Sunday, September 19, 2010

My First All Barefoot 5K!

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:

 5K - James N. Rentas 9991 5K - James N. Rentas 9980a

The people gathered on the most beautiful day you could imagine.  I heard that it’s been this way for this race every time.

5K - James N. Rentas 99895K - James N. Rentas 9977   5K - James N. Rentas 00095K - James N. Rentas 9981 5K - James N. Rentas 9985 5K - James N. Rentas 9986 5K - James N. Rentas 9987

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.)

5K - James N. Rentas 9983 5K - James N. Rentas 9982

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:

 5K - James N. Rentas 99955K - James N. Rentas 9994

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. 5K - James N. Rentas 9998a5K - James N. Rentas 9999

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.

5K - James N. Rentas 0001

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. 5K - James N. Rentas 0002

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.

5K - James N. Rentas 0003

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.”

5K - James N. Rentas 0005a


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.)


Barefoot Neil Z said...

Thats Fantsatic! You have come a long way! I remember well your first few miles well! Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back and celebrate this success with Gusto!

Angie Bishop said...

Nice job!!! I love all the photos too.
Some of the best moments in life are when we surprise ourselves with greatness :)

Forward Foot Strides said...

Congrats! I'm glad to hear there were no splinters, I was wondering about that when I saw the boardwalk!

Julie said...

Simply fabulous!! Yay for you for staying true to your own mission and for finding contentment. What a beautiful day and a lovely run.

Avocational Singer said...

Thanks BF Neil Z, Angie B, FFS, and Julie! You guys, every one of you, has been an inspiration in one way or another through your blogs. I can't wait to see what more adventures lie in waiting.

barefootjosh said...

Wow, I'm way past fashionably late. Congrats!

Avocational Singer said...

Well, BFJ, from what I've been reading over on your blog you are understandably late. You've been pretty busy!

beer & mathematics said...

I really find it inspiring how you kept true to yourself and resisted competing -- that takes real guts!