At least I can say


October 27, 2013 by scratchtype1

I had to fight the nerves some this morning. Even though I knew it was a virtual certainty that if I ran harder some, it should set another PR and I suspected I could pace myself to under 26 minutes. But any runner who’s done at least some races knows about how expectations can often turn out to only be dreams. I just tried to remind myself that I had done a solid run on Tuesday with around 19 minutes up around tempo pace. That had boosted my confidence because I was at a stage where I needed some running time at pace above easy and for some length of time, more than what I’ve been getting when I throw in 30-second strides with 1:30 recoveries on my easy runs. Those 19 minutes of time at a comfortably hard pace made me feel confident that I could at least run that and tack another 6 to 8 minutes where I might start having to work harder near the end, but still not feel like I’m gassed or killing myself.

I was also bit nervous about the temperature, low to mid 40s. Again, I went to the well of experience and remembered how I had hiked 12 miles cross country the prior weekend’s Saturday, with temps in the mid 40s to start, chilly, cloudy, and wet grass in places. My feet did fine there, and I knew that they should be able to handle this day.

All I had to do was just run smart, run barefoot, smile some and everything should be taken care of.

Fortunately I made one very smart decision before I left: the last race had timing chips in the bibs, but I had heard about chips which people wore on their shoes. Thinking that, I pulled the leather boot lace out of my old pair of boots as insurance to have a way to secure the chip to my ankle. Guess what? It was one of those chips and I went back to my car with the bib, chip, and plastic fastener. There I tied the lace into a big loop, stretched it out, then ran the lace around the left ankle, and then looped it through the one end and back in the other direction. Eventually, I slipped it through the loop connection area and then wrapped the extra around the bracelet that had been formed. That all done, all I had to do was use the plastic fastener to attach it to my homemade leather ankle bracelet. Then I put my bib on and walked around for the 10 minutes before the race start.

As I walked around up at the start and finish area, anytime I felt a pebble under a foot, I would pick it up and toss it to the side. May as well save myself any discomfort. Some of the fast guys were waiting around. The one guy, who I recognized somehow some, said, jokingly and not maliciously at all, “There’s always one asshole who has to show up barefoot.”

I smiled and said, “Call me asshole.”

Finally, it was time for the race to start. They blew the airhorn and off we all went. I just tried to settle into a comfortably hard kind of pace, tried not to think too much, just keep scanning for any potential hazards and keeping the shoulders relaxed. The first mile went fairly comfortable, with a little downhill stretch before the 1 mile sign. I felt good, the feet which had been somewhat chilly to start, had become nice and warm. Sometimes people passed me, sometimes I passed others. I felt a little bit empathetic towards those I passed and I could hear them already breathing hard. My first mile split came in at 8:11.11 and that felt good. That’s the fastest I’ve ever run a mile in a 5K and is nearly as fast as time I did a Jeff Galloway magic mile in August 2008.

I did lose a little speed between miles 1 and 3. It may have happened some because shortly after the first mile marker, there was a bit of uphill. It slowed everyone down some and I figured it was good to keep things from getting hard. Between miles 1 and 2.5 or so, I think it was mostly me passing people. The only problem was when I passed one fellow, I found myself probably around 30 to 45 seconds behind the next group of runners. So I had to run the final stretch without a pacer or pacers, but I did try to feel a sense of being pulled closer to that distant group in front of me.

I hit 3 miles done with something like 25:06 showing on the watch. I felt surprised and disappointed some that when I then tried to accelerate, I didn’t get nearly so much as I did at the 5K 4 weeks ago. Was it because I had been running harder? Was it because this time I had no one to pass like the race before? Was it because I think there is still a lot of room for aerobic improvement? The longest run I’ve done so far is 6.56 miles and I still don’t have a lot of runs of more than 5K. But I did accelerate some and covered the last tenth in 47.95 seconds. Official finishing time of 25:54.2. And my legs didn’t feel too thrashed out at the end and currently I feel as though I could do a short sort of recovery run this afternoon. So there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Just try to keep running mostly easy, some tempo runs from time to time, and more strides should help me towards the next goal of going under 25 minutes in the 5K.

It also felt good to pick up a new race shirt with a logo about diabetes. My other race shirts which have been linked to diabetes have all fallen apart. I tend to wear them a lot.

It was a good run. I didn’t run so hard that I forgot to smile and the feet did just fine. They’ve come a long way the past 5 months of mostly barefoot walking and now around 12 weeks of barefoot or minimalist running. I’m running faster than I ever have and having more fun while doing so. That’s not a bad deal, and all it required was me to give up the shoes that I had been wearing for most of my life.


2 thoughts on “At least I can say

  1. Runner λ says:

    Well done !
    You don’t mention the surface at all, I suppose it was smooth enough ?
    That’s usually the first thing I remember (or pay attention to).

  2. scratchtype1 says:

    Nothing troublesome, surface-wise. Mostly asphalt roads, and a stretch of fairly smooth concrete sidewalk, plus a few steps on the grass when I cut a corner a tiny bit. Oh, I also stepped on a steel manhole cover once.

    Believe me, if I ever hit a rough patch in a race, I will talk about it, what it felt like and how well I handled it.

    It’s maybe also worth mentioning that as I drove along the stretch of road that the race was going to be on, I looked over at it, just as a preview in my head of what to expect. And I walked out the first two-tenths of a mile or so on the course, removing a few pebbles along the way.

    There was a gravel section off the road and near the finish where they had set up a computer display of the results. When I came back to look at that, one person looked at me walking across the gravel and said, “Your feet are really tough, aren’t they?”

    I said, “Yeah, the human foot can be a lot tougher than what most of us think.”

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