Monday, September 25, 2006

My Best Barefoot Race!

The USATF-NJ 8K XC Championship was yesterday. I ran it barefoot. I ran 32:49, was 2nd in my age group, and was 4th man on the winning open team and 3rd man on the winning masters 40's team!

Washington Crossing State Park was a new venue for this event. In previous years it was at Deer Path Park. Last year at Deer path, I ran the last couple of miles barefoot, after whipping off my spikes on the side of the course. I needed shoes there for the first few miles because of some gravel sections of the course that would have slowed me down too much without shoes. I ran almost a minute faster on that course last year, however my time this year may speak to the difficulty of the course, because a bunch of people that were in front of me last year were behind me this year. This new course is a three-lap course, with a decent amount of hill running each lap.

I am so glad I decided to go barefoot. I wasn't going to at first when I began my warmup and course checkout. I ran one lap and didn't feel that I could maintain race pace through one wooded section, full of roots and pine cones. The rest of the course was pretty much grassy trails, which was perfect. After my first lap warm up, I ran into a friend who wanted me to run another lap with him. I did - this time faster than the first lap, and I had no problem maintaining comfortable faster running throughout the section I was initially worried about. So my decision to go barefoot was easy.

And here is an interesting observation about the Achilles issue that has been bothering me on my left side. I am feeling very little pain from it today. The issue was one where the pain would migrate around my Achilles and under my foot to feel more like plantar faciitis. It changes day-to-day and even during the course of a single run. Over time, it has begun to feel more like classic PF. One would think that the day after a barefoot race that it would hurt a lot. As I said before, today it hurts less than it has for a while. I am thinking that wearing shoes is what actually aggravates it. Perhaps because I tend to run faster in shoes and I put more strain on the tendons? Or perhaps any heel elevation - no matter how slight - causes my calf and Achilles to stretch less each time my foot lands, and also contributes to my tightness in my hamstring?

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