When I started running in 2010, I admired runners who run on barefoot during races. Though I find it really odd though because of safety issues. Then there came barefoot running on minimalist footwear like the Vibram Five Fingers. Still found it odd because of the shape of the shoes where the toes have separate pockets to fit in.
I even met some barefoot runners in person and tried to imagine how they could finish a race as long as 21 kilometers shoeless or only the minimalist shoes plus the weather conditions and the like. The first person I met is Daves Espia aka Barefoodaves in Takbo.ph. I often see him running barefoot on short distances and on minimalist shoes on long distance races. You wont miss this guy because he can be easily recognized with his long hair. Im looking forward to know this person more and hoping he could give me tips regarding running on barefoot on the road.
Another person I look up to is Erwin Ordonez. This young lad ran parts of his marathon and his ultramarathon and most of his short distances races on barefoot! I can only count the events I see him on his Vibram. I was able to pace with him during the Earth run 2011 and I cant help myself asked him how could he manage to run the uneven pavements of cement and asphalt and finish strong as if he was wearing a pair of shoes. And his cute casual reply was “Sanayan lang yan ate!” and I agree. From then on I started to “fantasize” if I could also run without shoes.
Some runners said running on barefoot teaches us ways how to prevent injuries. Being a heel striker myself, I am aware I’m prone to so many leg injuries. With barefoot running it will correct the strides and foot landings thus will help you improve and run efficiently.
Early August just right after the very 1st Bald Runner’s Barefoot 3K Run, an announcement was spreading around Facebook that there will be a part 2, but this time its a 5K Run event where Barefoot Runners and Minimalist Runners can compete on separate categories. I missed the 1st event and swore to myself I will take note of the date for this event so I wont forget it. Since I dont have any scheduled running event for September where I could get a finisher’s medal I considered this event, plainly because of the experience and if luck takes my side I could be part of the placers perhaps.
A week before the event, I had my second deep tissue massage with Coach Titus to end my agony regarding my ITBS on the left. Been running long distances on weekends and had a 5K simulation on barefoot days before. With all these rituals, I felt I’m ready!
If theres an event I fantasized to join in…it’ll be any BR (Bald Runner) event. BR events are known to be challenging, both physically and mentally. Its where the power of the mind coincides with the power of the body in order to survive.
This Barefoot event is the other extreme end of BR’s Ultramarathon, where runners run the distances (literally and figuratively) beyond Marathon. Extreme because if Ultras have distances beyond you can imagine you can run, this one is short distance yet you need to run it without foot clothing. I got tips from the runners who ran the 3K event last time, that the route was never easy, where in fact caused them blisters and calluses. That is why I re-assessed myself if it is for me. But based on my simulation, no pains, no blisters only good feeling and confidence that I can survive.
Race day came, September 10, we were racing against time for we might be late for the event. Good thing we faced only a light traffic along Libis to C5. A little worried because we have to look for the unfamiliar place. When we reached it I immediately signed up and attached my race bib and condition myself. Saw many familiar running friends, but I observed only a few of the participants joined the Minimalist Race and many are waiting for the Barefoot category to begin.
Excitedly cheering for the Minimalist runners, the rain poured heavily that made all the expectators as well as the photographers go up the stage area and cheer from afar. 21 minutes after the gunstart came the 1st runner to finish then followed by the rest. We waited for the final minimalist runner to come before the barefooters come to a gunstart. The rain turned down its shower and left the green pavement starting line wet and slippery. I studied alongside with the other runners how to deal with the slippery flooring. Others are worried about their feet getting wet, an additional difficulty because it might create blisters easily due to wet skin. As for me, based on my experience running under the heavy rain during the 35th Milo Marathon, that downpour made me happy because it’ll create a cool running environment which will allow me to hydrate less. Less hydration stops, shorter time run.
The race track is inside Philippine Army Parade Grounds Oval. Started and finished in front of the stage. One round is 1 kilometer so runners had to go 5 rounds to complete the 5K race. The rain created puddles along the route both on the asphalt and the tarmac flooring. The first 200 hundred meters from the starting line, personally is the easiest part. The asphalt is fine and flattened well. But once you started to turn to the tree-covered alley, a trail of crumbled and chipped off asphalt will start to challenge your feet. My strategy is run faster and remember the good looking pathways. At the end of that rough road there was a puddle, I made sure I pass that water to wash off the soil and bits of stones stuck on my feet so that when I run on the smooth path again its less painful. 50 meters before the loop cords I will have to deal with the slippery tarmac floor which slowed me, cautious not to tumble (and create a scene, hahaha).
Realization of the Fantasy
To have a fun filled experience, that’s my main goal registering and joining this event. Been fantasizing this activity for weeks already; How it feels like? Will it work for me? Will I do well? Will I do it again after this? These are just a few of the questions boggling my mind. But then again, I told myself You wouldn’t know unless you give it a shot.
Found myself chatting and laughing endlessly with Aileen, UP AnR Friend and the other runners about how to gracefully fall in case we slip so its still a picture perfect shot at the starting line. Moments later sir Jovie Narcise gave the instructions and the nature of the route, then the gunshot. I ran at my normal and comfortable speed. Saw myself overtaking runners in front who are stopping and walking. I focused on how to divert the pain I’m feeling on my sole into something productive that will generate great results. I didn’t stop running, I slowed down but I never stopped. Every time I get to the spot where I should get my loop cords, I feel alleviated from pain with friends cheering at the bleachers, my hubby Cris taking shots and my son Quillan screaming “Go Mommy!” at the top of his voice. The more I want run faster and finish it. With 2 hydration stops at the 1st loop and the 3rd I reached the finish line in 27 minutes and 30 seconds. Ranked 22nd overall the 66 barefoot runners and first among the women.
I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my family and friends who are there cheering and believing (right from the start) I can make it. I personally thank Wesley, my Team CB brother, for all the pre-race tips, thank you so much! To Lt. Col. Mike Logico, who paced me on the last loop, for all the helpful tips on barefoot running on the road thank you so much. Im looking forward for more tutorials from you sir. *salute*. To all my running friends who were there cheering, the UP AnR Heartbreakers, Hang Out Buddies, Team Boring, Snail Runners, the Powerpuff Boys, Ultrarunning friends, THANK YOU and of course my very own family Team KTT, my beloved boys, Cris and Quillan, this recognition is for you both. I love you!
I haven’t thought I’d see the day Bald Runner could lace up my neck with his event medal. I thought the only way he could put a medal, a finisher’s medal that is, around me is when I get to join one of his PAU Ultramarathons. Its such a sweet victory to have my very 1st medal on my very first BR event, bonus it was a Champion’s Medal. I will never forget this day. But Im still looking forward for my very first Ultramarathon finisher’s medal too. *wink. Congratulations and Thank you so much sir Jovie Narcise for organizing this event. Many appreciate this effort to promote barefoot running in our country. I look forward for more barefoot running events to come.
To see the participants’ ranking at the BR’s Barefoot 5K Run Click HERE