Thursday, April 17, 2008

Andy Carson's 40 miles of Fun (plus a little more)

In February at a Portland Running Company group run, I had a chance to meet Dave & Paula Harkin (the owners). Paula told me about a 40 mile fun run with Andy Carson. I was very interested. Andy Carson is a weatherman for Portland's Fox TV station. He was celebrating his 40th birthday by running 40 miles. The run was benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While it was not a race, and doesn't count as a marathon according to the Marathon Maniacs, I still felt like it would be a lot of fun.

So Tim Lawson and my
self decided to join Andy. Given that it was a Wednesday, I didn't know how many would be running the full 40 miles. The course was a 10 mile loop around Portland's waterfront. Some people joined for one or two laps. Only eight people (including Andy) ran all 40 miles. Tim and I were the most experienced. I've run 40 miles or longer five times before this run, and Tim has run four official races at least 24 hours, and many personal runs at ultra distances. There were a hand full of runners that had run marathons, and one who had never run over 10 miles. We all survived and had a blast doing so.

I woke up at picked Tim up and was dropped over in the southern waterfront at 7:30am. We had a chance to meet Andy and talk a bit. The run started at 8am with about 40-50 runners. We all had a blast and were excided about the task at hand. We ran the first loop in a time of 1:47:37.

As a note the weather was great. It was mostly overcast and cool in the 40's. There was a little drizzle here and there, but no real rain. The give credit to Andy for that. In the second loop Paula and her friends joined us. It was a large group and more than half were women. It was enjoyable and I would sometimes run ahead
and take a few pictures. With finished a little slower with a time of 1:52:34.

The third loop has a tough one. Many of the runners left after two loops, leaving just the eight of us and a few others including Dave Harkin. A figure there was about 10-12 runners. It was nice to be in a smaller group, because we had a chance to talk more. Dave kept Andy and myself entertained with a few stories. We ran that one much slower and finished with a time of 2:00:25.

I figured the last loop would be fun. Paula and m
any others joined in on the final loop. It was exciting to know that we were close to being done. I was feeling fine and Andy looked strong. The first three loops were all a little more than 10 miles, so the final loop was cut short to make it an even 40 miles. I figure the final loop was about eight miles. Andy's family came and joined him for the final mile and we were finished. We ran this eight mile loop in a time of 1:42:32.

After finishing we hung out a bit, before joining Andy for a shot on the 4 o'clock news. After that McCormick & Schmick's provided a most run meal that Tim and I took part in. Then we said farewell to Andy and the gang before going home.

Forty miles is a strange distance. It's more that 60k, but less than 50 miles. We usauallly join the Portland Running Company on a group run on Wednesday nights, so in order to make it an even 50 miles we did our normal group run, and little extra in order to get 50 miles. For me the extra 10 miles were slow and relaxing 1:39. I ended up running the 50 miles in 9:02. It was a fun day and I'm glad I took the time to do it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rumbling in the high desert

Going into this year, I wanted to run a lot of ultras and get a lot of experience as a trail runner. I also wanted to run most of the Oregon Trail Ultramarathon Series. As a die hard Marathon Maniac, I also wanted to support Sean and run in his race.

On Saturday, I relaxed and mowed the lawn and got ready for the race on Sunday. I ran a short and easy 8 miles in the morning. I left about 2pm. I drove the 3½ hours down to Sisters. It took longer because of the Iris Festival in Woodburn.

I got down there and found the middle school. I decided to sleep in my car in parking lot of the middle school. I saw some others that were doing the same thing. For me it's about trying to save money and squeeze as many races in as possible. I did stop at the McDonald's in Sisters for dinner. I then relaxed in my car until about 10pm, then I went to bed.

I was waken up at about 6am, when the early starters arrived. At that time I got up and got my packet and waited. I watched as the early starters took off. I had a chance to talk with some friends. I saw Olga, Kristen, Bret & Gail, Eric & Michelle, Karen, and some others. It's always fun to do all these ultras, and see people you know.

It was a cold night about 30-32°. Saturday was a very hot day, with a high of 80°. At the start of the race it was about 36°, but I knew it might get warm. So was going to where my black Maniacs singlet, but in the cold morning, I ended up adding my red shirt under it. Looking back I wish I would have just gone with the singlet, because it became very hot. When I finished it was about 80°.

At 8am, we started off. I had no real goal in mind. A 60k is an odd distance, more than a 50k, but less then a 50 miler. And this year, Sean had to cut the run short, so it was only 34 mils. I went in thinking of it like a 50k.

I started out fast. I didn't plan it, but I was running with the flow of the group. I knew the mileage at each of the aid stations, so when I got to the first aid station, I realized I was running fast. At that point just 4.8 miles in I was running an 8:10 pace. I felt good and decided to keep going strong.

Leading to the next aid station, I slowed down. In this 3.4 mile stretch I ran a 9:37 pace. It began to feel warmer. There was a little more climbing in this section, but it really wasn't that bad.

The third aid station, was a water only station, and I would hit this one twice, on both sides of "The Grunt Loop". I was really nothing more than a marathon like water stop. At this point I had run 11.4 overall, and was averaging an 8:51 pace. I felt good.

The "Grunt Loop" was cut short due to some snow closure in part of the trail. So I don't know how hard this one is normally, but the shortened 2.4 mile loop was a challenge. There was vertical climb for about a quarter of a mile. You are hiking up a rocky climb. It was very different, but fun as well. But besides that climb the rest was easy with a few patches of snow, which felt great. At the 13.8 mile mark I was averaging an 8:51 pace.

Between aid station 3 and 4, I ran a short version of the third stretch. It was only 2.4 miles, and still kept running strong. I was really enjoying the afternoon.

From the "Grunt Loop" we basically ran all the way back the same way we came, until the turn off. So leading up to aid station 5, it was already covered territory. I ran slower as the heat was becoming a bit much. I ran a 10:03 pace in this section. At this point I was 19.2 miles into the run and was running a 9:07 pace. At each aid station, I was taking a GU, which gave me energy to keep going.

The next section was a long one. It was 6.6 miles and had a lot of climbing. It seemed like it went on and on. I had to walk up some of the climb. It was a challenge, but I just kept moving. My time for that split was a 10:22 pace. Which was good. At aid station 6, I had run 25.8 miles, and I was only at 4:03:21. I was so surprised, because my marathon split for this run, would be a trail marathon PR, if it were officially recorded.

Leading into the final aid station, I ran slower than I thought. My biggest problem was that I was getting tired, and was exposed to the sun. At aid station 7, I was at mile marker 30.2 and looked forward to finishing.

The final strength went by very fast. It was 4.1 miles long and I was able to do it in under 40 minutes. At the end you do 3/4 lap around the track and are done. I finished in a time of 5:29:51, which was a pace of 9:37. I was handed by Peterson Ridge socks and enjoyed some relaxing time.

I was told by runners with GPS, that it may have only been 33 miles, but I can only go by what I'm told. So I'm counting this as a 34.3 mile run. Because they did not officially record splits, I can't count them, but I did run PRs in the trail marathon (4:07:12), and the trail 50k (4:59:09).

I chatted a little with some friends, took a shower at the middle school and drove home. It was smooth ride home, and enjoyed having had taken the shower.

It was a very fun time, and enjoyed every minute of it. I would highly recommend this race and look forward to it next year. Now I need to rest up for the Andy Carson 40 miles on Wednesday.