My parents and both siblings have come for the holidays. Between our newborn and relatives, it's been hard to squeeze a run in. To cap the deal, while unloading from retrieving my mother from SFO her bag leapt from the back of our baby-mobile and onto my foot. I was wearing shoes -- my spiffy new wife-approved shoes -- at the time, but I wished I had a steel-toed work boot instead.
There I was, itching to continue my barefoot experiment, unable to break away from family duties and with a bone-bruise near my number-2 (index-toe?) proximal phalanx. I could feel my weeks of work slipping away.
We all decided to walk a few miles into The Mission for lunch. I figured I could get in some foot-building exercise by doing the walk barefoot. Sure, why not?
After bundling our son in his pram my wife called "Get your shoes on, we're going.". Not wanting to start a conflict I called back "Ready!" and snuck my shoes into the stroller. Lucky for me, my wife was having a lively discussion with my mother and didn't see my naked feet until we'd started down the street. She must have been in a saintly mood because she just rolled her eyes at me and continued chatting.
Half a mile later, we'd made it to the Mission and my wife noticed some broken glass on the street. "There's broken glass here. You need to put your shoes on." She was correct. There was a lot of broken glass. Everywhere.
I was a bit nervous, but I decided that I was committed to the experiment come what may. My wife escalated to claiming that she would NOT take me to the emergency room when my feet were cut to shreds. I thought to mention that St. Luke's was only a block away at that point and that I could probably crawl if I needed to. But then thought better of it.
And the outcome? Unscathed. In my ten or so barefoot pavement runs, I've never had problems with glass. You can easily avoid the big pieces. I'm guessing the smaller splinters get swept into the gutters and cracks. Walking barefoot is very different from running, but I do feel like I got high quality pad-building exercise and practice in treading lightly on the trip.
Glass I can handle. But I do like to worry. I'm a bit concerned about what I might be absorbing from the pavement through my soles. Auto emissions...human emissions...who know's what's out there? Is this a realistic worry? I'm not sure what the permeability of foot-skin is to whatever's in the pavement. I do know that skin is able to absorb quite a bit more than I used to imagine. At least the folks making caffeinated soap and caffeine patches think so. This (currently) unsubstantiated worry will probably drive me to getting some sort of minimalist running shoe before shards of glass do.