the actual solution seems to be.

I don't think I am completely alone in how I feel about racing, the anxiety I have felt and still feel. I wonder how many of you experience some or all the feelings I have described above and what you do to overcome those feelings?

What do you think about race anxiety?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rise 'N Shine 5K Recap 9-27-13

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: September 27, 2013

Today was the 20th Annual Rise 'N Shine 5K, a race that I really love, even though I hate that damn hill at the end.

What a perfect day for a race! 50's very little wind, a little overcast.

My plan was to run, not race today, so I didn't wear my Garmin and wore my new Skechers GoRun Ride, instead of my racing flats (Ekidons) or even the GR2's, that way, I wouldn't be so tempted to go faster than I should. Wearing racing flats is a psychological cue to me that i am supposed to push through the discomfort/pain and go as fast as I can.

That is not what I wanted to do today.

I had three goals for this race:
  1. Don't be stupid and re-injure my Achilles
  2. A Goal - Sub 22:00
  3. B Goal - Sub 23:00

I haven't raced since early August and know that I am not in good race shape. So this was going to be a great test of where I am actually am and how well my foot is doing. While my training has been going pretty good, I have not run a sustained faster pace - so l I wasn't sure how the foot would hold up.

The gun went off and we all headed down the hill, it was interesting watching so many sprint down the hill and the different ways the lead runners attacked the downhill.

I really wanted to keep the guy in the white hat close by (Bill Hill) and managed to do a good job through the first mile. Which floored me when I got there and the guy giving out the time says 6:20. Now the first mile for this race is usually pretty fast, but that is the pace I need be running for a sub 20:00 5K not what I was going to do today.

Also I could feel my Achilles starting to tighten up a little, so I backed off the pedal, it was just a little too fast a pace for it. People were starting to pass me and when I tried to pick the pace back up (that competitiveness thing), my Achilles reminded me that wasn't a good idea. So I tried to find the right pace, where I could run without it barking too much, but still run decently. I went through mile 2.0 at 13:51 slowed down a lot!

The last mile was one of those precarious balancing acts where I really tried to go faster, but not to the point where it bothered the Achilles too much. Which was frustrating as hell because people were passing me, I was feeling really good, except for the Achilles and wanted to pick up the pace - a LOT!

However, I kept telling myself, I am not racing today, I am just doing a fast paced run to see where I am at. Not that it helped that much when people would go by me and I didn't try to respond or even attempt to pick off the runners in front of me (that ego thing).

To be quite honest it sucked, but I had a choice risk re-injuring the Achilles or stay conservative and run tomorrow.

Going back up the hill, I had to really slow down, the Achilles did not like the hill at all!!!

A bunch of people passed me at that point and even though I wanted to really pick it up at the end, I was a good boy and just coasted into the finish.

I finished the race in 21:51 unofficial, office time was 21:53, 39/253 and second in my age group by 4 seconds or so. Complete race results on CoolRunning.

I knew when the guy went by me down by the kiosk, that he was in my age group, but as much as I wanted go for it, I just let him go, it was more important to me to just finish without re-injuring myself, than to get caught up with a sprint at the end, which the way my Achilles was feeling, would not have been a smart move.

So who know, maybe I am starting to get a little smarter and listen to my body, instead of beating on it and hoping it holds up.

I ended up about 10 seconds slower than last year's time, (when I pushed myself really hard). Which indicates to me that I am getting in good shape, because I wasn't pushing as hard this year and got almost the same time,

The best part is that now my Achilles feels pretty good and I am thinking about doing a second easy run later today.

I achieved all of my goals for the race today and now I just need to keep letting this Achilles heel of mine heal a little more and I WILL be able to race, not just run soon. Which also means that I can start running trails and yes this sounds a bit sick - I can start working hills again :-)

Lessons Learned
  • Drink a cup of coffee, even if the race starts at 6:30 AM - caffeine headaches suck
  • Wear GR2's or Ekidons, not the Rides for racing
  • While the Achilles is doing a lot better, it is only at about 80% and it still bothers if I try to go too fast, distances are getting better, but the faster I run the more it hurts. I need to keep doing my rehab exercises
  • Need to desperately work on running up hills, but that goes with the Achilles getting better
  • Need to work on speed over longer distances (more than just quarters)
  • Not get into race anxiety mode, which I found myself slipping into a little this week - more on that later.

Overall, I was very pleased with how the race went and I was happy with how I ran. But damn, I wish that I would have found 10 seconds somewhere in that run - oh well there is always next year. That old competitiveness coming through, but I ran as hard as I was able to this morning and Jon beat me fair and square. He ran faster than I did and deserved it, so I want to congratulate him.

But...I do have a little more motivation to work harder in training now ;-).

It was good to see a lot of familiar faces, so yes I did a lot of socializing (for me) before and after the race. I do want to thank all the Volunteers, the YMCA and Kennebec Savings Bank for putting on a quality race this morning!!! It is a first class event that I want to do every year that I can for a long time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Skechers GoRun Ride2 - Made it Past 200 Miles

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: September 23, 2013

Skechers GoRun Ride 2

I just went over 200 miles of running on my Skecher GoRun Ride2's (that I got for my birthday back in early August) and at least another 125 (probably a lot more) miles of walking in them.

Over the past 7 weeks I have used them for a 9+ mile long run (I am slowly increasing my long runs after a partial tear of my Achilles back on 5/27), several 8.0 mile runs, 40 plus mile weeks, speed work on the treadmill (down to sub 6:00 minute pace at times), tempo runs, recovery runs, fun runs and lots of Bennie walks.

Through all these runs and walks, the biggest thing that I can say about them is that they are -- Comfortable.

I am counting the walking mileage because it is still miles on the shoes and while the wear pattern might be a little different from if I was only running in them, it shows a few things:

  • Again - most importantly the Ride2's are VERY comfortable for me.
  • The out-soles have worn better than I thought they would. I run and walk a lot on stones/rocks on the dirt road down-back which are really tough on the out-sole of any running shoes, besides a lot of miles on tar roads.

I wear these shoes about 85 to 90% of the time - I just like the way that they fit and feel on my feet.
What do I like about the Ride2's?
The Ride2's to be extremely comfortable - Yes, I know I said this before, but to me it is the most important thing - they are comfortable.
They are wide in the toe box and do not bother my right foot's Tailor Bunionette, 5-6 miles into the run. This has been a huge problem with other shoes styles that I have worn. It becomes very uncomfortable to down-right painful, which causes me to change my gait on my longer runs, which causes chain-reaction injuries - which suck!
  • I like a softer feeling i.e. cushioned running shoe and these meet that "want", without being sloppy.
  • They are very flexible.
  • Light - coming in at under 8 oz.
  • Quiet. They are quiet, I do not slap the ground in them or pound it with my heels. All I know is that I run smoothly and quietly whether I am running at a sub 7:00 minute pace or at a slower 9:30 recovery pace.
  • I run with more of a mid-foot landing than I do with other styles of running shoes. I have read a lot of negative feedback about the hump in the Skechers performance line of running shoes - the one I really have never noticed in the Ride2's. Maybe the E-Motion bump just works its magic with my style of running - what ever it is - I like it so far.
  • No heel counter. A lot of people do not like not having a heel counter, personally I don't like having one and consider this a clear benefit of the Ride2's. There is no heel counter back there to cause blisters or "restrict" the natural movement of my foot.

Speaking of blisters. None - the only time I had a minor problem was once when the insole came out and I didn't put the right foot's back in correctly. Once I put it back where it was supposed to be, no issues.

Finally, even though I put fit and function over appearances, to me the GoRun Ride2's are a good-looking running shoe! They are not Fugly like some of the other shoes I have run in over the past couple of years.


They pick up small rocks in the heel unit - while they are easily flicked out, it is annoying to hear them clicking on the road and makes me lose focus until I take care of it. Usually they are not big enough to bother, but once in a while I get a pointed rock in there and have to stop to get rid of it.
I automatically put LockLaces in my all of my shoes, I wish they came with them.

Those are the only issues I have had with my Skecher GoRun Ride2's.
The reality is that

the Skechers GoRun Ride2's are my favorite running shoes that I have run in, since I returned to running in June 2011 and one of my favorite pair of running shoes that I have run in since sometime back in the mid-80's. That is saying something, because I have gone through A LOT of running shoes over that period.

The two biggest compliments that I can give these shoes are that:
  • I choose to run in the Ride2's over all the other running shoes that I have in the house
  • I bought another pair today. That is right - I bought them with my own money, in other words - I put my money where my mouth is.

The last one is something I haven't done for a while - going out and buying another pair of the same brand and style of running shoe. The best part was they were on sale locally at Famous Footwear for $69.99 and I had a coupon for 15% off, so for around $63, I got a new pair of running shoes.

Pretty sweet if you ask me.

The Skecher GoRun Ride2's may not work for everyone, but they do work for me.

I do know that my new Skechers Ride 2's will be primarily for running and my old blue ones will be more for walking or crappy weather running shoes. Those shoes have a lot more running life left in them, but I want to see how many miles I can get on a pair of Ride 2's, if I just use them for running.

I am very happy with how my Ride 2's have performed for me and can't wait to try the new pair, so I can compare the differences between the new ones and the old ones - it should be a fun post. Also I have a feeling that a pair of GoRun Bionic Trail Shoes, winter is coming, plus I want to start trail running again and someday a pair of GoRun Mebs (Speeds) will make it into my running shoe rotation, if I ever get back in race shape.

Good job - Skechers - I am impressed.

Disclosure - I submitted an application to become a Skecher's wear-tester back in mid-August (before I decided to stop social media marketing). Last week I was offered the opportunity to become a Skecher's Wear Tester and primarily due to my decision to move away from social media marketing, I choose to decline the offer. I might work with Skechers at some future event(s), but for now, I do not have any official or unofficial relationship with Skechers and have to buy my Skechers Running shoes - which I have done.

So all comments about these shoes are my own and are my honest opinion of what I think of the Skechers GoRun Ride2.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Becoming a Barbarian Again

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: August 27, 2013

Over the past few months and especially the past few weeks, I have looked at lots and lots of things that I should and will do to simplify my life professionally and personally.
What's going on you are fairly successful doing the social media marketing and blogging thing - right?
Let me back up a bit explain what is going on.
Last year I decided to take a year, to see if I could make a go of creating a small business called A Veteran Runnah, that would focus on social media, online marketing and blogging both on my blog and as a free-lance writer. I did not go into this na├»ve or thinking that I would be an overnight success. I knew that it would take a LOT of hard-work and effort on my part.

The year is over!

Well that year is now over.
I had some huge successes:
  • becoming a featured Real Health Blog contributor, (which ends August 31st)
  • going to the inaugural Runner's World Half as a FitFluential Ambassador - last October.
During the last year I do know that I learned a helluva lot, made my share of mistakes and most of all - met so many amazing people, face-to-face and online.
When it became clear that my time as a Real Health contributor was coming to an end, it made me stop and think, sit down and really take a long look at what would come next. My wife and I had several frank discussions about the future, what kind of life we want to live and came to several conclusions. We decided on a direction that we would take that would make the both of us happiest.
The changes financially, will mean doing things differently, but not really that differently.

What I Learned

The biggest thing that I learned is that I am not a social media ninja, guru, expert or really all that interested in being an amazing entrepreneur.
I don't have the personality or drive, to be really successful or happy in that world. 
Chasing, closing and promoting - the next big deal or even little deal, are not the things that drive me or trip my trigger. I just don't fit in and it is not who I am, especially since my heart just was not into that lifestyle, because that what social media marketing really is - a lifestyle, not just a job.
It doesn't take a lot of money, being rich or famous, to make my life happy or successful. As long as we have enough to meet our needs and a few splurges from time to time, I am very happy (well as long as I keep in good running shoes). I am very content on our 8 acres, double-wide trailer and don't need a fancy new house, to travel around the world, have a Porche in the garage and a giant SUV in the driveway.
No my life and wants are much simpler than that.
I want to see my grandkids more often, be more a part of the local community, enjoy puttering around the house/yard and sharing my Runnah's story - my way, without worrying about how or what I say or do will affect my how a brand will view me.
I am a lot like my Ford Truck: reliable, can be cleaned-up pretty good, still can go places off the beaten track and can do a lot of stuff people didn't realize that I can.


Another thing that I learned is that I am more loyal than I thought I was.
While I have never been very loyal to any particular brand of running shoe or gear in the past, but then I always purchased my gear and had the consumer's option of  talking about it the way that I wanted and not feel guilty if I decided to use something else. After all I had made the choice to buy it.
When I started to get free stuff to do product reviews or swag, beyond the normal stuff that runners get at races. I had a hard time reconciling how to be loyal to those brands that provided me free products, while still remaining true to myself and providing accurate reviews.
Eventually, I found the right balance for me and became very selective about the products that I would agree to review. This decision ensured that I was providing accurate reviews of the products that I liked and while not publicly trashing a brand's product that I did not like or did not work for me, but providing accurate feedback back to the brands.
However, to remain solvent, I needed to have multiple income streams and be willing to accept assignments from multiple brands in the running/health niche I had chosen. Which meant that I sometimes needed to review products from competing brands and that bothered me - a lot, especially when I preferred a certain one over the others.
At times I felt as though I was walking a tightrope of remaining true to who I am versus becoming a brand whore and there were more than a few things that happened that made me scratch my head and go mmmmm - then say I don't think so and walk away.
That was the beginnings of my disillusionment with what I was doing.

Policies and Procedures

The other part is that all corporations or brands have their policies and procedures that have to be followed, they all have a certain perception of how the world should see their product and how they should be written about and how you represent them.
Their ideas and mine...well the two didn't always fit so well, but if I was being paid for a deliverable, I needed to toe the company line and let things go once, I made delivery. It was difficult to do that at times, because I do take pride in the work that I do and when the final product did not resemble what I had written or my intended outlook, but had my name attached to it - well it bothered me.


The other big thing that I learned was that over the past year, was that my life got way too COMPLICATED!
I was always attempting to do this or that, attend this chat, that hangout, this deliverable was due, can you re-do this article, this just happened - can you prepare a post by tonight, your video was good, but can you re-shoot it this way and all the other stuff that happens as a free-lance writer, featured blogger and social media marketer.
It seemed that I was on the computer all the time, when I wasn't, I needed my smart phone to beep and buzz when I was mentioned, someone left a comment or retweeted a tweet I had made on different social media sites. I felt that I needed to know and be involved in all the social media conversations - all the time. In other words my laptop and computers were beeping and buzzing constantly between 6:00 AM and 11:00 PM.
Social media became too much - I was connected to the online world so much it was affecting my real world negatively, plus I was feeling burnt out from having to be "on" and portray that good online persona - all the time. I wasn't allowed to be Harold.
I started putting limits on notifications and how much time I was spending online, but to do the social media marketing thing and be good at it, you need to keep up a presence on the major social media hubs, especially when you are first starting out.
Then add in the fact that as a social media marketer, you are always looking for new clients or work, submitting proposals, for when your current work is over and keeping track of it all (for legal, tax and other purposes), was not what I wanted to be doing long-term.

Being Connected

I know and understand that many people live their lives being connected online 24/7 today whether they are doing social media marketing or not and they consider themselves happy, successful and satisfied with that lifestyle.
However, I am not a digital native and still remember a time when technology was not the focal point of our lives - yes there was life before the Internet and while it might not have been as immediate, it was still a good one.
Although I have been involved with technology for a long time and am very comfortable using it, this level of immersion is not what I want to be a primary focus in my life, especially for the long-term.
I enjoy my time away from the electronic world and the wonders that it provides - too much.

Letting go of the Dream

So instead of continuing to chase after something that is not really who I am.
I am letting go of the fantasy of becoming Harold the social media ninja or guru or even the next great blogger, who will be acclaimed by the national publications and be paid the big bucks to write for them.
I know now I would not be happy living life in the fast lane, after touching the tip of that iceberg.


So I have started the journey to downsize my life.
Yes, I am going back to being who I really am - Harold the barbarian (no not the one popularized by Robert E. Howard, but more this definition.
I am going back to being the uncouth, uncultured and socially unacceptable person that I have been most of my life - no I don't fit into the world of limos, red carpets, high rises, small mansions and masses of humanity hurtling by at a million miles an hour.

What does all this really mean?

I enjoy:
  • loving my family
  • taking the path less travelled,
  • being a  guy from a small town in Maine and the lifestyle that I have here,
  • sharing my journey and story about fighting getting old,
  • attempting to be the best Runnah I can be at this point in my life
  • puttering around the house breaking things and then trying to put them back together - my Harold the Destroy persona,
  • not worrying about what the Jones' have,
  • being a lot blunter and not worrying so much about impressing others with my wittiness and ability to sell a product
  • being a good friend
  • smiling a lot
Who knows maybe I will even have more time to expand my interests back to including other things like reading, more exploring the local area, genealogy, archery, some hunting or fishing, but definitely spending more time outside and a lot less time on the computer, phone or virtual worlds.
The reality is that since I have made this decision, I have relaxed - a lot. I am looking forward to what the next chapters in my life will bring to me and sharing pieces of that journey with those of you who choose to continue reading my blog.