NYC BFR - Wild Human Animal Mayhem

Do you think instead of a book about ultra runners who drink, Christopher McDougall's next book might be about ultra drinkers who run? Yeah. I could totally help him out with that. 

Christian, Jason, Jesse, Me, Kate, Trisha, Shelly
The Setting
New York City.  

The Event
The Annual Barefoot Run.

The Characters 
Myself, Kate Kift (Ramblings on Barefoot Running, Motherhood and Life), Christian Peterson (Maple Grove Barefoot Guy), Jason Robillard (Barefoot Running University), Shelly Robillard (Shoeless Shel Bell), and Jesse Scott (In Search of Solid Ground) along with a few other friends. 

I think its fair to say that this past weekend I drank more than I ran, I ran more than I slept, and I smiled more than all of that.

To be honest, I haven't had this much fun since college so brace yourselves, people. This is going to be an epic post. 

It was almost a dream to be going to the NYC Barefoot Run. I left late on Thursday night, strategically planning to take the red-eye so that it would put me in New York by 8am. I had to scrounge up enough money for a plane ticket, but I managed to score a free place to stay with Kate Kift, who in turn, was getting her trip paid for by the good folks at Merrell, one of the sponsors of the run. Yeah. Call me the party crasher because that's totally what I was for the weekend. But without someone else footing the bill for my room this trip was absolutely NOT going to happen for me. I was willing to do anything to get there. Well... almost anything. 

I'm not a stranger to "roughing it" for a room either. I've been known to sleep on the lifejacket boxes on ferries just so I could afford to get my ass over to the Greek islands. And funny enough the cheapest campground I could afford to stay at while I was on Paros was infested with clucking chickens and their poop. LOTS of poop. And the flat I lived in while in Sheffield, England wasn't much better. Yup. Its never a good sign when you refer to your entire kitchen as "the ice box" because its got a hole in the wall the size of your head. Yup. Apparently, slumlords don't fix shit like that. 

I've put up with some pretty unseemly living conditions just for the "experience." And you know what? Its always been totally worth it. So I knew that I would at least have a nice place to stay with Kate and I couldn't wait to meet her so I could thank her for her generous offer to share a room (and possibly a bed) with a complete stranger she had only had a few random conversations with online. She was definitely taking a risk. I could be a crazy, drunken, over-the-top, whiny bitch for all she knew. Oh wait. Maybe the crazy, drunken part is a smidge accurate. That being the case, from what I already knew about her, we'd get along just fine. 

My plane landed in NYC at 8am sharp and I was on the next shuttle bus to Manhattan within minutes. To say the weather was drizzly would be a bit of an understatement. It was warm, but very, very, VERY wet. Luckily I had been pretty organized before leaving for my trip and packed an umbrella and rain jacket. I was glad I did.

Under my umbrella
I was also glad I had been organized enough to get in contact with a few people before I left. I would finally get to meet Caity McCardell ( in person on friday for lunch! Funny how we were both from the west coast but had to fly all the way to New York to meet each other in person. I had also made plans to meet Trisha Reeves (I'd known her for about two days on Facebook) for lunch on Saturday. Kate insisted that Trisha and I meet and get to know each other because we have a lot in common, namely graphic design. 

So, after dropping my bags at the front desk of the hotel I ventured out. Into the rain. Into the pouring rain. Crap. Really? But, this was my sightseeing day! When would I ever be in New York again? I was determined not to let the raining-so-hard-I-might-as-well-have-been-walking-around-naked-with-a-bar-of-soap-day stop me. I had galleries to see in the Chelsea art district and I made plans to meet Caity at a delicious vegan cafe near the High Line. So that's just what I did.

I was floored at how comfortable I felt when I finally met Caity. You know? Like we've known each other for years. In fact, this seemed to be the theme of my social introductions for the weekend. It was like reading a really good book and then getting to meet the main characters in person. And in this case, the book was in the form of my favorite barefoot running blogs and the characters were the bloggers themselves. It was a trip.

View from the High Line
After a late lunch and a little barefoot walk on the High Line with Caity (my shoes were like a couple of fishbowls at this point) I decided to go back to the hotel to check in and get cleaned up before Kate arrived. As it turned out, our ultra-cool room had the words, "Love Me" written on the wall next to what seemed to be a very small full-sized bed. I texted Kate to let her know we scored the "Love Room" (a description that would get used over and over in many suggestive ways throughout our weekend.) At least she and I shared the same raunchy sense of humor. Then I headed downstairs to grab a beer at the bar.
I knocked on the door to our room around 7:30 and was met by Kate with an enormous hug. She was adorable and my size!! She was like the British/Canadian, dark-haired version of me. We immediately clicked and fell into conversation like old friends cracking stupid jokes and making rude remarks.
Kate's and my "Love Room"
Then we headed out to an informal gathering at a pub nearby. Here we met up with some interesting and fun people. I got to talk with Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton, Barefoot Ted, John Durant, Patrick Sweeney and even got to meet the winner of my first t-shirt giveaway! We shared some drinks with more barefoot running folks, then wandered (well... actually, we ran) back uptown to our hotel. Yeah. Buzzed from who knows how many rounds of Guiness pints on empty stomachs we decided to do a little pre-race-drunk-run back to the hotel. Yeah. We're both spontaneous like that.

Me, Caity McCardell, Ken Bob, Kate
Drunk Kate and Krista meeting Patrick Sweeney
We met the rest of the crew around midnight back at the hotel. I believe Kate drunk-texted Christian to find out where everybody was. Jason, Shelly, Christian and Jesse had arrived at the hotel and had already tied a few on but were ordering another round at the oyster bar downstairs. I can't remember much after this point except for Shelly's huge hug and the fact that I was glad to have met and connected with such cool people. And they weren't just cool, they were genuine and totally lived up to their blog personalities. They also had a great sense of humor. 3am came really fast. I had been awake for nearly 24 hours by that point and it was time for bed. 

Lunch in Manhattan
Saturday's plans consisted mostly of recovering from Friday night. I also had made plans to head downtown to participate in some of the barefoot running clinics that were taking place and meet Trisha for lunch. Unfortunately, I woke up later than expected so I hoofed it over to the subway to try and catch a train downtown. Somehow I ended up on the wrong train and was going to transfer when I realized I was going to be late for the last clinic if I didn't get moving. I don't know why I thought I could run faster than the subway (my head must have been a little bloated from hanging around Christian the night before), but I got to see some cool parts of Manhattan this way and got a decent three or four mile run in as bonus. I was good and sweaty (the humidity was crazy!) by the time I got to the clinics and luckily Trisha was still waiting for me. I introduced myself and apologized for my lateness.

The clinics were just wrapping up as I got there, but I managed to participate in the last of Barefoot Ken Bob's silly walks clinics. It was pretty silly and more fun than informative, but I still had a great time.

NY Stock Exchange
After lunch with Trisha and a visit to Wall Street (apparently some protests had literally just broken up moments before as I was walking up the street) I headed back up to the hotel to clean up before the packet pick-up party mayhem ensued with free beer. Yes. That's right. FREE BEER. Have I mentioned that I only race for beer? This party... er... run... met all my qualifications. I even got a free pint glass. Awwwwwyeah. Me and New York were a match made in heaven.

Jesse Scott with Shelly and Jason Robillard
The rest of the night was a blur of drinking, meeting people and wandering aimlessly (well maybe not so much aimlessly with our crew of main characters. I think we were actually looking for a loo or a subway.) We eventually stumbled back to the bar in our hotel where we had several more rounds of drinks. Christopher McDougall aptly names this race "The Woodstock of Wild Human Animal Mayhem," but I think the entire weekend could be described as such. Naughty jokes about masturbator muscles, dildos and "the Love bed" were prevalent all throughout the night. These people were great! I hardly knew them for 24 hours and we were having some seriously funny conversations. These were some good times!

Christopher McDougall
We were still drinking at 4am (yeah... apparently the bar stays open that late). We should have just stayed up for another couple hours and headed down to the ferry station for the run. I'm sure as it probably happened (my head is a little fuzzy about the details), but Jason probably raised his hand to get the group's attention (Jason is a born leader) with "I propose we... go to bed." So we all did.

Getting on the ferry
As it turned out Kate, Christian and I were the only ones who set our alarms and showed up downstairs at the butt crack of dawn. Kate and I literally rolled out of bed, still drunk, donned our Run Smiley garb - Kate in her tutu and Run Smiley shirt and me in my feather boa and "Hot Chicks Run Naked" BFR shirt and met Christian downstairs. We subbed breakfast for a single hot cup of Stumptown coffee (which I promptly spilled on my white shirt) and followed all the Merrell folks to the subway heading to the pier downtown. There was still no sign of Jason, Shelly, Jesse or Pablo and as it turns out they would end up taking the later "slacker" ferry once the island opened to the public at 10am. Once on the ferry, I had this on-a-boat feeling all day. Ok. So maybe that was because I was ON a boat that ferried us over to the island, but I swear I couldn't shake it. Once on solid ground, it even felt like the porta potty was swaying. 

Kate and Krista - not so hot messes
Once off the ferry we just followed the people in front of us like lemmings to the start of the run. I swear it felt like we made an entire lap around the island before we got to the grassy area where all the mini festivities were. After such an overcast and wet weekend I was happy to finally see sunshine even though it hurt my head. The day of the run turned out to be a blast even though both Kate and I were completely wrecked. 

One of the highlights of my day was meeting Christopher McDougall for the first time. I was stunned when the super tall McDougall came up from behind me and offered to give me his shorts for my shirt. Why I didn't just take him up on his offer I don't know. Damn. Opportunity only knocks once. Oh well. Ha!
On Governor's Island

The run began unexpectedly (Kate and I were socializing and goofing off) and almost missed the start. OK. We did miss the start. Instead, we both headed for the loo. Yeah. We were DFL at the beginning, but since it wasn't a "race" we weren't that bothered.
Footwear options for the run

Kate and I managed to do a barefoot lap together. It was my first barefoot run with another barefoot runner. Something interesting happened. I immediately snapped into her quick cadence. My form felt good and I thought I could do at least two or three laps. But then my left achilles started bugging me a little. I hadn't rolled, stretched or hydrated at all (well, not with water anyway. Ha!) since I got to New York so I'm sure that had something to do with it. I didn't want to put my upcoming marathon in jeopardy so I settled for one lap and traded the running in for handing out Run Smiley beads to runners coming through the start/lap/finish line. I was a little bummed I didn't get to run with Christian, Jesse, Shelly or Jason but I was happy to hang with all the people at the start line. The energy was amazing.
Caity McCardell's short video of the Run. Proof that I met Christopher McDougall!

 A few people left shortly after the run to head back home so Kate and I said our good-byes and were getting ready to head back to the ferry when Patrick Sweeney (Bourbon Feet) lured Kate and I into a rick-shaw ride around the island, which as it turns out was another highlight of my weekend. Patrick completed something like 34 miles at the event. Another super cool and very fun person that I had the privilege of meeting this past weekend.

Being pulled by Patrick Sweeney
Once back at the hotel we changed and headed out to lunch then said good-bye to most of our friends who were leaving that night. Kate and I were left and took a little bit of time to check out Time Square and the Top of the Rock. Then we had a nice dinner at the Breslin Restaurant back at the hotel and decided to hit the sack somewhat early. Kate's flight was leaving at sunrise.

So I ended my trip similar to how it began. Alone in New York City. It was awesome. A peaceful way to reflect on the weekend and its adventures. I really loved New York. I REALLY, REALLY loved New York. What an incredible backdrop to meet some of the most amazing people ever! This weekend will definitely be one of those "shifting" moments in life for me. I was really lucky to have had the opportunity to be part of such an extraordinary experience.

Facebook has been on fire since we've all been home. We've been sharing scandalous photos and continuing our crazy conversations online. There's even talk amongst us about creating a West Coast "Mind the Drunks" version of the NYC thing. Ha! You can guarantee I will be there!
Run Smiley Collective at the New York City Barefoot Run
Shelly Robillard, Christian Peterson, Kate Kift, Jesse Scott, Jason Robillard, Krista Cavender, Chris Van Dyke

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  1. Great Recap! Thanks for filling in some of the hazy spots!

  2. Hahaha! Jesse - I'm still waiting to read your "version" to compare notes. ;-)

  3. Sounds like a great time was had by all. I'm seriously jealous.


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