I made a final decision Friday afternoon to get up early and head for the Columbia Gorge for a couple laps on the infamously steep and scenic Dog Mountain Trail. Each lap was billed as a 10k though they seemed to be 6.8 miles according to others' GPSs so I'd be doing 20k (or 13+ miles). Each lap also involved roughly 3000' of up and DOWN. There were other badasses out there doing 3 laps for a 30k while others opted for the challenge of a single 10k loop.
|It's a short ways to the top if you want to rock and roll! Photo: Paul Nelson|
The effort was to be moderate vs. full intensity as training cycles don't need more interruption than they already get from life's daily offerings of uninspiring weather, busy workdays, travel, etc. Training especially didn't need interruption from last minute race decisions involving courses that I haven't been specifically training for... at all.
Anyway the first 10k was a hoot. I took it easy on the way up as I knew I'd have to come back and do it once more. After tagging the top, with the friendly Aid Crew up there I began to mosey back down. The trail was a bit technical with rocks and roots and even a canopy of dense greenery that hid it entirely in some spots. It'd been awhile since I had had so much fun cruising through the woods and I think I got a little carried away with the fun and really started opening things up, bounding off of roots and scampering across rockslides. I knew that the extra speed taken on the descent was going to shine on lap 2 but it was too fun to quit.
|Freakin' Gorge, just gorgeous. Photo: Paul Nelson|
Sure enough I was power hiking, that's ultrarunner code-talk for walking, much more on the 2nd trip to the top. It felt as fast as my attempts to run so I went with it. The effort was definitely moderate now! At the top the friendly Aid Crew was eager to serve and ask what I needed. I jokingly mentioned in my Billy Madison janitor voice, "I'd rather have a beer." Just like that a can of beer shows up, gets cracked open, and I am too blown away to turn down a cup of this hoppy delight though in my heart I know it's not what I need. Down it went and down I went after soaking in the view a bit. My legs were there but not powerful. I managed to catch up to the dudes in front of me and just sort of rode down in their shadows as a polite pass would have taken a good surge on the narrow single track to make room for everyone to run safely apart from one another. And surging was not something I felt like doing.
The finish came soon enough and I realized immediately that I was starving. I ate my brains out and drank a ton of water.
I unofficially took second in the 10k and officially took 1st in the 20k (the race I had registered for). For the record however, there were two 30kers in front of me at the 20k mark. They were climbing like bosses. I waited around for them to come through but the last lap seemed to take them quite a while as I think their wheels were falling off by then. Still super impressive performances with gutsy starts.
Weather was awesome and the view impressive. The Go Beyond Racing machine is well oiled and put on a really good time. They even backed up the race fun with a tab over at Double Mountain Brewery in nearby Hood River. I couldn't turn down a free Kolsch on such a beautiful summer day so I dropped in for that on the way home.
Dearest readers: be careful what you ask for when you sign up for a hard hilly course twice or a beer in the middle of a race... you might just get it!
Post race: I am sorer than shit. Haven't been this sore since Kings-Elk Traverse run months ago... definitely looking like a relaxing running week, or at least a few days, just hit my schedule (again).