This was my longest barefoot race where I've been in shape. I wound up getting a blood blister on my left big toe but didn't notice until after the race. The hills were a little tough on my be without shoes, but I probably didn't give up more than 10-20 seconds overall, I think, as the roads were mostly smooth and easy going.
Otherwise, what a great race! Not phenomenal, but not the lame race of 2 weeks ago. I went in with more of a plan and a better ability to frame where this race fits in with the rest of my training for the fall, which made a big difference. I decided that I'd run all the Grand Prix races barefoot to try and toughen up mentally, and then for club championships I'd lace up and run my heart out.
For this race I decided I'd go out with the lead. In the past races I assume that there are 2 levels, the elites and then the chase pack and that I belong with the chase pack. So I go out conservatively, sit with back with the chase pack and hope that runners from the front will come back to me. I wanted to be strong and go out hard to break this. I went out with the lead pack and stayed with them through the first 1.5 miles. It was pretty cool to be up there with them. I backed off and felt fine doing so (like at Bobby Doyle last year). I knew that backing off meant I'd be in no man's land and that I'd have to stay in the race on my own. I wound up being much more successful in this than I have in previous races.
The course was pretty challenging, with lots and lots of rolling hills and 3 bigger climbs and a couple of sharp declines. Someone said afterwards that it's a 9 mile race, since the last big climb ends at 9 and then it's a long coast to the finish. I wasn't wearing a watch so I wasn't really getting splits. I went through 5 miles around 26:15 or so. I had wanted to run a bit faster than that, but with the hills and heat I wasn't disappointed. Right after there's a turnaround and it's really the only place where without looking over your shoulder you can get any sense of where you are in relation to other people. I figured at that point I was about 15-20 seconds ahead of the next runner. After that there was a steady string of runners. I decided that if I was going to give up a place I wouldn't do it before the last half mile. I wanted to keep pushing and stay on pace and if I got out kicked I'd have given everything up to that point so it wouldn't matter. This was great motivation. I did a great job cresting hills and then pushing on the flats and downhills. I wonder if a watch would have helped motivate me, but I'm not sure if it would have.
I wound up giving up some ground on the 2nd half to the next runner, but that was alright. My last 2 miles felt really strong. With about 400 to go I looked over my shoulder and the next runner looked like he was right behind me, which really surprised me. Kind of jolted me awake. I knew I didn't have all that much left in the tank but I tried pushing as hard as I could and had a strong finish. Unless I put 10 seconds on him over that distance I think my eyes must have tricked me.
I was definitely satisfied with the race as a whole and am looking forward to the next one. I was 5th overall and 1st in my age group. Some of the usual suspects weren't there (Serafini, Pelletier) so my place was more an indication of this, but still, if I ran like I did 2 weeks I would have probably been closer to 10th place and a minute slower. And while the race was a PR for a 10-mile race, I ran a faster 10-mile split at New Bedford.