Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whaaa Haa-pened?

Mac Forest. Yep. Mac Forest. I always think I am ready for it. Six months or so after the last one I think about the course. It isn't that hard. It has a few hills. Then about half way into the race, BOOM! The Jesse Ventura Body Slam to the mat! Dazed and confused I wonder where my energy went, or my quads, or my gut or as this year, my head. Don't ever under estimate "The Power of the Mac, Luke".

So as I am driving in the early morning hours towards Corvallis I am sad again. No Gail with me. This was to be her first attempt at the McDonald Forest 50k. But she is still not up to speed. She has no gas in her tank right now and could not imagine running a race on the trails. So again I travel alone to get my trail fix.

I get there in time to chat with a few folks. It's a nice sunny cool morning. I put my race number on upside down which I don't realize until later. It says 08 but is supposed to be 80. So all day long I confuse the aid station folks. I decide again to use a waist belt as I have lost interest in carrying a bottle on real long runs. I am bringing few gels as I am planning on eating at the AS rather than packing a ton this time. Solid food is more my goal now on Ultras.

Nice pond near the start.

We get a short talk and then about 200 of us take off down the road. I am dead last as usual. I stop and take some pictures and soon everyone is almost out of sight. I like it this way. I hate the crowd on a single track trail the first few miles. I like to run alone or with one or two others. Anymore than that and I might as well run the Portland waterfront at noon on a weekday.

Rare happy time for me this day

Once we get on the trails I have a chance to test my knee. It has been a major pain for about two weeks. I have not been able to go upstairs with out holding on to the railing. Going down or most flats are fine, but up is knife like sharp pain. I ran 7 miles two days prior in San Francisco and after 5 miles or so it didn't hurt. So I am hoping for that here. As I push up the hill every step shoots pain in my knee. I have had lots of knee problems but nothing like this. So I transfer some push off to my good/right leg. I am now officially worried.

Such great trails here.

Soon I start to see the first runner I will pass. My leg still hurts. I ease by and chat for a bit as usual. We keep going up. I walk the steep and run the easy ups. I pass a few more runners as we approach the top, probably a 600 foot climb or so. We drop out into a clear cut and the sun is shining strong. I ease down the hill with caution. I don't want to pressure the knee so I just go at a medium pace. After awhile we are back on the gravel road and have a nice downhill for a mile or so. Again I just go even pace.

Nice view with the clear cut newly planted.

As we climb into AS one my leg is feeling better I think. This is around 7 miles. We start a big climb out of the AS and all feels good in the knee. This is cool I think. Next we drop back down a small old road. This is big down and usually I fly here, but not today. At the bottom its up we go for another good climb. This is what Mac is. No flat, just up and down all the time.

Common roads we run here.

Around mile nine I notice my quads feel a bit tired. Strange as I have done some hill work and had some of my biggest mileage months every the last two months. Maybe it was the 7 mile run two days ago? I usually take at least 3 days off prior to a race. As we wind up "lovely rita" (I hate you Rita!) I chat with a woman from Southern Oregon with a Southern accent. We have a great chat and it helps to cover up the heavy breathing on this big uphill hike. This whole area is by far my favorite section of the race. Lots of single and double track trails. Its tough but fun.

The push to the top of Dimple Hill.

I pass more runners, which many are the early starters. I run into Dr. T and his dad and we chat for a bit. The course has only a tad of mud. I would hate this place if it was really raining. Boy it would be a tough one.

We now hit the big climb up Dimple Hill, which tops out at 1500 feet. So we get about a 1100 foot climb. At the top the "Where's Waldo 100k" folks have the body builder theme going on. The gummi bears say "human growth hormone" and they have many other performance enhancing drugs for us to take. (Just kidding! Jeez!) It is all good for a laugh. Sad thing is, I am not laughing. I am tired. I take some more S caps, drink my Starbucks Double Shot, eat half my cheese and turkey sandwich and head down the downhill. I don't even feel like running. I just feel...blah....blah.

View of Corvallis around mile 20

I get to the bottom and walk the first uphill I come to. The fun is gone. Now its work. I wish I had gas. I take a gel. I drink some more. I am more thirsty than usual so I think maybe I have taken too many salt tabs. I walk allot now. I notice the huge amounts of poison oak, it is everywhere off the trail but you are fine as long as you stay on the path. I only run downhills now. I get into AS at mile 22 or so and eat a bit and head out. Now many folks are passing me. I am the slug now. I get a little running in on the mile or so downhills before the horse trail climb. This trail kills me every year and this year was no different. As we climb from about 300 feet up to 1300 or so I bet I walk all but 500 yards or so. I have a major pity party. I am going to quit this. I will DNF at the last AS. My head is light but my gut is fine. I just don't want to do this. How many races do I have to say this???? I mean really. Why do something you don't like? Why do I even run besides the fact I would he obese if I didn't? If I can walk it in it will be about 8 miles. Oh that will take forever! These all things I think.

Ugly, cranky, very white boy!

I finally get to the top of the hill where it dumps out onto a gravel road. I see a big pile of rocks and I go over and sit on it. For 5 minutes I sit. People pass, I rest. It's downhill now but I don't care. I am so done with this crap. I get up. I walk. I trot. I walk. I hate life. I trot. I mumble. I walk. Then I hear the noise of the 26.8 mile AS. So I trot a bit. They hoot and holler as usual. I eat a bit and they ask how I am. I say "I'm tired!" So they suggest I sit down for a bit. I do not argue with them! I chat with a few guys I have seen out on the course at other races. They keep feeding me Dixie cups of Coke. I have 4 or so. Finally after about 15 to 20 minutes I get up. I do feel a tad better. So I waddle out thinking I will just walk the last 4.8 miles to the finish.

The final uphill push at mile 27.

I cross the road and push up the gravel logging road. This gentle climb will be a 1.5 miles or so I think. I am on autopilot now. I just walk. Nothing else. Just walk. Finally at the top I look forward to a trot. Not bad...I continue to trot. As it goes downhill I enjoy the run, well sort of. At least I don't hate it anymore. Soon I hit the trail again. We have one last uphill climb. Then a 1.5 mile screaming downhill. I just cruise. No pushing today. I pass a few and one passes me. I finally hear the finish line crowd. I cross the line in 7:31:18. My worst/slowest time ever for any 50k I have ever done. 31 minutes slower than my Mac time in 2007. An hour slower than two years ago.

As I walk around I don't really feel real bad. My gut is usually making me dizzy but I don't have that. I go and eat some pasta and cookies. It tastes good. I am thirsty and drink a few cans of Mango juice. I don't know what hit me today. Maybe I didn't eat enough? But my gut felt so much better. Maybe too much salt? Maybe the 7 mile run the other day? Maybe cause I am 50 and weigh almost as much as I ever have. All these questions.

On my drive home I feel real good. I eat more cookies. I open the sunroof. I enjoy life. I worked hard to get ready for this race. I don't have the time to train like many I know. I have other interests other than the running. But it is one of my passions. Ask me why I couldn't tell you. It is just part of me I guess. And yes I will run again. And of course it will suck. I do know I need to evaluate what is the max distance I should run. I just think anything over 35 miles or so is really hard for me on the trails. So maybe I should stop at the 50k mark. I never want to get to the point where I don't like it. The year or so I was running a ton of half marathons I think was the most enjoyable running of my life. I love that distance. You can push hard but still have to be in cruise mode. You get an awesome workout but you are not exhausted at the finish. Maybe that is where I need to be? But I know I will always be out there.