Sunday, July 4, 2010

Afton 25k?

Two years in a row I turned the Afton 50k into the Afton 25k, meaning DNF two years in a row. Ouch. Both years I entered injured and oddly enough in both years, the injuries did not get better. I did enjoy myself but I am disappointed as I had hopes that my back was going to hold up and I could get through the day.

I started out a bit fast and purposely slowed down by walking after the first aid station. I told myself if I didn't real it in, I would be done sooner than I hoped and it wouldn't be the back that took me out. It was then Karen caught up to me. She commented on my fast start and I said yup too fast, having not run all week I came in feeling good. We ran together for the next 7 miles until I let her leave aid station 4 without me. I was talking with my wife and daughter and I knew my back was hurting and that I might be probably done. It had started hurting about 4 or 5 miles into the race and coming down the hill into that aid station it was hurting a whole lot.

My wife and I talked about what I was going to do, I said I was going to try and get it worked out and see what happens as I didn't want to drop 2 years in a row. I did my best to stretch it out along the flat section, I kept bending over which felt good, tried to stretch out the calves, hamstrings even tried some ibuprofen which I normally will not take during a run and it did not improve. After I got up the hill in Meatgrinder, I thought if I could just pick up the pace and get into the 2nd loop I would be able to endure the pain. So during the snowshoe section, I kept trying to run and every time I tried to pick it up, my push off was weak and my pace was continuing to get slower. There is nothing worse than to think you are moving and then to look at the Garmin and see otherwise. I was crashing big time and walking hurt but running hurt more especially on the downhills and the uphills weren't much fun either. So I knew I should drop at the 25k point. To give you an idea of my fall off, my time for the first 9 miles was 1 hour 57 minutes and for the last 6.5 miles it was 1 hour and 55 minutes. I will now focus on getting back to running health and race another day.

I called my wife and she came back out as we stayed to cheer on other runners. I very much enjoyed sticking around seeing Karen, Lisa, Jim, Rick, Les, Carl, Paul, Mark and many others finish on such a hot day.

Some highlights of the day were getting a "Run, Race, [Retire], Repeat" shirt from Helen and being a member of the "Team Steve" club, if only for a day, I will wear it with pride. Although maybe I should retire as well, naw, I like being out there too much. The new race loop, it allowed for some nicer views of the park. Soaking in the river after dropping. Talking to visitors about the race, some folks were pretty impressed with those of you that ran 50k in this park. The snake on the path coming into Aid Station 4 that had a few runners jumping. Hearing about Karen's Big Horn race. Driving up with my wife and daughter who got their morning run in after we took off. Walking up the path to the campground with my wife so she could experience that hill but like I told her it's much easier coming down it than going up it. I think she said we wouldn't be camping there anytime soon. Talking with Londell and many others through out the day.

My thanks to all of the great volunteers, race officials and to the folks at Afton State park for allowing us to enjoy their park for another year, what a great event. I can't wait until next year.


wildknits said...

it was great to see you out there at the aid station!! Being told I was still "chipper" helped me finish out the race.

Sorry about the back! Hopefully the healing will progress well and I'll see you on the trail soon.

Londell said...


Being there made me want to be out there, even if I did quit, I still did not even start. Be proud!

SteveQ said...

Good seeing you out there, Team Steve T-shirt and all; shame it didn't work out well for you. If it helps any, I dropped out of a 10K the next day - you did better than I did!

Wayne said...

I like the attitude you went in with and it sounds like you did what you could and enjoyed the day - well done. Hope to see you Thur, and we can do whatever works as you get things back in order.

shannon said...

ATR is a challenging enough course when you're running without injuries. You made the right decision to drop when your back pain got worse during the run.

Kel said...

Sorry about your back - perhaps that's why I never saw you?

Afton is a tough course, especially since the race is always hot & humid. I've never managed to get through the 25K loop without cramping on race day!

Hope to see you out on the trails soon!

CewTwo said...

Geez, great report, Mike!

My first marathon was a DNF @ 40 KM (Chicago 2008). I always think back to that event with what I know now. When the same thing occurred at Seattle @ the 19 mile mark, I found 2 salt packets and was back in the game just a few minutes later.

So... That DNF haunts me as I was so close but did not understand then what I know now. However, If I had corrected that situation back then, my entire future in running would have changed. A lot. So much that I cannot perceive of it being better now.

You did the right thing. When we were younger, we ran through it. Technology has changed. You are still my hero!


Mark Thompson said...

Hi Mike,

In your May 21 post "Fargo pre race thinking" you said "taking an S cap every half hour so this will be another test, does my hand swelling and stomach hold together." I was thinking about your post when I was reading this from Hammer Nutrition:

"Far too many athletes have suffered needlessly with swollen hands and feet from water retention due to ingestion of salt tablets or electrolyte products too high in sodium during prolonged exercise in the heat."

What do you think? I've also read the Succeed website but they don't seem to have the level of detail as Hammer. I also have some books on the way, but wanted to get your thoughts on this article from Hammer and how it relates to your experience.


The Hammer article can be found at:


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