It was nice to see that the wind had died down to nothing by the time we got to Hamilton. The race kit pick-up and the bus ride to the high school (starting line) went smoothly. The high school gymnasium was crowded but a warm place to wait for the start. I was glad I had thought to bring an ankle band because the timing chip that they gave us was for attaching to shoe laces with a plastic tie-strap. I was able to attach it to the ankle band and hoped it wouldn’t rub when I was running. After checking my bag I was lucky to find Tracy who was aiming for a time I thought I could do also, but anything under 2 hours would have satisfied me. Tracy and I got our places near the front of the starting line with more than 900 people behind us. It was a little chilly waiting at the start wearing shorts at 5ºC. However, once we got running I immediately felt comfortable and knew I had made the right choice in clothing
People were passing us right from the start and a lot of them said something about my bare feet. What was nice was that everything that was said was a compliment, praise or words of encouragement and that really energized me. Tracy had a plan for how she was going to pace herself that involved her starting slow and speeding up throughout the race. I stayed with her for the first part, but by the middle of the downhill I wanted to use gravity by relaxing so I would speed up. I knew it was a gamble that I could maintain the faster pace and not burn myself out before the end since I had never run that distance before. The highway asphalt was rougher than I thought it would be so I tried to stay on the white painted lines as much as possible. I noticed shortly after the 10k mark than any talking had been replaced with puffing. By the time I reached the 17k mark I was really wanting to see the finish line. Every k marker after seemed to be too low and I had to keep telling myself that I only had a few more steps to go. I was starting to feel a tingling sensation in the middle toe of my left foot and imagined a blood blister forming. I saw the 20k sign and thought about hitting the after-burners, but just then I stepped on something sharp. I wasn’t going to stop and check it out at that point so I just kept running. I imagined I was leaving bloody footprints but then I saw the finishing shoot in the distance. At that point I did the best sprint I could do with the energy I had left and crossed the mat at 1:45:59.
I was surprised that the guy who removed my timing chip from my ankle band didn’t say anything about running barefoot, but he just seemed a little relieved that I had a chip he could remove. However, just about everyone else who saw me started with the same two questions;
“Did you run barefoot?” followed by,
“How are your feet?”.
I was happy to answer “yes” and “my feet feel great”. Despite the tingling and the sharp poke I had felt, the soles of my feet looked better than they had before the race. I could feel a little bit of muscle soreness in my feet, but it was minor compared to my quadriceps. I found it funny that people were so concerned about the condition of my feet after running the half marathon barefoot and Kasey who had run the full marathon had blood oozing out of her shoes at the end of her race.
I don’t know why anyone would want to run in shoes. They must be crazy. I can only conclude that I was the only sane one in the races. I did notice the Kenyans looking at me after the race and I think I saw a guilty look on their faces. ;-)