On Sunday May 27th I ran my first 50K with a time of 5:53:00. The race was the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival in Maine. http://www.pinelandtrails.com/ The family and I left Saturday morning to drive up to Maine. The event was awesome, well organized, every single aid station was amazing, and just an overall fantastic atmosphere. The course was beautiful, it had you running through these massive open high grass fields that mowers cut a path just for the runners, then it takes you through trails in the woods, and some gravel paths. I heard from Jason Robillard that the course was barefoot “friendly” so with that information, and the fact that I love to run barefoot, that was the plan.
I kind of envy those runners that don’t follow a training plan and just go out and run races, but for me I like some kind of structure when it comes to races. I gave myself a 16 week training plan, which was running 4 times a week. Most of my runs were done on the roads, I did get in a 2 hour trail run at one point, but that was the extent my trail running training. Basically I would run 3 times during the week, trying to keep them no less than 60 minutes, but that always didn’t happen, my fourth run would be the long run on the weekends. I gradually increased my long runs, then cut back every 3 weeks, or so. My longest training runs were two 3 hours runs, which consecutively were 17 and 19 miles. I was averaging around 25 miles per week. I had a few weeks were I got in 36 miles, so that was the peak of my training when it came to mileage. I got laid off from my job in January, so for two months I was a stay home dad, and running allot. I got a new job in the beginning of April, the running took a significant nose dive. My new job is more physically demanding, I’m on my feet 8 hours a day constantly on the go, it was quite a change from my previous job which was corporate, the whole desk and chair thing, and very easy going. The body had some adjusting to do with the new job, so my last month before the race my mileage did dwindle. I wanted to get in a 24 mile long run 3 weeks out before the race, but that never happened.
The family stayed at the Fireside Inn in Auburn, a fellow minimal/barefoot runner friend, now Ultrarunner, Trisha Reeves, was staying at the same place. I asked if I can catch a ride with her Sunday morning to the race, and she was cool with that. It was really nice to meet her in person, as well as her friend Sheree. I think we were all on the same page as not wanting to show up to early and wait around for the start. It was a beautiful morning maybe around 68 degrees. Before the start of the race I meet Brad Waterson, and Shelly Robillard, so cool to met them both. Brad and I both decided to keep our drops bags at the main area where the race starts and finishes, it was a good move. I didn’t have much in my drop bag, it consisted of Luna Sandals, Body Glide, some GU’s, some money to feed my family at the BBQ, and a clean shirt for after the race. I decided not to wear my Garmin for this race, my only goal was to finish and really take in the experience. I wore my Garmin all through training but decided to just go out there and run by feel. I knew if I had my Garmin on I would constantly be looking at it, and to be honest it just would be a distraction.
So the race starts and we are off, the first thing we hit is gravel trails, okay cool not a problem, I have run on them barefoot before. Since I am not familiar with the course the mind starts to wonder how much of these gravels trails will I see? But I let it pass and just go with it. My favorite parts of the race was running in these grass fields, it was a lot of rolling hills and peaceful. The most difficult part of the race for me was the gravel parts of the trail, I had to be more alert trying to navigate my footwork so I didn’t step on the good sized rocks, this was even more tricky going downhill. Since I wasn’t wearing my Garmin, I really had no idea on what time it was or what KM I was at. I did break down at one point at an aid station and asked a fellow runner where we were at, it was around the 20 mile mark. At this point my feet were getting really overly sensitive to the gravel trails, and the grass fields were becoming a good friend of mine.
Quick point on the aid stations, they were all amazing, they had a variety of things to snack on. I do know one thing, I like M&M’s, but eating them for fuel during an ultra, they taste like crap, to me that is. I stayed away from the pretzels, it’s like a cement mixer, I tried Cytomax for the first time, that tasted like shit. I don’t drink Gatorade when I run because it messes with my stomach at times. So I stuck with the basics, water, and my favorite things to snack on were oranges and watermelon. I carried four Vanilla Bean Gu’s with me so the first 2 or 3 aid stations I just drank water and kept moving.
The picture above is about at mile 25, my wife took it. My oldest son Andrew, who is 5 years old, thought I was done, so he wanted to run with me to the finish. There is some history behind that, because when I ran my first marathon, three years ago, he shot out from the crowd and we both finished together, he was 3 at the time. I felt horrible because I told him I had 5 more miles to go, and don’t let that smile fool you, I was pretty much toast at that point. Anyways, those last 5 miles seemed like eternity! By that time my feet had enough running on any type of gravel. Now it was just a mental game and gutting it out, I was doing a lot of walking at this point, but I was totally fine with it. When I hit the grass trails again, I knew I was close, at one point I was all by myself out there in those fields, and I loved it, I was heading for the finished line and got that adrenaline to help me pick up the pace and finished.
I got my cowbell, spotted my wife and kids and headed for the beer tent. I was near the Merrell Tent and saw Jason Robillard taking off his shoes, I had to go over and say hi. I introduced myself, and we finally meet in person, as he headed out for his last 5 miles of his 50 miler barefoot! It was short and brief but it was awesome to finally meet him.
Overall, I was happy with my performance. Next year, yes next year! I would like to be more conditioned, run more hills, include more longer runs, and definitely include more barefoot trail running in my regime. I plan on doing the 50K again next year, the 50 miler is whispering, but let it whisper for now, time will tell. I highly recommend this race!
Hanging my boys after the race
My foot after running a 50K in grass fields, dirt and gravel trails.
My feet the day after the race. I had some red blemishes and some light bruising from the gravel trails, but that was the extent of it. In fact my quads are in worse shape than my feet. It’s is now 3 days after the race, my quads are still sore, and the feet still a bit tender, but recovering nicely. Looking forward to getting out there and run but not going to push it. Next on the list is my town’s half marathon at the end of June.