Saturday morning was my second running of the Macdonald Forest 50K. Last year this race killed me as I died in the hills around mile 17. You gain around 6,800 feet of elevation and still end up where you started at. In 2007 Rick and I ran it together and I finished just over 7 hours. Which was pretty slow for a 50k. This year I clocked in at 6:31 which made me pretty darn happy.
The race started promptly at 0800. The early starters took off at 0700. I was pretty nervous for this race as the hills just killed me last year. I got to the start about 40 minutes prior which was just about right. I didn't know many people personally at the start except for Olga, Steve and Sarah. Many faces I recognized but being a back of the packer many don't know me except for the occasional glance that says "that guy is too tall and too fat to be doing this!"
They rang the bell and off we went. By the 1/4 mile point I was in my customary last place. I even stopped to take leak and tighten my shoelaces. We ran on a road for about a mile then dropped into a nice little uphill trail. I was running up most of the hills except the very steep ones or till I got winded. I finally caught some folks about mile 3 or so. I followed along as we all walked a steep climb. We dumped out into a nice downhill in a clear cut area and I scooted by a few then onto a road for a nice 1 or so downhill. I passed more. I was going to count how many folks I passed during the race but I lost count just over 30. Only one person I passed ever got me back, so I felt pretty good about my pace.
I was very forceful about 'Gel-ing" every 1/2 hour and two gulps of water every 10 minutes. Two e-caps every hour. At Peterson Ridge I died with no help from my lack of proper hydration. At each aid station I would have 1 or 2 potato chips and a little piece of boiled potato. I only used water, no sports drink. The volunteers at the aid station were great as they came out to meet you and take your bottle and fill it while you looked over the goodies.
Around mile 9 we the "lovely Rita" trail. Really Rita sucks! She is a very steep climb and then a very steep downhill. The climbs didn't effect me much but the downhills were putting a slight stress on the quads. I just tried to keep them loose yet still be stable enough not to trip on roots etc. Around mile 12 or so we drop into an awesome trail called "Extendo". This was a blast. A great switchback downhill that I just flew down. Last year I remember having to come back up nearly the same way and was worried how far this trail was dropping. I got to the aid station and we headed up a different way which didn't seem bad at all. Soon we had a big climb up to the final logging road the hits the 18 mile aid station at Dimple Hill. Last year I walked this entire 2+ miles. This year I kept running. I put on my Ipod with my 70's and 80's rock and pushed my way up. The hill this year didn't seem as steep? So I was gonna run this whole thing no matter how steep it got! I got to the aid station on top on Dimple and they were all dressed up like the characters in the movie Braveheart. It was very cool. I got my drop bad and resupplied my Gel stash. They were giving out shots of Scotch! And runners were taking them! Amazing! So off I went down this next big 1,000 foot drop or so. The trail was great and a perfect pitch. I was averaging about a 7:30 pace or so which is great for me at mile 20.
We then popped up another hill. This one had tons of poison oak. Luckily none of it was hanging over the trail. At the aid station around mile 22 or so Meghan was working there as she did last year. I congratulated her on making it to the Olympic Marathon Trails and she said it was so sweet, especially at 48! Drank some coke and eat chips and off I climbed up the hill. I took a swig from my water bottle and "Yuck!" HEED! ugh! Back down the hill and Meghan apologized and refilled me with water. I couple of women then caught up to me and we chatted for the next mile or so. I told them what to expect next. Big ass climb, nice downhill road into the final aid station, then a 3 mile climb, a steep 1/4 mile climb then scream down Dan's trail to the finish.
Our climb up the steep part is where last year Rick caught me and was never to be seen again. I really died here last year. This year was hard but I just kept walking and trotted the flats on the switch backs. When we hit the road it was covered with that huge rock gravel. I flew down it at around a 8:10 pace for a few miles but it wasn't easy on the feet for sure. As I pulled into the last aid station I knew I was nearly done. My stomach started to get a bit upset. We had about 5 miles to go at this point. I had some coke again, burped, and off I went. It is a climb for a few miles and I passed a few more folks. Soon the woman that I left in the hills caught me as she ran most of this part. I just ran and walked as needed. Soon she was out of sight. She was to be the only one I passed that passed me back. We crested the hill and was just cruising, chatting with folks as I passed them. We hit Dan's trail and had a steep climb for a bit. I was done now. Not happy. Felt my queasy stomach and my energy level was done. I hadn't gel-ed in an hour so the bonk was close. I figured an hour earlier I had fueled well most of the day so I could probably make it the last hour without more gel. Last year when I hit the downhill portion I was reckless out of control flying down the hill. This year was a bit more controlled but I still had fun. A mile later there was the finish line. I crossed in 6:31, which was almost 30 minutes faster than last year. I didn't hang around for very long as I didn't know very many people. Plus I wasn't feeling all that great.
I am very happy with this race. Especially after I had died on the course at Peterson last month. This was a pretty fun run today. The downhills were a blast. My tunes went on about mile 15 and really helped keep me going at times. Wish I could do every Ultra or Marathon like this. Next up in Forest Park 50k in two weeks. Its a fun run on the home course. I will post some pics of this race when they get posted.