From .125 Miles to 26.2 Miles: Marine Corps Marathon By Bruno Runs

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by stomper, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. stomper

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    From .125 Miles to 26.2 Miles:
    Marine Corps Marathon
    By Bruno Runs
    In my mind, I am not sure I had ever convinced myself that today was actually going to happen. 364 days ago (the day after my first marathon) I was reeling in pride and confidence, ready to take on another 26.2 mile distance and it only took one (1) small training mile to cripple my dreams of a spring race, or perhaps any race. After 2 months of frustration, icing, doctors, and YES, depression I decided to take a gander at this book my dad had found earlier that summer, "Born To Run." After curling up with the book during the Christmas holiday I was surprised how quickly I bought onto the idea of running sanz-shoes, and within hours of the final page had registered on the Runners World Barefoot Running Forum. I scoured the inter-webs for any and all information related to Barefoot Running. I had already been in the process of researching my multiple injuries (ITBS, Tendentious in the knee, top of the foot pain) and was happy to find evidence and success stories related to Barefoot Running.
    In a guest room in Charlotte, NC while mixing the final songs of an upcoming album, I decided to take off the shoes and start the process of transitioning according the Jason Robilliard's website, The Barefoot Running University. On January 10th I took my first running steps Barefoot in 40 degree weather outside my apartment. Although on that first 0.125 mile run I didn't necessarily find harmony with the running world, I also didn't hurt at all and decided to commit to the slow build up of atrophied muscles in my feet, calves, and Achilles tendon.
    As I continued to run outside barefoot, I further explored literature involving BFR, the proper running form, running efficiency, and bone and muscles strength. As I gained distance and understanding of my body and the way it reacted to running I decided to take a chance and enter into a 5K in March. From a 5K to a quarter marathon in April and on to a half marathon in Chicago, I built a solid base of skin thickness, stronger legs, and a better understanding of how to navigate the modern world's surfaces in my birthday shoes. In June, I joined the National Barfoot Runners Society, an amazing web site to find information on BFR, meet other runners, and gain valuable knowledge through sharing stories and experiences on their message boards.
    It was almost laughable to me a year ago to think that I would be taking on 26.2 miles again, on the same course, wearing $150 less gear than last year. Up until 6 weeks ago, I was still unsure about how well I would hold up after sustaining some small injuries while running in Greenville, SC. Somehow my body kept it's cool and healed quickly, allowing me not to miss any real miles and learn some final important lessons about my form and running approach.
    The alarm clock is blaring, it's 5:30am race morning. Unlike last year, I slept like a rock. I had been on the road performing 3 shows in North Carolina up until Saturday afternoon, something I specifically asked NOT to do, but in the music business, one doesn't always get days off when requested. I was packed and ready to go, but was missing the all important race number and B-tag. My girlfriends father Bart who was also running kindly picked up my packet earlier and was driving us into Arlington, VA to park before the race. Bart wasn't checking a bag in the runner's village so by the time we walked to the start line, I had an additional .5 miles to go check my bag and then another .5 miles back to my corral with only a few minutes before the race gun.
    This threw off my whole day, but was really a gaff on my part. I ended up jogging to the UPS baggage truck, disrobing, trading my VFF's and jacket for a pair of warm throw away socks and long sleeve shirt. I had planned to meet up with Bob Ewing, another BF runner in the race, at the village but was running so behind that I didn't get a chance to. By the time I had used the bushes and jogged back to the start line the Gun had gone off and I was jockeying for position in my proper start corral amongst 30,000 runners. Between the pre race 1-mile jog, and getting ultimately stuck in a much slower starting position than I wanted, this was looking like a bad start to the race that I was already quite nervous about.
    As I crossed the start line and fired up the GPS watch I tried to focus on getting into the basic form and rhythm that I was used to. I already knew from races past that I would be subject to some conversation and questioning but I was not prepared for what followed. The first 2 miles though downtown Roslyn and Arlington were as electric as I remember. Enthusiastic supporters, spring-loaded runners, cheering, signs, 2 big hills, and luxuriously frequently paved roads paid for by the highly ticketed Virginia drivers. As we moved onto sprout run parkway and across into DC, I began holding court with runner after runner about my bare feet. I heard it all; I was asked about if I was hurting, how long I had been doing it, was this my first barefoot marathon, people commenting to their friends about this "new trend" and a large amount of people that decided to run with me and talk to me like I was some kind of celebrity. I essentially talked for half the marathon and that was a contributing factor to my overall finish time but being outgoing and proud of my transition, I was happy to give my story to curious runners over and over.
    Georgetown was packed with spectators and supporters and rock and roll music which is a nice boost at mile 8-9. Although most runners at this point are still full of energy, the race day jitters are gone and it becomes time to really start to focus on your goals and energy. After running past the Kennedy center and the back of the Lincoln Memorial, it was time for the lonely 4 miles through west Potomac park. This year, and since starting to run barefoot, I don't listen to music while I run any more. I find it distracting now and choose to immerse myself in my surroundings as I take short strides and deep breathes.
    I as I approached the mall, around the halfway mark, I came across another BF runner, Tim Bourassa that I ran and chatted with for a spell. I saw Tim later in the race at about mile 21. I tried to meet up with Bob and another BF runner that were a bit behind me but with the pace I was holding and the amount of people on the course I just couldn't make it happen. I ended up running the gut of the race (13-17) with a first time marathoner named Sean from Florida. He asked to pace with me and we had a great 4 miles on the mall, taking in the historic sights and monuments, until I met the devil personified in a sidewalk. At the last minute, because of some construction, the course was routed onto the National Mall sidewalk for an entire mile that was rocky, full of loose gravel and liter, perhaps from the day before's "Rally to Restore Sanity."
    I closed my mind, relaxed my body, shortened my stride and took some serious deep breaths. As the Capitol dome came into view, I stepped down from the gates of hell and back onto the well traveled DC streets. Around the rest of the scenic DC mall, I smiled a lot, took in the picture perfect 55 degree day and met up with family for a quick photo. I crossed the bridge at mile 20 and began to buckle down for the finish. Up until this point I had been running just over a 10 minute mile and was determined to hold my pace. I had more energy at this point than last year and my legs and feet were surprisingly fantastic. In our loop around Crystal City, VA I was almost tempted to drink a beer being offered by some enthusiastic and costumed adults but decided I would finish my Chia water that I brought in my Fuel belt.
    With no one eager to chat with me anymore, I took the opportunity to relax and refocus on my form, hoping to smoothly glide into the finish. As sound of the finish line announcer neared, I began to pick up my pace, anxious to cross the finish. The crowds on the side of the roads thickened, the runners around me were half walking and half pushing, all trying to muster up what they had left to make the final .2 mile hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. And then as quickly as I had started, I strode across the finish with a fist in the air and my commitment to running reassured. I had done it, 26.2 barefoot miles, all that was left was the medal, a photo, and cold beers. I officially finished with a time of 4:25:57. I started running barefoot on Jan 10th with .125 miles and completed the marathon 9 months, 21 days, and 542 training miles later.
    Besides the one mile course adjustment at mile 17, the Marine Corps Marathon is an EXTREMELY BAREFOOT FRIENDLY race. Being the 4th largest US marathon, the course support and spectator energy are inspiring and the extra focus on charity and military service really helps runner moral and attitude. Once I had been photographed and moved through hospitality, it was time to get my stuff, meet up with my family and friends for a much needed Guinness and hot wings. I had an amazing time and will definitely be running the Marine Corps Marathon again in the future but next I plan on taking my barefoot talents to Miami in January. Thanks to all the Marines, volunteers, organizers, and spectators for their help in making this one of the most spectacular sporting events in the world. Thanks to Tim, Bob, and the other Barefoot and Minimal runners on the course who help hold up a positive image of our small group and I hope our runs can inspire others to try running in general, run marathons, or run barefoot marathons!
  2. jogoflap

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    1. New Hampshire

    Oct 27, 2010
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    Beautiful description of the race. I want to go down there and do it!
  3. Barefoot Terry

    Barefoot Terry
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    Chapter Presidents
    1. California...
    2. Michigan
    3. Oregon
    4. California...

    Apr 3, 2010
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    Congrats on the barefoot marathon!!! Great story.

    You and I started barefooting at almost the same time (Jan 2 for me). Just finished my first barefoot half marathon yesterday. Shooting for a marathon early next year. Your story is inspiring that a barefoot marathon can be done in about a year's time.
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