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The Tipping Point - Martha Carr

All I really wanted to do was run a 5k. No big surprise, I've been talking about it for years even before the surgery for cancer removed part of my left leg.

There have been numerous times, both here and in New York City where I moved from two years ago, when I got started and then slowly quit. There was even some momentum a couple of times but no sticking power.

It's possible at this point in the story to dissolve into the justifications and build a case for my inertia, but that's just another delay tactic. The bottom line is, I quit over and over again, and my accountability level to myself was rather low.

Today's a new day.

This time, my umpteenth try, I've started with a lot of prayers to stop thinking about myself so much and be of service. Take it one day at a time and stop worrying about how I'll get up early enough for months, and then years on end. Let's just see if I can get out the door today and then get on with the rest of this day.

This is where the story takes a definite turn. In the past, all of my running, even the running I did consistently years ago was a solo pursuit, and no one was really checking in with me, so no one knew how I was doing.

If I didn't sign up for a race, no one knew, or if I ran a race really well, there was no one there who knew that either. It had its good and bad points.

I was still operating in that same headspace with just the addition of that single prayer, hoping that would remove whatever fear that could, sometimes, glue me to the couch. I wanted change in my life and to feel better about the way that I move and what I see in the mirror.

Lately, I've been stepping out into all kinds of change and have also started using Twitter because my agent, Rachelle Gardner, asked me to do it. That was enough to get me to do it. I wasn't going to ask what was in it for me. An old bad habit.

Tweeting starts all kinds of conversations, and so I mentioned that elusive quest for a 5k and figuring out how to make my leg work enough to get me across a finish line.

Suddenly, help was everywhere. Last week, I heard about Mo Wills at Infinity Multisport, and Sydney Owen at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. They both stepped forward, and now I'm Chi running a 5k on August 6th, and then jumping out of a plane to celebrate.

My accountability level has zoomed upwards and there's a crew checking in with me about my progress.

This week, more tweeting, and Thomas Hollowell, the author of "The Complete Idiots Guide to Barefoot Running" (Penguin) -- www.barefoot-running.us -- saw my tweets, was in Chicago for a book event, and met up with me for a Chi walk around the park.

He's jumped on board, too, and we're now all raising money for melanoma research at Northwestern. He's brought in Rachelle Kuramoto, of Kigo Footwear -- www.kigofootwear.com -- who's supplying thin-soled running shoes.

There's even talk now of starting our own 5k to really raise awareness about melanoma and body checks, and help find the first early-stage chemotherapy.

Thomas, one of the newest members of our team, is 33 and has been running in bare feet for five years. The day we got together, he had finished a half-marathon in Schaumberg, Ill., and was feeling fine. He believes in getting back to running the way our bodies were meant to, and therefore, we'll have less injury, more fun and a lot more people out there running in their bare feet.

He's never had a puncture or a scrape.

"It doesn't mean to just take off your shoes. That's a very small part of the idea," says Thomas. "It's about teaching your body to run more naturally, and eventually, over a distance, and then the speed comes."

Start with walking and build the ankle and foot strength, he says, go slowly. More complete instructions are outlined in his book.

Start on hard, smooth surfaces instead of grass where there's too many hidden possibilities, or a track where there's a hard, packed surface.

Now that warm weather is here, it's an enticing idea to ditch the socks and shoes and walk around in our bare feet and maybe, eventually, start running. I'll be out there three times a week, gearing up for the August race in my Kigo shoes. Prayer works.

Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know how your exercise routine is going.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com.