I have spent the last weekend having what can only be described as the best party of my life. Sorry, hubby, college friends and fellow co-workers. I spent the last 72 hours living it large in the Big Apple in the world of barefooters a lot more famous than me.
There are times in your life when you look back on an event, or series of events and you think that honestly it could not have been as great as it was. As if after the partying high, life resumes and the gloss wears off. I have been back from NYC for a total of 4 days and I am still waiting for the gloss to wear off.
Admittedly I am also trying to remember what happened for some of it and i hoping that the rest of "The Collective" will be able to fill in the lots of gaps I have when we do our collaborative report.
So here is my brief re-cap of some of the highlights of the weekend.
Firstly, after a 10 hour flight and some hassle at US Border Control (based in Toronto - yep, still haven't figured that one out either), I landed in NYC. I got to the hotel at about 7:30PM and my first quest was to shower, find Krista - who was bunking with me- and get to the party. Krista walked into our room pretty much as I was finished getting changed and meeting her for the first time pretty much typified my whole NYC experience.
The thing is; the majority of the people I was meeting in NYC were people I had never met before in real life. We have known each other virtually for years and as a result you get a good idea of what the are like, but sometimes reality never matches up. Would there be awkwardness? Would we sit in stoney silence waiting for someone to be who we thought they would be? Okay, the likelihood was small, but it was still something to think about.
So when Krista walked in the door, we pretty much squealed at each other, hugged and started telling rude jokes. This was the same scenario for pretty much everyone I met this weekend. Everyone I met were genuine people. It was just nice to know that over the last few years, everyone was themselves on-line. I still marvel about that. Perhaps it's an in-built cynicism that people play a role and not themselves. So to have my faith in humanity validated over and over - well frankly it's awesome. (I apologize now, the word "Awesome", "Fantastic" and every other compliment will be used repetitively - get used to it). So when we met, there was no need to do introductions, or small-talk, we just launched into rude jokes and immaturity whilst drinking a stupid amount of alcohol.
Krista and I headed off to the PoPBurger restaurant for "informal" drinks. The rest of the Merrell crew were flying in later and there was a good chance we wouldn't meet till the next day, so Krista and I decided to head out and represent regardless.
On getting there we ordered Guinesses and Chips (well Fries) and started being our rowdy selves. We met Caity, who was awesome (see told you). Then I heard a tentative, "Kate?" behind me and Patrick was behind me. Everyone seemed to go quiet as I screamed "PATRICK!" and I think I actually broke some windows. We carried on drinking, laughing, being rude and doing death stares to the random guys who were stealing our food. The rest of the evening became a bit of a blur. At the PoPBurger Bar I vaguely remember meeting Barefoot Ted, (who complimented me on my "Alabaster skin") and KenBob who we convinced to place his fridge magnets as nipple tassels whilst we all took photo's.
Krista and I took off as the bar closed and for some bizarre reason we decided to run back to the hotel. It was one of the most surreal runs. Krista in her flip-flops, me in my Merrell Mary-Janes. Not completely drunk, but not quite sober, running with huge grins on our faces through Manhattan at 12:30AM. As we got to the hotel, we decided to text the others to see if they had landed. I think the text went something on the lines of "we're drunk, where are you?". Within minutes we had a text saying, "we're in the bar". Christian and Jason were there to meet us. Inside the bar was Shelly and Jesse, happily drinking away. Again, there were huge hugs and no awkwardness. We sat down and set about drinking till the bar-closed at 3am.
At 7:30 I got up and had breakfast with Christian. We were meeting all of the Merrell party in the foyer and the plan was to run to the clinics. The plan slightly changed and we were allowed to take the subway if we wanted to. Christian and I changed our minds about 30 times before we decided we would join the others on the run. Out of the drunken louts from the night before, there was only me, Christian and Jesse running. It became clear after 5 mins, that we had made a mistake. The running group was lead by Mark Cucuzella who won the Air Force Marathon the weekend before. Our sorry little group was hindered by hangovers and my short legs; we could make about a 10 min mile. We soon lost them, but decided we knew where we were going anyway. After another mile, we realized we didn't. Christian "googled" our location and we discovered we were 4 miles from Battery Park - not bad for a 3 mile run. As usual in these situations we brainstormed a solution. Heck, this is New York - Call a cab. So we arrived at the clinic via Taxi. We spent 5 mins goofing around, until we saw the running group coming through. Despite taking motorized transport we were still late!
The event at battery park was low key, a few tents and some coconut water. However, that's not why we were there; We were there for the clinics. It was a little surreal to see KenBob and Jason, Mark, Lee Saxby, and Barefoot Ted being dragged by Patrick. All of these A-class barefoot running dudes, all in one place it was like a wild-life documentary. All of these Barefoot runners in their natural habitat.
Here I met on of the last friends I had been anxious to meet. Another tentative "Kate?" and another squeal from me and I saw Chris. Chris was one of the first authors on Run Smiley that approached us when we got going. The previous authors were those that I had known in my past-lives as blogger and lay-about on Runners World. They were press-ganged into the "Collective". Chris volunteered. Chris is an awesome writer and as soon as I read his blog I realized he was a find. I have only known Chris for a few months on-line, but I felt I had known him for years. We stuck by each other, on and off through-out the weekend, and meeting him was a highlight for me. Chris highlights for me the power of "Run Smiley". I have met so many fantastic people through the blog - it's like another avenue to new and fabulous friends.
I was able to only part-take of 2 clinics. Mark Cucuzella's clinic was a real eye-opener. He was able to explain why a barefoot form was essential for running well. Even after a couple of days it has enabled me to describe the science behind why we stand, walk, run the way we do. Jason's clinic was simple, concise and validated in my mind the way I feel we should teach Barefoot/Bareform running. Again at my running group, I have already used his methods to be able to proper form.
I wish I could stay for more, but I was being whisked away in movie star fashion to a dungeon deep in Manhattan to be a small fish in a very famous pond. Wow, that did sound kinky!
Learn more in Part 2.