Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Barefoot Publicity

Yesterday, the Orlando Sentinel ran an article on barefoot running. Thanks to the Wall Street Journal article, writer Lisa Roberts took the initiative to track me down and do the story:

Runners with real sole

Quite flattering, with several pictures shot by Kristyan!

The opening paragraph:

"The shoe fits, but Brett Williams decided not to wear it. After his new running shoes caused sore knees, this 29-year-old Salt Lake City man went au naturel. In June, he ran barefoot in his first marathon. His feat, if you will, created national buzz when a photo of his road-blackened soles appeared in the Wall Street Journal."


Monday, July 24, 2006

Third Time - A Charm?

Today, I finished my third barefoot marathon - my slowest yet, but certainly not without value! The fact that I have covered another "26.2" with my soles bared is satisfying.

The first problem surfaced at the halfway point (Mile 13), when my sides started to ache. Breathing deeply and deliberately through my nose, I thought for sure it would resolve the problem. Or was it water? I had never faced this kind of issue in such a long race.

Fortunately, I ran (walked, actually) into a fellow racer who said that sideaches are often caused by a buildup of CO2 in the deeper lungs and diaphragm. In this case, he was right!

The course is largely downhill with a brutalizing net vertical loss of over 3,500 feet. Despite my relatively gentle stride, the impact began to take its toll, with knees and hips protesting in pain, calves and quads on fire.

Then, when we finally got out of Emigration canyon, by feet were treated to five miles of rough asphalt. The pain in my muscles and joints made it more difficult to maintain proper form, so it was even more punishing on my feet. Did I mention that the temperature was climbing towards 100, as well?

Yes, this had turned into a masochistic self-torturefest, a test of endurance and perseverance. An old friend, unlike most, identified immediately with my barefoot running antics:

"I used to put a metal bucket on my head and bang on it with a spoon. The best part was stopping."

So it goes with marathons: the depths to which you descend make the everyday seem heavenly - or, to paraphrase ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes:

"Sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven."

Ultimately, I finished in a dismal 6:02 - but I finished, barefoot. I think I'll ease up on the mileage, "starting over," so to speak, to rebuild my running.

You'll just have to try it yourself to understand...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Long time, no blog!

The past three months have been very eventful!

In one month's time, I ran my first four official barefoot races:

- May 29th: Bolder Boulder 10K
- June 3rd: Salt Lake City Marathon
- June 10th: Teton Dam Marathon
- June 23rd-24th: Wasatch Back Relay

Right after the SLC race, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about barefoot running in which I am pictured quoted. What luck!

The "Dam Marathon" was 26.2 miles of rough country roads, topped off by the in-town rounds on winter's remnants of crushed lava rock!

My little sister-in-law, Kristyan, has taken it up; we even went on a jaunt yesterday "around the block" near her home.

While it may sound overstated, my life has been forever changed by barefoot running!

It is amazing when you discover and practice such a true-to-life form of exercise. Not only does it benefit you physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Deeply held beliefs are validated and reinforced as you literally inculcate them into your soul.

People tell me that I've lost my shoes; I tell them that I've found them. :)


Monday, April 10, 2006

Milestone IX

"IX" as in "9," milestone in the literal sense: I'm just cooling down from my longest barefoot run of nine miles!

In the same breath, I affirm my skepticism of this so-called "achievement," as I am not certain that I have necessarily become better as a result of running farther.

External goals for goals' sake seem foolish in this light; so often, we obsess with how fast or how far we run (or how much we have or do), losing sight of how we run (in essence, who we are).

We buy expensive shoes, straps, and braces to compensate for how we run (not to mention all the external solutions to life's inner problems), then spend more on big-ticket watches, heart rate monitors, and the like (more of the same) to give us external affirmation of how good we are - or think we are - "doing." But how are you being? Shorter still, how are you?

Questions asked and answered with every barefoot stride... I love it!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Raindrops are fallin' on my head

Five miles yesterday in the wet; a painful portion on harsh chipseal asphalt. I am amazed at the "true-to-life" quality of barefoot running: vulnerable, mindful, dependent upon addressing the heart of the matter (i.e. running form) rather than seeking to impose external "solutions" (in this case, wearing shoes!).

My feet were on fire after the run; the cool and wet seem to distract the senses of the soles - but splashing through the puddles was a playful plus! My soles are still sensitive this morning, but there is no sign of blistering or abrasion; just the reminder of the intense and prolonged overstimulation of bed-of-nails, chipseal running.

Barefooting makes you acknowledge your limits rather than pushing unwisely and unfeelingly through them. This promotes patience, strength, and growth over the long haul. I like it!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Only the beginning...

Tonight, I went for a seven-mile jaunt, barefoot, on concrete and asphalt. Not bad, considering I started barefooting just a few months ago.