Coach Jeff Sets ‘Unofficial’ Record!

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!

coach Jeff


2 thoughts on “Coach Jeff Sets ‘Unofficial’ Record!

  1. Hey Jeff,

    It was so great to see you at the finish line yesterday. It was clear that you were right on schedule and finished at your 1:39 goal time. It was even more impressive seeing those bare feet work! Keep it up.

    Barb Aston

  2. Well done my friend.

    So sad Dave and I are away this weekend. You are still my fav speaker at Dan’s program. Always fun always inspiring always challenging the norm–exactly what the “I hate this running thing” kids need and can hang their 180 degree turn around on.

    Blessed to know you and count you among my beloved running friends Congratulations

    Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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