Monday, May 12, 2014

Tina and Ike: Back at it (Again) at the Mac 50k

On the Saturday before Mother's Day I should just kick back at a favorite local winery and celebrate the general winding down of another long hard shipping season at work.  You know contemplate the lows (pest problems, pissed off picky customers, tense moments in the office, labor squabbles) and revel in the highs (happy customers, additional orders, picture perfect crops, etc.) over a nice glass of wine (or 3, maybe 4) and a view.

But, just like Tina T. after another long hard tour, I don't necessarily make the right decision.  Addictions get in the way and I find myself ritually going back year after year to my Ike--the MacDonald Forest 50k--for a good dose of thrill and a serious beating.

Oh Tina, just a baby girl in a cruel cruel world.


Training started off like last year.  Only worse.  I thought my training was highly inconsistent in Spring '13 but it didn't compare to this year.  I've been griping, or crying on the interwebs virtual shoulder, about that all over this bloggity-blog as of late so I am not going to elaborate much on it again.

Work has been extra-stressful this season.  A combination of a prolonged winter, the consequent condensed Spring shipping window, increased responsibilities and new pests coming in from God knows where have brought me to brink of mental exhaustion on more than a handful of days lately.  It's all part of the gig in the family biz but it really takes it toll on one and sometimes sacrifice in joggin time is too easy to do.

Race day:

I slept awesome.  I was so relaxed.  I think it was just knowing that the worst that could happen that Saturday was a shitty race.  That's no big deal and probably the best example of a #firstworldproblem I can think of.

I had a little breakfast and hit the road arriving to the Forest pretty early.  The weather seemed like it was going to be favorable for race day even though indicators around the start area showed hints of serious sogginess.  With a bunch of free time I moseyed around chatting and pounding cups of coffee with running friends.  As usual, a bunch of fast looking dudes started piling up and I got to thinking the now classic thought of "so much for an impressive finish placement--what should my time goal be?"

We took off at a pace that I knew was a little fast but I felt fine and at ease.  The course did include more fast/flatter trail in the first 5 miles than years past but more than compensated for this early-easiness with more mileage in the "maze" and late race climbs.  Perfect for a person who knows how to run a controlled early race and eat carnage for lunch later on...  that person's not me, unfortunately.  I know better in my head but not in my legs and lungs.  They sense a bib on the torso and set into some sort of frenzy no matter what the brain signals their direction.

Anyway, we rolled through the Saddle A.S. at 8ish miles and I was with Neil Olsen, a strong Southern Oregon master's runner with a long list of hot finish times.  I figured he knew what a good pace was so I vowed to hang with him as long as felt good.  I led us down Horse Trails and up Dan's at what I considered a moderate pace.  After Dimple A.S. he just sort of faded away behind me.  I held this "really nice feeling pace" until well into the Maze mileage.  I ran/mud-skied/slip-slided with Mike Rosling for a long time through there.  We were having a blast in what felt like a nice mid-winter training run.

I passed a guy named Jeremy in the Maze as the slicker'n'shit mud seemed to be eating him alive.  I was now in 6th place about 17-20 miles into things.  It was the closest to the front I would get all day.  He's a good runner so I knew once we got out of there and back on some steepish logging roads he'd be passing me.  That's exactly what happened after we got down Extendo together.  I took a digger and got passed by another dude and then and there 8th place became and remained mine despite a lot of sluggish power hiking on moderately steep stuff for the last 2 major climbs (Alpha and Vineyard Mtn.).

A couple of noteworthy things happened after the marathon mark.  I got to the last aid station and tried something new (a gamble)--2 little cups of Coca-Cola.  I, and my non-soda accustomed stomach, questioned the decision a minute later but when I could see a couple dudes hot on my tracks on the final climb I suddenly felt that sweet, innocent little thrill of a sugar high.  I was wasted tired and on the verge of getting crampy but I was able to pretty easily clip away some 6-something miles on the logging road rollers back to the single-track where I really got after it.  I put a minute and a half on some guys that were running really well and within 20 seconds or so behind me at one point.  I even got a glimpse of the guy in front of me with about a half mile to go but it was a lot of ground to cover to catch a freshly motivated/running scared him.

My finish time was 4:28:38.  Results here:

Feeling a bit like a post-domestic-dispute-Tina.  Managed to get the cap off for the paparazzi.
I was tired but honestly I've never finished the Mac feeling any better than I did this year.  Instead of curling up in a ball on the ground I got right after drinking water and replenishing myself with some soup.  I avoided the chairs by walking about and I had a great time cheering on other finishers.  It was fun chatting about the race which everyone agreed was tough as ever and very muddy.  Lot's of tales of late race crampage.  Went up to the lake and washed up in the cold water which felt awesome on the legs.  I really missed having Kattie there (she was at work) to celebrate with.

I kept thinking, "I guess fitness is kind of a funny thing.  Sometimes you think you're on top of it and things don't pan out.  And, sometimes you think you're far from fit and you get lucky."  The problem with both scenarios is you know you left something on the table and you are capable of much much more.  While thrilled with the improved times in tough conditions I can't help but wonder how would it have gone if I had pulled off a decent training block this Spring and had the endurance to nail those last 2 big climbs.  I guess there's only one way to find out...  go back and do it again. 

Like Tina and Ike, it's a vicious cycle.

Thanks to you dearest superfan if you're still reading all this garb.  So much senseless babble it must be like being tied to the back of an El Camino and slowly dragged down a gravel road for miles and miles.  May God have mercy on your soul.

Additional Notes (for reference, because I have a hard enough time remembering my finish times from races yet alone additional deets):

Consumed: 3 Hammer Gels (nursed them slowly throughout run), ~30 oz. water, 3 Dixie cups of Coke.  May have absorbed (osmosis) a GU through my left buttock as it exploded in my pocket when I fell.
Shoes: Montrail FluidFeels.  One left and one right.  Lotsa miles already, in fact they are pretty much spent--but trusty they are as well.