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Motivation

I’m not sure if it’s just the time of year, or having been on vacation, or perhaps I overdid things earlier in the year again, but it’s been tough to get out in order to get in the miles lately. Despite the motivational issues, I haven’t done too badly – the mileage just isn’t up to what I was doing earlier this year.

Since last Tuesday’s race (where I didn’t feel great) I have managed 3 runs, 1 race and 1 bike ride (only my 4th ride of the year – probably should do something about that). Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I do want to reflect on the race at least…

Sunday morning was the Miles for Minds 5k in Edison, NJ. I ran this race for the first time last year because I was in a multi-race battle to try and beat Rolf. This year Rolf was also the reason I ran it, but the circumstances were very different. If you click through to the link to his blog above then you will see that he is recovering from a major injury which he documented in his previous blog. This was his “comeback” race.

I also had another motivational factor – last year I won my age group, and I was hoping I could repeat that this year.

I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes before a race my body shuts down – sometimes this is the morning of the race, sometimes it’s the day before. It can take a variety of forms – stomach issues, extreme tiredness. It’s not that I feel nervous or anything (at least I’m not aware of it if I am) – with the tiredness it’s almost like my body is trying to make sure I conserve enough energy for the effort, but I have no idea what the stomach issues are about. Is it just something that affects me? It’s not something you really talk about I guess so I have no idea if anyone else goes through similar things.

On Sunday morning I had the stomach issues, but it wasn’t like anything that had happened before other races and I felt like I might actually throw up. I knew I had to go to the race, but I also knew I could run it with Rolf as he isn’t up to his old race speeds quite yet. I felt like I couldn’t eat anything but I forced myself to eat a protein bar and surprisingly things started to feel a bit better.

At the park when it came time for warming up I still wasn’t sure. A slow jog seemed to be making my stomach do little back flips so it wasn’t looking good for the age group win, but somehow it seemed to settle as we got further into the warm up – I decided to go out racing and ease off if I felt like I couldn’t make it round.

The course for Miles for Minds is not exactly what you would call flat, so I knew this wasn’t going to be a PR. Last year I had run this well though – better than I expected. Roosevelt Park in Edison is quite hilly and the course includes quite a few turns. It didn’t feel as “easy” as I seem to recall it being last year and even though I was maintaining a good pace it was a bit of a struggle. I passed a few people, but got passed by a couple towards the end and didn’t have enough kick to try and stay with them, but ultimately I was very happy as it was enough to get the age group win.

The next part was the most important though – after grabbing a bottle of water I ran back down the course to run in with Rolf – he’d been chatting away with Alberto for the whole race but they’d still been running at a decent pace so it wasn’t far before I came across them and ran with them back down towards the finish again. Next year Rolf, I hope to be battling it out with you again.

As the subject of this post is motivation, I have to mention the River to Sea Relay this Saturday. I’m in a team consisting entirely of people who have never run this before, and it’s tough to know what to expect. It feels like there have been hundreds of pages of documents relating to it, and then there’s the stresses around replacing team members who have dropped out. This, at times, has lead me to wonder why I’m doing it, but now as it’s so close I think I’m finally settling into the realization that this should be a really good fun day out.

Has anyone reading this run the River to Sea relay in NJ before? Any advice for first-timers?

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Moving this blog

I’m not really sure how this will work, but the blog is now being redirected to a subdomain of my runnj.org site.

It sounds like followers can be moved, but it’s unclear to me how long that will take.

I have plenty to write about and will attempt to cross post on both for now and see how things work out. In theory, if I can do that it means my posts will still appear here, but anyone clicking on the post will automatically redirect.

If it doesn’t work out, I’ll work out what to do (which may mean just moving back to runninginnj.wordpress.com

Posts coming up soon:

This past weekend’s race (comeback race for an injured friend, and an age group win).

My longest barefoot run so far.

The upcoming River to Sea Relay.

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It’s a world record run

(Well, not officially yet). On Tuesday night RVRR held their final Summer Series race of the year. This was also the final race for the race directors who started it all 30 years ago, and to go out in style they arranged a world record attempt for the “Shortest Chip-timed Cross Country Race”.

50m_xc

The kids races started at 6 as usual, and I volunteered to run the 1 mile as lead (seriously hoping that the fast girl that turned up last time I volunteered wasn’t there again – didn’t think I’d do particularly well that day trying to run faster than a 7 minute mile before the 5k race). I ran the quarter mile with my youngest, and then the half mile with my eldest, and then the mile, which luckily turned out to be a nice 9+ minute mile.

The kids had the lollipop race, then the pizza, and then we waited around for the 7pm 50 meter cross country race. I signed up the kids and fixed the chip timing tags to their shoes, and then Jose took this great picture of us:

rvrr_50m

I ended up running with the kids – there was a hay bale across the middle of the course, and the little one was a bit small to jump over it. He tried and stumbled, fell to the ground on the other side and didn’t want to stand up again (he was looking at his knee to make sure it was okay). Eventually I got him back on his feet and running again, but it meant we finished in 160th, 161st, and 162nd out of 169 people. (Full Results here). Pictures from the race are posted here and in photos 63 to 67 you can see the sequence of events from that hay bale jump (in picture 62 we’re about to negotiate it).

The 5k started soon after – all this race did was confirm what I already knew – I am a road runner, not a cross country runner, not a trail runner, but still I got third in age group for the whole series (although there were fast people out there that night, so for this particular race I think I was 4th). I really wanted this one to be fast – it looked set to be my fastest of the series given the other 2 I had run were in wet, boggy conditions. On Tuesday the grass was actually mostly dry for a lot of the course so you’d think it would be fine. It ended up as my slowest – not long after the start my legs were just feeling heavy and I just felt it was such an effort to move. I’ve never had a race where I felt quite like that so I think the 50m race beforehand must have just been too much.

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Niagara Falls run (and Merrell Trail Glove 2 review update)

Vacation is over – 15 days of travel, 2238 miles covered in the car, and a total of about 38 miles run over those days in 5 runs. Now to start thinking about marathon training for Philadelphia.

Before I get on to talking about the Merrell Trail Glove 2 (as per the title of this post), here’s a quick rundown of my Niagara Falls run.

The last run of my vacation was on Wednesday morning in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. I had to run here mainly to be able to say I had run in Canada (in my 3 years of running I have only run in the US, England and now Canada).

My phone battery was so low I didn’t take it with me, but I wish I had – firstly the sky was impressive, and secondly, it was early enough that there was hardly anyone around (one other runner and a couple of people working to clean the sidewalks). So, if you’re there, it’s worth getting out early (I was out at about 6:20am) to get the falls to yourself.

I ran from the hotel, and towards the Rainbow Bridge (my intention was mainly to run the other way, but decided to head up that way first) and then looped around to run towards the horseshoe falls. The falls mist was spraying very strongly over the path which was pleasant because it was a very humid morning and then I continued on along the path by the river. I hadn’t looked at a map so I wasn’t sure what I would see or where it would lead, but really it didn’t seem to be heading anywhere after about a mile. I only planned on about 4 miles total anyway so when I came across a set of steps up the hill I figured it would probably take me to the higher road that would lead me back to the hotel.

Ultimately it did but I was a bit worried at first – despite the height of the hotels, I couldn’t see them at all, but I pushed on. There was really nothing to see for much of this so it was a bit dull, and eventually I got back to the hotel after 4.7 miles. At least I got another run in and the first part was very scenic.

niagara

In my recent runs, when wearing the Merrell Trail Glove 2 (original post is here, I have been thinking more about them. I have been wearing them with very thin socks generally and on longer runs I have found that the bottom of my feet have felt like, if I go much further, I could end up with blisters, or at least sore feet.

For the run at Niagara Falls I couldn’t find my socks (they were probably in one of the suitcases I left in the car) so I had to run without socks. At first I was concerned because when I put them on I could feel a seam that I was convinced was going to cause me a problem. I thought I might have to cut the run short. However, when I started running I couldn’t really feel it and there were no adverse effects and no apparent rubbing, so it seems like it would be fine (I think if I’d run long I would have had the same issues as with the thin socks of course).

This morning I ran with thicker socks and didn’t seem to have the same issues, so it seems that the correct socks are important for me with these shoes.

The Merrell Trail Glove 2 is still, by far, my favorite shoe for longer distances, so it will definitely be my marathon training shoe and ultimately (unless something drastic happens) the shoe I will run in for the Philadelphia Marathon.

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Running in (not NJ)…

This week I have run in PA, IN, and IL. I already wrote about my PA run, so here’s a catch up on the others.

Indianapolis didn’t seem like an easy place to run, the hotel couldn’t even offer suggestions other than “there’s a golf course as long as you avoid the security guards” and “well, there are sidewalks here and here”. Perhaps it was just the area I was in, but even driving around town I didn’t spot anywhere that looked good for a run. I took the option of just running along the sidewalk along the road the hotel was on. The first thing that struck me was that they really didn’t seem to want pedestrians to cross the road – I swear it was over a mile before there were actually pedestrian crossing points for the main road, despite having them across the side roads. At one point I took a turn down one of these side roads because it had a sidewalk and I was getting bored running along the same road. I got about a quarter of a mile down and the sidewalk ran out, but there was a crossing right there – great, I thought, so I crossed and turned to carry on down that same road only to realize that came to a dead end less than 100 yards ahead, so back to the main road again.

This morning I ran in Schaumburg, IL (not too far from Chicago). This was a much more successful run. The hotel was only just over 1 mile from Busse Woods (I’m sure the hotel staff pronounced it “Bossy” Woods when they told me about it – wasn’t expecting a “u”, so it took me a minute to find the info online).

It was a nice, cool morning – I guess that’s what happens when you’re further north – and as I was getting ready I started to try to talk myself out of wearing the skirt again (why is it so difficult to put it on?). My thought process involved the fact it was colder and so it wasn’t as important. On my run in Indiana I had not worn it – this was because when I looked at the weather it said it was raining (I have found that this material gets pretty heavy when it gets really wet) and I couldn’t take a look out of the window because it would have disturbed sleeping bodies – but when I got out there with the humidity, I instantly regretted not having it on, partly because there was no sign of any rain so I could have worn it. I talked myself round and put the skirt on (and once again I’m glad I did – so comfortable).

When I first entered the park, this was the view – pretty nice:

photo (11)

In the park there were a lot of runners and cyclists using the paved trail. It’s difficult to tell if my skirt got reactions here – it definitely did from the first runner I came across – this particular woman smiled widely. clearly amused by my skirt. After a mile or so I passed an older guy, who was running at a fairly decent pace, but as I haven’t been running much I had decided to make this run count and was running at between 7:10 and 7:30 pace. As I passed him he said “looking pretty good” and I wasn’t sure whether he was referring to my skirt or to my pace and/or running form. I guess I’ll never know. Most others kept their reactions to themselves, with the exception of the old guy fishing who I thought might have a heart attack when he saw me.

This was a nice place to run – there are a few trails, although only one loop which is 7.7 miles long (the hotel had told me it was 7 miles, so at the end I was struggling to keep my pace as high as I had on the rest of the loop). The only downside is that at one point you have to cross a major intersection which involves waiting at a crossing (it does cross the road twice but at the other end there is a bridge). Including the slower parts of the run to/from the hotel the total distance was 10.8 miles at 7:41 pace.

Here are a couple of other photos (although I shouldn’t try to keep running when I take photos apparently – I only tried this with one).

photo (13) photo (12)

While I’m talking about the skirt again, it’s interesting to note that every day I seem to be getting multiple hits from search engines for search terms along the lines of “mens running skirt” or “men’s skirts”, so it does seem like there’s some interest out there. My running skirt review has easily surpassed my Merrell Trail Glove 2 review as my most read post.

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The Sweet Sprint 3k

sweetsprint2

It was a close call this morning as to whether or not I would be wearing my running skirt or not for the Sweet Sprint 3k – the reticence was only partly down to going out in it again in front of a whole bunch of new people in a new place where I knew nobody; it was also due to the potential for rain. Earlier in the week, during a club track workout, the rain had come down hard and I found that the running skirt soaked up that rain and really got quite heavy and was clinging to my legs causing slight discomfort. My shorts don’t seem to get so heavy in the rain (although they cling just as much, the weight seems to make enough of a difference).

It looked like the rain was going to hold off so I went for it. In some ways I think it helped that I was wearing it; being the sort of person who does not easily talk to strangers it forced me to smile at everyone and generally be more forthcoming in conversation, although I pretty much just tagged on to two women who happened to arrive around the same time as me (too early really, but not knowing the area and being worried about getting lost – those Pittsburgh roads are confusing – I wanted to make sure I left myself plenty of time).

The registration area was at the finish line, and although a shuttle bus was provided to the start, I wanted to get some miles in as I hadn’t run since Tuesday, so I took a leisurely run to the start. It was still way too early and a few people had turned up at the start to register on the day – they weren’t too happy to hear that registration was at the finish line, but they spoke to a couple of people setting up at the start and I’m guessing they got shuttled down to the finish to register, as they were gone after I had run a bit more.

As it was getting close to the start time it became clear that it wasn’t going to start on time – no information was given out, but it wasn’t really a problem as it was clear they were waiting for shuttles from the start, and then for people to finish using the one porta potty (I still prefer the British “portaloo”).

There were apparently around 100 runners, and when I first heard this I wondered if that meant I would be in with a good chance of at least an age group win, but looking around, there seemed to be some fast looking people so I wasn’t so sure by the time the start came around.

Before the start was a nice speech about the race, the sponsors and the proceeds that would be going to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and then it was go time. It was a fast start, and quite a few people seemed to get ahead right away but as we got further through some dropped back. At about halfway a few people got ahead of me. I was able to stick with two of them and about half a mile later actually got ahead of them again, and stayed ahead to the finish.

It was my first race at less than 5k distance and it was a case of going out fast and hanging on as long as possible. My time was 11:18.7 and I was in 8th place overall (I’d had the impression that there were more ahead of me than that, so I suppose I misjudged, or perhaps I passed more than I remember). The winner ran it in 9:24. I narrowly missed out on the age group win, with the 7th place person also being in the 35-39 age group, just about 7 seconds ahead of me. Full Results.

The finish line party was pretty good with some decent music from a local band called Mace Ballard, plenty of cupcakes and cookies, and even a raffle of gift baskets from a variety of stores.

Overall, a very nice way to spend the morning.

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Running skirts – a review for men

On Friday I posted about running in a skirt for the first time. This was partly to prepare some of my running club friends for me turning up wearing it at the club run the next morning.

The reactions have been interesting to say the least and have covered pretty much the whole range of possible thoughts on it.

It’s interesting that my Warning: Man in Skirt post had more hits than any other post I have written, with the exception of my Merrell Trail Glove 2 review which has had a fair few search engine hits, but has had very little reaction in the way of likes and comments. I take this to mean people aren’t really sure what to make of it. My Facebook friends were much more vocal on it, and it pretty much ended up with a discussion on the merits of running skirts (at least amongst the women who run). The reactions from the club run and Facebook varied from “that’s so wrong” to “you’re totally rocking that skirt” and everything in between (including “did you lose a bet?” and “I’ve got to admire that you had the guts to go out in that” and just not mentioning it at all).

A couple of people mentioned kilts in their discussions with me (and in overheard snippets of conversation – apparently it got people talking), so let me go through the process that lead me to choose to get a skirt from http://runningskirts.com/.

Although my curiosity was initially piqued by the women who wear running skirts talking about how comfortable they were, my initial search terms included things like “running kilts”. There were quite a few online discussions, and a couple of products. One of the top search results was http://www.runningkilts.com/ – a website that provides a free pattern to make your own “kilt” or contact information to have someone make one for you. The first thing to note was that this was clearly not a kilt in the traditional sense and is basically just a skirt (perhaps not even that – it’s two pieces of material joined at the side to cover whatever you’re wearing underneath). There were a couple of different websites selling “sports kilts” or similar but it seems as soon as you use the word kilt instead of skirt you double the price and the reviews I had seen about using these sports kilts was pretty inconclusive about their comfort and practicality for hard running. The problems highlighted in this review revolved around the weight and then the additional weight when you added sweat to the mix. This, more recent, review was more positive, but not enough to make me think I wanted to give it a try at that price. The other option is to get some fabric and make a kilt (or rather get my wife to make one) – this may happen at some point as there are videos out there showing how to make a kilt and it would give the option of picking out some true athletic-wear material. Kilts also seem to come down to the knee which doesn’t seem to be the best length for running wear (although if you’re getting one custom made it could be shorter).

Some online discussions I found talked about how you might as well just get a women’s skirt and use that. After all, a kilt is a skirt and, really, does it make a difference if it’s called a kilt or a skirt?

The Running Skirt from http://store.runningskirts.com/skirts/running-skirts were looking like the best option at this point, but I wasn’t sure about spending that sort of money just for an experiment (sure, it could end up being a good investment but at this point I didn’t know that). It just so happened that a deal site had one, and it wasn’t too girly a color/pattern (although as I said before I would have preferred plain black) and that’s how I ended up with one.

After my first run I had been worried about the fact my thighs were brushing against each other during the run and I was considering wearing boxer briefs for me longer run. Rather than do that, I decided to give it a try as-is to see what would happen and that’s how, on a humid day, I ran almost 15 miles in the skirt praising how comfortable it was the whole way (no chafing problems at all), and very happy with the pockets for holding my Shot Bloks and key without annoying me in any way (when wearing shorts I usually end up holding packs of Shot Bloks in my hands because they just bang against my legs when I try to put them in my shorts pockets). The only slight negative, for me at least, is that the skirt is a little tighter across the front than I would have preferred it to have been, so there is a little bit of a bump where something only men have gets in the way – I don’t think there’s really any way around this with the type of stretchy material running clothing would be made from so I would imagine it would be the same with most running skirts – the sports kilts may get around this because of the material used. Anyway, it isn’t as much of a problem as you would get with compression shorts given that it does not wrap tightly around all parts of your family jewels, so I’m willing to live with this (I don’t think it’s really that noticeable on the picture below so I’m inclined to think it may not be that noticeable to others when I’m out running).

So, what happens next? I would like to keep running in a skirt that’s for sure – there’s still a psychological barrier to getting out there in it but I’m hoping that, with time, I will pay it less and less attention. (For example, I have a race away from home on Sunday and I don’t think I will wear it there because I won’t know anyone, and because I won’t know anyone I may just be wondering around sheepishly feeling really self-conscious).

Would it be nice to have a different cut more suited to men (if that’s even possible)? Maybe. At this point in time, given the comfort of the one I got, I would definitely consider buying another (a plain color this time, probably black). Maybe I will try to get hold of some material to make something more like a kilt (although I’m not convinced the reactions would be any different to the skirt).

It would be nice to have some feedback (no matter how negative if that’s how you feel) so comment away…

photo (9)photo (10)

Posted in barefoot running, fitness, minimal running, minimalist running, New Jersey, NJ, running, Training | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

Warning: Man in Skirt!

A few weeks ago my wondering mind started to consider the practicality of running skirts and how lucky women were to have so many options for running clothes. Then I turned to google and discovered I wasn’t the first man to think about this. So, what were the practical benefits of running skirts that I was considering?

Mainly it seemed like comfort was a big selling point. How many times have you been annoyed by the material of your shorts riding up your leg? So why bother with that extra fabric that goes in between your legs – just use a skirt, right?

A running friend (female) runs in skirts from runningskirts.com all the time so during a run that weekend I took the chance to talk to her about why she loves them. There are two different types – one with internal briefs and one with shorts. This list of reasons come from that conversation and from other things I picked up from my online search:

  1. The main reason appears to be comfort.
  2. The skirts have two decent sized pockets in the sides which are very practical.
  3. Freedom of movement
  4. Cooler (I assume this is referring to the “briefs” version rather than the shorts).
  5. They are a good alternative to tight shorts if you don’t feel comfortable just wearing that type of short, or if you want to add the practicality of pockets. Good quote from this blog which says it way more eloquently than me: “Hides the parts you don’t want to show. Forgiving and flattering at the same time.”

I was tempted, but couldn’t justify spending the $49 (or more) + shipping just to see what it was like, but just the next day I spotted that http://gearup.active.com had one cheap… (as I was going to have to pay for shipping, I thought I might as well get some more shoes too, but that’s another story – I have a shoe-buying problem).

I would rather have had a plain black one, but at least they had one that wasn’t pink in the size I thought I would need. The ones I ordered were the ones with the briefs – I thought this would probably be the better option because of the fit – I can’t imagine that the shorts designed to fit a woman would be a particularly good fit for a man, but maybe they would have been. At least with these, I could supplement with my Under Armour Boxerjock Boxer Briefs.

They arrived this week and I tried them on that evening (but not for a run yet). The briefs seemed to fit just about right, but the waist band was a little loose. It would certainly stay up though. I probably shouldn’t have looked in the mirror because that’s when I started to feel a little self conscious about it. There was a slight psychological barrier to get over before I could go out to run in it.

That first run happened this morning. I knew I could go out early enough so not too many people would be around (not that it really mattered at this point anyway – I did mention the psychological barrier didn’t I?). The skirt was really comfortable but as I started running I got a little worried that the back of the skirt was bouncing up too much and parts of me might be more visible than they should – I don’t think that was the case (I put my hand so the bottom of the skirt was touching it to gauge how far up it really was – did I mention those psychological barriers?).

As I ran I did notice that my inner thighs were rubbing slightly and I started to worry that was going to hurt by the end of the run, but I decided to stick to my plan of 6 miles anyway. It was actually fine, but it has me worried enough that I think I will add those boxer briefs for longer runs (next question would be – over or under the internal briefs? I will have to research that for myself).

The pockets are the biggest plus for me on this skirt. When I wear shorts and want to carry Shot Bloks, if I put them in my pocket they bang against my leg constantly. The pockets sit high on the side so anything in them is tight against your leg so no more movement. Honestly this is probably the biggest reason to keep using the skirt for me.

There are a couple of things for me that make this skirt a better option than something like triathlon shorts – the triathlon shorts show a bit more of me than I’m comfortable with (yes, I could wear a longer, looser t-shirt, but I’m a big fan of compression shirts as without that the nipples are prone to suffering) – the skirt also shows a slight bulge but I think it’s less of an issue because the fabric is not so close to the skin; they lack pockets; and I still have to wear underwear underneath them (I tried without and they chafed my backside). As for regular shorts, the fact there is less material waving around, and the pockets (I think I mentioned this before – love the pockets).

There’s a good chance I’ll wear this skirt (with the boxers) for my long run with the club tomorrow – what sort of comments am I going to get?

If this morning is anything to go by, I’m not sure. Usually when you run that early most people will say good morning, or at least wave as you pass each other, but out of the 6 people I came across in the park, only one acknowledged me in any way. He was out for a walk, and I came across him twice, and both times it was a very cheery good morning (so much so I was a bit worried that this may have been because of the skirt).

I guess I should give you a picture of this; it’s not the best as it was so early that everyone in the house was still in bed, but here you go.

photo (8)

(Did I mention the pockets?).

Posted in barefoot running, fitness, minimal running, minimalist running, New Jersey, NJ, running, Training | 6 Comments

Races for kids

This little guy turned 4 yesterday:

photo (6)

This photo was taken on Tuesday night at the RVRR Summer Series. The summer series consists of kids events and a 5k over 4 race nights with 2 weeks between each one. The kids events are great and I’m so glad we finally got the kids out to one of them.

This week, as I had already raced twice in the previous 8 days I thought I would take it relatively easy in the 5k so signed up to volunteer for the kids races. My role was to run ahead of the kids so they could chase me down.

The quarter mile was first, and was the one my little boy was running. The photo above was taken after the leaders had finished and I ran back to join him for the last stretch (I love that we both seem to be off the ground at this point).

The half mile was next and this was where I was supposed to get a break but my eldest wouldn’t run without me (I said I would start with her, but when I stopped she stopped too) so I ended up running that too. Half a mile in about 4:24 I think.

r_ss

The 1 mile was next and I had volunteered for that one too. There was one girl who was way ahead of the others and that mile ended up being around 7:20 pace.

All the kids then take part in the “Lollipop dash” – a short run where they grab a lollipop at the end. Then it’s pizza time.

After all of this I ran the 5k. It had rained briefly (but heavily) a couple of hours before the race so there were some wet sections again, but it wasn’t as bad as last time (I wrote about that here). Most people were faster than the first race, but as I had deliberately made a point not to go out fast I was slower, but perhaps not as slow as I should have been, and finished in 21:30.

After races the previous Monday night, Sunday evening, and this on Tuesday evening, my legs were definitely in need of a break and the little one’s birthday was a perfect excuse to take it easy.

Posted in barefoot running, fitness, minimal running, minimalist running, New Jersey, NJ, running, Training | 3 Comments