I have a disease. I am incapable of Not watching people run. I drive down the road looking for runners like hunters who crane their necks for deer and shoppers who slowly jerk and drive, stopping at every store front to window shop along the road. My wife has finally gotten use to it and doesn't even bother to ask me what I'm looking at when a girl runs by in spandex shorts and a sports bra because she knows: what's on her feet, and how she's running.
Seattle was a smorgasbord. I was staying with family in the Green Lake area and went down to the Green Lake itself which is a large man made lake (I believe that's what the locals told me) surrounded by a walking track that was about 3 miles. This particular week in Seattle was breathtakingly beautiful, as the natives would say, "the mountains were out today". The preceding week people had been snowed in, stuck inside, and now it was sunny, clear, and temperatures in the 50s. As such, everyone in Seattle was out - runners were everywhere!
Around that 2.8-3.1 mile track were more runners than have been present in some of the official races I've run; truly an amazing sight to behold. I, of course, was in heaven. Watching runners of all shapes and sizes, 5 years old to 75 years old, men, women, and dogs (I would have felt more out of place running without a dog I think than running with a purple boa and loin cloth).
I was, admittedly, a bit surprised at what I saw:
First off, I naively expected to see more minimalist footwear than I did.
I had this ridiculous notion that going to Seattle, home of Barefoot Ted, the first Born to RUN store in the country, and an extremely active city, I would find droves people in barely-there-footwear running with perfect, effortless gaits. Like I said, ridiculous notion, but my foolish expectation none-the-less. What I found was par for the course in terms of gait: there were gazelles, ballerinas, elephants, and noodles. What there were the gaunt and miserable faces of those who are running "hard" today and likely to never run again by this time next year (or perhaps even next month), and there were very few, but still some, who glided along with effortless strides, with feet underneath them, and smiles on their faces (the real dead giveaway). At one point I leaned against a tree, closed my eyes, and listened to find good gates. Clop, clop, Clop - thump, bump, Thud, - crash, crack, crunch, - slide, drag, scuff - but in the midst of all the painful noises, you could pick out one in the pack, a muffle, almost the absence of sound where someone should be, and opening my eyes would reveal 1 smiling face in a sea of misery gliding along the path: effortless, silent, efficient.
I'll leave you with this ;)