On Sunday, May 1st I ran my second marathon, but first barefoot marathon. I had a goal of running a sub 4 marathon. My training was on the low side, I was averaging about 30 miles per week, and maxed out once at 36 miles, so that was a concern. I did run two 20 milers as well. My official time was 3:51:30!
Going into this marathon I heard from a few people on various barefoot forums, that the roads in New Jersey are tough. Well whoever gave me this news you were right!
The start of the marathon it was about 55 degrees, right near the ocean, the atmosphere was beautiful. I was just hanging out checking out the waves, and a race director came up to me and said so I assume you are the barefoot runner I heard about. She told me that i was the first barefoot runner to ever run this race, I didn’t know if that was good or bad, to me that meant the conditions were going to be tough. I emailed the race director asking if there was any steel bridges, so maybe word got around that there was going to be barefoot runner.
I line up with sub 4 pace group, and we are off. Basically there was about 2 miles of smooth concrete, the rest of the marathon was a combination of chip-n-seal, small rocks with tar poured over them, and a various other textures I never ran on where I live. But right from the beginning I knew this was going to be more of a challenge with the terrain, than running the marathon.
I was feeling real good though, decided to pick up the pace, and came to the 3:50 pacers, this was about a 8:30 pace, so decided to hang here, 8:30 was the pace I was looking to do anyways.
At mile 15 we came to this road that literally had large separations in the concrete, and rocky. I actually closed my eyes for a bit to help me relax through this, it was beating on the feet.
The course then took us to a wooden board walk, which was about 4 miles running on that. The first two miles of the board walk was old, chipped, and a nice welcoming for some splinters, but that didn’t even bother me. I was relieved to get off the roads for a bit, and the scenery was awesome, how often do I get run by the ocean, not much.
Mile 20 still feeling strong, but was falling back on the 3:50 pacers. Physically I felt great, but the terrain was actually getting the best of me. Now I know how meat feels as it gets tenderized with one of those meat cleavers. My soles were taking a good beating. Good time right here to say “well if you had footwear you wouldn’t have this problem” To that I say I run barefoot, and this is something I needed on my resume to experience.
Mile 24 on the home stretch heading back to the start which was the finish as well. It’s a cool place, restaurants, bars, on the boardwalk, the vibe was great with spectators. Then I see my family at mile 26. The marathon I ran last year, my son came out from the crowd and we ran in together, which was only about 20 feet, I know he wanted to do that this year as well. But they were about a half mile from the finish, I waved off my wife to not let him come, but here he comes anyways, he is 4 years old, I turn to him to say go back to mommy. He had no problem going back, he seemed overwhelmed with all the people. But as I turned around to him I plowed into this old couple that was coming in from walking the half marathon. I literally almost knocked them both down to the ground. My son went back, I said sorry to the couple and continued on. I felt terrible my son couldn’t run with me, but he was fine about it.
The next half mile I doubled my pace, spectators just screaming, it was so emotional, and the energy was incredible, that is what the marathon is all about.
Given the fact that the conditions were tough, the experience was awesome, and I am thrilled about my time. If you want to test your will and your bare soles, then run this marathon. Barefoot running is all about learning, and testing your limits I was happy to be exposed to this experience.