When I got out of bed around 5:30am on Sunday I could hear the wind outside.  It was a wet,cool, windy day and I had a barefoot 10k run on my morning agenda.

First I took my seat and meditated.  Then I contemplated the weather.

The precipitation was welcome because barefoot running in the rain is the best.  The temperature, a cool 8 degrees Celsius at that hour of the morning, and a promise to rise only another 2 degrees, was tolerable, though 12 or 14 degrees would have been decidedly wonderful.

The wind, gusting to 45 kph was my climate challenge.  Coming in from the NW, the anticipation of a stiff wind was almost enough to send me nudging back into the warmth of a cozy, familiar back still curled under a comforter, where squalls would be lost to spooning.

Is there some kind of crazy that drove me instead in search of running gear?  Or, was it the magic of my happy toes, painted a peppy orange and boasting jack o’lanterns on the big toes?  I couldn’t help but smile and feel very brave when I looked at them.

Some strange intersection of inconsequential bits of my life buoyed my spirit and my resolve before my mindfulness bell chimed 6 o’clock.  I was in.  I was totally in.

the timing chip solution

Next, to make a final decision regarding the attachment of my timing chip. My research of the previous day had left me with two ‘best’ options.  One was to tape the thing to the top of my foot with medical or duct tape.  The other was to wear it with rubber bands.  I went with the rubber band choice.

Breakfast, dry clothespacked, a shot of cough syrup, camera check, mounting excitement.

This year’s crowd seemed timid.  Made nervous by the weather, they crammed the nooks and crannies of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, building a steamy warmth in the building which, as I ducked inside for one last bathroom run, I thought would make for even greater discomfort when confronted with the freshness of  the morning.

Folks were warming up, chatting, milling around, creating photo opportunities.  The music was appropriate.  Udo took a bit of video before the starting gates filled.  I might have been a bit excited….

The early part of the race route was along the waterfront.  I had lined up behind the 2:30 half marathon pacer at the start as this was about the pace at which I intended to do the 10k.  Before we left the boardwalk I had decided to pick up my pace just a touch.  As an untrained and mainly recreational runner, I had no clue as to what my pace was as I left the pacer and her group behind.

There was lots of reaction to my barefootedness.  From curiosity and comments about my lunacy, to horrified murmurings, from stifled ‘sympathy’ groans to cheers.  I have to admit, it was all amusing and spurred me on.

Twice on the route I had to walk a few paces due to the amount of rubble on the road.  Thankfully these were both very brief surrenders.

I ran a faster pace than I intended.  This led to the lack of subsequent video as my partner arrived at the agreed upon checkpoints after I had already passed.  In fact, I crossed the finish line with him no where in sight and 5 minutes later found him diligently watching for my arrival.

My finish line photo, at the top of this entry, was taken by Lisa Wells, who cheered me across the finish line with her son Spencer. Thanks Lisa and Spencer!

This post is getting long-winded, as I generally tend to be, and I am needing to move on to other tasks.  So,

running 10k was good for my soles

  • The rubber bands were not a great option. I was getting different proprioceptive feedback from each foot and this changed my gait somewhat.  I was conscious of this throughout the full run and tried to compensate but was rather distracted by it.
  • The rain and puddles were great fun.
  • The wind was nastiest between the 6km and 7km mark, just when I thought I was done with it.
  • I lost focus and energy on the very last kilometre and had to run from my heart and mantra my way to the finish.
  • My finish time amazed me.
  • KRock 105.5 announcing my arrival at the finish line and pointing out my barefoot status was an uplifting moment just when I needed it.
  • My bare feet, after the run, remain lovely and smooth.
  • A live interview this morning with Matt Rainnie of CBC Island Morning about my barefoot adventure was a giggle.
  • A freelancer is coming by the studio tomorrow to do a story about my nonsense.
  • Running barefoot is sublime.

To quote the haiku version of The Complete Book of Barefoot Running,