Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forest "Home Course" Park 50k

Late May was the date for this year's Forest Park 50k. This is my home course and I know it well. I wanted to push a bit on this race and see how I could do. I knew I still had some tired climbing legs from Mac Forest 2 weeks ago but this course doesn't have the killer climbs that others do. It is not flat for sure but they don't go on for more than a mile or so.

The race was a bit smaller this year because for some reason the wonderful city of Portland would not let them have a 10k this year. I surely do not get how the City of Portland operates. Well so we had a 20k and the 50k only. The RD also said they were not allowed to put ribbons on the course by the City also. Relax Bret....deep breath....relax. OK so the course actually ended up being pretty well marked with flower and signs.

Off we went and the usual traffic jams go on for the first few miles of climbing. I chat with a woman from Wisconsin on vacation, then another tags on behind me and the 3 of us have a nice chat. Let see, are you a better ultra runner after having children? Is the pain worse? These were the topics of the day. We get to the first AS which is also the turn point for the 20k runners. I refuel and say goodbye to my trail buddies. Down we go into the canyon which is a fun run. I remember in my early running days I thought this was a huge drop, its actually only 500 feet or so.

I am pretty much alone now. Running most everything, even the ups. The trail is nice but there are a few good mud sections to add some fun. We drop off Wildwood on to Saltzman for the climb up to AS 2 at mile 13 or so. I run the entire road up. Down the Firelane and back on to WW for a few miles. Life is good, tunes are fun, weather is cloudy and upper 50's, just perfect. The climb up Trillium gets the HR up but then we have the nice section on top to cruise. I talk with a few more runners here that are starting to feel the pain of the distance. Then the fun begins, down the Oil pipeline trail. Glenn T is at the bottom taking hilarious pictures of all of us nut cases. I stay off in the woods off the beaten path trying to stay upright. I have to grab a tree to slow down and I swing around in the air. Lucky me I never fell here this year, but I have in previous years.

The Tree stopped my rapid descent! (All photo by Glenn T.)

Well we are now on the Leif Road which we cruise on for about 1 mile or so. My Achilles is just killing me now. I mean I have to stop running. I think, "I'm done! This hurts so much." I probably didn't tear it but I sure strained/sprained it for sure. I start thinking how many weeks I will be off running. Every step is agony. I slow down and it gets a bit better but some points it actually shoots pain so bad that I stop running. This goes on for about 2 to 3 miles. We hit the Firelane and begin the big grunt climb back up to the AS 2/3 and about mile 20. I get to top and feel pretty good. Eat some food and drink Coke and off I go.

Going down Salzman I feel pretty good, my leg barely hurt now which is sure strange. I am running 8:15 or so down this hill. I get on WW and I notice a couple a few hundred yards behind me. Nope, they are not going to pass. So I run on. As I hit the switchbacks I notice they get closer. Crap, don't go faster just do your own pace. But nooooooo! I pick up the pace, pushing pretty hard for me at mile 22 to 24. They finally catch me. I ask if they want by? He says "No you are doing a great pace". Oh great, that means I am going to fast. Well, finally on the climb up the canyon towards mile 26 AS they go by and I am getting tired. But out of the woods I see such a site. can't be? But those flowing grey'''s....The Wildman! Mr Fred of Pac Rim fame. How cool is that? We high five and I continue the climb.

Fly like an Eagle! (Glenn T.)

At AS4 / mile 26 my legs are pretty tired. I know it's mostly a nice downhill 10k back to the finish but I am worried I won't have the gas to have fun. As I get to the nice downhill sections I was right. My legs are done. I just run 10 minute pace or so. I even have to walk a few of the small up sections. I am sad as it is so fun to bomb on this section. I wonder if it's age? I have this happen a few times this year. Even though my overall finish time is fine my legs are a bit weaker at the end. I get to the Lower Macleay Trail and two women even pass me. They are full of energy and really moving. Again, not many ever pass me at the end of a race.

Out into the open and under the bridge and the finish line is up a ahead. I cross in 6:11:52. My third slowest time (by nine minutes) in my four running's of this race. I feel pretty good at the end. No real low BP this time. I eat some soup and chat with my fellow runners.

I like running this race. It is fun to test yourself on your home course and to have the aid stations along the way. It is a very low key event which also suits me. I am surprised we don't get more locals out to run this one. Not sure why? Maybe because it is where we all train. I will probably be back next year if my schedule allows. Timberline Marathon is up next week. It will be a fun one as Gail and I will run it together.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mac Forest Wedding and 50k Too.

I am way late on posting this but in early May I was to run the Mac Forest 50k for the fifth time. This course usually kicks my butt and this year was no exception. I enjoy this course due to the diversity of terrain. You get to run on gravel roads, double wide and single track trails through many different challenges, super steep power walk climbs, quad crushing downhills and long gravel road climbs that you swear will never end.

There is no flat section at the Mac!

The fun this year was that April and Craig were getting married at mile 18 at the high point of the course at Dimple Hill. Gail wanted to go to the race and help out so she volunteered at that AS. The theme this year was the movie "Fletch" so Detour dressed up as a Doctor as many of the volunteers did. She and Pam Smith made up the "Consummation Tent" which included many items to help through that first nervous night! They did a great job and it was fun to check out.

April, the beautiful Bride!

As we blasted off at the start I did my usual trot at the back of the pack. This year I must have been fast as I wasn't dead last! I was treating this race as a training run as I wanted to spend some time at the Wedding. So a PR was not gonna happen today, but I was trying to get a good hill workout in and and finish feeling good. By mile 2 we are climbing good. I ran most but figured a good power walk would be smart. We roll out to the gravel downhill section for a few miles and I just crank the tunes and cruise. We come upon some of the new trail they cut and it was fun. I get to the first AS at mile 6 or so and just refill and plug on.

Grunting away at mile 16

The next climb up a gravel road I force my self to run. Then the big downhill comes, this section always trashes my quads for the day and did it again this day. I tried to be loose and flow with the fall line but it still takes it toll. When then get to hit Lovely Rita the power walk of the day then work our way through some old growth to AS 2. I feel good and begin the climb back out. I talk with many runners that this is their first 50k. Boy, I wouldn't want this to be my first 50k! It's a tough one!

As we hit some of the toughest single track I run with my arch Nemesis, Nancy. Actually I love Nancy but she is over 60 and kicked my butt last year at Waldo. I have so much respect for her that I have fun teasing her about it. We run/walk together for a few miles just so that we can chat. Soon I am on my own. I come upon a mud bog but just think my feet are muddy already so I will just power on through. "Oh Crap!" As I run through the mud my entire left shoe gets sucked off my foot. I hop along on one leg trying not to fall on get my sock covered in mud. I stay upright and get back to my shoe. It takes two hands to pull it out! I sit on the hill side and get my shoe back on. This whole event takes about 5 minutes, what a mess. Well Nancy passes me again, just like at Waldo. I get moving again and we power walk up to the gravel road that takes us to Dimple and the Wedding. I run this entire climb again but doesn't seem to take as long this year, but is just as hard.

Bret meets the Doc at Dimple (Craig T.)

As I get to Dimple it is one big party. I meet Gail in her scrubs and chat it up for quite a long time. The AS was so cool. I say high to AS Captain Craig (Aka LB) as he is wearing a bad mustache and a motorcycle helmet. I go down the meadow a bit and see the final minutes of the wedding. This is so cool. Run 18 miles to watch a wedding! I hang out some more, eat, drink, and socialize. I no longer am sweating and it is getting a bit cool. I finally leave after about 15 minutes of slacking off.

Fletch aka Craig (Craig T.)

Pam Smith meets the hotties I met on the trail (Craig T)

Now we the second big downhill of the day on Dan's trail. A nice 1500 foot drop or so of soft switchbacks. I just go easy again. Passing only a few folks. I say hi to Sean who is pacing his sister to her first 50k! I don't have a ton of speed but just try and stay steady. We soon begin the climb up the small park near town. This section is usually where I start to feel like crap. I do a bit today but I am running more than normal. I get to the mile 22 or so AS and Craig and April run in holding hands. So cool to get married then have to run 12 more miles then they have to go get married again in a Church so the friends that couldn't make it up to Dimple Hill can see them get married! Wow what a day!

The 3 artists show off their design (Craig T.)

"But Craig, we have a race to finish first!" (Craig T)

Inside look at the "Love Shack"(Craig T.)

So I start the climb out and I am feeling tired. I just walk most the ups now as I know the treading upper Horse Trail is coming that killed me last year. I hit the open meadow climb and I talk with one of the Bridesmaid's in April's wedding. We are chatting away and she says "well I better run. I still have to get my hair done before the second wedding at 5 pm and April is faster than me and might catch up!" Yikes! Now that is a little pressure on your race.

Well as I hit Upper Horse I power walk but I feel good enough this year to run the flats. Last year it seemed like this went on for 10 miles. This year it was tough but I got to the gravel road much quicker. I saw the same pile of rocks I sat on for 10 minutes last year feeling sorry for myself. This year I just waived and continued down to the last AS at mile 26 or so.

At the last AS I just refueled as usual. Chips, potatoes, and Coke. I didn't eat a ton this day but felt pretty energized. I do think I have reduced my calorie intake too much and need to up it back up now. Well down the gravel and across the road again for that last boring gravel road grinding climb. I say I want to run it all but I do end up walking a bit of it but do better than in the past. We get to the top and have a nice down section but my legs are done so I am only running a 10 minute pace now and 3 or 4 runners pace me. This usually doesn't happen much but so be it. I do get to run with the Groom, Craig for a few miles and we have a nice conversation about marriage, Western States and some other trail races. Glad I got this chance to chat.

The Groom

Finally we get to the last single track. A little grunt climb for a quarter mile or so. April has caught up so I let the two of them by. She reminds me to do that for her in other races we run. I laugh and say "only today for the Bride!". I am still pretty tired and can't really enjoy this last nice downhill so I just get 'er done. I get passed by a few with gas left and cheer them on. I hear the crowd cheer and I know that's the wedding party crossing the line so I know I only have a few hundred yards to go. I cross the bridge and finish in 6:57. It was my third fastest and third slowest time here. That means it was the middle run of my 5 finishes here. I probably could have had my second fastest but with the 20 minutes or so of breaks I took that was pretty good I thought.

I was tired at the finish but now wiped out. I ate some great soup, got my 5 year finishers mug and got a great hug from the wife. We chatted a bit with fellow runners and then headed home. This race is deceivingly hard. It always seems much longer than a 50k. None ultra friends always comment about how slow you were doing on a race that is only 5 miles longer than a marathon. I have run just a many marathons as ultras and there is no comparison to me. The hills in most trail 50k's are the hard part, not the distance. Well the race was fun and hard as usual, the weather was cool and perfect for running. This is a great race that kicks my butt every year but for some crazy reason I will probably try and run every time. Thanks Mac for another whoopin'.