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.

Slated as our team's 7th runner, I had 21.56 miles total to run, and would be the first runner in Van 2.
Being in Van 2 has its perks... you get to wake up early to send off the other van and then go somewhere to wait for all of them to run their first legs!
Both Reebok teams together in Hull, MA, before the start. (Note the reindeer photobomb.) Photo credit: Reebok


Sinead, our team's first runner, took off like a gut-shot cat.
We had fun after the race using apps and sketchy math to compares miles to K's to see if we would be compatible running partners.
Of course we would!?

Ragnar Tip: Enjoy your free time while it lasts!
After watching the speedy Canadian writer, Sinead, take off on leg 1, we did what any smart team would do, and headed to a nearby breakfast place.
We figured we had until 4 or 5 pm until we ran.
We were WRONG. But, we had a delicious and overfilling breakfast!

Next, after someone texted us that Van 1 was running faster than predicted, we rolled ourselves over to the next major exchange to look for our team.
I had about 45 minutes to spare and used the restroom.
Ragnar Tip: Use the restroom when there is a short line if you have the chance!

Quickly, I changed into a pair of Reebok shorts, generously supplied at the last minute by the Reebok/Ragnar store tent. This was my saving grace. I don't run well overheated!

As our team's 6th runner approached, I was excited for the hand-off. The music was great and I had a personal goal to run 7:30 pace, which for me is reasonable given legs of ~10 miles, 5 miles and 6 miles.

Often runners will keep track of kills in a relay (people they pass). I don't like to operate that way; I just try not to be passed, have FUN, and stay at my personal pace goal. After a mile or so, I caught up with a man who was the last person I could see in front of me. He mentioned that he wondered if he might be lost.
Uh oh.

Then he told me he saw a sign earlier that said right, but he thought maybe he needed to go straight.
How could I have been following this guy and not be looking for signs? Serious racing error! I didn't even glance at the map before my run. Lesson learned! You can't just follow like a sheep.
Ragnar Tip: When you Ragnar, look for the direction signs.

I asked a few boys on bikes if they had seen any other runners. The first group said "Yes".. the second group we came to said "No".
At that moment I had to make a choice, and I decided to trust the first group of kids and just keep running.

Eventually Mr. Running Lost and I found another runner, and we were back in the game. (Not without a little stress though. After looking at Strava, we apparently took a scenic route, adding a half a mile of coastline  views to our 9.6 miles).

Running like mad, and totally unaware I had added a half a mile to my relay leg..

Somewhere in all of this I saw my van pulled over, and all my teammates were outside cheering for me! Applause is not needed for me to run happy, but it sure helps the team to get rallied.
 Ragnar Tip: Be a team player / cheerleader.

I wondered why my first leg was long after I hit the 10 mile mark.. but I had a downhill and just kept plugging at it. When I entered the exchange corral, there was a lot of cheering from people (So NICE!), but my hand-off person was not there.
Ragnar Tip: Try to stay ahead your runner.

Stretching a bit, I just smiled and enjoyed the time outside of the van to rest. I felt sorry for Amy, who was frantically getting ready to run!

Apparently my teammates in "No Man's Van" hit traffic and got stuck trying to drive from their last cheer point to the hand-off. Something like that might bug you if you are super competitive, but this was a relay-- and it's much more important to remember you are there for the FUN.
Ragnar Tip: Be flexible and forgiving.


Having a little too much fun on Instagram before dark :)


As we hit the exchanges and darkness fell, a new Night Ragnar emerged.
We donned our required safety gear (vests, headlamps and blinking lights) and kept the rotation going as skies filled with rain clouds.
Ragnar Tip: Embrace the elements.


photo courtesy of Reebok


Keeping in contact with Van 1 became more critical, and we made use of texting as well as whatsapp, (which the Brits and the Canadians all use), to determine how long we had until we needed to run next.

After our second major van exchange, in all of the wet darkness, we decided we were ready to eat something besides Clif bars, granola bars, peanut butter rice cakes and Nuun.

It can be a challenge to find a restaurant serving food at 9:30 PM out on the cape. We considered going into a few venues, but it was Friday night and the only places open looked to be bars.

With some discussion we passed on the opportunity for a sit-down meal and also for a potential McDonald's. We decided on Subway, but they were closing and would only make "basic sandwiches", without the veggies.

Back and forth we drove through town (which town, I am not sure), looking for someplace open, determined to get some sort of sandwiches with vegetables. We were hungry, wet, sweaty, and craving salt..

Ironically, we ended up at a gas station, buying beef jerky.

At the next exchange we were able to buy hot chicken soup, or meatless spaghetti, or egg sandwiches..without vegetables, from Boy Scouts (God bless them, every one). But at this point nobody really cared what we ate, so long as it wasn't in a plastic wrapper.
Ragnar tip: You might get hungrier than you expect and at odd hours. Buy that sub sandwich during the daytime for the 10PM munchies.

After our delicious meal, we made our way to the next major exchange where we would attempt to sleep before I started off our next series of Van 2 runs.

Upon arrival, we set up camp in a semi-quiet gymnasium. Right before unrolling our sleeping bags, we learned that the other van was making good time running, which meant that we would only have an hour or so to sleep before leaving again. I tried to be cheerful, really, as I got comfortable in my sleeping bag on the gym floor, thinking about running 5 miles in the dark rain.

Then, just as I was falling asleep, Hilary came and got me for my next run. I tried not to wake everyone else, found my reflective vest and jacket and went to the exchange (forgetting to wear my race number).
Ragnar tip: Sleep is a luxury you won't need for a few days.

I was there a few minutes before I saw the Van 1 crew. Lindsay and her crew were always smiling as they waited for their last runner, and it was a boost to get me out the chute.

Night time running doesn't bother me, but in the rain it is essential that I have contact lenses in, which I did. The Ragnar turn signs were easier to see in the dark because of their lights. The rain let up, making it a comfortable running temperature; and, the darkness at 12:40 AM gave me the adrenaline needed to crank out my fastest miles for the race.

Runner by runner we handed off the slap bracelet baton, until the sun was coming up over the horizon. At the next major exchange, we sent off Van 1 and then took our van to do something I hope every Ragnarian gets to experience: we saw the sun rise as a team.

Ladies of No Man's Van (Reebok team 2) embracing the dawn 
Ragnar Tip: Go see that sunrise together. You won't regret it!

Riding along with my teammates and watching them run revealed a lot about these new-found friends. Emma could hold a wicked-fast pace and had just finished running London Marathon. Amy was pretty quiet, but made everything look easy. Monica was great with maps and finding the next place. Laura always wore a smile, despite some knee pain that really intensified in the last leg. Hilary was a great driver and would be running the longest run of her life to date!

We drove ahead to the next exchange and looked for a chance to sleep and eat. It was a beautiful morning at the regional school we parked at. After some lovely breakfast sandwiches, A few people went in the gym to sleep, while I joined a few teammates in the van. There were a few hours to pass, but I wasn't sure how many. Knowing I had to run next made it hard for me to fall asleep, though I did try. 
Emma became an expert at coordinating runners and sending out PR, all while snuggling rice cakes, Gatorade and gym bags.

At 8 am it was warm enough to wear shorts and short sleeves outside, so I put on my sunglasses and prepared to run my last leg. As I "warmed up" I got a few funny looks and even a comment.

At this point most runners felt pretty trashed for running hard twice over some very hilly legs. The rollers were my biggest surprise of the Ragnar Cape Cod course, but thankfully I have been doing a lot of hill training and long runs.

As we neared Provicetown, the view really started to take on the classic "Cape Cod" look. It's hard not to be distracted by breathtaking seascapes that go on for miles!

Waiting for the very last hand-off. Wish we could have stayed longer!
Now we were really feeling the sun and doing our best to help each teammate finish strong. Hilary, whose longest run ever had been 6 miles, ran in the final 10 mile leg for our team. I was inspired.

The Pilgrim monument - an unmistakable landmark towering above the Ragnar Cape Cod finish line.

Due to some misunderstanding regarding the finish line shuttle, (and perhaps over-zealous cheering), we managed to miss being at the finish line to run in with her.  Luckily the Van 1 runners were there to do the honors, 27 hours 45 minutes 58.6 seconds after we started our adventure, making us the 27th coed mixed team, but the first all women's team IF we had entered that division.




Ragnar relay medals make a special message only visible with all teammates' medals together.

Shortly after Hilary finished, some of us walked, (and some of us hobbled), our way from the parking lot up the hill to the finish line at the Pilgrim monument.

Clam chowder, quinoa salad and (for some of us) beer, have never tasted so good as they did Saturday afternoon, sitting in Provincetown with my teammates.

In reflection, Ragnar Cape Cod all went by so quickly. But I have no doubt the memories will last for a lifetime. If you ever get the chance to do a Ragnar relay, I hope you'll take it.

Thanks again for the opportunity, Reebok!


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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cottage Grove Half Marathon: Promises to be fast!

It's been a few years since I've ran a paved half marathon.

You can call me lazy if you want to.
I'm pretty satisfied with my PR in that distance, and haven't felt the need to do what it would take to improve it, (abandon my family completely and move to a running commune).

Despite my laziness, The Cottage Grove Half Marathon is on my radar for my first race of 2016.

There is just a little bit of climbing along the route; but, overall, it drops 200 ft and should be a PRIME smaller race for anyone looking for a fast downhill half PR (anyone but me!). And, with Eugene Marathon around the corner, it would be a fantastic tune-up race!

A couple of girlfriends and I have been able to get to the course to do some preview runs. We shared smiles, sweat and laughs-- as well as views like this!

Maybe running slowly will make the sights even more enjoyable?

I can't think of a better place to run a paved race...


I'm not as prepped as I would like to be for this race (which is only 2 weeks away!), and am running much lower weekly volume and shorter long runs than in past half marathon training. But, I have had some very good tempo runs, and a nice 16 miler.   

A PR is probably an unrealistic goal for me this time around, (unless my feet sprout wheels), but I still want to see what I have in me for the day.  


Now… would you cross your fingers for sunny weather on March 5th?
I'd like to see the ambulance coming before it picks me up at the finish line!

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 Ultrasignup.com (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? :)