Mankato Marathon: Not Every Finish is Guaranteed By Trevize1138 Yesterday was my second year doing the Mankato, MN Marathon. Just like last year I did it unshod. My primary goal was just to beat last year's time of 4:28, which was also my first completed marathon. Prior to that I'd attempted to finish the Maah Daah Hey Trail Run marathon distance and DNF'd at mile 20. My secondary goal was to break 4:00. I failed both. It was a shame because I had a PB for the first 1/2 at 1:59 so I can at least finally say I've run a sub-2hr 1/2. I really want to race a 1/2 again sometime to see just how fast I can do that when I'm not pacing myself to do a 2nd one right after it. This was also the 3rd marathon+ distance I'd done since July 7 when I completed my first 50k, the Afton Trail Run. I then finally conqured the MDH marathon (turns out that was actually 27.1 miles) three weeks later. Those two successes were likely my undoing yesterday as I was feeling really excited after the MDH marathon and hit it way too hard thinking I could really focus on tempo and speed work. What I got out of that was a twinge in my right achilles tendon that never quite went away. Never really stopped me from running, always felt fine after the first 5 minutes of any run but was a constant reminder to me of why I should get plenty of rest after a marathon. And I that is even more cruicial if that marathon came just 3 weeks after a 50K. Now, if you're in suspense from my title I did finish yesterday. However, my time was 4:34 so 6 minutes slower than last year. I was doing excellent all the way through about mile 18 and then somewhere between there and mile 20 my right leg (the same one with the twingy achilles) started acting up. My achilles wasn't really bothering me but I'm sure whatever imbalance in that leg that's at the source of the referred pain meant the whole rest of my leg was feeling the stress. My quad was starting to complain right up where it connected to my hip and right down where it connected to my knee. Not exactly pain but definitely a red flag type feeling and it made me stop and walk a bit. I tried alternating walking and running but for the last two miles I was walking probably 80% of the time. I saved things up so I could at least run the last 3 blocks to the finish. It was about the most hard-fought finish I've ever experieced and I'm still processing the lessons learned. The radio DJ calling the finisher's names interviewed me on-the-spot at the finish, too, very curious about my bare feet. He asked me the usual questions and I told him how this was my 2nd year doing this marathon unshod and said "it keeps me from getting injured" when asked why I do it. Lots of the usual comments all along the race to my bare feet, of course. I ran this one with my old friend who did the 50K and 27 mile trail races with me this year, too. I beat him in those two and joked with him that I took pity on him and let him have the last one. He finished in 4:12! It was fun having a running partner (we stayed together until about mile 20) if for nothing else he got to experience what it's like seeing people react to barefoot. We started hamming it up after a while with people. One woman said "Wow! How are you doing that? Amazing!" to which I replied, pointing to my friend's red shirt "I know, right? The red shirt and everything!" I was really hoping for a PB yesterday and dared dream of a sub 4hr time. I certainly think I've got that ability in me and wasn't lacking for energy. It's just that instability in the right leg after not quelling my enthusiasm that caught up with me. It was heart-breaking to see the 4:15 pacer flag pass me and I just knew I couldn't recover. Still, if I look back on this past season and, indeed, this entire year I've got a lot to be proud of. 5 marathon+ distance attempts with only 1 DNF. And that DNF was a 27.1 mile trail race in nearly 100F heat with no shade so I had tons of things stacked against me going into it. I've learned quite a lot. I got into minimalist running 6 years ago out of desperation because I was constantly injured from running. I'd go try 3-4 miles every other day only to end up with shin splints and frustration a few weeks into it. Minimalist running saved me from that. I got into unshod running 3 seasons ago and last year finally figured out some key efficiency issues that showed me how to run very long distances. I'm thankful for all that and where it's got me now. I think what this year showed me was just how much my body can actually take. 3 marathon+ distance events in 3 1/2 months seems to be just a bit too much! That's certainly a long, long way from 6 years ago when 10-15mpw was a straight ticket to injury. I'm now going to force myself to take the next two full months off. That's going to be a real challenge. I love running. I love it now more than I ever have. But I have to let this 45yo body heal! It was a great season and now it's time to take a break, recover, heal and look forward to next season's new adventures. Thanks for reading! Conditions: It was about 30F at the start. I did the entire thing unshod and pretty happy about how well my feet handled themselves. It was also much windier than they'd predicted and we were going straight into the wind out on the flat prairie from about mile 14-16. There was about a 1 mile stretch of gravel right after mile 20 I had to negotiate, too. I packed with me my thin, light leather sandals and was tempted to lace them up but resisted that. At that point I already knew a PB wasn't happening so I was at least going to finish and do it 100% unshod. Take my victories where I can. Overall my feet handled things a whole lot better than last year. I've really learned a lot more about how to handle rougher surfaces. Either that or I just don't freak out about them like I used to. I now trust my feet and know that rough pavement or even gravel isn't going to harm me. It won't feel good and even be a bit painful at times but that's just my feet constantly reminding me to stay safe.