Afton Trail Race 50k

Summer is truly here, and Mother Nature hasn't taken any sympathy on us and jacked up the temps and humidity for the last couple weeks.  I guess that is good news for those of us preparing for July races, in that we are able to test out hydrating and fueling on the run while sweating buckets!

Last weekend, Matt and I did back to back long runs at Hyland Park.  18 miles Saturday, 20 miles Sunday.  It was unbelievably hot and humid, and running may be too strong of a word - there was lots of walking and power hiking, and short bursts of running (mostly in the shade when were being tormented by bugs!)  It was the most milage I've put in on foot in one weekend in my entire running career.  And I enjoyed every minute of it!  We did a lot of hill repeats straight up the ski hills at Hyland.  The thermometer at the top read 86 in the shade, and not a breeze to be found.

On our way home from Saturday's run, we stopped at the hardware store and picked up a plastic kiddy pool - we filled it with water from the hose and, Wa-laa! The poor man's ice bath!  It felt so good to sit in the cold water.

This week was still hot, and I didn't get much running in, but I think that set me up for a good run yesterday at Afton State Park.  Luckily, we had a small storm blow through and broke the temps for Saturday morning.  The biggest downer was that Matt was not going to be toeing the line with me.  As he is nursing a back injury and not taking any chances.

So at 6:30am Saturday, we were off, to enjoy 2 - 15+ mile loops of Afton Park.  It starts with a significant downhill, a short section of very runnable flat, and then a long uphill.  I knew most of the course, and the plan was to run the sections that I could, and walk the uphills.  A few miles in to the first loop, I joined up with some new friends, Steph & Joe, and we got to know each other over the next miles.  Chatting about a million different things really made the miles click by quickly.  Occasionally we would get spread out, and I was able to run some on my own, but by the time I got bored, I would have reeled them in again at a aid station or big hill, and the chatting would pick up where it left off.

Part way into the second loop Steph and Joe took off on flat section along the river.  I wasn't able to reel them in after that.  But it was ok, I was feeling good and had my own race to run.  I wasn't fast, but I easily put one foot in front of the other, and soon enough I was beyond 26.2 miles and on my way to my second 50 kilometer finish.

My biggest goal for this race was to use it as a long training day for the Voyager 50 mile trail race coming up on July 28.  I'm feeling much more confident that my training is preparing me to run 50 miles in the coming weeks.  I know it's not going to be easy - because like I always say - "If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!" But I'm ready to take on the challenge and meet the demons along the way.

Until next time...