Friday, July 17, 2015

Mt Hood 50k & Some Other Little Stuff

Well.......It has been awhile hasn't it? Like the 80's hit "Video Killed the Radio Star". Well Facebook killed the Blog. I really use to like to sit down and put my thoughts on the screen, but FB turned us all in to soundbites and pictures. Not that I am complaining but you don't get too much deep thought anymore.

My last post was just after the NYC Marathon in 2013. Gail and I then went to Honolulu and ran that marathon together and had a great time. Then on December 30th my life changed forever. While at work (flying) I slipped and fell and shattered my right pelvis. I spent the next week in a hospital after a 2.5 hour surgery and 9 pins and 2 plates. My first words to my doc was "Will I ever run again?". I was told "We are not sure".

I lived for 4 months with a walker and slept in a Lazy Boy recliner because I couldn't lay flat in a bed without pain. I started pool therapy, then after a month was allowed regular PT. After 6 months of hard work Doc said "You can start jogging". Boy that was the best words I had ever heard. I ran a 5k a month later at a 11 minute pace. Soon after that I was doing a 10k, then a half marathon. I was slow, it was painful every single step but I was happy.

In August I told Gail, "I signed up for the Portland Marathon and you did too". She was "WHAT? BRET!!". Well we had a great time and ran that whole race together in near record slow time. A few months later we did another marathon. I still couldn't lift my foot more than about 3 inches vertically but running slow you don't need much more than that. I would trip now and then and Gail's heart would stop thinking I was going to fall but I never did.

A year went by and I still couldn't work. I can't get in and out of the cockpit seat, as I had very little flexibility due to the cutting of certain muscles and tendons during the surgery. I can't sit for very long due to some pain I still have and I got 64 staple scares on my bum, wanna see? I continued to run and do PT 3 times a week. I hold the record at my PT office for something like 135 visits. Well we then signed up and ran the Vernonia Marathon. That is such a great course to run as the hard part is the first 13 miles and the last is a breeze. I ran on my own this time and pushed to my max. I did a 4:21 which is about a minute per mile slower than I used to run but was the same time as my very first marathon 16 years ago. I was thrilled I could run that pace.

I was told trail running is hard on my arthritic knee, so I turned in my trail running badge a few years ago. The uneven surface causes pain and swelling in my knee, so I am mostly a road guy now. But...Mt Hood 50 put out a FB post that said only a few spots were left in the new 50k race. So I signed up as the last entrant. What the heck, I can do 31 miles in my sleep...or I "use-ta-could". (thanks for that word Pole). So I did a few trail runs at Forest Park and a few up on the PCT and told myself that my quads will hate me but I will survive.

Race day was Sunday July 12th and it was perfect. Normally we get sunny and 85 for the Mt Hood 50 miler but not this year, cloudy and probably 55 at the start. It was fun to see a few familiar faces at the pre-race gathering. I had been going to Ultra's but only as a RD, friend or Mobile Aid Station Volunteer (ask Detour about that). I love folding my race bib into the required ultra little card deck size and pinning it on your shorts (never on your shirt!!).

My plan was to finish. That was all I cared about. To come from wondering if you will walk normal to running 31 miles in 18 months a big fricking deal to me. At 8 am I gave Gail the required pre race kiss and I waited to be last to cross the start line, I didn't want to hold anyone up. As the race progressed I passed a few folks, had some nice coversations and saw some old friends. The course is pretty easy as Ultra's go, only about 2800 feet of climb and mosltly really nice running trails.

The climb starts about mile seven and goes on for a bit. I power hiked and chatted with other runners. They time flew by. I kept waiting for the hard climb and it never came. I walked all the ups and tried to run the rest. At the mile 14 turnaround I felt pretty good. As we headed back towards Timothy Lake we have that nice down section.The fun part this year was the down seemed longer than the up! Now that doesn't happen often. My quads got tired on the downs and I new I should take it easy. Pulling into the AS at mile 18 or so I got a nice hug from Karen and all the volunteers took great care of me.

At around mile 21 we hit the loop around the lake. I felt fine, just tired. I cam upon many runner walking now as we approached the mile 24 area. That is when I looked up and saw Detour the Wife. Yeah, a happy sight. She had run out the other direction to get some miles in and then ran the rest with me, no Mr. RD not a pacer just a buddy.  I felt pretty good until the last AS at mile 26. Then we had a bit of an uphill climb and I knew I was done. The last 4 miles were not new to me but they still are uncomfortable. I was tired and ready to be done. I could do the downs and the flats pretty good but the uphills were all walking.

As we approached the finish Gail went ahead to get some pictures of her fat husband finishing his first Utlra in over 2.5 years. Yeah I am done! 6:13 which I was pretty happy with. I wasn't DFL like I thought I might be.  But I am so overjoyed in the fact that I can still be out there. I won't ever be what I used to be but that is OK with me. As long as I can do a few longer distance races a year I will be just fine. Running forever is more important to me than running fast or far. "2 miles a day" is what I told my Doctor while laying in that Spokane hospital bed, "2 miles a day, and I will be happy." Well I ran 29 more than that and I am pretty dang happy with that too.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Subway, A Ferry, A Bus, A Marathon and 2 Mile Walk

In 2012 Detour (Gail)  and I got "Sandy'd" out of the NYC Marathon. Two hours after we arrived the race was cancelled. So we ran one of the best Marathons of our life in Central Park on our own. 26.2 miles with 10,000 plus other runners from around the world. It was an amazing experience.

We had to decide if we wanted to come back and run in 2013. The Race said if you want your money back that is fine. But you can't come back next year without going into the lottery. If you want to run in 2013 you can but you give up your entry fee for 2012 and have to pay full fare for 2013. Which imo sucked but they hold all the cards. So back we came. We had been trying to get in the race for years and I finally played the sad big eyed Race Director card with a phone call to the NYC RD. Hey it worked for 2012.

So off to NYC went again. Got the same hotel. Ate mostly the same places as last year, traveled on the same flights. But this year we got run. Both Gail and I are fighting long term injuries. We are an hour or so slower than a year or so ago. So we run marathons now not race them. It is pretty fun to run the entire race wth your spouse. Not many folks can or choose to do that. I think its a blast. We don't do it all the time of course but it is so much fun when we do.

So on race day we head out to catch the subway at 6:15 am or so. Take a jam packed, can't move, no one else will ever get in train to the Ferry docks. There we wait 20 minutes in line then get on the Ferry for a 30 minute trip to Staten Island where we sit for 2 hours then take another 30 minute bus ride to the start, hang for another hour then get ready to run. How they do this I do not know. Logistics are great, the crowds are too much for me.

So we are in wave 3 of 4. The gun goes off and we strip our warm clothes and head up over the Veranazo Bridge. It is very windy at 20 to 25 mph with temps in the mid 40's. So chilly but still doable. Once we get into Brooklyn it is pretty much crowds of fans everywhere. I feel good til mile 7 or so then my legs start to feel tired. I don't say anything to Gail as I don't want to whine and complain and upset her running day. I am a tad more quiet than usual I think. As we get to the Jewish section of Brooklyn I am fascinated  by what I see. Sunday is a work day for them so I enjoy seeing the culture as we pass by.

Around mile 15 I mention that my legs are tired but they felt bad at mile 8 too. Gail agrees and says she felt the same way. As we head up another bridge into Manhattan everyone gets real quiet. I can feel the pain starting to set in the runners. Gail and I think its a nice gradual up, not that tough for sure but others are suffering. As we come off the bridge back into "the city" the crowds are huge. Up to 8 deep in places and the sound is amazing. (I actually liked the quiet at times as the noise was so constant) We head up First Avenue on a gradual climb. Soon we head into The Bronx and cross mile 20. I had been doing some math and I wanted us to break 5 hours. We haven't done that much lately as we are just happy we can run at all.

As we come into Harlem then back in the big "M" I tell Gail I think we got 5 hours licked, as long as we keep up the same pace as all day. She kind of takes off around mile 23, I struggle to keep up but it was great to have her do this. My knee talks to me now and then but over all has been great most all day. Soon we hit Central Park where we ran our own Marathon last year. Gail keep us going. I force us to run the Tangents of the corners not follow the other sheep. One thing I noticed was with this group around 5 hours you usually see a bunch of folks walking after they have bonked. This race I didn't see that. Not sure why? Maybe after $250 entry fee walking doesn't taste so good. Well we press on. We cross the finish line in 4:53 hand in hand again, just like Portland last month. So fun to do that!

We get your medals which to me are not very good compared to whats out there these days. I really don't care about most medals as many just go in a drawer, but such a big event should have a "special" medal.

Well now they make us walk for I would guess close to a mile. Cold winds blowing and mid 40's many folks are starting to drop to the ground. They have great first aid folks anytime someone looks bad or sits down they are right on top of it.Good for them! Well finally after freezing we get this very cool, bright orange poncho that has a hood and warm liner. Oh man that was the best thing of the race. But now we continue following the sheep to the get out of this place. We think we will hail a cab but they are all taken. We don't get cold but we are tired. Gail suggests we just walk the 20 blocks back to our room. I shrug, but agree. She is so strong to just press on after this 10 hour plus day we just had. We grab some food finally at a store and get back to our room nearly 2 hours after the race finish in the dark. Wow what a day.

I am very glad to have done the NYC Marathon but I probably won't be back. 50,000 runners is too huge for me. was a bucket list item and I have no regrets in completing it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where did he go?

Been almost a year since I posted on this blog. The dreaded FB kind of took over my posting. It is kind of like our society. A drive up blog, quick and easy. The life of the soundbite. Who needs details when I can say it in two or three sentences.

Well lets review what has happened since my last post. I ran the Mt Hood 50 Mile Trail Race again. Qualified for Western States but didn't get in. Died at mile 42 and hated life, but regrouped and finished.

Went through training and got checked out in my new plane at work.

Ran one of my favorite races, the Haulin' Aspen Trail Marathon in Bend. Had a great race in my road shoes as I forgot to bring my trail runners with me. Doh!

Ran Waldo 100k but had to drop at mile 32 because of some ongoing issues I was having with neck pain. (Still have it and is quite frustrating.

Couldn't run the beautiful McKenzie River  50k due to the neck problems but paced Gail for almost 8 miles to a PR for her. We had a great time that day.

A week later Gail and I were in Reno for our annual trip to the Reno National Championship Air Races. The second day of the races an aircraft lost control and crashed in to the crowd about 50 feet from where we were sitting. There was no fire or I would not be writing this. I had numerous little breaks in my nose and face. Got a little concussion and was hauled off to the hospital. Gail got all cut up and banged up pretty bad too. We survived, that is what counts. We were the lucky ones as 10 people in the crowd didn't make it. Life luckily went on for us.

Three weeks later I thought I would run a few miles of the Portland Marathon with Gail. At first I thought I would drop at 4 miles. The it was at mile 7. Then mile 11 where are friends would be. Then mile 20. Then it was fun just to run with my wife and to celebrate the fact I could still run. We finished the marathon. I was probably stupid to do that but it just  felt like the right thing to do.

In late October Gail and I put on the Autumn Leaves 50/50 again. The little 50k/50 mile race at Champoeg State Park. This year was much less stressful than our rookie year. We had a great group of runners, volunteers and weather. Looking forward to next year.

December we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Marathon. What a joke that cluster was. Poorly organized and way to big. But we did have fun with our friends!

Christmas again was a celebration of life. I was the house husband and tried to keep everything in line. I think I passed.

December 26th Gail and I did Steve's 6 hour run just a few miles from our house. I think I ended up with 34 miles or so. Was a cold fine day to get loopy in the park.

I decided to try and get a Boston Marathon qualifier. I hired coach Nikki again and she sent me off on a quest for speed. My pr for the marathon was 3:50. I needed 3:30 to get a BQ. 20 minutes faster than I have ever run. Interesting....

February I ran a half Marathon and got a PR on a tough little course of 1:44

In March Gail and I did the Pac Rim 24 hour run. Even though we both just used it as a training run and did 32 miles each.

In April I ran the Vernonia half as a training run and got another PR with 1:43. Gail ran the Marathon that day and got a new PR by over 7 minutes. And that was her 63rd marathon or faster. Who says you slow down after 50?

Eugene was my target race. I knew the course and it is a fast one. I felt ready but knew 20 minutes was a huge leap for me. Could I run 8:00 pace for 26 miles? Come to find out I couldn't. I ran that pace for about 18 miles then started to burn out. By mile 25 I was at a 9:30 pace. I finished with a PR of 3:39. Eleven minutes faster than I have ever run a marathon. I am very happy with that time. Never dreamed I could be that fast.

Boston is still a goal. Just something new to try and get. I do hate the idea that I need to stop some of the trail races to get fast. I love running these races in the woods in the summer around here. But I got to keep pushing this new idea and see where it takes me.

I am back flying now. Just finishing up my training. Life will be returning to its more normal ways. This summer I turn 20 as a runner. It was a torturous 4 mile run in Alaska in 1992 that created this crazy hobby of mine. I don't love it. I don't crave it. I don't like running for running. But it is who I am. What I do. It is a part of my life that I can not really explain why I do it. I just know if I go more than a week without doing it I feel something in my life is missing.

Hope this gets me back to this Blog. I enjoy the witting. Maybe I will post some pictures next time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Race It Bret

I got a coach again a few weeks back to help me get through my summer running goals. My two drivers again this year are to complete the Mt Hood PCT 50 miler in less than 11 hours to give me a Western States qualifier and to finish the Waldo 100k again this year but to do it under 16 hours. Last year I took over 17 to finish. Our goal over time was also to get this Fatboy to a Boston Qualifier which is 3:35 now and soon goes to 3:30 I think. Coach Nikki just keeps me accountable for my workouts and gets me to a new level. Last summer she had me run almost 100 miles more in a month than I had ever run before. So if definitely works!

On July 4th it was the annual running of the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon. I like running this race because it is close to home and can be run midweek if that is when Independence Day falls. The course is not totally flat anymore but is probably the flattest marathon I have ever run. Many times a group of us have gathered to run the the full or the half. So that is always a great time too. But the best part is the free strawberry shortcake at the finish!!! So this year I just figured I would run it for fun. Not push real hard but just take in the views, chat with other runners and just overall have a good time. I didn't put any real focus on this race, it was just another marathon to do. Well that plan didn't last for long after I told Nikki about it. She told me that she wanted to take my 3:56 time at Eugene and whatever time I got at Sauvie to set up my pace work for the next few months. She said "I want you to Race It." Hopefully I could finish sub 4 hours or at least do better than the 4:07 I ran here last year. Well "oh crap" I thought. Now I have to work at this. It is so much more fun to just go run, but that is why I got a coach. To push me to new levels.

Marc and Sarah running their 3rd marathon in 3 days! Photo by Steve Walters

My plan was to bring up my pace right from the start. Most of you probably know by now that I start out super slow. It takes me a few miles to get moving up to pace. Well not this time. I needed to be at a 8:45 pace for the first 10k. As the gun went off Gail and I took off. The start was pretty packed because only one lane of the road was open due to incoming traffic that was running late. I usually will run with Gail for at least a mile, but today I was told to race so that is what I did. After a slow 9:25 first mile I got my splits down to about 8:35 so that by the 10k mark I would average a 8:45 pace. My goal was to pick up the pace every 10k so that I wouldn't be dead by the last 6 miles. This was risky for me as I am a second half runner for sure in most marathons.

The course was sunny and a tad cool for the 6:30 am start. Around mile 6 we ran into a pretty good headwind. I just relaxed and told myself don't overdo it as you can push when we turn around and get the tailwind. Which is exactly what I did. I started clicking off some 8:15/8:20's with the tailwind through mile 12. I was efficient going through the aid stations. I would use a hand held bottle today rather than my belt as I feel sometimes the belts pressure on my gut makes me stop to water the bushes a few too many times. That worked too today, I didn't stop once, which has only happened a couple of times in the 85+ marathons I have run.

Around mile 16 we had this 1/4 mile out and back. It was a good time to see who I had passed and how close they were to me. When I made the turn I was sort of shocked on how close these folks were. I was starting to feel the first fatigue of the day here. Back on the main course I heard the patter of girl in the pink top. I caught a glimpse of her in my left eye. I had passed her a mile or so back. I new I had slowed down a bit and hearing her come up reminded my that I was racing today, not just running. So up went the pace. At this point I was up to around a 8 minute/mile, which is pretty quick for me at any distance. She hung a few strides back for about a mile. I wasn't going to go any faster but I figured this would test both her and me. Soon it worked, she must have dropped back and the sound disappeared.

As we got into an open section on the course and headed back North, the headwind picked back up. I knew we would be out of it in a couple of miles but it just sucked right now. As we hit mile 20 I felt pretty good but a bit slower. This mile would be my first one over 9 minute pace except for mile one. My hips and left glute were really starting to bother me. This has been an issue for the last few weeks. I kept trying to keep up the pace but pain and fatigue was a constant battle. I think a few years earlier I would have been walking with this pain but over time I know what is bad pain and what is just something that you just have to get through. Today I had to push through so that is what I did.

Around mile 23 pink shirt girl tried to pass me again. This time she had another women on her shoulder too. "Ain't gonna happen if I can help it" I said to myself. So I picked up the pace again and the 3 of us ran line abreast for about 1.5 miles. It was so cool! Not a word said but you could feel the sharing of energy. All three of us were hurting for sure but by banding together we ran harder as a group. We were coming up upon the slower 1/2 marathon runners so we were weaving in and out but would always join back up when the pack cleared. At about the mile 24 aid stations the women stopped. Not me I had to keep going. In my mind over the last 4 miles or so I calculated there is a slim chance I could break 3:50. "Wow you know how good 3:49 sounds?" Never in my dreams could I be a 3:49 runner. When I broke 4 hours it was amazing, now I have done that 4 or 5 times. I had crossed mile 20 at around 2:54 or something, by far my fastest point to that distance in my career. But the wheels were falling off after 21 miles but I guess that is what happens when you actually try and run hard from the start.

The course markings were a bit off on the back half of the course, not sure why but the first half was perfect. I was worried that the last mile or so they would be long as they need to catch up to the actual 26.2 mile distance. (Gail said the same thing after the race) Sure enough it was a bit long towards the end. I was really tired by mile 25 and my hip actually made my leg collapse at one point. My entire left leg was in pain the last 3 miles. I kept pushing as it was going to be very close to break 3:50. At least I was going to get a PR for the marathon unless I just fell on my face. With less than I mile to go it was a real battle. I went by the Oregon Live aid station and Kelly yells out a "Hi". I respond back but with no real energy. I am laying most everything I got to finish this sucker. I heart kind of fell out of the race at this point. I was pushing but I could have gone faster but really didn't want to. I knew I would PR but probably not get the 3:49.

With less than a quarter of a mile to go, my watch said something like 3:48:30 or something. It still would be close. A sprinter passed me but I was staying ahead of most. I turned my tunes off to enjoy the sounds of the finish. I never tire of this, it's a great way to feel good about what you just did, no matter what the distance. I looked at my watch as I turned the corner the finish, it clicked over to 3:50:00. "Oh well". I cross the line at 3:50:12, which is over 2 minutes faster than my previous PR at the Portland Marathon back in 2009. So at a fat 51 years old I am running even faster! This was a pretty motivational event for me.

"I think I done good!" Photo by Steve Walters

After finishing I chatted with a few folks and just walked around trying not to get the low blood pressure thing. I could tell it was really trying to kick in but I also was trying to walk for at least 20 minutes and stay upright for an hour. As I walked back to the finish line I saw Gail coming in. She was having a much better day than I thought she would. She crossed in 4:28 her 5th fastest marathon time! She had a great time out there she said, even though her iPod never worked all day and she never ran with another person. I was very proud of what she did. She needed to have a day like this.

Sorry guys, she is taken. Photo by Steve Walters.

Well after a couple of bowls of awesome strawberry's we headed back home. As I reflected on this race it a few things came up. One is maybe I should push a little harder at the start of races, yeah the finish was harder but I hung on for my best time ever. I think its a risk issue. Do I want to take the risk of blowing up on the course? Also thank to Nikki I got a unexpected PR. I also quietly had a pace band in my pocket to run a 3:49. I just ran some numbers the night before and thought if I had a really good day maybe I could run this fast. Only checked my pace 3 or 4 times against the band but every time I was ahead of schedule. Maybe the mind is stronger than we think? When I have worn pace bands before I have usually done pretty well.

Now it's back to summer training. I am going to hit the weights more this year. At the end of July I have the PCT 50 miler which I am going to really try to run strong. After that we might do Haulin' Aspen Marathon in Bend but we have not committed yet. Then on August 20th the Monster Waldo...again!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forest "Home Course" Park 50k

Late May was the date for this year's Forest Park 50k. This is my home course and I know it well. I wanted to push a bit on this race and see how I could do. I knew I still had some tired climbing legs from Mac Forest 2 weeks ago but this course doesn't have the killer climbs that others do. It is not flat for sure but they don't go on for more than a mile or so.

The race was a bit smaller this year because for some reason the wonderful city of Portland would not let them have a 10k this year. I surely do not get how the City of Portland operates. Well so we had a 20k and the 50k only. The RD also said they were not allowed to put ribbons on the course by the City also. Relax Bret....deep breath....relax. OK so the course actually ended up being pretty well marked with flower and signs.

Off we went and the usual traffic jams go on for the first few miles of climbing. I chat with a woman from Wisconsin on vacation, then another tags on behind me and the 3 of us have a nice chat. Let see, are you a better ultra runner after having children? Is the pain worse? These were the topics of the day. We get to the first AS which is also the turn point for the 20k runners. I refuel and say goodbye to my trail buddies. Down we go into the canyon which is a fun run. I remember in my early running days I thought this was a huge drop, its actually only 500 feet or so.

I am pretty much alone now. Running most everything, even the ups. The trail is nice but there are a few good mud sections to add some fun. We drop off Wildwood on to Saltzman for the climb up to AS 2 at mile 13 or so. I run the entire road up. Down the Firelane and back on to WW for a few miles. Life is good, tunes are fun, weather is cloudy and upper 50's, just perfect. The climb up Trillium gets the HR up but then we have the nice section on top to cruise. I talk with a few more runners here that are starting to feel the pain of the distance. Then the fun begins, down the Oil pipeline trail. Glenn T is at the bottom taking hilarious pictures of all of us nut cases. I stay off in the woods off the beaten path trying to stay upright. I have to grab a tree to slow down and I swing around in the air. Lucky me I never fell here this year, but I have in previous years.

The Tree stopped my rapid descent! (All photo by Glenn T.)

Well we are now on the Leif Road which we cruise on for about 1 mile or so. My Achilles is just killing me now. I mean I have to stop running. I think, "I'm done! This hurts so much." I probably didn't tear it but I sure strained/sprained it for sure. I start thinking how many weeks I will be off running. Every step is agony. I slow down and it gets a bit better but some points it actually shoots pain so bad that I stop running. This goes on for about 2 to 3 miles. We hit the Firelane and begin the big grunt climb back up to the AS 2/3 and about mile 20. I get to top and feel pretty good. Eat some food and drink Coke and off I go.

Going down Salzman I feel pretty good, my leg barely hurt now which is sure strange. I am running 8:15 or so down this hill. I get on WW and I notice a couple a few hundred yards behind me. Nope, they are not going to pass. So I run on. As I hit the switchbacks I notice they get closer. Crap, don't go faster just do your own pace. But nooooooo! I pick up the pace, pushing pretty hard for me at mile 22 to 24. They finally catch me. I ask if they want by? He says "No you are doing a great pace". Oh great, that means I am going to fast. Well, finally on the climb up the canyon towards mile 26 AS they go by and I am getting tired. But out of the woods I see such a site. can't be? But those flowing grey'''s....The Wildman! Mr Fred of Pac Rim fame. How cool is that? We high five and I continue the climb.

Fly like an Eagle! (Glenn T.)

At AS4 / mile 26 my legs are pretty tired. I know it's mostly a nice downhill 10k back to the finish but I am worried I won't have the gas to have fun. As I get to the nice downhill sections I was right. My legs are done. I just run 10 minute pace or so. I even have to walk a few of the small up sections. I am sad as it is so fun to bomb on this section. I wonder if it's age? I have this happen a few times this year. Even though my overall finish time is fine my legs are a bit weaker at the end. I get to the Lower Macleay Trail and two women even pass me. They are full of energy and really moving. Again, not many ever pass me at the end of a race.

Out into the open and under the bridge and the finish line is up a ahead. I cross in 6:11:52. My third slowest time (by nine minutes) in my four running's of this race. I feel pretty good at the end. No real low BP this time. I eat some soup and chat with my fellow runners.

I like running this race. It is fun to test yourself on your home course and to have the aid stations along the way. It is a very low key event which also suits me. I am surprised we don't get more locals out to run this one. Not sure why? Maybe because it is where we all train. I will probably be back next year if my schedule allows. Timberline Marathon is up next week. It will be a fun one as Gail and I will run it together.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mac Forest Wedding and 50k Too.

I am way late on posting this but in early May I was to run the Mac Forest 50k for the fifth time. This course usually kicks my butt and this year was no exception. I enjoy this course due to the diversity of terrain. You get to run on gravel roads, double wide and single track trails through many different challenges, super steep power walk climbs, quad crushing downhills and long gravel road climbs that you swear will never end.

There is no flat section at the Mac!

The fun this year was that April and Craig were getting married at mile 18 at the high point of the course at Dimple Hill. Gail wanted to go to the race and help out so she volunteered at that AS. The theme this year was the movie "Fletch" so Detour dressed up as a Doctor as many of the volunteers did. She and Pam Smith made up the "Consummation Tent" which included many items to help through that first nervous night! They did a great job and it was fun to check out.

April, the beautiful Bride!

As we blasted off at the start I did my usual trot at the back of the pack. This year I must have been fast as I wasn't dead last! I was treating this race as a training run as I wanted to spend some time at the Wedding. So a PR was not gonna happen today, but I was trying to get a good hill workout in and and finish feeling good. By mile 2 we are climbing good. I ran most but figured a good power walk would be smart. We roll out to the gravel downhill section for a few miles and I just crank the tunes and cruise. We come upon some of the new trail they cut and it was fun. I get to the first AS at mile 6 or so and just refill and plug on.

Grunting away at mile 16

The next climb up a gravel road I force my self to run. Then the big downhill comes, this section always trashes my quads for the day and did it again this day. I tried to be loose and flow with the fall line but it still takes it toll. When then get to hit Lovely Rita the power walk of the day then work our way through some old growth to AS 2. I feel good and begin the climb back out. I talk with many runners that this is their first 50k. Boy, I wouldn't want this to be my first 50k! It's a tough one!

As we hit some of the toughest single track I run with my arch Nemesis, Nancy. Actually I love Nancy but she is over 60 and kicked my butt last year at Waldo. I have so much respect for her that I have fun teasing her about it. We run/walk together for a few miles just so that we can chat. Soon I am on my own. I come upon a mud bog but just think my feet are muddy already so I will just power on through. "Oh Crap!" As I run through the mud my entire left shoe gets sucked off my foot. I hop along on one leg trying not to fall on get my sock covered in mud. I stay upright and get back to my shoe. It takes two hands to pull it out! I sit on the hill side and get my shoe back on. This whole event takes about 5 minutes, what a mess. Well Nancy passes me again, just like at Waldo. I get moving again and we power walk up to the gravel road that takes us to Dimple and the Wedding. I run this entire climb again but doesn't seem to take as long this year, but is just as hard.

Bret meets the Doc at Dimple (Craig T.)

As I get to Dimple it is one big party. I meet Gail in her scrubs and chat it up for quite a long time. The AS was so cool. I say high to AS Captain Craig (Aka LB) as he is wearing a bad mustache and a motorcycle helmet. I go down the meadow a bit and see the final minutes of the wedding. This is so cool. Run 18 miles to watch a wedding! I hang out some more, eat, drink, and socialize. I no longer am sweating and it is getting a bit cool. I finally leave after about 15 minutes of slacking off.

Fletch aka Craig (Craig T.)

Pam Smith meets the hotties I met on the trail (Craig T)

Now we the second big downhill of the day on Dan's trail. A nice 1500 foot drop or so of soft switchbacks. I just go easy again. Passing only a few folks. I say hi to Sean who is pacing his sister to her first 50k! I don't have a ton of speed but just try and stay steady. We soon begin the climb up the small park near town. This section is usually where I start to feel like crap. I do a bit today but I am running more than normal. I get to the mile 22 or so AS and Craig and April run in holding hands. So cool to get married then have to run 12 more miles then they have to go get married again in a Church so the friends that couldn't make it up to Dimple Hill can see them get married! Wow what a day!

The 3 artists show off their design (Craig T.)

"But Craig, we have a race to finish first!" (Craig T)

Inside look at the "Love Shack"(Craig T.)

So I start the climb out and I am feeling tired. I just walk most the ups now as I know the treading upper Horse Trail is coming that killed me last year. I hit the open meadow climb and I talk with one of the Bridesmaid's in April's wedding. We are chatting away and she says "well I better run. I still have to get my hair done before the second wedding at 5 pm and April is faster than me and might catch up!" Yikes! Now that is a little pressure on your race.

Well as I hit Upper Horse I power walk but I feel good enough this year to run the flats. Last year it seemed like this went on for 10 miles. This year it was tough but I got to the gravel road much quicker. I saw the same pile of rocks I sat on for 10 minutes last year feeling sorry for myself. This year I just waived and continued down to the last AS at mile 26 or so.

At the last AS I just refueled as usual. Chips, potatoes, and Coke. I didn't eat a ton this day but felt pretty energized. I do think I have reduced my calorie intake too much and need to up it back up now. Well down the gravel and across the road again for that last boring gravel road grinding climb. I say I want to run it all but I do end up walking a bit of it but do better than in the past. We get to the top and have a nice down section but my legs are done so I am only running a 10 minute pace now and 3 or 4 runners pace me. This usually doesn't happen much but so be it. I do get to run with the Groom, Craig for a few miles and we have a nice conversation about marriage, Western States and some other trail races. Glad I got this chance to chat.

The Groom

Finally we get to the last single track. A little grunt climb for a quarter mile or so. April has caught up so I let the two of them by. She reminds me to do that for her in other races we run. I laugh and say "only today for the Bride!". I am still pretty tired and can't really enjoy this last nice downhill so I just get 'er done. I get passed by a few with gas left and cheer them on. I hear the crowd cheer and I know that's the wedding party crossing the line so I know I only have a few hundred yards to go. I cross the bridge and finish in 6:57. It was my third fastest and third slowest time here. That means it was the middle run of my 5 finishes here. I probably could have had my second fastest but with the 20 minutes or so of breaks I took that was pretty good I thought.

I was tired at the finish but now wiped out. I ate some great soup, got my 5 year finishers mug and got a great hug from the wife. We chatted a bit with fellow runners and then headed home. This race is deceivingly hard. It always seems much longer than a 50k. None ultra friends always comment about how slow you were doing on a race that is only 5 miles longer than a marathon. I have run just a many marathons as ultras and there is no comparison to me. The hills in most trail 50k's are the hard part, not the distance. Well the race was fun and hard as usual, the weather was cool and perfect for running. This is a great race that kicks my butt every year but for some crazy reason I will probably try and run every time. Thanks Mac for another whoopin'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eugene Marathon Surprise

Gail and I had run the inaugural Eugene Marathon a few years back. It was a pretty good course but running it once was enough for me. But this year Gail's co-worker Mary was running her first Marathon there and had asked Gail to run it with her. The RD's had changed the finish from boring to pretty interesting by being able to finish on the famous Hayward field track. That was enough to get me to run it again, plus I really like the bike path part that runs along the Willamette River. So off we went to Eugene.

Mary and Gail ready to rock!

Up early on race day we drove over and met Mary and her mom only a few blocks from the start line. We got lucky as it was a rare blue sky and cool morning. We have had nothing but clouds and rain all Spring here in the Northwest. Over at the start we hung out and chatted with folks. The set up was good with not too long of lines for the blue boxes. I was in the A corral but wanted to run with Mary and Gail for the start so we got about half way into the pack to start. We did the Slug cheer then off we went about 5 minutes after 7 am.

"OK it is just a tad cool"

Fathead steals all the sun.

It was pretty crowded at first with probably 5,000 runners. This included all the half marathoners too. You couldn't get a good rhythm until about the 1 mile point. Somewhere around there I left the girls and pushed it a tad. The course winds through some Eugene neighborhoods then follows a two lane road with a slight upgrade.

By mile four I was thinking this might not be much fun today. I just didn't have a good feeling about running. I was running about 9:10 pace, not what I thought I might do. I didn't really have a goal for this race until I could see how I would feel for the day.

Mile five I picked up the pace to 8:45 or so and pretty much held this until mile 10 when the only bathroom break of the day was needed. This was right back at the start finish line so there was no waiting. From here on we cruised into Springfield for some more city street running. I held the 8:45 pace except the aid stations when i needed 20 seconds or so to fill my water bottles. I was only eating a half bag of chomps and maybe a gel every 45 minutes but was hydrating about 25 ounces an hour.

At the half point I was at 1:58, which 2:00 hours was my goal and then I would see how I felt if I should push it up on the second half. Well, I was feeling real good with no pains at all so I decided to just try and keep the 8:40 pace or so going for as long as I could. If I bonk I bonk.

We were headed back west out of Springfield towards the trails along the river. We went by Autzen stadium and there were quite a few folks out cheering so that was fun. Back on the river trail I was really feeling it. I cranked the old man tunes on the iPod and pushed on. I started doing the math and figured a sub 4 might just happen today. That was cool and unplanned event. I passed Darin and the guy he was pacing, had a few words and I motored on.

Mile 17 I noticed I slowed just a tad. My watch would show 8:50's or so for the next few miles. Mile 20 came and went and I felt good. As usual this is when you start seeing the folks that have begun walking. I always feel sad because I have been there many times before. It sucks when you think you will have the gas to run the entire distance but come to find out you just can't or don't want to.

Mile 24 I really started smelling the barn. No one had passed me in probably 15 miles at least. I was doing the passing. I picked the pace back up to 8:45 but a woman passed me and I tried to keep close but she had little faster legs than me. When mile 25 hit I still felt pretty good and kept the same pace. But I think it was about mile 25.5 when I said "I think I am ready to be done." My pace slowed down by only a few seconds. As we came close to Hayward field the crowds got pretty noisy. Sean was there yelling "Go Fatboyee!!!" That was fun. We turned onto the track and had 200 meters left. I poured it on which is rare for me as I usually just trot it across the finish line. But I wanted to make sure when I crossed the gun time still said 3 hours and something. Not 4 something.

So many great runners have been here.

So I crossed in 3:55, an 8:58 pace for the day and a 1:58/1:56 negative split which means I probably don't run fast enough at the start. But that's the way it is with me. I just hate running hard at the beginning. This was my third fastest marathon with my best being 3:52 at Portland two years ago. Im pretty happy with this, being 51 years old and weighing in at a chubby 225 pounds.

Sweet finish line crowd.

I waited for Mary and Gail and luckily I got them videoed crossing the line at 4:30. They were both all smiles and in fact ended up with the exact same time. It was fun to see someone run their first marathon again, just like Staci did last month at Vernonia. This is a huge accomplishment and anyone who can do this is a champion.

Gail's 54th and Mary's 1st marathon

The finish line food was pretty lame for big expensive marathon. I give them a 2 on after race refreshments...boring! The aid stations were all good and plenty. The first half of the course was generic but the last 10 miles are great. The course is basically flat except for some minor uphill at the start and a few 2 block grunt climbs early on. You do a couple of overpasses too. Fun run but probably wouldn't do it every year unless it got cheaper. But for a first marathon I think it's and excellent choice. I sure had fun. Especially when I had Fatboyee on my bib. Folks would start to yell my name then quietly stop and they became embarrassed. It is a fun prank to do now and then.

This is what it's all about.

Well I got McDonald Forest 50k up next and my hill legs have gone missin' I think. Should be an interesting day.