Friday, November 20, 2009

St. Paddy’s Day 5k

As the morning sunshine was slowly warming the frozen pavement, I knew the skin on the soles of my feet was still too thin to run 5k on cold pavement without protection. I had brought my Vibram® FiveFingers® shoes with me but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to use them. I felt like I was cheating in some way, and yet I didn’t want to have another injury to set back my progress.

I looked around me for someone I could pace with while waiting for the race to start. I saw Tanya close by and decided to run with her as the race began. Quite a few people seemed to move off ahead of us, so I figured we were running pretty slow. I remember thinking how heavy the shoes felt but thought the payoff was the reduced sensitivity allowing me to step just about anywhere. By the first turn-around I new it was going to be a struggle to get through the full 5k at my current pace.

Tanya started to pull away just before the final turn-around and my feet were feeling hot and sore. I knew I would finish near the end of the pack but I wanted to finish true-to-form. So at the 4k mark I stopped and took off the shoes, and after a short walk to get use to the new sensations I ran barefoot towards the finish. My feet felt so relieved to be free again and so light, that the sprint to the finish was the most enjoyable part of the race. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the 25:19 for my first 5k.

Since the race I have been trying to thicken my soles so I can run Barefoot for future races. On Monday I ran the pub-run (7k) barefoot with no problems and on Friday I walked for 2 hours to Jackson’s Park and back. From the cool mud to the sun warmed gravel, its a most enjoyable feeling to walk barefoot on a sunny spring day. The feet feel like they’re well on their way back to their former strength and condition.

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