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It is no secret at all that I am rather fond of the Gladiator Rock’n Run Event series… and when they offered me a chance to give someone else a chance to enjoy a chance to conquer their latest course, complete with the “World’s Longest Mud Pit”, I jumped on it!

 …not only that, but I’ll finally get my ‘Nitro’ action figure autographed! (yes, I am that big of a geek!)

Well, here we are on a beautiful Monday morning, and having finally gotten in touch with Alan yesterday, I can FINALLY announce that he is the winner of the recent Gladiator Rock’n Run Entry Giveaway ! (he was afk for the weekend and didn’t find out he won until Sunday morning)

And better yet…he’s a minimalist/barefoot runner!!!!!

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Photo used courtesy of Fred Gonzales

In true MuddyJ.com fashion, let’s congratulate him and get to know him a little bit.

MuddyJ: First of all, congratulations on being selected as the winner! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your current training regime, your athletic achievements and future goals?

Alan: Thank you much MuddyJ! I have recently dinged 30 years old and am trying to get myself ready for my first official 1/2 marathon on November 17th (Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio). I never really liked running for the first 28 years of my life, though I did do a fair amount of bicycle commuting/exercise at UT Austin when I was in school there. I would consider getting off my ummm… ‘large postural muscle’ at least 3 times a week an athletic achievement 😛 I now really enjoy running minimally and hope to keep it going by entering events every now and then to keep a goal to work towards. Maybe a duathlon next? I’d do a tri if I didn’t have to swim 😉

MuddyJ: Best of luck on your upcoming 1/2 Marathon! You’ll have a blast there.. in my experience, the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon is 1/2 the work and TWICE the Party! How did you discover MuddyJ.com?

Alan: A few months after I got into running, I kept noticing these wacky toe shoes everywhere. Curious, I spent a good four months reading pros and cons from every source of minimal and barefoot running that I could. I eventually ended up at MuddyJ.com somehow. It was one of the more unique sources of information out there because it showed me a personal story over a longer period of time from someone who lived in San Antonio like me. It was part of the reason I decided to pull the trigger on my first pair of VFFs.

MuddyJ: HA! We’re totally kindred spirits! I  myself noticed VFF’s and thought they were the coolest looking thing ever! Have you done a race like the Gladiator Rock’n Run before? If so, which one, and how was it? If not, what makes you want to try one? (Besides free entry!)

Alan: Before I was a runner, some friends from Austin invited me to do Tough Mudder 2012 with them. It sounded like a fun obstacle course. Then came the realization it was 12 miles! I resolved myself to run as much as I could in preparation for it to try not to embarrass myself too much. Somewhere along the way, something clicked and I knew I was a runner. This was something I was going to keep doing even after Tough Mudder was over. I owe them my love of running today.

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MuddyJ: soooo…basically your group of “friends” sucker-punched you with mud, ice baths and electrical shocks and you wanted more? Well, if you have survived a Tough Mudder already, you  are sure to live through a Gladiator Rock’n Run! Any plans to change up your current training to get ready? How so or why not?

Alan: Only 2 weeks to go, eep! I usually run the Greenway on pavement, but it may be helpful to hit some off-road, push-ups, and chin-ups to prepare for the obstacles. I look forward to getting dirty!

MuddyJ: Having met you out and about running in our great city of San Antonio, I know you as a minimalist (VFF) runner. What made you start running in minimalist footwear? How was the transition for you? Do you ever plan on going the ‘full monty’ and running in your naked feet?

Alan: While at the house of a friend who happened to be an Orthopedic surgeon, I noticed some strange looking shoes and had a short conversation about them. All I remember of the conversation was him saying that they worked his calves considerably more than his conventional running shoes. I wasn’t a runner at the time so I didn’t think much of it afterwards. Fast forward to my first Tough Mudder and the shoes were showing up on dozens of runners. This was something I wanted to try for myself since I hadn’t found a shoe yet that I really enjoyed.

My transition was pretty typical from what I’ve read about other people trying VFFs for the first time. The first run was tremendous fun. It was only half of a mile, but the calves were sore for 2 days afterwards! It took some work shortening up my stride, increasing my cadence, finding a comfortable foot-strike, etc., but it was fun work to be sure. It took 2 months at least for me to be comfortable at the distance I was doing before. Nine months later, I still feel more conscious of my form and am making more improvements every time out.

I do run barefoot sometimes, too! Typically, it’s at the end of a long run for funsies, but hopefully more of it is in store for me in the future as it becomes more comfortable.

MuddyJ: Besides MuddyJ-can you name some athletes who have inspired and /or guided you?

Alan: Mostly my dad, who has been cycling for as long as I can remember. He’s in his 60s now and can likely still drop me on the bike without breaking a sweat. He doesn’t run, so at least I have that one thing on him now, haha.

Naturally (foreshadowing!), the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall deserves mention. Daniel Lieberman’s take on running and human evolution is also particularly interesting. His new book,”The Story of the Human Body” is on my reading list.

MuddyJ: I loved “Born to Run”, and I am planning to read Eric Orton’s “The Cool Impossible” in the near future. I will be certain to check out Leiberman’s book soon as well!

Do you have any idea as to what wave are you planning on entering?

Alan: Maybe the 930 wave. still TBD. I’m not much for competition waves, just going to run my own race with a smile on my face.

MuddyJ: Anything else you would like to add? a prayer, a shout-out….maybe a plea for mercy to the “Gladiators In Charge” ?

Alan: When I finish the Gladiator Rock n Run, it basically makes me Russell Crowe, right?

MuddyJ: Well, maybe not Russell Crowe … but you can totally order Starbucks and give them the name “Spartacus”…but if you do, you are required by man-law to hold your coffee aloft like it’s the Master Sword in Zelda and shout “I am SPARTACUS” when they hand it to you!

Have a great race, and I’ll see you there!

Stay Muddy My Friend!

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