Running a 5K as a barefoot present

Back in August, there was a great Daily Show piece on author Christopher McDougall whose book, Born to Run, tells the story of a bunch of Tarahumara Indians down in Mexico that ran hundreds of miles (out of necessity/fear) in sandals. Then there’s the endurance runner from Greensboro, NC, Charlie Engle, who ran 4,300 miles (6,920 kilometers for you metric folks) across Northern Africa in 111 days, and chronicled his (and his two running partners’) journey in the documentary film Running the Sahara.

The last bit of inspiration comes from a plug for BCBSNC. The guy in the commercial had a heart condition and shares how he lost a bunch of weight after taking up exercise (running).  Stories like these inspire. They make me want to get my weight-gaining self off the couch and on the road. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Unnecessary Backstory

Back in 2005, a friend of mine invited me to go run a 5K race with her. I hadn’t run in about 5 years, but I thought, “Why not.” I strapped on my Adidas Gazelles (not made for running), a cotton Tee, and a pair of Umbro shorts. Twenty-five minutes and twenty-five seconds later I crossed the finish line. I was hooked. One and a half mile runs turned into three mile runs which turned into 5, 10, 20, and 30 mile runs.

For a solid 3 years, I was crazy about running. Somewhere down the line, I started making excuses and fell out of running. My mileage decreased as did my overall enthusiasm. I willed my (slightly overweight and out-of-shape) self through a marathon about 4 months back. The entire time I kept thinking to myself that my laziness has to stop. Did it? Of course not. It got worse.  Then I watched the McDougall piece.

My newfound love of the sport comes with a bit of a self-inspirational twist—no shoes. Currently, I’m only running without shoes once or twice a week. I still have to build my mileage back up to where it was. To keep myself going, I entered a 5K race. My goal was simple, show up and run barefoot. Ah, but that would be too easy. The race, YMCA’s Reindeer Romp, was a Christmas-themed run where costumes are encouraged. I took that to mean required and worked up a Christmas present costume.

Race Day

The race went well though thanks to the 31F temps my feet were numb within seconds of taking off the flip-flops. Mile 1 was pretty much all downhill. Mile 2 rebounded with an incline and some rolling hills. Mile 3 brought pain as a rock found its way into my right big toe. Since I had a big box on my torso, I had to slide my foot on the ground to free the rock. With only a short ways to go I just relaxed and enjoyed the final tenth of a mile.

I loved the race and running barefoot, and I will definitely run the race (and races barefoot) again. Just need to determine the distance.