Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Yet ANOTHER Florida Attempt

Last Snowy Footprint?

Hello Barefooters,

First Flowers of Spring
Well Spring has sprung, and more importantly Spring Break is here and I am looking forward to a week off from work in the sun.

March was yet another busy month and I got in some good barefoot running with the milder temperatures and the buildup to my 82nd marathon.  This was my second marathon of the year, my 9th barefoot marathon and as the title indicates:  Yet ANOTHER Florida Attempt.  This was my third attempt at the State of Florida in the continuing effort to get all my marathons under 4 hours for the 50Sub4 quest.  But alas, it was not to be.
Fargo ND, so cold the trees turned blue!

The week before I was able to "temperature cycle" on a business trip to chilly Fargo, North Dakota.  Here I got in 3 colder runs of 6, 4 and 2 miles in both the afternoon sun and 18MPH winds as well as the cool dampness of the pre-dawn hours.  Here is a picture of the beautiful scenery on my last pre-dawn run in Fargo before flying back to Indiana to get ready for the marathon.

Once back in IN, I got in a ten miler at one-week-out before beginning my quick taper of a 9-mile Monday, 8-mile Tuesday and zeros for the rest of the week.  My buddy Earl Strong and I started driving down on Thursday and took two days to get to Ormond Beach, FL for the Tomoka Marathon.  Upon arrival, we spent Friday afternoon at the packet pickup and then went out to drive the course (my standard ritual).  I was pleasantly surprised at the absolute smoothness of both the pavement and the wide-striping for about 
Course Pre-drive @ Chief "Tomokie" Statue
90% of the course.  What I was most worried about was the rough 2.5 mile section through Tomoka State Park at miles 19 and 20 but felt more assured after seeing the road in person.  There were very rough gravel sections in the middle of the road but seemingly smoother edges, and tire tracks including some sections with a "soft" carpet of piled up leaves along the edge.  I purposely did not get out and barefoot walk any of these sections, since I recalled "psyching myself out" the day before the Shiprock New Mexico Marathon a couple of years ago by walking the rough stuff.  I figured, it won't change anything now...no sense in worrying about it during the first smooth 19 miles of the race!  I figured I would just maintain my conservative 8:45/mile pace throughout the race and try not to give back more than a minute per mile during the rough stuff...sounds like a good plan, right?

The other concerning factor was that the low temp for the area was now no where near the 50 degree range it had been for the past few weeks.  The low temp on race morning was 60 degrees with a predicted high of 77 and a 4-hour finish temp of around 70.  The humidity was 71%, also a little higher than 
Tomoka Starting Line
"comfortable" for Indiana winter runners like Earl and myself.  Even so, I was pleasantly surprised that I was easily able to keep my 8:45 pace going early and using the RaceJoy App for the first time ever, kept hearing predicted finish times at each of the early mile splits of 3hr:50min to 3hour:52min which was encouraging.  However, just 10 miles in I began to struggle holding the 8:45 pace.  After much prayer and digging deep, at mile 12/13 I began to get comfortable again at the 8:45 pace...still I knew that I should not be struggling this early to keep pace and this would be a bad omen for things to come.

...oh and did I mention there was a 15 minute delay for the planned 6:00am start time due to, of  all things a train accident, so add 1-2 more degrees to the already warming temps...oh boy...

While there were pace groups available at this race I purposely chose not to run with them for fear of crowding and not being able to pick my line (steps) as I needed to find the smoothest path.  Still I did try to keep myself within sight of the 3:50 pace group led by Kimmy and the 4:00 pace group led by Mike.  At mile 18.8 upon entering Tomoka State Park I was about equi-distant between these two groups...pretty much the perfect spot considering the early conditions.  Now to just hold a +1 pace (~9:45/mile) or so for the rough miles...I was eager to see what would happen.

Then disaster struck...

The "packed dirt trail" (as advertised) was literally nothing more than a gravel road and sections I thought would be somewhat smooth and do-able, were anything but do-able.  Using both my Garmin running watch and the RaceJoy App on my I-Phone, I soon realized I couldn't even hold a 14:00 average and even that was too painful to continue. 
Within 200 yards, I was reduced to walking and even though I periodically began to gingerly run/jog some sections, my average pace for
Let's Get This Party Started!!!

both miles was about 25 min/mile.  While I was extremely disappointed, I decided to keep moving forward and finish the race...and there was no easy "Hop on the Bus" option like there had been at Shiprock two years ago during my first and only DNF of my marathon career.  After exiting the park, I took pride in making the next mile in 12:11 but then to add insult to injury, mile 22 (which Earl and I drove incorrectly the day before) actually diverted into a housing subdivision along the Titus River with no sidewalk and extremely rough Florida style shell pavement which turned into another 21 minute/mile for me.  After exiting this additional rough stuff, and back to the main smooth road ,I pulled each of the last 3-4
miles down to 11 something.  This felt good to do, but...too little...too late!  The damage was done and the minutes had already piled up against me.  I finished with my 2nd slowest barefoot marathon ever...argh!

Earl was waiting for me at the end and we compared notes.  He had wanted a sub 2 hour half marathon but also succumbed to the heat and ended up at 2:10 instead, not ideal, but not as big a miss as mine had been.  I told him that I briefly toyed with the idea of taking my 50Sub4 shirt and a can of lighter fluid and starting a fire...but I calmed down and now am looking a other Florida marathons to attempt.  It won't be for a while as it is definitely warming up now.  Next attempt will have to be November or December at the earliest.

One nice sideline on the trip, we got to meet up with Earl's daughter Brittani and her husband Ron who live just down the road in Titusville.  We got to catch up with them and
Ron, Earl, Brit, Dan @ River Grille in Ormond Beach
have a pre-race carbo load meal at River Grille, a nice seafood restaurant in Ormond Beach, the night before the race.

Now its off to Spring Break, oh, back to Tampa FL of course.  Linda and I are going cruising once again, this time for our 25th wedding anniversary.  We will be departing Tampa for Honduras, Belize and Mexico on a 7-day Royal Carribean Cruise.  This will be our 4th cruise but first one with this company.  Additionally, we will be celebrating with my twin brother Dave and his wife Annette, who are also celebrating their 25th...oh yeah, did I mention we had a double wedding?  We will be renewing our vows somewhere in Belize...I'd better get to writing mine!  Hoping for some good barefoot running on the track on top of our ship "Rhapsody of the Seas!"

Happy Springtime,
Barefoot Dan

March Mileage = 131.47 miles


  1. Hey Barefoot Dan! Been following your blog for a while and enjoy the encouragement. My wife and kids enjoy hearing about your adventures too. Sorry to hear about your marathon, but it's still plenty impressive that you finished. You'll conquer it next time for sure. We live in Dunnellon, FL and would love to host you all for lunch or dinner or meet up and run together. We are about 20 min off i-75. If your going home that route after your cruise let us know. We would love to discuss faith and running. Thanks!

  2. Hey, saw you on the course, fellow barefooter! While the Tomoka Park section was not my favorite, I'm surprised it was such a problem. The side road was just normal pavement, no biggie. Finished in 3:50 for a barefoot BQ!
    You might want to try Space Coast Marathon in November for your next Florida effort. I ran it barefoot last year and it has literally no problematic sections and is as flat and fast as it gets. Good luck!