AdiRUNdack Trail Series - Race #4 - 26 May 2015

Well, the 2015 AdiRUNdack Trail Series has come to a finish. Thank you, Rebecca Smith, for another wonderful year! Heidi Underwood won the fourth and final 5K for the women's race, and Alex Benway once again won it for the men's race. Overall, Sue Thompson won the 20K women's race, with an average 5K finish time of 22:33, followed by Justine Trybendis with 22:46, and Angie Thomas with 23:57. For the men, Alex Benway finished the 20K with an average 5K time of 16:50, Max Selleck was next, with an average of 19:59, and Matthew Haley came in third, with 20:25. Congrats to the winners, and congrats to everyone who participated.

I had to leave before the award ceremony, so I didn't get to see the winners, but the race itself was fun. I came in at 31:06, my fastest time for this series, but not fast enough for a PR. The strategy I chose was ineffective, but ultimately, I don't think it would have mattered. I employed a similar strategy on the last two races, too: I stayed back, running the first K at a slower pace while the crowd thinned out, and then tried to keep the hammer (Mjölnir) down for the rest of the race. I ran the first mile at an average of 11:01/mi, and the second and third mile at 9:40/mi and 9:38/mi. On the final stretch I managed to approach something like a sprint (for me), at 7:18/mi. Even if I had been able to maintain that 9:40 for the whole race, though, I most likely would have only been able to shave a few seconds off of my 5K PR, which is 29:20. (That was set on the same course, last year. I haven't run a road 5K.)

My takeaway from this is that I'm in roughly the same shape I was in last year. Which is good, because I was beating myself up over the extra weight I'm carrying around. That's a topic for another post, though. I also tried out the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer again, and I think I like it after all. I didn't have any of the space cadet problems I had last time. I did drink it a little bit earlier, maybe 25 minutes before the race instead of the recommended 20, but I can't imagine that being significant in any meaningful way. I'm still going to try it out on a few long runs and see how that goes.

As far as my footwear, well, I decided to do this one barefoot. I believe this was my longest barefoot run; it was certainly my fastest. I got a few comments out on the trails, and a few questions when I was finished. I answered them as best I could at the time, but in case you're curious, I'll try to answer them here:

"Do you do much training barefoot?"

I walk around barefoot as much as possible, but I don't often run barefoot. (According to my tracker, I've run a grand total of 9.6 miles barefoot, including the race on Tuesday.) Running barefoot (or wearing FiveFingers) on pavement hurts my Achilles for days, and I haven't been able to fully resolve that. Running barefoot on trails does not, and it's really fun. We're blessed with a lot of sandy trails in the area, thanks to the remains of glacial Lake Albany, which helped me ease into it. Just remember to watch where you're placing your foot.

"Doesn't it hurt? Doesn't the gravel hurt?"

The worst surface I walked on at the race was the blacktop in the parking lot. The gravel on the track didn't hurt, at any pace. It's small and mostly rounded, and my feet are tough. The gravel at the road crossing was painful, though. I had completely forgotten about it until my friend Tisha said to watch out for it as we got there. The only other portions that were uncomfortable were the two areas of wood chips near the middle of the course. I felt like I was getting splinters, but I didn't see any when I got back to the car.

I did have a dime-sized blister near the front of each foot by the end. They were a little tender to walk on the next day, but I felt fine on Thursday, and was able to put in a (shod) run on Thursday evening without any discomfort.

"Why? Why would you do that?"

Because they're there!

Mallory-esque quips aside, I run and walk barefoot because I feel the need to push myself. Also, shoes are really flipping hot in the warmer months, and I quickly get to the point where I can't stand them. Furthermore, my Neanderthal feet don't appreciate the tiny toe boxes on most shoes. I used to get blisters constantly between my 4th and 5th toes, due to my 5th (pinky) toe curling under my 4th, which put me on the quest to find shoes or solutions that didn't do that, and lead to me eventually experimenting with just going barefoot.

"Did you guys just see that? No, seriously, are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

Yeah. They saw the crazy guy who just flew past you without any shoes on.

Finally, I also had my own question answered: "Is there any point in continuing to wear FiveFingers?"

Yes. They provide additional traction and they provide a small layer of cushion to help avoid blisters when running at a hard pace. I slipped worse on the wet portion when barefoot than I did when I was wearing the Spyridons (FiveFingers trail running line). I wasn't in much danger of falling, though, because I had shifted my stride and cadence significantly due to being barefoot. That's something I need to work on: I seem to run like I'm shod when I'm wearing FiveFingers (lower cadence, longer stride) instead of running like I'm barefoot (higher cadence, shorter stride). I noticed the style shift the most on the big turns, especially on the one just before the hill. I felt like I had Flintstone legs.

Well, I think that about wraps it up. Thanks for reading, and be excellent to each other.