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Met up with Enrique, an old friend, yesterday for drinks at the West End Tavern.  We caught up while enjoying a view of the Flat Irons from the rooftop seating.  Enrique said his parents, whom I care for as deeply as my own, are virtual fountains of youth and doing well.  That was nice to hear.  We had a pleasant happy hour, then he drove to DIA and I went home to the family.  Drove Ellie to a sleep-over and then it was just Karen and me – and the dog.  Around ten in the evening, Karen decided to practice her Zumba routines on the living room hardwood.  She was working mostly on “Proud Mary”.  I sat on the couch and watched.  I rose the next morning at 6:15 and felt great.

Winter is over, and so are three half marathons.  Four months into twenty-twelve, I’ve discovered some weight gain from an ever slowing metabolism is affecting my performance.  I’ve discovered a few other things as well.  How to lose weight.  Minimalist running shoes.  Chia seeds.  And a leaky Camelbak.  Today was a test run on some of these topic areas to prep for next Saturday’s CPTR.

I can remember Karen telling me before we were ever married that I would suffer the sins of my fast metabolism.  That my eating habits would make me fat once my metabolism slowed down because I wasn’t learning healthy diet discipline while I was young.  I scoffed at her bruja predictions and married her anyway.  Twenty-five years later Karen weighs the same and, well, I’ve gained more than one pound per year of marital bliss.  I used to always be able to start running and get it back under control.  Now, I’ve had to moderate my calories derived from alcohol and increase my running mileage.  Three and four miles do nothing, it takes a good six or more to stoke my fire nowadays.  That’s fine, I like running.  And I’ve had some success recently at driving back the beast within my belly.  Today’s 14 miles burned nearly 1800 calories and afterward I weighed 180.  Nice progress.

The shoes were today’s big gear test.  Most advice I’ve received regarding running with barefoot or minimalist shoes as I am now suggest running in them for 2 to 3 miles perhaps every other day.  I’ve worn them on every run since I bought them last Sunday.  I didn’t run every day this week – too busy – but I started out with 4 miles and worked my way up to 7.  My calves felt it but they would loosen up enough to run again the next day.  The question today is, could I run 14 miles on a rocky trail with my Merrell Trail Gloves?  If so, then it will add confidence to my plan to wear them for Saturday’s 25 mile trail run.

The other test project has to do with chia seeds.  True to plan, I’ve been eating them all week.  I don’t know if they’ve helped me necessarily.  It’s hard to feel.  But when I consider that I’ve run with these minimalist shoes all week – shoot – maybe the seeds are helping.  I simply followed the chia fresca recipe during the week.  That involves a couple of table spoons of seed in a ratio of 7:1 water sitting for a few minutes in the fridge.  It gels up a bit into the base for Iskiate.  First I drank it as is.  There’s no flavor but the consistency isn’t all that great.  So I quickly evolved the drink into a Chia Fresca by adding Gatorade.  Not bad.  Today I made my first smoothie with the seeds.  This is definitely the way to go but I’ll probably only do it on weekends, or maybe later in the summer as it gets hotter.  I added a banana, a tangerine, a dollop of blackberries.  Basically any fruit sitting around the kitchen.  I topped it off with ice, Snapple’s apple juice and the Iskiate.  When are smoothies not good?  I had this after today’s 14 miler.

Other gear that got tested today included a new Camelbak Ultra hydration running vest.  My old one burst on this trail last weekend.  The new one worked out nicely.  It contains a 2 liter (70 ounce) hydration reservoir.  I only drank half the water which isn’t enough.  Rule of thumb calculations suggest I should drink 15 ounces per hour.  That would be 45 ounces for today’s 3 hour run.  I tend not to hydrate enough but this wasn’t too far off.  It does tell me that I’ll be fine carrying 2 liters for Saturday’s 25 mile run.  I expect to run it somewhere around 5 and a half hours.  I’ll also plan on drinking at the aid stations.  Hopefully their drinks will be chilled.

Today’s run was on the same Picture Rock Trail in Heil Valley Ranch that I ran 11 miles on last week.  My pace was nearly a minute slower overall at 12:30 per mile but I actually ran the first 5 miles quicker than last week.  The Garmin site offers a nice compare feature for multiple activities.  I’ve found my trail legs and these Merrells seem to help.  I focused on lifting my legs and trusted my feet to land safely among the rocks.  It’s a good sign of my trail experience that my feet found the right surface with each stride.  These shoes help as they almost force you to land on your forefoot.  Feet need to work independently on trails and I feel that these minimalist shoes aid that process.  I did step on pointy rocks a couple of times with my heel.  This hurts but it was rare.  My feet became a bit fatigued though.  I think this is why I returned slower than last weekend.  More so than the 3 extra miles.  I was barely breathing on the return decline but my feet were becoming too tender to blaze downhill.  I’ll monitor my progress next week but the plan of record is to wear these shoes for the CPTR.

I finished up today feeling strong other than fatigued feet.  I stopped off at the Black Bear Hole in Lyons to soak my feet and calves in the St. Vrain River for an icy bath.  I credit that with my recovery today.  Gotta get up the strength for a neighborhood party tonight.