Sunday, July 15, 2007
Siskiyou Out Back, yeah right. I prefer SOB! Actually it was a pretty good run for me. By far the best scenery of any Ultra I have run.
Gail and I drove down to MFR (Medford in pilot talk) friday night and stayed in Ashland. We got up early on Saturday and were at the start at the Mt. Ashland parking lota good hour before the race. Did I ever say I love the parking at Ultra's? It is so great to park 100 yards from the start of the race. Not like these Mega-Marthon's where you are miles away. Gail didn't have the miles under her belt to do the 50K so she was going to run the 15K that started an hour and a half after my race. Packet pickup was a breeze, once again so nice compared to the forced "day before pick ups" of marathons. I ran into a few folks I know before the race, David from Eugene and Hippo from Vancouver. We had a nice chat then walked over to the start. Go was yelled and off we went. Weather was great with a high clouds and mid 50's.
We wound around some forest service roads then dropped in on the the Pacific Coast Trail. Ran across a great meadow with the beginning of awesome views. Of course the first mile I was my usual second from the last. Fat-Boyee's are not fast starters but look out when the momentum starts! As we wound around the mountains there was one big descent that I flew down for about 4 miles. My quads felt great but my calves were barking dogs. I just hoped that I wouldn't have to return back up this way later.
The Aid Stations were great with the usual Ultra snacks. My plan was again to run with water only, take 3 E-Caps an hour and one Gu. Then grab a few chips and other items and most aid stations after the 10 mile point. I seem to be doing better with out the sports drinks anymore but getting my salts from the Endurolytes.
I was walking most the uphill sections and picking up the pace on all the downhills. With all my nagging injuries the only one that I felt all day was the right foot pain and that was only a 2 on 1 to 10 scale. My knee pain went away at the 1/2 mile point and has never returned. My hip/ IT band never did show up.
The first 15 miles was a breeze and the turn around is at a great site with fantastic views. Am I going on about these views? Yes because I wanted to just stop and take in all the sites. But with the trail ultras if you don't watch the path every second the ground will rise up and smite thee in the nose! We then ran on some roads for a few miles and I was concerned I may have missed a turn off at some point. But I soon looked back and saw David a few hundred yards back on my tail and I knew then I was on the trail or we were both lost. We then went on to a trail that traversed what I think was Big Red Mountain. This was some great single track and became pretty rocky in places. I started catching some of the early starters in this area.
Later we crossed the side of some mountains with extreme drop offs on the left. The course became pretty technical with tons of loose rocks, plus it was a downhill grade. This is where I was going a tad too fast and tripped. Luckily it was downhill so my feet had time to get back underneath me and I didn't fly off into the abyss. That would have been a real ugly place to fall!
As we wound back to the last quarter of the course my worst fear came true. We did have climb back up that downgrade that I flew down early in the race. This was at about mile 22 and I was getting pretty tired at this point. As I walked up this steep trail I started to experience some new adventures. Like, breathing really wild and crazy, sort of like anaerobic breathing and along with the 6500 foot elevation kicking my butt. I just couldn't catch my breath. Slowly runners passed me hear, probably 6 or 7 of them. Some asked how I was doing with a serious look. I just said "I am here and I am OK". During this 5 mile climb I was walking at a 25 minute per mile pace at times. Which is sad for me as I walk pretty good clip up hills. I tried to work on normalizing my breathing and it seemed to work for a while. I ended up having to step off the trail and stop and rest for 30 seconds or so. (I never stop at ultras except the aid staions). This was all new to me. Soon I started getting light headed. I was imagining if I collapsed here that it would be such a pain for the rescue crew to get me out of this location. Oh how the mind wanders on these runs. I began thinking about my food intake. At the last aid station I didn't eat much except for some chips and watermelon. It had been almost 2 hours since my last Gu. I was drinking allot of water but at the high dry altitude I felt it was needed. I did not want to eat that Gu. My stomach said no way. I sucked it down as my brain won out over my gut. This trail just never wanted to stop going up but soon my energy level seemed to go up and I could at least walk without weaving too much.
At the Willamette Meridian aid station at mile 26.2 I sat down and took the rocks and garbage out of my shoes. I probably sat for 4 or 5 minutes and I really think it helped me to finish. I probably ran 65% of the last 5 miles as most of it was downhill. With about 1.5 miles to go I spotted Gail running towards me on the trail. It was great to see her as it gave a good boost but I have found I get kind of emotional at this point in the race when I see someone close to me. She was a good pacer though as she ran behind me quietly and just asked a couple of questions. I had run with one hand held bottle and my large bottle on my belt. She asked if I wanted to give her my belt. I said "no" but then said sure. It was more of a relief to get it off than I had expected it to be. The finish was great as it was a gradual downhill. The had a decent crowd still hanging around cheering so it was fun to come down the chute. I finished in 6:38. This was my 3rd fastest 50K only behind the 24 hour run in Longview and the Forest Park 50K. It was good to be done and I did not have my often collapse in the 20 minutes after the race.
I collected my finishers beer mug. (Which is very cool. Way better than any medal.) I went and changed my shirt and Gail and I went back to have a hot lunch they were serving. They had no coffee (my post race savior drink) but I did have two 12 ounce Mountain Dews and a couple of waters. Hippo, Gail and I chatted for a good while and David came by and I met his wife. (David left me for good about mile 20 or so) I met Karen Wiggins too. We all had a good time chatting about our successes and the days failures.
Gail and I hoped in the Explorer and headed back towards L.O. In Ashland we hit Dutch brothers coffee and I had a medium mocha frap, and a small coffee. Gail got a small frap and I ended up drinking half of hers. Have I ever mentioned I like coffee???? We had a great ride home chatting all the way with just one food stop. Did I ever tell you that I have the greatest woman in the world? Who else gets a beautiful gal who is smart, funny and likes to run. It makes such a difference when she is involved in these races. I talk to so many who don't have the spouse involved in this crazy hobby. I think the Maniac's called it POSF. (Pissed off spousal factor.) Well anyway since she is now a college graduate she will be getting up to marathon shape in another few weeks. Did I mention how lucky I am??
Well overall this was a great race. I saw things most folks will never see. Run places most runners will never go. And drove my body to places it has never been (That damn Gu depleted hill!) Towards the end of the race I said "screw that PCT 50 miler! I am doing the 50K!" At the end of the race I told Hippo and David the same thing. They said wait a few days and we all know how true that is. I just could not imagine running another 20 miles. I have done 38 before and could have done that this day too but another 20??? I just don't know. Stay tuned as two weeks from now you and I will know my decision.