Friday, December 14, 2012

Barefoot Half Marathon

This is no kind of record for me, I've done this distance barefoot several times this year, although all have been since early fall.

I had originally wanted to run with shoes because I have a goal of doing at least one long run (15 miles or more) before the end of the year and my feet can't take much beyond 13. The problem lately is that if I run with shoes I am too tired to go further than that, so 13 seems to be the limit for now.

It was a nice day, sunny and low 40's and there are only so many days left before we are hit with the kind of cold and snow that will keep even my shoes on. So I will make barefoot runs while I can.

It was just cold enough, or really just warm enough depending on how you look at it, so that in sunny parts it was perfectly comfortable. In shady areas I felt a chill and my feet were cold. One might think that my feet would be numb all the time when running in 40 degree weather. Not so! Even at about 30 degrees, the feet are numb for a little while but then thaw out in a mile or two. A lot depends on if the ground is wet. In any case, numb feet are fine comfort-wise but I worry about damaging myself and not noticing until too late. A small sharp stone or peice of glass can stick to the bottom of your foot and slowly drill its way in with every footfall.

I started the run at about noon and yet the sun was low in the sky. The trees along the bikepath were casting shadows at right angles to the path and even though the pavement is asphault, the lit areas were almost white in the sun so there was a large contrast between the shadows and lit areas. As I ran down the path, I imagined that I was traveling along an endless barcode. The tree trunks cast shadows of various thicknesses and the spacing was random yet homogeneous in that there were few areas of total blackness or of light. I amused myself thinking about what messages could be encoded by the alternating bands of light and dark. We assume that the bands on packages mean something, even if we don't know what it is. We similarly asssume that the natural barcode means nothing, though at the very least it tells us a lot about the population density and age distribution of the trees in the wood.

Things took a poor turn soon into the run. I had been looking forward to getting out of the woods and onto roads since there would be more sunshine out in the open. Indeed there was, but also broken glass. My vision has gotten worse over the years, in the sense that I can't focus up-close anymore, but I can see small pebbles and glass peices well enough to avoid stepping on them. A sharp pain at around mile 3 told me that my senses failed. I stopped for a bit and found a shard of amber glass, not much bigger than a largish grain of sand embedded in the ball of one foot. I easily dug it out with a fingernail and was dismayed to see a bright drop of blood welling out of the wound. Great! Only ten miles to go! By about the half-way mark, sharp pains in both feet indicated further wounds, though there was no more glass to pick-out.

Not every step rewarded me with sharp pain, it was more like a couple of steps per minute of running. Maybe it was from when a small grain of grit got into the wound. In all, not a bad run. I made just under 8:00 per mile.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


They are not expensive and I don't think we use them on anything other than burgers, but we always seem to be running out of sliced pickles.

Monday, I did a Costco run and saw that I could get a gallon jar of whole dill pickles for $3.49! After a bit of indecision, it will take up a lot of space, I decided to get it.

It took only two pickles to fill the Mt. Olive jar most of the way--a 3rd would not have fit. The economics of it would seem to be sound: The big Vlasic jar would only need to have about 4 pickes to hit break-even. Based on the label, there should be around 18 in the jar: The label says that a serving is 1/4 of a pickle and there are 70 servings. Another way of calculation is that both jars say that a serving is one ounce and there are 10 servings in the pre-sliced jar.

The main benefit is that I can re-fill the sliced jar whenever it is low and so am saved from the Hobbson's choice of either keeping a spare jar of sliced pickes or having a burger with no pickles. Also, if I want pickle spears I can make them--I would never buy a jar of pickle spears since we almost never use them.