Monday, April 30, 2007

Eugene Marathon

Three of the Slugs went south for the inaugural Eugene Marathon on Sunday. I had previously ran probably 75% of this course during my overnights in Eugene in the last 15 years. They had about 1800 marathoners and 2200 half-marathon runners signed up for the race, so I would call this one a medium size.

Gail and I saved some money and spent the night at Chez Motel Zeechs in Springfield. That is a whole other story! Saturday we went to the expo to get our bibs. Gail wanted to do the race so bad she signed up twice! So she wore a chip on each shoelace so she could log this as running two marathons! The expo was pretty bland, the usual stuff. We bailed and met Rick for dinner at.....I know you are waiting......IHOP! We carbo loaded with pancakes. Most the other places were pretty crowded so we just had breakfast for dinner.

Sunday morning we awoke at 5am. Rick was picking us up at 5:45 for the trip to the parking lot and then shuttle to the start. We got to the start about 45 minutes before the race and had no problems using the PAJ's. We lined up for the start along side Hayward Field. Many runners were saying they were feeling the presence of Pre. All I could feel was I probably should head back to the PAJ's one more time!

So off we go! The first part of the race was crowded but not real bad, you could run your pace by the 1/2 mile point as we ran around the area south of the U of O campus. The 3 of us ran together for the first mile or so then I got a downhill and kind of coasted ahead. We never saw each other during the race as there was really no out and back. The course continued in some rolling hills and city streets till mile 6 where we crossed the Willamette river and headed over to the North side trails and headed east to Springfield. I started running with a 62 year old guy named Richard from Florida (formally Boston) that is running all 50 states. He like to chat and was doing Galloway (walk every mile) so he would catch up to me and we chatted for about 5 miles this way. Nice guy who has some amazing stories. Was a great way to pass the time plus he ran a nice pace. We averaged right at 9:05 pace. He faded at some point and I was on my own again. As we headed back westbound towards the trails I chatted with a couple of runners, one from Kelowna and another woman who wanted to break 4 hours someday. Had some nice talks and it kind of broke up the race.

As we passed about mile 17 it was in the area of the Valley River Inn. I have ran these bike trails so many times I felt like I knew every turn so well. It was a good feeling because you knew how far you had to go in your mind. My pace stayed very constant through mile 20 as we crossed Oswesso bridge to head back to the barn on the south side of the river. (Map of my run on Google) I was blessed today with a nice pace and good legs. My breathing was as relaxed as it had ever been. Between mile 2 and mile 21 my pace was never slower than 9:26 or faster than 8:58 (which I ran at mile 20!) Plus I only had to hit the bushes once at mile 7.

My hips were getting tight around mile 18 or so(IT band), my legs ached but nothing unusual so I tried to keep th
e pace going. My breathing always becomes more labored towards the high teens low 2o mile area. Thats when I know the wall is near. I thought I might get to break 4 hours as I was running so easy but around mile 18 I figured I was probably just going to get a sub 4:10 which was great. As my last marathon was 4:22.

I was passing many runners between mile 21 and 24 but I pretty much started to bonk at mile 24. It wasn't a bad one but my energy level just dried up, maybe I didn't take enough calories? I ate 4 chocolate Gu's and half my bottle of power aid, but I drank tons of water at each aid station. I also took 12 endurolytes, so I think I did ok.

At mile 24 I ran 9:52 pace so the battle started here. It was a 23 mile beautiful race with blue skies and 55 degrees or so. Now it was a war. The last 3 miles today is where I start to wonder why I do this. It hurts but never really bad today. This is when you just get it done.

Mile 25 was at 10:24 pace, the slowest of the race. I come upon a crowd of people leaning over a girl with the name Brittany on her bib. She is probably 20 to 23 years old, passed out cold on the trail. People are try to help her so I run on by. We start to run around the outside of Autzen Stadium and a few minutes later I hear the sirens of the ambulance for Brittany.

The battle c
ontinues as are back on the roads with traffic all around. I love running the last few miles sniffin' car exhaust! I know the end is near but have no real push left. Quite a few fans are cheering you on and very few say "Its just around the corner!" Speaking of fans, these were great in Eugene. Lots of smiles, lots of "Go Bret" and "Go Marathon Maniac", so it made the race fun in that respect.

Mile 26 I finish in 10:17 pace and I feel I could do more but am happy the end is close. Lots of fans now on the side of the road. I hear a gal yell "Go Maniac!" then a guy follows up with the same. He and I make eye contact and its Sean Messiner who was the Race Director of my 60K two weeks before. He goes "Hey Bret!" and comes charging out to the course with a big smile. I reply with the "Hey Sean! I will see you in 3 weeks at the Mac!" (Macdonald 50K trail run in Corvallis) That was a great energy boost to me, even though I was only a quarter mile from the finish or so. Sean is a fast runner who is great guy. He is way out of my league but always takes the time to chat with you at a race. Plus I forgot my drop bags at his race and he emailed me to say he would bring to me at the next race.

As we turn the
corner to a downhill few hundred yards to the finish I pick up the pace as the crowds are pretty loud here. It was a good feeling to look up and see 4:06 on the time. I cross the line and get my space blanket, make the cheerleader put the medal over my head, grab a water and head to the food area. I finish in 4:06:15 my third best marathon time after Minneapolis and Portland. I ended up averaging a 9:20 pace and burn about 6400 calories.

I feel pretty good after the race, just a tad nauseous. I eat some great chips and a cookie and wait for Detour and Pole. I talk to other Maniacs and cheer other racers in. Rick comes in about 15 minutes later. Then Gail about 20 minutes after that. We all liked the course and thought the fan support was great. They did a great job for a first time marathon, I was very surprised. For those of you wanting to run this one I highly recommend it. Its mostly flat with some hills for spice, but is very scenic. This was my 18th marathon/ultra and I would probably run this one again. Its nice to do them close to home! I will post pictures later this week.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Olathe Pix

Some photo's of the Slugs at Olathe, Kansas Marathon. Couple are of us at the finish and one of me out on the old Navy base with some aircraft in the background.

Why Me?

I love this picture. These are the two race directors at Hagg Lake Mudfest er....50K this year. Wonder why I am liking these Ultra's so much? I am thinking its the run/walk, just finish the damn thing mentality I have with it. Where as a marathon I am pushing harder. Maybe its less pain to go farther but slower? Yeah....I know...I am just a wuss!

Had a nice 10 mile run around LO yesterday. Did the hills to above the Lake and back down again. Also ran my new favorite spot, the Iron Mountain trails. It was good and muddy so my new Coos shoes got broken in for Eugene next week. I was going to run Wildwood but I figured with the Portland Marathon training team running it and all the rain we had, it would be just too much mud.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Well at least I look like him

Yesterday I went for a nice four mile trot around the 'hood' in my new Yellow and Green Pre shoes. They are loud I tell ya. But they will be fun to wear next weekend in Duckland. Legs felt real good and I was hoping to run today but think I will be lazy and just go long on Saturday. Gail is gone all weekend so I guess running is what I shall be doing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

OK I'm Ready

Well it's been 3 days since my longest Ultra yet. I said I might not run this far again? As usual...Wrong! I am ready to go, IT band feeling better so I think I will go for a trot tomorrow before I head to work.

I am really looking forward to the Eugene Marathon. I used to run there so much. It will be great to get back on the trails and bike paths. I hope it is not too crowded, that course is not very wide. I even have my Yellow and Green Nike "Pre's" ready to go. Gail is running too of course. (It is her idea to run this)

Next race after Eugene is the McDonald 50K in Corvallis on May 19th? Sounds tough to me in the hills, but sure looks like great scenery.

Not sure what I will do this weekend as Gail is going to the beach. I am thinking of running Wildwood with the Portland Marathon running group or maybe run the Goat Mountain Gallop 1/2 marathon. Not sure which is calling me yet.

Monday, April 16, 2007

No Romance Here!

On Saturday I watched a DVD I have on the Western States 100 trail race. It was to help motivate me for my first 60K on Sunday. I watched in awe of the runners and what they have to endure in that race over the Sierra's in Calee-Forn-ee-ah. I told Gail there was a certain "romance" to the run. She just smiled.

Well I drove over to Bend Saturday night as Gail and fellow Slug Rick didn't get in the Peterson Ridge Rumble 60K in Sisters, OR. I was pretty nervous the day before the race and slept ok the night before. The race started at the Sisters Middle School so it was great to have a place to stay warm and no port-a-johns. The sky was blue and the temps in the upper 20's so just a tad chilly. I wore two dri-fits, a vest and my gloves. It was just the right temp for the first 15 miles or so. I met a couple of Maniac's before the race. "Hippo" a great guy who is a big time Ultra runner and #229 (one number behind me on the Maniac list) named Kate. We had a nice chat before the race.

60k Start at Peterson

About 70 of us lined up for the normal start at 8am. 25 runners took the early start an hour before the rest of us. Sean the RD said "Go!" and off we went in low key ultra marthon style. (At ultras I have discovered they don't give out medals or ribbons for finishing.) I ran at the back of the pack which is my style. By a 1/4 mile it was just me and a guy from Eugene and woman from Jefferson. We chatted and they all wished me luck on running my farthest distance ever. By a mile I could barely see the main pack. I felt pretty dejected and thought maybe I was way over my head in running this far. After a few miles I pulled away from my new friends and could only see a bright yellow jacket in front of me to follow. We ran on gravel roads for a while then turned off on to some wide trail in the woods. I was running a 10 min/mile pace or so and was breathing much harder than usual. The 3,000 foot starting elevation was harder than I expected. I just wanted to cruise for the first 5 miles or so and find a nice breathing race and comfortable pace. Soon one the runners passed me and I was now second from last in the race for probably 7 or 8 miles. Again I was concerned that maybe I shouldn't be here. We ran along numerous little streams and the woods were great to run in. Soon it turned to single track trails with loose rocks on the path and rocks and roots protruding everywhere. Big ol' toe stubbers they were! The run was all gradual up hill til about mile 11 I would guess. Aid stations varied, from 5 miles between to 8 or so.
At one point on the race a couple of guys were back tracking, saying they had gotten turned around and missed the trail somewhere. The turns etc were only marked by yellow ribbons in the trees or on the ground. I missed a turn a couple of times and often had to stop and look to find the next route. At some points in this race I would go almost an hour and not see one person! Soon we were really deep in the woods, following the most beautiful stream that was surrounded by huge smooth rocks. We were about 50 feet above the stream on very narrow trail that was muddy and slippery. Soon we came to the "Grunt". A vertical rock hill that you climb up not run. Loose sharp rocks were all over it and I was breathing anaerobically just pulling my self up the 1/4 mile incline. At the top I walked until I got my breath back. The run was pretty much downhill now for the next 7 miles or so.

When I went through aid stations I took Gail's advice and tried to keep moving forward after grabbing handfuls of snacks. At mile 11 I ate 2/3rds of my pbj sandwich I had left in my drop bag. I also drank a mix of power aid and water that I had left in the 3 aid stations. they were serving a drink I hadn't had before. From mile 17 or so to 21 it was mostly flat on county roads then we went back into the woods. Then it hit! At mile 23 or so we started up some hills on a rocky gravel road that just wouldn't stop. I started feeling like crap so I walked probably 80% of the hills up to the aid station at mile 30. This was the low point of the course for me. I really thought about dropping out. My water bottle had run dry and I was thinking the next aid station must be close. But i said "screw it! I will walk the course if I have too!" They say every Ultra has its highs and lows, this was my low emotionally for the day.

At the mile 30 aid station these two women in there mid 50's that dressed almost the same were smiling and laughing saying what a great time they were having. Off they went as I got my bottle refilled and dropped some more clothes. Soon I caught them and they were chatting up a storm. They were talking about the views of the mountains, which were amazing. It looked like you could reach out and touch the 3 Sisters. The trail got very technical and downhill for a few miles. I would stumble about every 2 miles and think this was gonna be the one I did the face plant on! I never did fall but boy did I come close numerous times!

The rest of the race was very very technical running, tight turns lots of rocks and very narrow trails. It would open up now and then but then got tight again till about 3 miles from the finish. My left knee IT band was killing me by this time. Going down hill was very painful with every swing of my knee. Surprisingly most other stuff felt good, except my ever constant battle with being nauseous on long runs. By the last aid stations at mile 34 I had figured I had just 3.2 miles to go. As they filled my bottle I ate some potato chips. They guy then said you only have 4. 5 miles to go. I nearly died....that extra mile was gonna kill me. I had to empty the rocks out of my shoes and as I did I had one other runner pass me. By this time I figured I had 10 to 15 runners behind me. Off I went and I caught the woman that passed me in a mile or so. Then passed probably 4 others, some who were injured and were just gutting it out to get to the finish by walking. After mile 32 I got my rhythm back and ran most all the rest of the race, only walking up hills and when I felt totally exhausted.

The finish was very cool. I thought we would come out on the road and have to run a mile or so to get back to the school. Soon I saw a kid on the road in one of those orange vests. He stopped traffic (1 car!) and I crossed the road directly to the school! I was on cloud nine now. Then someone yelled "All you have to do is enter the stadium and run one lap around the track!" Ah....crap....I dont want to run one frickin' lap, jeez! But as I entered the track about 20 other finishers started cheering me on and oh did that feel great!

I crossed the finishing line in 8 hours 4 minutes and 24 seconds. 8 hours! 8 hours! I never dreamed that someday I would run 8 hours!!! I ended up at 75th out of 99 runners. After crossing the line we got socks, not a t shirt. Which is actually pretty cool. They had some left over burgers and I had a plain one which tasted really great. I drank some water and headed off to my car to get some clothes and shower. Within 30 minutes I was on the road for the 3 hour drive back home. I stopped and got a triple Americano to get me through the trip.

After the race I said I will not do this distance again. Now I don't know, the next day you always lose sight of the pain and anguish of the long run. I was thinking about what I ate on this run. Guess about 6 to 7 water bottles of liquid, maybe less. One gu, 3 handfulls of potato chips, two bags of sport beans, 3/4's of a pbj sandwich, half a peanut bar, and I think that was it? I should have eaten more but i took around 22 electrolyte tabs so that kept me pretty balanced mentally I think.

This race was tough. It was much harder than I thought it would be, not the distance but the course. But the fact I felt lost much of the time, took some concentration on where I go next. The fact I had to watch my feet 0ver 90% of this run or you would fall. These two items kept you mentally engaged. You didn't just run a flat road and think of your pain. This race wouldn't allow that or you would end up in the sage brush or rocks. The final distance is unknown. It should have been 37.3 miles or so. But Sean the RD said it was over 38 but other blogs I have looked at tonight say 39. I figured I will call it 38.5. My GPS shows 39.42 miles but it seems to run just a tad long in the woods.

Well whats next. Its the Eugene marathon in two weeks which should be a blast. Would I run this race again? Yeah probably. Did it hurt? Yep as much as any but not as much as Vegas. Why do I do this? I don't really know. I'm not fast. I will never win any thing. It just seems to call at me. With that, I think I will call it a night.

Oh I will post some pictures later this week so check back!

Oh btw, there was no romance in this run today! Gail was right.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Da Weekend

Gail had to work this weekend so I did a couple runs on my own. I bought some new trail shoes, Brooks Adrenaline's. First non-Nike running shoes I have owned in probably 18 years. Helps to have a retired Nike spouse in the household!
Did about 6.5 miles on some new trails I found here in LO Saturday. Felt real good after a rocky start.
Sunday I went down to Lief (Forrest Park) and ran 11.25 miles on my own. It was pretty busy for Easter but was fun to get out and run. My legs got real tired about half way through the run. Makes me real nervous about next weeks Rumble / Ultra in Sisters. I have never run 37 miles before so it will be a new benchmark. Plus the altitude makes me worry even more. My only goal is just to "get 'er done".

Monday, April 2, 2007

Olathe Marathon, Hagg Lake and others

Haven't posted in a long time. Ran the Olathe, Kansas Marathon on Saturday with Rick and Gail. Had a good run with a time of 4:25. Was my first negative split. I never really bonked on this one. I think the Ultras I have been doing seemed to help. The course was nice, mostly country roads and some gradual hills. It was the windiest I have ever run in though (20mph or so). This was race number 16 for me. 13 marathons and 3 ultras now.

Two weeks ago Rick and I ran the Pacific Rim Run, a 24 hours race in Longview, WA. We just did a 50K and called it quits in 6:20. The course was a 1 mile loop in a nice park. Felt good till about mile 27 or so.

In late February I ran the Hagg Lake 50K in some huge rain and mud. This was tough with lots of walking due to the mud. I did this one in about 7:25 I think. More of a battle with nature than a run. This is the course that busted my ankle last year so it was great to get er done!

In two weeks I will be running a trail ultra in Sisters, OR. It will be my first 60K. Should be interesting to see how I do at that distance.

The end of April brings the 1st annual Eugene Marathon. I have run probably 80% of that course so will be a nice reunion!

Only injury I have lately is on the outside of my left knee. It hurts when I swing my knee. Gail says it sounds like the IT band problem she had a year ago. Still have tendinitis in my right knee but I have learned to run through that.

I have found these long runs have me gaining weight again. Do to the fact that I am not training as much as I go into recovery mode after the race and rest the week before. I have to get to the gym more!