Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Barefoot Marathon Finisher!

Barefoot Marathon Finisher!

Over 1 year in the making and I am so proud to say that I officially finished a marathon in my minimalist/barefoot shoes!

My dad always taught me to make multiple goals - because even if you don't achieve your number one goal, you can still be successful with plan B and you should be proud of your accomplishments. Goal #1: Break 4 hours (so close - I finished in 4:07). Goal #2: Finish in my barefoot shoes (check). Goal #3: Don't get injured (check). Goal #4: Enjoy the beauty of the course (check, although I may have zoned out for miles 20-23).

The experience can be summed up in 3 words... hot, hilly, and hobbling.

When I ran the Steamboat Springs marathon back in 2005 it was so cold that it snowed the day before and we wore long sleeves the entire race. Seven years later and this past Sunday I was in a tank top praying for shade or clouds to offer a break from the blazing sun and 80 degree temperatures we experienced the second half of the race. I got sweet tank top and sock tan lines out of the deal, plus a little dehydration. Even though I stopped at every water station for 3 glasses of fluids, I still needed 4-5 bottles of water afterwards in order to catch up.

The hot, hot road into Steamboat Springs (mile 22)
The first half of the course is all downhill. You start at over 8,000 feet and make your way down at least 1,200 feet by the time you reach mile 7. We saw horses stampeding through the valley, quaint cabins isolated on a hill, cows grazing in the fields, and snow on top of the nearby 10,000 foot peaks. It seriously is breathtaking - and it's just you and the road taking it all in.

The hills seriously start up around mile 14 and continue to roll until mile 23. Why did I decide to run this race again? Do runners have short term memory? We must - otherwise, why would we put ourselves through the pain again? I kept repeating "hills do not exist" to the rhythm of my stride and tried to forget they were there. My wonderful husband and brother-in-law joined me on their bikes for the last 10 miles, which was such a welcome sight as the pain, soreness, and tiredness started to kick in.

Still moving forward at mile 25! Si se puede!
And now, the hobbling. My calves are so unbelievably tight and sore that when people see me walk they ask if I am okay, if I need help, or if I need crutches. This evening I walked up and downstairs "normally" for the first time in over 2 days - my legs just can't support or move properly after the hills and distance! I have only had issues with stairs after the Steamboat Springs Marathons and not the other flat-lander marathons so it must be the hills.

And despite it all, I have to admit that I actually find it gratifying to be sore for a few days because it reminds me that I worked hard. I am already moving much more easily tonight - probably due to the multiple walks I have been going on each day to loosen up the muscles - and I hope to be back running low miles this weekend.
Celebrating in the shade!

Thank goodness for short-term memory. I remember thinking at mile 20, "how am I supposed to run a 50k (31miles) in September when this is sooooo hard?" And now only 2 days after the marathon the heat and hills seem like a thing of the past and I am excited for the challenge of training again. Don't get me wrong - I am going to relish in the next 3 weeks of laid back casual runs and walks before I launch into the next training schedule, but I get such an adrenaline rush from long distance running!

And the million dollar question... now that I've achieved this goal, will I return to my orthotics and former Saucony motion controlled shoes? No way! I hope to be a barefoot runner for a long time to come :)


  1. WOW! WOW! WOW! Congratulations, Katie! That is so impressive. Enjoy the rest. I can hardly wait to hear about your 50K.

    1. Time flies... 50k is only 2 weeks away! Just around the corner now...