In the interest of getting up to speed on past ultra race reports, all two of them, I figured I would just condense them into one post.
Sun Mountain 50K
My first ever ultra. The race was a slight debacle. I finished. Barely. My achilles were on fire the final 8 miles. Walked everything but the final downhill and was waiting for them to just snap in half. Literally, they felt like they were going to snap in half, there is no other way to describe it (probably should point out I was wearing Vibram KSO Treks). That said, I remember finishing and realizing how I didn't train well enough, especially if I was going to wear Vibrams again, and that I needed to be able to do a 25K competently before I do another one of these.
Fun fact - when you finish in the last group of runners, most of the good beer and cookies are already gone (extra motivation for improvement). Finished somewhere in the 6:40 range.
Fast forward through a couple of races up and around Mt. Spokane in the late summer and early fall, some other community races, a couple of races on the wet(sic) side, all in preparation for a summer of 50K's and my first 50 miler.
Gorge Waterfalls 50K
My second, and most recent ultra, near Portland, Oregon. I'd been thinking about this race for way too long. It certainly didn't consume my thoughts, but I had signed up for it in late 2011 with the intent that it would give me something to look forward too in early 2012. As well, some people I had ran with at Sun Mountain in the summer had mentioned it as 'must do' race, due to the sheer number of waterfalls you witnessed throughout the course.
Leading up to the race, snow caused multiple course changes. Elevation shifted, routes altered, highway exit ramps changed, flat asphalt suddenly included. I spent the Saturday driving to Portland to stay with a buddy. Then the race was early Sunday morning covering the beautiful Columbia Gorge Scenic Area.
James, the Race Director (RD), has a penchant for pre-race speeches that crack me up. I can't say I listened to every word, but 'pay attention' and 'steep' and 'you can die' made their way into this particular speech, and it always seems to get a good chuckle from a fair number of people. Not to undermine his words at all, they are important...but who's really turning away now?
Right off the bat the initial pack takes a wrong turn around a pile of shrubs. Minor mass confusion is always entertaining, as people are so hyped up, it brings about some shrieks, cursing, laughs, and ultimately numerous smiles. From there we have a brief section of flat area, then onto our first climb past a 'Lord of the Rings' style waterfall. The trails after that were a mix of mud and snow in parts, with some road thrown in after about 10 miles. I ran well for the first 20 miles, then bonked for a good 5 miles. My feet hurt and we're screaming for cushion (Vibram's - pending post on those forthcoming) from the relentless rock and root infested section of trail before the final climb, and I was not holding the pace I had for the first 20. I got passed by what seemed to be about 20-30 people during this time, and realized my goal of breaking five hours was slipping away. I just had to finish as fast as I could. When I got to the final aid station, I decided to stop for a couple of minutes, take off the Vibrams, and massage my feet for a couple of minutes. This, combined with a couple cups of Coke, a gel, and a potato, gave me enough of a boost to hike the final climb, and run the final descent. Finished somewhere in the 5:05 range. (Apparently the course was shorter than a true 50K. I heard anywhere from half a mile to three miles. No matter. It's in the books.)
Random Quote: While hiking up the final climb a midst other runners, mid-day, by a bunch of tourists "Well honey, YOU just picked the PERFECT day for our family outing? Didn't you?"
Pre-Race Dinner: Sushi.
Pre-Race Breakfast: Three pieces toast with peanut butter and honey. Tall Americano.
Pre-Race Music: Mumford and Sons, mostly.
Post-Race Eat and Drink: Two Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches, One Bowl of both Chicken Rice and Carrot Ginger Soup, Two Chocolate Chip Cookies, Two Cinnamon Sugar Cookies, Bridgeport Hop Czar, Bridgeport IPA, Root Beer Soda, and finally a Raspberry Soda for the five hour drive back. Don't underestimate my ability to relentlessly consume provided ultra food when having to wait for my drop bag to return.