Time: 1:45pm (I know I'm late again. Sorry.)
Place: Newport Peninsula
Distance: 4.25 miles
The summer heat has really steamed up around here with temps in the 90s and humidity reaching 60%. To abate the heat I headed out to the beach again for our virtual training run #5. This time, I drove down to Newport Peninsula, bracing myself for its notorious tourist crowds.
It seems as though a lot of kids are back in school this week. Newport wasn't so crowded, and I easily found a parking spot on the beach side, no less. With my car just steps from the sand, I took my shirt and my shoes off and left them in the car. Don't you get any funny ideas there–I still kept my shorts on though. Black's Beach, this is not.
Running barefoot somewhat interests me. Proponents claim that because the feet don't have the cushioning that running shoes provide, the runner becomes more aware of each stride and the way their feet land on the ground. The result is that one runs naturally, and it is associated with lower prevalence of acute and chronic injuries of the ankle and lower leg.
I started out on the strand by 28th street heading towards Newport Harbor Pier about a quarter mile down. The wet packed sand tickled my soles. Ahh, what a sensation. My feet and toes felt free from the confines of my socks and shoes. With every step, my little piggies stretched out digging themselves into the sand. Immediately I noticed that I was landing on my heel, so I adjusted that and concentrated on landing either mid or forefoot. This part of the beach is the most crowded because of its proximity to the parking lot and the numerous concessionaires. I had to go around kids oblivious to the world around them as they screamed in delight at the crashing waves. I crossed under the pier and set my eyes on the next landmark, the Balboa Pier about a mile and a quarter down the beach. The crowd thins out, and there was less dodging and weaving around kids and their parents. I stayed close to the water, sometimes running through it as the surf rushed up to the sand. I hardly paid attention to my pace as sunbathers, body surfers, skim boarders, sand castle builders, and flirtatious lovers kept me distracted. Before I knew it, I had arrived at the next pier. Crossing underneath it, I turned around and headed back the direction from where I came.
I've done this run before a while back, but it seems so much easier this time. Perhaps I'm in better shape now. Or maybe because I had shoes on previously, so had to stay in the drier but deeper sand. It didn't take me long, and I was back where I started. I thought about jumping in the water, but since this is a work day, decided that maybe I should go back and do some work.
Now I don't think I'll convert to barefoot running like this guy I saw at the Mt. D race, but I can definitely see its merits. While running, I became more conscious of where I stepped and how my feet landed. The soft sand underneath provided a therapeutic effect akin to someone massaging my feet with every step. The stretch that my toes received throughout the run was not something that I can get with my shoes on even with toe socks. I imagine that running without the comfort of the insoles underneath would somehow build up the skin on my soles and help prevent blisters.
So, I wonder how the rest of my VR buddies did today. At last count, we have participants in three continents now. I look forward to reading your recaps as you post them.
Reports from other Virtual Running Buddies: