Tag Archives: barefoot shoes

Recovery Run

I spent all night trying to remind myself that this was just an opportunity to test my feet. I have placed in one of the top three spots in this race since I began running the Papercon Runability 5K four years ago. (let me clarify that there is usually only about 10 women running this race so you usually end up in first or last without much difference in effort) But, knowing that the New Orleans title would go to another runner was a hard pill to swallow. I had to be smart, right?

I size up the competition at every race. It’s silly, of course, because I am far from the stereo-typical runner’s physique so I know you can’t judge a runner by the technical shirt she’s wearing. I do it anyway. I justify my actions by thinking they are doing the same thing to me and dismissing me because I look the way I do. I’m 40 lbs over weight. I wear black cotton Bermuda-yoga shorts, and an XL T-shirt with Kalamazoo printed across the front. I run barefoot but they don’t know that yet because I am wearing my Merrells until I know what the course is like.

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The starting point at 6 am

While I am lined up at the starting line, I make a truthful, smart-aleck comment that since this course is flat and fast I’ll be blazing a 30 minute time. Inside, I’m lecturing myself that I can not try to race today. A 30 minute time is probably a bit much to be asking for. I need to keep an easy pace. After all, I can’t remember the last time I ran 3 consecutive miles. Actually, I can’t even remember when I ran more than 1 mile. I know it’s been at least 4 weeks. I could be in some real hurting if I am not careful.

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that after the gun went off I spent the first mile trying to pace with The Stomper and kept Turquiose Shirt in my sites as my third mile passing target. I said it’d be hard for me to not try to defend the title. At that point, the three of us were running at about 3,4,5 places. See, as hard as I was at trying not to make this competitive, I knew what place I was in the whole race. If I could just hang on to them, I could pull ahead at the end to place.

I started losing my competitive edge at the end of mile 1 when I closed my eyes and realized not a thing on my body hurt. My foot, fine. Hips, fine. Achilles tendon (thanks, new dress shoes), fine. I was out running without any problems. A smile lit my face and the Turquoise Shirt started to pull away. I was happy and didn’t really care. You’d expect that I would have pushed myself to go faster when I acknowledged that I was pain-free. Secretly, I’d been afraid I wasn’t even able to run anymore.

With one mile to go, I had fallen back to about 9th place. I couldn’t see the Turquiose Shirt nor The Stomper any longer. I let new targets pass me and drop me. Since I knew that I wasn’t going to win or even place, it was time to pull over and pull off the Merrells. I didn’t expect to finish the rest of it barefoot but I did. My first official barefoot race. Only one of the officials noticed my barefoot state and commented on it. Not that it really mattered. I was there running. Running barefoot. I hadn’t even been curious if an ambulance would be at the finish line.

Can you believe it? 29:40 thanks to the lady who tried to pass me at the last half mile. 10th place but not last.

Right now, I’m icing my feet (as a precaution) in the hotel bathtub. I’m contemplating the race and rejoicing that I’ve recovered my ability to run.

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Darkness vs. Lightness

I’m the social sort. I’m always chatting with scouting families or commiserating with the soccer parents. I habitually check Facebook, email, Twitter, and Tumbler at five minute intervals. Yet, I’ve always been one to run solo.

Except that running alone in the dark scares the crap out of me.

Fortunately, a friend of mine, R, expressed a desire to walk early in the morning but also confessed to being fearful of going alone before the sun rise. Resolutely, we allied ourselves against the unending darkness.

My problem isn’t just fearing lightlessness. I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly difficult to peel myself away from the bed covers at 5 am … unless I know that R is braving the nocturnal hours to meet me. I would collapse under intense guilt if I knew she was solitarily wandering in the shadows because I had been slothful. I admit the conversation is as alluring as the protection from the darkness. Yes, this arrangement suits me. I haven’t been this consistent with exercise at 5 am in…ever.

This morning, I bolted out of bed at 5:09 am to a snoozed alarm. Stumbling rapidly through the kitchen, I hit every light along my way. I searched for my phone to text R to let her know I was awake late and almost awake, I mean, almost ready. But, R had texted me 15 minutes earlier.

I’m going to have to cancel. My daughter was up all night. I’m too tired

After a brief moment of relief that the Boogy monster wasn’t going to get R, I decided that I would proceed with the scheduled morning walk. Albeit, not until daylight began to press back the darkness. This would require some time as the sunlight was trapped behind a contiguous cloud coverage. While I waited, I occupied myself by going back to sleep. Don’t you remember that sleep is my super power?

Anxious for action, I arose the second time (actually, the third because I used the snooze button at 5 am causing the rushed awakening at 5:09 am. ) before the alarm wailed again. Seated on the edge of the couch, I primed my muscles for prevention of Planter Fasciitis and healing in my psoas, tensor fasciae and piriformis (a.k.a hips). I followed the warm up with a steady 10 minute walk in my Merrell Pacers…

What? No shoe!?

Yea! No medical shoe.

After two continuous weeks wearing THE SHOE, and an even longer ban on running, my foot shows little to no improvement. I will not resort to immobilizing my foot again until I establish if my chronic hip issues generated my foot pain.

Confused? Check out The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy for his take on causes of foot pain.

After all, the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone, the knee… My apologies, the dogs in the neighborhood just started howling so I’d better stop singing and conclude my story.

Where was I?… Oh, yes, after walking for a bit, I slipped off my Merrells to jog a spell. The road was cool and damp. The sidewalks were dry but stone covered. My steps were easy and pain-free (minus stepping on the stones). I didn’t travel barefoot as far as I had hoped but, at least, I did not use R’s sleep deprivation to justify lackadaisical behavior. I put the darkness to good use and felt as light as ever running barefoot.

Here I am going south than north about 30 feet from the railroad tracks.

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The Podiatry Narritive

I have alluded to some foot issues in previous posts. I am resistant to bore you with the details of my ailments. Yet, I shall contradict that statement henceforth since you’ll need the background of my story to understand what is to come.

I set out a year ago to become a master of self-podiatry. My endeavor was mostly a success. My planter fasciitis is completely cured. I feel no pain despite having grown massive heel spurs. Then, I was shocked to discover that the PF pain was masking other foot ailments. As the PF pain receded, ankle tendonitis and top of the foot pain made themselves known but they too faded away with my treatment.

Note, regular barefoot runs and wearing shoes with minimal cushioning were included in my self-medication.

Yet, there is one last pain that has eluded the cure. No amount of messaging, icing, foot exercises or resting seems to be able to locate the source of the pain, let alone, cure it.

I decided that I really needed to see what was going on. I needed x-rays. Because I feared that last remaining ailment that couldn’t benefit from my self-medication process. I feared a stress fracture.

I made an appointment with a Podiatrist. (One with a degree in Podiatry)

Immediately, I began to wonder how this Podiatrist would handle me. Would she tell me to stop running? Would she try to fit me for orthotics?

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You knew I was going to do that, right?

I fretted over my impending doctor’s visit. What should I tell her? I’m a runner? I’m a barefoot runner? Or I’m a firm believer in being barefoot as much as possible and have gone as far to wear minimalist shoes every minute that I am forced to wear shoes? If she tries to put me in orthotics, she might as well save her breathe because I won’t do it AND I’ll never come back to see her again?

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They left me alone too long with access to my X-Rays

Diagnosis – there isn’t one yet, of course. There isn’t a visible stress fracture. Doc can’t pinpoint the source of the pain either (tendons, bones, nerves). I get to have an MRI next week. Plus, I was ordered to wear a shoe that immobilizes my foot and not run for two weeks. Like that is going to happen!

I’d like to add a final statement that my foot hurts in other joint areas from wearing this shoe! I’ll give it one week. That’s all.

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Disengaged To Engaged

Finally, I schlepped myself out from the coccoon of warmth at a respectable 5:35 am. The white-fur-dropping-flea-bag might have encouraged my timely exit. As much as that diva drives me crazy, I don’t ignore her when she meows because I’ll pay the price later.

My mind was engrossed in a million responsibilities leaving scarcely a heed to the goings on around or in me. Even walking across a frigid concrete floor enacted minimal reaction. The first sixteen minutes on the treadmill passed like traveling through a small town on a country road when you blink.

The window caught my eye shortly after 6 am.

Yes, I saw it. It was sunlight.

I thought as much about my next moves as I did that first sixteen minutes on the treadmill. I jumped off, closed up the treadmill, slid it into place, put on my Merrell pace gloves and took off outside.

It was the early morning daylight run I had promised myself.

The outdoor setting refused to let me continue in mindless routine. The wild winds whipped through my sweat soaked hair transmitting an icy current across my skull, down my neck, and dissipating into my shoulders. At the same time, I captured frigid breezes inside my lungs. The shocking coldness awakened my nerves from the inside out.

It felt so fantastically good to be running outside in the morning again.

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Barefoot Shoe Photo Shoot

These are my new shoes. They are Merrell Life Serene Gloves.

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Blah. It seems like everytime I take pictures of my feet/shoes for this blog, I’m at work (on lunch, of course). The result is mundane. I’m jealous of those barefoot pictures with stunning backgrounds.

If I could magically transport my feet (port key? floo powder?) to an awe inspiring location for the photo shoot, my feet would go here…

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Except, these shoes aren’t very practical in two feet of snow, in temperatures hovering near the zero mark. The open top that allows for easy slip on might lend to frostbite in extreme northern climates.

Thus, I had better think of a more fitting backdrop for modeling my shoes, such as…

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Although, these shoes are comfortable enough to be worn anywhere, especially without socks, this photo is an inaccurate depiction. Because, if my feet were at the beach, they be dressed like this…

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I purchased these shoes to be my business casual, barefoot shoe. It’s likely that these shoes will traverse all their miles in locations such as this…

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Just right for the rat race in the city.

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Snow Shoes

I’m standing in the kitchen, still in my pajamas, staring at the clock while mentally scheduling my day. I am trying to find time to fit in a run…

…4:30 pm get home from CPR class
12:45 pm leave for CPR class
12:20 pm take nap
12:00 pm eat lunch
11:30 am shower
Hmmmm. Currently, 9:45 am… If the hubs gets back from the store in time… Wait, I should be in my running clothes ALREADY! …

…I’ve established that I will have time for a run but I don’t want any ol’ run. I haven’t run outside in weeks and for the first time all winter we actually have snow on the ground. Running around Circle Drive seems as much fun as the treadmill. I want a Run Smiley run….

…The park is pristine white everywhere I look except at the river where it is shades of steely grey. I am mentally crossing my fingers that my New Balance Minimus Life shoes are up for the job. I intend to run full blast across the center of the park through the snow instead of along the park roads. My Minimus Life shoes have little to no ventiliation which means they will keep out snow better than my well ventilated Merrell Pace Gloves. I am finding out they also have little to no traction in the snow causing me to slide around on the uneven ground behind the fishing pond. I am going to take it in stride and focus a little more on keeping my balance. Otherwise, my foot strikes feel like I was made to run in the snow…

…I’m not even halfway through the park and I’m miserable. I’m running faster than I should because a snowshoer came up behind me when I started and I didn’t want her to laugh at me trying to run in shoes in the snow. The cold air is burning my throat. I’m laboring to take a breath. At least two toes on each foot are numb. I think, “OMG, I have got to stop”. I have to admit that I am bummed that my run smiley run is turning out to be craptastic….

…Since the run stinks, I might as well pull out the camera took take a few shots. I hope that I can get a good picture that I can lie write about…

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…I don’t know how it happened but somewhere between the last picture, the river, and the baseball field, I changed. Now, I am feeling spectacular. My feet feel like they’re nestled up next to a cozy fire. I’m running with the wind so my lungs and throat are no longer being brutialized. My joints are moving like high precision ball bearings. THIS IS A RUN SMILEY. I feel so good that I am not going back to the car just yet. I am going to run to the playground and have a little fun…

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…Alright, the playground is fun but I’m a little nervous about slipping on the snow covered wood. And, let’s face it, I’m really here at the park to run. The snowshoer left me a great trail to follow so I am going to go where she went. Interestingly, it looks like she went into a part of the park I’ve never gone into. It’s like I’m Christopher Columbus. I’m pretty stoked to be going into unchartered territory…

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…I’m glad I didn’t give up on my run today. I’ve never outright run through the snow like that. I’m having fun, feeling challenged, and knocking off new experiences at every turn. But, since I just landed on my tush, I’m coming back with snowshoes next time…

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One Week

One luminous January day, I was overdressed and perspiring within 1/2 mile of starting an excursion. Truth be told, if it had been a normal Saturday in January, I would have been struggling to keep frost from building up on my eye lashes rather than struggling to cool down after making a last minute decision to put on a light jacket. My two companions, on bikes, were fairing much better in just jeans and sweatshirts. I, on the other hand, had pulled crazy snowflake (hopeful thinking) socks overtop tech running tights then slipped them into Merrell Pace Gloves. On top, I had two (many) layers of shirts and a jacket, hot pink, ironically. The only thing I got right was my lack of head gear allowing my head to breathe.

Did I mention it was Saturday? The three of us were headed into town to drop a package at the post office, stop in for smoothies at Jazy’s Java then pick up a handful of candy at the candy store (otherwise known to adults as the party or liquor store) before running/biking home for lunch.

One week later the situation was as turned around as a contestant in Pin The Trail On The Donkey. Snow was lightly falling upon seven inches of powder that had accumulated the day before. I was trudging up a hill of untouched snow on the edge of a rolling soybean field. This time, my companions had replaced their bikes for antique snowmobiles and were driving them in gigantic circles at the center of the same soy bean field. On this cold and blustery Saturday, a pair of Rocky Gear hunting boots rated for forty below zero encased my snowflake socks. A fire engine red Columbia jacket and a pair of waterproof bib overhauls replaced the tech tights and hot pink jacket to protect my body from blowing snow. A ten pound, black and white striped helmet securely rested on my head with the face shield raised open. A mask protected the lower half of my face and neck from the arctic breeze. I was hiking the edge of the field as something to do while the boys practiced driving the sleds. Even then, I was sweating.

One week. A different world. The same person.

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Photo by Arnis Kengis

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