Thursday, May 30, 2013

Poking the Rothrock Challenge Bear

Two years ago I ran the Rothrock 30k here in my backyard.  I finished with a respectable time and would have otherwise been thrilled with my run if it were not for an injury I incurred during the run.  Somewhere amidst the many climbs and rock scrambles, my right foot came down directly into a rock resulting in a full-force jamming of my big toe.  When it happened, it sent an intense shiver of pain up my foot and I had immediately assumed that my toe was broken.  Fueled on adrenaline, I hobbled my way through the rest of the race and went home to ice.  I went for an x-ray a few days later and to my surprise there was no fracture, however it did show that my cartilage appeared to be nearly gone between the one joint of the toe.  The doc labeled it as a specific type of arthritis brought on by "wear and tear", likely worsened by the impact.

Since that day, I have been plagued by this damn injury.  No matter what I have done to alleviate this problem, the nagging toe pain always seems to linger.  It comes and goes, but has never left completely.  It is likely that this injury is what also led to my eventual heel and knee pain as well.  

I think a lot about what would have happened had I not run at Rothrock.  What if I didn't stub my big toe on the rock?  Was the toe still severely weakened and ready to fail anyway, or was it the single event at Rothrock that caused it.  I guess I'll never know.   Since that day, I have probably run the entire Rothrock 30k course over couple dozen times and done repeats on various sections of the course over a couple hundred (at least).  All of my Barkley training was done on all or parts of the course.  In a way, I feel like I was paying my penance to the Rothrock gods.

Last year I chose not to run the race, as in my mind it held somewhat of a curse for me.  Despite the dozens of runs along the course in my own time, I didn't want to run the race again.  Call it superstitious, but I wasn't feeling it.  Instead, I rode my Surly up to the race in the morning, parked along the course and had a blast cheering on the runners.  I wheeled around to various checkpoints cheering and taking photographs.  It was a lot of fun.

After two years, I feel like I'm ready to give it another go.  So...this Saturday I will be running the race again.  Hopefully I'm not tempting fate here and will simply come away from the event having had a good time and a successful race.  I will definitely be wearing my beefier and more protective shoes (as opposed to the crappy minimal shoes I was wearing in 2011).  I feel having survived Hyner this year, and spent two years re-running the course, I'm ready to stomp the superstition back to where it belongs.  I suppose if I do injure myself this weekend, I will be eating my share of crow and cursing myself for ruining my upcoming summer of great races.  

I know this course better than I know any other route.  Upside down, inside out, and backwards.  I have nearly every turn memorized, every scramble optimized, and every rock noted.  I'm ready for this sucker.  So...let's keep it simple, not push it, and just go have a fun time playing in Rothrock.  Sounds good!

Elevation Profile

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Days at the Fair: 72-Hour Event Report

3rd Place Finish! - 231 Miles

First off, I decided to label this post as an "Event Report" as opposed to "Race Report" because somehow it didn't really feel like a race.  It was more of a personal journey for everyone there.  It never really felt like we were racing each other. 

I went into this event with as open a mind as I thought I could.  Truthfully, I was worried that I would not find much enjoyment out of it and had questioned my decision to sign up for it many times.  I decided it was pointless to be negative and instead just see how things went.  The beauty of a timed event is that there is no pressure to do anything.  You can run for 3 hours and stop...and you're still a finisher.  My goal was to simply go out the first morning and run until I felt like stopping, and then take it from there.  I truthfully had no idea what to expect and didn't want to go crazy on account of my recent nagging foot/knee issues.

I made the 3.5 hour drive out to the NJ fairgrounds on Wednesday evening and set up my tent along the 1-mile loop.  I had a strategy to set it up as far from the start of the loops as I could so that when I took breaks, I would already be 1/3 of the way done with another loop.  The loop was about 90% pavement with a small section of dirt and grass.  There were parts of the course you could run along the side of the pavement if you wanted to, but most people actually didn't.

The loop

My tent setup

My wee station

And We're Off!
I didn't get much sleep Wednesday night, but it was enough (with a little coffee help).  After getting set up and changed, all of the 72-hour runners met at the start of the loop and received instructions from the race director.  It was simple:  Follow the 1 mile loop markers, and repeat.  Aid was available at the start of each loop if you desired.  Because of this, I opted to carry nothing except an occasional water bottle when I wanted to be able to go non-stop for a few laps.  We all started running at 9:00 am Thursday morning when the horn sounded, and just like that we were moving, and the clock was running. I figured I'd try to settle into a 9-10 minute/mile pace for the first 10-20 miles or so, and then take it from there.  Very quickly I lost track of who was on what lap, so I had no idea of my placement.  Later, the director started posting time sheets every hour, but I didn't even start looking at them until almost the 2nd day.

Throughout the morning, I mostly kept to myself.  I ran the first 10 miles at roughly a 9:30 pace, and was simply trying to take in the "looped" experience.  I stopped at my car a couple times to get a few things, but the aid station had the same gels that I normally use.  I was able to fuel on mostly gels and fruit for the majority of the morning and early afternoon.  By about 2 PM the heat was getting to everyone.  It had reached the low 80's, but the humidity was right up there.  It was hot, sticky, and there was virtually no shade on the course.  Everyone slowed down through those afternoon hours.  I put on my sun-hat, lathered on the block, and decided to power-hike a few laps.  I figured if I were going to keep at it for 72 hours, a good strategy would be to hike some laps early to help minimize the running damage.  I also made sure to sit in my chairs every 5-10 laps and elevate my feet for at least 5 minutes.  Occasionally I foam-rolled and tried to be vigilant about keeping stretched and loose.  At some point around mile 30 I hit a snag.  My right knee started acting up.  My heel was doing great, my toe was pain-free, but the knee was biting.  I could walk ok, but running made it hurt just like it did last year.  I switched over to my Hokas hoping that would help relieve some pressure, but I ended up having to walk several miles.  It got to the point where I considered just stopping for a long while as walking for three days seemed pointless.  Perhaps a very long break would make it feel better.   I kind of figured that if it couldn't work itself out while moving though, taking a break would likely only offer a temporary relief, so I chose to keep moving for a bit before I came to a final decision.  Finally, a couple of hours later, and after walking several laps, the pain started to ease up and I found I was able to jog again.  I took it very conservatively for many miles, before finally running.  This whole scenario slowed me down a lot, but it was worth it.  I don't know if it was simply slowing down, if it was changing to the Hokas, or if the kinks finally got worked out, but the knee pain subsided.  I worried a bit that it was something like a burst knee stopped hurting because whatever was hurting finally snapped, but I likely wouldn't be able to run if that were the case.  By about 7 pm, I was ready for a real meal, and the cooler temps.  I spent some time at the aid station eating some quality sandwiches and pizza, and took my first long break of about 20-30 minutes. It felt great to rejuvenate.   Afterwords, I was out running again for several hours, and knocking out considerable miles.  On several occasions I swapped in and out my trekking poles for a little change of pace, and I began listening to some audiobooks.  I was looking forward to the wee hours.  The course is lit by street lamps, so no headlamps are needed...which was also a bonus.  At some point around 3 am, I decided it was time to drop down for a little nap.  I had zero intention of trying to pull off some sort of Barkley 60-hour sleep deprivation, so I knew I would need a couple of sleep breaks.  At mile 86, I curled up into my tent for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  I woke in a panic somehow confused by what day or time it was.  I got set up and when I stood up I was ridiculously stiff.  I made my way around the loop hobbling horribly and shivering terribly.  I was not dressed for the cool temps. At the station, I ate some hot soup, stretched out, and within two more loops, I was comfortably running again.  It's amazing that as horrible as my legs felt when I first got up, I was running just two miles later.   I had a soft goal of trying to get near 100 miles in the first day.  At 9:00 am when the 48-hour runners were lining up to run, I came across the timing gate at mile 95.  I was completely satisfied with this distance covered the first day (and even with over an hour of napping, several breaks, and all the knee issues).

Some fun signs along the loop

Even t-rexes can overcome!
It was weird after having spent an entire day seeing the same people, to all of a sudden have a new surge of fast runners join the mix.  Most of us 72'ers, were jogging slowly, or walking regularly by this point, but the 48'ers were fresh and eager just as we were a mere 24 hours prior.  I laughed at this and just continued with my shuffling.  After hitting 100 miles at about 25 total hours, I finally started opening up to other runners.  I began learning first names and spent a lot of time running alongside different people.  I wanted to understand people's reasons for being there.  What I found was that everyone saw the event as a matter of personal triumph.  Almost everyone had a goal of what they wanted to accomplish, but what I found was that most people also a "secret goal" that they had tucked away.  These goals were harder for people to admit early on during the event when they seemed so far away.  As the miles ticked by though, more and more people began opening up about the ultimate secret goals.  It was absolutely inspiring to experience.  There were people from all walks of life out there.  People that you'd never expect to be participating or expect to be capable of going 100 miles...yet there were out there, and they were doing it.  I watched as 8-year old kids covered 50+ miles and 75 year-old overweight grandmothers walked their way to 100 miles.  People truly are capable of amazing things and as Ken Chlouber (Leadville) would say, "We can all do more than we think we can".

We were all hoping for a cooler day, but by around noon what little cloud cover we had began to burn off and we were looking to have another hot one.  Throughout the afternoon I opted to slow things down a bit and take lots of "shade-breaks".  I was surprised to learn that when I finally did check my laps, that I was in the top 5 overall.  I knew that Darren Worts (who had 270 miles last year) was doing fantastic, but I didn't think I was anywhere near the top.  I spent the remainder of the day taking it easy and eating a lot.   I took breaks where'd I'd walk 2 or 3 laps, and then jog a few.  My feet were starting to get pretty sore at this point too, and I couldn't even put on my other shoes.  It appeared it would be the Hokas or nothing.  Later that night I told myself I wanted to get to 150 before napping, but at mile 146 I couldn't really keep my eyes open.  I slogged up to my tent for about about a 1.5 hour nap sometime around 2 am.   Getting up from this 2nd lap was real tough and I hobbled for at least 3 laps before getting loose again.  The nap did nothing for my fatigue though and I found I needed coffee to function.  During the wee hours I struggled to stay awake and found myself sleep-walking a lot.  I tried desperately to listen to my audio books but found myself having to replay bits over and over because I kept missing the story.  Finally at about 5 am I could see some daylight and my body began to wake up a bit.  When I crossed the timing gate at 9:00 at the start of the 24-hour race, I had totaled 70 miles for the day, and 165 for the two days.  I immediately walked around to my car and power napped in my chair for about 30 minutes.  

Walking a loop with Pablo

Eating while running.....mmmmm

Getting from mile 165 to mile 200 was the most difficult part of the entire event for me, but at this point I had decided that 200 was my goal...the goal I'd feel happy going home with (of course my unannounced secret goal was 225).  By this third day, more than half of my moving had become walking, and I was feeling discouraged.  Loops were taking 17 minutes, and I just didn't feel like doing them any longer.  Thankfully the day was much much cooler than the previous two and there were again a whole slew of new faces now running the 24-hour race.  It was by mid-day that three particular stories began to shine through for me.  There were many personal triumphs on the course over the weekend, but these three were particularly poignant for me:

The first was that of Marylou Corino.  Marylou was in the 72-hour event with me, and was determined to break the Women's Canadian national record for 72 hours.  This record stood at 251, meaning Marylou would have to hit 252 to break it.  Partial loops were not recorded.  By early in the third day, Marylou and I were actually about the same pace.  We had both accumulated almost identical mileages but the idea of making 252 had become somewhat remote.  She told me at one point that she was discouraged and felt that she probably couldn't do it anymore.  She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep again either.  I told her it was still possible and to just keep moving.  All day while I shuffled along and took short breaks, Marylou just kept moving.  Gradually she accumulated miles on me and soon was over 8 ahead.  It was inspiring to watch.  At night when everyone stopped to sleep, she just kept plugging away and was always just in reach of still getting to that 252....

The second story was that of Darren.  Darren Worts had somehow completed 270 miles last year during this event and was back to break his own record.  I was absolutely floored by his ability.  Deep into the third day he was still jogging along steadily, putting in mile after mile.  At the start of the second day, 48 hours in, he had exactly 200 miles....200 miles in 2 days, during a 3 day event.  Unbelievable.  He was definitely on pace to break his record....

The third story was that of Serge.  Serge Arbona is an elite ultrarunner, and extremely humble guy.  He is a former US National Team member and was participating in the 24-hour event.  Everyone was excited to share the course with such a legend.  As the day went by, I watched as Serge ran a perfect pace.  He never really slowed, never wavered, never walked, and never appeared to struggle.  He simply ran....all day.  Watching him gracefully pass by me every few laps was simply inspiring.   He was out there hoping to at least make the qualifying mark of 135 miles total for 24 hours....

By mid-afternoon I found I was running a lot with Dave Lettieri, who I found was right about the same mileage as me.  We had similar plans and approaches.  We both found ourselves stuck in the endless 80's as we called them.  It seemed like every mile between 180 and 190 just wouldn't come and we would never hit 190.  When we finally did, we found some new vigor in our steps and before we new it we were approaching the magical 200.  I was struggling bad with the lack of sleep at this point and told him that at 200 I was going to get some real sleep.  At about 7 pm, after almost 2 and a half days of motion, the two of us crossed the line at mile 200 together.  When I made it around to my tent, I decided to walk in one more lap for good measure just in case I couldn't move when I woke up later.  I wanted at least 1 mile over 200.  15 minutes later when I got back to my tent, I crawled up, dove in, set my alarms for 2 hours and was out in seconds.  3 and a half hours later I woke up in a panic and realized I had slept through my alarms.  I checked them and they were both set to a.m instead of p.m.  Dammit!  Then I realized how lucky I was that I woke up at all.  I figured it was only an extra 1.5 hours and I needed it badly, so I just laughed it off as providence.  I got up with a smile and walked back in to the finish to top out mile 202 and get some much needed food.  I was expecting to have lost a lot with my placement, but when I checked the tally, I was surprised to see I was still in 3rd.  Dave had also slept but only for 2 hours.  He was now 5 miles up on me.  The runner that was 8 miles behind me was now tie with me, but was currently sleeping.   I was surprised that I honestly didn't really care though.  It just didn't seem that important, but still I felt compelled to get out and bust out a few more.  Let see how far this train can go I thought.

Throughout the wee hours I slowly moved along,  I was almost entirely walking at this point.  I'd shuffle a bit here and there, but the true running was few and far between.  When I saw Marylou still out on the course I was ridiculously excited to find out that she was almost to 230 miles.  I did the quick math in my head, and it was truly looking like she was going to pull it off.  I was so excited for her.  I just hoped that she could stay awake.   The night dragged on but eventually hints of the morning light began to creep over the horizon for what was my third sunrise on the course.  Darren was up over 250 miles now, and Serge was still moving as gracefully as over 115 miles.

At some point around 6:30 am I finally hit 220 and was fairly content with the fact that I was going to be able to walk my way to a 225.  I would make my "secret goal".  Dave was still 2 miles up on me, and I had no intention of trying to "catch him" and thought more of him as a great running partner than a rival competitor.  I was also 10 miles up on 4th place and knew all I had to do was just keep walking.  Yet somehow I couldn't help feel that this would be ending on somewhat of a whimper.  Here were Marylou, Darren, and Serge all pushing to the end, and I was going to settle with walking in a 225?  At 7:30 though something changed.  All of a sudden there were less than 2 hours left in the event, and it was possible to start doing some finish math.  What I mean is that you start playing games with how many laps can you finish before time runs out.  You don't want to finish a lap with say 6 minutes left on the there's now way you are going to bust out a 6 minute mile after over 200.  I starting thinking about how I could best maximize my effort and found that Dave was right on board with me.  He wanted to go out with a bang as well....none of this whimper crap.  The whole experience was exhilarating and filled us both with some last-minute adrenaline.

...and we ran.  We kept adding "one more mile" with conversation points about how, "if we can do a 10 minute mile this lap, it will leave us 11 minutes for one more"....etc.  In the end we ran the last 7 miles together with only short walk breaks.  We were so worried during the 2nd-to-last mile that we wouldn't have enough time for one more, that we actually pulled of a 10 minute mile.  That may not sound fast....but after 230 miles, a 10 minute mile is unthinkable to me.   We cross the finish together with about 2 minutes left in the race and I collapsed on the grass as my adrenaline was now depleted.   

Serge crossed the line just in front of us with 151 miles total for his 24 event, Darren had powered out 276 miles total, not only breaking his 270 from last year, but surpassing his goal of 275.  And then there was Marylou.  She had crossed the line a few minutes prior having not made the 252 miles needed for the record.  Instead, she had gone 253.  As I was racing that 2nd-to-last loop with Dave, I passed by her walking her final lap while holding her husband's hand...and I knew she had done it.  I just didn't know she had actually passed it by an extra mile.  The best part was that the stories of Darren, Serge, and Marylou were just three of the countless stories of triumph that happened over the weekend.  I was moved by so many examples of accomplishment and I walked away from an event I wasn't even sure I was even going to like at all...completely floored.  What an amazing weekend indeed.

Serge finishing 151 miles in 24, Dave in yellow 
(233 miles) and me back in the green (231 miles)

Accepting my Award

Modeling the gear:  3rd place plate, 100-mile coin, and Sweatshirt

My final tally was 231 miles; Dave's 233.  My daily splits were:  95 miles on day 1, 70 miles on day 2, and 66 miles on day 3.

Just to prove my point about finish line last 8 miles of the race were as such:

0:23:06, 0:13:44, 0:13:48, 0:11:54, 0:11:12, 0:10:44, 0:10:00, 0:10:46

At the awards ceremony, I hobbled my way up to receive my 100 lifetime-miles coin (belt-buckle equivalent), and my 3rd place plate-award.  Should I come back next year, I would need only 19 miles to receive my 250-mile coin.  (Coins at 100, 250, 500, 1000)

Lastly...thank god for my Hokas.  My knee pain never came back, and other than a blister under my big toenail, I had no major foot problems.  Today my knee is hurting a fair bit, but the feet are doing surprisingly well.

That's it for now.  Hike on everyone and if I learned anything this weekend, it's that sometimes the things we'd never expect to surprise or fulfill us at all, are things that can surprise or fulfill us the most.


some nerdy pace info:

and one last quick note:
The volunteers and kitchen staff were incredible, and the food always plentiful and delicious.  As always my thanks go to the race directors and volunteers for making the event so memorable.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Grueling Greenwood, Blazing Beidleheimer, 3DATF, and Some Much Needed PT.

I don't really have any good photos to lead this entry off here's a picture I took while trail running along the Mediterranean coast of France last September.   *sigh*.....

As to the rather prolix title of this post, well there's been several new things that have kept me occupied since my last entry.  Last weekend I took part in what was the 2nd annual Greenwood Furnace Trail Challenge.  This race is an approximate half-marathon mostly on some fairly technical trails located within Rothrock State Forest.  I think of it as sort of a little brother to the Rothrock 30k Race.  The big difference is that the climbs on the Greenwood course are actually longer and feature two ascents that have more gain than any single climb on the Rothrock course.  Needless to say, the course is feisty and has only about a mile and a half of actual "level" running.  To give you an example, I'll post the map and elevation profile below.  The y-axis is in meters, and I have no clue what the x-axis is in...I think GPS points or something.  But it equals about 13.2 miles.  One of the things that drew me to this race was that I had actually done these climbs as part of my Barkley training and I knew how tough there were.  The Greenwood Spur section of the Mid-State trial up to the fire tower has the most elevation gain of any single climb in Rothrock (on trail).  To make it worse (or better), the entire course is littered with nasty rocks of all sizes.  Gotta love those PA sandstones.

The first climb is about 1300 feet, and the 2nd almost 1500 feet.
The only "flat" part is the 1.5 miles between climbs

The figure-8 course

My goal for the race was to simply push myself comfortably hard, but to still make sure I was enjoying the absolutely perfect trails.  The weather forecast was for mid-50's and a clear blue sky.  I was thrilled.  I ran fairly strong all day and finished well-winded, but not exhausted with a more-than-satisfying time of about 2hrs 9mins.  (See results here: GTC Results).  The race director(s) put on a fantastic event and the post-run shindig was great!  Lot's of practical and usable swag too.

On to today:

This morning I participated in my third running of Tussey Teaser #3, a.k.a, The Beidleheimer Sidewinder 10K.  Of all the teasers, this is the only one that is recorded as an "official" and certified race (and includes awards).  What makes the results interesting though, is that they are age/gender - weighted based on the WAVA/WMA rules.  This method uses a bunch of equations to re-calculate your time based on your "handicap".  For a middle-aged man like myself, I don't usually get any sort of boost.  If I were 45 years old, my time would be lowered.  The theory behind this is that it puts all runners, regardless of age or gender, on an equal scale.  I always end up doing pretty well at this race (top 10), but after the adjustments, I always get pushed down several slots by runners who finished just after me but who've had their times adjusted.  This year was no different...BUT, with one added and unexpected surprise!

The course is usually pretty fast as it is entirely on fire roads, and features a fair amount of downhill.  This can be deceiving though as there is still almost 500 feet of ascent...made up entirely by short, but steep climbs.  In 2011, I finished this race in 40:32.  8th place overall, but 13th place after it was re-adjusted.  This was the closest I've ever come to the mythical 40 minute 10K barrier.  It was just a few weeks ago now that I posted about how after almost 6 years of solid running, I was finally able to break the 20 minute barrier at a local 5K when I crossed the line in 19:58 at the Jeremy Herbstritt Memorial Race.

Today as I came charging down the final forest road hill with about a mile left to the finish, I could feel the runner behind me breathing down my neck.  I decided to give whatever little juice I had left to making sure I crossed that finish line ahead of him.  When I rounded the last turn and saw the finish line a ways up, I looked at my watch and it read 39:30.   I sprinted as hard as a I could for the last few tenths and crossed the line in 39:59.  Seriously...39:59.  Ridiculous... but I'll take it!  I had finished in 3rd place overall as well, but after the WMA re-adjustments, I was bumped down to 7th.  Whatever, I'm just thrilled to have had a pain-free, fast, and fun race that ended in a sub-40 time.

The course

Elevation Profile

Moving on.
So 3DATF?  3 Days at the Fair.  On Wednesday evening I head over to New Jersey for a few days to run in circles :-)  It sounds ridiculous, but I'm actually kind of excited to try something entirely different.  I have some good audio books to keep me entertained, there will be almost 100 people running, and I've heard that the aid station food is ridiculous!  Plus, it means I get to camp...which is always fun.  Not sure I'll last through Sunday, but I plan to have fun regardless.  I might try and post updates from the race maybe.  Haven't figured out how I would do that just yet though.

Lastly...the PT.  Physical Therapy.
I finally decided to get checked out specifically for my heel and knee.  I've been dealing with come-and-go heel pain since last May and despite my best efforts with ice, rest, advil, stretching, or footwear, have not been able to snuff it out entirely.  I had been putting this off, but last week when I noticed the outside of my knee starting to get a little sore again too, I made the appointments.  X-rays came back fine and were all negative for any kind of fractures or spurs.  With the help of the docs, we were able to identify the exact nucleus of my pain with regards to my heel...and yep, it is in fact a very specific and acute PF.  Thankfully it never gets any worse, but also never has really gotten a lot better.  We also talked at length about the history with my knee and my overall health and running history.   In the end, they directed me to a a Physical Therapist that video-recorded my running for analysis, and has me doing very specific forms of stretching, exercises, and icing that I hadn't done.  Turns out I was doing a lot of incorrect things, and stretches that could have actually been exacerbating my problem.  To my surprise, he told me that due to all of my running over the years, my connective tissue has actually become overly tight...meaning it needs to be stretched a lot.  He actually instructed me NOT to take off from running as the running it self helps to keep it stretched out.  This would certainly explain why after every race, my heel pain goes away for days...only to return once I've gone back to easy runs.  At any rate, it feels good to be proactively working out my kinks, and with the help of a real professional.  One of the things I like about this guy, is that he is also a long-distance runner and basically corroborated what I've thought to be true for a long time now:  That most of the trends, fancy shoes, and new running techniques....are pretty much just gimmicks.  Having run solidly now for over 5 years, my body has learned how to be most efficient.  Putting something in my shoes, or changing my shoes drastically, or trying to change my gait, etc....will only serve to "mess with a good thing".   

So if it's such a good thing, then what's with the PF and knee pain?  Well, the quick answer is that I HAVE been messing with a good thing.  Since 2011, my running has changed slightly with regards to my right foot and leg.  Gradually over the 2 years, unbeknownst to me, I have very slowly changed the way I plant and push off of my right foot...which is likely the root cause of all of my problems (which are all on my right leg).  Why did I do this?  Simple.....In June of 2011 I bashed my big toe during the Rothrock 30k and likely haven't been planting my foot correctly since (so as not to hit that "twinge spot" as I like to call it).  I gradually, and subconsciously, have adjusted my running so that I avoid pushing off of the arthritic spot on my right foot.  The problem is that there really is no great way to fix it other than to try to slowly bring back more mobility and flexibility to my big toe.  While my heel was clean, there IS a very small spur on that toe joint that has formed as well which can't be removed without surgery (which the Doc doesn't think is necessary).  So for now...we're going to continue with the running, continue with the stretching, rolling, exercises, and icing (which has already made my knee pain go away completely, and my heel feel much better), and see how it goes.  If I can find a way to run efficiently with only some occasional toe pain to deal with (and not these secondary issues), it might just be something I have to live with.

That's it for now.

enjoy the trails everyone and hike on,