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BROML Time on the Barefoot Trail

August 17, 2013

This morning I headed for the hills—Irvine Regional Park, where I have been running (with shoes on) since the mid-1990s, barefoot since January 2010. Over the decades, I’ve had my share of running injuries, causing me to hike instead of run, but I’m thankful I’ve always been able to keep moving, somehow.

Summer-dry crossing Santiago Creek in Irvine Park

Summer-dry crossing Santiago Creek in Irvine Park

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’ve (finally) found a physical therapist who has been able to (finally) help me run without knee pain—a first in almost 10 years.

Which brings us to today’s BROML.

After parking at the west end of the park, I began walking; I think it was around 7:30 am.

Soon, four deer flashed across the trail. Hidden birds provided surround song. The dust and rocks invited me to run, and smile, and so I did.

Two hours later I arrived back at the car, still smiling, knowing I had just experienced–not a PR or a FKT*, but a major BROML: Best Run Of My Life (pronounced “broml”).

In the years since I began hiking and trail running barefoot, I’ve had a bunch of these BROML’s. And my endorphin buzz tells me there are more in my future, since humans are amazingly suited for loping barefoot along trails (it’s how we outlast our prey when we’re out running down dinner).

Besides the deer, and bird music, and fabulous August morning sunshine, here are some more BROML highlights:

– Only one plastic bottle along the trail, and no helium balloons, beer cans or micro-trash. (Some days I fill my pack and pockets with an assortment of crap dropped by the ignorant and unaware).

– All the folks out biking, hiking, and running . . . and while this has made me grumpy in the past, today I chose to be thankful so many people were being exposed to our beautiful local wild lands . . .
even if they didn’t realize they were moving through one of the top biodiversity hotspots of planet Earth. And the kids! There must have been 40 of them trotting (or dragging themselves) along Barham Ridge. Some kind of organized trail-running camp? I didn’t ask, but I was happy to greet the next generation of trail runners.

– The hint of skunk in the air. Hooray for all God’s critters that add to our sensory experience outside.

– A perfect blossom of what was called “máanet” by previous residents of this area—strong white-flowered datura, blooming like the full moon in a dry time.

Datura in bloom

– The biker who said, “I bet you’re running after the person who stole your shoes.” Finally—an intelligent spontaneous remark, a light shining in the darkness of the more frequent and excruciating “Barefoot, huh?” “No shoes, huh?” “Huh?” (Here’s your sign.)

– The words I do not want on my tombstone: “She was always right.”

– Some better epitaphs: “She was always running,” or “She was always kind.” Maybe: “She was always a child of God.” I wouldn’t have thought this stuff if I had been Saturday mall-crawling with the rest of So Cal.

– (Speaking of genius thoughts) A new barefoot running slogan to print on flyers and drop from helicopters and emblazon upon t-shirts everywhere:

“Question shoe-thority.”

Hmmm . . . it sounded really good in my head, but printed out seems a bit corn-fusing. I googled the phrase; this did lead to links about Benjamin Franklin’s use of “question authority.” So at least the algorithms got understood my little play on words.

– All of the above, along with the fact that I just ran without shoes over dusty and rocky trails for almost two hours with no pain—all of the above adds up to a definite BROML.

In other news—while August can be daunting as school looms (for this teacher, it’s the loooong Sunday afternoon of summer), the last couple of weeks have had their high points. Here’s a few:

Stink bug and toe meet-n-greet

Stink bug and toes meet-n-greet

Cooper's or sharp-shinned hawk?

Cooper’s or sharp-shinned hawk? Someone out looking for a birdy breakfast . . .

Hiking with the hubby

Hiking with the hubby

Back yard dragonfly on chalk dudleya flowers

Back yard dragonfly on chalk dudleya flowers

Mountain mahogany at Fullerton Arboretum

Mountain mahogany at Fullerton Arboretum

Posting with the authors of "Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains" -- Fred Roberts and Bob Allen. They were generous enough to include one of my wildflower poems in their fabulous new field guide.

Posing (at Fullerton Arboretum) with the authors of “Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains” — Fred Roberts and Bob Allen. They were generous enough to include one of my wildflower poems in their fabulous new field guide.

Swallowtail in a morning glory blossom during a California Native Plant Society field trip to the wetlands behind Prado Dam

Swallowtail in a morning glory blossom during a California Native Plant Society field trip to the wetlands behind Prado Dam

Marveling at the willow canopy during the CNPS Prado Dam wetlands field trip

Marveling at the willow canopy during the CNPS Prado Dam wetlands field trip

Marveling (and not in a good way) at the hunting trash in the wetlands

Marveling (and not in a good way) at the hunting trash in the wetlands

Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." He did not have the same advice for spoons . . .

Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” He did not have the same advice for spoons . . .

*PR = Personal record; FKT = Fastest Known Time

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