Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jackson Hole Marathon

Happy Labor Day Barefoot Runners,

Before Start of Jackson Hole Marathon

I'm out in Jackson Hole Wyoming where I just completed the Marathon yesterday.  I was blessed to have my wife Linda here for the experience and she got to help me celebrate a new BPR (Barefoot Personal Record) of 3:50:48 and another "50 Sub 4" state which leaves me only 3 states to go! (goal to run all 50 in under 4 hours)

I came out to Wyoming on Wednesday evening to attempt to get acclimated a little ahead of the race on Saturday.  The experts will tell you that you need about 10 days to get acclimated properly, but 48 hours was all I could manage.  That being said, the key to acclimation is to DRINK PLENTLY so I bought a case of water on day one and started chugging.  I think it has really helped as I didn't get any of the typical headaches associated with high altitude acclimation.  Now that Linda is here (she arrived Friday) I'm pushing the water on her too and she also thinks it is helping.

I was definitely concerned about this marathon and it's altitude which is all above 6,000 feet.  Of course, since I was wanting to do it in under 4 hours I knew it would definitely be challenging as I had just done Colorado in May in 3:56 but that was even 1000 feet lower...I mean, let's face it...there just isn't enough Oxygen once you get above 6,000 feet!  And with the added challenge of doing this barefoot, I knew it would be at the edge of my capability.

Do I look nervous?

Chilling out before the start
 Another kind of crazy thing about this race was that the race director had declared this an "Eco Friendly" marathon, meaning that all the aid stations would NOT have cups, so you had to carry your own "hydration system" with you while running.  Some ran with a Camel Back system and others ran with water bottle belts.  Some opted for the "HydroPouch" system being pushed by the race director which was basically a little rubbery cup with a clip to hook on your shorts.  At each aid station there was both water and Poweraid in large dispensors with quick valves to shoot whatever you needed in whatever receptacle you had with you.  I looked at the HydroPouch at the expo being hawked for $11 and then opted for my own ziplock baggie for 2 cents which did the same thing and was lighter weight to carry. 

I looked at the Hydropouch as a waste of money for something I would never use again and eventually throw away.  Nice and "Eco Friendly," NOT...thank-you liberals!  I picture a landfill somewhere in the future overflowing with discarded Hydropouches, or worse yet, a sea-turtle slowly choking on some triathlete's lost Hydropouch.  Okay, I'll get off my soap-box, but really, didn't my $90 entry fee pay for the handful of water cups I would have used on race day!  OK, OK, deep breath.

Feet not too bad after 26 Rocky Mountain Miles!

Race day morning arrived with a possible threat of thunderstorms throughout the day, but none ever materialized.  The starting temperature was around 48 degrees with a predicted rise to only mid 60's by end of race, so this turned out to be absolutely perfect running weather.  Linda and I walked the 6 blocks from our hotel to the start and waited with the 100 or so other participants (there was also a Half Marathon with about 400 people but it had a different start location).  I chugged a final bottle of water, handed my sweats to Linda, the gun went off and the marathon was underway.  The first three miles through town were a little dicey as a couple of streets had just been repaved 24 hours prior!  I opted for the sidewalks in these sections as sticky tar on the bottom of your feet is not a good way to start a barefoot long run.  It's bad enough stepping on little pebbles, but you don't want them sticking to your feet!  At about 3.5 miles the course joined the extensive bike trail network which offered some very nice and smooth surfaces and also had a yellow painted stripe down the middle about half of the time.  When I could I ran the stripe, but the path itself was much smoother than most roads.

The course did leave the bike path periodically and join up to regular roads or even highways at some points...total road mileage was probably about 9 miles with the rest being on the smooth bike path.  One of the worst sections was on Hwy 22 leading to the small town of Wilson.  Here, as I crossed the Snake River Bridge, I hit my right heel hard on an unseen rock and sent shooting pains up to my knee.  I think it is a deep heel bruise and I felt it the rest of the race...and still feel it this morning. 

Another Moose Sighting in WY

Linda was following me in our rented Mustang and stopped a half dozen times to take pictures and videos.  This was very nice as it represented the only time in 3 years of barefoot running that I've acutally gotten to see a video of myself actually running barefoot.  After the first water station or so, I got the hang of filling and drinking out of a baggie and actually didn't have any problem at all with it.  I also carried along 5 "Gu" gels which I ate at about every station after the 10 mile point and chased it with a baggie full of water or Poweraid.  At about the 13 mile point I opted for the Port-O-Let and said to Linda as I exited, "Well, at least I know I'm hydrated!"

My overall goal for the day right from the start was to run a 3:50, although I acutal went out much faster in the first few miles at about an 8:15 pace.  By about the halfway point I was feeling very comfortable and had put about 9 minutes "in the bank" over my needed 4 hour goal. (not usually a great race strategy!)  So even though I slowed considerably in the last 6 miles, I said many "breath prayers" to God to not allow me to slow down too much.  I was fairly confident that the 4 hour mark would be met, but I also had the secondary goal of bettering my BPR of 3:56 from Colorado just three months before.
Bright Sunny Finish in Teton Village
This was very comforting and I really never let my later pace slip by more than a minute per mile and kept all those early "banked" minutes safely in the bank and finished strong.  The black bike path was in the beating sun the last 3 miles or so and acutally began to get a little warm on the feet even though it was still not even 11 o'clock yet.  The combination of low humidity, high altitude and brilliant sunshine can make for some very quick temperature rises, so I was GLAD I was almost done.  The last 50 yards or so turning into Teton Village had some of the worst gravel of the day, so my finish video doesn't look to happy or joyjul but believe me, I was very happy at the end.  I actually had one of those sort of emotional finishes and almost became overwhelmed with the fact that I had another 50sub4 state (on my third try), a new Barefoot PR, and my wife Linda there with me there to celebrate.

Now we are continuing the vacation and looking forward to the free Lynard Skynard concert tonight right here in Jackson Hole.  The one surviving member of the original band, Gary Rossington, lives here and this is his "give back" to the community of Jackson Hole.  The concert is at the foot of Snow King ski resort and is about a 7 or 8 block walk from our hotel so we are looking forward to a nice evening if the rain holds off.

Once I get back to Indiana later this week, I look forward to continuing to maintain my 38 miles per week (average) to capture my biggest year ever of 2000 miles (with or without shoes).

Happy Barefooting,

Barefoot Dan

August Mileage = 182 miles

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