- Deep Deep Post-Race Thoughts by Yours Truly
In typical (and increasingly obsolete because everyone apparently thinks a Strava file is worth a 1000 words) race report format I'll start with the pre-race backdrop and then get into the memorable details from my 4th McDonald Forest 50k.
Who gives a shit what happened before the race? Your training went like this, your key workouts were nailed or missed or whatever... nobody cares right?
No, if I care enough about it to write it out you'll just have to bear with me. In my last update I was kind of ringing the "whiny but fuck it" bell claiming that moving and fixing up 2 houses during the work's busiest harvest season was just soooo hard. Sure I was almost whining with the standard "I am just happy to get out and run when I can" song but I really meant it when I said I could care less about races.
If I wasn't 100% committed to being uncommitted to training and future races when I wrote that down March 30th I was just few days later when I had the most incredible day of my life. On April 2nd my wife Kattie gave birth to our first child, Alyce Day.
With that I'd made up my mind to go down and try to have fun in the Mac 50k's 20th year anniversary race. It would be a race fueled by poor diet, less sleep, and goose eggs (0s in the log book and those egg shaped Easter candies). I'd like to add "dad strength" to that list but I think that's just starting to come to me.
Another objective was to focus on fueling (David's idea). So I kicked off the second coming of Thanksgiving with 2 Picky bars along with my usual pre-race slice of toast with PB. Then I spent some time figuring out how to pack more than 4 gels in my pockets. I fit 7 or 8 and figured I'd get to my goal of one every 25 min with supplements gleaned from Aid Stations.
I didn't have a GPS watch that was charged as I've mostly just been carrying the phone on runs lately so I strapped on the trusty Timex with primer splatters all over it as my key technology piece for the day. (Consequently, I don't have any record of pace or that I was even really there;) ).
Before the start the family of deceased local runner Alex Newport-Berra said a few moving words about the race, the forest and what they meant to their son who's life was ended way too early in a tragic fall. I had met Alex at least twice and while I definitely didn't "know" him I could instantly tell that he was not only a tough and fast dude he was also definitely someone special. As a new dad watching his mother cry while trying to be strong and publicly remember him (the day before Mother's Day) was nearly bringing me to tears. Certainly the most emotional start line experience I've ever had.
Then we were off. I kept trying to be smart and stay cool knowing that 31 miles is a long long run compared to anything I'd done in training. I also knew that some course changes meant a tough back half of the race would be even harder this year.
Going through miles 12 or 13 were a lot like last year. Smart and fun but going pretty quickly. The only change was I was pounding gels which I started to consume about 30 mins into things. Stay in front of the bonk and it won't catch you I told myself.
Then the course got into it's most technical portions (some of which were new this year). I was running close behind eventual winner Jason Leman but when it got steep and twisty on a descent he was gone. Long gone. So I navigated this long (both mileage and time-wise) section between A/S alone and started feeling a bit darker about things.
I was out of water and in somewhat of a dark place mentally at the mile 19 or 20 A/S. It was hard to leave there knowing there was still so much course left to take on. I can't remember exactly where but I passed someone somewhere in there but it did little to pick me up as he looked to be in poor condition. It doesn't take much to pass someone who's just sort of zombie plodding up the hill and I knew that as we joked about having better days.
Then I latched on a ways behind Mike Rosling who is a really admirable runner and great guy. I was somewhat encouraged to be running near him as I know he's in excellent shape (for a road marathon which is different but fitness is fitness) right now. We passed another guy who looked like he was wilting a bit. He looked ripped and fit (like everyone did, I think I was the only dude with a shirt on, hiding my softness) but a bit cooked. I eventually caught up to Mike and he left the final Aid Station a bit before I did. I got to see Kattie and Alyce there and while I wanted to just jump in the car and cuddle I was given a little boost as I set off for the last "little bit" (Kattie's words).
I passed Mike, trying to get him to just "jog this f-ing thing in with me" but he insisted I just go on my own. Another really badass looking dude that caught up to us at the Aid Station was camping in my shadows until an ever slight downhill section came along and he ramped it up. I jumped in his 1 minute long shadow and pushed the last 1.6 miles best I could. It helps that it's one of the best tracks on the whole course and has a overall downhill to make you think you're really killing it.
And that was that. 4:40 minutes had come to an end and netted me 5th place. It's not my fastest time (I finished in 4:28 last year) but it was a slow year for everyone given the course changes that added a bit more climbing and what seemed like a lot more technical single track. The winning time was 25 min slower than last year (with 2 of the top 3 runners being repeats). 5th is the best I've faired out place-wise in 4 times that I've done the race.
I can say that the focus on fueling is the only thing that allowed me to hang towards the front and even move up a couple places. My talent is zilch (I've had to work really hard for whatever skill I do have in these legs and lungs) and my preparation was probably 1/2 of what many other top finishers had done (short, flat and relatively infrequent).
Got my bearings, drove home, drove to Portland to take Kattie's mom to the airport and went to IKEA. Getting out of that place alone (Kattie rushed out with Alyce to feed her) was the hardest thing I did all day.
2 days later I feel great, ready to ease back into more running.
Thanks for reading and caring superfans! Not a lot of plans for upcoming races or running thrills but I'll let you know about them here! Go gettem'!