It was a great month of May. Warmer weather, longer runs and my second barefoot marathon under my belt. I was blessed to be able to complete the Colorado Colfax Marathon on May 18th and continue my quest to run all 50 states in under 4 hours. As most of you know, I had already completed all 50 States back in 2009 (in my "Shod" days) and afterwards became aware of the 50Sub4 Club. I realized I had only 6 states which would need to be repeated to get them all under 4 hours. I had already repeated Vermont and was in the process of training for Casper Wyoming Marathon when I injured my ITB and subsequently became a barefooter during my injury recovery. My first ever barefoot marathon was the Indy Monumental back in 2012 in 5:08...no where near the pace I would need for the 50Sub4 goal. But I continued to train, and get faster and Thanks to God, stayed healthy enough to build up to a Sub Four...and at altitude to boot!
My first bib with "Barefoot Dan" on name!
That has always kind of been my concern with this goal is that 3 of the 5 States I had left were higher altitude (CO, WY and NM) which, coupled with the slower pace of barefooting, might have put this goal just out of reach. But through much prayer and soul searching, the distance and speed did come back. I am enjoying running more now than I have in years! I tell people that barefoot running is a COMPLETELY new and different sport. You basically have to re-teach yourself to run...and that includes starting all over as far as speed AND mileage. But it DOES come back if you stick with it.
Pre Race - at bag check
The day of the Colfax Marathon we had near perfect weather, with a low of 46 and a 6am start which meant I was done by 10am with the temp still below or about 70. The course is beautiful and starts on the grounds of the Zoo and goes through Mile High Stadium twice, once at 6 miles and again at 20 miles. The entire course is basically flat but of course a mile high, and much of it is run along Colfax which is the longest street in Denver. When we weren't on a city street we were running along bike paths and a trail around Sloan's Lake. Surprisingly the roads were pretty smooth but there were a fair amount of pebbles and road debris which made concentrating on my path critical. This was made difficult in the early miles (as I learned in the Indy marathon) when many people wanted to run alongside and talk about barefoot running. Either they "knew someone who..." or "always wanted to try..." or wondered it I had "ever heard of those Five-Finger shoes" or you name it. It's crazy how many people made comments or wanted to talk about it. But I made a concentrated effort to maintain my form and pace during those distractions and sort of got used to it after a while.
Basking in the Sunshine Afterwards!
My goal was to keep the early miles just below a 9 minute pace and see how I felt at the half way point. The plan worked pretty well as I kept all miles in the first half between 7:55 and 9:03 with most being right around 8:45. The second half was definitely slower although not significantly. The last 6 miles were all above 9:00 but the last one was above 10:00. This is actually pretty abnormal for me as I usually "crank it down" in the last mile but this one was a 10:15 mile. This was definitely due to the horrible pavement as we re-entered the Zoo grounds. There were pebbles (Gravel) everywhere and in spots it was like broken up cold patch across the entire road. This would have probably been ok in the early miles but after 25 miles on barefeet, I wasn't really "into" this last rough mile. Luckily I knew I had about 4 minutes in the bank to still make the 4 hour goal. At the end my goal became to get both the chip time and the gun time under 4 hours, which I did. The gun time was 3:59:45ish and the official chip time was 3:56:17. So a new Barefoot PR by an hour and twelve minutes! My biggest PR improvement ever at any distance!
Feet in good shape after 26 miles!
While I've been basking in my accomplishment these past two weeks, I have been fighting a bit of a groin pull on the left side. The day after the marathon I ran 2 miles easy and both the left and right side was REALLY tight. As it loosened up over the next couple of days it seemed the left side was much worse. Then on Thursday, I overdid it and really tweaked it...pulled it the rest of the way...whatever...it hurt. So I cut the miles way back and took an extra day off. This week I started slow but increased the miles toward the end of the week. My goal for the week was to get my full 38 miles in (Avg. needed for my "other" goal of 2000 miles for the year). Due to the quick taper before the race and the medium to higher mileage after the race I have been able to keep the 38 mile avg. goal for the month. Still have 170 miles or so to make up from the disastrously cold winter. The nice thing about taking some time off at the end of last week was that I went ahead and signed up for the next one! That's right, I'm now signed up to run the Jackson Hole Marathon on August 30. This will be one of the 4 remaining states needed for the 50Sub4 goal. Linda and I are planning to make a mini-vacation out of it which will be much more fun than the IN and OUT that I did for the CO marathon.