Wednesday, July 22, 2009

That S.O.B was nice this year. Or boy plays with camera during race.

The Siskiyou Out Back 50k was not such an SOB this year. And that's a good thing. Gail and I decided to fly down to Medford and avoid the long drive from Portland. We got in late Friday night but as with small airports it was easy to get the rental car and get to our hotel. We only got 5 hours sleep or so but that never seems to bother me the night before a race. We got up early as Gail was taking the 6 am early start. We made the nice drive up to the Mt. Ashland Ski area where the start was. Gail was off with the early group and I just hung around and talked to some friends.

At 7 off we went. David and I are were talking during the first 1/2 mile and we were already out of breath! The base elevation is at 6,300 feet so us flat landers were hurtin! But it was a beautiful morning with clear blue skies and a cool temp in the 50's or so. After running on the road for a bit we drop off onto the Pacific Crest Trail. This is such a nice section as you run through the trees for a bit then it opens up into a nice meadow. I brought my camera along so I was stopping numerous times to take some pictures.

I just seemed to cruise on this race. My plan was to use this as a training run for Waldo 100k and enjoy this great run. I was going to cruise the flats, float down the hills and push fairly hard on the up hills. I wanted to get some good up hill training in to build my confidence.

At about mile 5 or so we start the big downhill of the course. It is so much fun early on as its on nice soft tree lined trails. But since this is an out and back run (mostly) you know this is a "B*tch" of a section on the way back in. Around mile 8 or so we start an ugly climb up an old rocky road. This section is pretty boring and you walk for a few miles for sure.

Back into the woods we go and I am still feeling pretty good this day. I hit the half way point and see my friend David again. We both get into the 16 mile AS at the same time. I load up my ice bandanna with snow and eat some food. I spend about 5 minutes at this AS, the most by far this day. Both of us head up the last of the climb but I stop to take some more pictures. David yells "C'mon Henry lets move".

David Alavi

So off we go. At the high point of the course (around 7200') we cruise down another road for a nice down hill section. Soon we peel off to the "Red Rock" trail? I love this part. It's awesome single track with lots of rocks. I really like the technical sections. It keeps my mind off the pain. I love the drop offs, the narrow trails, the wild flowers in bloom and the awesome views.

(Photo by Tom Riley)
In this section last year around mile 19 I caught up to Gail. So I kept thinking it might happen again. But she was no where to be seen as I was passing many of the early starters around here again this year. I had one woman pass me here. She was a true mountain goat and was just flying down the hills. She was fun to watch and listen to with her southern accent. As I dropped into the AS at around mile 21 the guys were all dressed in dresses. It's just not right to see someone with a hairy back in a red spaghetti dress. (urp!) I gave them a hard time and grabbed the last of my gels from my drop bag. I was trying to drink more on this day as I still think I may not drink enough. But the joy of this stop was sucking down my Starbucks Double espresso and cream drink! This is my new favorite on the course. It goes down so nice and is a good mental pick up.

No wonder my stomach was upset!

Now came the hard part. This killer 4 to 5 mile climb. I just new I would walk it all but I was going to push fairly hard but not burn out and try and run it. Boy do you suck air up here! I talked with quite a few nice folks on this section. It's so fun to be out in the woods and strike up a conversation with a total stranger.

We broke out on the ridge and things it was a real mental uplift. A cool breeze was blowing up the ridge line and I could see the next AS a 1/2 mile away. I pushed and kept passing some slower folks. I breezed through this AS with just a water refill. I was using two bottles, one on a belt and one hand held. I know on the hot races 20 ounces of fluid will not be enough between aid stations for me. So I better get used to it.

We had a few little climbs from here on but I tried to run most but the very steep. I was getting pretty tired and just a tad of an upset gut. As I got into the last AS I thought we had 4 miles but the guy yelled only 2.7 miles to go. That was a real moral booster so I pushed it up a bit. I ran everything I could. At one point a runner and I were trading places back and forth. We chatted and he mentioned I must be a few years older than him. I said I turn 50 this year, he said "you guys are my hero's". That felt pretty darn good even tho gettin old ain't allot of fun.

I still kept looking for Gail, hoping she was alright. We dropped off the PCT onto the road and I started to walk a bit up the steep section. I was having a good feeling that Gail was not going to get passed by me, which is so awesome. We hit the flats and I ran it in the last 1/2 mile to the finish. I crossed the line in 6:07 which is a PR for me at SOB. I was dang happy with that time. Soon after I crossed we got a medal and some nice running socks. There was Gail smiling. Yeah! She did finish in front of me. She got in about 7:03 so just a few minutes in front of me with the early start.

We hung around for a few hours. They had some great after race food and drink. Gail also wanted to get her picture taking with Hal Koerner the winner of the Western States 100 mile race that we just watched a few weeks earlier. Plus she said something about him being easy on the eyes or something?:)

Hal and his fans

We drove down the mountain and took a quick shower at a truck stop, ate some lunch and then caught the 5:30 pm flight back to Portland. It was sure nice to be home at 7:30 and not be tired from the drive.

The two old guys. David and me.

Bret, Gail and Mt. Shasta.

Put SOB on your to do list. I will try and make it back every year. This run is so great!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flat but Hot Marathon

The Sauvie Island Marathon was on the 4th of July as usual. But this year it was on a weekend which was a bit strange. I have ran either the marathon or 1/2 for quite a few years, except last year while I was in Denmark.

This course advertises that it is very flat. Well that changed a bit this year as you don't do two loops around the course anymore but you do a 6 1/2 mile out and back then finish the original loop. It is a nice change, but for those that wanted flat this has some minor little climbs. They didn't bother me but may have been a pain to some. But overall this is a very flat-fast course.

I went into this as strictly a training run. My focus this year is to finish the Waldo 100k and this race was just another way to run with friends and get some good miles in. I wasn't going to try and push it at all as I didn't want to get hurt.

Many of my friends were running this day. It was fun to meet everyone and chat before and after the race. Gail wanted to run but was scheduled to work, then at the last minute early Saturday they called and said she didn't have to work. But the race was filled by that time.

The race started at 0645 which was nice because we would be done before it got real hot. Fellow Slug Tom decided to take the early start at 0615 (smart man). Abbe was running the 1/2 that started at 0700. Eric and I lined up for the 0645 regular start. It was chipped so no rush plus it was a small crowd of only a few hundred for the marathon. The 1/2 had like 2000 runners!

The gun goes off and Eric and I trot out near the back of the pack. Eric gets to be a Maniac today as it is his third marathon in 90 days. It is a clear cool morning for summer. As we run hundreds of cars are still trying to get to the parking lot. Glad we got here early!

We are just chatting and trotting at a 9:40 pace or so. I feel my usual stiff and slow for the first few miles. I drop off Eric and head to a blue shack to get rid of my cup of coffee as Eric continues. I get out and put on some tunes and catch Eric after a mile or so. As we head out the outback loop I see Katie our famous Cheerleader. It's always fun to see friends on the course. This area is nice and shady. It is already starting to warm up.

Eric has to make a stop like I did and I continue on. This was the last we ran together for the day. I just tried to run a 9:30 pace as I was looking to finish in a conservative 4:18. At the next AS I stopped and filled my bandanna with ice. I love this thing for hot days. You just get cool ice on your neck and cool water dripping down your back for hours. As it warmed up today I never felt hot the entire race. Everyone else said the heat got to them but for me I was the perfect temp.

With my tunes on and just a plan to cruise I was enjoying the run. Saying hello to all that I passed. I ran into Larry Macon, Mr. Marathon who did 105 marathons last year at age 63, super nice guy. I then caught up to Tom, he was hurting with some back problems but was a stud and finished the race while being very uncomfortable.

At mile 20 Detour was there smiling and waving. How cool, she had ran out 6 miles to run with me. Yeah she was a backwards Bandit this day. We ran for a few miles then at the AS it was a quick bottle refill and then out I went. Gail stayed in the AS for a bit and waved me on. So back on with the music and push on. By this time I was up to 9:15 pace and still felt real good. I was trying to hydrate about 30 to 50% more than usual due to the heat. It seemed to be working as I was feeling fine. My fastest miles of the race were the last 6.

The sun was up high now and many runners were starting to walk. By mile 23 I hardly saw anyone running. Many of the strong runners were already done as this is an easy course to PR on. I tried to give encouragement to those I pass but I know how tough it is for them right now. I had lots left in my gas tank but I still was not going to push. I tried to keep the same pace, just a good training run in the heat.

I crossed the line in 4:11 and change. I was very happy with that time as earlier in the race I figured I probably wouldn't even get a 4:20 in. This was marathon number 55, my old football number.

We hung out as all our friends finished. The heat got to everyone a bit today but all finished. I felt pretty darn good after this race. I refused to sit down for at least an hour and while standing I would pump my legs now and then. I got this from Lisa Bliss about how to keep your blood pressure from crashing post race. It seems to be helping. (Plus drinking coffee!!)

This weekend Gail and I head down to Ashland for the SOB 50k. This is a beautiful run on the PCT but the elevation always gives me fits (6 to 8,000') plus that damn climb from mile 21 to 26 always takes it toll on me. We are going to make a quick trip for this one. Fly down at 8 pm on Friday and fly back at 5:30 pm on Saturday. No time for sightseeing on this one.