5,000 Miles Barefoot

Last May I reported on reaching the 4,000th mile of barefoot hiking and running since starting the practice almost five years ago.  Last week, the finish line of the Knob Hills Trail Race marked mile 5,000.

When I started, barefoot was primarily an experiment, to see if the practice would improve my form and reduce the risk of injury.  However, there was also in the back of my mind the idea that for an aging athlete it might not be a bad idea to embrace shorter distances and a slower pace, as would necessarily be the case without shoes.

The surprise was how much fun it’s been to run and hike without shoes.  I found that the barefoot practice taught me better agility and balance and a lighter step and turned every hike or run into an adventure.  Because barefoot’s more fun, I no longer train in shoes unless there’s snow or ice or too much gravel for me to handle, although I still wear shoes at work and other places where they’re expected….

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5,000 Miles Barefoot

Knob Hills Trail Race

By way of background, I’d registered for this race a year ago, curious about the trail, only to find out a few weeks later that it was canceled.  Evidently the Knob Hills Trail is maintained by mountain-bikers, and when conditions turn muddy, they close the trails to prevent erosion.  The race was rescheduled to January 18, 2020, and my prior registration rolled over automatically.

For barefoot runners, the nature of the trail matters for the obvious reason that smooth dirt or sharp-edged rocks have different implications for speed and thus goals and  strategy.  Since this race would take place on the northwestern shore of Grapevine Lake, I imagined a mix of sand and dirt with some crumbled limestone strata, which is what I’d experienced on the lake’s southeastern shore, where I’d participated in the Rockledge Rumble…. Continue reading “Knob Hills Trail Race”

Knob Hills Trail Race

Managing Chaos at the Rockledge Rumble 50k

In the last few weeks a little bit of chaos has been spreading through my life, or so it seems (maybe it was always there).  I attribute the chaos to excessive business travel, but some amount of disorder is inescapable, whether in daily life or in ultramarathons for that matter.  Here’s my account of the Rockledge Rumble 50k ultramarathon, a recent race along the Northshore Trail in Grapevine, Texas, together with the travel, logistics, planning and other headaches that led up to and spilled into race day, and how I tried to manage them….

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Managing Chaos at the Rockledge Rumble 50k

Steve finishes the 35

A few notes from my latest Catskills hike, in this case, the ascent of Eagle and Balsam with my friend Steve Aaron, for whom these were the final two peaks in his quest to join the Catskills 3500 Club.  To spare ourselves the staircase-steep climb out of McKenley Hollow, we met up Saturday morning at Rider Hollow, where we were joined by Chris Rokos, an avid hiker and volunteer maintainer on the Long Path.  I’d hiked these two peaks from this trailhead on November 3, 2017, and in addition to accompanying Steve and Chris I was looking forward to repeating the same route at the same time of year and seeing what would be the same and what different — but this visit was going to be a completely new experience….

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Steve finishes the 35

Notes from the Catskills

Some quick notes from my latest Catskill trip, the thought being that if it’s worth the effort to hike or run, then it’s also worth the effort to set down some impressions.  John Burroughs commented:

The pleasure and value of every walk or journey we take may be doubled to us by carefully noting down the impression it makes upon us….It was not till after I got home that I really went to Maine, or to the Adirondacks, or to Canada.  Out of the chaotic and nebulous impressions which these expeditions gave me, I evolved the real experience.  There is hardly anything that does not become much more in the telling than in the thinking or in the feeling.

This hike consisted of bagging Doubletop and Big Indian, which incidentally brings me to 49 out of 420 for my second Catskills Grid.  While another grid is not an immediate goal, it feels like slow progress in that direction would be a way to learn more about these beautiful mountains and thus worth a little bit of time and effort… Continue reading “Notes from the Catskills”

Notes from the Catskills