10 - 16 - 16 It was time for me to try the marathon again. The last time left me hurt and I decided I wouldn't put myself through that again unless I could adequately prepare for it. Last year I skipped the marathon distance, knowing with everything I had going on that I couldn't get enough training in. This year I took a gamble on it, and signed up way back in spring before the first price hike. I'm not sure why they have to mess with the prices like that, but to get the most reasonable price (that is still debatable!) one must sign up so far in advance that I was barely out of my winter lull this past spring. I gave it my best shot but still wasn't adequately trained. I got descent weekly mileage in, but not consistent, and my long runs were sorely lacking. With the advice from some of you on here I decided to still go for it, but I would try to hold back and just run it casually. It might be fun to not be worried about place and pace... and with any luck I wouldn't be limping around for a few days afterward either. Well that was the plan... Weather is always hit or miss mid October. Last year I was so glad I didn't commit, as it ended up being in the 20's (F) at race start. I literally wouldn't have been able to do it with no acclimation form 60+ degree days of late summer and early fall. This year we had a few cooler days but I hadn't run during the cold mornings. Once again the marathon was just a week away and the coldest I had run was probably 58F. But luck was on my side and it ended up being the warmest one yet (so I overheard) with race start in low 60's and 70 by finish. And the chance of rain that day even left the forecast as the day approached. Couldn't have asked for better weather for a casual marathon! Getting in the corral. I work in the building with the lit up strip around the top there in the middle of the pic. There was a beautiful full moon that morning, tried to get it on my cell phone but did not come out. Luckily I found some photos of the start online and they even got the moon in there too a little, even with the bright fireworks going off. Between the half and the full there were ~14,000 finishers, though not sure how many starters. Needless to say it was crowded, and by the time I showed up around 20 minutes or so prior to gun time the corrals were full and already lines forming off to the side. I had a bib tag for the A corral, but due to my lack of training I skipped over A and got in the back of B. Maybe I should have went further back yet. I'm very fortunate that this and many races start right near where I work, since I have parking and bathrooms and plenty of space inside to warmup, stretch, and chill before the start. View overhead of the start. The course runs right past where I work, the large building there right in the center. We were off on our 26 mile journey shortly after 7:30. I had to keep telling myself to hold back, take it easy. It was hard! I still probably went a bit to quick during the first half. Though it lies, my garmin often spit out times in the mid 8's. I wanted to keep to slower than a 9 minute pace, something more like my usual long run. My official splits show I did though, 9:12 avg for the first 4 miles, 9:01 @ 15k, 9:07 @ 13.1 I wasn't too worried about pace, and even walked through all the water stops for a bit. That must have brought my average a bit slower than what I was seeing on my garmin along the way. I got lots of compliments throughout the race on being barefoot but not a lot of discussion. I thought perhaps I'd get to do some more conversing being that I was without earphones and running more with the crowd. But folks weren't terribly talkative and well I'm rather shy myself, so not much was said other thank thanks and a bunch of thumbs up when people rooted for the barefoot guy from the crowd and the shocked nearby runners that would exclaim "Barefoot! Wow you are tough!" or 'Hardcore!". I probably heard that phrase 2-3 dozen times. Can't say I heard any hecklers the whole time at least. Probably 8 miles or so into the race a pretty gal did come up beside me and say "nice shoes!". I said thanks and that the last time I actually used shoes for a race was many years ago. She was the only one I got a chance to talk to briefly, though she was off on her way pretty quickly after asking if I was doing the half or full. She was pretty amazed when I said full, then we exchanged good lucks and she was off on her way. She was doing the half and running a bit faster than I. Idiot me didn't even notice until she was about 10 steps ahead of me that she was wearing minimalist sandals! Doh! I would have asked her about her minimalist experiences and mentioned this site, at the very least I would have said nice shoes as well back at her. Tunnel vision strikes once again. She was the only minimalist runner I happened to see. I speed up a bit and matched her speed, thought maybe as we approached downtown again I'd catch up and get a chance to talk before she ran into the chute, but when the next water stop approached I forgot and stopped to walk while I drank my cup, and she disappeared somewhere off into the distance. As we passed through the center of downtown again the halfers split off to the left and ran into the chute, while the marathoners continue on another loop that passes through OSU, Upper Arlington and back into downtown. By this time it was a bit easier to hold back, I was a little tired and most of the marathoners were going about my pace. While I might have ran just a bit faster than I wanted the first half, I let myself slow as I tired in the second. From 13.1 to 20 miles my pace was 9:44. I put the headphones in and just zoned out a bit. And right around the distance of my longest run this year, 18 miles, the wheels started to fall off. I started walking longer after I drank my waters but still hadn't actually done any walking other than with the water stops. After I passed 20 I was feeling a bit fatigued in the leg muscles, and did a few walks in there between 20 and 24 miles, one longer one probably 1/3 mile or so. It was getting harder to start back up after the walk! I think the last walk ended around 24 miles and I told myself I better run the rest of the way and not stop again because I really thought I might not be able to restart running after another walk. But I felt like I had a second wind, and coming back into downtown was just a big mood lifter, knowing the finish line was but a mile away and hundreds and thousands of spectators where now lining the streets and cheering. I felt like I really had a good last mile, back to my original pace but far from any impressive finish. My 20 mile to finish split was 10:25 average pace, but the last mile garmin said I averaged 8:30. Crossin' the line, barefoot and cargo shorts! So there you have it, marathon #3 done, all three barefoot, and this one was my slowest by far at 4:10. But I was happy just to run it, and really enjoyed it more this time around. Bigger crowds of spectators than any other race I've done, and just a more positive atmosphere. The course is very barefoot friendly, worst part is some lumpy and rough pavers in one very small section. Also fairly flat. Breakfast for champions. This year they had Bob Evans breakfast right after the finish line. Not exactly my first choice for what to eat right off the line but what the heck right? A couple of pancakes and 3 sausage links, not bad! After a couple more breakfast/lunches I made my way back home and relaxed in a nice warm, wait, strike that, I took a very non relaxing bath of cold water and ice. Wowza. First time trying an ice bath but I think it did help. I had a milder case of DOMS than any of my recent half or longer races. I was still pretty sore the next day, don't get me wrong. But by day 2 I was almost back to normal whereas I'm usually not even at my most sore until the third day. Still I took the whole week off, letting the muscles recover. Glad I decided to run this one even though I knew I wasn't trained up to run it well, it was a great race. Maybe next year I can convince our @Yvonne to go for the marathon too!