Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hagg Lake Sun 50K

February in Western Oregon is supposed to be gloomy, rainy and cold. But this Saturday the weather Gods gave us sunshine and 50 degrees for the annual Hagg Lake 50K Trail Run. It was a bit chilly around 30 degrees at the start but with just a touch of fog that gave way to blue skies very quickly.

As usual I got to the race only 10 minutes before the start. I hadn't planned on that but I got a bit turned around in Hillsboro (guys way of saying lost!). I threw on my clothes, synced my GPS, got my bib and hit the biffy one last time. I had my usual PBJ and an apple for a pre-race meal, but one thing I forgot to do which was stupid was I forgot to drink anything other than coffee. Not sure how I forgot but I did.

The course starts out with a flat stretch for a 1/4 mile then up some pretty big climbs. So lots of walking for me right away. Back down the hill we come after a 1.5 mile turn. My quads actually started to hurt coming down the hill which was quite surprising to me. I had a tough recovery run last weekend of 11 miles after the previous weekends marathon. I was worried I may not be ready for this 50K and my quads seemed to be telling me that. As mentioned in previous posts my training has not be very much this winter. Most my long runs have been at races. So maybe I would pay the price on this day?

As we finally got back on the trail after about 3 miles I went by the spot the broke my ankle two years ago. (It got spit on each lap!) The trail was in great shape with very little mud to speak of. I was running up most the little hills and walking the big ones. On the road I would run a 9:20 pace or so. As we crossed the dam for the first time around mile 9 I was feeling real good. At the Dam aid station I saw Rick, who's bib I stole to get in this race. (Thanks buddy!) Back on the trail we went. The first part of this portion of the trail I really like. But also on this side there is allot of very narrow rutted single track which is kind of a pain for me to run in with size 13 shoes.

Back at the start at mile 17 I felt pretty good. I dumped my long sleeve shirt and headed for the second lap with just my short sleeve and hat. Amazing to run like this in February here. I stuck to my plan of drink two swigs of water every 10 minutes, a gel every 1/2 hour and 2 ecaps every hour. I took my first Ibuprofen at about 3 hours. The race was going good till about mile 21 or so. Then I started getting a bit light headed, nothing serious just what happens to me sometimes. I could tell my pace slowed way down and I also was getting fatigued. At mile 22 Rick asked how I was. "Tired" was what came to mind. Not exhausted but just tired. The last 5 miles was the real struggle today. Probably walked 35% of the time. I was sick of the sweetness of the Gels but still forced my self to suck one down every half hour. I had some chips at a couple of the aid stations but that was it. 3 runners I had passed around mile 24 were now passing me. Didn't make me feel too good but thats the way it goes.

It was great to see the sign that says "Pick it Up" " One mile to the finish". It helped to get the adrenaline flowing and I felt much better. I wanted to run all of the last mile but some of the little up hills were just a bit much. I crossed the finish in 6:16:47, which I think is a PR for me in the 50K by about 30 seconds. I know its pretty slow but this big fat-boyee will take it. It worked out to a 12:09 pace.

After the race I did the usual social stuff. I wanted to stay longer but I wasn't feeling too hot so I figured I better get to the car before I can't get to the car! Oh and thanks to Stacy for letting me convince her to give me a new Montrail hat. Last year Ronda was nice enough to give a "back of the packer" like me a door prize. I really liked that hat and 1 year later it was getting a little worn out and had shrunk do to numerous washings.

What I like most about this race is the variety. Its got hills, mud, single track, wide trails, open areas, even some road running. It has really got it all. This was a great event. Even if you are not an Ultra runner I would suggest coming out to run the 25K. It's good fun! I will be back again next year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Training Is Overrated!

Saturday morning Gail and I were discussing our long run for the weekend. Both us have been pretty lame about getting out in the cold and putting in some miles. We are lucky if we have been running more than a couple of times a week. Gail comes up with the idea "We can run the Valentine Marathon on Sunday." So we talked about it and decided it was a good way to have a lazy Saturday. "No need to run today because we are doing a marathon tomorrow."

We got up a tad late Sunday and made it to the start line only about 20 minutes before the gun, and we still had to register! Lots of Maniacs hanging around, Jim, Rob, "little Leslie" and many others. We crowded ourselves up to the back of the pack and assumed the aggressive start position. Bob Green was sick so they delayed the start by 5 minutes. This totally upset me. I knew I would not get my "race" mindset back. I have considered protesting to the RD but decided I would tough it out. BANG! The gun goes wait...someone just yelled "Go" I think. Well off we went. And as usual by the first quarter mile I was in last place. Only about 100 folks were out running the marathon, the half and the 10 miler. Just the size I like.

Gail and I ran together for a mile or so and then off I went. The weather was great, mid 40's cloudy and a bit of a breeze but no precip. I tried to chat with everyone I passed. Most seemed to be doing the half. I stayed with Sean's suggestion of taking a Gel every 1/2 hour. I felt pretty good but my mindset was that I was paying someone to make me run 26.2 miles, so speed wasn't really a concern. I was pretty much running 9:30's the first 6 miles or so and feeling pretty good.

At around mile 7 or so I was behind Leslie when this kid on a loud dirt bike goes ripping by us popping a wheelie at about 50 mph! She looks over her shoulder at me and slows down. "Is he going to terrorize us the entire race?" So she and I ran together for about 4 miles or so. She had a pretty amazing year in 2007 running 47 marathons! We had a good chat and was a good way to pass the time.

At the half turn around I had a time of around 2:07 which I was happy with. And I didn't drink as much coffee as usual before the race so I only had to take one stop in the weeds during the first half. After making the turn we had a cold breeze to run into. This lasted till about mile16. The temps were warming up and and my long and short sleeve shirts even started to feel a bit much.

I had very few pains this race. Just the usual butt/hamstring pain I have been fighting and my Plantar on my right foot. I popped a couple of IB's kept up the RFM. I kept slowly passing folks, some were the early starters some just struggling like we all have. I always try to be positive in every one I pass, either a "Good Morning" or "How's it going?" etc. As a few Ultra folks have told me, a smile helps your fellow runners as well as yourself.

Around mile 16 I kept thinking, "boy I bet I bonk hard today". With very little training and my last long run a month earlier at Redding I knew I would pay at some point in this race. But I kept on going at the 9:30 pace with the Gel every 1/2 hour, 2 Ecaps every hour and two swigs of my water bottle every 10 minutes. Mile 20 passed and I wasn't really tired but knew the last 5 miles up those easy hills would probably do me in.

At the aid station a mile 21 I stopped to fill my bottle. This is where you turn the corner and get a bit of a grade to climb as you head back the main highway. As I started running again it had felt like I had taken an hour rest. I just thought "wow, I feel good. This last 5 miles may not be so bad". So once I got to the top of the grade I pushed it a bit. Again I was slowly passing a few runners. I wondered where Jim Scheer was? He always is faster than me at the start but I usually catch up with him the last part of a race. Jim is amazing if you don't know him. He is 64 and in awesome shape. He has run over 250 marathons / Ultra's with some sub 3 hours in his prime speed years. And he is a great guy. We often will run for a few miles together in a race. I hate to say it but it was kind of my motivation to see if I could catch up with him today as he was a good 5 minutes ahead of me at the half. He was wearing hi Maniac shirt so the yellow would be easy to see. Every corner I went around I would wonder if that was him. Nope not yet just another runner. I kept pushing taking the tangent on every corner trying to make up some distance. Downhill I was running 8:20's which is super fast for me at this point in a marathon. I was not going to bonk today. This is awesome! Whoooo-hooo! I wish every race was like this!!

Around mile 24 I could see Jim in the distance. I never push at this point but today was different. I caught up to Jim just after mile 25. I tried to push him a bit but he was having a tough time. I chatted for a bit then off I went. I finished in 4:17:03 and felt very great. Today would have been a good Ultra day as I had gas still in the tank. I finished way ahead of what I expected to do. I was sure a 4:30 or so was in the cards for me. This was by far the best last 5 miles of a race I have ever done. If you read this blog you will notice I have said this about the previous two races too.

The person I think I have to thank most is Sean Meissner, he got me to try and take the Gels every 1/2 hour rather than 45 minutes or 1 hour as I was doing. I think I was just running out of fuel at the end of these runs rather than being too tired. Now if I just did a tad bit of training maybe some sub 4's would be in my future??? Training? What's that?

Next up is the Mud and 50 K's. See you all out there.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What? A 15K?

Yeah I know all my fellow marathon/Ultra friends. I am sure I have let you all down by running a...a....yeah...a...measly....15k! Gail and I went down to Salem today to run the Willamette Valley Road Runners Zena Road Race. It is North and West of Salem in the West hills. I have been having a hard time getting motivated this winter. Yeah I have done the Christmas Marathon, and yes the Redding marathon but my training has been very light. I don't even have any idea how much I have run since my website was shut down in early December. I have looked at others but just haven't transferred my data over. So not knowing how much I have run doesn't help with the motivation. So a few weeks ago I figured I would try and do some shorter runs to get me "juiced up" again.

Gail and I met my dad there before the race. My 73 year old father race walks and loves to win. Hope I have half the energy he has. Registration was nice and cheap at $10 day of race. No medals, no big awards, just some ribbons and light snacks at the finish.

This race isn't easy for sure. The first 2.5 miles are big time uphill. Just as much as any ultra. In an ultra I would have walked 80% of the first 3 miles for sure. But the fact it was only going to be 9.3 miles I figured I would gut it out. Now as you all know I am a big guy and this train starts "REAL" slow. I didn't break a 10 minute pace until 2.5 miles or so. After the big uphills they have real big downhills. I haven't done any speed work so the ol' legs wouldn't move too fast. The Garmin said 6:24 was my fastest pace on the steep downhills, not bad but not fast for how steep they were.

By mile 3 I was sub 10 for the race pace. The rest of the race was mostly rolling hills and was a challenge for sure. I remember why I hate short races! They hurt too much. Ultra's are so different, the pain is mental, emotional and fatigue. These races its lung and leg burn. No one passed me the entire race, but that isn't saying much as I start so slow.

My final time was 1:22 and change, it worked out to a 8:58 pace or so which made me very happy with all the hills. This was fun and it didn't take all day. Gail ended up at 1:33 which was much faster than she thought she would do.

This is my speed year. Last year was quantity. Next up is the Mud at The Hague, Hagg I mean. After that it may be the Pacific Rim 24 hour run. I am still not sure if I get that day off from work or not. I have no clue how long I can run but it will be a good test. Especially doing that loop after loop. Last year I just did the 50K then called it quits. I do want to find some 15K to 1/2 marathons to run this spring. The 1/2 used to be my favorite. Last year I never did any run shorter than a marathon. Should be a fun year if gut gets smaller than "San-Tee Claus!"