“legs feed the wolf” – herb brooks (and my father on race day)
the alarm went off at 3 am. our gear was packed and clothes were set out, so little consciousness was required. i remembered a couple extra things for race day: spare contact lenses and hair binders. i put these in my drop bag, made a peanut butter sandwich, and we were on the road by 4 am.
the drive to reehers camp in tilamook forest took about an hour. we listened to pump up music (ending with “africa” by toto) and wondered what the drive back would look like in more light. when we turned off the highway, we were third in a row of seven or eight cars. a volunteer helped us park (after we waited for a truck to back into a spot) and we took advantage of having no line at the camp bathroom (not a porto potty). we then walked to the registration tent and picked up our bibs (mine was lucky #333), t-shirts, and hats. leslie grabbed coffee and we stood by the fire and talked to new friends.
at 5:25 am, we headed back to the car to say goodbye to our warm clothes and grab our drop bags. we stood in line for what felt like forever to use one of the four porto potties and then made our way to the start line.
there was a pre-race talk by the race director. he explained course markings (orange with black dots), the course (including the small out and back to see a waterfall), and the post race party food, beer, and entertainment. and then all of a sudden, he started counting down and the race started (luckily i had already found gps with my watch so i wasn’t as frazzled as some people around me).
i started typing up a recap by breaking it up into sections, but even that felt long. so instead, here are some notes.
- the first three miles were uphill. we ended with those same three miles downhill. i was so excited to be done with the first incline that i enjoyed the downhill a little too much (and felt it in my legs soon after). on the final downhill, my knee hurt and i didn’t enjoy it as much as i wish i could have.
- most of course was beautiful. tall trees, waterfalls, singletrack. it was pretty well marked as well, there were only a couple moments of panic where i thought i might be lost.
- there was a loop from miles 27-38 that was on a paved road that was not as pretty.
- there were about five river crossings that we did twice (to and from the main aid station). i think i avoided having my foot completely soaked only twice. that meant my feet were wet from miles 4-27 and then from 40-50. luckily i have no blisters (thank you nike terra kigers and feetures/balega socks).
- there was over 9k ft of elevation gain during this race. gain. and boy i think i’m still feeling it.
- mentally the hardest sections were from mile 20-27 and from miles 40-46.
- there were only two cutoffs, mile 38 by 4 pm (10 hours) and finish by 8 pm (14 hours). the mile 38 goal kept me focused on my pacing and gave me a more attainable goal than trying to comprehend the entire 50 miles. i calculated that if i ran 4 miles per hour, i would get to mile 40 in 10 hours (giving me a 2 mile/30 min buffer to hit the cutoff). at the start, it took me an hour to climb the 3 miles. i told myself i had to get to mile 8 by the 2 hour mark, and i did. i was constantly breaking up the day into 1 hour segments and trying to get those 4 miles in. it sounds really easy, but it continued to push me throughout the day.
- i only had cell service at miles 34, 46, and the finish line. i turned my phone on loud so i’d hear as soon as i got cell service, and at mile 34 it was a never ending chirp as i was enjoying the first downhill in 6 miles. i had 28 text messages. (thank you everyone who supported me during race day. and even though i didn’t get your texts until mile 34, i knew they were coming and couldn’t wait to read them.)
- i didn’t change my outfit (except socks) throughout the whole day. i wore a oiselle flyout t-shirt and flyout long sleeve and they were great when it was chilly at the start and heating up mid day. worst case i could have taken off the long sleeve mid run and put it in my pack, but i never got to that point. i also wore the same fleet feet burbank hat for the entire race. i never felt the need to put on sunglasses or change hats.
- i was all by myself from miles 8-34. i met and talked to a few people but it was mostly silent. there were times that i would have liked to have someone to chat to and distract myself, but the rest of the time it was nice to be alone in my thoughts.
- i will lose at least three toenails after saturday’s race.
- there isn’t a single official race photo of me. usually race pictures don’t turn out great, but it would be nice to see one at least.
- my suunto still had 34% battery after running for almost 13 hours. it also said i went 103k steps on saturday.
- i ate six of my twelve packs of sport beans during the race. i also packed a bag of pretzel sticks that i ate mostly at miles 40-45 (at about 4 pm when i was hungry after skipping lunch). i only drank water and three packets of hammer heed that i kept in a front water bottle. at every aid station i ate a few oreos and pringles, and at the second to last aid station they were out of pringles so i ate goldfish instead.
i finished in 12:48 (and the cutoff was 14 hours so i finished with over an hour to spare).
i got food (a pulled pork sandwich with grilled pineapple and potato chips) and beer (a cream ale in my “medal”, a beer mug). we sat and ate, listening to the bluegrass band, and watching fellow runners and volunteers huddle around a campfire.
i will write a separate post about the night/week after fifty miles and how my body handled it. a few days out and i am feeling pretty good.