Sunday, March 22, 2009

Road Trip & Way Too Cool 50km Race Report

I'm finally home! Peter literally drove for 24 hours with only 4 hours of sleep. I am one of those suckers who still hasn't learned to drive standard, so he does all the driving. Don't worry Pete, it's on the to do list!

We left on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11th. I was super excited to be back on the road. We drove by many of the beautiful places we had visited last September. Castle Craig's stands out the most (see pic above). That day we had checked out Rogue Runners, Hal Koerner's running shop in Ashland Oregon. All the young gun male ultra runners work there and Kyle Skaggs and Anton Krupicka happened to be working when we came in. I asked Kyle a few questions about the Way Took Cool 50km course as he had placed 2nd overall there last year. We had arranged to stay with Chris Winter who runs track for the Ducks in Eugene Oregon, but Pete was getting tired so we called it a night. We spent the night in the 'hole 6'(Motel 6) in Oregon.

We arrived at the hole 6 in Auburn California the next evening @ around 8pm. This one was much nicer than the last one and was just like a hotel (even had a pool and hot tub). It was very affordable at $58 a night for 2 double beds. We made dinner that night (pesto pasta salad) on Peter's Coleman stove inside our hotel room with the window wide open. I am sure it's frowned upon by hotel staff but when your on a budget and need to cook your own food, why not create your own kitchen. The following day we went to pick up our race packages from the Auburn Running Company. It is an awesome running store and it clearly has huge community involvement. A lot of people were wearing Auburn Running Company shirts/tanks on race day. The race package was sweet. Talk about getting your bang for your buck. We got hooked up with 2 Patagonia shirts (one long and one short sleeved), a pair of Moeben fleece arm warmers, and a coffee mug. I have pretty much lived in the 2 shirts ever since.

We went for a 25 minute run on the course just to check it out. From what I saw, it was extremely runnable, non-technical single track. We ran from where the race starts and the guys were there setting up everything, which got me pretty excited. After that, we pretty much just walked around and checked out Old Auburn Town. We ended up in this Art Gallery and Peter and I fell in love with this one small and extremely colorful painting, which he later purchased. The artist happened to be there because they were having a showing and we chatted with her at length. That night we got our race stuff ready and made a healthy chicken veggie stir-fry on our Coleman stove. My nerves were just on high. I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life.

Morning of, we got up at 6am, did our biz, ate breakfast and were off to the start. We pumped some Eminem in the car and for the rest of the morning/race I was singing "shake that ass for me" in my head. We did a little warm-up and lined up at the start. I knew I wanted to do well and with the competition being so good, I knew I had to come out strong. I am not one to go crazy off the line but once that gun went off it was go time. The first 2 miles were downhill along a road (sub 7min/miles)and the pack was moving fast and my heart rate was letting me know. I felt good and I attributed my high heart rate to nervousness and excitement. The top 4 women were just ahead of me and I ran and chatted briefly with a woman named Helen Cospolich. Once we got into the trail, Helen, myself and another lady named Meghan Arbogast were swapping positions based on terrain. They'd pass me on the hills and I'd pass on the downhills. My heart rate was still quite high and I remember seeing 180 bpm going up some hill. I was already thinking that maybe I went out to fast but then I thought that, to be competitive, maybe that's what it takes. The views were amazing. You literally run on single track for hours along some of the Western States 100 course. After the first 50 minutes, I was running behind Meghan and she was keeping a great pace. I passed her on the downhill and kept her out of my site along the single track until we came to the first uphill. She lead the rest of the way after that.

At around the 2 hour mark, I was thinking, "Holy sh$t", my HR is 173, I'm pushing pretty hard, well really hard, and there is still over 2 hours to go! All of a sudden 6th place didn't seem so bad. Top 3 was clearly out of my reach and I was just going to enjoy the day. I had thoughts of holding back and waiting for Peter to come run by and we could run together. But I just kept shutting that little voice inside my head out and kept up my pace and decided to run like this for as long as my body would allow. In ultra running, your body and mind ebb and flow. You honestly could feel so shitty one moment, and then great and amazing the next. Your mind will tell you to stop. Your body will ask you why are you pushing me so hard? You will then contemplate why the hell you do this to yourself. Then you shut it out, keep running, and you find the answer at the finish.

You end up coming back along the same trail you head out on and I was excited to start my return back. You get to cheer on and say hello to other runners that are still coming in the opposite direction. I kept a pretty consistent pace here and Megan was nowhere in sight. I was pretty much on my own and managed to pass a few guys along the way. With maybe 7 miles to go I spotted Devon Crosby-Helms. She is a wicked fast runner and kicked my ass at Chuckanut last year by 20 minutes. She was well ahead of me from the beginning and I was really surprised to see her there. I asked her how she was doing and turns out she had been working 14 hours days for weeks prior to the race. She still finished with an awesome time, considering it all. That definitely gave me a boost and I continued to run as best as I could. Coming up to the 2 mile marker, I ran into Megan. She was having a hard time holding pace and she cheered me on. I was stoked, I might pull off 4th place hear. I have done 3 races in the U.S so far and I have come 4th in all 3!!! I tried to run hard at the end, checking over my shoulder every so often so see if Megan was racing up behind me. Seeing the finish line was sooooooo exciting and I sprinted on in with the clock reading 4:21. I was stoked! That was a great time considering the course was 1.8 miles longer than last year. Turns out I was only 2 minutes off of 3rd place (Joelle Vaught), 4 minutes off of second place (Bev Anderson-Abbs) and 9 min off 1st (Caitlin Smith). The whole last hour of the race I just imagined how nice it will feel to lie down on the grass once I'm done. But, all the ladies were just over the finish line chatting so I joined in. It was nice to meet them all and hear about their race experience. My legs were starting to seize up standing there so I decided to dart off an get my Endurox recovery drink from the car. With recovery drinks, you really only have a 15-30 minute window to replenish the glycogen in your muscles post exercise. I had to act fast, so I hitch hiked back to our car, which at my slow moving pace would have taken me 15 minutes to walk there. I downed the drink and hitch hiked my way back to the start, just in time to watch Peter some in. He did so good crossing the line in 4:59, and looked awesome coming across the finish in his new North Shore Athletics Jersey.

I always sit back and reflect on what I could have done differently and how can I improve on my next race. I went out hard, held on, and finished strong. I do think that if I held back a bit at the start that maybe I could have been able to keep up a more consistent pace throughout the entire race. Instead, my heart rate was super high to start, settled in a little bit and slowly kept going down as the race went on. Ideally, I'd like to to stay similiar throughout because that means I'm able to maintain my pace. Every race is a learning experience. I have to constantly remind myself that I am 24 years old and just a baby in terms of running. I have so many years to grow and get better. I tend to be a little impatient and want to be the best runner right now.

To sum it up- an amazing and well organized race. The food after wards was great and the massage therapy they provided was unreal. My quads were hurting for a few days.
That night Peter and I went to the Auburn house Brewery and had ourselves a delicious and refreshing pint that they brew there. I was unable to really sleep that night because I couldn't stop thinking about the race. I wish I had my computor so I could have written this while it was all still fresh in my head. The next day we drove to Joshua Tree for a certification course and some relaxation. I'll write all about it in my next blog.

Brooks Epiphany shorts
Brooks Cascadia's
Hot Pink Dirty Girl Gaiters
Gu Gels

See you in the trails!

1 comment:

Meghan said...

It was awesome running with you at WTC. You really kept me in the game. Congrats on making the WC 100k Team! I'll be seeing you there!