The other weekend I ran a half-marathon around Lake Suwa (21k). I wasn't aware that marathons came in halves or wholes until about a week before the race. Somebody told me. If there are categories that separate 'runners' and 'people who sometimes run and other times eat frosting from the can', you can probably figure out which one I belong to. My time wasn't great, but I finished six minutes under the time limit; something I hear about the lower third couldn't make. So, yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm proud of my comrades and of the people who didn't finish on time, too. Everyone really challenged themselves. Pictured below is 'team underdog'. We're enjoying some wine and a hearty pipe in the parking lot post-race. If our story were to be turned into a movie, the caption would probably read, 'the team that nobody expected to win, and didn't'. ♥
I can't think of any reason as to why I started running. Even less rationale behind why I started running without shoes. For most of the race I used a pair of five-finger shoes, but eventually even those had to come off. My toenails were long as shit and jamming themselves into their respective toe capsules, and my feet were begging for the pavement. People didn't stare as much as usual, which I contribute to their utter lack of energy near the end of the race. On the flip side, all of the village people who see me running around barefoot always want to stop me and have a chat about it. "Do you know you're barefoot?" "Do your feet hurt?" "Are you poor or crazy?" Recently I was going break speed down a sunlit hill in the Nagano countryside when Cat Stevens shuffled onto my mp3 player. He was singing something nice about peace and love or pot or bunny rabbits. I don't remember exactly what but it was pulsing through me as I flew forward. I could feel the rocks and damp grass under my feet. That's as close to understanding the 'why' of it as I've come. There have certainly been benefits to running barefoot; I have developed arches in my exceptionally flat feet and they don't pronate anymore. That means less foot pain and less trouble with my knees. That's not why I started running without shoes, though, and it isn't why I continue to do so. There is no 'why'.