Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Barefoot Running

Ever since I got into running, I had heard of the benefits of barefoot training. Personally I thought it was just some way to subject yourself to toarture. Who in their right mind would willingly run around barefoot!!! I was, however, intrigued. After doing some reasearch online, and discovering http://barefootted.com/ , I decided that I could try it.
Not long after that, I ran over to an asphalt track, cast aside my shoes, and started running. about 4 miles later, I no longer had soles left on my feet. So I ran another couple miles.... Stoopid! It was night time when I was running, but I am sure that had I been able to see a little better, the inside lane of the track would have appeared red. I dont believe I'll ever forget the pain of trying to put on socks after doing that, and then I had to hobble a mile and a half back home!
That was my last barefoot experience until I discovered my Vibram Five Fingers http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/ during the 2007 Sri Chinmoy 6 day race. One of the 10 day runners, Glen Turner, wore them for what seemed to be half the race! I, quite frankly, thought he looked rediculous, but after asking about them, I decided to give them a try.

Not too long after the conclusion of the race, I drove out to Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge to purchase a pair of Sprints, and I absolutly love them! I wear them almost everywhere I go, except for work. They feel just as though I am barefoot.

When I first got them, I noticed my feet feeling a little sore, but it wasn't that I was injured, I was using muscles that I wasnt used to using. I also started out by running no more than 2 or 3 miles in them, and my feet toughened up nicely. Now I can walk around in them all day on concrete and not feel sore, or I can even run on asphalt and not leave a good amount of skin on the track.

I still only train in them twice a week or so, and I havent run more than 13 miles in them, but I have definatly noticed an improvement in my running form, and alignment issues. Also, you should see the looks I get when I walk through the mall in those things!

Well, until next time, keep on running.

Tim Lawson

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Overnight At Eagle Creek

Friday afternoon I took off for the Mt. Hood Wilderness as soon as I got off work. I planned to run the same route I had in the last blog entry, only the reverse route. My whole purpose for this run, besides the running, was to get some good photos of the sunrise and sunset on the various mountains near by. The only way to make it to my desired vantage point by sunset was to go up Ruckel Creek instead of Eagle Creek.

The climb up the trail was incredible. At several points along the way, I had to go up on all fours to prevent myself from falling backwards. 4,000 feet in elevation higher, I had made it up onto Benson Plateau and nearly didn’t recognize it. Sure, there were specific landmarks I could pick out as I traveled along, but instead of the dead brown grass I had seen just 11 days earlier, the grass was blight green, and anywhere there wasn’t grass, the ground was covered in a carpet of moss. I made it all the way up to the southernmost, wind-swept ridge of the plateau (where I wanted to take the pictures) in just over 3 hours.
I still had plenty of time before the sunset, so I set up my sleeping bag, and feasted on jerky, dried fruits and veggies, and banana chips.

The sky was far too cloudy for me to get any good pictures of the sunset, and I was getting fairly cold, so I decided to turn in and hope for a spectacular sunrise. As I lay there I realized something; I was seeing stars, maybe it would clear up after all! When I awoke at 5:30, however, I was surrounded in fog that didn’t burn off until after 7 am. I did still try to get a good shot, but I wasn’t satisfied with what I got. After a little more jerky and banana chips and GU, I was back on the trail at 7:10.

The rest of the run was fairly uneventful, but it was fun passing other people during the decent. I talked to a couple people for a little bit that were hiking from Mexico to Canada, I got some good pictures (I had my tripod this time,) and I scared a woman really badly. Well, I thought it was funny. She obviously was petrified of heights, being that she was inching her way down the tail, about 300ft up the face of a cliff, clutching the metal cable, on the inside of the trail, with all her might. The trail was only about 5 ft wide, and there I came, doing about an 8min mile, and just flew by her on her outside. She let out a couple expletives as I passed her, which gave me the impression that she either thought I was about to fall to my death, or fall and take her with me. I had to laugh, well, as soon as I was no longer within earshot of her.

I finally made it back to my car, from the plateau, in a mere 4hrs 20min. My total run time, not including my sleep, was 7hrs 34min. Much better than last time I was out here, even considering all the photos I took last time. It was fun, but I didn’t get the photo I wanted. I guess that’s just another reason to go again. J I also want to be back before the trail closes for winter. I don’t want to have to wait until next spring to go again.

Well, until next time, keep on running.

Oh yah, and if you have any suggestions for my blog, anything at all, feel free to send me an email.

Tim Lawson

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day Trail Run

Well yesterday I tried out a new trail, and it was incredible! I ran over 40 miles with a cumulative elevation change of well over 12,000ft!

I got out the door at about 5:20am to drive out to the Columbia River Gorge just before Hood River to run on Eagle Creek Trail. At 6:34 I was out on the trail. It was my first time on the route, so I decided to bring my little Olympus camera along so that I could share the experience with all of you. All the way up Eagle Creek Trail through Tunnel Falls and up to Wahtum Lake, there were literally dozens of waterfalls, and there were miles of cliff exposure! I was, by far, some of the most beautiful land I have ever run! With every turn there was a picture just waiting to be taken, but I did have to pass on some of them because, after all, this was supposed to be a trail RUN.

Once I got up to Wahtum Lake, I ran around it linking up to the Pacific Crest Trail, and climbed up and over Chinidere Mountain. When I reached the highpoint of the trail on Chinidere (approx. 4,300 ft above sea level, I had started at 110) I climbed up the incredibly steep hillside so I could get some pictures from atop Chinidere. From that point I could see Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens. I slid back down the embankment and continued on my way. Pretty soon I was saying to myself, “Wasn’t I just in a temperate rainforest!?” I had reached a part of the trail in which stone spires and dead, bleached-white trees stretched out toward the sun. I continued along the PCT up to Benson Plateau (elevation 4100 ft), and turned down Bensons Way to the Ruckel Creek Trail. Running on Bensons Plateau was a little nerve racking. The trails were so indistinct that had I strayed from the path… I doubt that I would have been able to find the trail again. And then I had to descend Bensons Plateau to get back to Eagle Creek. There were points at which I dropped a good 1,000 ft in elevation within about ½ mile. It felt more like a weight training session than it did a trail run. Some of the trail was so steep it almost felt like to go from standing vertically to sitting on my butt wouldn’t have been much of a journey.

I finally reached my car 9hours 15minutes and 41seconds after I had taken off. I defiantly want to go back and do it again, but I would almost rather make a weekend of it and bring a nicer camera and a tripod, than to just run. Some of the trail was fairly rugged, and there were some downed trees lying across the path, but that’s the fun of trail running. Next time I run this, instead of running all the way to Bensons Plateau, I’ll turn at the previous path to get back down to Eagle Creek and out of the hot sun, and it would add at least another mile to the route, but it would be an easier decent than to run down Ruckel Creek. Another thing about Ruckel Creek, there was no creek as far an I saw.

Until Next Time
-Tim Lawson-