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.
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'.