Thursday, July 21, 2011

Barefoot in Mallorca, part II

Although I'm now back in the U.S., I do want to return to Mallorca for two qualifications on my last post, which ended saying Mallorca is ideal for barefoot running. After I wrote that post, I stayed for another two weeks, and two not-so-great things happened:

First, I had two stepping-on-glass incidents. The first happened on a run down at the east end of the beach, and I should have known better, since that's where all the drunk Germans hung out and party all day night, many of them with glass bottles. Also, there was the the 'bikini factor' meaning I may have been a little distracted (because yes, it's always the woman's fault for wearing something sexy). Since the Rambla, the walkway that follows the length of the whole beach (and goes on into Palma) is made out of stone tiles, there's a little 'dip' between each, which at first feels a little uncomfortable to barefeet, since almost every step, part of the foot kind of sinks down into that dip. Also, the tiles are brown-ish. Well, there was a little piece of brown glass in one of the dips, and the ball of my left foot sank right down onto it. There was an immediate sharp pain, and my foot shot up and I actually took a couple more steps, thinking that, like most rocks, it would fall out or off. But no, when I finally looked, there was the piece of glass, sticking right out. Not a big one, and fortunately a part of it was still sticking out. The worst thing the could have happened is if the whole thing had been buried under the skin. With this one, I just lifted my foot, pinched the glass between my right thumb and pointing finger and was able to pull it right out. Again fortunately, no littler glass particles broke off, the glass came out cleanly. There was a bit of blood, but pulling it out didn't hurt at all. I actually continued my run back to my apartment and the wound closed up fairly quickly.

The second glass incident happened when merely walking barefoot down the Rambla, on the west end, far from the partying Germans. There may again have been a bikini factor, but I was surprised that just walking, instead of coming down harder with my feet while running, was enough to force glass to puncture skin, but again, this happened when part of my foot sank down between tiles. Again, I was able to just grab onto the protruding glass and yank it right out, though this one bled a lot more, which was embarrasing, leaving bloody tracks on the tiles. I finally put on my moccasins and bled into them a bit.

The second not-so-great thing happened towards the end of my stay. The whole time I'd been running every day, sometimes twice, and taking more long runs, in preparation for the upcoming Burning River 100 Mile race. My strategy was to up my mileage and time to one hundred miles, or 24+ hours or running per week.

My long run consisted of taking the Rambla all the way into Palma, to the far side of the port, roughly two hours out, and two hours back. I'd worked my way to doing this run three times in one week. But, remember that the Rambla is made of stone/marble tiles. Well, to my surprise, my plantar fasciitis returned. And believe me, I know it was the old PF: I had it for two years, and couldn't run. It's the reason I turned to barefoot running (See old posts if you want to read more about this). So yes, the throbbing heels returned, especially in the morning.

So, with less than a week to go in Mallorca, I opted to give my feets a break and do some cross-training, renting a mountain bike on the beach every day and taking it on into Palma, where I re-lived my bike messenger days zipping up and down hills and weaving through the old mazy streets.

The good news is that on my return to Michigan, and my old routes, both trails and pavement, the PF did not return. So, I don't know if the hard Rambla surface would be a factor for other runners not insane enough to be training for a 100 Miler. I probably would have been fine if I'd kept my long run to once a week. The weather, and the laid back attitude of everyone there on the beach, still make Mallorca a great place for barefoot running, just be careful on overdoing it!