When I woke up this morning I was expecting to have sore calves from my barefoot running experiment, but I felt perfectly fine. I thought about a bit and I think I know why it wasn’t that big of a deal for my feet. I’m a stay-at-home Mom. I rarely wear shoes. We have wood floors and I walk around on them almost every day totally barefoot. I usually walk outdoors to check the mail barefoot and wander around the backyard checking out the garden and watching the kids play — again — without any sort of shoes at all. I have a feeling that means I’ve been strengthening my feet all along for the last nearly 12 years I’ve been a mother. Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean I’m going to toss my shoes and start running barefoot exclusively or anything rash. But, I do think it means I shouldn’t worry too much about doing any damage to the itty bitty bones in each of my feet when I do a mile here or there without my shoes.
Since I was feeling well, I decided to do a little run on my nearby trails. I hadn’t even attempted any uneven surfaces since spraining my ankle about 5 weeks ago, so I figured it was time. Unfortunately when I hit the canal path near my home, I found it sloppy, grooved from truck tires and very hard to run in. The mud was so thick, within a minute my shoes were heavy-laden with two inch mucky heels. Splock splock splock. Yucky, mucky mud really wasn’t part of today’s plan, so I hopped to the side of the path, where the tiny green buds of springtime grass were starting to grow along the path and ran cross-country through the weeds and greenery. I was pleased to notice that my ankle handled it all without any pain or discomfort at all. Yay! I can’t wait to get back to my Boise foothills trails or the Owyhees again and really have a proper trail run again soon.
When I hit the road, after about a mile of mud, I was relieved. I scraped my shoes off as best I could and took off towards my arch enemy — the hill my friend Amy and I call Nemesis! Though the temperature hovered at a comfortable 48 degrees, the winds were trying to shove me off the road sideways with their 15 mph strength. So, I ran forward, while wrestling to stay on track. It made it a good workout, that’s for sure!
I could feel my strength start to wane as I headed up the very steep hill, gradually building up, up, up until I crested, the effort eased and I was able to see the entire valley spread out below — houses, farms and fields ringed by the Boise mountains in the distance with just a dusting of snow at the peaks. It’s a view worth sweating for! I always run well along the top once that burden of gravity is lifted and it levels out. I enjoyed seeing so many golfers out today playing their game and enjoying the spring-like weather.
Then came the fun part — the downhill side of Nemesis — the dessert of my running meal! A couple of weeks ago when I tried to run this, my ankle still spoke to me on the way down. The pounding was just too much to take yet, then. So, this time I was a bit hesitant again, wondering if my ankle was ready for the beating or not. I relaxed my shoulders and let myself fall into the hill’s slope, feet churning comfortably, arms and shoulders loose and pumping naturally and felt my body go into that easy, breezy downhill glide. My Garmin showed 6:32 at the crescendo of speed, which — though it wasn’t to the 5:30 level as it was prior to the injury — is still pretty good to see again. I’m getting there. I’m healing. Yay!
I finished up by having a dog bare his fangs and come charging at me in the last half mile. I stopped in my tracks, faced him and said, “Good Doggie! NO!” and amazingly – he obeyed! Whew! I certainly hate those kind of four legged surprises on a run!
It occurred to me as I finished up and then stretched out that I only have about four weeks until my next race — Robie Creek Half Marathon – a very tough trail race that involves climbing uphill for the first 8 miles. One year ago I did the race for the first time. It was also my first half marathon! Since I’m coming back from an injury and didn’t much hardly at all the last month, I’m not expecting any sort of PR — but I am looking forward to getting out there and racing again soon.
Stats: 5.01 miles. 9:50 pace. 49:15 time. 109 ft gain. 48 degrees. 15 mph winds. 171 ave HR. 186 max HR.