Ever since concentrating on changing my form, one of my bucket list items has been to run a 5k in bare feet. So when I won an entry to the DC version of the Naked Foot 5k a couple of weeks ago, how could I not go?
Let’s be clear–my goal was to run a bare foot 5k, not race one. I haven’t done enough miles completely bare foot to make racing a 5k reality, but I knew I could run it. I drove down to the race location in Meadowbrook Park in Bethesda. A beautiful park, btw. I met up with a couple of friends from home and we decided to warm up on the course. I did this in shoes and as we headed into the wooded section of the course, I kind of second guessed whether or not I should attempt this. There was a nice stretch of gravel, for starters, which is NOT friendly to bare feet. Then there was the single track in the woods. While it was a nice hard-packed dirt trail, there were still plenty of sticks and stones that worried me. After the wooded section, the course went back to pavement, where I figured I’d be most at ease.
We finished the warm up and then I located Katherine of Neon Blonde Runner, who also won an entry to the race. Katherine is a sweetheart and so easy to chat with.She’s also got a lot of running talent and is just getting started–she hasn’t even scratched the surface with where she is going. It was great to connect with her.
Soon we lined up, me in my bare feet, and we were off. The grassy section we started on was great, as was the first section of pavement. Then we hit the gravel and woods. I had to drastically slow down to make it across this section, but then once I got into the woods, I felt comfortable again. In fact, I caught myself smiling a big smile back there–I love trail running. Then it was back onto the pavement again.
This is where the bottoms of my feet started to scream at me, which surprised me. I thought the woods and grass would be my biggest challenge, but no, it was the very porous black top and concrete. By the final section back in, I was jonesing for some grass–I could feel blood blisters on my toes and soles of my feet. Finally the sweet relief of the grass was in sight and I finished off the race. A slow time, but that was my plan anyhow. The success was in running a 5k in my bare feet.
I had a blast at this event–it was low key, full of other bare footers, minimalist runners and a smattering of traditionally shod runners. Everyone was out there to
have a good time and explore the world of natural running. Katherine tore up the course, finishing in third place overall!
When I finished, my first goal was to get to the car, clean up my feet, and get some shoes on. After returning home, I did a more thorough job of cleaning up the sore spots, applied some Aquaphor and bandaids, and spent the remainder of the day walking gingerly. Yes, I paid a price for this one, but it was worth it. Goal accomplished. I smiled all day thinking about it.
Would you/have you ever considered running a race in bare feet? Why/why not?