Sunday, November 04, 2007

Autumn Leaves 50K Report

Summary version:
Ran 32.44 miles in 7:22:08 - a PR for both distance and time. 50k time would have been 7:01 - a PR for that distance. Why the longer distance? Apparently the course ran a little long (according to everyone who had a Garmin, they came in at 32 miles) and for those of us who took the early start, one unmarked turn that led to an extra half mile. Read on for details...



Detailed version:
What a great, fun and fantastic day. I'm still pumped and excited! We got on the road a bit late on Friday, getting us into Jenny's parents about 9:00. We were in bed by 10:00 and up at 4:00. We got to Champoeg State Park by 5:30 to pick up our race packets. It was really cold out - clear, starry skies and probably around 35 or so degrees. Eric made the final decision to go with the regular start, so Jenny, Steve, Rob and I gathered with the other early runners, including Sarah - there were maybe 30-40 of us. It was really cool running through the early morning dark, headlamps on, with a pack of runners. One of the best things about this race was that we got the out-and-back for the extra mile done first. Jenny and I hung with a pack of runners till our first walk break. There was lots of chatter back and forth in the pack about finishing times. We were running out the park entrance when a car pulled up and I heard a shout "Michelle!" It was Olga - she said she was running late (she was volunteering). We made the turnaround for the out and back, ran back to the start and then began travelling the first of six loops. We could see a string of lights ahead of us and the stars above us - beautiful and a little surreal.

We soon lost sight of the runners in front and were running alone on the trail. We spotted some chalk arrows that pointed left, but decided they were for a cross country course and kept going straight - we could see a lone light bobbing in the distance and knew at least one other runner was going the same way. It was the correct decision. This part of the path was paved - the only challenge in the dark was where roots grew under the asphalt causing humps in the path. There were two aid stations on the five mile loop, and the course took us past #2 twice. #1 was at the start/finish. We ran past #2 as they were setting up and ran out the out and back part of the loop. We got to cross a really springy wooden bridge, and through the woods, along the river, past the campgrounds. The fog began to roll in through this section. We ran back over the bridge and past the #2 aid station again. Then we veered off the path and on to dirt trail. It felt really good on the legs, and would be wonderful as the day wore on. The course was well marked with signs and we could see the path just in front of us. It was challenging running it in the dark though. We came to a section where there was a field on our left and the path ran straight into the woods, so in we went. I was in the lead and a little ways in came to an abrupt stop, flinging my arms out. This cracked Jenny up - she could see a bush in front of me and thought that was why I stopped. I stopped because I could see the cliff beyond the bush. We looked around - remember it is dark, we're in the woods and using our lamps to see and decided to turn left, down a hill, along a gully and out of the woods. We looked around again and could see a familiar sign up by the fence. But the sign wasn't facing us. We were feeling like we'd done something wrong, but couldn't quite figure it out. We decided we'd figure it out on the next loop in the daylight and continued on. The sky was beginning to lighten, so we turned off the lamps. A little later and we were running past the #4 aid station - our car - it was parked right along the course. We stopped and chatted with Eric then ran into the #1 aid station - we heard Olga calling our names, grabbed some food and left.

Loop two was like a whole new race - things looked much different in the daylight and it was fun seeing the things we had run over and by in the dark. We were surprised to discover the two bridges were much higher than we thought. It was still very cold, with lots of dense fog. We could barely see a glow where the sun was trying to come through. One of the fun things about loops is seeing all the other runners - we'd seen Rob and Steve a couple times on the first loop, and saw them again on the second. We began to wonder when they'd lap us. We came to the confusing part of the course, stopped and really looked it over, and decided the path led to the woods, so that was where we had to go. Back through the woods and out the other side - where in the daylight we could now see two signs. We ran up to the new one and it was not facing us either. What?? We saw a guy on a bike point a runner across the grass towards us - cutting off the entire woods section. A little while later we saw the bike guy on the course and told him we'd gone through the woods twice - he said that was wrong and he'd go check it out. About this time was when Eric started with the regular start crowd. This whole staggered start was cool - the course became busier and there were lots of people to see. We ran to #1, said hi to Olga, grabbed food and walked to the car. We walked out on the course from there and began the next loop.

I started thinking about dumping my pack on loop four. The aid stations were coming frequently, it was cold enough that I wasn't drinking huge amounts, and the thought of no pack was heavenly. We saw Rob and Steve again, they were getting closer to catching us. We saw Eric fly by and realized he was really moving. We continued on. This time when we got to the confusing place, bike guy was standing there. He'd put a branch across the trail, added a sign, and was standing there making sure the runners turned. The course actually left the path, cut across the grass and joined a gravel path, which took you to the sign we had seen, which was facing the right direction from this perspective. Turns out all the early runners ran through the woods twice adding that bonus .44 miles. Back to #1 aid station, back to the car. I dumped the pack.

We began loop four. Without my pack I discovered what some call the "elixir of ultra running" - cups of cola. Oh boy was that good! I kept myself going through the rest of the race on cups of Coke and handfuls of pretzels. Yum. Jenny has a stomach of iron and was eating a lot more than me - pb&js, chips, candy, gatorade. I tried a couple banana chunks and two small pieces of pb&j. We started the fourth loop at 16 miles - I was feeling good but in the back of my mind I was wondering when it was going to get hard. I was thinking it could be a challenge leaving the start/finish area on the last few loops, especially if I was struggling. I kept it in the back of my mind and decided I'd deal with it when it happened. Jenny and I were having a blast - running 5/1, talking the whole way, moments of hysterical, gut-busting laughter. We saw Eric, we saw Rob and Steve, several Maniacs, and by this time the 10K was underway, so we were seeing lots of people out there. We saw Annette, who was running the 10K. When we passed Rob and Steve on the out and back, we knew they were getting close. They came into #1 just as we were leaving, and caught up to us at the car. We decided we'd run the fifth loop together (this was the sixth for them, they'd lapped us). So here we are, 21 miles and I'm still feeling good, running well. I'm kind of amazed, but am just going with the flow.




Lap five with the boys was a blast! The thing about Eric, Steve and Rob - any combination of the three and things immediately become fun. They all turn goofy. Eric wasn't with us, but Steve and Rob were in fine form. Our mood was light - Rob was tired but hilarious - he seemed to be in the "any thing for a laugh" mood. It was almost hard to run because we were laughing and talking so much - perfect for this point in mileage. We kept changing places, Steve and I, Rob and Jenny, then we'd end up Rob and I, Steve and Jenny, then another switch up. Rob announced that he was going to run this lap with us for recovery, then bust out the last few loops at 50 minutes each. As we were running along the trail section, he said that plan was no good and he was going to recover with us for one more lap. We came into the aid station and Olga asked what we were doing together. She scolded Rob and told him she expected a 1:10 for the next loop. Sorry Olga! We went to the car - my heart rate monitor had not beeped at me once all day and I was dying to get it off, so I unloaded it, my watch and my hat. Kept the Garmin though. And we were off for loop six.

We began loop six at 27 miles. In the last two 50ks, 28 miles is where I started having problems. I felt fairly comfortable - achy, but okay. No pack, irritating things like hats and watches gone, great running companions. Rob and I kept pairing up and dropping back. We'd chortle to ourselves about our slower, easier pace and wait for Steve and Jenny to notice. We'd call ahead and ask Jenny if she'd turned her timer off because it must be time to walk. We talked and laughed some more. I made up a rule that walking through aid stations meant walking as soon as you saw it. Steve and the guy at the aid station had to hustle us out. As we approached the turn around of the out and back, we had to run up a slight hill (which we did in all other laps). Rob and I decided to walk - we figured when Jenny and Steve reached the cones we'd start running real quick and they'd never know. Unfortunately, they looked back and caught us - even though we started running as soon as we saw them looking... they got ahead and stopped to wait - they were telling us to get going, so we told them to come make us - they ran back and started walking with us. Jenny decided Rob and I were a bad influence on each other and must be separated. Of course, this was all in fun, and done with much laughter. We kept chugging along. There was a point where all was quiet and I felt this bubble of hysterical laughter trying to get out - I don't know where it was coming from, but I could feel it building. I warned the group that they'd better not do anything or I'd start laughing and never stop. Which, of course, prompted them to try to get me to laugh. The next thing I knew, we were running past the car, where Eric was trying to get changed, and into the finish. We were done! We were done and I did not struggle, I did not go post-to-post, and with the exception of a couple bonus walks in the last loop, we stuck to the 5/1. 32.44 miles - my farthest ever! Rob and Steve had three more laps to go, so they turned around and headed right back out.



We went back to the car to change. There was lots of food at the finish area - even veggie sandwiches, so we went back up there to eat.



After I ate, my tummy rebelled. We walked back to the car, then laid on the side of the road for a while.



We were laying there when we heard Rob's voice say something about rubbing salt in the wound - because he still had two more to go. After they left, Eric, Jenny and I decided to make a Starbucks run. We found one about eight miles away, and we grabbed a double-shot for Rob. I got some french-fries, which made my tummy better, and we rushed back. We got there just in time to hand Rob his drink and see them off for the last loop.



I caught a little nap while they ran, then wandered back up to the finish area. I was sitting chatting with some other runners when Rob and Steve came in - I was bummed I missed them. We hung out for a while, then began the long trek home. Showers and packing up back at the house, then dinner, and finally home by midnight. Of course the saving grace was setting the clocks back an hour. We slept in today and went to meet the gang for a leisurely coffee time.




I highly recommend this race. It was well organized, and even though it is multiple loops, there is enough variety to keep it interesting. I had a fantastic day, my best long run ever, and was thrilled to finish without a struggle! I think the cool temps and the 5/1 ratio are what did it. Yay!

31 comments:

Juls said...

YOu Rock!

scott keeps running said...

Your fun is contagious. You made this thing sound like a 50k is nothing more than a walk to the mailbox!! So, when is your first 50 mile? :)

Congratulations on a very successful day with the multiple PRs, and thanks, as always, for the great report.

Sarah said...

Wasn't it a beautiful day? You guys looked like you were having way too much fun out there! ; ) : ) We thought the same about that mis-marked spot...that it would make sense in the light...not!...just more confusing! : ) A guy who finished near me had a gps that said 52 miles...so I agree it was probably a long course. Congrats on your PR!

E-Speed said...

I agree cooler temps make the longer races so much better!

Sounds like you had a great time out there! So glad you didn't run into any trouble and that you had so much fun! And a PR to boot! That 50K split is better than my first 50k last year! You are smoking it! I bet you didn't even need the early start!

olga said...

You ladies looked way too comfy out there:) It was great to see you, and glad you enjoyed the race and had an awesome finishing time to boot. Any ultra with some extra mileage is a real one!

robtherunner said...

You did great out there and I never saw you really struggling. It was fun to run two laps with you and Jenny. It helped break up the day and it was nice to catch up a little bit as well. Can't wait to do it again :)

Darrell said...

A little fun sounds like the perfect prescription for getting through a 50K. Good for you!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

SO FUN!!!! Okay, I probably shouldn't say this, cause your hair always looks fine to me, but in the last photo I can really tell how much of a hat head you really had!!! :) LOL!!!!! Yes it was a fabulous day and I feel awesome today!! Let's do it again soon!
Jenny

Sunshine said...

Your adventures are amazing. I am in awe. Thanks for sharing them.

lizzie lee said...

Michelle, amazing. I would chicken out "running alone on the trail", the darkness, and a lot of things.

I was surprised by the elixir of ultra-running, how did you handle that? And what about Jenny? Man, she is lucky.

You look so great after the "humble" distance of 32 miles. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

Randy said...

I have got to figure out when I'm going to be in your neck of the woods...I can't wait to run with you guys...what a great run..fantastic race report too....way to go...

Hey, since you left your message on my post...I figured out I had negative splits yesterday too. In answer to your question no there is no cutoff that I am aware of, I'm just wanting giving myself a target to shoot for...something to be accountable for....my marathon in Sept was 5:56:02...so I'm thinking I can do this one in something under 5:30:00 if I am having a good day...we shall see...I'm getting excited it will be the start of my Marathon Maniac Qualifications...

Steve S said...

The two laps we ran with you and Jenny were great fun and a well timed distraction. Another wonderful run and road trip.

Rest well

Bob Gentile said...

Congrats Michelle on ur PR ...great re-cap sounded like and awesome day!! what a fun event, congrats again!

Makita said...

What a great race! I'm so glad you not only PRd but had a great time as well.

Where is Autumn Leaves?

runliarun said...

Oh, you did it, and did it well - a little faster, a lot less pain, no heart stuff. You are so awesome, Michelle.

Joe said...

Great report, Michelle. You guys had a really fun time.

I'm really happy for you the 50K came off with no problems for your heart. That's a good step. Sounds as if the 5/1 was a good move.

Irene said...

Congratulations on your PR! Great race report, plus the weather conditions looked perfect for that distance.

Sarah Elaine said...

Congrats on the PRs and a fabulous run. You continue to be my inspiration!!

Try@thlete said...

PRs everywhere! Congratulations.

Meghan said...

Oh yay! It sounds like a fast course, good weather, and an overall great day! Congrats on a PR!

Meghan

Wes said...

That's an awesome Ultra! Did I tell you I've been looking for a third so I can get my maniac shirt? LOL. I don't think a third fits into my Half IM training plan though :-( I can vouch for the raised pavement thingee.... That was part of my undoing at Two Bridges.

Nicely done, Michelle! You are a strong runner!!!

Addy said...

Wohoo!!! I'm so so happy to hear that this race went so well for you. What a smoking time for your 50k+! Sounds like a great day all around :)

Congratulations!

Thomas said...

Wow, well done, what a great race! 50k just like that! Congratulations.

Annette said...

Way to go! You are one tough chick! It was good to see you - BRIEFLY. :) I almost passed you by without noticing you - sorry. I enjoyed the run, too. Great location, huh? I'm glad you felt so strong on this one. What a good run for you.

Mother of Martineau Tribe said...

Everytime I read your blog, you inspire me to get out there! Thanks for that! congrats on a great run. Would love to join you sometime.

Nicole said...

Awesome PR! And great pictures.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

congrats on your PR, that's awesome!!!!

shawn said...

"We got to cross a really springy wooden bridge, and through the woods, along the river, past the campgrounds" and to grandmother's house you went?? Sounds like a really fun course - except for the getting "lost" part.

The french fries settled your stomach? You must have a steel stomach yourself. I had to get pepto bismol later in the day after having french fries :) blech.

Your lap five sounds hilarious. Great report, I can picture it all!
And congratulations on your PR!

lizzie lee said...

Dear Neighbor, thanks for the advice. I didn't know if to challenge the taper time. Your words will be religiously followed.
I will run easy and short, as the planned establish (next Sat is 15 miles and then goes way down). An advantage is that the week before the race is Thanxgivin' and that gives me plenty of sleep as I don't have to work or get up at any specific time Thu and Fri...

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

~concrete angel~ said...

Wow, congrats on your fantastic race!

wendy said...

I'm so happy for you that you've gotten this down and feel great about it.

I totally think it's hilarious that french fries soothe your tummy. =)

Great job on the run, and finishing strong, you're an ultra runner for sure!