Sunday, October 9, 2011

Honestly, Who Loses a Shoe?

In August (2011) my training partners and I had worked a 5K trail run into our schedule.  It was a first for many of us and seemed like a fun idea to spice up our weekend run.  The race was held at Oleta State Park, on the mountain bike trails.  The trails vary in terrain and incline/decline, but certainly a pair or trail runners with some toe protection would have been ideal.  Not owning any trail shoes I chose to rock my Brooks ST4 Racers (rest in peace foot soldiers).

While not constructed for this type of running my Brooks helped me off to a strong start. I was holding my own and hoping for a strong showing in my first venture into trail racing.  About 3/4 mile into the course I approached a water crossing with a group of fellow racers (since it was a singletrack trail there wasn't much room to pass and runners were traveling in single-file bunches).  As we surveyed the crossing we failed to notice the mangrove roots which we could have used to traverse the water.  Instead, one by one, we lunged across.

When it was my turn, I jumped across, only, I didn't quite make itMy left foot reached the other side, but my right foot entered the water and the soft muddy, mucky, sand below. As I lifted my foot out of the water I was surprised to see only a sock where my right shoe had been. My elastic triathlon laces had done me in!  I began digging around in the bog and was soon helped out by three other racers (in the camaraderie of the event they cared more about helping a fellow runner than their own race time).  I spent a solid 10-15 minutes looking for my shoe only to come up "empty-footed."  The jump landing must have resulted in my shoe going deep below the apparent bottom and the sand seemed to have eaten the shoe off my foot. It was nowhere to be seen and I had also cut my hand searching for it.  Time to cut my loses.

My orphaned left shoe; trophy for the "Shoe Award" (yeah, the name needs work) which goes to a triathlete who helps a friend in need.
I hobbled my way out of the wilderness with a shoe on my left foot and a sock on my right. Upon reaching the start/finish line I waited for the rest of my comrades to come through. The first to come through was Gerardo who didn't realize that the 10K was actually two loops and thought he was finished for the day.  He wondered how I got to the finish so quickly, and why did I only have one shoe.  I told him my story and since he happened to wear the same exact shoes, he immediately asked, "what's your size?"  As odds would have it, he too wore a size 9.  He offered his right shoe and, not wanting my morning to be a total waste, I put it on (tightly) and prepared to run.

As some more members of my training group emerged from the woods to begin their second loop I joined in for the second 5K of their 10K race.  The race was a blast and I'm glad I had the chance to get back in there and run.  When I finished, Gerardo, who now fully understood that he didn't complete the full distance, politely asked for his shoe back so he could run the second loop. 

Shoe Mileage Tally:
Andrew's Left Shoe: 3.85 miles
Andrew's Right Shoe: .75 miles
Gerardo's Left Shoe: 6.2 miles
Gerardo's Right Shoe: 9.3 miles

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the race promoters, Down2Earth.  When the head of the event (Marlon) heard about my story he hooked me up with a $15 gift card to Road ID, which in a small way helped offset the pain of losing a shoe.  I'm definitely looking forward to my next trail race.

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