I was soooo looking forward to the McDonald Forest 50k Trail Run. This would be the third time I had run Mac. The first year I was rookie trail runner and finished in 7 hours. Last year I did really good and finished a half hour faster. So I was really confident I would do even better this year. The weather was perfect with blue skies and temps in the 50's at the start warming up to the mid 60's by the finish. The trails were a tad muddy in places but nothing to stress about for sure.
Prior to the start I chatted with some friends as usual. Got all set and headed out for the start. They banged the gong (huge bell for the start) and off I trotted. I was going to try and run more of the hills this year and not go super fast on the downhills. I thought this would be a good plan. The course starts out on a road for a mile or so then we end up on the trails. This course has a bit of everything, about half is on old logging roads and half on trail.
By mile 5 I passed the usual quick starters that run a slower pace than me. I chatted with folks then put on my ipod to try and get in a nice groove. My friend David and I kept trading places over the first bit of the race. He runs faster than me but also takes walking breaks.
Around mile 16 we start a long grind uphill on roads to the Dipple AS at mile 18. Last year I ran this entire section and I was going to do it this year too. For some reason it sure looked longer this year!! At the top I felt good but my legs were a bit fatigued. I got my drop bag and refueled. At this AS they always have a theme, last year it Scottish and they had free Scotch shots (blah!) but this year I don't remember the theme but they had made up White Russians (no not you Olga!) which have Vodka, Kahula and Cream. So I had one. Whooo Hooo! OK OK it was only about half the size of a tiny dixie cup but it was fun to do.
I was looking forward to the next section which I think they call "Dans Trail"? It is a nice wide soft trail that switch backs downhill. Dipple Hill is about at 1500 feet so were going to lose around a 1000 feet going down. Mac has a 6,700 elevation gain which is pretty big for only a 50k. I was cruising down the hill with the tunes cranked up having a blast. At the bottom we go flat for only a bit then its another climb (thats all you do here...up and down). At this point my legs were pretty tired (Mile 22 or so) so I was walking most uphills. By the AS at mile 24 I was dang tired. The climb out of the AS I felt pretty done. We then had some downhills and that perked me up again. Then we hit the big A** climb that killed me two years ago. My quads felt so finished. The steep sections I felt like I had zero climbing power. I would even put my hands on my quads to get up the steep sections. Many runners started to pass me in this section. This couple of mile climb was misery for me this day. I knew the logging road and its downhill was close but it took forever to get there. I got to the top and even had to rest for a bit. My upper back was killing me for some reason and my stomach was a bit restless. Last year I really moved on this section, this year I just waddled down the road.
I came into the last AS at around mile 27. I so wanted to sit down and rest. Food didn't look good so I skipped the goodies and pressed on. This next part is a few mile climb up more logging roads. Last year I ran most of it. This year it was a Slog on all the uphill sections. I did find someone to talk to for a bit and it raised my spirits. I now know why having a pacer is so nice, it takes your mind off things. Finally got to the downhill and I was not going to walk this. I trotted for the next mile or so passing a few more folks. We then hit the last trail section. This climb again killed me. My legs have never been this tired! I couldn't climb at all without almost going anaerobic in my breathing. I reached the top and the last few years I flew down this section. This time I just went slow,l even walked in some places. I know I only had a 1/2 mile or less to go my tank was dry. I heard the music and trotted across the bridge and the finish. 6:47 this year. Right in the middle of my last two years times.
I felt in really good shape for this race but I seem to be struggling a bit lately. I do have some medical issues I will share in the future but I don't think they would make a difference but who knows, its a new thing to me. I like Mac Forest and will run it next year. I think I just need better pacing in the first half so I got the gas to finish. I did feel like crap at the finish and so I quickly escaped to my car for the hour or so drive home. Its interesting that when I got home I took my blood pressure. Normally I am around 120/80. A couple hours after the race I was 106/68. I took it a few times and it took about 12 hours to get back to my usual rate. Maybe this is why I feel so light headed after a race of marathon or longer. Any one have any ideas or thoughts on this?
Well whats up next? I going to do the Forest Park 50k this weekend. Its the home course and I hope I don't get lost like last year! It's not an easy but it is a trail 50k with a few climbs in it for fun, but has about half the climb of Mac. I am running the Newport Marathon the week after that with my Slug Running group. We got a house at Newport so it should be a blast.