Member Blog of the WeekPricelessBy Miker So after the 6 mile run that I lost the bet with myself on, I signed up for the Tulsa Run. It is a 15K road race that I decided to run barefoot. Problem was, that "somehow" I'd developed a swelling in my right foot whenever I ran. It doesn't really hurt but the top of the foot is definitely "puffy". Kind of like a Cheetos, only flesh colored. So for the last three weeks leading up to the run, I ran 6mi, 8mi, and 6 mi. Only one run per week (see puffy foot comment). I tried to supplement these runs with some gravel bucket training (Thanks Todd!), to try and keep the soles of my feet in some kind of shape. I don't think it's a stress fracture (but how the heck would I know!), because I can flex it all around and it's just kind of sore, sometimes. Yeah, that's a pretty good description that'll get a great diagnosis from a doctor. Doctor: Hmmm, your foot hurts when you run. Me: Yep. Doctor: Hmmm, don't run. Me: Got to. Already sent in my registration. (At least this is how I "think" the visit would go, if I were to actually see a Doc). But, since I already entered, the point is moot! I'm pretty sure that I could run it in my Vibrams and finish, but Ireally wanted to do it barefoot. So fast forward through the three weeks on non-running to race day. My first barefoot race. Where almost 5000 people with shoes were running all around me. The race was supposed to start @ 9:00 a.m. Which I thought would work out pretty well. I figured that by 9:00, the sun would be up warming the streets, so the mid-40 degree temps wouldn't stiffen up my feet too much. I parked in a parking garage and was going to put on some socks to wear until race time, but the floor of the garage felt OK, so I opted for no socks. 'Cause I'm a barefoot runner, not a sock runner! I'm walking toward the starting area, which is about 2 blocks from the garage, and a lady walks up beside me and starts telling me that she knows of a couple of guys in her town that run bf, and in college there were a some guys that ran bf, and now me. She said she had no idea that so many people were doing it. I mentioned that so far she had totalled 5 or 6 people in three different towns, and it wasn't like we were taking over the world, but she wouldn't be denied her thought that we were everywhere. So I went with her on it and agreed that there did seem to be more people running bf. I thought it would be interesting to see how many people might be running barefoot today. A guy walks up...and starts asking about bfr. He wanted to know how old I was. I told him 49. He asked if I had been bf all my life. I said, no, only for a few months. I said running bf was no different than any other running. If you want to run bf, then you have to train to run bf. And just like you couldn't run very far when you first started running, you won't be able to run bf very far when you start. It just takes time... At this point we had arrived at a line of porta-potties, so we had to split up. I'm about halfway through a 20 person line when the lady behind me bends over to tie her shoe and notices that the guy in front of her (me) didn't have on any shoes. So she asked me if I had any of those shoes with the fingers. I have no idea why, simply because I was standing barefoot in a porta-potty line, she would think I would have some of those shoes. But, since I do, we talked about VFFs and barefoot running. After the porta-potty, I head up toward the starting area. I'm about 25 minutes until the start of the race and I'm standing in the middle of a bunch of people, most of whom look very, very fit. Remember, I left my socks in the car, so I'm just standing here, waiting for the race to start. I thought I would be able to walk around to keep my feet warm. Wrongo! There were so many people, that Iwas forced to stand in one place. My feet were getting kind of stiff, so I did some toe raises to try and keep my feet flexible. Kind of odd though...heard snippets of various conversations behind me...vibrams...no way...look at... I thought about turning around, but I didn't want to embarass them (or me). It's finally gun-time...and we're off! My biggest worry is that I'll get a big freakin' blister and have to stop. So I've put pointed tweezers and super glue in my waist pack, just in case. My feet feel stiff, but I know (from my friends at the BRS) that they'll warm up soon. So I'm working on my cadence (i think i'm turning japanese, i think i'm turning japanese, etc.) I'm getting passed by a lot of runners, but I was kind of forward in the chute, so I'm thinking it will all sort itself out soon. I've never run barefoot in such a mass of humanity. It was hard to stay far enough behind the person in front of me so I would have some room to manuever around cracks & gravel in the road. If I left enough space, some jackal would step into the space. grrrrrr!! So I'm stepping along, trying to figure out my pace, thinking I would "really" like to run at least a 10 min/mile pace. If I could do that, I would be happy. That's how it works, see. I don't hardly run for 3 weeks prior to running a race, and so I tell myself "I just want to finish". Then the freakin' gun goes off and all of a sudden I'm trying to finish ina certain time! (here's my sign). Well, since this is a 15K, they are giving us splits on the kilometer, not on the mile. So I'm trying to convert it in my feeble mind, and finally give up. I figure I'll just run and let the time fall where it may. See, it just goes to show that if you set the bar low enough, you'll be happy! One lady cruises by me in her VFFs and said, "I like your shoes!". First, I have to look at hers (VFFs), then figure out what the hell she was talking about (since I wasn't wearing any shoes!)...oh yeah, she was joking. But, of course, at this point she was too far in front of me for any "meaningful barefoot/minimalist dialogue" to take place. I didn't try and catch her. i think i'm turning japanese, i think i'm turning japanese... Water stops are kind of neat when you run barefoot. Kind of feels good. At one point, I find myself whistling. Yep, whistling (probably the japanese song), but whistling nonetheless. I thought, only a barefoot runner would whistle when they ran. Do we have more fun...absofreakinutely!! Halfway point comes and goes. I've moved onto "i like you so much better when you're naked, i like you so much better when you're naked". 'Cause you can't run the whole race with just the one song in your head. So I had 2. I think this one is a little slower than "Turning Japanese", or maybe I was just mentally singing is slower. I had caught myself whistling, I did not want to catch myse lf singing out loud too! Feet still feel pretty good. And my pace (whatever the hell it is) has been pretty even too. I can still take deep breaths. Haven't yet embarrassed my barefoot brethren (other than the whistling episode). Guy comes up beside me and said, "bet you don't close your eyes when you run". I had to agree with him. Quite the opposite, I said. I'm trying to make sense of his comment as he pulled away, so I stepped it up and caught him. I said, the difference between me and him is that I'm a part of my run, and he's just running bored! He agreed and said he just kind of zoned out when he ran. I let him go on. Or I just moved over. Kind of fuzzy now. i like you so much better when you're naked, i like you so much better when you're naked... About 2 miles left to go, and we have a pretty big hill to climb. It's about a half mile long, and a fairly good grade. I just chugged right up that puppy! Seemed harder last year. 'Course I wasn't whistling then... At about the 8 mile mark, I noticed the soles of my feet. As in, "dem puppies is startin' to get tenderrrrr". i think i'm turning japanese like you so much better when turning japanese naked...yep, the songs were running together, but who had the time (or inclination) to figure it out. Pace is slowing down...trying to keep cadence up...damn that road is rough...where is that center stripe...didI mention the road was rough... I was tryingto save some for the last 1/4 mile headinginto the finish. I had plenty of air. Had plenty of "soul". But did not have plenty of "sole". Didn'tfeel like it anyway. I finished in 1:21:59 (8:49min/mile). Sweet! But that last mile was over 12minutes.Lot of steps in 12 minutes. I found the free beerplace atthe festival. Youngguy next to me looks downand said, "don't tell me you ran that whole thing barefoot". I said, "okay, I won't tell you". He shook his headand said"damn". Cost of shoes to run in race = $0.00 Costto enter race = $30.00 Young guy shakinghis head in disbelief = priceless Wound up with a couple of small blisters on each foot. I think I probably started pushing off a lot in that last mile and that my form was not good. But hey! I ran 9.3 miles.....BAREFOOT!!!