Sunday, October 23, 2011

Run the Farm Race Report

Muscoot Farm
What a great race.  The farm in "Run the Farm" is the Muscoot farm, a county park in Westchester County, NY.  The creators of the terrific Leatherman's Loop race also run this one, and it shows.

I ran Leatherman's Loop this spring, and it was the most fun race I've done.  Never got around to writing a race report, however.  Micah True (Caballo Blanco) also ran the race, along with a whole bunch of other lunatics.  You've got to love a race with a mariachi band at the bottom of the toughest hill...

Leatherman's is a 10k, this was only a 5 miler, but the relationship between the two race becomes clear as soon as you start running.  These are real trail races, the terrain is difficult, injury is a real possibility, and the folks who lay out the trail like steep hills.  Godino's Grind, named for the founder, was the worst of the lot, and I walked the bulk of that hill, as did most folks I saw. 

I like to run hills, and I live in a hilly area on top of a hill, so most of my regular runs are hill runs.  The problem this creates for me is that I pass people going up and down hills, and get passed on the flats.  This race, therefore, was tailor-made for me: there were no flats.  It was all up and down hill; I don't think there was a single flat stretch in the entire course.  Pretty cool stuff!

Hope with her medal
 They also had a kids' mile race prior to the start of the 5 milers. They had 320 kids race!  100 under 6 years old!  All the kids got a terrific medal. Hope ran her first race, and I hope will want to do another.  Emily Snayd, who put together the Merrell Barefoot event in NYC was also there with her family.  She ran with her kids, and her husband ran the five-miler.  In the Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove.  Merrell eats their own food.

Minimalist running really pays off in a trail race.  Trail running barefoot-style teaches you to be light on your feet, and keeping your feet under your center of gravity reduces the chance of slipping out.  Which, in my book, means I could pass everyone when they slowed down for stone walls and muddy stream crossings.  I just bounded across, not needing to slow down, since slipping and falling was not something I was really concerned about.  The only time I've fallen since going fully minimalist two years ago was when I've stubbed toes or tried to slow myself by using my heels. 

Again the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove was my shoe of choice, and again it was flawless.  Love those shoes.  Hope wore the Pace Glove.  While the TGs are my favorite trail racing shoe, I don't run in them much other than that.  So the poor things go from muddy races to the washing machine, and then off to the next race.  They still look brand new when they come out of the washing machine.  I felt slightly guilty putting on spotless shoes this morning, but I got over it.  I've still not gotten a single blister from them.

For fueling, I did my usual drill of coffee with grass-fed cream, and nothing else.  This time I also skipped dinner the night before, having only a small piece of meat at a party I went to.  Lots of energy during the race (more on that below) and wasn't even thirsty afterward.  This is the first race I've run where I got to the finish line and wasn't the least bit interested in water.

A few notes on training for the race.  I didn't.  In fact, one could argue that I counter-trained.   Last Saturday I ran 11 miles barefoot at my Maffetone heart rate.  Then on Sunday I went mountain biking with a bunch of cross-country racers.  I didn't even bring the HRM along for that one, as it was a social ride, and I'm not going to let trying to train to be a better runner rule my life.  So I rode hard, the dog ran hard, and we both crashed in the afternoon.  (The dog also did the 11 mile run, also barefoot.)  I managed to get a little running in during the week, and decided, against all good planning, to repeat the 11-miler the day before the race.  Yeah, I know.  But I had no chance of winning it, so who really cared. 

One of the things Lee Saxby had told me to focus on was pressing the big toe when running.  This worked miracles on my weak foot, clearing up the pain in that foot in a few days.  And last week I focused on this during the run.  This week, of course, I forgot, and overdid it on the second toe on the good foot.  I may have pulled the tendon under the second toe, or something, but it's not happy.  Pressing the big toe down is the only thing that helps.

So I arrived at the race limping and having done 11 miles the day before.  At a slow Maffetone pace, but still.  Brilliant planning.  I decided to give it my all, what ever little bit that happened to be.

So off we went. (Yes, they started the race with a cow bell.) I'm pretty sure we ran up hill for the first 2.5 miles.  There were a couple of downhills, but that was only so you could run up the other side.  I started off strong, and pretty quickly started working my way through the crowd.

I never stopped working my way through the crowd.  Typically I find a pace group, run with them for most of the race, and then crap out and get passed at the end.  This time I expected the same thing to happen.  Oh, and I'd forgotten to bring my Garmin, so I had no idea where I was in the race.  But, I had decided to give it my all.  I kept passing people, picking them off on the single track.  I got passed myself a few times, but the pooped feeling never arrived.  In fact I ran a hard race at the end against a woman I'd been switching places with for the second half of the race.  I decided there was no way she was going to beat me, and put the hammer down.  I crossed the finish line at a dead sprint, with that woman right behind me.

Goofy picture
 The Maffetone heart-rate training I've been doing seems to be paying off.  I've never had that kind of energy in a race before, and it was all hills!  The results haven't been posted yet, but Emily told me I finished pretty early in the crowd.  We'll see.  But this was the first race I've ever done where I felt better at the end of the race than I did at the beginning.  Legs feel great.  Even the second toe feels OK, as I was focusing on the toe-press for the entire race this time.  That was easy, as it hurt when I didn't.

So a great race, and after the Paine to Pain half marathon of a few weeks ago, I'm feeling pretty good about my training approach.

Oh yeah, no crash after the race, and absolutely no carb cravings.  The fat-burning approach seems to be working so far.

And the nice thing about running these small local trail races: I ran into a family we're good friends with.  Dad ran, Mom ran the race with the kids, who did really well.  It's a great sport.

P.S.  Results are out.  I ran a 9:13 pace, which compares with the 9:06 I ran in the recent Paine to Pain half.  I would like to have seen a faster number, but then it was a much hillier course.  Tough to compare one trail race to another else, since the courses are so unique.  But what's important is feeling so great during the race.

Oh, and pressing the big toe as I'm walking around has got the sore second toe almost back to normal.

P.P.S. Here's the elevation profile for Paine to Pain:

Paine to Pain Half Marathon Elevation Profile
And here's Run the Farm:

Run the Farm Elevation Profile

So I guess 7 seconds/mile pace difference isn't all that bad...