I was not too sure what to expect coming into this race. I had a great showing a month ago at Chuckanut 50k but I just wasn’t feeling quite as sharp for this one. After Chuckanut I went to Italy and apart from the marathon I ran over there with my girlfriend, I didn’t run much. I think I took something like 8 full days off while over there; although I still consider 8 hours a day walking around Rome and Venice to be good ultra training. Then pile on the fact that I have had a serious cold for the last three weeks that I was trying to run through, it was kind of up in the air how everything would affect me. I woke up on race morning with a scratchy throat but didn’t feel like it would hurt me and I still don’t really feel like it did, but you never really know. Sometimes when you are sick you still give 100% and it feels like you are cruising but you just aren’t moving as fast. Not sure if that was the case yesterday or not.
The gun went off at 8am and off we went. One, my only description being, big guy, shot out into the lead and instantly put a sizable gap on everyone. He later went off course, caught back up to the leaders, then DNF’d (saw him doing the walk of shame back to the aid station).
A group of 5 guys formed with Max King and Zach Violet seeming to lead the charge. I was just off the back of that pack and was contemplating whether or not to just roll with them or to run my own race. Haven’t figured this out yet in ultras although I’m starting to lean towards being more engaged with the other runners. However, I let them go as I began to crank out 7 minute miles on the flatter stuff as they were running more like 6:50’s. I figured, ‘I’ll see some of y’all later!’
My goal for some reason was to try to get through the marathon with the legs still feeling ok so I definitely held back from time to time as I started to feel myself wanting to stride out. I did pretty good on nutrition. Probably had about 10 salt caps and 12-15 gu’s. Some guys talk about how they eat 50-70 gu’s during a 100 mile race, that sounds like straight up hell. I don’t know what it’s like but that scares me.
I linked up with Lewis Taylor and some guy from Mt. Shasta, CA and we ran much of the first 25 miles together, leap-frogging here and there at aid stations or by going off course for short periods. I will say that this course was pretty hard to stay on. I went off course twice, once by my own doing and the other by following Lewis, who had more mishaps than me, one that cost him a couple minutes late in the race and which gave me the edge over him at the finish. The flagging was there but you really just could not zone out for even a second because of how many twists and turns and off-chutes there were.
I think this race really just boiled down to that fact that I just didn’t have that extra gear that you really need to do well in races. I never was really ROLLING, just sort of ran steady, a bit disengaged from it all. With hindsight being 20/20 I think I would have gone out with that front pack and just tried to hang as long as possible. I think that would have jumpstarted my racing instincts a bit more. However, there were moments, even at the pace I ran, that I definitely needed to reel it back a bit to avoid going into bonk land.
Everyone told me this course was flat but there ARE some hills there. The 2-3 mile grinder on the dirt road was definitely felt after about 25 miles. I was able to run 8:30’s up it so it wasn’t all that steep but still, I was definitely happy to crest the top and start the descent.
The distance was definitely short; probably more like 36-37 instead of 40 but I was definitely not complaining. I had the legs to go another 4 and I may have even caught the next two guys in front of me if I did, but again, I was happy to see the track and get it done.
Another aspect of note…and I guess fear, was the fact that I was HOT out there! I know it only reached maybe…MAYBE, 55-60 degrees in the sun, but I felt like the heat was getting to me. My legs started to cramp around mile 25 so I started popping 2 salt caps every 30 minutes (per Jeff Browning’s anti cramp regimen) which worked but I also had some nausea flashes which I hate. I lost all sense of time too and would forget when I had eaten a gu or taken my last salt cap. Next race, I’ll set up a alarm for salt caps on my Garmin and then just eat as many gu’s as possible. I sure wish salt caps were smaller as I feel the urge to gag on them every time they go down, the freaking things are huge!
Result: 5th place in 4:34.
All in all, I was happy to get these miles on my legs and considering the circumstances I feel pretty OK about this race. Not a great result or effort but not bad either. I feel like I’m already recovering well and will be much better prepared for Macdonald Forest 50k in May. My plan is a medium volume recovery week, then a couple 90-100 mile weeks with some Smith Rock days, then a real taper week (which I didn’t have for this race) and I should be ready for a great race.
Thanks to Sean Meissner and the friendly folks at the aid stations for a great race, although I would do something about the clarity of the markings and dial in the distances of aid stations and total lengths of races. I’m pretty sure the 20 miler was a little long actually too.
Thanks for reading…post a comment if you want…I like feedback…lets me know there is a reason for writing these blogs instead of simple selfish self-indulgence. If you ran the race, how’d you feel about it?