Reflections on a run too far.

I blame it on the shoes.

My new Vibram FiveFingers (the virtues of which I have extolled here) took over. It was only my second run with the shoes, but a combination of temperatures in the upper 80s, the general hotness of my fellow runners, the crowds in Prospect Park, and Kylie Minogue’s new CD Aphrodite conspired to take me over and almost run me into the ground.

Stretching before the run revealed that my back was particularly tight and sore today. But by the time I had run five or six blocks, I noticed, as I had on my last run with the FiveFingers, the pain went away. Soon, the burning in my lungs, which I blame on the fact that I only seem to go running once a month, also subsided, and the euphoria kicked in.

I’ve frequently experienced the “runner’s high” of endorphins, but for some reason, what I experience running barefoot is more intense than that, more ecstatic, a feeling I don’t feel much off of the dance floor when a really good DJ takes over and spins the crowd into a frenzy.

So as I make the turn off of Eastern Parkway and into Prospect Park, I’m grinning like a crazy person, mouthing along to Kylie, and loving everyone I see playing on the green, running, walking, biking–everyone. Late afternoon light covers the main road through the park in sun-dappled shade, a slight breeze takes the edge off the heat. The shoes want me to run, the heel-toe slap-slap more primal than the tippy-toe running I do in expensive shoes.

I have to be careful in these shoes. I get this giddy, kid running just for the joy of running feeling, and I catch myself speeding up, caught in the exuberance of the feeling. Then, I quickly exhaust myself and have to walk for a little while. It happened a few times, and soon I was near the bottom of the park, but not nearly half way around, and knew I would not be able to finish the run. I had planned on a half hour run, 10-minutes longer than my last run, but here I was a half hour out already. So I found a trail that cut back toward home on a shorter route than the long roundabout of the main road the runs through the part. Thank you, iPhone! What would I do without you?

Grand Army Plaza at sunset.

Some highlights: yellow paddleboats on Prospect Park lake, slowly maneuvering among the ducks. The shirtless, tanned, muscled back of another runner in FiveFingers I tried unsuccessfully to pace. The sunlight illuminating millions of tiny insects buzzing around over the fields of the park as I rounded toward Grand Army Plaza. And Grand Army Plaza itself, that grand arch that towers majestically over the fountain, dominating my view as I exit the park and turn toward the grand, gold-plated doors of the Egyptian-themed facade of the Brooklyn Public Library. What an amazing city I live in!

As I walked down Classon Ave toward home, cooling down, I started composing this blog in my head.

Even after all that running, my feet feel good, except for a chafed point on the inside of my left foot, near the toes, and a bit of rubbing on my right heel that didn’t start until I was near home. My right kneecap started to get sore on the left side toward the end of the run. My right foot is the one that turns out naturally much further than the left, and I’m hoping barefoot running begins to correct that.

And I feel fantastic! A little tired, a bit dehydrated, but energetic and alert, wishing my day was starting instead of nearly over.

For a map of my run, click here.

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