Location: near Nampa, Idaho; starting and ending at the Ste. Chapelle Winery
Date and time of evaluation run: Saturday, March 1, 2014, from about 11 AM to noon
Weather during my run: 44°F; steady, light rain; icy wind picked up about half way through.
Traffic: minimal and polite (click on any photo to enlarge)
Dogs: one large aggressive dog loose on NW corner of Chicken Dinner Road Lowell Road; owner present and apologetic, but not in control
Running surface: (distances estimated using Google Earth measuring; total course distance according to my Garmin watch was 6.0 miles)
- Extremely sharp and rough asphalt- 2.58 miles total, longest 2 mile section in first half of course. Chicken Dinner Road and Symms Road were by far the sharpest sections.
- Dirt/mud with some loose gravel – approximately .64 miles through orchards
- Moderate asphalt, lightly cobbled – 2.78 miles. Lowell Road and Riverside Road (named by a visionary who saw a river where there was none?) were the smoothest roads.
Elevation changes: three fairly steep uphill sections, one challenging and one moderate downhill sections
- first up hill, about ¼ mile into the race; hill almost ⅓ mile long
- rather steep, maybe ¼ mile down hill a short while after this.
- second up hill, toward the end of the 2nd mile, probably about ⅛ mile long
- third hill, near mile 5, on Lowell Road, also about ⅛ mile long
- last significant downhill part is near the end of the race on the dirt and gravel orchard road
Now for the narrative:
Not knowing if we could park at the winery for this trial run, my husband chose a spot close to the mile 4 mark of the course, where there was a wide spot on the side of the road. Thus, for this evaluation barefoot run, we ran the course somewhat flip-flopped. This was right before the last large hill on the course, so there was at least that similarity to the beginning of the race course. (see map of Shamrock Shuffle 10K course here) The course is somewhat different from when I ran it last year (but in my Moc3’s). I particularly liked the new section through the orchards.
As for running it barefoot, I was able to complete the whole course completely skin to ground, but the 2.58 miles of sharp asphalt were quite challenging. I worked on my form, and went through phases of it being easier and harder and back and forth. I had my Luna sandals in a plastic grocery bag, tied and cinched up to my hip bag belt. My speed on these parts was about 2 minutes per mile slower than a comfortable aerobic pace on the smoother asphalt. Even with the challenge of this asphalt, it felt good to be barefoot. It took me somewhat over an hour for the whole course, but we stopped for some picture taking.
My feet were never uncomfortably cold, and after the first mile they were not even noticeably cold. This despite the very wet pavement, frequent puddles, and mud, including cutting a corner through a muddy field to steer clear of the dog while my husband distracted it.
My upper body was fine until I came to the top of the second hill, on Symms Road. There the icy wind blasted me and my fingers lost feeling since I hadn’t thought to bring gloves. The wind continued to harass me for the rest of the run, but my husband gave me a turn with his gloves.
Right after the run, everything felt normal. However, a few minutes into the car ride home, the soles of my feet began to feel prickly warm. I looked, but couldn’t see any signs of blisters, cuts, or bruises. Elevating them onto the dashboard made the feeling much less intense. I wondered if they had been more chilled than I knew and were warming up, although elevating them shouldn’t change that reaction.
Three hours later at home, after lunch and a hot shower, the feeling has subsided some and is only on the balls of my feet. There is still no sign of injury, except they seem slightly swollen according to both sight and touch. Since it is already getting better, and not getting worse, I am hopeful that the stress will work toward conditioning them to rough surfaces. But I will add an addendum to this report in two days.
It looks like I should be able to run the Shamrock Shuffle 10K completely barefoot in two weeks, but hopefully in better weather! I can also see that I need to spend more time (and distance) on rougher surfaces if I want to more comfortably run some of these races out on country chip sealed roads. I would only recommend trying to run this course barefoot if you are a runner who has spent considerable time conditioning the soles on rough surfaces and for comparable distances.
Addendum Tuesday: My feet are still a bit sensitive, but no signs of deep blisters. I am thinking about a barefoot run on smoother pavement today.