When people see me running in my huaraches, I’m often told I’ll never be able to run a marathon in them.
Finally, I can say I can because I have. Read on to see how things went!
On October 28, my 42nd birthday coincidentally, I completed my first marathon, the 37th Marine Corps Marathon held in Washington D.C., and I did so in my Luna Sandals. Perhaps I was the only one in sandals that morning. If there were others, I didn’t see them. I did meet someone running the race barefoot, and I learned of another who ran barefoot, as well. As for runners in other minimalist footwear, their numbers were well, minimal. I only saw a handful of Vibram FiveFingers and other brands among 30,000 runners.
Like my footwear, my preparation for this marathon was minimal. I followed no rigid training schedule and leading up to the race, I ran as I have for the past three years — daily or as my schedule permitted. This averages about five miles a day. I did run 20 miles one day back in April to prove to myself that my barefoot running technique was strong enough to keep me relaxed and comfortable for longer runs, turning my focus to hydration and nutrition instead. As the marathon unfolded, I realized I probably didn’t focus enough in this area.
My primarily goals for the race were to finish and to enjoy myself. As for time, I would be happy to finish with an overall pace near my daily running pace. Ten minute miles seemed reasonable. At the 18 mile mark, I was exactly on that pace before cramping in my legs began. My feet, knees, back, and energy level were just fine, but the muscle cramping forced me to slow way down, and for a few stretches I dropped to a walk just to see if that might help. It didn’t and neither did drinking or eating more because it was too late. I forged ahead, eventually finishing with an 11 minute pace overall. I met those primary goals, but I wish I could have staved off the muscle cramps so I could have stayed on my goal pace.
Stiffness from the muscle cramps aside, I felt great after the run. My feet felt as if I didn’t even just finish a marathon. My Luna Sandals performed wonderfully. I got the usual comments during the race about my strange footwear with many saying how brave or tough I was. I tried to tell them: they were tough to endure shoes for so many miles of pounding asphalt!
I’m glad I chose the “MCM” as my first marathon. The entire event was executed with only the precision that comes from the U.S. Marine Corps. The crowds who braved the cold and wind preceding Hurricane Sandy were full of energy and inspiration. By the way, in the MCM, you not only get to complete a marathon, you also get a running tour of Washington D.C. and its historic landmarks.
Finally, here’s a trailer I made of the race. Hope you like it!
Thanks to my wife Tonya and to my mom for cheering me to the finish!