Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Afton Trail Run 50K

July 4, 2009

Just two weeks after Grandma's marathon, and I am lined up with some of the best, most talented trail runners in the upper midwest. John Storkamp gives us the final instructions. All I remember him saying was "just run as hard as you can for as long as you can". And we were off.....
Earlier in the morning, Mary and I arrived at Afton about 5:15AM. On the way there, several of the largest bug splats I have ever seen hit our windshield. These things looked like someone egged our Trailblazer. Rolled into the park and picked up the race packet. As we started with preparations, I noticed that we were parked next to Steve Q. Visited with him for a bit. Steve commented how the last half hour was the slowest. I remember seeing 6:00AM on my watch, visiting with Steve for 20 minutes, and then noticing it was 6:02AM......very strange.
Back to the race. Found myself running very comfortably down the hill, with the stud runners in a big pack just ahead of me. One guy was just flying ahead of them. Found out later it was Matt Howard, who not only is one of the best trail runners around, but now is also in the master's division. Time to start settling in. Ended up running next to Rob, a good friend of mine from MN RED.
You see, Rob is one of these guys that questions the sanity of ultra runners. He is one really fast guy and my times have never been is his ballpark. He ran a 2:44 marathon this year. But, he made a stupid bet with his son during track season. The bet was if his son made it to the state track meet, he would run Afton 50K. His kid made him pay up big time!
Going down the hill out of Africa to the back 40, an older guy passed us, bombing the hill. I think it was Dan Kasper, but I'm not sure. We got back ahead of him on the next uphill and never saw him again.The next miles and hills went by nice. Rob and I caught up on a lot of things. I kept telling him if he was felt the pace was too slow to just go ahead. He wouldn't. Every aid station we came in side by side. I was developing trust in Rob. But then, was he just setting me up for the kill? Finally we were running the Rail trail. I thought this is where Rob would pour it on. But no, we ran together at a 7:15/mile clip which felt OK. We continued on, and got into the Showshoe loop. Rob said he wasn't very fast on the single track last year. I just stayed behind him and found it to be refreshing. There is one hill in here that I don't think has a name. Not long, but steep, with a couple of sapling trees on the right side. We named it, but cannot publish the name here.
At the end of the first loop our time was 2:09. We arrived together. I stocked up on a few things from my cooler. Rob spent very little time at the start area and soon was flying down the first hill. I was quite a ways back and was wondering if this was the time of betrayal?? I just kept stready and caught glimpses of him as we passed below the ski area. Ended up catching him at the top of the hill going into Africa. These uphills were getting a lot tougher now. I go into a power walk on them, with a long stride, long arm swing and leaning into the hill. It works for me, but I probably look like a sasquatch loping along. Maybe should name it the "Primal Shuffle"??
When we got back into Africa again, Rob mentions something about this being really tough. I was hurting too, but we were at mile 20 and had another 11 to go. We don't talk much any more, just slug it out.
On the way down to the river, I pulled ahead of Rob and got to the aid station first. After a very quick drink, started up Nigel's. This really made the quads burn. I started to slow down, but still passed a 50K runner here. Rob caught back up to me, but worked very hard for it. It was mile 22.5. Talked to him a bit more, and the last I heard from him was "Go get it" at the top of Nigel's.
I ran hard, all the way down to the bridge. Looked back and saw no one. Worked my way up to the campgrounds, and started passing some 25K people. Coming down Campground Hill was good. This one seems not as steep and dangerous as the other downhills. The aid station was great. Downed some Heed and started down the Rail Trail. It was good to run on the flat, but my legs were sick of running. But I remembered Storkamp's words at the start. I was able to hang onto a 7:36/mile pace here. After a while, I was actually looking forward to the Meat Grinder, where I could justify going into my Primal Shuffle again.
All along here, the 25K runners were great. It was good to swap words of encouragement with them.
Finally, the last aid station. I was charged up. Enter the Snowshoe Loop. I felt I was running it faster this time, especially the downhills. But the uphills were really tough. Got through the expletive hill slowly. And every uphill after that was a struggle. Just need to get done with this.
As I was just about exiting the prairie hill before the last stretch, I saw a guy ahead of me. Not sure if he was 50K, but he glanced back and saw me. He took off running - fast. I just couldn't muster up enough energy to try and catch him. He looked younger than me anyway. But, I did manage to get into a good stride to the finish.
Mary was there, taking some pics of me finishing. I was really glad to see my Schmoopie!
Mary had run a nice 25K race, coming in at 2:46:52, beating her last year's time by 5 minutes. But yet, I think she placed 5th in her age group compared to 2nd last year. Tougher competition this time.
My official time and results are 4:29:33 for 11th place overall and 3rd place in Men's Master's. There was exceptional competition in the Master's division with Matt Howard winning the race in 4:04:18 and Todd Nott running a 4:18:48.

Finally done!

Me and my Schmoopie.

Receiving 3rd place Master's award from John Storkamp.

Here are my splits from the Garmin 305. I would consider them quite accurate on the mile splits, as my Garmin measured the course at 31.33 miles.
Mile Cumul MilePace HRAvg HRMax
1 Mi 7:45 7:46 140 157
2 Mi 15:51 8:07 154 164
3 Mi 24:22 8:32 147 162
4 Mi 32:47 8:25 155 164
5 Mi 41:03 8:17 157 165
6 Mi 48:54 7:51 151 158
7 Mi 57:36 8:43 159 170
8 Mi 1:04:58 7:22 155 165
9 Mi 1:14:06 9:08 161 168
10 Mi 1:21:31 7:25 154 165
11 Mi 1:28:48 7:18 152 155
12 Mi 1:37:20 8:32 158 165
13 Mi 1:45:05 7:46 152 158
14 Mi 1:54:51 9:46 151 163
15 Mi 2:04:06 9:15 147 160
16 Mi 2:12:56 8:51 152 162
17 Mi 2:22:01 9:05 156 163
18 Mi 2:29:32 7:31 155 163
19 Mi 2:38:46 9:14 152 161
20 Mi 2:47:30 8:45 153 159
21 Mi 2:55:41 8:11 151 157
22 Mi 3:04:12 8:31 148 156
23 Mi 3:13:54 9:42 153 159
24 Mi 3:22:17 8:24 150 155
25 Mi 3:32:17 10:00 154 160
26 Mi 3:39:54 7:37 150 156
27 Mi 3:49:17 9:24 155 156
28 Mi 3:57:41 8:25 151 156
29 Mi 4:06:14 8:33 151 157
30 Mi 4:17:11 10:58 152 158
31 Mi 4:27:10 10:00 151 160
31.33 Mi 4:29:33 7:13 156 159

Thanks for reading,