I was about to take the barefoot running concept to its next logical step.
I was staying at the Jolly Roger which is probably 6 or 7 blocks from the beach. I decided to go out without my shoes. I would bicycle down to the beach, lock up the bike and barefoot it out on the sand.
It felt really strange to be out in public without shoes. I kept imagining what would happen if I crashed, if I had to come to a sudden stop. My mind raced with visions of torn up feet, scrapped and stubbed toes.
I was so vulnerable with my unshod peds.
The ground looked even more toxic and polluted than normal.
It was fascinating how something that would seem so natural would feel so otherworldly.
Shoe Specific Pedals
I hadn't thought about how my feet would feel on the pedals that were designed to be used with shoes with clips.
It hurt and took away much of the already little control I had with my feet. If I were to ever take up barefoot cycling which I don't anticipate, I will have to find a pedal alternative.
Once I hit the sand, I remembered how much I loved running on the beach and what a good workout the deep sand gives you.
I was digging in and getting nowhere.
It didn't take long for my back to start aching a bit, the way it would after jogging on the streets for a while with running shoes on.
Then it occurred to me that the sand was allowing me to go back to a heel-strike sand and even with the deep cushion of sand, I was feeling the jolting from landing on my heel rather than on the middle of my foot.
I leaned forward, quickened my step and adjusted my footfall, and just like that the pain in my back subsided.
It was interesting and it seemed to be the difference between the plodding march of a camel with wide, snowshoe-like feet and the light and nimble stride and cadence of fox.
Coming Out of the Closet
I first started running semi-regularly over 25 years ago on this same strip of beach. Back then I was working up from 25 minutes of non-stop running to 30 minutes and then 45 and on rare occasions I would push beyond an hour. I would leave from the Venice Pier and would aim towards the Santa Monica Pier.
Back then the Santa Monica pier looked so far away, today it seemed much closer. I had intended to only go out for around 30 minutes..
I ended up being out for over an hour and was hardly tired.
Before I used to wonder if I would make it to the SM pier, now it wasn't a question.
I still don't think of myself as a runner, but having done almost 10 marathons and countless 5ks and 10ks with all sorts of obstacle courses and mud-runs in between, I suppose I am a runner.
I think about running often enough, I read books and magazines about running. I travel across the country to participate in events.