Mankato Half Marathon - Oct 19, 2019 By trevize1138 This was the first half I'd run in about 7 years. The last time I ran it I had my trusty old Asics on, did a 2:03 and was limping for a week. After I recovered from that I tried to get back into training and ended up with shin splints thanks to my stomping overstrides. It was the painful beginning of my minimalist journey because I knew there had to be a better way. This Saturday ended up being a nice end cap to my minimalist/unshod "transition" these last 7 years. I did the whole 13.1 miles over rough chip seal pavement, scored up pavement under construction and gravel all in the rain totally unshod and ended up finishing in 1:46. It was the longest distance I'd ever run at that fast of a pace and it was so much fun. My original plan for the weekend was entirely different a few months ago. I was already signed up for the Savage 100 at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Prior Lake, MN. The 100k I'd signed up for was going to actually measure 66 miles and it would be just over a month after the 50 mile North Face Endurance Challenge I'd done Sept 14. That was my first 50 miler, though, and it was so tough I knew following it up with another 66 the next month was, if not too much for my body, too much for my marriage. Training for ultras is such a time suck and my list of house projects has been piling up. But a friend of mine was signed up for his first half marathon and the forecast looked too nice to pass up so I jumped in the race with him. I convinced two more friends to join up and at the starting line there were five of us together committed to run the whole thing as a pack. That was my plan: maybe a 2:10 or 2:15 half taking in the fall colors and encouraging my n00b friend as he completed his first. That whole plan fell apart around the first mile. One of us five was the other guy I'd run the 50 with last month and he and I were just feeling too good to hold back. Turns out this was also the first half marathon my fellow ultra runner had ever done. Previous to this the shortest race he'd ever done was a marathon. He was a wrestler in HS and never did track or cross country but decided to become a marathon runner in his early 30s. For him especially this was something completely undiscovered: an opportunity to go fast not just long. He was also running in untested equipment: a pair of bullhide huaraches I showed him how to cut out and lace up the evening before. This year I'd gotten him into sandal running with his first pair of Lunas but he didn't really like running in them on pavement and he couldn't stand running in his old Altras anymore after spending the whole season with his toes free. He also knew he wasn't yet experienced enough for 13.1 unshod miles so I figured there was only one thing for it: the last bit of bullhide scrap I had left and a pair of 72" leather cords. Along the way I got plenty of the expected comments about my bare feet. I really enjoy hamming it up with people now: "OMG, he's running barefoot!" I turn around and look behind me "What? Where? Somebody's barefoot? That's insande!" "Whoa, you don't have shoes on!" I look down: "What? Why doesn't anybody tell me these things?" I gotta say, though: my lack of unshod speed work did come back to bite me after I finished. I looked down to see a little bit of splattered blood on my right foot. I think it was from the blister on the 4th toe of my left foot. I also had a few bruises and really tender feet. I haven't felt that since I first started going unshod years ago. It's obvious I know how to step light and gentle doing 10 min/mile over 26.2 miles but at 8 min/mile for 1/2 that distance it's a whole other story, especially when you throw lots of road construction in the mix. Luckily, feet heal quickly and today it's more my calves and achilles that are still sore while my feet are feeling pretty good. As for my other companions my fellow ultra runner in the untested huaraches had a toe post pull through around mile 4, had to do some emergency repairs and crossed the line at 1:56. My n00b runner friend had hoped to finish in 2:30 but did a full 21 minutes better than that. His friend who tagged along with us was 5 minutes later. The oldest one of us at 49yo started out strong but had some knee stiffness and came in closer to 2:30 but still smiling because he's always looking for silver linings. I'm certainly pleased with my own time. It was also nice going in to the race with no expectations and only deciding to actually race it a good mile after the start. I only wish I could fool myself like that for every even from now on. Psychologically I think it worked better than the usual sleepless pre-reace night and anxiety over every little muscle ache in my body the week before. It was also a good reminder of how each distance has its own unique challenges. Running ultras may be all about survival but running shorter distances fast is no small feat. The winner crossed the line at 1:08. I know elites are doing that distance in under an hour. That's some serious speed. I was just happy to break two hours and even more happy to welcome home each friend who crossed the line.