Probe the edges gently

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July 18, 2013 by scratchtype1

Had a slightly odd meta sort of dream last night, when I said to a person in it that I had just recently dreamed about the event which had just occurred, an event that involved a blue sponge floating down from the shelf above some sinks.

It’s about as hot as hell during the days this week around here.

footprint in softened tar

That’s from last evening when I took a walk after dinner. Some spots on the chip-seal road have thicker patches of tar and when I walked over it last night, I felt my feet sink into it some. It felt a bit like I was some primitive human being hanging out at the La Brea tarpits. It’s a bit of a shame that probably no one else walked where I had and got to see them and wonder, “What the hell?”

I did that same walk this morning except for the fact that I ran a good bit of the uphill parts and also added in a short stretch of level. Maybe did about 400 to 450 yards of barefoot running. It all felt pretty good when I had the fast rhythm going correctly, had a few uncomfortable steps with the initial startup of the uphill bits. I loved it when the sensation got right and it’s almost like a feeling of floating along, the feet just lightly kissing the rough and granular surface. It tempted me. Keep running, it whispered. But I resisted. Something that’s going to last and be enduring needs to be built slowly if thinking in building terms. Or if you want to imagine yourself in a sort of shell, you want to probe and push at its edges gently. Make it grow larger slowly. Don’t push so hard that something tears or breaks, and that you end up shelved while the wounds slowly mend.

I am thinking some about maybe looking for a 5k to run late October or November. Not to race it really, but if I’ve gotten to where I can run a decent stretch of 3 to 5 miles, then do a 5k. It’s a bit weird, but somehow it seems like that now I’m running a little again and there isn’t the sensation of emotional debris impeding me, I want to connect some more. There’s this sense of rightness that I’ve felt now when running these tiny bits about barefoot running. I’m feeling more human and alive again, much more than I think I ever felt when I had run shod. And I had felt some pretty powerful feelings at times when running those miles, from the miles of the 2007 and 2009 Philadelphia half-marathons, to the 20 miles I ran on Halloween of 2009, to a run on Île de Bizard and a run down near the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s primal some, running barefoot. You feel like you’re mastering the terrain of the world. You realize that while once you feared the rough surface of chip-seal and how it might make your feet feel, now those feet are stronger and the soles are tougher and they can handle it.

How did that happen? By probing the edges gently. When I first began stepping barefoot onto the road, it almost felt wrong and naughty, like a person really shouldn’t do that. Those early steps were uncomfortable, the skin on the balls of my feet was still quite underdeveloped and all I could do was just try to relax as much as possible and take the little bits that the edges gave me to work with. Now I still try to relax as much as possible and comfortably walk well over a mile barefoot on top of the chip-seal. And this morning with maybe almost a quarter-mile of running, lightly kissing the surface with each step.

I still haven’t had any cars go by while I’m running on the road barefoot. I’ve had some cars drive by while I’m walking, including one which came up behind me and audibly I could hear that the driver slowed a great deal and I wonder if he or she saw that I was striding confidently down the road barefoot.


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