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:)


25 comments:

  1. Wow, well done, Raina! My mind cannot even comprehend running that far right now - on a trail, nonetheless!

    Great write-up too - I really enjoyed reading it.

    Happy resting!

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    1. Thank you Karien! Keep trucking with the stroller. Before long you might decide to try it, especially with Comrades. :)

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  2. Nice race, and great report Raina! I would have to wear a depend if I ate that before a race! :)

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    1. Ha!! Thanks so much Dawn. For all your help regarding this race! I fully expect you to come back and run it again..but was thrilled to see your course record stand for another year.
      The adult diaper is only needed because you can sustain a wickedly fast pace! No stopping for you :) ♥♥

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  3. I want to run a race with waterfalls! Stairs, not so much, though. Congrats on another race completed (and sub-6 at that) - especially so soon after your last one!

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    1. Those stairs.. whew!! You would still love it though, Tina. :)

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  4. Loved the race recap! Really want to do an ultra someday and thinking that a trail run might be my best bet since its basically what I already train on already. Any tips for a first timer?

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Lynsee! I am not sure I have any great ultra tips, but being prepared for the weather is good, and having a map with you.. just in case. It's really important to train for the kind of terrain you plan to race on and practice fueling as you go.

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  5. Amazing!! 50k-wow! you go girl!!

    I HATE races that end with a hill...who thought that would be a good idea!!!

    The scenery looks amazing!!

    Way to go!

    Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. Thanks Tamieka! It was a bit "nuts" ! ha!

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  6. Excellent job on a tough course! That fake out out finish line with a hill is by far the worst.

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    1. I know! I still thought i had a PR until that moment.. #foiled

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  7. Congrats Raina! You are such a star! I swear climbs never photograph to look half as nasty as they are. Tough but gorgeous course!

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    1. That is a true fact about the hill pics! Thanks Marcia :)

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  8. Congrats! Sounds brutal, but you did a great job! I HATE fake finishes. The. Worst.

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    1. Well, next year I will know what to expect, Cassie!

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  9. Congrats, nice work out there and great result. Does look beautiful. (Love the word Brutiful). Well done.

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    1. Thanks Robin!! Totally impressed with your 100k fun run :)

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  10. Congratulations on a strong finish on a tough course! I've never run a 50k (KUDOS TO YOU) much less many trail runs. I have experienced a few fake finishes and they are simply cruel. It does sound like a beautiful place with the waterfalls.

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    1. It really is gorgeous there! I plan to take my family for a hike during the off season. Thanks for the comment!

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  11. Congrats on your brutiful AG win! Always nice to know you're one of the toughest gals out there despite the 'do differentlies'. That means you must have the shortest list :)

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    1. Thanks Adrienne! It's always a case of the "next times" with us :)

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  12. Awesome! An AG win :) Congrats. That is great you did so well when you were just going out for fun lol
    That looks like quite a climb, very pretty, but rain is never that much fun, well downpours aren't...
    I don't think I would appreciate the finish line tactic either...you have to be tired at that point. How strange no vegetarian options?
    Great race Raina! You are really strong, I am glad the tibial is cooperating. I am battling a bit of PF flare up currently, it is always something friend...but I don't want it to be that way!

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  13. Nice going! I love trail running too but that sounds brutal. And an uphill finish line? I probably would have cried :)
    My Running Shortz

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  14. Belated congrats on your 50k Raina, and the A/G win. Well done! I was following on Strava while I was in the US but my computer time was quite limited, so only catching up on my blog reading now. All the best for the rest of the year and 2016 ahead. Hope it's a good year for you :)

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