Member Blog of the Week Races are Fun! By Sloutre One year ago if somebody had told me that I would become a runner I would not have believed it. If I had been told that I would be running barefoot I would have thought that person was crazy. And if somebody had told me that I would be entering a 10k race I would have thought the person has mistaken me for my younger sister. There was no way in hell I was going to get crazy enough to torture myself running a race, let alone barefoot. Well, this morning my husband and kids drove me to Camden, NJ, to the starting line of the Run The Bridge 10k. I had picked up my packet earlier in the week. I was equipped with my chip on a small dog collar around my ankle, my long running tights, a running shirt, hat, old second hand merino wool sweater with a few holes in it, wonky home made wool mittens, Ininji socks and huaraches. Oddly enough, as I was getting closer to the start line people commented on only one part of my non-professional looking equipment: my shoes. Random guy: “Are you going to run in those, they look pretty cool. Are they like those Five Fingers shoes, a friend of mine tried them?” Me: “ Yeah, they are pretty cool...but I plan to take them off for the race...I wear them just to keep my feet warm until we start.” Random guy: “Woah! You race barefoot!? Have you done a lot of races like that?” Me: “No, I never raced before.” Guy: “Hmmm” and he walks away. So my first problem was to decide where to start. There were 4000 runners + 1000 walkers, and I had no idea how far they would line up in the starting area. I wanted to start in the beginning of the 2nd half, expecting a finish time of 1h15 or 1h30, but it was too hard to evaluate where the middle was. I heard a few comments from people around me. I was trying to move my feet to keep them warm. I felt pretty good, relaxed and happy. 5 min before the gun I took off my right sock and huarache and suddenly all the people around me became silent. Now I was feeling the pressure. By the time I took off the second shoe, I felt like I was the center of attention and conversation and my heart was racing. I don’t really like to draw attention. And it made me feel like people expected me to perform. After the gun it took a little while to go through the start line and then we were running up the bridge. Suddenly all the pressure was gone. It was so fun! I was zigzagging around, passing people. In no time, I was at the top of the bridge, that bridge that always looked so high in the months leading to the race. The fast guys were already coming back in the other directions; these guys ran the 10k in less than 30 min! Going down the bridge was just as fun, still passing tons of people. I couldn’t believe it. Then we turned around and crossed the bridge again, I was passing a lot less people now but it was still pretty enjoyable. The weather was gorgeous; the view from the bridge was great. As we left the bridge, around the 3 mile mark I looked at my watch and was under 30 min. This was a really good time for me. I realized at that point that I was so excited about the run that I was paying no attention at all to my form. I will have to do better on the second part of the race if I don’t want blisters. The next 5k was around the city and by the waterfront. I slowed down/stopped to get water. I was not in a hurry; I had no PR to break. It got kind of boring but I was nicely distracted by comments similar to those I read about on the BRS forums: “You must have tough feet.”“You forgot your shoes.”“Did you read Born to Run?”“Doesn’t it hurt?”Etc. My feet felt great, that is when I remembered to think of them. I was still paying no attention to my form. The road was in much better condition than what I expected. My legs felt great. The only thing bothering me is that I should have made a stop in the restroom *before* the race. Now I was speeding a little to get there faster, before it becomes an issue. Is it a common beginner’s mistake or is it just me being dumb? Now that I think of it, the dumb thing was probably to spend the day prior to the race eating/drinking all sorts of foods I’m not used to, at my neighbors’ ping-pong party. Next time I’ll stick to easy to digest stuff and no beer. Running along the river was beautiful, windy but beautiful. By the time we approached the finish line at the baseball stadium I was getting a little tired. I never ran more than 10k so I was happy to see the end, and the bathroom. I was surprised to not see anybody sprinting; I thought that would be fun. But I didn’t want to look like an idiot, so I kept my pace. But when we reached the cool soft grass I couldn’t resist: I smiled and accelerated a little. It felt so good! Chip time: 59:24 Energy level: great Muscles: feel great Feet: small red spot on right foot will probably be gone by tomorrow (Edit: red spot turned into a blister, oh well...) I placed #1968 out of 4000 participants. I am in the middle of my age group. Not only did I do much better than what I expected, but I had fun. I’m looking forward to running another race.