Did everyone in my neighborhood read my blog yesterday? My barefoot running debut was met with a parade of onlookers -- dog walkers, tubby children playing, yard workers, loiterers, miscreants and vagrants -- all of whom witnessed my first shoeless saunter down the avenue.
The pitter-patter of my size 11s (11.5-12 in shoes) turned many a head on my 20-minute run. One bearded weirdie working in his lawn cocked his head and addressed the other bearded weirdie running by, "How's it going?"
"Not too bad," I said as I chuckled at the curious tone in his voice. I could hear the whispers after I passed.
Oh yes, running barefoot attracts some interesting responses.
Just the mere mention of going shoeless stirred up a cacophony slurs in yesterday's comments. The shod hurled verbal stones at the unshod in hopes of bruising their metaphysical soles. The barefooters -- well, barefooter, actually -- slung mud back at the closed-toed. The encamped runners toe their respective party line. "You're doing it wrong," both groups say.
Tone it down, people. I piss the farthest on this site.
Running barefoot is an odd experience. At first I was tentative. I had to keep telling myself to relax. My feet went, flap-flap-flap-flap. And my mouth went, "Eep! Opp! Orf! Ah-ah!" I kept waiting for my feet to numb, but that never happened.
My first time out, I encountered many obstacles in the road. I skirted around glass and a piece of fender. I danced around twigs and pine cones. But despite my best efforts, I still landed hard with my heal on a pebble. Today, my feet feel like two schnitzels, pounded flat and tender.
Although I only ran for 1.8 miles, my legs felt tired and shaky in places where they don't normally. Little muscles around my knees buzzed with effort. My calves especially feel like they got a workout. I will definitely give barefoot running another try, but next time maybe I'll try something other than asphalt.
In an odd bit of coincidence, my Runner's World arrived yesterday. I flipped it open after my run to find a feature called "How it Feels to ..." about such varied running experiences like breaking a world record, racing in a costume, and of course running barefoot.
The magazine showed Ken Bob Saxton of RunningBarefoot.org, who said when he encounters something sharp like a pebble, "I relax and let my foot mold around the object." Ah-ha! That's what I did wrong. Not enough molding.