Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter snow and a barefooting meetup

(A picture from my snowy trail run this weekend. It was meant to be a 3 mile road run, but then ended up being a 5 mile, road/trail mix. You can see why!)

So even in this comparatively tropical part of Canada, (well tropical compared to the rest of the country), we have had our first snow. A little earlythis year and it looks like the forecast that this year will be one of the snowiest on record will be true. This idea had filled me with dread. Winter running, in snow.. yuck. But as the snow starts to come down there is that little kid part of me that can't wait. Instead of my expected reaction, I want to run in the snow. I want to create barefoot snowy footprints and see how far I can go before my toes protest. It may only be 10 steps, but I so desperately want to try. Last year we didn't get snow and the year before I was only 6 months into minimalist running and I didn't want to try. This year I have decided to embrace the cold. I also have the incentive that other members of the Canadian chapter of BRS have a spreadsheet going on how long we can run in sub-zero (metric) temperatures. I am not a competitive person as such, but when the game is as wacky as thatone, I can't help but try!

This is a change-around from my previous post where I was lamenting my cold toes, but there is a reason for that. I have found a temporary solution to the winter running issue. Whilst in our local Outdoor equipment store, MEC, I found a cheap pair of aqua shoes. Aqua shoes/boots have been a stand-by for winter minimalist and barefoot runners for a long time. So a couple of days ago I gave them a go. Heaven. Cold, torrential, winter rain you have nothing on me now. HAHA, I laugh at your attempt to send me to the Emergency Room with Frostbite! Obviously there was alack of feel because.. well a pair of wool socks and aqua shoes aren't thin - but my feet were toasty. I rejoiced. I even tried them on a bit of easy trail. Great. I still have to be careful on roads/trail as there is NO grip on them what-so-ever in the wet, but that just makes road running more engaging. Try running 4 miles when you aren't sure ifthe next step is the one where you are going to go "arse-over-tit" as my Dad would say.

Let's just say I am excited.. Can you imagine the comic episodes arising from an unco-ordinated runner, running with soft shoes with NO grip in ice and snow? Get your popcorn ready, it's going to be one hell of a show!

In other news, I actually met up with a fellow Minimalist Runner for a race this weekend. An organised meet-up. One where the parties know each other!! When I say organised, Ireally mean, "We only decided two days ago to register". When I mean "The parties know each other", I really mean, "we know each other virtually, but have never actually met". Welcome to the world of Barefoot Running. We are so randomly dispersed that it's actually very rare if we know each other in real life. Of my 84 friends, probably half of them are barefoot runners. Of those Barefoot runners I haven't met a single one. Yet we know each other so well that we send Birthday Greetings and continual messages and jibes. I would like to think that we have a common bond binding us all together, however, we all accept, that the only ones we know who are as secretly Kooky as us are each other!

So today, I picked up Simon, a newish Minimalist Runner, for a 10K race. The Fall Classic. (The Half-Marathon at this event last year, was my first ever race in Minimalist shoes). His longest run"sans-shoes" was about 5K, so he was effectively doubling his mileage. Saying that, he has been running in his Vibrams for about 2months, so a little "caution to the wind" was allowed. I was his pacer and running coach today. Trying to give him handy hints and comment on his form. He was awesome and I was so proud of him. I could tell he was aching towards the end, but after a couple of friendly reminders his form picked up. I would say the only thing he needed to work on; which all new MR/BF runners have difficulty with, is his cadence. I always think, if you get your cadence right then a lot of the other form issues disappear. As soon as he increased his cadence from about 150ish to about 180, his posture straightened, his stride shortened, his landing became below his centre of gravity. It's amazing what a little tweak can do. He ran a pretty good pace too; especially as this was his longest minimalist run yet. We both finished (of course), at 1:04ish. Pretty good I thought, although I think he will feel it tomorrow. Good work Simon - you did an awesome job. Keep it up!

The snow hadn't vanished today. In fact the snow had thawed and frozen. The Race directors had laid rock-salt to melt the course. Unfortunately, the temperature had dropped about an hour before the race and rendered their best efforts redundant. The frozen snow, ice, rock-salt and wet road, along withtemperatures in the mid 20 degrees (about -3ish for those in metric), meant my plan for running the 10K barefoot was not possible. I ran in my wonderful aqua-shoes, (which it appears wereseriously trashed by the conditions) for the first 9K. At 9K, I decided to go ahead and run the last kilometre barefoot. If for no other reason, it was hilarious to see the stunned looks on the spectators. In fact the announcer at the finish just stared at me in shock as I crossed the line. I don't think he even managed to call my name. Fantastic. I probably could have managed another kilometre barefoot, but not much more. The combination of rock-salt, wet and cold really made my feet sting.

Simon was kind enough to take some photo's of me running barefoot. I have checked my photo album and there are very few photo's of me running Barefoot. Iknow why. I generally tend to run alone and it's pretty hard taking photo's of yourself whilst you are actually running. So here are the best ones. The smile isn't a smile; I think it's me silently cursing my stupidity for allowing my hobbit feet to hit the freezing pavement! Enjoy!


  1. Finally! some pics of Kate running! It was like trying to find a picture of a yeti(but much better looking, of course)!

    Great pics of both you and the scenery. We have yet to get any real snow, so Im eagerly awaiting it too.

  2. You have bigger balls than I do! We haven't really gotten any snow yet here in Detroit (a few flakes). I'm looking forward to trying that insanity though.