The reason to sign up for the Forest Park 50k put on by PCTR's Sarah and Wendellwas the same as last year when I pulled off this stunt: my training partners left for Memorial weekend, and there was no way I would have plowed through 30M training run all by myself. Yes, I am lazy in training. So once I found out noone I regularly run with will be in town, I emailed Sarah and Wendell on Wed that I am comning. These two folks are so wonderful! Gotta love them, and I was very happy I could show up and support their racing system.
I haven't mentioned, but on Saturday's run/hike Jemez miles caught up with me finally (didn't help to run 10 miles daily whole week and not take any recovery), and I was feeling quite dead. By Sunday morning I also haven't seen Alex in 48 hrs - just like that, went to look for a job and didn't come back. I knew he was alive as he occasionally logged on to his MySpace account (it can be tracked), and as my friend police officer said "No news is good news", but it was frustrating. While I am ready to let him go (read: kick him out of the house), it wasn't supposed to happen for another week, and not like that - left in what he wears and gone. I still don't know if he'll show up next week...Anyhow, that and a couple of minor (comparing to this one) things kept my mind...hmm, entertained, if you can call it this way.
I haven't prepared anything for the race, and just grabbed whatever leftover I had from Jemez in my pack. It wasn't much: 5 gels and 3 carb pouches. Made it to race start at 7am, picked up my number, went back to change shoes by the car, talked to a cute young fellow directing traffic (I warned him I'll be blaming him)...and locked my keys in the trunk. Nice! What the hell do I do now? No AAA, and all locksmith locations closed for the weekend. Lucky for me (oh, the amazing ultra friends!) Central Oregonians Dan and Kathy were walking by and offered to take me home to get spare key. What they did - flying on roads like Maniacs! I had to wake up Stephen to get inside and did find a key (always a burden when I never used it before) - and we were back by 8am, with 30 min to spare! Phew, that was close! Is it showing me how the run is going to go?
So we started, bottle-necking for half a mile on single track, and I just settled in to a walk. So many friends, locals, Maniacs, everybody! Many more than last year, so it was fine to walk. But as we spread out by the end of first mile, I found out - I got no legs. As in - hey, you, we don't know who you are to tell us to move, so get lost! And I said: OK, whatever, lets walk it, shuffle it, talk, and smile. What I did, for the first 10k, nice and easy. I ran into my friend David mid-way, and we chatted in the middle of the trail. Then saw Sarah, who snapped my picture. Finally first AS came, 1:10 into the run (last year it was 56 min, huh!). I had no goals (OK, I thought it'd be nice to run 6:30, because above this it just sounds not so nice, but generally was ready for anything), filled my bottle and left. Next section had a few "canyons" (yes, I know, but that's what we call it here in Forest Park). Saw Hal Koerner walking back (got lost and his ankle still hurt from before Miwok). Ran with Dan, Bret and a bunch of other folks I know - had fun. Glenn T. almost missed taking a shot of me! Couldn't believe it, it was downhill, and it was my best running form!
Are my legs really that skinny now? Wow, Glenn has a magic in his camera!
My friend Cary Miller caught up (he was doing his own run) and we ran together talking for next 3 miles. Got 3 phone calls (yup, I carry cell phone, with my family situation it's important, and since it rang, and I had nothing better to do, I talked). Finally got to AS#2 (20k) - and still in 1:10.
Bret was waiting for me to take a picture by Sarah, and since it was raining quite heavily by then, I stopped and put my clothes on (all that I took time to take off in the second mile). Felt that much better, spent 5 min talking again, and left on a lolly-pop loop.
The legs kind of came back, and then left, and then came back again. I figured they responded to my gels: take one, wait 10 min to ingest, get energy for 10 min, go down for 10 min, repeat. Fine, at least I know Forest Park like a back of my hand, and can anticipate every bump. I lolygag next 10k with more friends, old and new, take a pipeline mud-slide (and not fall!) and make it back to the same AS, now at 30k.
1:15. Hmm, if I keep plugging along, I might run 6hrs, and 6:30 is a given. I entertain the idea of hassling for a bit, standing at AS, and see more local friends coming up for a part of their training run - Liz and Kamm. Running home is awesome! They drag me out, otherwise I would have stood there longer.
They run with me on the dirt road, and even agree to take a turn to Wildwood (they need an hour out-n-back anyway). We talk. They are training for WS100, we share stories, laugh a lot, and I run even though I don't want to. Eventually, back to "canyons", and they pull away just a bit - but I always see them. I am getting pretty tired and just move forward.
AS at 40k - and who knows why I pay attention to the watch. Not for the "how long it took", but for the actual time developed since the start. Bummer! Why did I look? Because I had enough brain cells left to figure out that if I make next 10k (and I have to be honest, 4 out of those 6 miles are downhill) in 1:08, I'll break 6 hrs. SO here I am, with a decision to hassle...
I hate racing. I am putting a hammer on, head down, no smile, and keep telling myself - I hate racing! I am one of those who "goes as pleased", and if the finish time shows good number, more power to me, and if not - always an excuse ready! :) Yes, I know. But it's just the way I am, I don't "work" until I smell the finish line. And unfortunately (and very much fortunately) I ran this section a million of times, so I can really gauge my energy. So I run, hard. At 53rd Ave Glenn T. finally snaps that picture of me I waited for, but I am not sure if I smiled. Uh-oh, this is bad, I always smile! I don't like myself, but I run.
Would you look at the difference in this and previous photo by Glenn? Can you see how just simply happy I was at mile 7 and how forging a smile I am at mile 27? WoW!
I am waiting for the last gel to kick in - please, do, please, do! I almost pray. My big toes are killing me - I have arthritis in those, and in wet and mud they not just ache, they scream. But at least the rain stopped (about an hour ago), and the sun is picking. I don't really see it, I don't say hi or wave to hikers and runners - I work. JC, I don't like to work so hard!
But it is downhill. I can "see" every turn, twist, bump, drop - everything - laying ahead of me with my mind, and I push. By now I know I'll break 6 hrs easily, but I am on cruise-control, can't stop. One more phone call (Oleg picked up Stephen for the rest of the day, good, one kid is OK) - and I run more. I can hear the finish line for the whole last mile...
And I finish. I kicked butt! OK, mostly it was my own behind, which hurt like hell, but the time was 5:50, and I couldn't be happier:)
I spend over an hour at the finish line, chatting away with everybody and their brother, pretty high. Good, because this is my last "big" weekend, and I am glad I fulfilled it. In theory, next one I should still be training, but I have a friend coming for a visit, and while we'll run, we won't do anything crazy. And I am damn glad about it! But at least now I know I am somewhat ready for a 100 miler...
Photos during a run are courtesy of Sarah. There will be more pictures from finish line later added once I download my camera at work. Mr. G promised to have his professional shots up on Tuesday. Lots of folks got lost - not for the absence of marking, but because there was 10k, 20k, 30k going on as well with different turns, and I feel bad for them. It pays to run the "home turf" for sure. I took a nice hot bath (aha, you read it right, normal people take ice bath, I like it hot), and now ready to get out and play.
One more day. Can my sticks hold on a little longer? :)
Photos by Glenn T.
Weekend, Part III: Maple loop.
I bailed out of running in Forest Park and instead went for 12M in Tryon park. It was raining and miserable to be alone, but I made it, bored out of my mind, wet and cold. Legs felt OK, some soreness in hamstrings, but not bad at all. Now it's time to get back to house chores:)
p.s. Alex is back home