Summary (or Statistics)
First of all, a big, huge, monstrous, gigantic, super-sized, whopping, round of applause for Barefoot Todd, the Malibu International Marathon course director, who convinced the race directors to have a barefoot division, to keep us in mind when laying out the course, and hopefully, next year, there will be more of us there, to make his many efforts worthwhile.
Dry Santa Ana winds were blowing in the morning. Barefoot Efrem, who was going to run the half-marathon, dropped Barely Barefoot Don (formerly, Tenderfoot Don), and myself (Barefoot Ken Bob) off at the marathon start, before driving himself down to the finish, and catching the shuttle bus to the half-marathon start line. Efrem had taken his homework with him, since he should have several hours to study, while waiting for us to finish the full marathon.
I hadn’t run more than 19 miles (and a few of those were walking), since last May (when I completed 4 marathons), so I was not expecting to be running very fast, and certainly not running the entire distance. A week and a half ago, I had also stubbed my right big toe, resulting in a bruise, and a minor sprain. So, my tapering began a bit early, and it was still slightly tender, especially when I kicked any furniture!
While we waited for the start of the marathon, I was interviewed on video, and I mentioned to the interviewer that my feet were a bit chilly, and I should have brought my slippers to keep my feet warm, until the start of the event. So, during the interview, she handed me a pair of Liz Claibourne socks, hoping I wouldn’t mind that they were “girl’s” socks. I didn’t, since they actually made my feet significantly more comfortable.
When it was time to start, I reminded Don that we should go all the way to the back of the “crowd”, since there were only about 700 runners in the full marathon… It wasn’t far back, but I didn’t want anyone behind me the first few miles, pushing me to go faster, before I had warmed up.
I wasn’t surprised by my performance – or lack of performance.
The first mile of pavement, in front of the Camarillo Airport, was pretty rough, but after about half-a-mile, there was a strip of “new” concrete running down the middle of the road, so I opted for smooth. I know, I always tell people not to avoid the rough stuff, because it will teach you to run more smoothly – but, of course, that is for shorter practice runs. This is 26.2 miles, and I want to be as comfortable as possible, as much as possible, since I’m going to be “running” for several hours.
Ward said, “Hi” to me, as he passed on by. Ward had attended some of my Running Barefoot workshops, but wasn’t ready to run a full marathon barefoot, yet.
By mile 19, because I hadn’t “run” more than 19 miles since May, I was feeling about the way I expected I would be feeling – pretty tired, wanting to quit, but knowing I could finish, even if I had to walk for the last 7 miles. My feet were fine. Even the stubbed toe was holding up well. I had just grazed my toe on the asphalt a couple miles ago, but, just barely grazed, and luckily, it was my left big toe, rather than the previously injured right big toe.
About mile-23, I stopped to use the restroom, and after that, I took my tentatively-planned rest stop. A few minutes sitting down, and resting the legs, while drinking water, and enjoying a couple more bites of my Cliff Bar, can make the difference between “enduring” the next 3 miles, and “enjoying” them… and sometimes, it actually saves several more minutes than the rest break takes – because, after a rest, you can “run” much faster, than if you had continue while exhausted… And one of the volunteers even offerred me her canvas chair, which I accepted (hopefully, graciously).
Shortly after my break, while I was still walking, Don caught up with me. Somehow, I thought he was still in front of me, but like myself, Don was having a slow day today. We continued together, and at mile-24, a bit over 2 miles to go, Don took off his shoes, and went barefoot for the final 2.2 miles.
I was feeling a bit better after my rest, and a long walk, up that last big hill, so we tried running down the next hill (near mile-24), but I could tell that wasn’t a good idea, as I felt the downward pressure on my sprained toe – though the pressure wasn’t anything major, I didn’t want to risk re-injuring my toe, certainly not before finishing the race (or at all). Of course, if I wasn’t so tired, I might have tried running faster, at the same rate gravity was pulling me down the hill, and then there wouldn’t be any downward pressure, and I might not have had any problem. But, I didn’t want to risk running out of fuel, or breath.
There were areas where the road was rough, but the bike lane was smooth, so Don went over to the far right of the bike lane. I suggested he might want to run on the left edge of the bike lane, closer to the road, “Oww!” Don’s face said, as I continued telling him that there would be more pebbles at the far right edge… And though the pebbles here were small, they were rather pointy. Just have to know which part of the lane to run in…
After mile-25 we started picking up the pace some more, and managed a 13:35 average pace, but just before reaching the mile-26 marker, I “really” started running and I left Don behind, but just a little bit behind, because he had also started running. I wasn’t exactly “flying” as I approached the finish – about 7:30 pace (min/mile) – but, it felt good to be almost finished, and to be running fast, finally!
And, then, of course, I was tired! So very tired, and a little dizzy (see, that’s why I didn’t go faster, earlier on). But, otherwise, I felt good, and hungry, so I ate the last couple bites of my Cliff Bar, which I barely had energy to chew … a few minutes later, I received my “Running Barefoot 1st place award”. Frankly, it was a bit sad, to me, that the first place barefoot runner finished in 5 hours and 55 minutes! But, I tried to get more barefooters to show up, hopefully, next year, we’ll have a better showing. After all, Barefoot Todd put a lot of work into making this a barefoot friendly event, even with awards for us. So, hopefully, and probably, thanks to the recent surge in Running Barefoot popularity, in a year, many of you barefoot runners will be ready to run the Malibu International Marathon barefoot.