Monday, October 1, 2012

Barefoot weekend

It started Friday night. My wife and I set up our booth of wares(lacemaking, embroidered jewelry) at the annual Autumn Artwalk in our little town. Of course I take this opportunity to bare my feet with freedom throughout the whole event. A lot of people know me to go bf most places in town. So I enjoyed the socializing, the food, the wine, the atmosphere. You can see a couple photos of me demonstrating my lace work barefoot here:
Then on Saturday we took a trip to an historical town 20 miles from us to look at the vendors at the statehouse. We used to do this show. Lots of fluffy grass to trample on the state house lawn while talking with our demonstrator friends. And then ended the day by going 1.5 hours north to Clinton, IL to the Apple Pork Festival. This was a real treat for my feet. Lots of roads, grass and gravel to trek through while viewing all the artisan booths and flea market booths. We did go into the historical museum which is an 1800s Italianate style house. They didn't have any problems with me going in their with my bare feet. I know they noticed, but didn't say anything. Trekked through hardwood floors and carpet and brick down in the basement while viewing several decorated rooms as it might have looked like back then. The curators were really nice. And the plus was that my wife(who tolerates me) didn't say a thing! ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon

I am getting into running several half marathons with the encouragement and support from my friends. I only do half marathons/5Ks that are geared to a charity or cause. You can help support my love of running and the donations I receive will be used to get into these events and that money will help contribute to charities respective causes. This particular cause is for the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon coming up July 22nd. Go to their website to see the details of the event and what charities are involved: Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Monday, April 16, 2012

My First Half Marathon!

My running partner has been nagging at me to get involved in races. Now I think I have got the bug! It was the Go! St. Louis marathon/half marathon. Actually my first professionally race of this magnitude I have participated in. I was SO excited. I wasn't even going to be participating. I was going to be my running partner's cheerleader on the sides. Saturday evening we went to the Expo to pick up his packet. I naturally came barefooted as I usually do. No comments or looks of horror. Felt natural and well accepted on SLU campus. We had a good look around at the vendor's booths after picking his packet up. We were about to leave and we ran into some friends of ours from our hometown. Didn't expect that! They immediately asked if I was going to run, and more specifically if I was going to run barefoot. They know me as a barefoot runner. I told them that I was just Richard's cheerleader. Come to find out that one of their spouses wasn't able to make it to the race and they had in their hands the bib and number. They freely offered it to me and encouraged me to go for it. WOW!! What a blessing! One problem, the entree was for the full marathon and his position was for elite runner. OH BOY!! They explained to me that I can downgrade. So my friend and I went to the desk to see about that. No problem!! So I was "in like Flynn"!! WOOHOO!! I got nervous. I hadn't been really training for a half marathon. And two days before I did a nice 8 miler and felt good. But before that week I didn't do anything. Could I really do this??? I couldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I will do the half and have fun and get what experience I can out of it. So I picked my running partner's brain on how I should prepare myself the night before and the morning of. I tried to sleep well, but I was too excited and I kept waking up almost every hour hoping it was time to get up for race day.

We got up at 4am and headed off at 5am to St. Louis and the festivities. I got my gear packed, was dressed, sans shoes, got my bib pinned to my shirt. Felt good about it, yet still nervous. A good nervous. This year's running crowd was up to 15,000. It is one of the biggest in the nation and I was finally a part of it! I couldn't believe this was happening. I was very alert and on the look out for any other barefoot runners. I came prepared and my feet were ready to accept the streets. We walked around to find the porta potties for one last time. Then we picked a spot on the park lawn in front of the corrals to do some stretching. Already I was getting some people noticing me and my barefeet. This isn't unusual, but in a big city and at a running event, this was new to me. Not too many comments that I noticed. I was still soaking in all the excitement!

It was time for us to get into the corrals 10 minutes before the race. All the while my running partner was explaining me how it all worked. I am sure I appeared to be a newbie. That and the fact I was the only barefoot runner in my general vicinity. I got some interesting looks but not much chatter at the beginning. I was intimidated by some of the beefed up looking runners that were around me. I am just a skinny kid who just likes to run barefoot. So my expectations weren't over zealous and I knew that I was here to run for fun and to experience the excitement. So my intimidation was easily swayed into joy. I am sure I showed it on my face. ;) I did have one fella who was behind me come up to me and talk to me about this one runner who was part of the St. Louis running club that runs in Forest Park who runs barefoot, even in winter. He didn't have a name, but I bet he is on the running groups list. He commended me in my bravery and that was pretty much it. I felt good, was still excited about the whole thing and was waiting for them to get on with the race. Seemed like those 10 minutes took forever! HAH.

Finally came time for the race and we all walked up closer to the starting gate. I felt like we were already like a herd of cattle. This made it even more so. After the starting sound went off we slowly made up our paces and we were off. All 15,000 of us. For the first mile I was able to keep up with my running partner. But soon found that I had better stick with my own comfortable pace and let him go. It was quite invigorating to run the streets of a big city that I have driven so many times. And to be in such close quarters with like minded people. At first I tried to keep up with a few that were close to my pace. It wasn't long before my comfortable pace started feeling like I was the slow one of the pack. Runners kept passing me up. But I was ok with that. I was enjoying the run and comraderie and the sights of the event to make a big deal of it. So I stuck to my pace and watched the menagerie of runners go forth. I soon took notice of all the different shoes they had on. Some low rise, some high and ridiculously cushioned shoes. I only saw a few minimalist shoes and one VFF shoes run past me. I am sure there were others. But so far I felt like the only barefoot runner. Which is ok by me. I was getting lots of compliments and comments like "I give you the props". But none of the comments were negative. I even heard some of the spectators cheer me on. It was quite encouraging and possibly one of my motivations to keep going.

Soon after mile 5 I was starting to feel a bit drained. It was good that there were water/gatoraide stations almost every mile. The first station I took gatoraide. Mistake. I didn't like what it did for my thirst. So I opted for just water on the other stations. Was a bit difficult to drink and run at the same time. I managed not to snort the water, but dumped about half of it on me. Oh well. What was sad was the sea of empty cups that I had to run over. I don't like littering. But was forced to and followed what everyone else did. WHAT A MESS! I mentioned to one person I ran beside, "it was like playing 'kick the can'".

I never realized how hilly St. Louis was until I started running the streets. LONG hills and thank goodness for the down hill. Many times I felt like the hill was going to take me. I passed several who walked the hill rather than face it. I kept plugging along on my normal slow(8:50-9:00 min/pace) up and down the hills. It was about the 8.5-9 mile marker that I finally felt like I should make a pit stop at one of the porta potties that was at one of the watering stations. That took 1:30 minutes off my counter. But I stopped my watch for that break and I wasn't counting it. Did my business and I started my watch back up, grabbed a cup of water to spill out over me and continued on with the race. It wasn't too long after I started feeling really run down. But I kept plugging along. It helped that I would get occasional "thumbs up" and good comments from those that seemed to whoosh past me. But was also equally gratifying was that later on up the streets I would find them walking along side for a breather. I would then pass them HAH. But still at this point, most were slowly passing me and I was not the least worried about it. I kept my pace and was still enjoying the run even though I was starting to feel some tightness in the knee. Feet still felt good!

All the while I was running, I was looking at the spectators to see if I could recognize the families of some of my friends that were also running. I didn't find my running friends or their families the entire race. But I was surprised to find an old friend of mine that I forgot lived in the area. I eased over to the side and surprised her and we did a hand slap and off I went. Not sure she knew I ran barefoot and wasn't going to stop my pace to chat.

The last three miles were a bit grueling as they were mostly up hill and long. I could see the St. Louis Arch in the distance and that kept me going. Yet it still seemed far away. As I passed 11 mile marker I knew it was getting close. Still a bit up hill. I was determined to finish the race. I only made one pit stop, thinking before hand that i would have to make several. As I was nearing the last mile I looked down at my watch and noticed that I was just under the 2 hour time. At that point I started picking up my pace. I really wanted to finish within the 2 hours. Nearing the last half mile I mustered enough energy to really hoof it and I lengthened my stride, yet kept my form. I soon realized I was passing all these worn out runners. MAN did that feel good!! I basically sprinted my way to the finish. I wasn't paying attention to what people were saying, even though I heard lots of cheering, but that was expected at this leg of the race.

I MADE IT!!! OH JOY!!! I stopped my watch and I was just 20 seconds over my 2 hours. DARN!!! Of course the official counter from my bib showed that I was 1 min, 39 sec over. That is ok. I was elated and glad I finished. My heart was pounding from that last sprint and my body felt like collapsing, but I kept walking it off. I walked on over to the water station and picked up my finishing medal as I was still trying to catch my breath.

Now to go find my running partner who invariable skunked me with his pace. I did manage to find him in that big crowd. He told me his finishing time, which to his disappointment was not good. He was having a bad running day. But he made it anyways. I tried to console him and glad I was there for him, like he was there for me all throughout the process. We had our snacks, drank our free beer and headed over to get our picture taken. At this point I wanted to get a picture of my feet, like so many barefoot runners do. So I had my partner take the picture.

We started heading back to the car and I mentioned to my partner about the St. Louis Union Station. He had never been in it, So I showed him the wonderful sites of the place. This was fun to walk barefoot around a place like this. Cool tile floors and carpet. We were still in our running gear with our medals around our necks. Saw several other runners taking a break in the station as we were. As we were heading out of the place while glancing at some of the stores, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of those mall cops. I acted like I didn't notice, but he sure noticed me with my bare legs and feet. He got my attention and asked me to put shoes on. I told him without hesitation I didn't have any shoes. He got this smirk on his face with surprise and then asked if I was going to be leaving soon. I assured him we were just on our way out. I didn't want to make a scene. My friend was used to me being barefoot, but not in such a public place as this and I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. I guess he wasn't. I mentioned to him that I haven't had anyone approach me and this was a first. We headed on out the door and walked around the fountain and bridge area of the Union Station. My friend was really impressed with the place.

WHile driving home we passed by Horseshoe Lake SP and my friend hadn't known about that. So we did a little tour of the park and he was impressed. He isn't from this area originally and doesn't get out much. Except to do marathons ;) I have to show him more of what this area of the country has. And he will show me how fun half marathons/marathons can be!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Monday, November 21, 2011

Special Announcement

Right now I am almost 90% barefoot every day, whether it is walking or running or any daily activity. But there are times when I must comply with society and wear something on my feet. Such as work dictates I wear something or some stores require it. And in some cases my wife doesn't want to be seen with me in my glorious natural God-given feet. So I opt to wear Invisible Shoes for my preferred method of shoddiness. While at work I only put them on if I have to go from point A to point B. Otherwise I free my feet under my desk. And in the really cold winter months I will put on tapi socks that work well with these sandals. Sometimes my feet can only tolerate so much.

But I also want to let you in on a sale that Invisible Shoes is having. It is their 2nd year anniversary. If you find that you HAVE to wear something on your feet, then make a good choice. Click on the link and help celebrate with them. Go check them out!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tapi Socks

For cold weather I made these Tapi socks(Ninja style) out of some old black ankle sports socks. They work great to wear with my Invisible Shoes(huaraches) or when I am biking to work in sub degree temps.
Here is how I made them: Turn the socks inside out and put them on. With needle and thread, stay stitched a V in the area between the big toe and other toes. Take them off and clip the channel. Serge them(or zig zag stitch) on a serge maching/sewing machine. Turned then right side out and VOILA!