Mary’s Peak 50K

Mary’s Peak is the tallest mountain in Oregon’s Coast Range, located near Corvallis.  I’ve always been interested in visiting it because of all the endemic and rare plants (botanist-need alert!).  Running a 50k on the mountain doesn’t necessarily qualify as botanical exploration, but at least I am more familiar with the trails and got to see the beautiful view at the top.

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Wildflowers at the top of Mary’s Peak.  These were not in bloom for the race.

This post is also intended to highlight the idea of perception during a race.  Lots of articles have been published on the mental aspect of running ultras, and most are true.  I’ve succumbed to perception issues in several races, mostly in the way of how I am placed in the women’s race.  It can’t be helped!  I come from a collegiate running 3K-10K background, it’s so so difficult to shake that short term- competitive nature of placing well in a race.  It always bites me in the ass.  Always always.

Nonetheless, here is [yet] another account of how I allowed misconstrued perception during a race alter my performance.

***

After a long bus ride up some logging roads to the start area, everyone stood around in the small patches of sun to warm up while the race director gave a good talk.  I should add, there were many portapotties staged there and even a pink ‘women’s only’ toilet.

Mary's Peak3

Mary’s Peak, tallest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range

The race was off and I noticed two women shot off the front.  We ran down the logging road, downhill to a right turn squeezing everyone onto a delicious single track.  I took this easy, despite the downhill, I think my pace went around 8:00 per mile.  We rolled along and I generally only was passing on the uphills while trying to maintain a constant effort.

We lolled along, trending uphill, up up eventually all the way up Mary’s Peak.  I tried so hard to reign it in, and I think my pacing was fine.  I basically ran the whole time because the gradient wasn’t too bad and I’ve been training with good elevation gain for Waldo 100k.  I passed two women while running up the hill.

Eventually we got to the epic view.  It was wonderful!

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View from the top

The aid station at the top of the peak in the parking lot was a bit confusing.  The volunteers weren’t watching who came from where, and I had to ask them which way to go UP (assuming up was the way to go).  I figured it out only because Joe came down the trail, back to the same aid station and pointed me the correct direction.  This was my only real qualm with the race… Maybe new volunteers?  Someone could have been used to point and track who goes where.  Also at this aid, they told me I was the first female, which was news to me, as I assumed there were a few more in front of me that I missed on the line.

The trail took us back down a different way, where my natural tendency is to run downhill fast… So I flew.  This is where the perceptions come in.  I’m like- oh crap!  I’m first female!  Better hold it.  This was about halfway through the race by this point and we were off Mary’s Peak, then eventually started on more logging roads and single track.

maryspeak

Starting the uphill again

We passed clear cuts and downed trees (only around 2, no big deal to hop over/under).  The run was up and down, rolling during this section with aid stations every once in a while.  Aid station fare was a touch slim, but it didn’t matter to me because I had enough to eat.  I put down a good effort while still trying t maintain control on my pace.

At some point, maybe 5 mi to go, I started feeling off.  A weird pressure in my chest/rib cage that felt similar to heartburn.  Of course, I convince myself I’m having a heart attack and start slowing down.  My abs started cramping in the front and I felt like I was overheating.  For the first time, I tried wearing my race singlet (Pearl Izumi!) in an ultra with my race vest but by this point I was succumbing to chafe on my shoulders and clavicle due to the best touching my bare skin. I also got kind of bored.  Ha!  So basically, I was mentally breaking down.  I went into the next aid station (the last one), and asked what place I was in.  Third. Again- ha!  Perceptions!  I was so relieved while at the same time sort of angry I was running a bit more aggressively that I may have if I wasn’t thinking I was leading.

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The climb up

Almost as soon as I discovered I was in third rather than first, a woman passed me back and would remain up there, while I was struggling with my ab cramps.  We hit a gravel road for a few miles into the finish- I despised this part – and every step was killing my abs while my heart attack feeling was concerning me.  Another woman passed me (but I suspected she was in the 25k, I was correct).

Eventually I went through the finish line in 5:30.  I saw Joe and Andy there, basking in the sun.  I was mostly pleased with my effort, but not pleased with the mental aspect of this race.

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***

Down to perspective.  When I was just running, not considering placement, I felt fine.  It was early in the race, however, that an aid station person told me I was first for women.  Looking back, the two women in front of me were likely still running to the actual summit of Mary’s Peak and hadn’t yet gone through the aid station in the parking lot, and the volunteers made a mistake.  Anyway, I got it in my head that it was possible since I ran up the hill while everyone around me was hiking.  I pushed the middle of the race when I may not have otherwise (not necessarily a bad thing), and suffered at the end.  As soon as I realized I was third place, I let go of the effort and was passed.

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More climbing

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Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Race Report

Finally!  The first 100 miles!

The first one hundred mile race typically holds a special meaning for most people who choose to partake in such an endeavor.  Mine was no different.  I’ve wanted to run 100 miles since 2010, when I read Born to Run.  At the time, I was working in a running shoe store in New Hampshire, and with the publication of the book, came the onslaught of Vibram Five Finger purchases.  And there I was, crouched on the floor of a summer-heated shop, helping customers squeeze their toes into the Five Fingers… day in and day out for months, remarking on such an effect from the book.  That all of these people read it and wanted to run barefoot, when I read the book and wanted to run 100 miles.  (not barefoot).  It took another 5-ish years to accomplish this goal, but I did it.  In under 24 hours.  (barely).  I jumped right into a 50 miler, spent some 3 years playing around with more 50 milers, then did a large year (2014) of more 50 milers, a 100k, and finally a 70 mile race.  This was only 6 months ago, and combined with watching the Tahoe 200 mile and seeing those around me accomplish their goals, I finally took the plunge and felt ready.


the course, 5x 20 mi laps.

the course, 5x 20 mi laps.

Rocky Raccoon is not 'rocky,' but, rooty.

Rocky Raccoon is not ‘rocky,’ but, rooty.

I chose Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville, TX over a more scenic, mountainous 100 mile race for a few reasons.  First, the flat course with 5 laps of 20 made it an appealing first 100.  The flatness would take away any additional fears that my legs would stop working if it were too hilly and I could focus instead on running smoothly and finishing the race.  Plus, my good college friends live in Dallas (perfect excuse to visit / recruit crew members).  And another good college friend, Peter Hogg was running the race.  Low-stress course, easy to crew for, easy to just do it.  (no 100 mile is easy, however, just wanted to eliminate other factors that would make it more difficult).

“Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon’s bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival”


Despite taking an abrupt 3 week taper due to an-entire-right-leg niggle, I felt ready.  I wanted to deliver myself to the 80th mile ready to keep running and pushing on, but I knew I could fast-walk the last 20 mi if I had to.  (…And I had to).  I did my best to stay in ‘denial’ and not think much about the 100 miles, instead thinking about just an ultra and trying to stay positive.  Indeed, I really don’t think it occurred to me that I was even running 100 miles until perhaps after the whole thing was over!

Leaving the mountainous  Cascade forests for the flat Dallas land

Leaving the mountainous Cascade forests for the flat Dallas land

Joe and I flew to Dallas instead of Houston because our friends from college are living there.  My first impression – holy flat!  The flight out of Portland had views of 4 volcanic mountains amongst the Cascades and flying into Dallas I saw… nothing!  Indeed, it was the flattest ground I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been a lot of places).  Also, the trees were approximately 10 feet tall and were likely planted around the city.  Visions of tornados and giant thunderstorms filled my head.  Agoraphobia! We picked up my packet and went to dinner, with enough time for me to prepare for the next day.  6-7 hours of good sleep later (that never happens!), we were on our way to the race.

They do.  I think I heard one calling in the night...

They do. I think I heard one calling in the night…

We got there an entire hour early, the earliest I’ve ever arrived at a race.  I ate a packet of instant oatmeal and a banana with honey peanut butter, and drank a coffee and a chocolate almond milk.  I forgot my usual Perpetuem in the morning, but I was okay because I got kind of spooked by the milk product it contains (I think just whey proteins). Peter and I posed for the obligatory pre-race photo and then he was off the the very front of the start line, while I shoved myself somewhere in the upper-middle.

Obligatory pre-race photo

Obligatory pre-race photo.  Don’t mind me, just mixin’ my tailwind.

The race started and everyone shuffled into place.  I didn’t seem to move much beyond where I started and I basically ran the first lap with those around me.  The first goal was obviously to finish – which I was going to do, even if it took 29:59:59 – the second goal was sub-24 (like every newbie, gotta get the sub-24!), and the third goal, if everything went well, was to run around 20 hrs.  I believed I was capable of a sub-20 hr on that course if I ran the race well, and I still think so after doing the race.  I didn’t run the race well, so sub 20 was out of the window.  Despite reading everything I could about first- 100 milers and listening the advice to everyone I could, and despite starting too fast in almost all of my races, I still did it.  I clocked 3:22 the first lap of 20 miles.  I was okay with this at the time, because I truly had no idea how to run on flat terrain!  All of my runs in Oregon have 1500 feet of climbing in the first few miles, making it impossible to translate my pace.  So I just went with ‘feel’ even if I knew it was too fast.  When a big group of us ran into the start/finish, I announced, “so who here is planning on running a 16:20 100 mile today?” and the general consensus was – no one.  Everyone seemed to know we were running too fast and were planning on ‘banking’ the time.  Note to everyone reading this, banking time doesn’t work! So I slowed down.  Just a touch.

We're off!

We’re off!

I was having a grand old time talking to people on and off while the day was heating up.  I saw Peter on one of the out and backs, who was in front of Ian Sharman at the time, and we shouted encouragements – “how are you feeling???” “ehh”.  Somewhere around the 50K I noticed my hip flexors were starting to yell at me.  Probably for running for so long!  Non-ultra runners may not understand, but normally with a hillier course, I would have stopped to hike up hills, and while there weren’t any hills at RR100, I had no reason to stop running.  Also, the roots were a bit insane, forcing me to lift up my legs like doing knee-highs or running through the tires at a football practice.  None of this bothered me, actually, but was likely the reason my hip flexors were burning.  I also saw a few people take some massive diggers!  One guy (Plaid Chris) tripped and fell three times right in front of me during the first two laps 🙂 you Texans gotta lift up your legs better!

Covered up for the chilly morning

Covered up for the chilly morning

Lap1_3

Sometime during the second lap I also noticed that my feet were going numb.  Strange.  The right one more than the left. I didn’t want to stop between aid stations, so when I saw Joe and Jared at the next aid, I loosened up my right shoe to the point where it was barely hanging on.  At that point, it was already 38 miles though… and I could tell I was getting some toe blisters (slathering the feet in body glide and injinji socks were failing).  I started to think my that my shoes were different sizes, as this had never happened to me before.  I experienced my first ‘low’ point here around the 50K, which is where I usually feel a bit blah.  The remedy was to start listening to music.  A few songs passed, but some 90s Eminem seemed to do the trick.  I pepped right up!  The second lap was a bit slower in 3:45.  This was more along the lines of what I was thinking (laps of 4 hrs).

“Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot, he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner, ah”

Lap2_1

Saturday through Sunday, Monday, Monday through Sunday yo

Lap1_4

What? My name is? wicka wicka Slim Shady.

Lap1_5

Now this looks like a job for me so everybody just follow me ‘Cause we need a little controversy, ‘Cause it feels so empty without me

The third lap I was still listening to music and was a bit alone for most of it.  Mentally I was fine.  It was definitely heating up and I ran out of water between one of the longer stretches of aid stations (only 6 mi).  It was my fault, as I didn’t fill my water, so I really went around 9-10 mi without refilling my water.  I felt a blister pop between the toes, noticing the warm/wet all of a sudden, making me still consider whether I wanted to switch shoes.  I debated on this for a while, but I never changed them.  Joe mixed me a Tailwind every lap, which went down easy until the 3rd lap, where the flavor was grape – which I found very disagreeable at that time.  This likely contributed to my lack of hydration during the Damnation loop, because I had planned on drinking that.  No matter, I filled waters again and went along my merry way, grabbing an oozy cheesy quesadilla to go.  I went through the 50 mile mark around 9:15, which was a pretty decent time.  At this point, Ian Sharman lapped me in 2nd, his 4th lap, and about 20-30 mins back from the leader at the time (which he would eventually catch) looking like he hadn’t even sweat all day.  I knew Peter would be running by at some point, and I kept turning around to look on the straight sections of trail.  The 3rd place guy, then Paul Terranova both ran past, both looking great.  Finally reaching the only ‘hill’ on the course, I stopped and hiked it.  It felt so good to hike instead of run!

heating up

Squinting from the sun - nothing really hurt yet!

Squinting from the sun – nothing really hurt yet!

Lap2_4

Close up.

Close up.

Then Peter catches up to me – caught me walking for the first time, already 58 miles into the race.  To my surprise, he starts hiking the hill as well, and says “I’m going to run with you.”  I’m thinking – yeah, like to walk up this hill.  “no, like for the rest of the race.” What!  No.  Maybe until the next aid station (1 mi away) or the end of the lap, but he was serious.  The Rocky course is deceivingly difficult – which makes it more incredible that Sharman has the 100 mile record for trail and the woman’s record was smashed that day, in 14:22.  Insane.  Back to my race – I was still hovering around 10th place for women and I was feeling fine.  I crossed the start/finish in around 4:00 hours, perfect, and wanted to stay at this pace, even though I knew I would have a hard time that final lap.  Peter had run ahead to finish his 4th lap but I saw him chatting with someone on the sideline, and he started running with me out of the aid station to complete his 5th lap, my 4th.  We basically complained over the next few miles to the aid station where we picked up our pacer, Jared.  Since we all enjoyed several awesome years of DePauw cross country and track, this made for a hilarious 4th lap for me.  It flew by, with stories by headlamp, and all sorts of nonsense which was exactly what I needed to forget the passing of time.

Lap4_1

Neither of us look very thrilled at this point.

I was definitely slowing down, averaging 12-13 minute pace running.  Regardless, I went through 100K at around approx. 11:30, which could be a new PR for me by 50 minutes.  Eventually, I went through the 70 mile mark at around 13:30, also a new PR at that distance, by 4.5 hours.  That also meant we were slowing way down, taking our time at aid stations and eating ramen noodles (~2 hrs to go 8 miles).  Between Peter and I, we had wildly different paces (ya don’t say… someone who has gone low 14-hrs in a 100 vs someone aiming for a 20 hr finish).  I was just chugging along at 13 min/mi pace, Peter would jog ahead much faster then slow to a walk, I would walk at 15 min/mi pace, which was too fast for Peter’s walk.  So it went on like this for a while.  I thought it was funny, but I’m sure he didn’t think so at the time.  Eventually we reached the final aid station for the lap, where Peter finally took off to finish his race, leaving Jared and I to walk/run the final 3 or so miles.  More walking than running by then, finishing the lap in 5:11.  An hour slower than I wanted, but I was still hoping to have another 5hr lap to close the race up nicely.  I congratulated Peter on his finish, thanked Jared, and picked up Joe to ‘run’ the final lap of 20 miles.

Lap4_3

Ugh!  Can you imagine everyone you were just running with are done?  And you have 20 more miles?  I could, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to crawl into ‘the pit of despair’ and start feeling sorry for myself.  So Joe and I charged (walking) ahead, ready to finish this thing.  We likely started walking at the traditional 15 min/mi pace (our firefighting pack test pace) and slowed to a 20 min/mi pace in the later stages of the lap.  In the first few miles, we ran out of BOTH headlamp light, and tried to use just the backup light that Joe brought.  He called Jared, who probably just settled in to sleep, to meet us with extra headlamps and batteries at the next aid.  We were lucky.  I had packed 5 different headlamps, and between all of us, they needed new batteries.  So we loaded up, with extra back ups and batteries… this would be a looooong night.  Joe told me about the soils in the area and I, in exchange told him about all of the interesting plants I noticed.  The forest was part of the Piney Woods of east Texas, with mostly loblolly (Pinus taeda) plantation over story and some oaks mixed in.  A fun oak species was there – southern red oak (Quercus falcata)!  A favorite because the leaves have drastically different morphology depending on how much light each leaf receives.  The shaded leaves are more lobed-like, falsely looking like a kind of white-oak.  The leaves with the most sunlight look deeply lobed (looking like a turkey foot saying whatsupppp!) more along the lines of a red oak (which it is).  I also saw some weird holly species, which I need to look up.  Ok!  Done with the botany talk.

Quercus_falcata_leaves

southern red oak! whassssup!

The night went on and somewhere in the wee hours I got dizzy and slowed down even more.  I was wobbly and had felt like I could tilt over.  I’m assuming this had more to do with actual sleep deprivation and headlight tunnel-vision than much else.  I got over it after taking a caffeine gel and eating more ramen noodles.  I sat at the Damnnation aid for about 10 minutes eating my ramen, just observing everyone coming in and out of the station.  There were over 6 people sitting there in various states of disrepair – they all had decided to drop.  The thought had never crossed my mind, besides to notice that it hadn’t crossed my mind!  Everyone says ‘beware of the chair’ but I had no difficulty getting up and moving on my way, a mere 8 more miles to go.

2015_rocky_raccoon_100m_13

Damnation Aid Station, awesome ramen soup and quesadillas. Oh and awesome people too 🙂

Shortly after this point, while going around the corner near the highway (with about 1-2 more miles before the next aid), Joe and I heard the most ridiculous yelling echoing in the night.  It was coming from behind us, a woman just shouting so loud, hopefully not at her pacer.  I said something to Joe – “I’m scared!” and we kept on moving forward.  Eventually, the yeller got pretty close, but then tripped over something and just screamed bloody murder while on the ground crying frantically.  I may be an ass, but this was a fairly dramatic scene unfolding and we kept moving forward.  Nothing was going to stop me at this point, unless someone was actually hurt of course.  This person got up and her and her pacer passed us while she was wimpering.  We are all in the same race, at the exact same moment in the race (5 mi from the finish) and, we do all perceive pain differently, but come on!  I couldn’t run anymore at that point, as muscles were dead, and seeing her jog by made me think that it couldn’t have been that bad!  Anyway – we kept moving and tried to get in and out of the final aid quickly.  Jared and Peter were there to encourage me, which was awesome, but I estimated I’d finish around 24:30 or a 24:15 if I hurried.  I really did not think it would be close.

I don't know what was so funny at this point.

I don’t know what was so funny at this point.

I started walking fast.  Faster and faster, even though my hamstrings were dead and my achilles were screaming as loud as the strange yelling woman (just not audibly), but I pushed on with Joe.  There were hoards of people coming at me, starting their 5th lap.  I did not envy them.  One person was dressed in a luchador costume!  Another person lost his dinner right in front of us, ugh.  We were lucky enough to see where it was on the trail and not have to walk through it.  We increased the pace significantly… walking as fast as I possibly could.  My watch finally died, after several hours of it chirping of low battery (it did record 85 mi worth, even though it really was working until the final mile).  So with no idea of time, I went for it and struggled a measly wimpy run for the final half mile or so.  Then, the finish line came into view – with three minutes to spare – I was IN!  Under 24 hours!  And somehow passed the yelling woman on the way in (she stopped to yell more in the finishing chute).  Last lap was 7:38!  I passed the finish line with a little over 2 minutes to spare, under 24 for the first 100.  Someone was there to great me with the special belt buckle, and I was the last one under the 24 hr goal.

Last person under 24 hrs!

Last person under 24 hrs!

“Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, doc it’s only a scratch
And I’ll be better I’ll be better doc as soon as I am able”

So what next?  I posed for a photo with the time…. then meandered around aimlessly.  Sat in a chair.  Sort of shed a tear.  Someone must have texted our friends because they came through the tent eventually.  High fives.  Hugs.  Then us all – hobbling back to the cars.  Jared and Peter took off, driving back to Dallas, at 6 am.  We had to take a nap, because Joe was awake basically as long as I was.  We parked in a quiet location and fell asleep after I took 30 minutes to change into clean clothes.  I woke up about a hundred times in an hour and a half – with my legs throbbing.  Mostly because they were bent awkwardly from being in a car.  Oh and from running 100 miles.  We got on the road at around 8 and tried to find something to eat and coffee to drink (impossible in Huntsville on Sunday AM.  WTH!).  Made it back to Dallas where I took …. approximately 30 minutes to walk from the parking lot and up three flights of stairs to Jared and Kate’s apartment.  My achilles didn’t work.  I’ve never had achilles problems, but I understand now how important they are to movement!  As it took me – literally – inching my way step by step to the apartment.  Finally took a shower and changed clothes, tried to drink a beer, then I took a 5 hour nap.  During the nap, PTSD dreams of tripping and falling were plaguing (I didn’t trip a single time).  I woke up for the super bowl, then went to bed again before the final play where the Pats beat the Seahawks.  Then slept another 11 hours till Monday, when we hung out with Kate, Jared’s wife (also a DePauw alum!) before flying back.  My legs were tremendously swollen but movement wasn’t too bad.  Flights were normal, the 3 hr drive home was awful.  Slept another 11 hours and came in late to work.  That’s it!

Now what?  I look scared that we just ran 100 mi.

Now what? I look scared that we just ran 100 mi.


So:  big lesson learned… don’t go out like you’re going to run 16:20 when your goal was 20 hours!  duh!  But everyone around me was doing it!  Ha!  Ok, I don’t know how many times I’ll make this mistake, but someday I won’t and it will be a success (a la Miwok 2014).  Nutrition was stellar, no nausea, no extreme hunger.  I loved Tailwind, as it was my first time trying it (another thing they tell you not to do – try a new product during the race), minus the grape flavor.  I ate PB&Js, cheese quesadillas, 15 cups of ramen noodles and broth, bacon, potatoes, a spare Huma gel here and there, a few Accel Gels and Second Surges randomly, and I’m sure I’m forgetting everything.  Basically, I ate A LOT and ALL the time.  And I am happy that I could hold a ‘fast-ish’ pace while eating all of that too, through 70-80 miles with no nausea!

I wasn’t too thrilled about the blisters and tight shoes.  It could be that my legs and feet were swelling extra for some reason, but I don’t know why.  My PT tells me that my right leg holds more fluid at the knee joint than the left because of torsion inside the knee, but I don’t know.  Injinji socks didn’t work this time, nor did the body glide.  But I could have taken the time to try a new pair of shoes and socks and reapplied vaseline.  Oh well!  First time with bad blisters too!

The 100 mile wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.  I was texting all of these people after the race that it sucked… it did not suck. Considering how I was feeling after the race, as always – that sucks, but not the actual race.  It really wasn’t that bad.  Laurel Highlands was bad.  Really bad.  But this?  not bad.  Even with the 20 mi of mostly walking I had to do at the end and severely uneven splits.  I had my mind the whole time and I wasn’t bored.  I won’t fear the 100 mile distance any more and now want to focus on a 100 that matches the terrain I get to train on every day- hilly!  Scenic!  Regardless, RR100 was awesome to participate in, with loads of great people and amazing volunteers, and delicious food.  It was great to see the top runners during the out and back sections, and sort of watching Nicole Studer break the American 100 mile record.  Insane.

I’ll be taking my time getting back to running, but already started running every other day after 10 days off.  Slow, short miles at first, and hopefully some snowboarding and skiing to go with it.  No races on the calendar for the rest of the year, but I want to start planning more!  It feels weird to not have anything to train for at the moment.

RR100 sub-24 hr belt buckle!

RR100 sub-24 hr belt buckle!

100 mi down!  Whatever is next, it will be awesome.

Reflecting on 2014

Before truly launching into 2015 running and adventuring, it makes sense to reflect on the activities of 2014 (ok, ok, it’s a bit into 2015 already, but I have to reflect before running my next race in two weeks!).  I’ll deem 2014: The Year of the Ultra for me, so far, as it was the most racing I have ever done.  For most folks, running a marathon 6x a year is sort of insane, let alone a marathon once every 4-6 weeks, and Joe and I did more than that for 6 months in 2014.  Below is a quick recap of the races and places from the past year:

Hagg Lake 50K, February
American River 50 mi, April
Miwok 100K, May
Laurel Highlands 70 mi, June
Siskiyou Out Back 50 mi, July
Hood to Coast Relay, August
The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mi, December

Running 5 ultras in a row was not easy for me, evident as I dropped from SOB from really tired legs.  I was fairly beat up after the Laurel Highlands 70, which was probably due to being beat up after Miwok 100k, only the month before.  I was surprised that Miwok went so well (it being the only ultra I was entirely happy with my performance), as it was a mere 4 weeks after American River, a race that I crashed hard in and suffered through the last 15 miles.  Perhaps American River served as a training run of sorts, prepping me for Miwok.  At the very least, it made me cautious with pace as I went out a bit faster in AR, which made for a terrible feeling by 35 mi.  I learned a lot about nutrition during these races too – Hagg and AR both were races that I felt very nauseated in, especially AR, likely due to trying to only eat gummys/gels/race nutrition products.  Sticking to solid food only worked wonders in Miwok, but the pace was also a fairly relaxed “fat burning” pace, allowing my body to be able to digest solid food while still running.

Castle Crags training run

Castle Crags training run, early 2014

I also learned in Laurel Highlands, that despite my race plan of “going out slow,” and hiking, I can still hike to aggressively, and terrain/footing has a lot to do with the amount of exertion taking place, even if I was still hiking.  Also, the plan to eat only solid food in LH worked, as I didn’t get nauseous, however, it didn’t work entirely, as I desperately wanted boiled potatoes with salt, and instead got canned potatoes in brine.  I learned to do my homework about aid stations and not trust when ‘potatoes’ are advertised, as they may be the canned variety.  I didn’t know canned potatoes even existed before I saw those beige round orbs floating in syrup at the table.

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Diamond Lake training run, summer 2014

After taking an entire month off from running (or running very casually) post-LH, traveling to Germany in August, Hood to Coast was an exciting reminder of speed for me.  I hadn’t done many actual speed work outs (absolutely zero on a track since 2009) and have not run a 5K since 2010, so I had no idea of the speed I could endure on a road.  Running into the upper 5-min miles for the first leg and remaining in the 6s for the other two legs was a good confidence boost.  Especially after eating bratwurst and drinking beer for fifteen days.  Carbo load!

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Running in southern Germany, Partenkirschen

I also got some official pacing in: in the miraculous form of pacing Stephen England into the Tahoe 200 race.  I paced twice, both over 20 miles, overnight both times for Stephen during the race, and learned SO so so much about ultras.  I’ve been doing it all wrong.  After seeing the amount of mental toughness that S endured (and hallucinations, nosebleeds, psychotic episodes) and what he was eating (burgers, hot cheetos, strawberry milkshakes) despite being Type I diabetic, yet still finishing very solid, I realized that running a 100 really can not be that bad.  Meaning: I likely won’t hallucinate, vomiting is okay, casual psychosis is fine too as long as you have a pacer, and eat all the ramen/pizza/french fries in the world, because it may be a long time.  And the aid stations that Tiffany put together, my oh my, I’ve been doing it wrong.  Why did I ever think that people finished races solely on gels?  (I gather some do…)  Barring any actual debilitating injury, I can absolutely finish a 100 mile race.  The whole thing encouraged me to finally sign up for a damn race after thinking about it for the past 4+ years.  Also, after hearing about a few Klamath running pals’ first 100 races at Pine to Palm, it finally pushed me over the edge to sign up for Rocky Raccoon as my first 100, coming up in a mere 2 weeks.

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Tahoe sunrise during first pacing run with Stephen

December wrapped up the 2014 year, although it was more like the first race in another season, leading up to Rocky, 6 weeks later.  I went out much too slow, with a lack of energy or excitement, but finishing the final 15 miles as a tempo run and speed workout.  I’d been following my old tried-and-true marathon workout plan from my days on the B.A.A. team, so it would make sense to run “100 mi” effort for 35 mi then “10K” effort the last 15 mi.

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Klamath pals atop Mt Bailey, August 2014

So: a big big year of racing.  Joe was there most of the time racing too.  It was amazing to train with my husband and race alongside him, but this is something we may change in the future.  We may break it up to only one of us racing at a time, because it became a bit expensive to both race and kennel two dogs and have a non-racer at most of these things.  It became a fun issue of “who is the least exhausted” to drive home after the race.  Joe will support me in Rocky Raccoon and I’ll support him at Hagg Lake this year, and likely a few more races.

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Joe and I at the PCT and Mt Thielson trail, when we ‘discovered’ a 25 mi loop but had to run back via dark road, November 2014.

Not sure which races will be after Rocky, as I wanted to leave time to heal up (mentally) and possibly try for a fast 50 mile sometime in 2015.  Joe may be running some of the Oregon Trail Series races, so I may just have the dogs and be the support team.  Which is always a fun time!  We are also considering organizing our own local race this year, permits permitting 😉   Other than that, we have a variety of travel coming up (somehow I am going to Idaho 3x in 6 months!) for work, weddings, bachelorette parties, babies, who knows what else!  But I am excited to not really have anything on the schedule post Jan 31 and let a race come to me when I feel inspired again.

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Cape Cod long run, where there are no mountains, beaches can do just fine!

In non-running related news, we also moved from Klamath Falls to Roseburg, Oregon, from the east-Cascade high desert to the west-Cascade wet rainforest.  We traded sage-scrub volcanic rock trails (miles of infinite loops), a short drive to the PCT, and sunshine every day for low-elevation rain every day, Umpqua trail, 1500+ feet climb on every trail option, never see the sun in the winter of the west side.  I love love the Umpqua trail, but there aren’t many/any opportunities for loops (that I’ve discovered yet).  Everything is one way or out and back.  Can you tell I miss the sunshine?  I’ve started trying to run over lunch  just to get some kind of daylight, despite the fog and constant precipitation.  In one month, we also were renting three houses and then purchased a house at the end of the month.  Oh boy, that was stressful.  Moving in itself is stressful, but paying bills for 3-4 houses is insane, and keeping track of the moving process is crazy.  We are still not truly settled in, even after being here for almost 6 months now.  We made a running friend or two, but I terribly miss the Klamath Falls runners.  I could run with someone different every day, or a group.  I’ve never been in a community of people that collectively ran together and so fast/far as the Basin.  Group run opportunities were three + days a week, plus any type of weekend long runs that were put together.  At the moment, I am lucky to have company over a lunch run and a random evening run on the trails with a partner.  [Side note funny running story: Joe and I were running on the BLM land nearby and actually ran into another runner – where I hadn’t seen another human for months.  We quickly made friends and I run with him 1-2x a week].  Not really complaining too bad because I enjoy running solo, but motivation is hella low when it’s dark/raining/muddy.  This hasn’t stopped me from putting down 70-80 mpw some weeks to prepare for Rocky, but the whole process reminded me of why I don’t love running during January.

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IMG_7278 the North Umpqua trail rainforest.

Goals for 2015 include finishing my first 100, run a faster 50 mi, possibly a faster 50K if I am motivated, race directing a new race, supporting friends in their races, and seeking out new opportunities for trail running in the area.  I’ve considered putting together a trail running group to try to weed out a few more folks for organized weekly runs too.  Or putting together a trail guide to the area, which is something that hasn’t been fully done yet.

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Running on the BLM land near our house. grassland, oak savannah, and plenty of 1500 ft climbs.

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If anyone is in the Umpqua Valley and wants to head out for a run, shoot me a message!  The trails really are wonderful (sometimes muddy, sometimes wet in the winter) but glorious all the same.  Happy trails in 2015!

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Mt Bailey yoga sesh

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Andy running on August snow. he did not trigger an avalanche.

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Diamond Lake sunset during a run

The North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco 50 mile

Ever since our great experience crewing for friends last year at The North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco last year, we’ve wanted to go back.  We did, for Miwok 100K and again, had an incredible experience.  The scenery, the trails, the hills, all top notch.  The 50 mile race this year fit nicely into my training plan for Rocky Raccoon 100 mile (yes. yes.), so TNFEC San Francisco it was!  We also conned a few friends into running the race as well and had a few other friends come down to crew, making it a big Klamath running party.
At the Start

Ready to go! 4:00am.

We had problems with timing and missed the Long Haul movie showing – bummer!  I’ll have to catch it another time.  Thai dinner (as per usual) and mango sticky rice to go (breakfast?) and we got back to the apartment late to pack up.  Joe and I slept approximately 3 hours before having to wake at 3am and we were on our way.  North Face was really great about communicating a few course changes due to inclement weather – the worst was a bridge washing out in Muir Woods!
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I was really looking forward to running through Muir Woods and instead we were going to run the first 5 mile loop again.  This was a bit of a let down, although I did appreciate their communication and planning.  We also were not going to run up the Dipsea trail and instead run a different trail that was parallel.  Not complaining about that change!  Who wants to run up 300 stairs after running 30 miles?
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Race start!

So, back to the actual race.  Joe, Andy, and I started in Wave 2 and Nathan and Jason started in Wave 1.  Joe and I started running and I decided to take it out rather conservatively, because I had read an article about how too many people run hard in the beginning and can’t sustain their pace towards the end.  Isn’t this always the case?  Friends who ran the race last year stated the same thing, that it was easy to run too hard early on.  So we walk/jogged up the first major hill of a few miles, which probably wasn’t necessary looking back.  The grade was absolutely runnable, and we live in an area where there’s a 1500ft climb in every direction, so we should have just run.  Regardless, hundreds of people passed us, running up the hill and some breathing very hard, which surprised me!  I bet Wave 5 passed us, if there is a Wave 5.  We made up a bit of time on the downhill, putting down ~7:00 miles for the few downhill miles, then headed up the same loop again.  We ran/walk again, ran down again… I rolled my ankle slightly because the fog was rolling in and interfered with my headlamp light – think: driving with brights on in the fog.  I took the headlamp off and held it in my hand and that seemed to work until the sun rose.  It was a surreal experience to have the fog rolling in with the daylight while looking over the ocean.
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We’re friends in this photo…

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foggy sunrise.

Eventually we meandered towards Tennessee Valley (now at mile 13ish instead of 8) and I was a bit bored.  I say ‘meandered’ because Joe and I were running fairly slow at this point.  It was amazingly slow.  The trail downhill into TV was muddy and had an enormous puddle at the bottom, which I hurdled over to avoid wet feet so early in the race.  I refilled a water bottle and quickly went on my way.  I had been running back and forth with several people at this point, people that could hike up hill faster than me but I could bomb down a hill faster, and Joe and been running within a few feet of me the whole time.  Jason appeared at the next aid station and proclaimed, “ I wondered when I’d see you guys!”  It was great to run a few miles and catch up, as it had been a few months since we last ran with each other.
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Running into Tennessee Valley

I should add that at this point, and for the remainder of the race, I had an awful song in my head.  The dreaded song was Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off.’  Even better: the hilarious video someone made of an 80s aerobic dance competition dubbed over with Taylor Swift’s single was ALSO in my mind.  The entire race.  I guess there are worse songs/videos to have stuck for 10hrs… at least the beat was good for running.  And thinking of aerobic dance moves (the running man!) wasn’t too bad to think about either.
Seriously, you should probably check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlJI-GqB-6Y
 But be prepared that the song will be in your head for a week.  You’ll thank me.
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The trail got muddier and muddier, headed down the Pacific Coast Trail with a river of mud flowing down between the rocks.  This is where I started getting irritated with my shoe choice.  I almost never get my shoe choice wrong, and debated about this for a few days before deciding to run with the Altra Olympus, which [apparently] do not work well in wet mud.  I hadn’t experienced mud on these trails before and couldn’t imagine how bad it could get.  I actually wouldn’t say the mud was bad (Hagg mud is much worse!), this Marin County mud was just more watery.  The Olympus doesn’t have aggressive tread, or any tread actually, and worked like pontoon boats for my feet – Basically my feet hydroplaned on the water and made me run very cautiously downhill, which is NOT my normal style.  I vowed to change my shoes at mile 35ish when we would visit the drop bags again.
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We started running up the hill, the Bolinas Ridge I believe, which was running up a mud river on single track.  The only way up was to go splashing right through the mud river, so everyone was drenched at this point.  On top of the hill (I remember these hills from Miwok), the trail is super narrow and it becomes difficult to pass anyone, so naturally, TNF decided to have an out and back.  The first runners came bombing through and everyone else had to jump out of the way and into the grassy hillside to avoid collision.  This is acceptable, but after 250 runners, it gets a bit old.  Jumping into the hillside turned those 5 miles into a fartlek of jogging/stopping/jogging/stopping, which was sooooooo irritating for all but the elite runners.  I’m sure it was a bit irritating for them too, since half of these folks couldn’t move over properly when it was our turn to run down the hill.  Trail etiquette, people!
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Example of the narrow trail and how everyone had to stand uphill to allow runners to pass. There was a 100% slope downhill.

Still running slow slow slow, Joe and I ran into the Stinson Beach AS and saw our friends.  I put on a happy face (I actually had nothing to be unhappy about, nothing was hurting, nothing was bothering me except for the lack of speed) and I started hiking up the lowest Dipsea stairs while listening to everyone’s conversations around us.  Joe, Jason, and I were still running together and the trail veered away from the actual Dipsea stairs and up a gorgeous ravine with redwoods and waterfalls.  I may have preferred the stairs for the chance to hike at this point, because I hit a low.  It seemed that everyone else around me sped up and were energized, whereas I wanted to take a nap.  I let another 15 people pass me by and I noticed how everyone were powering up through the ravine with no problem.  There were also hundreds of geriatric tourists in safari-gear hiking down the trail and some were passive-aggressive about having to share the trail with crazy ultra runners by blocking the trail and refusing to move when someone tried to sneak by.  Eventually there was a weird trail-ladder to climb up and still the trail switchbacked up to the Cardiac AS.
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The ladder.  photo: C. Duarte – thanks 😉

Joe and I finally reached the aid station and I got to change out my shoes to the trusty old Pearl Izumi N2s.  Ohhhhhhhh I felt better immediately.  Joe took some advil for achy knees and we were off – after at least 5 minutes of sitting and changing socks and shoes.  I took a cup of Cliff drink on the way out, and became crazy energized.  I powered down the hill and flew through the mud with my new energy.  My confidence may have been a bit too much because I fell on my butt when the mud got bad, but I jumped up and ran even faster, down into the 6:00s for mile pace.  I was flying, splashing, scaring people out of the way… it was hilarious.  Somehow I misinterpreted how deep a puddle was and stepped in the center, but my leg was enveloped in a knee-high wave of mud water.  Rock on!
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let’s go!!!!!

Eventually we went back up the hills, long long uphills back to the Tennessee Valley aid station, where our friends were waiting to run the final 6 miles in.  I had long lost Joe and Jason and couldn’t see them from the top of the hill.  I stopped looking and focused on powering up the hill as fast as I could hike.  I passed everyone back who passed me earlier in the race and kept run/hiking the uphill.  Finally arriving to TV, I was still in this insane mode of running fast and wanted to finish as fast as possible (new goal, to get under 10hrs).  I got a bit nervous because I couldn’t see my pacer, Amber, at first, but once I saw her, I got really excited and clapped my hands – lets go! woot woot!  I grabbed a single saltine cracker and another cup of cliff shot to wash it down because I was nervous that I hadn’t eaten in a while and would bonk in the final 6 mi.  I told Jeremy that Joe was wayyyyyyy behind and his knees were hurting, so it could be another 30 mins.  I could see him deflate a little, because he would have to wait a while 😉
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dude be like…. whaaaaaat.

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beast mode of runner and pacer

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Amber and I start hiking up the hill, still at a good pace but I wasn’t pushing as hard because I had already passed everyone I cared about passing at that point.  I filled her in on the race so far, etc, etc, and all of a sudden, Joe and Jeremy appear beside us.  WHAT??? I left him in the mud!  Apparently, Joe got energized as well but I had put some time on him flying downhill, but he had made up for it by powering uphill, so we were caught up again.  This was a riot, because our friends had a bit of a competition of ladies vs guys and the crap-talking began.  It was all in good fun, bantering back and forth, because Joe can really move up hill… but my downhill is insane, so I knew I would get back any time he put on me up.  And, the race took us downhill for a few miles before the finish… so it looked to be in my favor.
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I’m in front, Joe a bit behind. 😉

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Amber leading the way!

We reach the top, I pass Joe, and start killing the downhill, running in the 6:00 miles again.  I put some time on him, but he was also flying!  Amber and I got a lot of looks while we flew downhill, it was hilarious.  We hit the pavement flying, but unfortunately there was a mini uphill and I slowed while Joe pushed, getting very close again.  Amber jogged a bit ahead and saw a runner, said good job to her while sneaking a glance at the race bib, then came back to me and said, ‘she’s a 50 miler, go get her!”  The finish was on a slight downhill, and Joe was right next to me at this point, but seeing another woman (prob in my age group) right ahead, I threw down a late sprint and surged into the finish, 2 seconds in front of Joe and the other girl.  Ha!  Honestly, I would have held hands with Joe in to the finish if the girl wasn’t there, since we basically ran the whole thing together.  We were quite a team!
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Joe right over the shoulder!

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My finishing time was 10:08 for 51.6 mi (says my garmin) with a ‘running time’ of 9:44 (not sure what that means) and an actual 50 mi time of 9:33.  Not too awful when I look at it that way, but still my second worst time.  The last 10K was around 50 minutes (with a huge climb halfway) and the last 5k was around 22 minutes.  Faster than my freshman year 5K in college!
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We met up with everyone after the race and compared stories while enjoying a beer post-race.  The post race festivities were much more enjoyable this year, as last year it was very cold.  This year it was in the 60s and sunny after raining for a week.  We got lucky!
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So what the heck happened here?  I have a few theories, and they are both probably true.  The first is that I have trained pretty well leading up to this race, following an actual training plan and running good mileage weeks.  Since I’ve signed up for my first 100 next month, I have had to commit to training.  The weeks have been generally with 1-2 workouts a week (speed, tempo) and 2 long runs (back to back) every weekend.  I’ve been running the speed workouts hard and fast, since I am really a 10K runner at heart.  The long runs have been really casual, focusing on just putting the time in.  So – workouts at 6 min pace and long runs at more like 12 min pace.  I literally ran 35 miles at 12 min/mi pace then ran 15 ‘racing’ at 10K effort (or slightly slower).  I was definitely comfortable the entire time, even running downhill in the 6s because thats the pace I’ve trained at in workouts.  It was the ‘in-between’ pace of 10 min miles that I couldn’t hold.  My other theory was nutrition: I was eating whole foods the first half of the race – bananas, potatoes, rice and peanut butter.  These things are what I eat during long runs in training and it helps keep my stomach from growling and wards off the dreaded nausea from too much sugar.  However, once I finally took a cup of cliff shot energy drink, I work up and flew down the hill.  I think this was a combo of finally having quick release sugar and also the psychological effect of changing the shoes and being more confident and comfortable in the mud.
Either way, I am not unhappy with the race, and I think running the last 15 mi fast after jogging 35 miles is impressive (as opposed to the opposite of running too hard in the beginning), but also shows how I could have evened out the pace a bit more and likely run a lot faster.  I think the race shows that I will be fine running the 100 mile, because I will be plodding along at 12 min mi pace for at least 80 miles of the thing and I can probably hold that pace for a long time.  It just wasn’t an appropriate pace for a competitive 50 mile.  Oh well.
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Mudd looks worse than Hagg Lake 50K, but I assure you, it was not.

Hood to Coast: DePauw Tigers Reunion!

Hood to Coast has always been a ‘bucket-list’ race.  I never considered doing the relay until last year, when my team didn’t get in.  Then again this year, when I entered a team for 2014 and didn’t get in again.  I was bummed, but a bit relieved at the same time, as we were taking a vacation to Germany the two weeks before HTC.

So it was news to me when in March I received an email stating – “Congratulations!  Your team was selected to run Hood to Coast in 2014!”  Apparently, enough teams dropped out of HTC to result in another drawing, and all of a sudden, the DePauw Tigers Alumni team was going to run.  As the Team Captain, I had a lot of work ahead of me.

By March, most of the vans in the state of Oregon were rented and it was difficult to find a vacation rental to sleep 12 people (as everyone was traveling from out of state besides me – and I might as well be, coming from southern Oregon).  Once vans and a cabin was secured, 12 members of the team committed, we were ready to go.  A few changes later (drop outs, replacement runners, and van rentals) everything was set.  I write this like it was casual – it was a bit stressful lining everything up!  Especially since some of these changes came while I was in Germany and I had to call rental companies over Skype using cafe-internet wifi and plan for the 9 hr difference in time!  We got back from Europe only three days before the event, which added to the stress, but it all worked out as best as it could.

The DPU Alumni flew in from all over the US: Michigan, Indiana, Texas, NYC, St. Louis, and California.  Some of us hadn’t seen each other in quite a while!  There’s been marriages, babies, jobs, moves, lots of changes.  For the most part, we grew up (just a little) yet still retained our old habits and humors.

DPU Tigers Alumni Team!  photo: A. Royalty

DPU Tigers Alumni Team! photo: A. Royalty

Van #1 Decoration - Nasty DPU Tiger!

Van #1 Decoration – Nasty DPU Tiger!

Our start time was 1:45PM up at Timberline Lodge.  We stayed only 19mi away from the start and arrived an hour and a half early to the start.  It was chilly up there!  We took our time, checked in casually, and spent some time decorating the vans.  I drew a wicked nasty growling tiger on the front of Van #1 to intimidate the competition.  We found out we were ranked 8th in our group – the Mixed Open group.  There were a few slow-er reported race paces in there (mine, as I reported my 50mi time/pace), so we were sure we would run faster.

HTC Start photo: S. England

HTC team: male counter parts photo: L. Hendrix

HTC team: male counter parts
photo: L. Hendrix

We posed for some photo ops with good views while cheering for other teams starting the race and soon enough, our first runner was off!  A few miles down the hill, a severe hill (2000ft elevation loss), then it was time for Runner #2 – me!

Runner #1, Ryan starting the race! photo: L. Hendrix

Runner #1, Ryan starting the race!
photo: L. Hendrix

I ran 5.5 mi in 33:12, 6:05/mi pace.  There were a few sub-6 min pace miles in there, for the first time in a while.  Given, this was with 1,500ft elevation loss, but it felt good to rip down a hill!

Next was 6.1 mi in 41:39, or 6:51 mile pace.  This section was all flat and next to the train tracks in the dark.  My quads didn’t hurt like other people that had to bomb down Mt. Hood, but somehow I got this strange front-ab cramp that was debilitating.  The pain felt like someone stabbed me above the belly button and I felt it shoot down my leg.  I did everything I could to mitigate the pain – mostly trying to massage it out with my hand while still maintaining sub-7min pace.  I was a bit uncomfortable the entire time and following in the van.

The third run was much better than I thought it would go – 5.8 mi in 41:09, 7:06 pace.  There was a mile-long hill in the 4th mile, which resulted in a 7:25 mi, but also resulted in a crazy fast last .5 mi down hill – my favorite.  I was prepared to run another leg for an injured runner, but it ended up ok!  I was glad not to run and eat chili and m&ms instead!

We made it to Seaside to hang out and eat lunch while waiting for our last runner to make it to the finish line.  She came in and Van 1 ran in with her (Van 2 got stuck at the shuttle – damn traffic).  It was hot and overcast, and we were all delirious from lack of sleep and encrusted with sweat from the last day.  We came in at 24:01!!!

The race wasn’t without complications, however… there was a missed exchange area where a van went to the wrong one in Portland and left a runner waiting for 30 mins.  That was a big bummer, but that happens all the time during HTC.  It’s so easy to get mixed up, and I found myself staring at the directions in the booklet to try and figure them out.

The MAJOR headache was heading to exchange #24 in Mist.  You’ve heard it already, you’ll hear it again, as it’s all over social media already… but that was a terrible experience.  Van #1 luckily decided to head to exchange 24 to try to sleep in their sleep station while waiting for Van #2 to arrive in 4 hours.  We drove through the night on windy roads, seemingly alone, but then we got on another road and suddenly were in gridlock.  I was driving at this point, which resulted in me getting NO sleep.  We moved approximately 1 mile in 3 hours.  Some ridiculous disorganization by HTC for parking (?) resulted in ODOT shutting down the entire station.  We waited in annoyance while seeing runners finishing their legs, only to be stranded alone without their van to pick them up.  This was all between 2:00am and 6:00am.  Runners were freezing in the early morning chill and were calling out their van numbers in case their vans were in the parking area asleep.  No cell coverage, no communication between vans… It was awful.  We finally arrived in the parking lot where I promptly threw my sleeping bag in the grass, crawled in, and slept for 5 minutes.  Dawn came, and with the morning light also came people being loud.  Our first runner decided to get ready to run (which was a good idea), and since his route was about 4 miles, I had to get ready for my run too.  We were SO LUCKY to have Runner 12 pass to Runner 1 without complication and move on our way out of that clustermess.  Runner 12 still had to locate her van for a while after the run, which totally sucked.

There Van 2 had a few more traffic jam situations costing us an additional 30-60 minutes where some runners had to run a few extra miles even to reach the exchange on time.  It was so frustrating!  And unsafe!  HTC generally starts the slower teams first and the more competitive teams last, so somewhere in the middle is met with this terrible crash of paces and vans which is bad news for all involved.  Apparently this year was an exceptional year of traffic jams.  I hope HTC can fix their problems with traffic for the years to come!

The DePauw Tigers Alumni came in 7th in the Mixed Open group, but probably another spot or two better without our van-mixup and traffic congestion (but we can assume all teams had to go through with that).  24:01 – Pretty fast!  Most of the team is over 30, and in another year (if all the same members) we will be in another category- the SUB MASTERS category.  Seriously, what is with the “sub” masters???  Having just turned 30 a week ago, this was quite a bit of news to me – happy 30th birthday, you are now a sub-master!

At any rate, I had an absolutely fabulous and memorable weekend with old friends.  It was exhausting but well worth it.  I only wish that we all spent an extra day before or after the race to relax!  My heart was breaking a little to leave my friends in Portland to drive a van to southern Oregon again.  It speaks to an awesome college program to keep people close and wanting to hang out, years and years later.

Miss you all, thanks for the great weekend!

DPU what time is it??