Born to Run

July 14, 2009

The ball of my foot hit the sand and propelled me forward.  The waves licked up on the mostly empty beach, taking ownership before it became crowded with leggy girls in tiny bikinis, men selling everything from Globo biscoitos,  to sunblock, and rings of teenage boys juggling soccer balls.  I took in the solitude, too, watching as my running form got more efficient.  I skipped through shallow tidal puddles, and let my breath fall in rhythm with the inhale and exhalations of the sea.

I hadn’t really run barefoot before last week, not since I was a little kid playing in our backyard, chasing whiffle balls through the grass, and I never had for any distance.  I just finished reading Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, where he tracks his own transformation from often-injured rec runner to ultramarathoner, explaining about Copper Canyon’s Tarahumara Indians.  I was totally captivated by the idea of running barefoot, what it could do to my form, my speed, my endurance.

On Friday morning (and again Saturday and yesterday) I strolled the three blocks to the beach in my Havianas, kicked them off when I got to the sand.  I began running and I hate to sound cliche, or lame, or like I’m bragging, because I am 1000% aware of how amazingly, incredibly lucky I am, but I went for one of the best runs of my life, along the water’s edge, the length of Ipanema, with the sun on my face and the wind to my back, barefoot and fancy free.

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