I ran a halfmarathon on Saturday the 12th. Start was at 3pm and only about a 12 minute drive from my house away, in a town called "Stadtsteinach". It was the 26th anniversary of the event and there were about 360 entrees in all events - kids (Bambini) runs, Nordic Walkers (Stick People), a 10k Fun Run, and the "Hauptlauf", the Halfmarathon. My wife Brigitte, our kid Isabella and her bff Charlotte came along with me. I drove there. Barefoot, es versteht sich.
Iwas getting the odd-looks in the parking lot already, and remained barefoot till the start of the race. I had my Huaraches with me and planned on wearing them the whole 21.1km. A friend had told me that it was hilly trail run.
My wife is the planner/organizer and had insisted, since Ihadn't run this one yet, that we leave early "just in case" (a good enough reason for her to get anywhere two hours ahead of time). So, there we were with about an hour and half to kill. The weather was iffy - low eighties, humid, cloudy. A few rain drops had splashed the windshield on the way up, but it didn't get worrisome until about 20 minutes before the start.
We watched the "Bambini" races, I drank lots of water and dashed off for lots of unwatering in the bushes. Idid some sprints, some self massage, some shooting the breeze with people. Just kept busy waiting for the call to line up.
At 2.45 there was a pre-race talk in the large Hall. They explained some changes that had been made to the course and some other stuff I didn't listen to.
Cut to the start.
It was raining when we came out of the talk. That worried me because, I haven't run any real distannce in the rain in my Huaraches. I was nervous about blistering.
I positioned myself toward the front, but not that toward. Gun went off, I trotted up to the yellow painted start line with everyone else and started my Garmin. The start is on a road, so no crowding issues. The first two Km's are two laps around the park area, a few hundred meters of which are along rocks as you would find under railroad tracks (what's the right word for those stones), other than that, pavement and manicured fine gravel, a barefooter's delight. But I left my sandals on.
Then we made a right turn into the valley where the bulk of the there-and-back race takes place. Iwas running alongside a guy about my age who seemed fit and relaxed, so I asked him when the hills start. He said, there ain't none. ???There were mountains all around us and I assumed we were gonna trot up to the top of one of them, but nope, it's a sloping course, not a real climb anywhere.
I hate surprises and didn't really know what to do with my pacing, so I just stayed with my new friend fro a while and felt into it. My goal time was 1:45, but since started my BF transition, I've had so little training that I really didn't know how to judge my fitness.
The rain had let up already, but it left the air thick and made it difficult to breathe.
The paths were picturesque, really lovely, but also well-tended and smooth. Again not what I was expecting. But it was also curvy and I didn't know what to expect behind each curve, so I just my huraches on.
Somewhere around Km 9 or 10, we turned onto a paved road. I assumed we'd get right off it again, but it lasted for a long time, right up to the turnaround at Km 12. Again, I didn't know what lie ahead, so I left the sandals on.
I don't really like there and backs, but the cool thing is that you get to see the leaders go flying by. The winner finished in 1:12, so he was basically sprinting when he went past. I gave him a big thumb's up but he ignored me. The winner of the M60 AG was amazing. He finished in 1:32 and I gave him a big shout out when I saw him. He ran totally lopsided and chaotic, but he was bookin!
Some of the photographers had a field day with me. They enjoy seeing anyone doing anything unusual (doesn't happen very often in Bavaria) and, especially since Ihad ditched my t-shirt at the 12Km aid station and was now running topless in flip-flops, I counted as exotic. Ienjoyed the attention, I have to admit, and tried to smile for the cameras
One zeroed in directly on my feet and did a burst of shots which came out great. The photos are on my Photobucket page here:
At around the 10k spot, Irealized that I was feeling quite fit and decided I could step on the gas a bit for the remaining 11km. My split times show this pretty clearly ("Steinachtallauf" on my Garmin page, link in my sig).
Iwas getting cheers and shout outs along the way. One woman came up from behind on a bike and yelled how COOLIlooked with those "Indianer Schlappen" (Indian Sandals).
Somewhere aroud KM18 I heard someone approaching from behind. He was a real huffer and pounder and he started tailing me. He got on my nerves. Idarted to the right and said, "If you're gonna pass, pass!". He said, "I was riding in your tailwind". I practically stopped running, just to force him to go past me. Numnuts.
Ok, getting there.
I could have and should have run this whole race BF (except for the railroad stones). I love my sandals, but only for rougher terrain, they're not that comfortable on harder surfaces. But Ihad kind of forgotten about them. The soles of my feet were getting sore and with only about 800 meters to go, I finally remembered that I could take them off.
Ahhh..... blessed relief. I was instantly lighter and actually quicker. I set my sights on Numnuts and intended to dust him off but right then, there was a curve and a hill that led to a long patch of rough gravel that we hadn't been across at the start. This slowed me a bit, keeping me away from him.
I finished up super strong, sprinting, topless and barefoot through the chutes, smiling and waving and laughing all the way, doing my best to be a good ambassador for our sport
The officials immediately started asking me about my barefeet, insisted on seeing them, were very impressed and encouraging.
Ifelt good. But I finished three minutes earlier than my predicted best case scenario of 1:45, so my wife wasn't there to see me. She heard them call out my number and name as I crossed the line (they also yelled out the word "Barfuss" (barefoot)), and she came looking for me.
I did my post race walkabout, I always need a few minutes alone afterwards. She directed me to the fountain with the icy water and took my pic.
After that, I went and got a free beer. Then another.
Went to the showers, dressed. Irealized I how tipsy I was and ate a fatty grilled steak sandwich.
Daughter and BFF were nowhere to be seen. There was a pretty good children's activity group there and they were immersed in their little world, but I was happy she was happy.
We hung around for the prizes, something I mostly skip, but the mood was good and the weather had turned lovely.
Oh, shortly after the finish, I think it was before Igrabbed my first beer, I saw Numnuts walk by and I gave him a big pat on the shoulder and said, "Good job, man!"
I'll check for typos paste a few pics in here later...
Thanks for reading
My first MF/BF race
Blog entry posted by BFwillie_g, Jun 14, 2010.