Monday, March 7, 2011
On February 27, 2011 at 12:30pm the Peterborough Half Marathon started. At 12:29 I trotted barefoot from the warmth of the YMCA building into the large flakes of falling snow and to the start line on Aylmer Street in front with my feelmax moccasins folded into my race vest pockets. I had decided based on the weather forecast for midday that I would be able to do the entire race barefoot, but the weather was not quite as nice as predicted. The temperature was -1°C with a -7°C wind chill and the roads were wet. The asphalt on the streets was very rough up to Lansdowne. Dave was calling out the times for the first k, as I turned the corner on Crescent Street I heard him shout 4:48. I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle to get under 2 hours but I wasn't too concerned. My priority was getting through the race barefoot without injury. Once I got to Ashburnham Drive the asphalt got smoother and I had warmed up a bit. My stride and form felt good and I was settling in a bit. I was still passing a few people here and there, but I felt I was on a fairly steady pace. It was just then that I heard "Hey check out the guy with no shoes on!" It was Dave as he reappeared on his bike taking pictures. By then most of the people around me knew I was running barefoot and I had already heard half a dozen comments.
The next two familiar faces I saw were those of Chris and Mandy. They were at the corner of Ashburnham Drive and Hunter Street. Mandy was shouting some encouraging words and Chris yelled that the road should be warmer in the tunnel under the lift locks. It was not. In fact it was colder due to the lack of sunlight, but my feet and legs were getting warmer as I started the hill assent. I passed a few people climbing the hill and passed many more as I let my legs relax coming down the hill. I find that in order to reduce the uncomfortable friction from the road on my feet during the decent I take short quick steps and let gravity do the work. The more I relax, the faster I go and I only hold back enough to maintain control. This was the same story on the way back except a little slower. My feet were feeling pretty cold by the time I reached the rough surface of Crescent Street. As I turned on to Perry Street I saw Dave again on his bike. He rode beside me telling me it was only 500 more metres to go and to give it a final push. I usually wait until I can see the finish line, but I was cold and wanting the race to end at this point. I suddenly went into sprint mode and passed Dave on his bike, but by the time I was back on Aylmer Street I had run out of gas. My feet were now cold and sore. I gave a last little sprint for the 20 meters that took me over the finish line. I quickly continued my plodding to the warmth of the YMCA building.
I was happy to find that my feet warmed up quickly and didn't hurt as much as I thought they might. After a quick complimentary lunch thanks to the sponsors, I went to the results wall to check out my time. I was happy to see a 1:51 beside my name. I felt this was a decent time for me considering I had just run 21.1k barefoot in Peterborough on February 27.