Park Street is so long and steep you actually cannot see the main road.
Blast from the past
There is a site called Athlinks that has the world’s largest database of race results. I looked up all of my races in one convenient place. It was easy for me because I’ve run/cycled/swam under one name. If you have a maiden name or hyphenated name, your search might be more difficult.
My pace is all over the board. From the fast 10k I ran to the uber slow 50K I ran. I all ready know that the longer the race, the more apt I am to fall apart at the end. My goal for the upcoming year(s) is to get to a point where I am more consistent. The inconsistency comes from not being as well trained as I should be.
Here it is:
In my head and heart I look like this when I run:
But in reality it’s more like this:
Originally I wasn’t going to run this race. But then I started hearing about how much fun it was, how great it would be to run a race the day before my birthday (instead of being happily inebriated), and then Sarah Duncan tempted me with a birthday cake. So I caved to the pressure (of cake!!) and signed up knowing that it would be my last race of 2011. Well, maybe my last race.
My goal for Autumn Leaves was to have fun and run this 50k faster than I ran Hagg Lake back in February. I ran that race so slowly I knew I could do it. After the Bend Marathon, I didn’t run all that much. I hurt my knee three weeks ago when I fell at the bowling alley. That really concerned me because my knees were really starting to hurt again. And then there was the plantar fasciitis that was starting to develop in my left foot.
Friday evening, I got all of my stuff ready including my drop bag and food. I ate my usual dinner of pizza and beer and was in bed before 9pm. I actually got a great nights sleep thanks to the sleeping pill I took. Usually I can get to sleep but will wake up several times during the night and at least one hour before my alarm is set to go off. I got up at 4am and ate my banana, hard boiled egg, and cheese. I drank my large cup of coffee and met my ride: Kristin.
It was foggy at 5:15am. Really, really foggy. We finally found Champoeg State Park and were greeted by two enthusiastic members of our running group: Gina and Travis. It was colder at Champoeg than at my house. Thankfully I had brought a pair of long stretchy pants, a jacket, and a long sleeved shirt for after the race. I put the pants on and ended up wearing them for 95% of the day. During check in (number 212), we saw so many people we knew. It was like a big party…with running…and fog.
It was a 50k and 50 mile run. You ran out 3.x miles and then ran back. So each loop was 6.x miles. To get my 50k in, I needed to do this 5 times. 90% of it was on asphault with 10% of it on trail. There were a few hilly areas but mostly it was flat. We started off running with our headlamps on and it was so foggy you couldn’t see much. So we all joked that it would be great because by the time we woke up and the fog cleared up, we’d have at least 2 loops in!
There were so many supportive families and friends that parked their cars in the lot. It was almost like a tailgating event but without the face painting and beer. Someone even had a fire in a little pit. It was pretty awesome. The aid stations had the best food: Paydays, Coke, candy, sandwiches, fruit, chips, gels, etc. I felt very confident in my decision not to carry anything with me.
The first two loops, I felt very slow and sluggish. My legs just didn’t want to go any faster. Kristin’s pace was faster than mine so she ran ahead. Poor thing was suffering from some type of intestinal distress so there were quite a few porta-potty stops for her. She would run ahead and visit the porta-potty and by the time I got up there, she was ready to run again. By the time we hit the 3rd loop, we had lost each other. The third loop was definitely my best loop. I had grabbed my iPod, dropped my long sleeved shirt and was making a pretty decent pace. A lot of my friends were out volunteering at our running group’s own aid station which was also stocked with cupcakes, bread, chips, etc. (This race had the BEST volunteers of any race I’ve ever run!)
By the 4th loop, I was starting to feel the mileage in my hips, legs, and specifically my knees. My pace had slowed but I was still in good spirits knowing that I had less than 13 miles to go. I kept chanting to myself “This is better than being at work, this is better than being on the couch.” I kept reminding myself how good it was going to feel to sit down and drink a beer after I was done. I constantly checked my watch it see where I was at goal wise. In my heart of hearts, I was hoping to finish the race in 7 hours. But as I finished up my 4th loop, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.
For my 5th and final loop, I ditched my iPod, hip pack, and pants. Thank goodness Rose Bak was there to let me balance against her while I was taking off my pants. A good friend helps you take off your pants after you’ve run 25 miles.Sarah Duncan asked me if I’d like her company during my last loop and of course I said yes! I love running and hanging out with her. She’s such a laid back person. She’s awesome. Then before I knew it, Lynne Gibson was out there with us after finishing her 50k!
Sarah and Lynne were fantastic. They kept up lively conversation which really helped pass the time. We gossiped and joked about a variety of topics. They kept telling me how great and strong I looked. I was so happy to have them with me. The last mile of the race was super tough. The finish line seemed to get farther and farther away!
Finally I started seeing cars and then friends cheering for me. Honestly, hearing people cheer your name is one of the greatest things in the world. At that moment nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter how you feel, how slow you are, or how exhausted you think you are. You actually speed up as if drawing from their enthusiasm. And I sped up. Not a lot but I sped up. I also starting smiling again because damn it, I was going to finish the race with a smile on my face (thank you Anna!)
Then I saw Andy. And my heart leaped up into my throat. I wanted him to see me finish the race. I wanted him to see me accomplish this.
Everyone who volunteered was awesome: Anna, Garth, Travis, Gina, and Sarah. My fellow runners were inspirational: Amy, Liz, Lynne, Sarah, Karen, Dorothy,Mark and Steve Walters. I don’t usually want to run the same race twice but I’m going back next year! And hopefully Jodi Cullen will be there too. You were missed Jodi!
And yes, I hit a personal record with this race with an official time of 7:35:13. So I beat my Hagg 50K time by an hour and ten minutes.
Last night was the final race of the Portland Trail Series. I had my first running in the dark experience. I’ve run at dusk and early in the morning but not in the pitch black of a forest…on a trail….by myself…with only a headlamp and courage. It was a little scary, creepy, and somewhat exciting.
I have my 50k race on Saturday so I wasn’t going to go full out on this race. I was the slowest in the group (at least I thought so) and ran by myself which wasn’t so bad. It was around 5.3 something in terms of mileage so it wasn’t too hard. The race was an out and back. It was really cool to see all of the headlamps snake their way around the turns and up and down the hills. Until the fast ones aka everyone in the race, made their way back. I got spotlighted by numerous headlamps and had to jump to the side of the trail to let faster runners pass – something I dislike doing.
I turned around and told the volunteer that I thought someone might be behind me but I wasn’t sure. As I continued to run back, I didn’t see anyone else. So I told the last volunteer that I was the last one so she left her post and followed me to the finish line. It turned out that there was someone else on the trail. How I didn’t see her, I don’t know. I should have.
Along the trail, I only tripped a handful of times which is normal for me. I didn’t fall. Yay! I did get creeped out by the sounds I heard and at times, wondered if I was still on the trail. I learned that its not the best idea to listen to music while running in the dark by yourself so I put my iPod away pretty early on in the race.
I’m glad I got the chance to finally run in the dark. If you run in the dark on trails, run up the hills and go slow on the descents. But that’s just my advice.
All through running the race I kept trying to think of funny names for this post. I came up with quite a few and it was dependent upon exhaustion level as to how funny they were. Names like: “Oh my God will it ever end” and “There is a small child on my chest preventing me from breathing”. Yeah. I guess you had to have been there.
Bend Marathon was hard. I knew it was going to be but man. It was hard.
The hard part of the race was two things: 1) Running at a higher altitude. I knew it would affect me but didn’t really know how to prepare for the affects.2) The climbs. There were two mighty climbs that came at cruel moments. The first big climb was at at 9.9 mile mark. I had to walk part of this as it was a hilly 2 mile climb. By the time I hit this climb I had all ready gone through the serious doubt I had from miles 3-6 as to what business I had being out there. There I was all alone except for another runner who was dialed into her iPod. I was struggling for breathe and trying to glide. I ate a gel and from mile 6 to about 8 I felt really good. Starting at 8 there was a slight incline that got much steeper at the 9.9. At mile 10 I walked because I felt like I was dying of thirst and my heart was beating really fast. At the next aid station I stopped and drank several glasses of water. I felt better but my heart was still beating too fast and my stomach hurt.
That lasted until I got to the halfway mark. My goal was to run the marathon in less than 6 hours. I wanted to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and to have a good time. I hit 13 miles at around 2:38 or so. I felt pretty awesome. I ran more and more still feeling pretty good until I got to about 16 miles. Then I started seeing the dogs. At first I thought I might be hallucinating. I mean there were like 6 of them and they all looked the same. Then I saw a creepy guy standing in the middle of the farm road with all these dogs. Then I knew I was just in the country. The dogs followed him to a small house off of the road. I started running again.
At 16 miles I started to alternate walking and running. I knew I had a huge climb at the end of the race and needed to save a bit of strength for that. From there until 19.3 not much happened. I ran, I walked, I waved at people, I jumped into the ditch when drivers didn’t want to share the road, I groaned, and tried to smile.
Then I hit mile 20. There was no wall. Only the beginning of a very long hill. It was one of those that just seems to go on and on and on and on. Each mile I ran/walked seemed like a huge victory. I was tired. Very tired. And I still had over and hour and a half to go before I’d be done. I ate a fig bar. It was pretty awesome. My back hurt, my lungs hurt, my IT Bands hurt…..I could go on and on about what hurt. I remember at one point muttering to myself, “Well, you wanted a challenge…”And challenge I got.
I was monitoring my pace very carefully to ensure that I would make my goal. On the downhills I ran as fast as I could without blowing out my legs. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Your legs are shaky and not at all dependable. You just kinda pray that your knees will be captain and keep everything in line. On the inclines, I walked as fast as I could. It was hard.
From miles 23-25, it was the hardest part of any race that I’ve ever done. It was a monster of a hill that was long, windy, and just sucked. I just kept going telling myself that in less than an hour I could sit down and have a beer.
I didn’t really care about the beer. I just wanted to be done with running. At mile 24 I burst into tears. Usually I don’t cry. I’m too tired or too dehydrated. But not this time. I had a mini melt down. I kept chanting how much farther I had to go. And doing my weird little run shuffle up the hill.
So I get to a traffic circle where there are flaggers directing traffic away from the construction equipment. I didn’t realize that the young lady jumping up and down with the stop sign was trying to get my attention. It appeared that I was running the wrong direction. My bad. So I followed there direction and ran up a sidewalk to God knows where hoping that I was on the right path. The path that would lead me to a chair, finishers medal and a glass of water. Finally I saw a young woman who let me know I was right in front of the 26 mile mark. I wanted to hug and kiss her.
So I didn’t quite my make goal of six hours. I finished at 6:01:10. Over all I’m pretty pleased with my performance. There was no 3 mph death march at the end.I ran a pretty consistent speed the last half of the marathon which is something I’ve never really done. I realize that I should have had a handheld water bottle as I was dehydrated for the race due to a stomach ailment I had been battling for the last few days. I’m pretty sore and tired but think I may like to run the marathon next year. If I do, I will go out to Bend and run a few times.