“The party has arrived!”

I announced in the doorway of Off’n Running. I like to think the store employees are always happy when I show up, looking forward to a few tens of minutes of wit, profundity, and inanity. They gathered round with that familiar look of expectation. What odd string of words and notions are going to leap forth from that scraggly bearded mouth today?

“Shorts,” I proclaimed, slapping down my reward for a mile well run (it was a gift certificate for the fastest 70+ woman) on the counter. “We have shorts!” They said triumphantly and eerily unison. Then they asked, “what are you looking for?”

Was that a hint of uncertainty I detected? Using my barefoot running induced telepathic powers, I read their minds. Writ large across their cerebral periodicals was the concern, “What kind of short was this shoephobe going to ask for? If barefoot runners run in barefoot shoes, will he want bare-assed shorts? Would he *gasp!* model them in the store? In public?”

I decided to put them at ease pronto and replied in the most down-to-business tone I could muster, “I want shorts that will make me faster.”

I heard a guffaw from the office. Apparently some people still misguidedly believe that speed is attained through hard work and determination, not apparel and trinkets. Outfitter extraordinaire Emily knew better. Her eyes lit up as if to say Got him! I will sell him something conventional! “How short do you want to go?”

My usual aura of strong, masculine confidence wavered, flickered, then dimmed from a shimmering blue to a dull pink. I’m a modest fellow, my shortest of shorts ending just above the knees. Putting on a mask of confidence (+2 against fire elementals) and focusing on my aspirations of speediness, I responded “what’s the shortest you’ve got?”

She showed me a pair that was the running equivalent of a split mini-skirt. “Uh, won’t they see my butt?”

“Of course not – you’ll be too fast.”

“Um, right, but, before the race, and after…”

“Baby steps, Emily. Baby steps,” advised Jason as he pulled a pair of what must have been sheer granny panties of the rack. “How about these?”

Something about Jason’s cheshire grin told me those “shorts” weren’t actually for sale, but rather an oddity from his own collection.

“Right. Lets go one size slower,” said Emily, pulling a small piece of polyester from a hanger.

“That’s for grown-ups?”

“Yup.” She handed the dainties to me and pointed to the fitting room. I took them, gingerly (as one is wont to do in these circumstances), and proceeded to the bathroom.

“Uh, hey, Josh, we have fitting rooms.”

“Right.”

I then walked from the bathroom to the fitting room. Were they the first steps of a new life? Or would this be like the beginning of my Freshman year in acty singy college when I thought spandex was appropriate fashion for the classroom?

Continue to part 2 of this 48 part series…

Clearing up a thing or two from the PM in the Park

The relentlessly funny David Roche asked about barefooting on steep downhills, saying that might be a good time to utilize the heels and overstride. My reply was that I just don’t overstride. After paying specific attention to where/how my feet land on steep hills around the nabe, it turns out that’s not true: I do overstride a bit, but I just point my foot a little more. I land on all the usual places.

Second, I also suggested that I might have been faster with a little footwear due to the annoyingly rough surface of the first fifth mile. But wait, let’s look at that graph again:

Not only was that my fastest fifth of the race, but for most of it I was at or under a five minute pace. Maybe a shoe would have left me fresher for the rest of the distance, but even I have a hard time playing that devil’s advocate (even I? Yes! Even I!). So I guess the upshot is if I wear a shoe because of rough terrain, it’s not for improved performance. It’s because I’m a whiny baby.

Last, I think I could have gone faster. That makes three things.

That is all, carry on.