Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) Spring Conference. It’s always a treat to network with local businesses and bring many minds together to look towards a future of business that give back to their employees, the economy, the environment and the community. The real highlight of the day was hearing great keynote speeches from both Senator Leahy and Sanders.
Due to the conference, my day was thrown off a bit. I planned on running on The Stowe Quiet Path on my way back home. Unfortunately, Toby was stuck in Morrisville with his “grandparents” so he did not get to join me for this run. I had been planning since Friday, when I made a point to bring my Vibram’s, knee pads, and iPhone armband with me. I pulled into the Quiet Path parking lot, threw on a pair of shorts, and opened my trunk, but I didn’t see my gear (other than my iPhone armband, which was with my computer). My trunk is kind of a mess (side effect of being on the road for work two days a week) so I started digging around. Nada. I somehow either left my gear at work or had managed to take it out of my car and usher it in my home.
Well, this did not stop me. I’m stubborn, sometimes to a fault. For those unfamiliar with Stowe, it’s a major tourist town in Vermont, boasting fabulous ski runs, beautiful views and great food. The folks who live there year-round are generally pretty well off; at least they have to be to afford the heinous land taxes. The Quiet Path is definitely the best-kept trail that I run on. I noticed as I pulled into the parking lot that the lawn crew was just finishing up grooming the path, so it was in particularly good condition yesterday. I decided to give real barefoot running a try. Honestly, I was more nervous to be without my knee pads than the Vibrams.
It was unusually hot yesterday. The news said it would hit a high of 72º, but my car thermometer told me it was 78º and that’s what it felt like. I took my time stretching and told myself that if my feet hurt I wouldn’t run. I started off on the five-minute walking warmup. The grass felt cool and refreshing on my feet and I began to relax. My iPhone app told me to start running. I took a deep breath, this was to be a 25-minute run and I was prepared to stop early if I had to, and took off.
I ran, barefoot, along the grass, over pebbles, rocks, wooden bridges and even on the asphalt. You know what? I ran the entire 25 minutes and I was really OK. The only time I experienced discomfort was running on the small jagged pebbles, but the wooden bridges and even the asphalt felt just fine. When it was all over I did feel some skin discomfort on the balls of my feet. This is very different than muscle pain; my muscles feel good. This felt like dry skin; like when your hands get dry in the cold of winter.
Last evening, I soaked my feet in a warm Epsom Salt bath and then slathered them in a local foot salve and babied them with comfy socks. The skin still feels a little dry today, but it’s not painful and it’s definitely no where near as bad as when I managed to blister up my feet running on concrete (with the Vibrams). My knees also feel just fine today. I might start running without the knee braces just to see if my knees have grown strong enough to go it alone.
I have to say, this experience is so empowering. Not just running barefoot, the entire C25K experience has been really motivational for me and I can’t deny how awesome it is to watch my body gain strength and adapt to this new sport. It’s all long runs from now on until I get up to 5k!