Sunday, August 16, 2009
Haulin' Aspen 09
This is such a great race in so many ways. As I have matured as a trail runner I enjoy this more each year. I have now run the marathon and half marathon twice each. At first I thought this was too hard of a course. Now I find it a fun and challenging.
Gail and Eric freezing at the start.
Gail, Eric and I drove over to Bend the night before. Due to the lack of parking you have to take a shuttle from a few miles away to the start. So it would have been a pain to drive over that morning We got to the shuttle lot at around 6 am and then got over to the start line around 6:15 for the 7 am start. It was a typical cool central Oregon morning with the sun not quite in sight yet. This was our buddy Eric's first race a new Marathon Maniac so the 3 of us dressed in "colors" of the club for the day. Most the time I don't wear my Maniac outfit on trail races but this day was to celebrate Eric's great accomplishment.
As we waited for the start we realized there were no blue little houses. Oops...the guy forgot to deliver them. Soon he arrived and all the nervous bladder runners were relieved. Gail and I were down the hill doing some minor things when we heard the starter counting down. Another Oops...we were late. So up the hill we ran and crossed the start line a little behind schedule. "Hey its a long race, we will make it up." I guess that is a sign this is becoming a habit when you don't even care if you are ready to go when the gun goes off.
My view from the start of every race. LAST!
The race starts up Shevlin Park road for about a mile. It is the only pavement we will run on this day. Of course I am last. To this day I am still amazed how slow I am at the start and how fast everyone else is. The race starts at about 3300 feet so my sea level lungs are puffing a bit too. Gail and I run together for a bit chatting away, she forgot her gloves so I give her mine (What a husband ya know.) We then catch up to Hitch (Eric) and the 3 of us talk. I stop and take pictures of us. (My new thing is to carry my camera). We turn back towards the start line and enter the trail. Lots of dust and the ground is very dry. I cough a bit but press on as I start to warm up. Around mile 1.5 or so I start to leave Eric and Gail and begin to pass a few folks. We get back to the start line, cross the creek and start a nice little climb up a ridge line and join an old fire/jeep trail. I run everything. My goal in this race was to run up every hill, no matter how steep it is. I need the hill training for the Waldo 100k so I will push the hills, cruise the flats and downhills.
We come to AS 2 and hop onto a very rocky road. A bit of down hill then the climb starts. This is about mile 3.5 or so and from now on its up till mile 14. Nothing downhill. I used to walk most all this section with sporadic bits of running. But today is training. I run it all. It actually feels good to run it. I go slow but I do run. A few miles up the road I run into Sean Meisner, the stud who just won the Canadian Death Race or whatever its called. I gouge him about not being out here but he says "I have Waldo in two weeks" Well "So do I!" I say back. Problem is he will run the race, I will probably walk over a third of it. OK I give him a break after a quick handshake.
I am carrying two bottles again for training. Plus I don't have to stop at too many aid stations. I made one boo-boo today. I some how lost half my Gels so I only have 5 gels for the day. So I must ration them a bit. I also drink the Gatorade they have at the AS's so that I get some more calories there.
Around mile 11 is when the battle of this race starts. We hit some hills that go up...and I mean up. Probably 80% of the runners walk this section. I look up and can't imagine I can run this entire thing. I just put my head down, take baby steps and continue to run. The up just keeps going and going. Just when you thinks its over you go around another corner and up again. We are treated to great views of Mt. Bachelor and back towards Bend on this cool and sunny morning. I pass probably 20 to 30 runners in this section.
The Big climb on the course. Goes on forever.
Finally the road begins to level and I see the AS ahead. This is the mile 14.2 AS that drops you back on the trail. I look at my GPS watch and we are at 5,750 feet. So about a 2,500 foot climb. Sure seems higher than that. I refill my bottles and head down the hill. Basically from here on out its all single track with mostly switchbacks and 98% downhill. Time to have some fun!!! The first part is pretty steep so I let my legs fly but don't push. I do not want an injury here. It is so pretty in the mostly Pine forest. One runner just flies by me. He is having way too much fun. He and I end up passing back and forth till the last few miles. He is the only runner to pass me this day and I end up ahead of him by 10 minutes or so at the finish.
Not allot to say about the last 12 miles but that I felt real good. That is the nice thing about doing 50 mile and 50k races this summer. Marathons actually seem like 1/2 marathons used to. Not easy but not hard for sure. I took it easy on the real rocky and technical sections, not wanting to get banged up. My goal was to beat time of two years ago at 4:53. It looked like that was going to be real easy to do today. In the real steep rocky section I ran into a fellow Maniac who had fallen. I stopped and talked with him. He said he was fine but would have to go real slow. I saw no blood so I put my hand on his shoulder and wished him well. At the bottom of this section we drop back into the valley where the park is. It is now a gradually descent on nice wide trail to the finish about 2.5 miles away. I smell the barn and pick up the pace. I pass 4 or 5 runners, some might be from the half but I don't care. I got gas and I am going to push. It is fun to go fast after 24 miles, what a change.
I cross the finish in 4:34:05, a great time for me and a PR by 20 minutes on this course. And yep I did run the entire trail. That was my goal and that is what I was happiest about. I walked around for a bit, got my cool finishers medal and the hat. (I like the hat). Then started eating. They have some of the best finisher food with nice pasta, salad, beer and other goodies. I also chat with other Maniacs and runners and just have a good social time.
At around 5:23 Gail comes running in. No blood showing and a nice smile on her face. As usual she enjoyed her self on this course even though she had fallen so bad last year. This is a tough course and its a great time for her. A few minutes later Eric crosses and he gets the big cheer. We all hang for an hour or so and eat away. The weather has warmed up nicely and the blue sky makes it a great day.
I really like this course. Each year I like it more. It's fun to run a trail race and have it only 26 miles. You don't get wiped out like you do on most trail races that are 50k or more. It is so perfect to work your butt off for the first 14 miles then have 12 miles of downhill bliss to the finish. My quads were pretty happy with me this day. Put this one on your to do list.
First Trail Marathon complete for Eric.
Hitch, Detour and Fat-Boyee.