Well Rick and I ran the Mac Forest 50K yesterday. The title of this post comes from seeing Rick behind me at mile 22 or so. I turned around and that is what he said. Was pretty funny as we were both hurtin pretty good.
Rick and I drove to Corvallis to the race, getting there around 7am. All was well organized and we picked up our packets and got ready to run. I love the low key starts of Ultras, its like someone yells go and off we run. They had probably 150 runners at the start. As usual by the 1/2 mile mark I was in last place. Takes a while for this big train to get moving and it sure doesn't do much for your self confidence to be way behind everyone. But I know how I run and slowly I would move up. The course runs through the hills of the east side of the Oregon Coast Range. We started off on gravel road but soon hit trails. The entire run was on double, single track and gravel roads. By mile 1.5 we hit the first hill. Oh yeah did I mention this course has hills? I wrote some notes on how high the climbs were, how many and the mile location. I kept this in my pocket for reference. I think there were 7 climbs or so. The highest being 850 feet and the smallest about 400 feet. Some were extremely steep and some just gradual that seem like mountains towards the end. I walked nearly every climb. In fact I bet I walked close to half the course.
The trails were in great shape, only a few spots of minor mud. We had some creeks to jump and just a few logs to jump over. The course was well marked and I never felt like I had made a wrong turn. We had great views of downtown Corvallis, Philomath and the Coast mountains. You ran through a great diversity of old growth timber, new, clear cuts, meadows and others. You could really see the vegetation change depending on elevation and location. But as I have found on most these trail runs you gotta watch your feet all the time or thy tree root shall reach up and smack thee down! Which neither Rick or I did the entire day. Ultra running really teaches you to pick up your feet. No more marathon shuffling for me!
By mile 18 I was pretty much done for the day. The early hills put me away early. Also the fact that I had only ran twice in the last two weeks due to my mysterious foot pain, I was not at my best fitness level for sure. Around mile 20 my stomach started doing the "I am going to return to you what you gave me" routine. One of the few times I actually thought I might toss my cookies on a run. I had been drinking poweraid then water. Taking Gels every hour and grabbing handfuls of snacks at every aid station. Everything from taters to M&M's.
Rick caught just after mile 22 or so. We walked and ran for 10 minutes or so then he wanted to run some more so off he went. We went up hill for another mile or so then had a great downhill run on some gravel road to the last aid station. I was running 8:30 pace or faster and still never saw Rick till I got to the aid station and he was just heading out. I refueled, filled my bottle and off I went. We then had the last major climb of the course, probably 2 miles up hill. I walked it all and never saw Rick again till the finish. I figured we were about 2.6 miles from the finish and we had a great downhill. I felt real good now and gave it all I had, running 8:20's or less passing a couple of runners along the way. Then we turned off the road back onto trails, and it was uphill as I thought we may have been done with the hills by now, but nooooooo! It only went up for a 1/2 mile or so then big downhills. I really poured it on thinking the finish was only 1.5 miles or so. This was the best part of the race for me. I was feeling good now, nice single track trail (some double) and I was flying! I didn't care if I fell or not I was going to press this part with all I had. I was running sub 7:00 in most parts and somewhat out of control but boy was it fun! Then I saw the finish area from the woods. I crossed a small bridge and ran across the line. They handed me a nice Montrail water bottle with water in it! Rick said he had just finished about two minutes earlier.
The post race was nice with plenty to eat and drink and a Bluegrass band playing some music. Plus they gave us a big bottle of custom made beer just for this race. I didn't feel too bad so we hung around for 45 minutes or so. The drive home was great and Rick and I stopped in Monmouth for our favorite recovery food-COFFEE!! It sure works.
I ended up finishing in 7:00:50, Rick was a minute or two ahead of me. That was about a 13:30 pace for me. Seems slow but with all the walking and messing around at the aid stations I am very happy with this time. Again to me, Ultras seem more like a war. I just have to survive them. I will never be competitive with others only myself. Half way through this race I again said I was never going to do another Ultra again, it just is not fun to do. One minute after I crossed the finish I was thinking, "yeah I might do the Forest Park 50K next weekend?" Would someone please have me committed!
(Stay tuned, pictures posted later this week.)