It was another super busy week and weekend for us…again. I think major news for us will actually be a week or weekend when I can blog and say that nothing in particular happened at all. I’m not sure if or when that will ever happen but I’ll be ready to blog about it if it does! 🙂
We had the Relay for Life 5k in Columbia on April 30, which is my hometown and a big reason we have run in it the last 2 years. We also had a huge day on Wednesday of last week when we had the rare opportunity of meeting and running with Chris McDougall, author of “Born To Run” , ultra-marathoner, Scott Jurek and Chris’s trainer, Eric Orton. I also had the honor last week of being featured on anothermotherrunner.com as their “Follow This Mother!”. Talk about my head spinning!!
Here’s a recap of our meeting with The Naked Tour 2011 folks.
When I say naked, please note: naked feet or minimalist shoes. 🙂 Recently, my brother, John Wesley and his wife, Jennifer have gotten interested in walking/running and since they were having some problems with really bad shin pains, they decided to try the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. While they were at Sacks Outdoors, one of the workers told my brother about the “Born To Run” book and that the authors were coming down for a group run, book signing and to talk about the inspiration behind the book. After reading the book and finding that his shin pain was subsiding from wearing the Vibrams, he was really looking forward to getting a chance to meet them. He mentioned it to me and even though I had heard of Chris McDougall, I have to admit I hadn’t read his book yet…but as a fellow Vibram owner, I was interested. My brother read the entire book in about a day and then eagerly filled me in on the story during a run/walk we took one evening. The story is amazing. (I won’t ruin it for you here, just in case you’d like to read it yourself.) Even after only hearing the condensed version, I was about as eager to meet these runners as my brother was. I told my husband about it and he agreed it would be great to get a chance to run with these guys and hear what they had to say.
When Wednesday came, there was some doubt about whether we’d get to go or not. That was the day that all the severe weather was moving across our state and Alabama. (My prayers go out to all those people that have been affected because of the tornadoes. Please find a way to donate and help them if you possibly can!!) We were very fortunate that day and didn’t get the really bad weather but because it was very threatening outside, we were waiting until nearly the last minute before we made a decision about heading over to Hattiesburg. Jason’s mom had said that the little ones could come and stay with her if we decided to go so, in our usual running late fashion, Jason decided he’d take them over and let me get a head start. We both wanted to run if possible but figured if we rode together, we might miss out completely. (I was very appreciative that Jason was so sweet to offer for me to go on ahead, even though I would have gladly taken the kids.) My brother had gotten there really early and had been texting me before I’d left, urging me to get there as soon as I could. When I arrived, a fairly large crowd had already gathered in the parking lot and I had to make a grand entrance (unfortunately!) by driving through them. As I parked and started gathering my things up, my brother had found Chris and was chatting with him. Suddenly, Chris started saying, “C’mon Gina, get moving! You’re holding us up!”, jokingly of course. I guess that’s what I get for being late, lol. When I got out of my car, he came right over and spoke to me. Chris came across as a genuinely friendly guy that’s full of life. I told him that I have a running blog and he asked would I write about them? Well, you know the answer to that! 🙂
We all walked over and joined an excited crowd of runners…some with their tennis shoes on, some toe shoes and other barefooted as the day they were born. The 3 guys introduced themselves and then opened up the floor for questions before we ran. Secretly, I was hoping that there were going to be lots of questions to give Jason some extra time to get there. Finally, the questions had ended, the race course explained and Jason was still no where in sight. I felt terrible because I knew how badly he’d wanted to run too. I left instructions with my brother to tell him where the run was going to end, still hoping that somehow he’d show up and then took off, trying my best to keep up with the crowd. I’m sure that nearly everyone there was running at a “comfortable” pace and were enjoying the “relaxing” group run. I, however, felt like I had never run a step in my entire life. Was I the only person there that was about to die from a lack of oxygen??? It was also one of the more humid days, most likely because of the bad weather in the area. Oh, and we went up a
giant hill first thing. That was just great. Immediately I was thinking this run wasn’t one of my smartest decisions I’ve ever made. As we sprinted ran along the streets, I saw Jason pulled over on the side of the street up ahead. He was waiting to get a shot of us coming through. (He took pictures of me, by the way, but as the author of this blog, I decided not to include said embarrassing picture, lol.) I made a quick decision. As soon as I was right in front of him, I ran across the street to him. Looking a little confused, he asked what was going on. I told him, “It’s your turn, I’m done. They’re all too fast for me anyway!” 🙂 He gave it quick thought, handed me the camera and took off to catch up with them. I knew he had a better chance of having an enjoyable run than I would have anyway, plus, I really felt bad that he had almost missed the whole thing. Happy that I’d had a chance to participate for even just a little ways, I drove back over to where the run would be ending and waited to take pictures of them.
During Jason’s half of the run, he was able to run with Chris and visit with him and then ran with Scott and talked to him too. They were all so friendly and extremely interested in what everyone had to say. They made sure that they ran with each group, what ever their pace was, and chatted with them and answered questions. After the run was over, everyone gathered outside for a few minutes to have a snack and some water while Chris and Scott signed a few autographs and talked to the media that was there.
We then went inside and each of them spoke to us and answered questions. Each person had something different to bring to the discussion and I learned a lot of stuff I never knew. I learned that we are the only animal that is built to run for really long distances because we sweat. Our bodies can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. I also learned that while guys are better at sprinting, women are better at endurance running. In fact, the longer the distances, the stronger most said they felt. (I have to say that I’ve expressed the same feeling when I was doing my half marathon training!) Go Ladies!! 🙂
I learned that Scott Jurek is a freak of nature – in a good way, of course!! Actually, it was absolutely amazing to hear him speak about running ultra-marathons. He said he has to set an alarm on his watch so he’ll remember to hydrate every 20 mins or so when he’s running in places like Death Valley…..DEATH ? He also talked about running for 24 hours on a 0.7 mile loop (And setting the American record, by the way: 165.7 miles!) ….if you know me, that would be an absolute nightmare to run that loop even for an hour!!! He comes across as an extremely humble, peaceful, nice guy. It was great getting a chance to meet him.
Chris McDougall has a very fun, free spirit about him and that’s what he wants running to be for us again. He doesn’t want running to be something that we dread or hurts us, which is what was happening to him several years ago until he began training with Eric Orton. He stresses that we weren’t born broken, we were born runners and that sometimes it’s the shoes we’re wearing that are doing more damage than good.
At the end of the night, they had a huge door prize giveaway. One of the first winners of a pair of Vibram Five Fingers was – Jason!! I won a pair of Injinji toe socks – woohoo!! (Jason declined a picture or else I’d insert a pic here. :))
All in all, it was an evening filled with fun, learning and meeting new friends. I don’t really have a final verdict on the whole barefoot running thing just yet. I wear my toe shoes some and have even run in them a little bit. Those suckers have certainly made me sore in places on my feet that I didn’t realize could be sore but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. You’ve probably noticed the shoes I run in. They are pretty much the furthest thing from “minimalist” as you can get. I’ve decided that this summer, when race season is over, I might try to run a little more in my Vibrams. I might decide I love it and never go back or I might decide they’re great for hanging around the house in and that’s it. When it comes to running, there is so much I don’t know yet but I’m learning everyday. I don’t want to miss out on something that could make my running even more fun and efficient (*faster*) if it’s out there. I will say that I don’t foresee a time when I’ll be ripping my shoes and socks off and running with nothing between my sweet feet and the asphalt but air….but I’ll never say never. A little over fifteen months ago, I wasn’t a runner…. 🙂