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.

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