Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mildred's Trail Dash ~ Double win!

Life is full of surprises. The good ones are worth holding on to- which is why I still post in my blog from time to time!



Summer schedules have made getting in any long runs hard for me to do. Similarly, I haven't been able to get to the track often, or even maintain a base suitable for doing any significant speedwork. Despite all of those excuses, sometimes a girl needs some excitement, which is why I decided to enter a smaller local race that was held July 9th. 

Mildred's Trail Dash is a fundraiser for the Mildred Kanipe Memorial park in Douglas County (Oakland), Oregon. The park includes almost 1,100 acres of land, including pastures, creeks, rolling hills, orchards and forests. Historical structures include a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse, a farmhouse, and outbuildings.

The park has run into some financial difficulty since county officials recently determined that all county parks have to prove themselves financially self-sufficient or be shut down and sold or logged to cover the operating costs. The location is a little out of the way for me, but I always enjoy coming to the park and would be very sad to see it shut down. I was happy to help by running!

With my husband working the 4 pm to 4 am shift, I had to figure out what to do with my kiddos if I was to race. My oldest quickly decided he wanted to race too. We talked about whether he wanted me to run with him and whether he'd be OK with me running a 9k while he did a 5k. He was fine with different distances, so that was settled. 

My middle son (9) decided to stay home and watch documentaries while dad slept. The youngest (7) wasn't sure what to do! Five kilometers on the road is a long way for him still, and this was on a trail with mud!

I put in a last minute phone call at the park and asked if my youngest could be a "helper" at the race. The woman who answered was SO kind and offered to stay with him and find some jobs for him to do so that the oldest and I could each run at our best efforts.

Before we started the race, the race director, Mike McCarty, briefed all the runners about the courses (the 9k and 5k). As he spoke, it started to rain heavily. After a few days in a row of this, it was going to be a muddy adventure!

Finally we all lined up at the start line. For the first time, I had one of my sons next to me at "go" time! And we were off...

About 400 meters into it there were three men ahead of me and I saw my son just behind my right shoulder. I tried to huff some advice to him, "Don't try to stay with me! You have to pace yourself. There's a lot of race to run!"

"I think I can hold this pace, Mom," was his reply.

What can you say back to that in the middle of a race? I didn't want to demoralize him and figured he'd have to learn his own 5k lesson. 
I just said "OK."

Another 400 meters went by, and I saw the top 3 males missed the trail and took a wrong turn. I let them know, and they quickly scampered back down to the singletrack. 

We started the first big hill and things started to get really fun! There was enough mud that NObody was going fast. I passed the first mile marker and felt like I was working for it, but wasn't dying yet, which is good when you are racing 9k. I had lost sight of my son, but could still see the #2 and #3 runners when we weren't weaving through trees!

After clearing the top of the hill, there was a nice downhill stretch which was LOTS of fun in the rain. Slippery rocks, mud, wet grass and cows in the middle of the trail, all added to the excitement! I was grateful to have my Adidas Terrex Agravic shoes with the super-grippy lugs. My kiddo though.. he was wearing a pair of road Asics from track season.

At the bottom of the hill there was a turn followed by a sign for the 5k/9k split. I knew there was a woman not too far behind me, and I just tried to keep my effort level up. I am glad I have kept in decent hill shape and done the few track workouts I have done in the last month!

We all kept following the orange flagging and markers until reaching the next volunteer. She was standing in front of a flagged area and ushered us up the hill. I wondered why the markings were behind her, but having never done the 9k, just took her directions to go right. Up the next hill we went, through trees and ferns and mud, past signs with no words on them-- unless you looked backwards. I kept getting closer to the 3rd male, but couldn't quite catch him!

Finally, we were running downhill trough similar terrain, except muddier and straighter. Then I started to see a few runners running the opposite direction on the same loop. Apparently we had been asked to go the wrong way, but slower runners had done the course before and knew where to go. When we passed the volunteer again, she had moved out from her spot and everyone was running the loop clockwise, even though the first 5 ran it counter clockwise! I kept apologizing, telling people I was told to go that way as I passed them.

Little by little I could see the third male getting closer. We had a final uphill and I thought maybe I should not go full blast, so I could have a bit more for the downhill. When I reached the top we were shoulder to shoulder. 

It was a bit awkward running side by side.. I hoped to have a bit more leg speed, but he picked up his pace.  I kept with him..until the last 600 meters. When we reached the pond and the finish line was in sight, he dropped me like a hot rock! This proves one of my sayings to be true: Never get in a sprint with a teenage boy. (I lose every time!)

As I crossed the footbridge to the last few yards, I saw something that made me smile. This young man:


My son was waiting next to the finish line when I crossed at (42:43 on the Garmin- NOT a great 9k time for me, but a good one for the conditions and the course loop reversal!).  He also shared the news that he had placed first male in the 5k! I was so surprised, thinking he might have faded and walked the last mile, but I guess he used a combination of walking the uphills and running as hard as he could the rest of the time to earn a solid placement.

"One girl passed me on the hill, Mom. I think she was in high school," was his report of the race. 

I told him that was OK, and that he did GREAT. I couldn't have been more proud!




Sporting a bit of mud from the trail on the Adidas.. 


Super kid. I can't wait to see if he ends up racing too!

After catching my breath and giving my oldest son a BIG hug, the next task was to find my seven-year-old. He was casually walking around the pasture area taking 645 photos of the peacocks that roam the park entrance. 

Deb, the race organizer, told me he had been super helpful! This was the best news. I had been a little worried he might not have had a good time.

A few days later when he received a letter in the mail, he was so surprised (and my heart was touched). It was a note thanking him for his help, and rewarding him with some cards for free french fries at McDonald's. What a score!

We had to stay for the awards, and my oldest was thrilled at receiving a special water bottle as well as a gift card to Subway sandwiches.

I got a matching water bottle and gift card to Denny's, which I awarded to my youngest. (He has yet to redeem it, but we will have a special lunch together soon.)

***
Post race thoughts:

I've never wanted to push my kids into running. If they find other passions, I will support those fully!  I just don't believe you can force the love of something on someone, and I definitely want them to love what they do.. However, If I am being honest, I do hope they will each find the joy of running on their own. 

This day was a turning point.

It was such a moment of pride for both of us that I can see a future where one of my kids wants to run, enough to want to run with me. If that happens, I plan to make the most of that window of opportunity for as long as I am blessed with it. The moments go by so fast.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Decent Running App for the Track!?

When I got to the track today, I realized I forgot my Garmin.
(Rookie mistake, I hope NEVER to do again!)

I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to do my track workout (I live out of town and am 30 miles from the closest track!) , so I went to the nearest WiFi (starbucks) and looked for a running tracking app with the ability to do laps for a track workout. 
Something seems to be missing from this picture.

After I googled running tracking apps, I saw Runnersworld.com had a few suggestions. In a short time I found one that not only could be manually lapped, but could also export to Garmin connect and Strava (and a whole list of other sites!).


Wahoo fitness tracker was easy to use, simple, and only took me a few clicks to figure out how to operate using lap or auto lap. It also has an option for voice prompts or silent, and an optional countdown mode. 

It also operates with Bluetooth devices, which I did not bring with me. With a Bluetooth heart rate monitor or cycling equipment synced (yes, it does cycling too), this app would make it simple to keep track of all sorts of data. As it was, I was satisfied with just getting a split for each 400 and 800m lap!

I'll ALWAYS prefer running with my Garmin watch over using a phone app (Way too many reasons to list here); but, I was HAPPY to run my planned workout in a pinch and still send it to my log and favorite social sites.

Do you use a watch or an app to run? 
Have you ever ran a track workout with an app? Which is your favorite?

(Note: This is NOT an ad, or a sponsored post. I just stumbled on the app like anyone else would in my situation.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nut 50k. Half a nut, but twice the run!

When I signed up for the NUT 50k I knew that it was most likely going to be the hardest I've done.

It's strange to think that now I have done as many ultramarathons as I have road marathons. 

If you'd asked me five years ago if I would ever run a trail ultramarathon, I would've looked strangely at you. Similarly, if you had told me even a year ago I would ever run a 50K that was all uphill, I would have laughed. It never was something I saw myself doing.

My how things change, and I'm glad they do

The truth is, maybe because of my road background, I'm still trying to get over the mindset that races need to be faster in order to show running (racing) improvement.

So many elements can come into play in an ultramarathon, such as terrain, weather, fueling, and participants on the course. These variables can lead to a slower race even on the same course. I'm not a pro, but I'm starting to get this. It's taken me a while…

Pushing myself harder without getting faster at what I'm doing is most certainly "stepping out of the box" (so to speak) for me. taking on an uphill 50k was saying to myself, "It's OK to do your best even if it means you run a personal worst." 

In a way, I feel like it was the first time I ran a race for myself and with no real idea of how long it might take to finish.. Just a broad idea of 5 1/2 to 8 hours. 

***

Getting to the start line was a challenge in itself. I had camped at the Susan Creek Campground the night before. It's about an hour drive from there to Lemolo lake where the finish line is, and the shuttle to the start was waiting. 

In typical Raina fashion, I drove in as fast as I could to the parking lot, meeting the bus as it was idling, seconds before it was to leave. 

I had thought that I could take a different shuttle, but when I found out there was no way back to it, I had to drive like crazy to the finish line.

Grabbing my red gym bag (and OM pack that had almost all of my stuff in it), I sprinted to the bus. Before we had left the parking lot, I realized that I didn't have contact lenses with me.. Somehow I convinced the bus driver to stop at my car while I hopped out and got my contacts. I'm so glad I was able to get them! 

A few short miles later our bus was sitting in front of the highway where we were to unload and go to the start line. 

Immediately I saw a few people I knew and gave some hugs out and wandered around looking for Band-Aids. There was a little owie on the top of my foot due to flip-flop abuse that I wanted to protect from my sock. Not a major injury, just something I didn't want irritating me for 31 miles.

We seemed to have a long time before the race actually started so I had a cup of coffee, and thought about having left my oatmeal in the car. 

Luckily I had eaten a McDonald's breakfast burrito (no cheese) that I purchased the afternoon before and left somewhat dried and crunchy in my car.. It wasn't half bad, and I have a stomach of steel. These were my breakfasts before most of my long runs in training for this race. Coupled with coffee and a couple of packets of sugar, I was good to go!

I left my key to the car in my drop bag which was going to Tokatee Lake aid station. In my bag were extra shoes and clothes and food.. Just in case!

We were given the short race talk which had some very important information in it regarding what to expect on the course. Racers were told we would cross a damaged bridge, (carefully), so there was no need to reroute the race. 

And then we were running!

Miles 0-6
It felt as though most of the runners went ahead of me and I settled in a comfortable jog with a friend whom I have met only once before. We were all single file in a long line. There were a few jostling around, but I don't think I asked to pass anybody until after mile 2. 

Somewhere in this first segment I told my friend I wasn't sure if I was running too fast, or if it was just my imagination. He is assured me we were going too fast so we both slowed down. I was thrilled to be running a beautiful section of the North Umpqua trail that I had never ran before! 

We climbed up, and up and up. There was also a section of fire road in here where we went up and then down again. I had tried not to burn myself out on the uphill, and it felt good to let my legs fly on the downhill. 

Before long we were climbing again and then came out to the open road and the Medicine Creek station. (mile 5.9) . This station had my favorite goodies: Coke, Pringles chips, and watermelon slices. I took some of everything, even though I had been drinking from my water bottles a little and ate a half a package of Honeystinger grapefruit chews. 

Miles 6-13.3 or so
Then we were off, and I was climbing up Deer Leap, which is incredibly uphill for a few miles. 
At the top of this section, in the middle, there is a beautiful viewpoint if you step off the trail. A couple of us decided to make the run worth it and took a few pictures. It was a good choice. I had been looking forward to taking a break here even though there was no aid station. 



Just a bit more climbing and then we had a long rolling run to the Tokatee lake aid station (Mile13.5). Somewhere in here I passed a really nice guy who was obviously suffering with his knee. We chatted for a minute and he let on that maybe it was an  ITB issue. There's no doubt in my mind that if anyone was having ITB issues, this course would tear them up. I saw him later at the finish line though, and somehow he must've toughed it out. 

At Tokatee lake I got a refill on my bottles with glukos (energy drink) in one and water in the other. I also grabbed another handful of Pringles chips to eat as I ran down the trail.

 Here, I took one of my Salomon Speedcross Pros off and shook a small rock out of it. This little pebble had been in for maybe 2 miles. (It would've been completely preventable if I had worn gators, but I had forgotten to attach Velcro strips to my shoes, so the gators would not stay in place.) If the pebble hadn't been there I don't know if I could've gone a bit faster on the downhill, but I was cautiously guarding my foot trying not to grind the pebble in.

At this station I realized also that I was probably not going to make it in to the end of the race by six hours. I tried to do some math in my head and estimate how long it would take me to finish. We all know that running math is never good though.

Whether or not I could've ran faster is unclear, but in that moment I expected I would go slower for the second half. This was when it became a conscious decision that regardless of how long it took me, I was going to finish and I was going to have a good day.

 I took the time to stretch out a bit, as my glutes and hips on both sides had started to fatigue. I have a really odd yoga pose that I made up for this and I'm sure it was entertaining for anyone, especially since I had some music coming out of my phone. 

Even if this cost me time, stretching out was a good choice because afterwards I didn't have any issues with my glutes; maybe I should've done it back at medicine Creek.

Mile 13.3- mile 21
This was a long-a$$ section.
My friend had gotten ahead of me, but waited at the aid station, so we took off again together. Part of this was another new segment for me, and I enjoyed running some new terrain.

Thank goodness there was good flagging for the course in here. There was at least one possible place to get confused with a gravel road intersection, but luckily I knew the route and saw the orange flagging.. We saw another runner that was not so lucky. She had ran an extra 3 miles, and seemed to be trying to make up time for it. She passed us going uphill on gravel. And somehow we passed her again, then she passed us. 

We went through a cool waterfall where the water was actually going over the trail. It was shady in there, but it was also slippery! Shortly after that I lost touch with my friend again. I basically ran solo for the next 10+ miles, except for a brief moment at the next aid station.


At mile 21, I ran into the woman who had passed us and I asked her how she was doing. She remarked that she was not sweating at all anymore, even though she had drank two containers of water. I offered to tell the next aid station, and she thought was a good idea.

Less than a quarter-mile after passing her, we were there.. 

Mile 21-26.9
At the aid station I let them know that there was a woman behind me who said she thought she might drop. As I was filling up my bottle with water and glukos (half way) she came down the hill into the aid station. I got her a pickle from the jar there and then the volunteers told me to go ahead and go - they would take care of her :) 

Apparently, my friend had ran through and waited for a while, but continued on. This section of the race was extremely hard mentally.  It seemed to go on forever, but fortunately there was one enormous waterfall to admire, as well as native plants that were all in bloom.

I didn't remember the "dread and terror" segment being this long, and kept thinking that I was almost to the bridge station. Every time I went downhill I anticipated it, only to have to climb again! 

When this happens, you're faced with the choice. Unlike in the Swiftwater 50K, I decided that the time out there is just part of the race. I ran into a pile of brush that had not been cleared off the trail, or had been cleared as best it could be at last minute, busted out my phone and took a couple of pictures. I drank some more of my drink, ate some more honeystinger chews, and crossed over it smiling.
God bless the person who marked with orange flags!


 I wondered what Max King thought when he came across the same pile. Maybe he got mad… Maybe he just had a good laugh! I have no idea-- but, I would like to see that video! 
How does an elite cross a pile of brush? Just like the rest of us.

Finally, one of the downhills ended up at the North Umpqua river bottom, now a much narrower and colder version then when we started the race. 

Mile 26.9-finish
I still hadn't seen my friend since about mile 16, but, I was ready to cross the bridge, which was slanting heavily to the right and had a tree down across it. 

Although I am a pretty practiced person at running on strange terrain, I almost lost my balance on the bridge! I knew this was the last aid station, but this last section of climbing is a doozy. Having been here before, I knew there were two phases of climbing out to the next trailhead, and I did my best to get up quickly. 

There were several beautiful waterfalls in this shady section, and lots of water coming out of the sidewalls onto the trail, making mud or slippery rocky sections. 

A little bit later I found my friend again and I was overjoyed to have caught up. Apparently he had waited for me at an aid station and decided he couldn't keep waiting because he wasn't feeling well. We took turns running and hiking fast up and out of dread and terror.

At the end of the segment we crossed the road, and I didn't know exactly how much mileage we had left to go, but I knew it could not be a whole lot of climbing to get to Lemolo lake now. I tried to push myself, but the biggest incentive was probably the mosquitoes, which would've carried us to the finish line had we not been running! 

And then, there was this crazy tripod of sticks with the sign on top that pointed "Lemolo lake / finish line". With no trail, we had a very short scramble over some brush to get to a road which would take us across the dam. 
And I fairly sprinted! 

In the clear blue skies of the afternoon, Lemolo lake was quiet and stunning with Mount Thielsen in the backdrop. I regret not taking a photo of it, but it's in my minds eye. And I was too dang anxious to get to the end to stop at this point. The final mile was a tiny little single track trail with multiple options, but orange flagging going down the correct one. 

The finish line was quiet, with racers soaking in their victories and drinking their craft beers or sodas. The Go Beyond racing directors greeted each finisher with their name announced, and a special finishers glass. I got a hug from RD Renée, which made the day feel extra special. 

Shortly after that, I was nibbling on Skout bars and visiting with friends as they came in one or two at a time. I especially enjoyed talking with Laurie and Heather who are now doing 50ks as training runs for 100 milers, and Rachelle from Skout, as well as the team from Bibchat. 
***
Post race 


My legs always feel trashed right after and ultra, but spirits were high. After getting my drop bag and eating half a burger, I headed out to my favorite recovery spot.. right across the river from one of the photos above.

I don't know when I'll do another one of these. I keep saying this is the last one. I am definitely only HALF nutty, not 100k nutty...

To get really good at ultra running I think one needs to enjoy doing the long run enough to run long back to back once a week. Right now, that is not in my repertoire or in my family's calendar. So, I will savor this experience and be grateful for being able to run for six hours and 55 minutes, and climb somewhere over 6000 ft (garmin said 7300, strava said 8400.. who knows!), without injuring myself.

Finishing sixth woman isn't bad. I'm satisfied to finish 2 1/2 hours after the likes of Max King and an hour and 40 minutes behind the likes of Rachel Drake. It's humbling, and I could probably use more humility in my life! 

Now, if I ever get crazy enough to do another ultra, I probably will do this one again (probably not the 100k option though!)--Just to see if I can do a little better, (or a little worse), but have an even better story. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ragnar Cape Cod - the journey of No Man's Van

Still not sure how I made it on this "dream team" of relay runners, I woke up bright and early Friday morning to board one of our highly decorated transport systems (rental vans).

I would be spending the next 27+ hours in this "home away from home," and living the good life, also known as Ragnar Cape Cod.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ragnar Cape Cod with Reebok: Part 1- Living the dream!

When I arrived in Boston at 11:30 pm Wednesday night, I really had no idea what to expect for the long weekend; but I was ready for anything!

All I knew was:
  • I was running Ragnar Cape Cod, a 192 mile relay from Hull, Massachusetts to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
  • I was invited by Reebok as their guest... meaning I didn't have to pay for anything. (What?! Is this for REAL?)
  • My team would be comprised of

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pinch me?!

After getting an unexpected invitation, I'm in Boston, and am going to participate in my first Ragnar relay: Ragnar Cape Cod!

It's been a few years since I've been here, and the last time I came (the only other time), was for my second marathon in 2011.

I didn't expect to come back to Boston for running again, but

Friday, May 6, 2016

Here I go again!

Somehow I got suckered into signing up for another 50K.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Everyone should know their own strengths and weaknesses.

Running long races is not one of my strengths. In fact, if you look at road performances, after the half marathon distance I fall off the wagon.

Also, I am really not a good trail runner. I love to run trails, but I am not actually very good at it! Maintaining an easy pace, that I can do.
Running "balls to the wall" and hitting some good turnover on downhills... that just hasn't happened for me yet.. And it probably never will, because I have this insurmountable obstacle in my head called a brain, which likes to exercise the "Don't break your ankle" button way too much for me ever to get good at trail running.

Which brings me to point out that I wasn't going to run any 50ks this year.
I thought I might not even race at all this year- just have fun and run trails and the occasional 5k if I had a few good weeks of mileage and track sessions.
View from Bob Butte, on one of my training runs.
The tioga bridge is 2 miles away.. crossing that white speck, which is the river, in the upper right middle.

I am a glutton for punishment, though, so I find myself running long runs on the NUT solo again.. and running out of water (buying a lifestraw next!), while out there trying not to sprain my ankle or land wrong (with sketchy to non-existent cell service). All in the name of adventure, right?

The good thing is this race, the Nut50k, is near enough to me that I can train on the trails that will be used as part of the course.  Well, actually I'm not doing much training on the 50K course.  More of it has been on the lower section of the 100K course.  But, the idea is the same:  lots of climbing, single track, varied terrain, large angular rocks,  occasionally runnable trail, great views, poison oak, several small bridges and waterfalls.

The race (my 4th 50k) will be on June 11, five weeks from now.

So far I have two 17 milers and one 20 miler done. At 7 miles into the 20 miler I was bargaining with myself, telling myself I could quit at 14. But at 14, I thought, "Surely you can make another 6 (mostly downhill) miles? right?

Although those runs might be sufficient for some people to feel ready to race 50K, it is not enough for me! Hopefully I can get in one or two more over 20 miles.. if I can fit them in between school hours!

So, run I will!
Long and slow.. and uphill.. upriver.. along the scenic North Umpqua river and Crater lake Highway.
Until I can run no more.
The truly crazy 100k racers will start by crossing over this bridge; 50k racers will start higher upriver.

And it will be the LAST one, ever, if I can help it!



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Burg 2 Bay Relay 2016

Last Saturday marked my second experience participating in the Roseburg to Coos Bay relay over the Coos Bay Wagon road.

I'm not sure how exactly this team got together except that both Elissa and I wanted to be on the same team.

Our first plan fell out when another friend was unable to be in the area the weekend of the relay. Our backup plan went into action when Elissa found a friend who knew a friend who wanted a team and needed more runners.
Isn't that how all great stories start?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shoe Review: Topo Hydroventure waterproof trail shoe

I had never heard of Topo Athletic until coming across their posts on Instagram recently. They are a newer company based out of Massachusetts, "with a mission to develop footwear that honors the shape and biomechanics of the human foot". 

Always on the look out for the best trail running gear, I was intrigued by their design, as well as their claim to being waterproof.  Here, in the Pacific Northwest, that last part could be useful!

Having a shoe sent that you have only seen on the Internet can be like rolling the dice. I requested a ladies 10, though I normally wear a 10.5. I didn't see an option for my usual size. Surprisingly, they fit very well right out of the box! 




Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cottage Grove Half Marathon: I'll be back

For not having raced a half marathon since 2011, I really wasn't sure what to expect from myself at Saturday's Cottage Grove Half

Ever since hearing from a friend that there was going to be one on the Row river trail, I have had my eye on this race. If ever there was a course made for fast half marathon, this is the one! With an ever-so-slight net downhill, it's made to be easy, but not a knee-breaker. 


I arrived at the finish line area with plenty of time to pick up my packet at 7:30 in the morning. I was surprised at how many people were already there, but I hadn't found Wenona yet. Just before the shuttle buses left the parking lot, we connected and she picked up a packet for another friend (via Instagram), Kelsey. 


A few minutes later, rather than taking one of the four full shuttle buses, Wenona's husband drove us to the Start line. On the way up I noticed that out in the reservoir, which was low for the winter, was a herd of elk! What a view!



Just before the race, all smiles at the Dorena school! PC: Doan Turner

We had a dry gymnasium to hang out in for a little while before the race, which was perfect just in case. 


I took off for a little warm-up jog, and spent about 10 to 15 minutes doing some light and easy stuff and then a few accelerations


My plan was to go out at a seven minute mile and see how it felt. I really had no idea if it was something I could hold for the entire race. I also didn't know how good my GPS reception would be up there and if the readings on watch would be accurate. So, I was aiming for a pace, with the plan to let effort be my ultimate guide. 


I noticed a familiar face giving out lots of hugs (and advice) to runners. Taking a stab, I said something to him and it turned out it was a Facebook friend I had never met in person before, Lonn. It's always fun how races bring people together ☺️


We were advised to have anybody running under an hour and 30 minutes at the front and everybody else behind them. I figured I would find the fast group and get behind it. I definitely wasn't going to go out like a firecracker, but I also didn't want to be stuck behind anyone. 

Fortunately, there was plenty of space in the wide road at the start before hitting the trail. By the time all of us runners were on the trail, most everyone had a good position established.


My watch was reading in the 6:30 to 6:40 range for the first little bit, and I decided to pull myself back. I would have no legs left if I tried to keep that up! 


Somewhere around the 1st mile marker, I saw Lonn again, cheering, and asked him if I could leave something with him. He's very courteously said "yes," and I handed him my fuel belt that had my phone in it. 


For some reason my stomach was aching, and I knew I couldn't handle having that belt on for another 12 miles. I had thought of just tossing it in the bushes somewhere. And, it probably still would've been there when I came back, but it had my key in it, and it would've been a pain in the butt to go back for! THANK YOU Lonn! 


As I came to the next mile marker, I saw the sign before my watch read 2 miles, and I decided to go ahead and hit the lap button. I didn't know what my pace actually was, or if I was getting bad GPS signal. Of course, every one of the mile markers started to come about at about .96 of a mile. And I hoped that it was just a GPS issue. 


The course is tree/covered in sections, with amazing views of Dorena reservoir and the mountains beyond. It's easy to find yourself staring off and forgetting about your pace when you're distracted by that kind of panorama!




Enjoying the view during the "middle miles" of the course. PC: Audra Terry Photography, used with permission
Someone clearly FAST! Photo : audraterryphotography.com

I had slowed down a few seconds of a mile and was running what I thought was about a 7:07 - 7:10 pace. There wasn't a lot of passing or getting passed during this race except with one lady whom I didn't recognize. She had gone out fast, then I caught her, but she passed me on the downhill section and said something about me catching her again on the flat. I wish I had!


Oddly, my slowest miles for the race were during the downhill section. I wasn't consciously trying to hold back, but I figured if I went any faster it was going to take more effort than I could keep up. I am certain of it now!


By the time I hit the flat, "town" section, I knew I was closing in on the finish. There was one very long mile between nine and 10 markers. This was a bit of a "catch up" for all of the short miles earlier. I was mentally prepared for it thankfully! With only 4 miles left, I was ready to turn things up a notch. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left in my legs! 


I struggled trying to catch the girl in the pink shirt, (who turned out to be in my same age group). I never quite caught her; but, I think if I had another 50 yards… Maybe ;-)


After trying repeatedly to find another, faster, gear, I finally made it to the finish line in 1:34:28. I got a lovely medal placed around my neck, and stretched a bit --until I saw Kelsey coming in, followed by Wenona, who had earned a shiny, new PR!


***

A few thoughts about the race

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I'm blessed just to be able to run, but even more blessed when I get to run with friends.


Any complaints I have are against myself, ( I will save that for a different post.) The race was well staffed, with flaggers at every intersection, paramedics, and pretty much no way to get lost!


The aid stations were stocked with water which was handed out. I never needed the water because I had my orange mud handheld, but I picked up a hammer gel along the course, only because I had tossed my bag with 3 Honeystinger gels in it! 


I didn't stick around for the award ceremony this time, because I was pretty sure I didn't get one. I might have to look back through though! For a first-year event, there were a lot of people, but everything seem to have been thought of, from the porta-potties  and the shuttle buses, to the food stands at the finish line. A lot of thought was put into making this race worth the entry fee.


Overall, I would rate this race as a 9 out of 10 stars, only (-1) because of the mile markers.. I would definitely do it over again!


See it on STRAVA