Friday, July 23, 2010

The dog's nuts...

I finally put all my barefoot training into practice on Sunday and ran my first race barefoot - in this case, the Run Melbourne half marathon. I was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole affair, even if it was a bit brass monkey style on the feet, and my training was a little lacking (some would use the term almost non-existent) since the marathon in May.

Well doesn't going barefoot draw a crowd? All the old hands at barefooting will understand what I mean. The start line stock standard question of why aren't you wearing shoes was popular. My stock standard reply of "I can't afford them" seemed to do the trick. One poor sod even took the bait and got all apologetic for asking. I have some land to sell you brother...

The pause in conversation of fellow runners for 10 seconds after you pass them, then a giggle followed by [choose your favourite from "that's insane" / "I could never do that, I'd be too afraid of glass" / "man that must hurt!"] became my soundtrack for the last 10km as I stepped up the pace.

I found it especially amusing as I went flying past those who looked like they were trying to run a 3 legged race with 2 legs, to hear them wonder how much it must hurt to run barefoot. It's not until you are conscious of others looking at you that you pay attention to the running style of others. And are there some funky styles out there or what?!

For the record, I ran a PB of 1:39:56, edging out my 1:41-ish in the vibrams late last year. I did end up with the mother lode of bruises on the balls of both big toes though. I felt so good after 15km that I thought, f**k it, I'm gonna fly home. Well, I guess my barefoot technique is not yet up to speed with my speed. Not too sure how to fix that, other than more training, and gradually increasing the pace. I could literally feel the blisters form over the last 20 minutes, particularly the last kilometre which I ran at a sub 4:00 pace. Small price to pay. I definitely should have upped the ante earlier, the tank was still half full, but my aim was just finishing, so there's that.

I guess I'll just have to get used to all the stares and comments, because that run just felt right. All the previous niggles, even the minor ones that were sticking around in the vibrams, are completely gone. Full steam ahead now, jump aboard me mateys. Arrr.

During training I have become accustomed to the occasional stare, but it's a new game when there are thousands around you who get time to respond. So, calling all brother / sister barefooters - how do you deal with the attention? Does it bother you? Does it amuse you? Do you get sick of standing out like dog's nuts?

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