Sunday, June 19, 2011

Running is Stupid

So as you may recall, three weeks ago I started running. I am not a runner. I refer to myself as someone who CAN run. There is a big difference. Runners are deranged individuals who, for reasons I will never understand, actually seem to enjoy the physical pounding that a lengthy run provides. I am not one of those people. I am simply a little dude with the physiological capacity to repeatedly put one foot in front of the other at a tempo that provides substantial forward movement.

After the kick off party to celebrate the Run for Your Life Trail Club I decided it might not be a bad idea to invest in some running shoes. I participated in the group's initial 5k while sporting a pair of Converse One Stars. Are they awesome? Of course they are, that is why I own two pairs. Are they ideal for trail running? Look at the picture below and you tell me.

Perhaps not ideal footwear for kicking along a few miles of single track

It became abundantly clear to me that something needed to be done if I was going to continue with this crazy idea of running in the woods. More importantly, something was going to have to be purchased. Any normal person would reach out to other local runners and ask their opinions on the most appropriate shoes. Said person might also read a magazine or two containing useful information on running gear. Perhaps this fictitious person might even look to the wide world of the interwebs for reviews and buying tips. How long have you been reading my blog? Did you really think I would do any of that? Hell no! I don't need the advice of experts. I have my very own brilliant ideas about running shoes that don't need to be backed up by anything other than my own sense of what is right and what is horribly, horribly wrong. So I bought these......

The word you're looking for is "Magnificent". Go ahead and say it out loud.

What you are looking at folks is the Nike Zoom Waffle XC VIII or NZWXC for short. If you try to say that five times fast it sounds like you're sneezing. But anyway, I think that racing flats with removable spikes were a very sensible choice. I wanted to go the minimalist route and these shoes certainly fit the bill. They are crazy light and have no cushioning on the bottom. The upper material is primarily mesh which allows great breathability and excellent water drainage should I ever attempt to run on water and fail. The drop from the heel to the forefoot is too small to measure which makes forefoot running the necessity it should already be. The fact that I was able to get them in a muted color that does not attract any attention really sealed the deal.

My fancy new shoes and I have been fumbling our way through this whole running thing. The first run after the kick off party was by far the most amusing because I fully demonstrated just how little I know about this sport. Since I am not a runner I decided to start out at the back of the pack. Yup, that lasted all of about five minutes. The only thing worse than running is running slowly. I quickly worked my way up to the front group and that seemed to work out just fine. With four of us together we maintained a quick enough pace to keep me from getting bored. What I noticed right away is that I was the only one of our group not talking. Everyone else seemed chatty while I was gasping for air. I should have dropped back but instead I pushed on. As the pace picked up even more our group of four became a group of three. Why I was still in this group is a mystery. And then it happened. With about four hundred meters to go the leader took off like a shot. My response? Yeah, I went after him. I matched his pace kick for kick until the end of the trail. It was shortly after that when I was fairly certain I was having a heart attack. I may be too young to die but I am willing to push myself pretty damn hard to test that theory.

The following week we did it all over again. My second run was far better than the first because I had learned a thing or two. I started with the front group and stayed there the whole time. Sadly, there was still one lesson I had not learned. When the leader went off the front I was once again in hot pursuit. This time the leader was a different person who was not quite as fast as the person I had chased the week before. Being familiar with the trail I thought it might fun to break away myself and see just how fast I could go. I ran the last four hundred or so by myself at a pace that was most unpleasant.

Today's run was altogether different. There was no grand sprint at the end. The pace overall was just slow enough that I felt I could have gone faster. We wrapped up our six mile loop in a reasonable time but I was left wanting. This is when the worst of my decisions are made. That time when I have done enough for one day but feel just a little bit less than satisfied. As most of the people from our group loaded into their cars I was approached with a proposition. A gentleman I shall only refer to as "The Real Paul" asked me if I would like to go out for another loop. There are two problems here. The Real Paul is ten years my junior. The Real Paul is actually a runner. He has multiple marathons to his name and wears appropriate footwear. Add all this to the fact that I have never before run more than six miles and the answer seems clear. I should have bid him farewell and dashed off in the general direction of the nearest pile of bacon. Again, have you been paying attention? Do you really know me at all? Our second loop was run at the same pace as our first. We traded the lead from time to time and never missed a step. As we neared the end of the trail I happened to mention that this was the first time I had run such a distance. My fleet footed companion was so surprised by this that he nearly fell down. He offered me some advice about easing into mileage but I wasn't really paying attention so I don't recall exactly what was said. I am sure he meant to say that we should do a half marathon next weekend.

So here I am clicking away at my keyboard with my left leg elevated. The prospect of walking down the hall to the bedroom seems just a bit too daunting right now. I have spent the better part of my afternoon limping around my apartment at a snail's pace and often crawling on my hands and knees to avoid putting any pressure on my feet. There is a lesson to be learned here boys and girls. Don't run. Just don't do it. I'm giving up running for good. At least until next Sunday morning anyway. That is when I will join the trail club once again for a brisk jaunt through the woods. And if all goes well I'll find myself with the lead group kicking above my weight and loving every minute of it. Please don't tell my bike.

Now those are some happy feet.