Saturday afternoon at the Gear West after running the Afton 25k.
What a super fun morning to run ~as hard as my legs would take me~ on the Afton trails at the wonderfully organized Afton Trail run put on by John Storkamp and his Rock Steady Race Team. But the dang problem is, my legs (specifically periformas) aches deeply and now back at work, I have to sit up in my office and order spring clothing for next year, or pay bills instead of helping customers. The price, I suppose, of many years of running, triathloning, skiing and just living. I am very happy though, to still be able to run; I feel a lot of love and gratitude for knowing that outdoor exercise satisfies my soul and I appreciate every day that I can do it.
And I do love trail running. I have adopted it as my first ‘go to’ workout (outside of xc skiing) that frees me mentally and physically from retail pressures and kid issues. Today Afton was in its glory. Dry trails, gorgeous views of the St Croix river, cheerful, steadfast volunteers handing out choices of drinks, camaraderie among friendly competitors and long time shoe and ski customers, a hawk, steep hills, fast downhills, and then, the wide open prairie fields... all make for the 10+ best reasons to run Afton. And of course, a complete workout.
Another great trail race virtue? The low key factor. Everyone just runs, or jogs, or run-walks- according to their abilities. The top athletes are amazingly gifted in a quiet kind of way and the heart and soul of all races, the average man and woman who balance career, children, and perhaps too much good food, join in at any speed to embrace the park’s natural beauty and the event’s physical challenges.
For me, the run was as fun as the previous two years. I finally recognize the course and as usual, I always find a root or rock to trip over. I love bombing the downhills and I try to make up the time lost on the uphill’s as I seem to get slightly slower each year. I don’t’ carry a water system as there are plenty of aid stations at this race with energy drinks, water and soda. A lot of support for the 25k because it is there ultimately to service the last person who finishes the 50k many hours later. I make sure to always drink both a full cup of water and a full cup of Heed. Sometimes I remember to take a Gel, but today I could not stomach the 80x caffeine orange Power Gel so I ran on the calories of my peanut butter and banana breakfast.
Anyway, my goal is to run just fast enough to keep me from talking much but not so fast that my form falls apart. I have a couple of old injuries that flare up after an hour + of running so thankfully those squelch any wandering thought of me attempting the Afton 50k sometime and I tried to manage the dull but deep glute ache as the second hour grew closer. Of course the most fun is sharing the event with friends and every time my running partner said something too funny or outrageous, I tripped and fell, so all in all, there were not any dull moments.
As far as footwear and clothing choices, this trail run, unlike those on the Superior Trail, is dry enough and relatively rock free enough to wear regular running shoes. So I chose some light weight, reasonably minimal run shoes paired with a snug Smartwool sock to keep out debris. Lycra shorts eliminated any thigh chaffing as did a good running bra from Moving Comfort. As always, Body Glide is applied to any body part that might be irritated by clothing abrasions and a hat or visor (if I would have remembered one) sure keeps the hair and sweat out of the eyes. Today my sunglasses acted as a hair band since the shadows of the woods made it too difficult to trust my vision when I let it ‘all go’ on the rocky downhills.
Final touches of the race morning included hanging out by the finish line with music and friends, losing my $35 Grand Master (!) gift certificate to Run & Fun (I was planning to give it to a deserving person anyway) and eating ketchup drenched burnt Cosco hamburgers on the grill. A super great day in my little life.
-Posted by Jan Guenther on Jul 5th 2014