January 2, 2012 - Two years ago, I began this journey as a barefoot runner. It's really been quite an amazing journey thus far. And on this 2-year anniversary, I spent the evening on my longest, barefoot nighttime run of 14-miles. It was an incredible feeling to celebrate this milestone in this way.
For those of you who have followed my blog some of this is old news. I began this barefoot journey quite by accident. I had been a shod runner for about two years. After my third marathon I took a two-year hiatus from running. There were multiple factors that contributed to this hiatus - illness and recovery time, family and work obligations, and a loss of motivation. In two years and three marathons, I had not been able to hit the goal of a 4-hour marathon despite all the training that pointed toward that mark.
In a desire to find inspiration, I asked for the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall for Christmas in 2009. When I opened that book, I had no idea that it had anything to do with barefoot running. On January 2, 2010 I went on my first barefoot run - 2.5 miles of energy filled fun!
Since that time, I have logged 592 miles running mostly barefoot with some miles in minimalist shoes. In 2011, I logged 458 miles. My goal, once again, this year is to hit 1000 barefoot/minimalist miles. You can keep a tab on my progress on the right side of this blog.
Looking back over the past two years blows my mind when I think about the changes that I have experienced. When I was a shod runner, I ran because I had a race to run. I didn't always enjoy it and it was a chore. Now, I seek out opportunities to run more. Additionally, my attitude toward long distance running has radically changed. I used to think that ultramarathoners were runners who had gone insane. I didn't understand it and I sure as hell didn't want to do it. As I became more adept at running barefoot, I found that I enjoyed, no, loved running. After running several races barefoot from 5K to half marathon and on road and trail, I started to seriously consider the realm of the ultramarathon. I jumped from the half marathon distance to a 50K ultra and was hooked.
This past year had another milestone for me. I beat my shod half marathon PR by nearly a minute this year. My previous shod PR for the half marathon was 1:50:05. My new official barefoot PR for the half marathon is 1:49:22 (1:49:09 by my watch). Keep an eye out for my race report for this race (St. Joseph's Half Marathon), I'm a little behind. The race was in October =)
Now I find myself in the midst of training for my first 50-mile endurance run and I am loving every minute of it. Does it have its struggles? Absolutely. Do I always enjoy my runs? Yes. I take every moment on the run as a challenge to push myself toward that limit. When I have a bad run, I use it as a learning experience on what not to do, eat, or whatever might have challenged me that day.
So, maybe ultramarathoners are runners who have gone insane. But I have joined their ranks and I'm loving it!
More recently I have begun training co-workers to run distances up to the half marathon and the experience has been fantastic! I love seeing people who never considered themselves runners now identifying themselves as a "runner".
I truly look forward to my third year as a barefoot runner and all of the joys and challenges that lie ahead. Here is a brief look at some of my hopes and goals for 2012:
American River 50-mile Endurance Run
The Relay for Life (hope to run the full 24-hours)
Pacer for a Western States runner
A 4-hour marathon
Here's to a great 2012! Happy New Year everyone!