Race Day at the Toronto Scotia Waterfront 1/2 & full marathons broke wet, warm & dark. By the 3km mark, the rain stopped & there was only a mild swirling wind. I decided to latch onto the 1:40 pace bunny considering there was only 1 other barefooter in the 1/2 field (and 2 in the marathon). If I was going to set the new Canadian barefoot running 1/2 marathon record of under 1:42, it would be on the heels of the bunny (or so I thought). Having never run with a pace bunny, I had no idea what to expect. Well, he shot out of the starter’s gate (after a slow walk up to the line – massive crowd of runners ahead of us) &, after 3 kms. of 4:30 mins/km – a full 15 secs/km below what I needed – I pulled back & never saw the bunny again! All but 1 who started with him did the same. I’ll never make that mistake again…
I settled in after gathering myself & held a strong pace till I overheard a couple of guys saying we were averaging 4:35 min kms – this at the 12 km mark. As you probably gathered, I don’t use any technical devices to monitor my runs – personal choice! Pace-wise, I pulled back once again, thinking I wouldn’t have enough for the final 5 kms. Bad move! I flagged somewhat from 14 to 17 kms and then pushed hard on a few slight climbs before finishing quite strong in a clock time of 1:41:24. I didn’t know my chip time exactly but knew I was close to sub-1:40 (my goal time) & the barefoot running record!
If only it would be that easy…upon getting home, I tried to pull up my result but, lo & behold, I had NO finishing time! Even though my chip activated at the 10 km & 13 km mats, it didn’t fire on the finishing mat!! Talk about a mental downer…! I’m trying to get an official time with no luck yet. Based on my clock & chip 10 & 13 km times, I ran a 1:39:54. I’ll wait for the photos of me finishing & then work backwards from others’ bib #s who finished with me.
It won’t be totally accurate but I’m claimin’ the record anyway! I can tell you that I never saw the other barefoot 1/2 runner once I ran away from him at the start but did see the 2 full marathon barefooters both finish in under 3:23! Amazing pace. I can also tell you that the crowd could not believe I could hold a sub-1:40 pace barefoot at age 59 (finished 29th out of 263 in my 55-59 age bracket). I never felt a twinge of discomfort – just power, efficiency & quiet feet! It was almost effortless from 4 to 14 kms. Now, I work on going faster over longer distances. Look the hell out! Finally, I can tell you that ‘shod’ runners don’t like being passed by barefooters – especially OLD barefooters! Well, get used to it ’cause there are more where I came from.
As a veteran coach & racer, I still make mistakes. I do try to learn from them but it doesn’t always go according to Hoyle. I will say that once you develop the tough skin on your soles & the musculature of your feet, you’ll never run in shoes again…and you’ll never get an avoidable ‘running-related’ injury.
Bring on the next challenge!