Monday, December 16, 2013

Frozen Trails(?!) Runfest - 50k at Mt. Pisgah

Tough run.

I hadn't been on a good long run since Silver Falls Marathon well over a month ago.  I think I got out for a couple decent 2-3 hr. hilly efforts a couple weeks back and had been pushing things a bit here and there with the weekday workouts so fitness felt fine despite the past 2 weeks schedule being whacked by holidays.  Like too many "runless" days whacked versus lack of miles or something like that.

That said, I think I was in better 15 mile shape than 50k shape.  After 13-15 miles I experienced an early period of fatigue and hip soreness that I'd never felt before and I don't know if it was was my (lack of) preparation or the tough terrain.  With each step needing to be carefully placed to save my ass from a slip maybe I was overworking some muscles?  It was tough going that just got tougher as the race went on.

The various loops that made up the course involved a network of trails around and up and over a hill on the outskirts of Eugene.  These trails consisted of a section of slick as snot ice, a section of snow encrusted "chunky" ice, a section of clumpy grass (to avoid ice), a section of slimey mud, a nice bog of standing water, a section of water running over mud and rocks, and a very short section of buttery soft forested trail and some gravel that was nice but had that shiny look to it like maybe it would send you to the ground if you got to comfy with it.  The loops also involved 4 steep ups and downs that presented some of the finer running surface, which was welcome given the pitch in which you where climbing or descending.

But enough complaining...  I'll try and keep this a happy post.  I went into this thing knowing it'd be messy and that's what was delivered.  I also went into the race with high hopes of breaking the course record time (a local fast dude's training run time of 4:34).  I even thought I could get down to some place significantly below that (say 4:10ish) given the pace I recently did the trail marathon which I thought boasted similar conditions and the same-ish vert. 

I went out a little too gutsy (fast) with all this on my mind and didn't take into consideration how much the terrain and uniquely steep the profile was until I was reminded by my own body's signals and by getting passed by the winner, new course record holder Joe Uhan.  He passed me about 2/3rds of the way around loop 3 and held the pace all the way through.  I am impressed with his run.  I had no idea who he was while we raced but enjoyed a brief conversation with him after the race.  We discussed the trail conditions (the mud was better than the ice... or was it?) and how we were both were anxious to get on the interwebs and geek out to Desert Solstice happenings ( where our friend Pam Smith went on to take the world record for women's track 100 mile!!!)

Anyway, back to the race... after finishing the 3rd loop I almost bogued out.  I'd never run a loop course and it's mentally kind of tough to keep going when the car's right there not to mention hot soup and BEER.  But Kattie was there to remind me that afterall it was just one more loop...  sheesh, what's one more loop?

Well what seemed like it would never end finally did.  As I was headed up the final 1000'+ climb a dude named Walker caught up with me and we chatted some.  Nice young guy.  I told him to go for it on the descent as I wouldn't put up much of a fight.  He must have been happy in my draft as he stayed there until we crossed the finish line.  He started the race right behind me as well so he actually beat me according to the chip timing system.  So I finished second and got third, which made no difference to me who was happy to have finished within my goal time with a 4:27.

Soup and beer.  Then Kattie and I headed home with a car full of Christmas presents that Kattie was able to shop while I was out running.

I am sore today but look forward to recovering best I can before the final race in my December Trifecta:  the Santa Paws 5k!  Very serious stuff.

Also looking forward to a flat and hopefully fast 50k outside Eugene in the beginning of February as it is more accessible than any marathon I could find.

Kids, if you don't keep moving forward the race will never end...  so keep going. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shellburg Falls Race Recap-a-rama

Living in the PNW means living between 30 and 85 degrees with only a handful of exceptional days.  Saturday was an exceptional day as Friday's snows and a clearing overnight left us at about 10-14 degrees and sunshine for the morning of the race up in the hills just east of Salem.  Definitely running cold for us rain-mongers.

I got there early to help with registration which was sooo cold despite layers.  Lots of people were no shows but at least 10 or so pretty fast dudes showed up so there was going to be a race.  Good, it was worth the trip.

Same course as last year's mudfest but very different feeling as running the frozen mountain bike tracks was like running on some very poorly poured concrete.  Had to keep the ankles on high alert as you never knew what angle (or in which rut) the paws were going to hit underneathe the couple inches of snow on the trail.  Logging road sections were fine and dandy.

It was a pretty spectacular morning for a quick run through the woods.  The light snow that covered the forest and blew down from the trees above was highlighted nicely by a low sun that shown right through the canopy especially on the hilsides.  The falls area was covered in giant daggers of ice and really slick in a couple spots.

Took off with last year's winner, speedster Matt (someone told me he did a 1/2 marathon in 1:08 or something-- that's 5:11 pace type shit) and Thomas (who's fast and has a couple wins another local race at Buck Mtn. that is very similar to this one).  I figured I'd hang with them as long as I could--since it wasn't a 5k or a long race I figured I couldn't get into to much trouble.  My quads felt spent right from the start which was weird.  And that's how it went until the last mile and half or so when Matt built his lead into something substantial (a minute) on the logging roads.  I was running close to Thomas until I decided to push for the last 1/2-3/4 of a mile.  The push paid off and I finished the race in 49:09.

Very fun day.  Stuck around for the awards and had some coffee and a beer with Mike Tyler, Eb Engelmann, Thomas and a few others before making my way back down to the valley for the weekend's Christmas shenanagins. 

I also caught up on the 50 mile race in Marin (holy smokes) and the kid's XC race up in PDX.  The next day I spent a little time chasing results for friends running CIM down south.  Lots of great races!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

wine and races galore... it's December

Dearest Reader,

Running's going fairly well these days.  Naggles all over my legs including a shin (or is it both?), a tight high hammy/low glute on the right side (currently loosened back up), and as of yesterday tight upper glute on the left side (work-related).  Other than that running's all good.  Been joining Mike, Rui and Doug for the Tuesday/Thursday thing which is a touch faster pace and starts/ends earlier meaning there is time for homemade lattes and eggs over medium.

Bringing me to another important point: drinking and eating are also going awesome!  Especially drinking.  It's dark at 4:30 (not that one can't drink in broad daylight but darkness triggers something inside me that says drink some more) and it seems there is always an occasion from the weeks prior to Thanksgiving thru the New Year meaning wine intake is at an all-time high with no cutting back in the foreseeable future.  I'll be responsible about it but I am not going to impose any restraints with these things--Tis the season.

Got a series of little races going on the next few weekends: 

The 7th is the 6.5 mile Shellburg Falls Trail Run.  I am surprisingly excited about this race.  Looking to take some time off last year's decent time which could be done by simply not falling 5 plus times.  Is not falling good enough alone to take 4-5 minutes off?  Nope, but hopefully some improved fitness helps with that a bit.

The 14th is Frozen Trails RunFest 50k down in Tracktown (Mt. Pisgah).  This race is new to me.  It's 4 loops that are each different (well 1 and 3 are the same) each with 800-1000 ft. elevation gain.  Sounds relatively flat but times of familiar names don't indicate that.  I guess it's always a mud fest despite it's Frozen name.  So that will be a not so close alternative to doing the warm, sunny, "chapparally" BBT which fell off the plans awhile back, mostly due to a lack of logistical prep.

The 21st Kattie and I will be in the most important race of our lives.  The Santa Paws 5k in Palm Springs, CA.  The name is so cute, isn't it?  All runners are given and required to wear a 5 piece Santa Claus suit meaning we will be setting Santa suit 5k PRs that day.  A Christmas dream come true.

Reports on how these events altered my life are due out soon so stay tuned...