Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Barefoot Trail Running

  Living History Farms Race is a week and a half away and I decided that I really should practice running off road. If the weather stays nice for the race I want to run it barefoot.  I am willing to scrap my time and just have as much fun as possible if I get to run it barefoot. I hope to meet up with friends there this year so it will be a different experience all together.

  Today my friend Forey and I ran barefoot along the Center Trails here in Des Moines.  I met Forey last year at the Des Moines Marathon and we have met up again at Dam to Dam and then stay in contact on Facebook.  Forey is a veteran barefoot runner and is known as the Loincloth guy at races.  That or the kilt guy!  Forey is a trend setter.  He said that he used to get snickered at but now he is cutting edge.
We asked a random construction worker to take our picture at the trail head.  
I considered carrying  my favorite minimal shoes with me and then decided against it.  I have not ran on trails barefoot since I was a kid and it was high time I got back to it.
The trail was such a lovely texture to run on. Memories of running on horse trails through the hills on our property in Kansas when I was growing up came rushing back at me and brought with it a smile that stuck for the whole run. My body remembers. 

We had to make our own way and cross a stream to get to this nice trail.  We followed it for 20 minutes or so as Forey told me of his barefoot adventures and offered advice as to how to stay warm while running in a loincloth in late fall at a race with 8 water crossings!
Hot water before hand, Niacin, hot oatmeal and Bagbalm all over. Takes notes my friends!
This time of year is my favorite season by far. The impending winter and the summers last hurrah like its hanging on for just a little bit longer.   It was a warm 65 degrees with no wind and cloud cover that  protected us from the sun.
Totally a dimple worthy tree!
We climbed down and made our first water crossing.   I din't think of leeches or ticks once or even cutting up my feet for that matter.  I was having too much fun.  The sensory experience is calming and invigorating simultaneously.
 After having ran barefoot for a year and a half I am able to appreciate the larger rocks for their ability to massage my feet as I transverse them.  I was thankful however that it was a short bit to cross. It is a whole body workout to balance and be light and graceful over rougher terrain.
I hope the river stays low for a while so I can go back and explore again.  
Textures.  There are 100,000 nerve endings in each foot. 
Forey is 60 years young, wears a kilt and runs barefoot.  How frakkin cool is that.  See what I mean about trend setter. Again, take notes friends. 
Signs of life. We are not the only ones here. Just the ones with the biggest feet.
Squishy mud between my toes.  Reminds me of mud pies. I remember once my mom actually hosed me down in the yard I was so muddy. I had been playing after a rain in the apple orchards when we lived in northern California. I remember the mud smelled like apples and earth.
Soft yet packed earth and  wet earth at the same time.
  Just find a stream or river and the mud washes off easy enough. Notice the sweet walkabout stick.
There are no rules.  You can use a stick if you want.
Uber cold water is heaven for a sore ankle.  
I could spend ages looking for rocks and catching minnows in the shallows.
The stick makes for a good mud and water depth tester. This channel leads into the larger river below.  Its rather low these days as its been dry here for the last month. Rain is in the forecast for Friday so it was perfect timing to be out.
How is it that I didn't now this was here.  Maybe the flooding early in the year made much of this unavailable. I have had it in my head that its too dangerous to run barefoot off road and maybe it is dangerous in the beginning.  My awareness has been practiced for long enough to venture out and test my skills at listening to my body and that which it interacts with.  
Blazing some new trails to check out a cool tree and move in generally the direction of our cars. I remember running past this general area of Waterworks and Greenwood trails during the marathon.  There are paved bike trails running through some of these areas although we kept mostly to the off roads.
  The air was clean and the colors amazing.  All senses are alive in the woods and running barefoot guides you. You naturally pay attention to your body as well as how it interacts with the world around.

Forey had to head off to work and I to pick up my oldest spawn. I stopped at Starbucks and walked through the library downtown before collecting him.  Then off to the State Fair grounds with my dear one to run 9 more miles to make a half marathon total for the day.

Life is good.  Run happy friends.

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