Oh yes. I did have fun. I did frolic. I had fun frolicking through the park. I had fabulous fun frolicking through the park. Say that 10 times!
The Afton 25K/50K race is absolutely top notch. 2008 brought a new race director to the race. John Storkamp. He did a wonderful job. He was (he looked and acted) calm, cool and collected. He didn't seem stressed, he seemed to have fun. Not only did he direct the race; he also created the awards. The medals around our necks (which volunteers helped to create) and the prints he created for the top finishers. Amazing. Kudos to John and Cheri, and to the volunteers that manned the start/finish and all of the aid stations.
Today promised to be Afton-esque. Hot and humid with a nice breeze which later became a stiff wind. Perfect. It reached 89F.
Hammer Nutrition again provided a zillion packets of gel for each station and HEED, as they did at the Superior 25K/50K. This just makes the race so much easier for me! I didn't have to carry anything but a bottle and I didn't need a drop bag for HEED. Awesome. I didn't eat any solids. I consumed 240 ounces of HEED and 6 gels, 24 oz of water.
I've never had so much to drink during any race before. Ever. The aid stations were 3 miles apart and I filled my bottle at every one, draining it before the next one. My clothing was very white and salty post race. My skin looked like a salt mine. I had NO swelling as I didn't take any E/SCaps. I seem to get enough salt from the HEED. Something else I have finally figured out this year.
For the race I had a few goals going through my brain. First goal: A PR. My fastest Afton 50K time is 609. I wanted to run 608 for sure. Second goal: Break 6 hours. I thought I could. Third goal: PR Superior 50K time of 557. I wasn't sure of this. It's strange, but in the past I have run Superior 50K faster than Afton 50K and Superior is a tougher course. As I was running today I realized it must be because for Superior I am post McNaughton 3 weeks and have had a few days of light recovery running, then heavy training. For Afton I am deep into training for a summer 100 so I am tired. I use both of these runs as training runs so I don't taper. Well, my finish today didn't live up to that idea. Goal 4: AWARD. I wanted one of John's prints. How wonderful it would look on my wall of fame. Ha on the fame.
I did something I haven't done before. I looked at the entrants to see how many women over 40 were running. Hey, I wanted to see if I could win a print! There were 11 of us listed in the 40-49 age group for the Masters award. I knew John was giving 1, 2 and 3. I also knew that Eve Rembleski (ROCK ON EVE!) would win the woman's and as there were no doubling of awards the first master woman was still up for grabs. I figured I'd come in 4th in the batch which was too bad because 4 didn't get an award. Oh well. Onto Goal 1-3.
My god, people near my home shot off fireworks all freaking night. I went to bed at 11 and woke up every 35 minutes to boom boom boom. Topaz was a nervous wreck, Toffee was sleeping on my head, it wasn't a good night. 400 came too early.
I made it to Afton in plenty of time to get my packet from Tom and Nancy, my awesome Marmot shirt and had some time to visit with Deb, Maria, Pierre and many others. We lined up near the back and listened to John's go.
I wanted to really blast the downhills. I'm lacking in this area and with Leadville approaching, I figured this is a great place to do it. I had great success with the hills. I wore my Garmin 50 and saw that the downhills were sometimes a sub 7 minute mile pace. Granted, they only lasted a short time, but I'll take what I can get!
First loop I ran a bit with Pierre and Doug, talking Leadville. Doug has paced out there and Pierre has run it. I love listening to other's stories. Eventually I ran off and never really ran with anyone through the rest of the race. I didn't listen to my ipod until the last half of the last loop. I was just enjoying the warm air, all of the volunteers, the beautiful scenery that the Afton State Park offers.
I came into the 25K mark at 248. E Fisher Drew gave me a gentle pat and a 'go' to get out and get running. Thanks E! I needed that. I realized I could PR and break 6 hours. I felt fine, nothing hurt, I wasn't tired at all. I thought maybe I should have gone faster.
Second loop I had to go pee for the first time which is crazy in itself. I usually pee at least once an hour. As I walked into the bushes I fell! I tripped over a stump and cut my knee. I couldn't believe it. It was only bleeding a bit, but still. Fall while walking.
I walked up some of the huge monster hills, but otherwise I ran the race the best I could. When I didn't see anyone in front or in back of me I decided to play my ipod for a while. Nobody every came up on me. I began to pass some men but never saw any women out there. I began to wonder where I was in the field of girls.
As I came into the final aid station I gave Jefferey a quick hug and asked Tom for the time. I asked him if I was going to break 6 hours. Isn't that ridiculous. Me who is running the race, asking Tom, who is working the aid station if I am going to break 6 hours. How silly of me. Nancy yelled YES you can, go!
I went. I ran as fast as I could that last section. It is the most difficult section for me. It's the snowshoe trail and rooty and rocky. I need to watch where I am placing my feet. Most of the Afton course is runnable, but this section is a slow runnable for me. I still hadn't looked at my watch. I just wanted to run hard and break 6 hours. I didn't know if I could or not but I knew if I looked at my watch and thought I could, then I would let up. I didn't want to let up.
I finally heard some female voices in back of me. They turned out to be Pam and Kami. I asked Kami if she was from Monticello, as I recalled seeing her listed as a finisher last year, and Monticello is only a few miles from where I live in Big Lake. Yes, it was Kami from Monticello. We chatted and grinded to the finish line. I crossed the line in 5:50
I reached all four goals. I PR'd my Afton time, I broke 6 hours, I PR'd my Superior 50K time and I won an award: First Master Woman. I love it!
After I ran into the finish line it was time to catch up with everyone. I sat with Eve and Wynn. Eve BROKE her woman's course record set last year again. She finished in 413! Get this. She forgot to take today off, she is working right now. Yeah. After running a 413 50K!!
I had fabulous fun frolicking through the park.