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Five years of barefoot running . . . and my soles were tender today

January 18, 2015

As I mentioned in a recent post, Jan. 2015 marks five years since I hesitantly took off my sandals and tried to navigate a smooth clay local loop with my feet feeling the ground.

This shoeless half-decade has had its ups and downs (literally! I love to run hills!), as I get super bummed when my body uses pain (knee, calf, ankle, foot, hip, lower back . . . quite the list) to get my attention and remind me there are issues that still need dealing with . . . nope, losing my shoes did not turn me into a running machine.

However, with the help of some creative-thinking-super-skilled physical therapists, I have been able to keep enjoying trails both near and far (from Irvine Regional Park at the edge of my hometown of Orange, CA, USA, to Wallowa County, OR, to the Grand Canyon).

Each time I hike and run in God’s creation, I try to be consciously grateful for the fact that, in spite of having over half a century of miles on my odometer (is it time to rotate the tires yet?), I feel pretty dang good for a gray-haired granny.

Which brought me to today–just back from a four-day native plant conservation conference (four days of learning! yay! four days of sitting! boo!), I could not wait to get out on my favorite local trail and visit my favorite local native plants in the hills outside of Irvine Park.  A couple hours (and plenty of photos) later, I was surprised to notice a bit of raw feel zizzing up my nervous system to my brain. “Hey, silly! You haven’t run this far for months, and the trails are nothin’ but exposed rock bits after last weeks lovely rains. Take it easy next time.”

“Oops,” was all I could reply to myself as I eased my feet into a warm bath of tea-tree-oil infused water. “Guess I got just a bit carried away by the lovely 70-degree January afternoon. I’ll try to run a little more responsibly next time, and maybe take 100 photos instead of only 50.”

After re-living the enchantment of the run as I cropped and culled images, I chose way too many to end this post with . . . see below . . . and as far as the sore soles go . . . it’s a good reminder that “use it or lose it” applies to barefoot skills, just like to our brain health.

Happy Trails! I am looking forward to some good miles in 2015 . . . time to get outside and enjoy both running and native plants!

San Jose, CA: The 2015 California Native Plant Society Conservation Conference. Here's the info poster our Orange County chapter had on display.

San Jose, CA: The 2015 California Native Plant Society Conservation Conference. Here’s the info poster our Orange County chapter had on display last week.

My favorite sessions at the conference had to do with botanical illustration. I feel a new obsession coming on . . .

My favorite sessions at the conference had to do with botanical illustration. I feel a new obsession coming on . . .

Botanical illustration workshop examples.

Botanical illustration workshop examples.

Yuck. I ended up spending way too much time barefoot walking on the hotel treadmill. What a sorry substitute for a trail . . .

Yuck. I ended up spending way too much time barefoot walking on the hotel treadmill. What a sorry substitute for a trail . . .

Did somebody say trail? I was so happy to greet this darkling beetle today; he was not as thrilled, and refused to waste energy trekking up and over my toes; he turned aside and kept heading for the other side of the trail.

Did somebody say trail? I was so happy to greet this darkling beetle today. Unfortunately, he was not as thrilled, and refused to waste energy trekking up and over my toes; he turned aside and kept heading for the other side of the trail.

This was weird; I found a "nest" of plastic spiders at the base of a favorite ancient oak. The tree asked me to get rid of them. (They were left-over decorations from the "Spooky Raptor Run" race I participated in last October.) I had a feeling that I should walk around the tree today, and when I did I found these spiders half-buried in the dirt. After posing them for this photo, I carried them off to a more suitable habitat.

This was weird; I found a “nest” of plastic spiders at the base of a favorite ancient oak. The tree asked me to get rid of them. (They were left-over decorations from the “Spooky Raptor Run” race I participated in last October.) I had a feeling that I should walk around the tree today, and when I did I found these spiders half-buried in the dirt. After posing them for this photo, I carried them off to a more suitable habitat.

Finding this sh!# along the trail turns my smile upside down. Who thinks this is the thing to do, to just suck their  sugar down and chuck the foil packet wherever.

Finding this sh!# along the trail turns my smile upside down. Who thinks this is the thing to do, to just suck their sugar down and chuck the foil packet wherever?

All the native shrubs are so pleasantly plump after recent rains. Here's one to nibble: Thick-leaved yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium).

All the native shrubs are so pleasantly plump after recent rains. Here’s one to nibble: Thick-leaved yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium).

Lemonade berry's flowers give promise of tangy fruit to come.

Lemonade berry’s flowers give promise of tangy fruit to come.

Laurel sumac's signature pointy leaves against the

Laurel sumac’s signature pointy leaves against warm January cloud puffs.

California sagebrush . . . magically transformed from drought deciduous shrunken stubs to fully fabulous  & fragrant leaf fingers.

California sagebrush . . . magically transformed from drought deciduous shrunken stubs to fully fabulous & fragrant leaf fingers.

Thick-leaved lilac . . . a super-rare shrub in these parts. I can't wait for the puffs of white blossoms to fluff out soon.

Thick-leaved lilac . . . a super-rare shrub in these parts. I can’t wait for these buds to puff into white blossoms soon.

And what would an afternoon on the trails be like without herds of mountain bikers along the trail? (A rhetorical question that needs no answer . . . )

And what would an afternoon on the trails be like without herds of mountain bikers along the trail? (A rhetorical question that needs no answer . . . )

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