Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Afton Trail Run

One of my favorite things about the 4th of July is that it means that it is time for the Afton Trail Run. Just writing that makes me feel like a sick, twisted individual, but I really do enjoy a good, hard-core trail run.

The Afton Trail Run is basically the biggest, baddest trail run around the Twin Cities each summer, and this year it served as the USATF MN state championship for the 25k and 50k distances. The race is held (appropriately) at Afton State Park, and covers as much elevation change as they can cram into the trails out there. Most of the course is on 3 or 4 foot wide grass or dirt trails through the woods and fields of the park, but part of the course is also on the gravel road, and the last 2 miles is on some very winding single track.

Last year was my first year doing this race, and I went out hard and paid dearly for it. Up the first hill I had wondered to myself, "I know it's steep, but why are people walking already?" only to have an epic bonk and spend the last 4 miles stumbling in (In the last 5 miles I lost 10+ minutes to coach Mark, and ultimately ended with a 8:30 per mile pace). This year I was determined to pace myself and be able to run much more consistently. I also filled the water bottles in my fuel belt with Gatorade Endurance Formula (last year I had water in the bottles and took gels during the race, this year had the Gatorade and skipped the gels).

For the start of the race I placed myself in the middle part of the field and took it easy at the gun. This year I was one of the people walking up part of the first big hill, and I settled into a comfortable pace. Up ahead I could see coach Mark in his Finn Sisu jersey, and over the next few miles I worked to slowly reel him in. I was able to maintain my even tempo, and spent the entire race gaining, catching, and dropping people on the course. Unlike last year, after the first hill I was not caught and passed by anyone during the entire race.

I was still pretty shot by the end, but I only came away from the race with a couple of small blisters (my Inov8 Roclites worked great - much better than my Vasque Aether Techs worked last year) and some chafing that was very painful during my post-race shower (I don't know how people do the 50k!). My time was over 6 minutes faster than last year, and I beat coach Mark by almost 5 minutes (he was pacing himself for Voyager marathon this weekend).

Finn Sisu had some good results:
3rd- James
4th- Evgeny (aka: Eugene - one of our new Vakava skiers)
17th- me
22nd- Mark (the 4th masters runner)

Eugene and James

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