June 21, 2014 by scratchtype1
To its credit, the bridge itself has always felt solid underneath my feet every time I’ve crossed it. There are no apparent cracks in the concrete. Its steel rails all look firmly set. Times when I’ve gone across the span and a car went also have revealed any disconcerting shudders.
So why is it my imagination sometimes has me landing upon the midfoot of the sole of my foot and the utter collapse of the bridge, where I and chunks of concrete and slabs of steel go tumbling below to the highway underneath?
I don’t know from where those nervous twitches arise. It’s odd. Oftentimes now I run to the road where that bridge is. I run to it because it is some of the smoother but less-traveled pavement near me and a delight to run on barefoot. I actually wear the Xeros to get to that road because there’s a short stretch of road that has recently been quite roughly surfaced with chipseal and there’s a whole mess of smallish loose sharp pebbles that make running barefoot there an awkward and uncomfortable search and dance for places to land the feet. The soles of the Xeros provide enough protection that landing on them is uncomfortable but not painful.Then when I turn left on to the road with the fearsome bridge, I stop to take off the Xeros and tuck them in the grass next to an oak tree. Then I go run. Really run, nothing between the road and my feet.
Those first barefoot strides after warming up a mile or two, depending on the route to get there, are always wonderful and reassuring. There’s a huge difference between running barefoot and having 4 mm of rubber intervening. I love those first few minutes. The solid rhythm, the touch of flesh to the pavement, often my eyes fully open then and shake away the last bits of sleep and the odd dreams from the night before.
Then comes the bridge. It’s usually about midway across that I’ll begin to imagine the breakthrough and the subsequent fall, not a tumble into darkness but one in the full light of morning, the sudden terror when everything that seemed solid below me turns into a betrayal, the stark realization that everything is falling apart and my own solidity will soon be grievously wounded.
Some numbers as of today, June 21, 2014: Running streak reached 71 days this morning after a 12.1 mile long run, 10.44 of the miles were done barefoot, the longest stretch of miles that I’ve done barefoot so far. I’ve run 382 miles during the streak, the shortest run was 1.5 miles and the longest was 13.1 miles. I’m now almost to 640 miles of running this year and since I started running again back in August 2013, I’ve now run 1,001 miles. I believe that’s the most miles I’ve ever run in any 12 month period, and there’s still a month and more to fill out the 12 months. I’ve now had 10 straight weeks of 25 miles or more.
No body parts seem to be ailing. On my previous highwater mark for barefoot running mileage in a single run, I lost some flesh off the left pinky toe during those 8.3 miles. The toe finished nicely intact this morning’s 10.44 miles. My best guess as to why I’m not losing flesh there anymore is that my running form continues to slowly improve from all the running I’ve been doing and that my left foot now is properly rolling inward instead of where before it was likely rolling outward some and over the left pinky toe during the slight pushoff when the foot lifts into the air. I can’t say that’s occurred because of any sort conscious direction on my part. I think sometimes we learn at a level that’s below consciousness as the deeper and darker wiring figures things out. Anyhow, seeing that I did that many miles today barefoot, it makes me feel confident I should likely be able to do a half-marathon barefoot in the fall. I had been concerned some that I might need to concede to the necessity of wearing Xeros if I weren’t to see improvement.
The dreams last night were long and involved, haunted by people from the past that I no longer get to talk to. Don’t know what spurred those on and I woke up somewhat despairing this morning, and wondered if I’d be able to run long. But after being awake for about an hour, I got out the door and started off, with a determination to do at least 6 miles and then do however much more I might feel good with. Then some point around 5.5 miles in, or about 4.3 barefoot miles then, I got the resolve to do at least 10 barefoot miles. I ran quite easy for the most part, though I ran the 8th barefoot and 10th barefoot miles with a bit more effort, to sort of take a look at the idea of running something that would probably correspond to something a few heart beats slower than what I would want to see when running a half-marathon.