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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
NYC Barefoot Run and Merrell Barefoot Jam Report, Part 1
Most. Epic. Weekend. Ever!
Citizens, I had a supersonic blast at the NYC Barefoot Run last weekend. It was a weekend of great barefoot times, good running, fantastic people....and shenanigans. Lots of shenanigans. I can't tell you all of it at the risk of not being invited back. But here are the highlights.
My NYC weekend started on Friday the 23rd, when took the day off of work to fly in to Newark, New Jersey on a late flight. I got ready for the event in my traditional way...by getting into character.
I realized that I hadn't washed this costume since the last time I wore it for a 5K costume run last year. So it made me look and smell pretty epic. Oh well, I wasn't going to be wearing it on the plane or anything. That's the sort of thing that gets you into one of those back rooms with a TSA officer with cold hands and rubber gloves. Or on the Terrorist Watch List.
I took off from MSP airport at around 8:15 p.m. in the smallest aircraft capable of flight. It was three seats across. They didn't have stewardess call buttons, because all you had to do was talk in a normal voice to get her attention. I referred to it as "the flying sardine can".
I already don't fit on planes really well. On this one I had to stick my legs completely into the aisle. Both because I could practically give the person in the seat in front of me a shave, and because my seat partner was a very nice, but very large black woman who said, "Mmmmm hum!" a lot. At least it was only a 3 hour flight.
I landed in Newark at around 10:30 p.m. and took an airport van to our hotel: the ACE Hotel in Manhatten. Now after this trip I've only experienced a grand total of 30 minutes of New York/New Jersey driving. But I think it's fair to say that everyone drives like assholes there. I tried not to watch the carnage, but I'm fairly sure we almost died at least 5 times.
When I arrived at the ACE Hotel, I thought I was in the wrong place. There was a bouncer outside holding a velvet rope across the entrance to the hotel. Did I have to be cool just to check into my room? Actually, it appeared I needed to be in some kind of band to get in, because everyone they were letting in looked like Russell Brand. I looked nothing like these people. For one, I was wearing men's clothing. And I frequently bathe and comb my hair. I thought I was in trouble.
So after standing outside like a goof for a few seconds, I realized that I was in the middle of New York City holding all of my worldly possessions. Not wanting to get mugged within the first few minutes, I just walked in like I owned the place.
In the lobby, I thought I was in a combination of every scene from The Matrix. Everywhere I looked was dark, moody lighting. Everyone was wearing something black. And there was loud, crappy techno music playing. I half expected agents to start doing flips behind the pillars.
The lobby was also half empty. So I wondered what was the deal with the rope? Who waits to get into a half empty club that you can get into by pretending you have a room there? Stupid hipsters do...that's who.
Shortly after arriving, I saw Jason and Shelly Robillard getting into the elevator. We made plans to meet down at the bar, and I went up to my room.
I've always wanted to live in the dorms! Oh well...it wasn't like I'd be sleeping a lot. And I wasn't the one paying for it. Thanks Merrell!
I met Jason and Shelly in one of the bars downstairs, and we were later joined by my online friends Jesse Scott, Kate Kift, and Krista Cavender. This weekend was characterized by my meeting a ton of friends that I'd previously only known online, and finding out they were super cool people. Tonight was no exception. I also learned that if I want to get enough sleep I shouldn't hang out with any of them. We were up until 3:30 a.m. having way too much fun. There may or may not have been many alcoholic beverages involved. The wake-up for the first day of the Barefoot Run was going to be tough.
I woke up and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant with a couple more people I had just met in person for the first time: Josh Sutcliffe (Barefoot Josh), Pete Larson (Runblogger), and Tucker Goodrich (Yelling Stop). Again...everyone was cool as shit. Then I headed out for a group run to the morning's activities.
We had a choice to either run or take the subway to Battery Park for a series of barefoot running clinics. I decided to try out my sweet new Merrell Road Gloves (one of many items of swag I received for attending...review coming!) follow the running group, which included friends Jesse Scott and Kate Kift.
Since Jesse, Kate, and I were all nursing a bit of a hangover and lack of sleep, we got dropped by the rest of the group pretty fast. I suppose I should have known better than to follow them anyway. The group was led by Dr. Mark Cucuzella, who just won the Air Force Marathon. He doesn't exactly train by doing 10:00 minute miles.
A few minutes later we found ourselves at Chelsea Pier about 4 miles from Battery Park....during a run that was supposed to be only 3 miles. What were we to do? How about take a cab? If at first you don't succeed...quit and do something easier. Words to live by...
We ended up beating everyone to Battery Park. Take that you elite athletes! So Jesse took some time to work on his Parkour. I call this move "The Assisted Curb Jump".
The clinics in Battery Park were a who's-who of the barefoot running world. I looked in one direction and saw Lee Saxby from VIVOBAREFOOT doing one-on-one clinics on the bike paths. I looked another direction and saw Michael Sandler from RunBare. Steven Sashen of Invisible Shoes was handing out sandals. Ken Bob was being Ken Bob (in the same shirt I saw him in last time). Then I saw Patrick Sweeney (Bourbon Feet) pulling Barefoot Ted through the park on a rickshaw.
I think I've had a dream like this, where every barefoot runner I've ever known was doing something weird. Now it was happening!
The events at Battery Park featured clinics by every big name in the barefoot running world...at the same time. In one corner was Ken Bob, Michael Sandler in another, and Jason in another. I listened to Jason for the fourth time. Mostly because I wanted to stand by Shelly and make fun of him.
You can serenade me in those short shorts any time big boy!
I didn't get to visit every clinic because the Merrell folks pulled us out all early. We were off to my favorite part of the whole weekend: The Merrell Barefoot Jam.
To be continued...
NYC Barefoot Run and Merrell Barefoot Jam, Part Two
Go Barefoot with Merrell Free Shipping and Return