I was meeting the boy at the Catamount Family Center for my second barefoot 5k trail run. I had worked all my nervousness out last week by not impaling my feet on sharpies. I have been itching all week to do it again. Last weeks run was euphoric. The weather, pretty humid and threatening rain; this wasn’t going to slow me down. This week I donned the kilt. People’s interest in my barefoot work last week put me at ease, and lets face it, I like wearing the kilt. I was also surprised to see my brother-in-law Tom and his 11 year old daughter ready to run.
Today we were running on a different trail, I took it as a little disappointment because I love running last weeks trail so much, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. The race started and I quickly learned that the terrain was going to be different. No plush grass this time, it was more like a single track with early bottlenecks slowing us down, and up hill…and the hill just kept on going.
Early on I got caught up in what was going on with Tom and his daughter. She had taken off pretty fast and was surprised by the sudden uphill. This got her walking and asking for water pretty quickly. Then she would bound off again, taking huge steps to cover the terrain. I threw a little coaching to her to take smaller steps, there was still alot of terrain to cover (Look at that…second trail race and I’m coaching someone).
We came upon a runner who had stopped in the trail, and I sensed something was wrong, but couldn’t figure out what. Some one yelled out “Bees nest” and people around me started swatting, including Tom. I was pretty determined to get the hell out of that area. Tom kept running and swatting up ahead of me urging his daughter on. He eventually yelled, they are under my knee brace, ripping it down and flailing at his body to get the bees off. At that point, I took one to the calf. I kept running and urged Tom’s daughter to move ahead and then wait, her dad would catch up to her. I called back to check in with Tom and he said he was ok. On I went.
The trail kept rising, and I was sucking wind. Negative thoughts were whirling around my mind. My calf was sore and pulsing, the terrain was tougher than last week, I was worried about Tom and Julia. I was so involved with my thinking process, I did not notice the trail leveling out and starting to descend (Erin told me after the race that the top of the hill opened up to a decent view, my thinking was too turbulent to see it).
The canopy combined with the cloud cover and the sinking sun made for dark running. It was hard to scan the trail for obstacles. The ground was muddy and I had great gobs of mud stuck between my toes that didn’t seem to want to come off. I started passing people who had started walking. As I passed I would give them words of encouragement. One of the runners I passed asked me how my feet were doing, a question I get more and more often. I responded my feet were doing great. In that moment, I was bounding through a difficult passage looking down to see where I was going to place my feet next when I nearly impaled myself in the shoulder region slamming into a dead branch I did not see sticking out.
“My feet are fine…Ow!…But that hurt.”
Not long after that the trail opened up onto blue stone gravel. I inwardly groaned. I can move across my driveway pretty well, but I have not tried to run on it. I forged onward. I was analyzing the hell out of my form as I moved across the blue stone. I looked like a guy running on blue stone for the first time all tense and tentative. I was envisioning Ken Bob’s guru like advice in countless posts about relaxing and if you can run on this, you can run on anything, and letting my foot relax to dispel the surface area. I found myself doing it. I was able to relax…a little…and my pace picked up…a little. that experience had me realizing that I could run on that kind of surface with practice. I could be almost as fast as running on the other surfaces, if not as fast. Relaxing my muscles as I run is the key.
The final stretch turned to grass and I opened throttles as much as I could. I was pretty tired from this race as it used a good amount of energy on mental process as well as the physicality from the more technical course.
Cooling down, I enjoyed talking to other runners and answering questions. One lady took a peek to see what was under the kilt (cheeky). Nice group that runs this race weekly. I had a few people ask me where to get a kilt, sheepishly admitting how they have always wanted to try wearing one. I told them about sport kilt, a nice inexpensive kilt.
As we walked to the car, the skies opened up; rain. I am a bit sore, my shoulder hurts, and the sting is stull pulsing. Can’t wait till next week.