April 24, 2015 by scratchtype1
There is a cold wind which sometimes shifts directions enough to knock me side to side. In such a tumult, I could easily feel inconsequential — I am small and slight, I am slender bone and thin muscle, perhaps it is time to give up and find the way to home where it’ll be warm and still inside.
Not today. I’m finally running again and right now the miles are being read under the bare soles of the feet. How long’s it been since I flowed like this? More than a month I know since I’ve run any distance over 10 miles. Slightly more than a month ago when the legs last struck lightning and laid down some relatively fast miles. Then about a week after that, things fell apart.
Why? I can’t exactly know. I suspect that it’s been another minor flareup of the virus that first gave me mono back April 2004. Since then, it seems as if after a period of somewhat more than 2 years, I will find myself dragging and without energy, without any obvious cause. While I often suspect now that the tiredness and fatigue I felt in in late 2010 was caused by a broken heart and that led me away from running for some time, these recent few weeks have reminded me again of this issue. Mono did change me substantially some. Before it in 2004, I had always been a night owl, one who could stay awake until too late and deep in the night. In some ways, the mono did me a favor. After that, my bedtime schedule became much more mundane and regular and I would usually go to bed by 10 PM.
I know I’m not running truly easy. I’m a notch above it, but when it’s been so long since you last felt like the legs could fly, hell, you go with it. Yes, it is cold and I’m regretting that I didn’t wear gloves. But other than that, oh god, how my body is alive right now on the stretch where the downhill is only slight, where the legs can open up without the pounding of the steeper areas of downhill. This stretch, where I will likely now run a lot more miles since they destroyed the road with rather smooth chipseal, is pure barefoot pleasure. Every time a foot lands, I felt a sensation like electricity that then leaps up through the calves and thighs, through my buttocks which then fire and up my spine.
This is running fully human, without the shoes interfering the nerves of the soles of the feet. This is the hardest thing to explain to someone who has only ever run in shoes, how to explain how the nerves of the feet are there with purpose, to help teach us how to run. Because of those nerves, I’ve finally been learning how to run with the form I could have had if not for growing up in a culture that puts so many of us into shoes from early on.
Oh my god, it’s cold for April today. Now there’s enough thick gray clouds spitting out a few drops of rain that splash down into the thin scrub of hair that I have up top my head. My right arm is doing its crazy sort of circling motion that I’ve come to accept as an inconsequential asymmetry to my form. But at least I can feel the left buttock driving the hip, that’s the most important asymmetry that I’ve had to correct through remedial drills, hill sprints, and trying to run as much as possible barefoot. Slowly the left buttock has learned that when the sole kisses the ground, the left buttock needs to grab and drive my left hip forward. It is doing so today and the miles are flying by for me, as smooth as this road is.
This is a run to savor and remember. I get them more frequently than I ever did in shoes. To run barefoot is to connect with the ground, to read it, to have it tell stories to you. Here is my story today: I run like electricity through the wind, up and over and down the hills. These feet are hands turning the pages of the book. I am an imperfect vessel that slices through cold winds. Those who drive by see a crazy man in a blue shirt and without shoes, his face tucked into concentration on the sensation of flying and the sensation of all the muscles in the body going through the rhythms of relaxation and contraction. I can almost imagine wings growing from my heels now, I can almost imagine that I could outrun Death on his pale horse, chasing after me, the pale man with pale hair and green eyes streaked with blue. Perhaps he and I could race each other one day. Would Death wear shoes? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
So yes, on Thursday I finally had a really good run. I think the mono flareup has subsided and I’m now almost back to full energy. I ran about 11. 4 miles Thursday, about 5.8 of them barefoot, and ran without feeling washed out. Then today I put in some easy miles and kept a good pace for 4.8 miles. Now I feel a bit regretful having turned down that opportunity to snag a bib and run Broad Street, but when I passed that up, I didn’t feel like I could run 10 miles and didn’t know when I would again. No problem. Races can be good motivators some, but it’s a lot better when you can find the motivation to run simply because of pleasurable experiences like those I had in the barefoot miles of Thursday.