Trails for Tails 50k, Washington Crossing, NJ

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  1. macdiver

    macdiver
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    Trails for Tails 50k,
    Washington Crossing, NJ

    By Macdiver


    This is a race report that I posted in my online fitness journal. I ran this Saturday in my Xero Genesis sandals. It is a little wordy.


    At 3 am, my dog woke me frightened of the rain. Normally he only gets scared of thunderstorms or heavy winds but this time it was raining hard enough he was scared. My first thought was I hope it doesn't rain the whole race. Second thought was it is going to be muddy.

    I got to the park around 7:30 to pick up my race packet. After getting my packet, I went back to my car to get my backpack and take off the nice warm clothes. It wasn't too cold. Per my car it was 52 degrees when I got to the park. As I walked back to the registration area it began to drizzle. It continued drizzling while we received the pre-race instructions. The following is a description of the course which was essientially what the pre-race instruction.

    The 31 mile course is a mix of technical single track, horse trails, country roads & the D&R canal path. The approximate mileage for each is 20 miles of single track & horse trails, 7 miles of country roads and 4 miles of the D&R Canal path. The Race starts in the Historic Washington Crossing park in Hopewell Township NJ with a 8 mile loop through the trails of Washington Crossing Park. You will run a short section of trail through Baldplate mountain before running on roads to reach the the aide station to entrance to the Rock Hopper trails. These are technical winding trails with you guessed it lots of Rocks and several stream crossings. It is an out a back with some 2 way sections. After leaving Rock Hopper you will run down to the D&R Canal on roads. After you cross the Canal on an unfinished bridge you will head South back to Washington Crossing Park via the D&R Canal path crossing the footbridge near the Washington Crossing Bridge to enter back into Washington Crossing park and run on The Continental Army path to the finish line.


    This was where we learned that the bridge construction was not complete and we would need to be careful walking some boards onto and off of the bridge at mile 26.5 ish.

    It continued to drizzle at the start of the race. We quickly entered onto some single tracks through the woods. Our first stream crossing was in the first mile. I'm not sure how much it was raining and how much was just falling from the trees but it stopped during mile 2. There were 40 runners and it didn't take long for us to start to separate. I was running with 6 others by the start of mile two which dropped to 4 of us by mile 3. I stopped at an outhouse around mile 4 (campground) and came out to the 2 people who had dropped back. I ran with them until the first aid station at mile 5. I didn't stop at the aid station but continued running and caught back up to the 3 faster runners. At mile 8 we returned to the aid station. The 3 stopped very briefly, I took a little longer since I didn't stop before. I left and say they were maybe 50 yards ahead. I figured I would catch them in the next section, a 1.25 mile trail heading to the first road portion.

    I had just crossed into this section when after crossing a stream my left sandle broke. On the bottom there is a flat rubber disk that holds the toe strap which was now missing. Per my Garmin, this was at 8.25 miles. Thoughts running through my mind, Shit.... Do I walk back to the aid station and quit. F.... No. I'm not quitting. I'll take it off and run it barefoot. This lasted about 1/4 mile at most. So I stopped and looked at the sandle. I decided if I could push the toe strap through the hole, I could tie it off and continue. I used my car key to push it through. I pushed through the plastic piece that connects the toe strap to the foot strap as well. I loosened the foot strap as much as possible but the strap was still tight. I continued on. As I was finishing someone came by and asked I was ok. I told him what had happened then walked with him a little before running again. He must have been doing a run walk routine.

    Once getting on the road we turned onto a gravel road (yes New Jersey has real gravel roads), and started running up. The two people I had run with after my potty break caught me on the roads (Titos and Amanda). I was surprised that they had not passed me while I was fixing my sandal. I basically stayed with them for the next ten miles or so. When we reached the entrance to the Rock Hopper section around mile 14 there is an aid station. The lady said "we have water, gatoraide, coke, and mountain dew. What would you like?" I responded gatoraide then stopped and said no let me have the coke. Yum. I took off with my 2 co-runners. In a few moments, I started burping from the carbonation. I heard Seltzer say "now, did you train with coke?". At some point, probably at the pre-race Philly Marathon dinner, Seltzer must have told a story about eating or drinking something during a race that you didn't train with because it was definitely his voice in my head.

    The Rock Hopper section was really wet. You were either running on slippery rocks or in mud. I spoke to the second place female (3rd place overall) at the beer garden after and she said she slipped and fell 3 times in this section. Fortunately she didn't get hurt. One guy fell in the first 8 mile section and hit his head on a rock. He ended up stopping at the mile 14 aid station. He should have stopped at mile 5 the first aid station.

    As I was running this section, I noticed my strap was starting to chaff the top of my foot badly. At the mile 18 aid station I tried to adjust the straps some but there really wasn't much I could do. The strap was over an inch shorter and I hadn't left that much adjustment when I cut the straps.

    When we were in the Rock Hopper section I got a little ahead of the two others but not by much. This one section was really twisty and I would be heading one direction while Amanda would be about 10 feet downhill heading the other. She asked how did you get there? She first thought she was lost or wrong. I assured her she wasn't and if she just kept the arrows to her right she would be okay. I think we passed each other 3 times like this.

    I was leaving the mile 14 / 23.75 aid station as Amanda and Titos got there. As I was running on the road he passed me. Then he walked some and I passed him. We turned onto one road which was mostly down hill heading towards the Delaware river and the D&R canal. It alternated between fairly steep and just downhill with some flats. On the really steep stuff, my left hip started acting up. This was around mile 25 to 26. I started walking the steep sections and running the less steep and flat sections. My hip was ok there. The lady passed me at some point and was flying (at least by my standards at this point of a race). She said she was happy to be on roads and not worried about tripping.
    After crossing the unfinished bridge there was an aid station. I could see Amanda a ways down the path. By this point I was drinking coke at all aid stations. I was still eating the trail mix I was using for fuel and drinking water from my hydration backpack. I ordered my coke and was enjoying it when Titos arrived and requested coke. The volunteer at the table said "I learned something today. If you had told my yesterday that runners drank coke during a race I wouldn't have believed you. We have given out more coke and mountain dew then either water or gatoraide" I said it must be an Trail race thing because at road races there is never coke.

    I pulled off of the canal path for a bio break and Titos passed me. I figured I would pass him again but I never saw him again. I was feeling pretty good until mile 28.5 when my quads felt like they were on fire. I walked a 1/10 of a mile or so then continued running. My routine at this point became pretty much run until my quads were on fire (about 1/2 mile), walk then run some more. At mile 30 a guy passed me and asked how my sandals were doing. I explained the strap issue and he said, "I know, I saw you when you had just finished fixing them". His run / walk routine had left him at a little better pace than my current pace.

    I walked across the pedestrian bridge than ran the last 1/2 mile on the Continental Army path to the finish line.

    Official finishing stats are 50k in 6:40:08. 21st place out of 40 runners, 12 overall male out of 18. Amanda finished about 20 minutes ahead of me and Titos finished 6 minutes ahead. The 3 people I was running with when my sandal broke finished around the 6 hour mark.

    I was speaking to one of them while enjoying a beer and she told me she was not planning on running the whole race. She hadn't trained for the race. She runs 5 times a week and runs 10 miles each time, so a 50 mile week. Her plan was to quit at the 14 mile aid station. Her friends encouraged her to run the rock hopper and since she was feeling good she did it. Her plan then became to quit at the canal. Her boyfriend or husband was the guy making sure we got onto the bridge ok. He told her you have 4 miles left you should just finish it now so she did. I told her my training is just the opposite of hers. A bunch of short runs 3 to 5 miles and one long run. I think her plan is better.

    Very happy with my finish. Other than the bloody chaffing on the foot and some minor chaffing on the back from the back pack, no real issues. My legs are tired sore but not painful sore.

    Now time to recover and run a marathon in 2 weeks
     
  2. swoggis

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    Tough break with the sandal post there. Way to stick it out to the end. Good luck with the marathon!
     
  3. Barefoot TJ

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    Have a Coke and a smile! :)

    I mirrored your report to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here.
     
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  4. macdiver

    macdiver
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    Brief Update.

    Xero Shoes sent me replacement toe straps. It was a pretty easy job to fix. Overall, the fact that I could do a field repair that lasted 22+ miles and then do a full repair in a few minutes is great. I doubt that would have been possible with shoes.

    Paxton at Xero was great when I called them about getting a new toe loop. Xero included a surprise gift card with the toe loop which was not necessary but very appreciated.
     

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