Tag Archives: trail running

That Time I Showed Up At The Starting Line And Didn’t Start

This was supposed to be my one and only ultra this year.  After getting injured in early April and recovering six weeks later, I signed up for a 50-miler as well as a 100K to get my training back on track.  Except it didn’t, and I took my 100K off the table.

I’ve been on a bit of a free-for-all over the past two and half months. A marathon and half marathon – two distances I could get through with minimal training, were completed. Pacing 16 miles of a major 100-miler was also done, so a 31-mile race should be doable, right? As the SOB (Siskiyou Out Back) approached,  I was excited about the opportunity to visit Ashland, camp solo for the night up at Mt. Ashland Ski Lodge, and run on the PCT.  What I wasn’t anticipating was a lack of mental drive, crabiness from a miserable night of sleep, and a strong desire to get back to my kids who’d been gone during the week prior.

I was planning on dropping down to the 50K (from the 50-miler) the morning of the race, as I was instructed to do by the race directors.  Unfortunately, my one fellow running friend that had signed up, also had to drop due to injury – so I was looking at a very solo effort, with no one holding me accountable. After arriving to a full parking lot at Mt. Ashland Ski Lodge the night before, I holed myself up in the back of the truck and tried to enjoy the quiet, disconnected evening by picking up a book and actually reading(!).  As the sun went down, the view of Mt. Shasta faded, and off to sleep I went.

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The sunset view from Mt. Ashland with Mt. Shasta in the distance.

Unfortunately I woke up freezing cold numerous times and was unable to rest soundly.  At 4:45 a.m. the van next to me started up its engine. And at 5 a.m., the race directors gave us a hearty wake-up call by blasting the Beatles into the parking lot.  It was race day.  I opened my eyes that morning, unmotivated, and thought about dropping down to the 15K which started at 8:15 and then realized I could be close to Salem by that point. At 5:30 a.m., I pulled out of the parking lot with no regrets.  It was Salem and my kids, for the win.

I used to think that if I bailed on a race without any physical injury to blame, it was because of performance nerves and anxiety.  And there are still race day mornings when I wake up anxious, asking myself, “Why do I do this?” But this was not one of those days.  I felt tired, and knowing I had a 4.5-hour drive once the race was over, was nagging at me.  I would be even more tired after the race. And god, I missed my kids.

So I drove away from the festive start line still in my pajamas, and made my way up I-5 knowing I would being seeing my kids much sooner than I had originally anticipated. Yes, I knew that the post-race comments on social media would give me pangs of immediate regret, but I am experienced enough to know there’s always next year. My bigger realization was that I had signed up for the 50-miler which was truly the race I wanted to run.  Not the 50K or 15K. 50 miles.  A race where you are awarded with a sweet-ass cermic mug at the finish line.  Because I’ll do any race for a mug.

 

 

 

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Race Report // Mastondon 10-ish Mile Trail Race

Boy it feels good to be back racing.  Especially right here in Bend.  Sunday was the unofficial start to race season, and running a Superfit Productions Race always feels like coming home.  Not only are the races super low-key and a good time, but I always get to see some of my favorite running compadres.  This was only the second annual Mastondon 10-ish Mile Trail Run (last year it was 12-ish miles), and I was happy to get in early enough before it filled up.

Maston Trailhead  Photo: Cory Smith

Maston Trailhead Photo: Cory Smith

The Maston Trail system is uncharted territory for me – so wasn’t sure what to expect besides lower than the average elevation gains compared to the other trail systems in and around Bend.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The skies were bluebird, and the sun was blazing.  Trails were compact – hardly any mud or ruts to navigate – which meant this race was fast.  Flat too.  The first five miles seemed to cruise – mostly flat or even a little downhill.  Once we hit the sole aid station at mile five (no others were needed), the course climbed a bit.  But that was it – a brief climb that put us along the Deschutes River Canyon which, while beautiful, was hard to enjoy while navigating the rocky trail along the edge.  Once we were beyond the Canyon, we were offered stellar views of the three Sisters to the west.

Me running Mastondon. Photo:  Cory Smith

Me running Mastondon. Photo: Cory Smith

I was happy with my 1:26 finish for 10+ miles.  My hamstring had been bothering me for about a week, and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up while racing.  There were only 81 finishers (the race gets capped around 100), but it was a good crowd with awesome volunteers.  Fearless Baking breakfast sandwiches at the finish, along with a finisher’s mug made this an ideal event.  Superfit knows how to do it right.  There was even a keg of Deschutes for those who prefer their suds in the a.m.

A big thanks to Super Dave and all the volunteers.  Great times were had by all.

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Enjoy it while you can. And then, be prepared.

A few weeks ago I experienced my first real “winter” run of the year.  And it was depressing.  Icy wind and spitting sleet turned me into an instant hater of all things winter-related. And I LOVE winter.  The truth was, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for hats, gloves and layers of moisture-wicking clothing. I wasn’t ready to fight the battle of the bitter winds. And I wasn’t ready to see my breath exit my mouth in a white cloud. 

Last winter, I experienced my very first symptoms of frost bite – a swollen, red earlobe that didn’t return to it’s normal size for almost a week.  Heading out under-dressed on an early long run meant turning around too soon because of unbearable pain in my hands from sub freezing temps.  It’s pretty simple:  going outside in winter just means taking the time to prepare.  And in the past, I have failed miserably.  Many times. My number one goal this year is to be well-prepared most, if not all of the time.  That means stocking up on hand warmers, having adequate fuel, utilizing a hydration system that isn’t hand-held, and wearing lots and lots of layers.

Fortunately, for now, the weather has turned back to its beautiful, crisp self, as it always does in Central Oregon.  I am slowly adjusting to the colder temps, while embracing the dry, sun stricken trails of fall – running on them as much as possible before Old Man Winter decides to drop some doozies.

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A dark cloud above my favorite butte in Bend, OR.

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Race Report: 2013 Super Dave’s Down & Dirty Half Marathon

Sunday was my last official race of the season and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Beautiful, crisp, fall weather greeted us at Seventh Mountain Resort – the location of the start and finish of the race. Besides the half, there was also a 10K which a few friends showed up for as well. Cory and I tried our best to stay warm prior to the race – temperatures dipped into the 30’s and the sun just wasn’t rising fast enough.

Finally, with 10 minutes to go, we hopped out of the comfort of the warm car and made our way to the start. Being a local trail race, we ran into quite a few friends and fellow running buddies which made for a great pre-race vibe. After few quick announcements from Super Dave, including the fact that the mile markers were not quite accurate, we were off.  A quick route around the resort and we headed out onto the trails.  The first few miles included wide trails and dirt roads – enough to handle both the half marathoners and 10Kers, who quickly turned back after three miles. Half marathoners continued on and up. After about two more miles, I was still feeling great – no problems with breathing or keeping pace. Only then did we hit a long gradual hill that kept climbing for a good two and half miles.  There was a runner far ahead of me – and every time he hit a hill, he would put both arms up, elbows sticking straight out with his hands on his head.  That’s how I knew there was another hill awaiting me.  This seemed to continue  until we finally hit a spot in the trees where I could finally see we were reaching the very top. Once we arrived, we found aide station #2, and our friend Glenn cheering us on. 

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Closed eyes, but happy to be on top of that hill.

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This is Cory’s happy face at the top of a hill.

And then it was down, down, down. Windy, rocky single track awaited our descent, and we all flew. It felt good to pick up speed. Winding around and down, we made our way back to the resort in negative splits (I didn’t time myself, but I am absolutely positive of this fact).

One steep crapper of a hill awaited us at the very end and I just didn’t have it in me to charge it.  But I think a lot of people lost their motivation, as well. Luckily, the finish was near and a little weave through the resort popped us onto the grassy lawn down to the finish line.  My time was 1:57, which isn’t a PR for me, but I was happy with it.  Being that this was my first Down & Dirty, I have nothing to compare it too.  Got a mug as a finisher’s prize (my favorite), and an awesome burrito buffet. A warm sun greeted us on the lawn as Cory, Lisa, Glenn and I recapped the race.  A perfect way to finish up the season.

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