Monday, March 21, 2011

LA Marathon Barefoot 2011 A two part story of pain and glory.

Part one: Lessons

A bit of a backstory,

I have had many strange setbacks since my last update. Mostly All non-BF running related stuff. I blew out my back moving a recording studio etc. soon after the thanksgiving ½ mary. I came back from that and after doing a 16 miler barefoot in the rain with no problems I talked with some folks about running barefoot in the rain and I became nervous about the soles of my feet. So I broke my cardinal rule and pulled out the only shoes left and during a single run in Ascis stability shoes during massive non-stop rains in late Dec. I blew my Achilles. This incident could have been easily avoided but my desperate attempt to maintain high mileage instead of just waiting until the weather changed got the best of me. It hurt bad. I decided I would punish myself some more and followed that up with a shit-ton of abusive drinking as I was so pissed at myself.. Dumb. Yes. After almost three weeks of sulking around and limping around I concluded I had to get my gimpy body and mind in order! That meant no booze (which is not a normal part of my life anyway) and eating healthy. I went vegetarian as directed by my Yoga teacher Guru Singh. Bang. I had been doing Kundalini yoga for almost two years but I wasn’t living the lifestyle. I decided to change that….I gave up caffeine, Alchol, meat, warm showers. Felt great.

(I did later learn that running barefoot in rain presents no real problems as long as you run proper. I should have trusted my experieince with the rainy 16 miler. This lesson would prove to be a very valuable lesson for this impending marathon).

So due to all these strange setbacks I had to modify my training. This meant I could no longer do my obsessive mile counting shit. No more running twice a day/ 7 days a week. This was a blessing. I figured I’d do only some long runs to get me through the marathon but stupidly the night before my first long run after my layoff I went to the gym. I hadn’t been there in eight months but I proceeded to knock out a pretty intense workout including deep back squats. The next morning I went for the long run and my quads felt like they had been beat with a seal club. The next week I am afraid to admit I did the same exact thing except I increased both the run and the weights! This resulted in my quads to imploding and inflaming my tendon in the quad, This was bad. This prevented me from doing any cross training as even swimming aggravated it! The marathon was starting to look like a pipe dream.

I now am left with only running Long once every 7 to 10 days all at a very easy pace and that’s it. My marathon training consisted of only a handful of runs, two of which were 20 milers. I said” hell with It I am doing this” and I registered.

Part two. The barefoot marathon

Anxiety had begun to set in due to only running once in a blue moon, knowing that my cardio is crap and my quad still hurting leading up to the race. I barely slept the days leading up to the Marathon. The night before the race I slept like 40 mins. at best and heard that he forecast was for massive RAIN and boy they were right! Ok, no problem ,right? I did numerous long runs in the rain and I am not worried. My alarm going off at 5:30 almost gave me a heart attack causing my entire face to pulsate in rhythm to my heart. I was really tired and felt like throwing up. Not kidding. I grabbed some toast and Amy and I were out the door headed for Dodger Stadium, which was the starting point. When we arrived and it was really cold, the wind is whipping me in the face and I am already exhausted from lack of sleep. I am starting to think I should just call it a day and go home. I decide to stay and wait for the start with my teeth chattering away.

I was supposed to meet up with Julian Romero, Ken Bob and the Gang but I couldn’t find them and I didn’t have a phone. So after standing around freezing for an hour we are off! I am glad to be moving and I begin to feel ok! Before I reach the first mile I hear somebody yell “hey barefoot”! Next thing I knew a fellow barefooter is beside me. I am stoked! His name was John and it turned out we had about the same time goal although had run a few Ultras and a marathon within the last year while my cardio was crap due to running so little. I was determined to gut it out and post a respectable time anyhow. In the first few miles Legs feel a little crappy but as we continued on they warmed up and started to feel pretty good. John and I were joking and running together having a good ole time. We got lots of love from fellow shod runners and the crow for barefootn it. It was nice! The rain was really coming down, the wind was whipping us in the face and we joked that it’s amazing that at mile 13 we are still cold! You just couldn’t get warm, I was dressed in a singlet, a pair of racing shorts, compression calf sleeves and a ball cap with a skullcap underneath. All the way to mile 16 we hung together and at that point John took off and I couldn’t hang on to him. I was now on my own., quiet and in my own mind, running a nice steady pace. I focused on my breath and movement and mediated. As I approach mile19, I see my buddy walking! I come upon him and yell “hey barefoot”! I asked him if he was ok as I ran past and he responded “my legs feel like 100lbs” I had to run on as I didn’t want to stop but he didn’t look good. I’m pretty happy at this point and I am thankful to my body for cooperating.

I hit mile 20 and I am feeling fine and my pace has been very smart and even. I pretty much just go into a void for the last 10 k and I think I slowed between mile 21 and 24 but at 24 I hammered to make up for it and mile 25 I was running all out and I as I turned on to Ocean ave. in Santa Monica. Now the Ocean is in view and the wind was howling and the rain was slapping me but I ripped the last mile with all I had and bang I made it! My time was 4:19! Not bad for only running 4 times leading up to the race and in sever thunderstorms barefoot on trashed ass streets. Joy! I almost felt like hypothermia as we were forced into a standstill in the rain and wind after the marathon. There were almost 20.000 finishers. I eventually borrowed someone’s phone to find Amy, I had to walk in the rain barefoot for another freakn mile. This seemed harder than the race itself! Ha. All in all it was an experience I would not trade and the difficult weather made it special. I can’t wait for next year. I think I’ll run more than once a week for that one.

I wanted to give special thanks to a few important folks.

Thank you to Julian Romero whose tutelage has been invaluable and he remains a massive inspiration. He finished the day in 2:45 barefoot. Mind Blowing.

Also to Ken Bob for helping us barefooters find our way and for teaching us how to run. And being the host with the most!

And to Mom and Amy for standing behind me!

Much Love, Barefoot Burt

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