My beautiful pink Mizunos have been sitting in the trunk untouched since July. Yet the barefoot hippie running shoes seem to be working great! Sometimes one little piggy feels like a blister is starting to form, but that's nothing a little vaseline won't prevent. I feel like I'm going impossibly slow in them, yet my average time is still right around 10 minutes a mile. When I was doing the longer runs, especially the first time at a distance, it wasn't unheard of for me to get closer to 11-minute miles, so the "speed" seems to be right on track.
Distance wise I started with .5 miles then I stopped tracking distance and went to time. 12 minutes, 18 minutes, 23 minutes, all is well in my running world. My left calf has occasionally hurt but not in a "there is something wrong and this is serious pain" kind of way, but more like "I'm using a muscle I don't always use and it feels great" kind of way.
This weekend: 30 minutes baby! (sigh, what a setback that I was doing 7 miles and now I'm back to 3. Yet I have the muscle memory so it won't take nearly as long to build up the distance again).
There is a rock and roll marathon in New Orleans the week after Mardi Gras. Perhaps that will become the new goal. If I'm doing a winter marathon, it's definitely going to be somewhere warm!
Here's a great website to find races of any distance throughout the country http://www.runningintheusa.com/Race/List.aspx?Special=marathon