Race Report: Afton Trail Run 50k

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by trevize1138, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. trevize1138

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    Race Report: Afton Trail Run 50k
    By Trevize1138

    Trevize.jpg

    My first test of my year without metrics is done and the tl;dr for this race is a 20 minute improvement over last year's time at 6:24 vs 6:44 in 2018. I also did roughly 20/31 of the miles unshod, ditching my trusty Luna Origens after the first 11 miles due to slipping around underfoot from humidity.

    The course is a 25k loop done twice and I noticed on that first lap that tecent rains had created a few spots of mud and lots of tacky dirt and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. There was also about 3-4 miles of fairly rough gravel I wasn't looking forward to but I figured suffering through that was worth it for the rest of the tactile experience.


    Curiously enough, those rough gravel spots may have allowed me to have a stronger finish than I otherwise would have. The gravel is about 1/2 way through a loop and the worst of it was this 1/2 mile switchback downhill. Once done with that it was almost all blissfully smooth surfaces and grass until the finish. People who had previously passed me as I winced down the gravel were now being reeled in and left behind.

    Trevize3.jpg
    One person I battled it out with is an old friend. He'd done this race about 6 times now but this was the first year in huaraches and he loved 'em. He was feeling particularly strong on the hills, running up them when everybody else was walking and just flying downhill talking about how "freeing" it is to run in sandals. We both talked about how many "flip flops" comments we got.

    Yesterday and today we've both been paying for those fast downhills. I'm walking backwards down stairs still and getting out of chairs is a challenge. I'm going to really focus on a proper, safe recovery time then back to it. Next test of my year without metrics is a 100k Oct 19th. Every step after the 1/2 way point of that one will be a new accomplishment for me and I don't have the free time to put in more than 45-50mpw (as near as I can tell without strict logging of miles). Don't know if I'll be doing that one unshod or in sandals yet because that depends on what kind of late October weather we get here in MN.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. bfsailor

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    Congratulations! Always nice to have fun AND improve your time! Nice report - look forward to hearing about the 100 in October.
     
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  3. Tedlet

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    Well done!
    That grass section looks almost luxurious (if you quietly ignore the distance of course...;)) -almost looks like you're running on deep pile carpet...
    Interesting that you've equated the gravel section with a stronger finish too...
    As they say: 'every cloud....':barefoot:
     
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  4. trevize1138

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    Ha! Yeah, I think the gravel helped keep me from going too fast in the middle and therefore I had more to give at the end. Still up for debate in my mind whether I would have been faster overall had I kept the sandals on. I just wanted to go barefoot through mud puddles!
     
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  5. Barefoot TJ

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    Thanks much for the report. I hope you don't mind that I added your pictures to it. Congrats to you!
     
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  6. Larry

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    Fantastic effort!
     

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  7. stjohnthegambler

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  8. BareFootHeath

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    I think about that too when I’m out on the trails but tend not to if I’m running since the bottom is an unknown.

    Your race is an inspiring read, I’d like to try a barefoot trail race eventually. Everything local (trail wise) is either mountainous (mainly rock) or townie (asphalt). I don’t think my feet are ready for it yet, hopefully next year.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
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  9. trevize1138

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    Unshod on asphalt is dreamy. Nice and smooth. Concrete is even better. And I'd take mountain rocks over industrial crushed gravel any day.

    Part of the reason I was able to take off the sandals is thanks to a lot of unshod training. In addition to teaching me a lot about how to run efficiently it gave me another viable equipment option for race day.
     
  10. Tristan

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    Awesome! And have great luck at that 100! I so want to try a 50k but they all have gravel at some point around here. I may just do it on my own on the paved trail here someday. I've thought of one near the Adirondack mountains that a frequent (and agree mountain and natural rock to be better than processed gravel) but the issue there is its 50k point to point unsupported. Maybe if I hike it first and familiarize myself, otherwise it seems very risky doing my first 50k and first trail race with no support or option to bail... once you enter the trail your only option is to come out to the end 30 some miles away or turn back and retrace all the way to start, there are no crossroads just deep forest.
     
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  11. BareFootHeath

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    I was thinking the same thing on my return trip from a hike last night. It was a touch over 100km from the parking lot to my front door. Unfortunately 65 km is gravel road and I just don’t think I’m there yet.

    Any chance you can mountain bike it first and drop off water bottles/other needs along the way and collect them as you go along?
     
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  12. trevize1138

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    I just signed up for a 50 miler in WI in Sept. Should be a nice step between 50k and 100k. I've been asking around about how much gravel is on that particular trail and one friend who's run it seems to remember there not being much. But it's hard for people who did it shod to remember that detail.

    What I'm going to do is pack my sandals with me for that one, start it out unshod and just give it a try.

    I will say this about 20 miles of trail with several of those miles as gravel: my feet didn't feel nearly as tender at the end as they did after my two urban unshod marathons that were all smooth pavement. All that abrasion really adds up over the miles. The gravel was uncomfortable and forced me to slow down but the kind of pain there seems very temporary compared to the gradual scrubbing you get from paved.

    If you have plenty of unshod trail experience and know at least how to handle gravel unshod that's all you need to make the attempt. And with a 50k, marathon or any distance that far it's always wise to just exercise patience and be OK with walking for several miles if that's what you need to finish. That particular one you talk about sounds pretty unforgiving, of course, with no option to bail mid-race. If you've done more than one marathon in the past or other similar distance you should be fine if you don't get preoccupied with time or performance and just focus on finishing.
     
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  13. Barefoot TJ

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    There's no shame in walking...ever!

    What was your longest distance barefoot and/or shod, training or race?
     
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  14. trevize1138

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    Longest unshod race so far has been a marathon. Longest overall race is 50k. Longest in training overall is 20 miles. The more exerience I get the less I worry about long training runs. I read somewhere that doing 20 milers in marathon training is only to help the mental game if you're training for your first one.

    Last year in the leadup to this same 50k I did two 18 mile training runs. This year I did one 17 mile training run and all the rest were shorter with only a couple 13 mile runs in there. Most of my runs end up in the 9-11 mile range. Considering I was 20 minutes faster without the two 18 milers I think that's proof enough to me that just being in shape and healthy is the most important thing. And don't under-value recovery. That means don't beat yourself up at all if you haven't run for a couple days. You don't lose anything and you give your muscles a chance to re-grow stronger.
     
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  15. Thea Gavin

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    I've been reading/researching lately about training volume, so it was interesting to read your "real-life" mileage numbers. What do you think about doing fast workouts on a track (400s, 800s, etc)? That's been coming up in my research, and I was wondering if you'd heard of it/tried it?
     
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  16. Barefoot TJ

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    Very well then. And I agree with both statements about long runs can help with the mental side of it, and being healthy and capable will get you through.

    My longest race was barefoot, a 25K. I finished in something like 2:52:59. Ha! My longest training runs were about the same, 18 miles. My usual runs just for the fun of it were always between 10 and 13 miles. I figured why do a 5K or 10K when I've already made the effort just to get out and run. I loved it so, and I miss it so.

    Everyone, please, don't take your feet for granted.
     
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  17. trevize1138

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    I know I need to do more fast workouts and that's about it. :)

    I've struggled with them in the last couple of years, as a matter of fact. Looking back I know I pushed way too hard and was asking for the pulled quad muscle I got the first time I did 100m sprints in over a 1/4 century. I've heard from numerous sources that fast runs must be fast and that means all-out effort sprints. So, 400 or 800 is just a bit too long for that and 100-200m is better.

    My mistake was doing 5 of those when I probably should have only done 2 or 3 at first. I was just being really dumb and doubting all the advice saying to do 2 or 3: "how can I get any benefit from just that?"

    But, as a result I hesitate to try sprint workouts again even if I do them smarter. I think after recovering from this year's 100k in October I may give that a try again. Weather here in MN permitting at that time of year I'm going to try them unshod. I only need it to be 35F or warmer for that and there are still days like that even into January sometimes here. Doing speed workouts unshod focusing on not beating up my feet may be a good way to avoid pulled quad muscles or other injuries is my thought.

    My hope is I figure out how to keep up speed workout without injury and that will help with my distance running pace. A bit of extra strenght translates into more bounce in the step and therefore a faster pace for the same effort. I'll be sure to post here my findings.
     
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  18. trevize1138

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    Another note on training volume: I think I'm averaging 35-45 miles/week. Doing any more miles than that and I have to beg the wife for extra time and it really cuts into all the rest of my life. I read all the time people doing 70+ mpw training for marathons and I think that's only necessary if you're really trying to put down an impressive time. Something in the 3:30-3:00 range for marathons seems to require either higher volume or a lot better speed training than I'm doing.

    My goals right now are just to stay healthy and enjoy the experience of super long races. With that goal in mind I don't think training volume or speed work is as crucial. Just get out and run when you can and focus on solid, safe, efficient form 100% of the time. Don't train fatigued or in some way that causes your form to suffer. Just get used to being on your feet with efficient form every time you're running and that's all I need to be ready for multi-hour races.
     
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  19. Larry

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    On the sprint training, I once tagged along with a mate who is a very good short distance guy and did one of his training sessions with him. From memory (and it was a while ago, so it's a bit foggy) he only did two runs of around 80m at full pace. The session was something like this:

    A few run-throughs skipping (at this point I was wondering if he was pranking me)
    A few run-throughs with knees up or something like that
    4 or 5 at 75% pace, then walk back
    2 at full pace, walk back
    A few slower ones to warm down

    He's often injured, and he was very serious about not going at 100% for long.
     

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  20. trevize1138

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    That sounds like an excellent way to do a sprint workout. Very gradually working your way up to full speed and then only two all-out and gradual cooldown. I'll have to give that one a try.
     
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