Boy, what a weekend! I am glad to be done with my training for a 100M, but to tell you the truth, it was my best training weekend - in fact, that 50k was my best race I had done this year. How crazy is that??!! But let me start from the beginning...
Friday people from our lab went on a hiking trip to Dog Mountain in Columbia River Gorge. Dog Mountain features over 2800 feet of climb in 3.1 miles. We have a new girl in a lab, Karin, from Chile, who likes to be challenged. So Karin and I took it full stride up to the top - really, with HR over 90% and a serious hill work. She did awesome! Once we reached the top, we walked around on near-by trails for 30 min waiting for men from our lab to show up.
Then we went a third of a mile down to Little Dog and had a nice lunch and a great chat there.
My boss (who, by the way, turned out reads my blog - uh-oh!) is a fantastic story-teller and a polyglot (is it an English word?). He knows everything about everything, from politics to economics to history - and forget science, he is totally crazy about it. Almost scary, he is an alien in memory and amount of knowledge he has, what makes him even crazier (he knows that too, so not to worry about reading it). And to think he says I am the one who is crazy:)
Once we were done with our food, I talked Karin into running downhill. She is such a trooper! She never ran downhill in her life (she does run some, and she is also a mountain biker-rock climber-ski boarder), and she announced that people are fooling themselves for thinking downhill is easy. You bet it's not! So I kept it at somewhat slower pace while reading a lecture on running downhill technique. You'd think it means I was relaxing? Nu-uh! Breaking on a steep downhill is a worst thing to do!
So while I turned a pleasure hike into a hill repeat, I woke up on Saturday with sore quads. Common, I don't get sore quads! I was fine after 10000 feet down at both Zane Grey and Silver State! It was almost funny, if it didn't hurt that much...I even had to ice them and take Ibuprofen!
But I needed a long run at the Gorge, so off I went. Working to break the inflammation down on my quads, I powered through 2 hill repeats and then added miles and time up to over 7,000 feet of elevation gain and 25 miles - and yes, I skipped a proposed 5 mile loop to make it 30. Not sure why, just wanted to go home. I was ok by then, but felt the need to be with my family. It was very lonely out there, me, myself, all alone, nobody around, not even i-Pod or Charlie...ok, I slacked. This was exactly the reason to sing up for a 50k - to make sure I make the distance:) But the overall day (well, early morning to mid-afternoon) was a gorgeous one, and I loved been out there, in my sanctuary.
Saturday night Van "Pigtails" Phan called to let me know she might be not coming for the 50k. That reminded me I had to pack my clothes and my gear for tomorrow - and I got scared. I normally don't get scared before races, especially when I plan to run them easy as training runs, but somehow this was different. I even had a case of diarrhea in the morning - with IBS it's a sure sign I am nervous. So I came to Forest Park and made sure to tell everybody how un-motivated, un-trained, un-excited, un-prepared and whatever else "un" I am. I went as far as to tell Sean Meissner I'm looking at around 7 hrs finish. He called me a sandbagger and I agreed on 6:30. Sarah was there, as was Tom with his new "huge" baby-camera (he was taking pictures for the day) and a good local friend Kyly who was recovering from a very nasty case of a hamstring tear. I finally got to meet Sarah and Wendell, RD's of a couple of dozens of PCTR races, and they were awesome! Jasper came to help them too (the guy who just won Silver State 50M), many Maniacs and some other faces. We lucked out on the weather, it was 60F and overcast, perfect (although no heat training this time).
I put my headphones on, and off we went. There was a dude running barefoot, and we all looked at him with disbelief. The trail starts up and in a first 10k gaines over a 1,000 feet - not too much, but enough to notice. Boy, I forgot how runnable Forest park is! It was nice to finally run without a pack on my back, but I stuffed my pockets in race-ready shorts so much, my butt was jiggling. Kyly yelled to me: "Your ass is jumping, make it proud!", and I went up. Surpisingly my CCS was bearing and lasted for 25 min - sometimes I truly believe my body can hear me talk, and it gets scared when I announce some drastic changes for myself. I chugged along with some guys (and a couple of them "you must be Olga" thanked me for putting a link for the race, that's how they got to run it - nice, at least my blog is useful for something). I ran with a guy named Leif Rustvold who works at OHSU and he also ran with Oleg back in 2005 at SOB 50k (Oleg ran it as a bandit) - what a small world; and then with Joe who reads blogs. At around mile 4 a train of like 9 girls overtook me (half of them were doing shorter distances), but at the same time Dave Terry (a Montrail teammate and a great runner) kept me company for the next couple of miles up until the AS. In fact we were talking so much (he was "jogging" his long run in support of his girlfriend doing 50k), I missed the turn to the AS! Nothing new here:) Should have read the instructions, don't ya think? The turn was heavily marked, but I am space-cadet when it comes to trail running. So we had to back-track and probably added a quater of a mile - not much to be upset.
The first 10k came in 1:05, and considering that it had the most (a thrid) of a climb of the course, I was like - whoa, what the heck am I doing?
So volunteers filled my bottles with water, I lightened the load of my shorts by getting a couple of gels and a carbo-mix, and decided to slow down a touch.
darn Forest Park with its running grounds! No place to justify the walk breaks! I was yo-yoing with a couple of gals on next 10k stretch, feeling actually pretty good, and it took me 1:10 to reach the next AS, where Hippo, who manned it, gave me a good squeeze and helped me with bottles. Of course, Tom was there once again with his camera, and I told him I feel surprisingly good. I went down on a Firelane and soon saw a fist guy coming up from a lollypop loop, followed by Sean Meissner. I stopped at the turn (again, heavily marked, but just in case, I read directions this time that I carried in my pocket) and turned left onto Wildwood. Next 3 miles were flat - they are the flattest stretch on the whole trail in the Park, so I had to run again. After it was done, there was a turn steeply up on some connecting trail I never saw before in my life and the loop continued on a course I had no idea about - but a neat one nevertheless. It included a crazy downhill, steep like hell, another fireroad to Leif Erikson dirt road and back to the same AS. It was another 1:10 on the clock. Pete ("Hippo") exclaimed all the niceties I love to hear, and off I went.
I had 20k left, and the deal was to find a balance between running comfortable enough to not kill myself yet not to slack way back and loose time. The first 3M went well, but then I had to start working. You know how it is:) I had a perfect fueling plan and never bonked per se, but was getting tired. I pushed a bit and probably over-extended my energy a bit, but I made it to AS in 1:10 again. So far so good. Last gel, last bottle refill - and the home stretch with a fear of been passed - I really don't like to be passed on a last section:)
As it turned out, I made another mistake coming to an AS by taking a wrong road, what might have added another quater mile, but many did that, and as I said before, the course was marked perfectly (I did see a sign saying "return" with an arrow), I am just a stupid runner. Next 3 miles were again back to normal, and I played with the idea of coming under 5:30 - and then it came: I became feeling dizzy and lightheaded. What do you think? :) Thankfully, this section was mostly (not all, but overall) downhill, loosing same 1000 feet we gained at first. I wish I could take a walk break, but no, there was no big hills, and all I could do is turn my brain off and turn the cruise-control on. I powered on.
Last mile was probably the longest mile (and the most technical) of the whole race (it tuned out to be 1.4M), but I made it with no scars, 5:31 and change. It felt amazing!!!
Sean yelled "here comes the biggest sandbagger in the ultra-wolrd" and I crossed the finish line. As it turned out, I even placed 3rd female (first was Dave's girlfriend in 5:14 and second another gal in 5:18). Sarah and Wendell were quick for hugs and soup - best food after an ultra-run!!! A mere 10 min later Kyly ran in, paced by Tom last 6 miles. What a blast! It was her first long run in a long time, and she did great! I told her I ran scared she'd kick my butt - she is totally capable, she is an awesome runner, she was just taking it easy. She is on her way to have a great season!!!
We chatted for a bit while consuming soup, a great group of folks, everything I love about this community, and eventually I had to go home...I didn't see Sarah finish, but I am sure she'll post her recap soon.
I'll add pictures in the next couple of days as I get them - there should be quiet a few, from my work-mates for the "hike" and from Tom for the 50k.
It was a great day. I am so proud of myself for running like 90% of the 31 miles - I would have never done it myself in a training run. Hey, here is a solution: since I pride of been a second half runner and more of a 50+ mile racer, may be I should always do a long run before a race:)
I am ready to taper.
p.s. all photos from the race are taken by Tom Riley and photos from Dog Mt. hike are by Karin Mullendorff.