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08 June 2011

Recovery. . . and More!

It took a full week after Pineland Farms before I really felt like running again – it ends up I wasn’t over my cold like I thought. So on top of my sore muscles (and man, they were sore), I was still stuck with the same congestion and weak, tired feeling I had before the race. So I took a full week off of running for the first time in at least two years.

So it was with some hesitancy that I laced up for my run to work Monday, but once I got out the door, I felt great. Same with the run home this afternoon, it was a good run, and I made sure not to push it until I get back into the swing of things. It’s been a little cooler, too, but the humidity is still up there, and it’s supposed to keep on getting hotter until tomorrow, which will get up close to 100, with a chance of thunderstorms.

So now I’m back to my base of 50 mpw just by running to work and back, but I need to find a good place to put some more training in for the trails. I’m planning on hitting the trails near my house on Saturday and putting in 10 or 15 miles, just to keep my legs used to moving on the terrain.

My next big race, should I chose to run it, will be the Maine Huts & Trails 50k in Carabasset Valley, Maine at the end of August. I love the area, having run the Sugarloaf Marathon twice (including my PR this year of 3:59), so I’m really excited for the opportunity to run a trail 50k up there, but the race director still hasn’t responded to my request for more details. If anyone else knows anything about this race, please let me know! I’m also planning to run the Gloucester 7-miler and the Around Cape Ann 25k, which are each within a week of the 50k. I’m just planning to treat those two as “fun” training runs.

I took my son for a kids’ fun run down the street on Sunday, which he was really excited for, until we actually got there. Then he suddenly decided he didn’t want to run it anymore. Now, the weird thing is that he’s always been a big runner, but this time, after about 10 minutes of cajoling, he agreed to run, but insisted on me running it with him and holding his hand. This was his longest race, a lap around the park, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen him hit the “kids wall,” where they suddenly realize they’re not going to be able to sprint the entire race. He pushed through though, and we didn’t finish last! Afterwards, he confided in me (but I’m still not sure if I believe him or if he’s just giving an answer so I stop asking) that he originally didn’t want to run because he realized he wasn’t going to win when he saw the big kids at the starting line. Now, I have no idea where he could have gotten such an impression, as I’ve never even come close to winning a race in my life! Anyway, it was an interesting experience.

01 June 2011

Pineland Farms 50k Race Report

First off, now that a couple of days have passed since the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival, let me just point out that the race might not be for everyone, but only in the same way that a really hoppy IPA might not be for everyone. If you like trail running, you'd love this race. From everything I heard, the Saturday races all went well -- the 5k, 10k, barefoot 5k and canicross 5k (ie - running a 5k with your pooch). And when I arrived on Sunday morning, the place was hopping once again. I was a little nervous because driving down from my hotel in Augusta the fog on the highway was really thick. When I got to New Gloucester, the temp. on my car was 61 degees, but the humidity was high enough that I was already drenched in sweat 20 minutes into the run.
The course is great -- a double loop perfect mix of fields and forest, with a few dramatic ups and downs and enough variation that it stays interesting, but also by the time you hit them the second time, you have some judgement as to what's left of the course. It also seemed to be a great mix of veterans and newcomers, and if you ever needed conversation, it was easy enough to find. The aid stations also left nothing to be desired, fully stocked with everything you could possibly need, and since there was a cash prize at the end to the group putting on the best aid station, there was actually competition among them. At one point I had a girl at one of the aid stations run up to me on the approach, grab my water bottle, and by the time I reached the end of the table she handed it back to me -- full of ice water, with the top screwed back on correctly! The trails were clearly marked with orange flags anywhere you needed them, and there were numbered markers at every kilometer.
Despite my fears that the week(s) of rain leading up to the race would likely have made a mess of the trails, they were actually in pretty good condtion, with the perimiter of the fields having a clearly mown path through the waist high grass (as the race director e-mailed out ahead of time, the rain did stop them from being able to cleat the mown grass, so it was just left on the path, which didn't create the issues I thought it would). There was only one marked spot where it ended up being impossible not to go just over ankle deep in the wet mud, and despite my hopes, by the second lap it the swamp was still there, so just as I felt my feet were getting dry, I hit it again. My feet were never actually getting dry, though, because of a combination of the socks not drying as quickly as I expected them to, and the mud making it more difficult for the shoes to spit the water back out.

Personally, I can say with certainty that it was the most challenging race I've ever done, and also the most fun. I hit the wall really hard around the 21st mile, and it was exacerbated by what I think was really low blood sugar (I took 9 units of basal insulin the night before, usually I take 14 if I'm not running, or 13 if I'm running to and from work, and 10 or 11 before a marathon, so I was really subconsciously afraid of my sugars getting too high, so I was being cautious at the aid stations -- silly in hindsight, considering both the 6+ hours of running and the extremely high humidity) and possibly sunstroke, because although I didn't realize it at the time, my neck was (and still is) extremely sunburned. At my next stop at the Yurt aid station, I realized I needed to stop and recuperate, so I stopped and sat down for about ten minutes, stuffed my face with as much junk food as I could possibly manage and just a little too much to drink, and immediately felt better. Of course by then it was too late to get back (mentally and physically) to where I was before I crashed, but I managed to pull myself through until I really started to cramp up on the home stretch of the outside loop at around mile 26. Then my calf cramped up as I was coming down a hill and I almost took a header, and a few minutes later, both quads cramped up like rocks and I had to walk up a hill backwards because each time I tried to stretch it out, I ended up cramping up somewhere else..
So it wasn't a pretty finish for me, but it was a finish. And it was great to see a mix of 50 milers and 50k runners out there on the course, with a few 25k runners at the tail end. Plus, the finishers village was really chill, with tons of food, Muscle Milk and first aid under the tents. Plus, the cowbells made for perfect finishers medals. I know I'll be back for this race next year.. I might even run the 50 miler..