Long Beach International City Bank Marathon - October 16, 2005
The 2005 Long Beach Marathon was another reinforcement for the reason WHY I began barefoot running and, eventually, barefoot marathoning. IT IS HARD! Some barefoot runners will say that it is easier to run barefoot than with shoes. Not me! The trade-off, for me, is I no longer have the recurring knee and leg problems that I had when I ran with shoes. However, I was faster with shoes (but still not that fast). Another trade-off is that I enjoy the challenge of barefoot marathoning because most runners can't or won't do it for one reason or the other. I like being one of the few who will time after time get out there and run 26.2 miles barefoot even if it is a slower time than what I could do in shoes. The challenge for me today with the distance is strategizing how fast I can run on a rough surface without injuring myself.
Long Beach has it's rough spots, that's for sure. The asphalt is more like an embedded chip seal which is more than half the course. The first nine miles are the best surfaces -- a mixture of concrete bike path, smoother asphalt and concrete overpasses. The remaining miles are a courser asphalt that takes negotiation (usually a reduced speed, in my case). My fellow barefooters that ran with me might tell you otherwise. Anyway, that was my experience on this particular day. Sure, I have ran rougher (Mountain Home Marathon last November) but this one seemed to create a certain willingness to keep a slower pace.
Barefooters Ken Bob, Joe, Ted, and I started the race together. We chatted with each other and others around us for a few miles until we all fell into our respective paces. I had some silly notion that I thought I could keep an 8:15 pace for the entire marathon and did so fairly successfully for the first six miles. Joe had dropped behind us at that time and I told Ken and Ted that I didn't believe I was going to be able to maintain this pace the entire way and urged them to go on. That was the last I saw of them. If I remember right, Joe passed me at about mile 8 or 9 and that's the last I saw of him. I continued on my way.
At about mile 16 or 17 is one of my favorite parts of the course. The course goes over a bridge with a view of Long Beach boat harbor. This is where they shot the opening of Gilligan's Island at the "tropic port". Of course, I had to sing the entire theme song while going across the bridge while sporting my Gilligan hat which I had brought for the occasion. My fellow runners applauded me when I finished, probably because I was finally done singing!
The course was full of very supportive aid stations, volunteers, and the general population who got behind the runners. The entire marathon has a big marathon feel with great support, especially the last mile. Supporters were lining the streets in downtown Long Beach as we descended the final hill to the finish line. Rudy the announcer, who I had met at last year's Long Beach marathon, announced "Barefoot Rick" one of those crazy barefoot runners as I hit the mat at 4:14:30. A far cry from the 8:15 pace that I set early on but only a minute more than last years time.
(Left - Ken Bob, Me, Joe) (Right - Relaxing after 26.2 Miles)
The weekend was not just about the marathon. On Saturday, Ken Bob picked me up from Long Beach airport. That afternoon, we took Herman his dog along with Tenderfoot Don and went to Dog Beach at Huntington Beach for a short low tide beach run. Sunday, after the marathon, we had a kind of soggy pool party at Ken Bob's, complete with blueberry smoothies ... YUM! The rain curtailed the festivities and I retired early that night to my hotel.
(Left - Me and Herman running in the surf) (Right - Ken Bob and Herman)
(Left - Ken Bob running on water) (Right - Sunset Beach)
All in all, a great weekend to get to hang out with Ken Bob, his wife Cathy, Herman, Barefoot Ted, Joe, Don, Todd, and others. While Long Beach may not have given me the marathon results I desired, it gave me lasting memories of friends and fellowship that I will keep with me for years to come.
12th Barefoot Marathon
30th Marathon Overall
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