I had happy nervous energy the night before the race and feeling a bit dubious about my training since I had only ran 5 miles on the treadmill the week prior. Despite any tension, I relaxed with the ankle biters and the hubby and got my cosmic groove on reading Dharma Bums and was able to keep from dwelling on the race in the morning.
I spoke to my friend Dama from Runners World Barefoot forum and we agreed to walk together with her husband from their hotel downtown about 6 blocks to the starting line.
I slept more than I imagined I would and quickly talked myself out of my warm bed without making the little ones and made a smoothie that consisted of Kefir, banana and 2 scoops of Chia seeds which would turn out to be perfect. Jupiter was awake to keep me company as I got dressed and put a bandana on to keep the mop out of my eyes and made the wise decision to wear tights and shorts instead of the running skirt. I checked my list and made sure I had my phone, chapstick, bag of dried dates and bottle of Gatorade as I headed out the door to have my heart sink at the sight of frost on the windshield of "the Crasher". I pushed it out of my mind and turned the heater on full blast and turned up U2 that was on the radio. I was wearing Ugg knockoffs and socks and an old sweatshirt of Jaymons from the rag bag so it really hadn't sunk in how cold it was out yet.
As we walked to the start line I began to realize how cold it really was after leaving my boots in the car and just having my socks on. I had to struggle to remind myself that is was unlikely that my feet would fall off from the cold! I was getting concerned though for Damas feet since she has Mortons Neuroma and that it might flare up in the cold after she voiced concern about it being the first time it has hurt since going barefoot.
We met another barefoot runner named Cody (I think) that ended up running part of the half but had hamstring isses so did not finish. It was fun to have Dama's hubby take our picture and stand around shivering with the other runners.
The photo shows how we attached our timing chips to our feet or ankles. Turns out both methods worked well. The shoelace crossed on the underside of the chip where it sat on the top of my foot and was cushy and kept the chip from rubbing on my skin. It was stretchy enough to give but not loosen as far as the fit was concerned.
I had not thought to run with a pacer group since I didn't know if they would have them for the half but as we waited for the start I saw that the 2 hour pacer was right across from us with a shining red sign, the color for the halfers, dancing around so I decided to stick with them for the race even though I thought it would be too fast I figured it would be good motivation.
The anthem was sung and Dama and I wished each other good luck and off we went (Dama ran the full!!) with the sun just starting to shine. The sun was lifting everyone's shivering spirits.
I was approached by numerous people about my bare feet. The usual questions, how long does it take to get used to, doesn't it hurt ect. and many kudos and encouragement. The best question by far was "what happens when you step on a rock?" My reply with a smile was "It hurts." That still makes me giggle.
There were two rather smug fellows who made a comment about the cold and I heard one ask the other (I don't think I was supposed to hear this but who knows) if I would make it and they laughed and said "No". "Yeah you just wait and see buddy!!" is what I smiled and thought to myself as I started to get warmed up in the first mile. I sadly ditched Jaymon's old Iowa sweatshirt at the 2 mile mark to realize only about half mile later that I should have kept it on. We looped away from the warm sun back into downtown with the tall buildings still shadowy and cold. My feet still had not warmed up however at this point I felt great and decided to not worry about them. I had made my decision and was sticking to it whether my toes fell off or not.
I ate a handful of dried dates and had been drinking Gatorade from an annoyingly leaky bottle by the time I came to the 6 mile mark and had to use a potty and when I came out the 2 hour pace group was around the bend and I came to the conclusion that I was not going to catch up and just to have fun and put one foot after the other. People seemed to keep passing by.....
Shortly after hearing Burning Ring of Fire blasted from some seemingly hidden speakers along the road and being reminded of childbirth and how that was so much harder than what I was doing now, which put a smile on my face, I met a girl named Annelise who had the goal to run with someone and talk during the whole race.
This was her first race and she had many questions about barefoot running and we also chatted easily at our pace. To my surprise she asked me if I was a dancer and after I replied that I was not she said I looked like one. My heart sang at her comments. I have been working on loosing the unnecessary pudge and felt grateful for the confirmation that the work was paying off. I was already happy and smiling but this made it even better! Annelise was incredibly easy to talk to and sweet as can be and we both were happy to have someone to pass the time with. We laughed about running near runners with loud Ipods when we wanted to hear music and the comments of dismay and cheers I got on my barefeet.
I suppose I should mention my feet and their condition as well as the roads at this point. My feet were numb and cold and I tried not to dwell on them and stay focused on my form. Relax Relax Relax, low and slow and easy does it. There were a few patches of gravel and pea sized rocks that were easy to manage since the feedback mechanism that were the bottoms of my feet were shot from the cold. I steered clear for the most part the wet areas of the water stations. The potholes were fun to jump over and I only saw glass once going over the bridge about 2 miles from the finish and it was also easy to avoid. The worst part of the day was when a couple of ladies were handing out candy and I thought "oooooo candy!!!" and was very excited however they were very sticky chewy gummy candies like JuJuBees and stuck like glue to my teeth. It was not pleasant and I was smiling it up for the cameras and didn't want red gummy in my teeth!! It took much mental and tongue muscle effort to finally dislodge the sticky mess.
Annelise had trained with a friend for the race. She was the turtle and her friend was the hare. Her friend was shipped out to Iraq and so Annelise was going solo. She told me this and we decided I would be her surrogate hare instead. We were both ready for the end of the race and commenting about it at about a mile and a half to the finish when Lo and Behold!! The pacer for the 2 hour 10 minute group came up behind us amidst a buoyant group of runners!!!
We had thought that maybe we would come in at 2 hour 30 minutes but were so stoked to see the pacers that the smiles stuck to our faces for the rest of the race. It really gave me a boost like none other. We kept looking for the finish line and staying ahead of the pacers. The crowds along the roadside got thicker and when the finish was in clear sight I shouted "ok girl, now we GO GO GO!!" and we picked up the speed. I saw the clock and yelled "Go lets get there before it turns to 2 hours 10 minutes" and we made it to the mat at 2 hours 9 minutes and 49 seconds sprinting at a good clip. I was so proud of myself I was just silly! I had beat my Dam to Dam shod time of 2 hours 25 minutes and that race was a mile shorter than this one by 15 minutes. I had done so much better than I imagined! Annelise ran a fantastic first race and I was quite proud of her. She told me later on facebook that she was going to take the plunge and go barefoot and asked for the link to the barefoot runners group I had talked about as we were running. She suffers from knee pain and is far to young for that nonsense so is going to try barefoot so she can heal and keep running!! Another Koolaid drinker in the making!!
We posed for photos that Annelise's dad took of us and exchanged names so we could find each other on facebook and then parted ways. I stocked up on all the food goodies and was shocked and entirely delighted to run into the Cappuccino girls!! They had Kum and Go gas station cappuccino tanks strapped to their backs that dispensed hot sweet goodness to this cold shivering barefoot chick. That was the icing on the cake.
I tried to stay and hang out for a while since I really wanted to cheer Dama as she crossed the finish line and take photos with her but was getting colder and colder and as my feet stood for a while the pain and weariness was creeping in so I hoofed it back to the car 6 blocks away and longed for a blanket or sweatshirt. Note to self, use the baggage system provided by the race and have a sweatshirt and Uggs waiting for me. I did walk and talk with a young guy after I asked him directions to make sure I was indeed headed in the direction of my car and after I answered some of his questions and told him a bit of my story he said that he and his mom had commented on the "crazy barefoot lady" and that here I was and he was glad to have met me.
He might go read "Born to Run" now!
I felt great upon arriving home and was pleased to share my pride until I started to shiver and shake like crazy and had to take Jaymon's advice and get in to the hot shower. I finally could feel my feet again and was pleased to find that I had no blisters or hot spots and they had in fact not fallen off even though I was told by Jaymon that it was 37 degrees out when he checked after getting up.
Eating was lovely and reading all the race reports and updates online that friends that also ran had posted. I enjoyed jotting down notes about the morning and was rather shocked as I remembered that I had not had any pain in my gallbladder area and my lungs never hurt from the cold. Both of which have been problems in the past. The dried dates provided the right amount of energy and the bottle of Gatorade that I carried with me allowed me to zip through the majority of aid stations. The smoothie I drank before the race kept me from feeling hungry or nauseous and digested easily. The resting up was definitely the way to go and I felt like I gained strength instead of loosing fitness during my break. The race was well organized with a nice bunch of people working and running. The aid stations were well stocked and the course was friendly to my bare feet. One huge downside for the marathon leading runners was that a train stopped the leaders. Here is the article.
I was pleased to have made a new personal record with a final chip time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 43 seconds. My pace was 9:50.
Later in the afternoon Jaymon and I took the kids to the sculpture park downtown. My feet and legs ached but felt strong still. That night I woke once with a shooting pain in my right ankle and a fear that I had given myself a stress fracture. I also have a bruised feeling on my left heel and think that I might heel strike a bit when tired and getting lazy however as I write this 2 days later I am feeling soreness from activity but no pain or feelings of injury. I would love to run today but know I should probably take it easy for another day.