Sunday, October 17, 2010
1st Annual NYC Barefoot Run
It has been a while since I posted. Life got very exciting that last week before the 1st Annual NYC Barefoot Run. This race was purely the result of, "we should..." thinking. You see, in mid-August, Chris McDougall, the author of Born to Run, came to NYC for 2 reasons -- which turned into 3.
1. To meet with Bill Clinton to discuss natural running in Harlem.
2. To do a book signing at Word bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
And....the linking event that made it complete...
3. My fellow barefooters, John & Maggie Durant, planned an eight mile minimalist run from the Clinton Foundation to Word.
That last reason, turned to more discussions -- a few times while at our barefoot runs, John & I spoke about a barefoot run. After the McDougall run, John said, "we have to do it this fall -- now is the time". Personally, I was thinking springtime or next fall. But John and Maggie were ahead of the curve, as most great minds usually are. They had already scouted out Governor's Island and had set their sights on October 10th.
Maggie has a brilliant business mind and quickly got things organized and going in the right direction. They got sponsors, permits, and all the barefooting gurus to join us. In 6 short weeks, they organized a barefooting convention. I am ecstatic that I was able to participate and help with some of the planning. (Sidenote: any time you have the opportunity to work with bold, visionary, smart and courageous people...TAKE it.) It was a lot of fun and did not feel like work, even for one second. I got so much more out of helping than I put into it.
The weekend kicked off with a talk from Dr. Daniel Howell at TipTopShoes. Lily came with me so she could pick up her race packet. Dr. Howell gave a talk on the benefits of barefooting. He just wrote a book called, The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick off your shoes.
Unfortunately, Lily was full of energy & was running around so much during the talk that I wasn't able to hear most of it. Since he is a great and patient teacher, as well as a father himself, he did not bat an eye when Lily ran right between him and his audience. He thought the barefoot 3 year old provided a great back drop for his talk.
I was able to talk to him later that day. He is in the process of preparing to talk to his local school board about allowing kids to go barefoot in school. One of Dr. Howell's goals is to see barefeet as a viable option in our society. He dispelled several barefooting myths (i.e., there are no health codes preventing barefeet in stores or restaurants and it is totally legal to drive barefoot). I look forward to conversing with him more in the future, especially about barefoot options for kids.
Later that afternoon, there were a series of clinics in central park led by Barefoot Ted and Jason Robillard.
Barefoot Ted is featured in Born to Run. Jason Robillard is a barefoot ultra marathoner who founded Barefoot University. He gives clinics and teaches others how to properly and safely run barefoot. He also wrote The Minimalist Guide to Barefoot Running. I bought this book several months ago and it has really helped me pay attention to the things necessary to improve my natural running form (from drills, to cues, to strengthening exercises).
In Born to Run, we learn that Barefoot Ted's spirit guide is the monkey --- he wears a little monkey charm around his neck. He is a truly unique individual who knows himself and is able to objectively look at humans at our time in history. It is as if he has some gene-resistant strain that prevents him from being influenced by media and those around him. From him I clearly saw how important it is to truly be your own self and your own guide.
When asked about how fast he runs, he said that he doesn't care about time. He did run the Boston Marathon in ~3:20 -- but prefers to run at a trot. He said he wants to be, "happy and healthy". He also had some unique insight into our competitive natures, "if you want to be timed, now is your time in history, people are obsessed with time." He also pointed out that if you hurt yourself, we are fortunate enough to have the doctors and therapists to put us back together again. Ted epitomizes the expression, "be who you are". Imagine what the world would be like if we were all so comfortable in our own skin.
Jason Robillard reminded us all that we are our best teachers. Listen to your own feet and body. Most of all, don't give too much advice. Some people will listen to advice before they listen to themselves, and may get hurt. Jason signed my copy of his old book. It has since been re-printed and is about twice the size. He took my address and said he was going to send me a copy of his new book. He said he would send me a copy of his new book because he, "feels bad when people spend money on the first book." Well today, a mere 9 days after that conversation, a new signed book arrived in the mail. Jason really followed through.
Saturday night Dr. Dan Lieberman, Harvard Professor gave a talk on the fall & rise of running. His scientific analysis on the shock transient your body absorbs from heel striking was astounding. Basically, if you heel strike you are subjecting an almost instantaneous shock equivalent to 5x your body weight from your heel through your neck. No wonder I always got shin splints and lower back pain.