Sunday, June 12, 2005

This is getting interesting

This was an interesting weekend in many ways. But as a result of the influence of reading the Running Barefoot Yahoo! group, I decided to try to spend he entire weekend as barefoot as possible.

I went to a race on Saturday. First I got some coffee and a bagel at Dunkin Donuts and went in barefoot. That was really a bit of a rush - my first food place barefoot. Nicely air conditioned; cool tile floor.

I am not racing barefoot on the roads, nor do I intend to. I don't think a person can race fast on the roads of NJ barefoot. There are certain times where running barefoot is detrimental to speed and to training. I am trying to maintain that perspective while pushing these barriers of barefoot belief. However, I am racing with very minimal shoes at longer distances than I ever would have before training barefoot (up to 40+% now, on grass) since last summer. I have been using New Balance RC 150's (discontinued) that is little more than a flat like the blue nylon Tigers and Nikes we used back in the late 70's.

BUT I did not put on shoes until my warm-up and took them off immediately after finishing. It was a hot and humid 10K in Jersey City, NJ, and barefootedness was very refreshing.

So here are the comments:

1. Look out for glass (walking from the parking deck) (there wasn't any - I have noticed that glass is the non-barefooter's #1 fear)
2. Are you running the race barefoot? (at the check-in area)
3. You must have lost your shoes (after the race from some exhausted guy)
4. I guess your shoes were bothering you (on the way back to the parking deck) - I said "no, I am barefoot by choice" - but actually, I guess shoes are, in a way, bothering me. (more about that in another post)

Saturday night we had dinner over Debbie & Andy's house. Donnie and Allie were there too. Nobody had any problem with me being barefoot. That was nice. I don't even think I had to explain it to anybody. This group has spend a lot of time skiing and hottubbing together, so I guess everything goes with us. Well, I did have to explain to Andy that driving barefoot was not illegal when we went out to pick-up dinner.

On Sunday I began scaring myself a little. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts again and had no problem going in and getting my bagel and coffee barefoot. No more risk there after I broke the ice yesterday. Then we had orientation at camp, where I work in the summer. I run the pools, and have the luxury of being able to be barefoot most of the day in the summer in a venue that non-barefooters would consider normal.

Scary thing one: The rules of camp say that outside of the pools, shoes must always be worn. It is a safety thing. Staff members are expected to be a model of good camp behavior. Well, I took a risk. I carried my Tevas most of the day, and only had to put them on once when the director asked me.

Scary thing two: After I got back home from camp I had to mow the lawn. MOW THE LAWN. Yes, I did it barefoot. OMG, am I crazy? I figured in the last 30 years of mowing lawns, my shoes were never needed to protect my feet from the spinning blade. Why should they start having to do so now? I did pay a bit more attention when I was pulling the mower towards me. And it was good! I usually hate mowing the lawn and this time it was actually fun.

So I hadn't gone for my run yet, and I wanted to do barefoot loops at Greenbrook Park. I do a lot of my barefoot running in Greenbrook Park, which is about a half mile from my house. I usually do a barefoot session on grass there, sandwiched with wearing shoes there and back. But today I was seriously thinking about doing the half-mile there and back barefoot, thinking that I knew the streets, and that they were smooth and free of stones and other hazards. But it was hot, and I was thinking it might burn my feet. Plus I knew I had already done a lot of barefoot running this week, and didn't want to push it to cause injury. I didn't want to do anything detrimental to training. So I ran there in shoes, then took them off and did my grassy loops. On the way back I knew I was ready to try it - so I did scary thing three for the day: I did not put them on! I found that I could run about half of my steps on grass between the sidewalk and street, and the other half was on the street or sidewalks! From now on I can do my Greenbrook Park loops without having to stop to take off shoes, put them on, or run with them in my hands!

Finally, I went to 7-eleven to pick up a gallon of milk. I brought my Tevas just in case. I parked in front of the store and carefully looked for the "Shoes must be worn" sign I am sure I have seen on store windows in NJ. No such sign! So I went in and picked out the gallon of skim. Then walked over and proudly paid for it. One of the clerks who was refreshing the coffee bar certainly did a double-take, but said nothing!

Total time wearing running shoes or Tevas this weekend, including the race: less than 2 hours.

My soles are so tingly. They feel so good!

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