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.

1 comment:

olga said...

Bret, congrats on longest distance yet! I loved watching WS100 movie back when I was training for my first Western - it motivated me to get out there for sure. But you know what, it is not as scary and dramatic as they make it. I mean, it hard, and you need lots of mental power besides been in good shape, but if you put your mind to it - it is a possible dream!
Funny how our perception is different on Rumble course. I consider it basically flat (not that it makes it easier, after all this is why I don't run marathons, I am not a runner), and with a fantastic footing:) There are bits where some rocks on narrow trails involved, and yes, better to watch it, but by Midwest and Eastern standard we are spoiled in Pacific.

Way to go, and don't stop, it doesn't matter who wins or not, the beauty is in what you discover about yourself in each of these runs, and the people around.