Tuesday, July 13, 2010

That hill is an SOB!

The Siskiyou Outback 50k trail run is a great course. It has a variety of terrain, great aid stations, elevation between 6 and 7,000 feet and that frickin' hill. (more on the hill later) Gail and I couldn't get our flights to work out so we did the 4+ hour drive thing to Ashland the day before the race. We got to see our daughter at the farm she works at in Grants Pass so it really worked out for the best to drive.

Gail was is still coming back from her injury so she was dropping to the 15k. I was still doing the 50k and taking the normal start at 7 am. The group seemed small this year but everyone looked fast. By far I was the biggest thing at the start line! "Hey man! Don't you know old, tall, fat guys aren't supposed to run 30 miles in the woods? Go home and drink beer or something." That's kind of the way I feel at these races. Just a tad out of place. :) But I gave Gail our pre-start kiss and punched my stop watch and off we went. As I have said her a ka-gillion times I am slow at the start. But here I was way slow. This fast-ees took off and I was a 100 yards behind by the 1/4 mile mark. Gail even commented she could see this big guy all dressed in black with the red bandanna plodding along. Well at about the half mile point two runners are standing over a guy sitting on the ground. I guess he blacked out and went down pretty hard. I talked to someone later and he walked back to the start on his own. Scary stuff.

Well we hit the PCT at the one mile point and I follow an older gent for the first 3 miles. I finally over take him and move into second to last place! The trail is nice, a bit more mud in places due to our late spring snows melting. My goal here is just to trot. I ran the marathon 6 days earlier so I assumed a PR wouldn't be in the cards. I wanted to be strong at the finish, not die on the course and just run smooth and easy. I need to work on my hydration and eating. Trying to really nail that down.

As I ran along I seemed to be quite alone. I caught a few runners in the first 13 miles but not many for sure. Around the 13 mile point we hit quite a bit of snow. It was no problem but amazing to have that much around this time of year. I hit the road that pushes up to the high half way point AS. I took my time here, using the facilities, putting snow in my bandanna, refueling etc. I probably took 10 minutes here. Time was not my goal today.

Some sweet meadows to run through!

Up the hill we went on the road. Then the downhill section on the gravel road which always seems like a waste to me. We worked so hard going up now we go hard down these steeps. I wish it would be gentle single track down but thats just the way it is. We then drop onto the Red Mountain loop at mile 18 which is my favorite part of the course. You gets some very good views, technical rocky running and some beautiful meadows. Some areas have nearly straight down drops. No tripping allowed here! On the climbs here I start to feel a bit tired. My quads spoke to me by mile 3 but nothing serious, just that they were fatigued. I again stopped for more snow to refill and rub on me to cool down. The temps now were about 80. I was sweating a ton but not feeling overheated at all. The big downhill section here I used to fly down. This year I was no faster than the flats. I was tired for sure but not feeling bad. I missed the fun of bombing this section. "Training run, training run" , thats what I kept telling my self. This is all for Waldo!

Some steep drops in places.

As I got to the water station at mile 21 or so I dreaded the next section. We had some up but then got the flats where I could run again. At the next AS I take a break. Get my drop bag, have a Starbucks Double shot, sit down and cool off for a few. I know the killer part of the course is next. I am in no hurry. I get up and head out. Once the climb starts I chat with a woman from Corvallis who is doing her first Ultra. I tell her this is the big one. I don't think she believed me at first. But soon she understands this climb that goes on forever. I decided to stick behind her. We chat and keep each other going. We are doing 23 minute miles and still sucking air! This is so not fun. It just keeps going on forever it seems. Finally reaching the top we are now a group of 3 and we all let out some screams of joy. A slow trot takes us the half mile or so to the mile 26 AS.

Some of the "ups".

I refill with water and plop a Nuun tablet in. I have been drinking this all day at probably 25 to 30 ounces an hour. My gut feels good. I am not eating a ton but probably only 4 gels by this point, a few Shot Rocks and a couple of hard snacks. Much less eating than I have done compared to last year. I worry I am not getting the calories but my stomach feels better. As we go out I know the hard part is over. Corvallis wants to keep up and we both agree on a potty break. I pull away from her on the running sections and kind of feel bad as we helped each other on that climb. Soon I see her! "Hey Detour!" I shout. It's Gail. She has run out to meet me after her 15k. We hook up about 4.8 miles from the finish. This is cool.

This last 4 miles is nice to run. Some little walk sections but mostly I just trot. I don't even think I will break 7 hours today. Kind of sad. Last year I ran a 6:05. I know its a training run but its hard to be this slow. We finally get to the road section, one mile to go. I walk most the up but do trot a bit. Onto the flat pavement and Gail lets me go. I feel good but tired of course. I cross the line to cheers at 7:08. One hour slower than last year and a PW for the course.

I walk it off for 20 minutes or so. Talking with Gail, Dr. T and some others. I feel pretty good, just a tad light headed. I avoid the heavy foods and just snack a bit. It is a gorgeous, warm day with awesome views from the Mt Ashland Ski Area parking lot.

I am sad I couldn't race today but that's the plan. In two weeks at the PCT 50 miler it will be the same deal. Get the miles, feel good and look for the goal of the Waldo finish in late August. This 6 day period I got almost 80 miles in. Now you big time Ultra runners that are my friends that read this will find it hard to believe but that is the most miles I have ever ran in one week. Yep that's it. Most miles ever. I think for a big guy like me too many miles will really hurt me over time. But with my goal I am going to push it this summer. Hopefully no more injuries will happen. Right now most my uphills my left knee still hurts (2 months+ now), my right ankle hurts when I walk but running on it is fine (strange?). But the good news is for the last two races my head and gut are super after the race. That has been one of my big demons ever since my first marathon 10 years ago. All I can say for now is it has to be the Nuun. I think the carbonation and electrolytes keep my stomach from getting upset. But I also have cut down on the gels and calories. We shall see how all this works out.

Well next up is the PCT 50m in two weeks. My legs are really swollen now. Especially my right one which has had this edema for the last 8 months or so. Coach Nikki had me run 8 miles the day after the race. It was tough but I did walk a bit and ran super slow with Gail. She changed my plan and gave two days of total rest. But the next two days are 10 milers and then 18 and 15 on Saturday and Sunday. So if anyone wants to go long this weekend drop me an email.

It's all about Waldo Bret and getting that stupid hat.

Hmm...I know Gail never gets tired of Hal! (2009)


olga said...

I never get tired of Hal either:) Take care of thata knee. Weren't you going for sub-11 at PCT for WS qual? Also, still waiting on a mistery Nikki...

Sarah said...

It was great seeing Gail on the trail but I'm sorry I missed you! I fully expected you to pass me up so I'm glad to hear you were just taking it easy and not blowing up. Your training sounds right on track....just don't overdo!

For the first time at PCT, we're driving up the morning of instead of spending the night. And Marc is doing the regular start. So you and Marc can duke it out on the same time frame this year. :)

Susan Kokesh said...

Great job Bret! SOB is a tough course. Way to finish. Waldo will rock for you this year. :)