Sunday, November 8, 2015

Silver Falls 50k ~ Race Recap

Silver Falls is a beautiful course, brutiful for those who haven't done much trail running, or who come expecting to run fast past a bunch of waterfalls. 

Looking over the course profile I decided it would be easier than the Swiftwater50k, my last race 5 weeks ago.  I might have been wrong on that one, but, when your goal is just to "have fun" things like course profiles probably shouldn't be looked at!

Saturday morning I arrived at the state park prepared for cold temps and for rain, as much as one can possibly be without overdressing for a very long run. I picked up my packet and went to my car where I changed from pants to shorts, but kept a secondhand puffy jacket on. 

I had eaten a small egg burrito breakfast at about 5:15 am, along with coffee, and  also ate some bites of oatmeal that had dates and pecans in it while driving to the race. 

After changing I found my running buddy, Alexis, and asked how she was feeling.. she had an hour of sleep but felt great ☺. I had 6 hours.. Ah, to be in my 20's again! 

I also ran into Jamie, an instagram friend, and we chatted briefly about his injury and plan to run through it that day. Hopefully he's healing up well today, because nobody wants to be sidelined. We runners share a common thread, and I love the chance to connect with friends who "get" my special kind of crazy...

As we lined up at the start, I adjusted my pack --minus the water bottles. Because there were aid stations about every 4 miles, I used the handheld that day to keep things light and off my back. I still wanted someplace to stash stuff, so wore the pack for my camera, arm sleeves, and emergency fuels.

Standing just a few feet behind me was Pam Smith, who I fully expected to win the 50k. I turned and said something brilliant to her.  I am sure she was thinking. "Ok..?.. Random stranger."

And then the race started!

Alexis darted up front and I knew she would have a great race. 
I did my best to go out easy, unlike the nice quick start I had for the last race. My pace was kept to 10 minute miles, even though we were running on fairly level paved road. It was all part of my plan to start slower and see if I had more left in the tank for a strong finish. 

I kept looking at my watch and thinking.. "10 minute miles. This is good. If i can just keep this for 31 miles, that would be awesome!" The thing is.. it is very hard to maintain that pace once you begin the climbing.

And we did a lot of climbing, I just didn't get any good photos of it. ;)

The 50k course runs through several sections of singletrack, but had more paved sections than I expected. There was plenty of opportunity to run, but I did not have the stamina with so much of the race left to go. I could already feel my hips and glutes tiring at this point (more on that in another post, perhaps).

Near mile 12 we crossed a stream. The water was below my knees, so it was not hard to manage, but you need to slow down to keep from going for a swim! Since it was raining lightly, and I had taken off my sleeves, the cold water actually made me wonder if I was going to be able to get warm again. Luckily I did!

I stopped briefly at almost all of the aid station, and drank Heed at a few of them. Mostly I sipped water from my bottle as I needed to, then refilled once or twice on the course. At one of the aid stations I ate some peanut MnM's and poured a bunch more into my vest pocket. They were tasting good, but I wondered if I should have packed them since they sounded like a maraca.

There were a few runners I kept in close contact with, and as I started passing people after about mile 17 I felt really good. Sometimes I would pass only to be caught again by the same runner on the uphill!

Unfortunately I did more powerhiking this race than I would have liked. Sometimes that was because of who was in front of me, and sometimes it was because I felt like I needed to conserve in order to run the flatter areas later on.

I discovered that I'm not that bad at running downhill! I just thought I was bad because I have been running with some excellent downhillers.. so I need to keep running with them for practice.

In the latter stages of the race I really faded badly. It felt like I was running really hard along the canyon trail and past the waterfalls, but the stairs slowed me down quite a bit and even my fastest mile in there was pretty sad for me! Still, I was not getting passed. My running math was really bad too. Earlier I thought I could possibly PR, now that possibility was evaporating.. unless my watch measurements were off.

Once I was out of the waterfalls area, I still had a few miles until the finish. This seemed to take so long for me! I was running alone since about mile 20 and saw other racers, even passed a few, but was bargaining with myself to keep running.

It was raining and cold now. I was tired. I promised myself that when I was done I could curl up on the back seat of the car and put a towel over myself and take a nap. These are the true thoughts of an ultra runner who is "just running for fun".

And then it was there: The finish line! I could hear it. I could see it getting closer! People were cheering!! Except that there were these orange cones and flour arrows pointing to the right...toward a hill.

It was a cruel joke at that point. I'd like to say I ran up the hill, but I hung my head and then jogged or walked. I'm not sure. Two ladies were in front of me, and if I had any competitive desire left I am sure I could have caught them both, but I coughed and they heard me, then started to jog. I almost caught them. Almost.

When I crossed the finish line, Alexis was there to greet me. She had a huge new PR and met her race goal of "not getting lost". I am quite proud of her 5:17, and quite grateful I even finished at all!

Almost the moment I finished, the sky tore open and a downpour began. I think it's safe to say that my ultra fire is quenched for a while now.

Despite the slow start and slower finish, I still managed to make it in 5:54 which is not my best or my worst of the three 50Ks I've done.

Today I am recovering quite well from my long run and feeling very blessed that I was able to run that far at all. Since before Swiftwater I've had some anterior tibialis soreness, but now (perhaps due to some low mileage weeks between races), it appears to be completely gone.

I tried some new things, learned some new things, and enjoyed running in a lush forest until I couldn't really run anymore!

What I would change about Silver Falls 50k:
  • Put in a later race drop bag area. For crying out loud, this should be very easy to do, and help us runners out a whole lot! A drop area after 3 miles is not so helpful. I can think of many places where this could be done, like at the gravel parking lot we ran through after the water crossing.
  • Stairs. I am not a big fan of running up stairs. But if they took them out of the race you wouldn't get to see all the pretty waterfalls.
  • There is a nasty finish line fake out. You can hear it. You can see it, but when you get close to it, the course turns abruptly and goes up some ridiculous hill called "Nutcracker". Nobody wants to run up some cliff for a mile when they already thought they were done! That's just mean.
  • Hot showers for everybody! Or a hot tub. There should be something hot besides the Dinty Moore beef stew that I know the vegans were sad about.

What I loved about Silver Falls 50k:
  • There were lots and lots of aid stations- you can run really light!
  • Beautiful scenery!
  • Challenging course.. Plenty of ferns and trees to run through, gorgeous falls. It is hard not to be distracted by the scenery.
  • Great marking with flour arrows and also lines across the side trails indicating "do not cross!"
  • Packet pickup was well organized and super easy and the raffle winners were posted right away at the race.
Late edit: I found out late that I won my age group for this race. I left before any official results were posted because I was wet and cold. It looks like they don't mail them out, though, so I will see if they will hold it until I can drive two hours to Salem to get it. 

(See the details on Strava:)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another 50k ..coming up!

I couldn't really help myself.

An incredible and very kind (and very fast) friend emailed me before Swiftwater50k and offered to give me her comp entry to Silverfalls 50k on November 7th.

From the notorious Silver Falls long run where I hurt myself on all ..those ..stairs last summer.
It's beautiful though!

Since it was already full and is ridiculously hard to get into any of those races, I decided to go for it.

I might never get another opportunity to get in unless I park myself in front of the computer at midnight on registration day some year!

*  *  *
Between my last 50k and this one, I have done just a few longer runs. It seems like cheating to run so little in preparation for something so long, but it worked pretty well to get me to the start of the Swiftwater 50k uninjured (and with some speed work, even!).

After Swiftwater I took just a couple of days of complete rest. Running a trail 50k feels so much easier to recover from than a hard marathon. But, then again, the overall pace is about 4 minutes a mile slower for me.. so maybe that is why ;)

With 5 weeks between races, my long runs went like this:

You can add another mile, on average, to each of those green runs. The Garmin 320 measurements never quite match up with the map mileage or what other runners in my group capture.

Each of the three longer runs was an adventure in itself.
I have met some new friends in my local area, thanks to Strava, and am not shy about inviting total strangers to meet me at the Walmart parking lot for a Brice Creek run.☺

One of my favorite runs of the year was the 21 miler (listed as 19.6) that included climbs up to Hardesty Mountain, the Sawtooth trail and Mt. June. The view from Mt. June was awesome and well earned. At the top we rested a bit (while one of us ate a chicken burrito) before descending 11 miles and 5500 ft back to the trailhead.

After this solid training run, I am more aware than ever that my strength is climbing.. or even better, running the flatter gravel, and that my weakness as a trail runner is steep downhill running.

It's not that I haven't improved in downhill running, it's just that I can't quite "let loose" on the steep downhills and make a "controlled fall" out of it. If I start falling, I doubt there's much controlling it!

So, with that knowledge, added to the fact that Silver Falls is not listed on (and will not influence my mediocre ranking there), I have decided I will just take it easy and enjoy this race. None of the pressure, all of the fun, and a great excuse for good food and a bad massage.

Or is it the other way around? :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Swiftwater 50k Race Recap: My 2nd attempt to run a really long way.

"Pacing in an ultra is about leaving enough in the bank to last you to the end. There is a golden rule of ultra pacing, or at least an old adage: If you think you are starting the race slow, then slow down even more."-Hal Koerner
These are wise words I wish I had read before running on Saturday!

Regardless of not taking Hal Koerner's advice, I still had an unforgettable day, finished my second ultra, Swiftwater50k, with a

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Google "50k Training plan," please?

It's probably not a good idea to start looking for a 50k training plan with 2 weeks until your race, but that's what I was doing this morning.

Having signed up for an October 3rd event, I just wanted to see if I could actually get in some long trail runs and "sort of train" for the distance without

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Long run drinking and fueling experiments

I've been trying some new things out for fuel lately and thought I'd share!

Most of my runs I don't really need to worry about fueling, just water. This summer was exceptionally hot and dry, so I brought water on almost every run. And that's OK with me; my pack gives extra room for carrying my phone and camera, keys, etc..

However, with all the longer runs I have been doing recently, fueling has been essential. 
It's just not going to be pretty if you are running all day on the trails and don't have anything to keep you going. 

I believe sugar is essential (carb), though some might prefer to add fats or protein to fuel with. The bottom line is that you need SOMETHING out there.. Figuring what the right combination of "something" is- that part can be tricky.

My personal observation is that in a race where you expect to run the whole thing without using the restroom (big potty, here!), it's best done on strictly non-fiber carbs (gels, sports drinks, beans, chews, etc..). This is best for races under 5-6 hours. 

Fiber and protein (i.e. bars, meat sticks, trail butter, real food), these things are known to cause "big potty". They also redirect your blood from elsewhere in the body to your stomach for digestion, and will lead to a stop or two in many people's races. They also, however, provide energy to keep a runner going longer and that is why ultra runners must have them if they are running for hours on end. (Only going on research here, since my longest run ever was not quite 6 hours).

After running out of some prepackaged bars, I decided that my 5 hour runs would need some alternative fuel, and I went to the kitchen to see what I could whip up. 

This is what I came up with:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hood to Coast- (short version).

How is it possible that someone could live in Oregon, be a runner for any length of time, and never run in the Hood to Coast relay?

Somehow I've managed to escape being part of it until this year, as a master's runner, when I was asked a few months in advance if I'd like to join a team.

I thought about saying no, but

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Long runs, a Relay, and a Fall Ultra!

I've switched gears again with running.
Earlier in the year I thought I might spend all summer working on speed and try to get back into 10k PR shape. After a few races in the spring, I decided that might be beyond my reach right now- -not impossible, just not something I have time to sacrifice for, with multiple runs a day, multiple showers a day, and all the PT needed.
Plus, there are goodies. 
It's hard to give up goodies.

Besides that, someone went and organized a 50k race on one of my favorite (and closest) singletrack trails. I wasn't crazy enought to run a 100k going upriver, but how could I turn down a 50k that finishes going down the North Umpqua river? I said goodbye to shorter runs and more speedwork, and hello to long runs.

I've missed running long.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ladybug run 10k Race recap

Two friends reconnect through running
A few years ago, a friend of mine from high school, Liz Dooley, was a beginning runner. Somehow she found my blog and started asking me questions about running...
After checking her blogging profile I noticed Liz had her own blog- but her blog was different.
It was a blog about her pregnancy and her daughter who had been diagnosed in the womb with a birth defect called CDH.
Friends reunited
Photo by Andy Akenson - Flickr
I began to read a bit, but the stories were heartbreaking. They were stories of surgeries, lung problems, babies on ventilators...
I felt there was little I could do to help, but reading her posts helped me to see her unbelievable faith in God for taking her through the journey of a risky pregnancy and very scary adventure as a parent.


I figured since it's 104f outside, I might as well dust off my blog.

Here are a few short updates:

  1. I am running.. and not injured. 
  2. This blog thing is great. But when I set it down for a few days, I don't quite know where to pick it up again. How much do I try to catch up on? How much should I just skip? 
  3. I ran the first 7 1/2 months of 2015 in shoes from 2014 or older. And I did NOT die.. (see #1)
  4. I have been racing- not my BEST racing, but racing decently enough to win some prizes. I just haven't been able to get to the write-ups in a timely fashion. Maybe I will go back over them. Or maybe I won't. That sounds like a lot of work.
  5. My husband's new job has opened my eyes a bit. While I still enjoy running and blogging, as well as taking pics and sharing them, I want to support him fully. That means maintaining my sanity (through running) and also being available to take care of his needs and the needs of my family better than I have in the past. 

No pics today. You can go to instagram for those.. I've been putting in some time over there.

So: How have you been?
What have I missed?
Is this thing still working?