I am pleased – very pleased – with the experience I had today of running completely barefoot in a 5K event.
This 5K event happened kind of organically because we were invited by a friend. There was a 5K and 2-mile walk to support cancer research in honor of the man’s father who had died of colorectal cancer.
Like all things barefoot, I got pulled into this. When I first took off my shoes to try out barefoot running, it was supposed to be therapeutic, to make my feet stronger so I would not be susceptible to reactivating my plantar fasciitis when I began running again. But, as regular readers of this blog know, I never put my shoes back on all summer.
This was a nice little event. I came in last, as I knew I would, out of 76 runners. But I was very surprised to see my time at the end 45:37.6. A few weeks ago I wrote about how slow I was when I timed my miles running and they had been 17 and 18 minute miles. So, that’s a kind of encouraging development, especially since I felt that I was not working to run faster – not having any goal to run particularly fast -- and concentrated on form and running the whole thing like it was just a regular routine run for me.
Here’s some pretty pictures of the setting:
The people gathered on the most beautiful day you could imagine. I heard that it’s been this way for this race every time.
I had made sure to eat a little something before I left the house, but if I had known about the bagels and fruit and juice and water they had spread out I would have waited. (I had a little something post race anyway.)
I had told my husband that I didn’t want to make a fuss about running barefoot. I wanted to be inconspicuous and just stand in the back of the line. This isn’t about trying to prove anything. It’s my own personal journey. Here I am at the start of the race, with feet of course:
I felt very calm and relaxed as I stood with all the people staring at the START sign. It’s not like when I was back running cross country and I was really supposed to try to be beating somebody and I would almost feel like throwing up while at this point. Knowing I’m on a personal journey and that this is for my own enjoyment makes a huge difference to being a competitor.
As I knew would happen, everyone took off at the start really fast and I was left in the dust. This is the way I usually view a race these days, at the back of the pack.
I am okay with this. I just focus on staying true to my own personal mission. Today’s mission was to just run this like I did any run during the week, concentrate on the barefoot running form, and finish the 3.2 miles – an added distance to the 2.75 I’ve run so far. Oh, and to enjoy myself as much as I possibly could.
It wasn’t long before I came to the wooden planks I had been worrying about in my last post. I was carrying my Vibrams just in case it looked splintery, but – yay! – it was smooth and worn. No need to interrupt my run.
On the wooden-planked boardwalk, I could hear much better how heavy my step was. I could hear my heels landing heavily and it was very helpful to adjusting my step.
I was pretty much all alone now, but I could see some runner weaving around on other sections of the course.
This course was going to be a double loop. The 5K runners set out first, and 20 minutes later the walkers were going to start their 2-mile walk. The walkers were going to do one loop.
Well, it just so happened that I finished my first loop around the same time as the elite runners finished their second loops and around the same time the walkers started their 2-miler. So, I was near the finish line and got to see the fast runner win the race and the walkers head out.
It was kind of cool because I was the front runner of all the walkers and that kind of soothed my ego a little bit. Being the back of the pack for the first loop was over now, and I now could see things in a better perspective. I was front of the pack for the walkers, and I came in ahead of all but one real power walker. But I realized that she was on her first loop and only had to do one, so if I was fresh, she probably wouldn’t have finished ahead of me. BTW, she was only a few feet ahead of me, so I could have pushed myself and tried to “beat” her, but that wasn’t what I was there for, AND I did not want to hurt myself or do something that would set me back from the way I’ve been progressing.
When I came off the boardwalk in the second loop, I saw the emergency medical truck with the guy standing beside it. I had seem him and his partner glance at my bare feet my first time around. So, I said to them “No splinters! I won’t be needing your service today.” The guys said, “We were wondering that when we first saw you.” I told him, “I try to be VERY careful.”
So, here I am at the finish. Very happy! Especially happy when I saw my time. Way less than 17 minute miles. I thought I’d finish this race in 51 – 55 minutes, and I was slightly worried it would take me over an hour. But 45:37 shocked me. I really didn’t expect that and I LOVED seeing it on that little LED screen at the finish. (Wish I had taken a picture.)