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Barefoot Racing in January and Frozen Junk

Posted by on Jan 1, 2011 | 4 Comments

Shelly and I ran the Sgt. Preston of the Yukon 6 mile road race in Muskegon, MI today.  It was a balmy 30° at race time, which is considerably warmer than last year’s race.  Since we recently endured a warm spell that melted all our snow, I contemplated running the race barefoot and in the Sport Kilt.  In all likelihood, I wouldn’t get another chance to do either until spring.

When we arrived at the race, the cold and wind convinced me to scrap the kilt idea.  Instead, I made a last-second decision and wore some workout pants.  I didn’t have time to dig out my compression shorts, so I had to forgo any sort of groin-area wind block.  Since the roads were only slightly damp, I decided to continue with the barefoot plan.

I had planned on taking it relatively easy for this race as I am planning a long birthday run early tomorrow morning.  Shelly and I met up with out friends Roger Bonga and Brandon Mulnix.  I ended up running the race with Brandon, who pushed me a little harder than planned.  Brandon, thanks for the great workout!  🙂

The race went well.  This is the first fully barefoot run I’ve done in a long time… probably since the NYC 1st Annual Barefoot Run.  All of my training runs and races have been in minimalist shoes for testing or training purposes.  I was somewhat concerned because of the temps and cold asphalt.  The first two miles were somewhat difficult as sensory feedback was severely limited.  I would occasionally get a sensation as if there was something stuck to my foot, which more or less feels like a large blister.  This is a common occurrence for me, so I wasn’t worried.

My greatest concern was the potential to do damage in the early stages of the run.  I knew I could maintain good form at about an 8 minute/mile pace without good feedback.  Had I tried running faster, I would have probably developed blisters and/or abrasions.  It’s important to know your limitations in situations such as this.  Luckily, I’ve done enough “stupidity” runs where I’ve pushed too far or too fast.  🙂

Once my feet warmed up, the race went smoothly.  Despite the cold temps, my feet held up wonderfully.  Unfortunately, the lack of wind-block caused some seriously cold junk.  Yeah, the schlong froze.  Even though this has happened numerous times over the years, I don’t seem to learn my lesson.  In retrospect, the idea of wearing the kilt seemed especially stupid.  The pants were bad enough.  The kilt may have required a trip to the med tent.  🙁

Should you decide to do some sub-freezing barefoot running, please be smart.  Know your limits and respect the elements.  Be aware of the unique problems posed by the cold.

In Other News…

Registration opens for the Mind the Ducks 12 Hour ultra in Rochester, New York on May 14th.  Shelley Viggiano, a fellow ultrarunner, minimalist runner, and friend is the RD.  A few of us made the trip last year and it as an awesome experience!  I would HIGHLY recommend it!  We will once again have a large group making the pilgrimage.  Register early, the race is capped at 75 and promises to fill quickly.

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  1. Viper
    January 3, 2011

    You need a ThermaJock! Ha!

  2. Jen
    January 1, 2011

    Oh, and have a happy Birthday tomorrow!

  3. Jen
    January 1, 2011

    What a great, cold, barefoot run! And to quote Elaine from Friends, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things!”

  4. Brandon
    January 1, 2011

    Thanks for the great run as well. I knew as long as you were talking you were not running too hard. The wind was the toughest part of the race, but it was a great start to 2011! Look forward to so many more miles along side you on the trails or the roads.