Friday, October 30, 2009

The Barefoot Experiment: Week 3

This entry will be a bit short as I race to pack and get ready to head up to NY tomorrow morning for the marathon.  My illness last week turned out to be a sinus infection and not the flu, so that was good news.  It still knocked me out for about 5 days - I didn’t leave my place much.  Even though I was already in tapering mode, when my training schedule suddenly ground to a stop for several days, I started to worry if I was ready for the race, and if I’d be healthy enough to race.

By Tuesday I started to feel better and went for a run after spinning.  I ended up going for five miles. The run made me feel confident I could get through the marathon on Sunday, but it has forced me to scale back my goal finish time. (For a list of the broadcast times for the NY Marathon, go here.)

On Wednesday evening I went out for a run in the VFFs.  The route was just over 6 miles through Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Cleveland Park.  There were a couple smaller hills on the run, and one long hill up Porter Street from Rock Creek up to 34th Street.  The shoes feel more ‘normal’ each time I run in them, and some of that awkwardness around my right pinkie toe is gone.  But I wouldn’t wear them for anything other than running, flip flops or sneakers are still more comfortable and easier to coordinate with.

With all the rain recently, the route was pretty well covered in wet leaves.  I didn’t slip at all during the run, and found the shoes hold the ground as well as any other running shoe.  On some of the steeper downhills (where my feet land the hardest) I felt some tenderness on the soles of my feet and toes.  It wasn’t painful and I didn’t need to stop or slow down, but it was the first time running in the VFFs where I found myself wishing for a bit more padding under my foot.   

I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I find that on hills you most feel like you’re running completely barefoot.  My unscientific theory is that on an uphill you stay mainly on the balls of your feet, and because there’s so little shoe in the VFFs you don’t feel like you have quite the same center of gravity that you feel in a traditional shoe.  I’m sure all of this goes away the more you run in them, although my mom’s physical therapist is skeptical. He says you can’t change how you run when you’ve run one way for your whole life….We shall see I suppose.

So anyway, back to my run on Wednesday, I ended up finishing up at 8:09 pace, which I was pretty happy with, especially considering the hills. On the flats in the last couple of miles, I definitely felt like I was moving. I don’t feel like my speed is any slower running in the VFFs than in my old running shoes.

Next week I will be recovering from the marathon. Oh, I should mention I’m not running the marathon in the VFFs. After Wednesday’s run I actually feel like I probably could, but I’m not quite ready to risk it.  I’m looking at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler next April as a good chance to race in them.  I’ll also be able to recount my stories of running the NY Marathon while wearing a Phillies cap (Go Phils!!!).  My mom suggested I put my name on my shirt for the race, as lots of folks do at marathons.  I told her I would pass as it would just give the Yankees fans a chance to personalize their insults to me as I ran by.

So wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it goes!