June 27, 2010

Playin' In the Dirt

It's been a fun weekend!

The recent torrential rains meant that the local running trails were good and muddy (though not as much as I'd expected) - perfect time to put on the Vibram Five Fingers and head over to Hyland! Did a 6 mile loop, left some foot prints that will probably have some folks scratching their heads, and got dirty enough that I needed to hose off before entering the house. Success :)

Finally got around to planting some flowers this weekend too. Since I got my feet and legs nice and dirty with trail running, I figured I should even things out a bit and get my hands and arms in on the action. Nice to finally have a little color on the patio!

I am in no shape to do any damage at Afton next weekend, but will still plod along the course and visit with old and new friends at the post race bar-b-que. If you've never run a trail race before, this is an awesome event. You'll get spoiled by the aid stations, which put out spreads that are like Thanksgiving feasts. The race shirts are becoming a local legend, and the people are awesome! So is the course, though it will have some minor tweaks this year due to trail closures. Looking forward to being there, even if I embarrass myself running-wise. Hope to see ya there!

June 6, 2010

Hills of Afton

I've been getting out to Afton State Park for some hill training about once per week for the last month. Hoo boy, am I ever out of shape! Unfortunately, there's only one way to fix that ;)

As many of the Afton regulars know, two of our favorite trails are closed this year: Nigel's Hill and Horse Shit Hill (the trail leading up to Africa Loop on the 25K race course). I never knew the name of that hill, and I'm not sure it's official, but Tom & Nancy told me about it this morning and it fits - so Horse Shit Hill it is from now on. This means that the Afton race will have a slightly tweaked course this year - I'm sure we'll be hearing about the official changes on the brand spankin' new Afton Trail Run blog. I ran what I figured would be the new route: up to Africa from the "down" direction, then instead of Nigel's Hill I took the trail at the far north end of the park, which has a stunning view of the St. Croix River valley. Rumor has it that a little loop later in the course will be dropped - I think this new course may actually turn out even better than the regular course!

I've also been experimenting a bit with electrolytes/nutrition/sports drinks. In the past, I've had problems with muscle cramping and never could find a truly reliable strategy. I had been taking one S-cap per hour which sometimes seemed to work and sometimes didn't. I was starting to think that perhaps it wasn't really sodium depletion, but perhaps a magnesium deficiency, so I've been taking 200 mg of magnesium glycinate every day for the last few months. So far, no cramping problems, even when only drinking plain water and not taking any S-caps or any type of electrolytes at all during my runs (which have so far only lasted a few hours). Been sleeping better too!

Today I tried a newish supplement called Vespa, which supposedly encourages your body to rely more on fat metabolism instead of carbs, therefore sparing glycogen and decreasing lactic acid buildup. I drank only water so I could eliminate carbs from the equation to test the "bonk" factor. I have to say, I felt like I was running on fumes trudging up the last hill at Afton today (I only went about 11 miles) - can't really say I'm sold on Vespa, though I've only tried it once. I'll probably stick with my prior strategy of sports drinks and gels for the time being.

Hope you are all enjoying the trails!