The run was a great success. We ran slow and easy, taking our time and walking more than I would if I was only running 50K or racing the course. After each loop, we took an extended break to eat watermelon, drink coffee, and otherwise re-fuel.
This morning, I have minimal soreness. This is a testament to two or three things: we did not push the pace or try to thrash our muscles, we adequately drank water and consumed food whilst running and during breaks, and hopefully, my level of conditioning now only three weeks out from the hardest race of my life thus far.
With that said, there are some lingering thoughts in my head as I prepare for this race.
I really don't know what to expect
There will be a distance after which I do not know what to expect from myself. In my two completed 50 milers, life got very difficult after about mile 40 or so. I distinctly remember telling my wife at mile 45.5 or so at Surph the Murph that I was dying - I meant I was fading, but you get the idea.
This weekend's run is encouraging - it demonstrated that I can run 40 miles without feeling like I want to give up. Fatigue was starting to set in, but it had occurred later than it normally would.
I don't exactly know how to run this race
This is my first 100 miler, and other than starting slow, I don't exactly know how to run this race. Give my inexperience and singular goal of finishing, my run will be about the basics:
- Eat and drink early, often and in large enough quantities to protect myself later in the race
- Start slow and run with an even effort
- Always continuing moving forward
- Never, ever, ever give up
My run at Afton did much for my race psyche. It told me that I can run 40 miles at a fairly easy pace and maintain that pace for a long period of time. Only when we got north of 35 miles did the stress from the distance start to set in, and by then it was minor and manageable. Our pace also set my mind to how I need to start out.
The run also was a test of running slow. We intentionally ran slower than our legs and minds permitted because we had the tremendous distance at the forefront of our thoughts. (There were times when we got over excited and ran a little too hard; these moments must be eliminated during the race.) During Sawtooth, going out too hard or trying to put time in the bank could be devastating later down the trail.
A final note
I ran the first 25K with a pair of original Luna Sandals, Barefoot Ted's sandal company. My intention is to run a portion of Sawtooth in them, if not the entire course. To my knowledge, no one has completed the race in anything but shoes i.e. no one has completed it in FiveFingers. In order for me to do that, I'll need the raw foot strength to handle the stress - in the past, I've gotten top-of-the-foot pain after about 10 or so miles. It occurred at Afton this weekend at some point during the loop, so perhaps I won't be able to rock the sandals for the race.
Unfortunately, something on the sandals failed because the suede top separated from the Vibram sole. I had gotten the sandals quite wet by running through dew-covered grass and I suspect the glue dissolved under the wetness. I have contacted Luna and asked for an return/exchange to a model without a suede top. I would like to get a pair of Leadvilles and use that at Sawtooth, for example.
The failure said, I still would recommend the sandals to people - I love running in them, and they do wonders for your efficiency because they require you to run light, smooth, and easy. Just don't get the top if you ever want to run in anything wet or during a rain - I was slipping and sliding all over the place when the sandals got wet. This did a number on the space between my toes where the strap went.