Yesterday I ran for an hour and 32 minutes without shoes on - about 12 miles! I believe that is a barefoot PR for me. The first 3.5 miles were on the road, west from my house, through Dunellen and back to Greenbrook Park. The next 5.5 miles were on grass in the park and included 5 intervals at 5K race pace along the brook @ about 2:15 each with about 4 minute recoveries. And the recovery was at about 7:45 pace.
There was a group of urchins, boys and girls, about 10-12 years old walking around at the park. As I approached them from behind, I saw one boy throw a rock for fun. After I ran by, I heard a rock land maybe 10 yards behind me and the girls laughed. Even though it missed me by a longshot, I wasn't going to let this one slide. These kids need some parenting, and it is a shame that their parents have not taught them better. I turned around and yelled at them. I said, "You don't throw rocks at people!" "I didn't," said one boy. The girls laughed again. "Do you have parents here?" I asked them, because there were some adults in the parking lot 75 yards or so from there, leaving from a softball game that had been taking place. They said they didn't. I concluded with the brilliant statement, "Use your brains!" and continued my run.
I make it a point to "own" Greenbrook Park. Especially the part where I do most of my barefoot-on-grass laps. I run there almost an average of every-other day. There are people who come for softball, baseball and football, depending on the season. They are mostly from Plainfield recreation programs, mostly black and Latino, from a background of hard city life. It isn't everyone from these groups that are annoying, but there are usually a number of people within each group that qualify as crass and rude. I feel that those people are inconsiderate interlopers, because they usually leave trash - I picked up a Gatorade bottle and got it into the trash after that softball game yesterday, for example - and often have something negative to say about a barefoot white guy looping the park.
Besides those team-sport interlopers, there are the dog walkers. They are not so bad. Some of the dog-walkers are regulars, same time, same dog every day. Some are one-timers. The regulars usually have their dogs under control. Many of the one-timers are off leash, and their dog is not under their voice control. This is another reason I feel I need to "own" this part of the park. I want the one-timer, off-leash jerks to feel out of place. I want the regular dog-walkers to know me, and function as my allies, even though they don't know they are my symbolic proxy warriors against the interlopers.
After my park loops, I did another couple miles on the road east of the park, looping back and cutting through it for a little more grass on my way home. This entire run was awesome!
In the evening, I went to an assembly at my son's school. On the way back to the car I slipped out of my flip flops. As we went to cross a street, I kicked a broken signpost. It was only about 2 inches of jagged steel, left perhaps after a vehicle struck it down. I probably didn't see it because I was talking and it was almost dark out, and what was left of the post was the same color as the hard dirt it protruded from. I kicked it with the sole of my foot, just behind the separation between my left big toe and second toe, where the calloused pad of my forefoot begins. It didn't "hurt"; it just felt like a hard impact. It peeled back a 1/4 inch chunk of thick skin, and sure enough it was bleeding. This represents the biggest barefoot wound I ever received in the two years I have been barefooting.
The irony here is obvious. I didn't get injured running my longest barefoot run ever - I did it while walking to my car after a school event! That steel signpost remnant - maybe it was made of Kryptonite?