Monday, October 31, 2005

Half A Race Barefoot

Yesterday I ran a little less than half the USATF-NJ 8K Cross-Country Championships barefoot at Deerpath Park. Here is an exerpt from an IM conversation I had about it. (Thinnmann is me.)

[09:41] Sherrie: Ran barefoot 25 mins after the race yesterday, on the grass and mud parts of the course, even through the extended mud puddle, it was fun to run barefoot after the race, such a nice day!
[09:42] Thinnmann: Yup~! It was fun on the second lap of the race to go straight through the mud area!
[09:42] Sherrie: Easier barefoot than running with shoes, the toes get a grip in the muck.
[09:44] Thinnmann: I actually felt push-off slippage afer removing my spikes, but overall I probably ran the last 2 miles faster than with the shoes. Probably lost 10 seconds removing them, but gained the same being barefoot...
[09:46] Sherrie: So what do you think might have been the result if you ran the entire course barefoot? Did you plan to take off your shoes halfway through or was it spontaneous? I wore spikeless and took the chance of slipping over wearing the hardware.
[09:46] Thinnmann: I wanted to be able to, at some point, do a race barefoot. I warmed up on the "front loop" barefoot, and it was perfect! But the "back loop" over the bridge and up the hill was too gravelly and rock-strewn. It would have forced me to slow down too much. When I came around the first lap, through those trees to the right turn to start lap 2, Pam yelled, "Gene, take your shoes off now!' I smiled, and thought about calling her bluff, but decided that would be too showboatish. But after running another 50 yards my head was thinking, "Ya know, that isn't a bad idea; I can do that really fast..." So I moved right by the first Parcourse station, whipped them off and went on!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Brrrrr.... and some blood(?)

Hey - Raining again - all day. Ran about 5 miles on road and Greenbrook Park "Swamp". It was 45 degrees. My toes were cold, but not quite frosty. I thought I stepped on some glass - not from feeling it, but I heard it crack under my foot. Looked at my foot and it looked fine. When I got home and went into the shower, I thought I saw some blood wash into the tub from my foot when I first stepped in. But it was quick, and the mud started coloring the water, so I thought maybe it was just mud. Then I noticed some on the floor after I got out of the shower. Just a couple of smudges. I wonder if I cut my foot... No matter, though, because there is no more consequences than those already noted. Hm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rain Corrects the Ways of My World

The end of summer and the beginning of fall was very dry here in NJ. I went for about two months without having to cut the grass because it just was not growing. Instead, it was burning. The ground was getting harder. The trees were dropping dry twigs and other hard seedy things. My barefoot mileage dropped with regularity as those weeks progressed because of the hardness of the ground and all the painful tree litter. During that same time, the amount of time barefoot while not running increased and Plainfield Pop Warner Football teams started invading my primary close-to-home barefoot running zone in Greenbrook Park.

Young black footballers and cheerleaders just can not compute what they see when a barefoot white guy runs circles around their practices for 40 minutes. They are forced to gawk at the lack of shoes and the shortness of running shorts and the speed of an old guy like me sustained for so long. A couple of the brave ones make comments, perhaps because what they are seeing in me is both a connection with athleticism and an antithesis of them. They are athletes that mostly hate running, since it is used only as a warm-up or as punishment for losses or mistakes. When they do run, they are shackled and weighted down with the football equipment and they run in hard cleated shoes. Even when they run as part of playing the game, their speed, direction and distance is dependent on the rest of the team or the coach - while I am free to choose all of those factors.

But nature is correcting herself. We have gotten a ton of rain since Friday. The earth is soft again. Greenbrook Park is too wet for the Pop Warner football practices, which has returned my park to solitude again. Yesterday I splashed through puddles and soft wet grass, got covered with mud up to my thighs, and had a goofy smile on my face.

Tackling the Ascent quite a (pair of) feet

Tackling the Ascent quite a (pair of) feet: "“My feet are frozen right now,” Ortiz said a few minutes after finishing the race. “I don’t know how she did it.”

Madero-Craven, an Air Force captain and math instructor at the Air Force Academy, has been running sans shoes since she was 14. What’s strange or different to conventional thinking is natural to Madero- Craven, who finished the course in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 16 seconds.

“Humans had been without shoes longer than we’ve had them,” she said."