August 01, 2007

Sock It To Me

All the fast triathlon racers seem to run with no socks on. They make it look so comfortable and easy and cool. I want to be able to run without socks too. I want to be cool.

After much practice, I've not only conquered the sockless cycling, but I am now able to mount and dismount the bike barefoot, with my shoes still attached to the pedals. I almost look like I know what I'm doing. Heaven forbid, but I almost look cool while I'm doing it.

The truth of the matter is that if I didn't have to take the time to put socks on my feet in transition, my T2 time would be a helluva lot faster than the lollygagging it has turned into, and my new and improved finishing time may even move me up from the 50th percentile to something like the 49th or - dare I say - 48th percentile. One tiny step away from the middle-of-the-pack, one giant leap for coolness.

The last time I tried running with no socks on it got really ugly. This was in April, right before St. Anthony's. After 1.8 miles of this sockless galavanting, the inside of my left ankle was rubbed raw. Not one to succomb to pain so easily, and arguably a little bit mentally retarded, I kept running. Maybe I thought it would miraculously get better - maybe I watched too many episodes of Heroes. By 2 miles, I had such intolerable pain that I had to remove my blood soaked shoe and limp the rest of the way home, barefoot.

"Cool" suffered a lonely, pathetic demise that day.

Thanks to that idiotic attempt, I wasn't able to run at all (even with the socks on) for one week much less be able to wear any shoes besides sandals. One would think I learned my lesson.

You are probably saying to yourself right about now something along the lines of, who cares if you wear socks or not. Just put on the damn socks like the rest of us and shut your yapper.

First of all, thanks for your support. No, really, I appreciate it. (Jerk.)
Secondly, running sockless has become increasingly important in my life. You see, I've got this crazy SOS race coming up in 6 weeks. And since I have to swim with my shoes and then run in wet shoes and repeat all that a few times over, it somewhat precludes the wearing of socks. There are few things more frustrating than a pair of wet socks bunching up on your feet while you try and run 18 miles on hilly trails. You see what I mean, doubter?

So I've got 6 weeks to figure out how to run sockless.

Understanding that the sock-free running in the Asics will send me to the emergency room, I decided to come up with a new plan. As always, new plans involve spending more money. So I decided to buy a new pair of shoes.

I really needed to find something that would dry quickly, has enough support for long distance running and won't rub my ankles to bloody oblivion. As you can imagine, the options are quite limited, but I finally settled on the Solomon Karma's. Mostly because that was my only choice. The shoe is all mesh, so it's gotta dry quickly. And there's very little material by the ankle, so not much for me to rub on.

More importantly, they look cool.
Wonderful, I'll take 'em.

Tonight was the time where I decided to take the new shoes out for a test run. I jumped in my car and drove up to the local trailhead. I slipped my naked feet into the Solomon shoes, shook the legs out a tad and, with more than a few nerves leading the way, I started heading up the trail to the top.

I begin the run going slowly in hopes of warding off any pain. I knew there would be pain. It was inevitable. There is always pain. After one mile, though, all felt surprisingly good. A couple of miles later I noticed that I had picked up the pace faster and faster. I was screaming up the mountain. No pain, no discomfort, no uncontrollable hemorrhaging.

In what seemed like a flash, I reached the top of the hill with loose and relaxed legs. My feet felt fine. Scratch that, my feet felt great. It was like I was running barefoot - sauntering through the grassy fields of lilies. Only this was a rocky dirt trail and I was wearing running shoes. Otherwise, it was exactly like the lilies image.

But recognizing I was only halfway through my run, I turned around and started running the 4 miles back to the car. Surely my legs would start hurting coming downhill. Surely this would prove that sockless running isn't for me.

But alas, my legs kept moving faster and faster. The sun was setting and the wind was blowing through my hair. I felt just like I was in an Irish Spring commercial. I wanted to sing. Maybe even do a jig.

I finished the run with a smile on my face and no pain in my legs. I removed my feet from the shoes and examined closely. I strained my eyes for blood, blisters and pre-pain destruction. There was nothing.

8 miles of trail running with no socks. It worked. I am ecstatic.
And best of all, I am one step closer to cool.


TriTurtL said...

You figured out how to clip in with the shoes already on the bike? And now sockless? You're not just one step, but definitely TWO steps closer to cool! Keep up the success stories!

hak said...

Very cool. After my last race, I decided that I'm long overdue to go sans socks. I have a slightly longer period to build up my feet...but I don't have those cool shoes.


No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Oh my gosh! There IS a God!

I still can't fathom swimming all that way in running shoes, but I'll bite my tongue and wait to read about it before I believe it.

You're so cool, J.!

Robin said...

Wow, you are several steps above me on the coolness ladder (I never figured out the shoes-on-bike thing either). The new shoes look great, glad you found a solution (though I still really don't get how you swim with shoes on!)