Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mt Hood 50k
Holy shit I can't believe it has been so long since I posted on this blog, but hey it is what it is.   So last year I really wanted to run this race but as usual for me, I waited to long and the waitlist was very long so I ended up running the inaugrial running of the Grand Circle Trailfest.  Which was absolutely amazing.   Funny how things like that work out.  If you ever get the chance to do that race, GO FOR IT.  3 days of running in Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon.  Word of advice:  Make sure you have plenty of memory for the photos, cause you'll be taking a ton. 

View from the plane ride from Boston
Laura and I a few days before in from of Mt St Helens
Ok back to Mt Hood, so registration opened, and I was on the computer the day it opened and I was in.  There was no way I was going to miss out this year.  Not sure what really peaked my interest in this race, but I was hooked from the first time I saw it.   I'm going to spare you the read on how cool Mt St Helens, Lange Winery, the town of McMinnville, Multnomah Falls, Timberline Lodge, Portland's Japanese Garden, Running in Forest Park, and the City of Portland is.  That said, seriously Portland you really need to address your homeless issue.

Ok the race - at the last minute one of my weekend trail partners, Jeff, cleared the waitlist and decided to come out and do it.  Laura and I had been out 5 days prior, so we met up with Jeff Friday at 10 Barrel Brewery for dinner, and made the plans to drive out to Government Camp/Mt Hood on Saturday.  We had rented a cabin on Airbnb for Saturday night.  The drive was super easy and quick and we got up in time to hit the Mt Hood Brewery for lunch, Timberline Lodge then back to the cabin to settle in.  One nice thing about going out west for races from Boston is that the time change works in your favor in regards to early wakeups.

Race day arrives, a quick ride up Rt 26 to road 42 and we are at the Clackamas Historic Ranger Station and ready to start.  The race is super organized and the race directors and staff are great.  The day before they had done the 50 miler so they seemed to have the "heavy lifting" already done.  We grabbed a cup of coffee and waited for the 8am start. 

Jeff and I waiting for the start
For some reason I was somewhat nervous about this race but as usual once the clock starts it doesn't take long for that to go away.  The course is beautiful.  You dont see Mt Hood for quite a while, but running in the trees is so cool.  These bad boys have got to be 100+ feet tall and 10-15 feet around.  Anyway, the gun goes off and really for as much single track as there was, the conga lines really worked into small groups of like paces really quickly.  Jeff had come up with a workable pace plan, which we actually seem to exceed to start.  Laura was going to go to the 2nd aid station (which you hit a second time after the turnaround).  We had conservatively planned on coming thru the 9.2 mile mark a little under 2 hours, but hit it at 1:38.  Which surprised us at between miles 6 and the aid station you go up and up and up.  Not crazy steep but unrelenting.  Quick bottle swap (Nuun), a handleful of snacks, and quick goodbye kiss and off we go to the turnaround (mile 13.4).  The trails then run along the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) and our first good views of Mt Hood.  AMAZING!!!!

Mt Hood through the trees on the PCT 
Jeff was feeling really well and was pushing the pace pretty good.  At this point, I was a little behind him but caught him at the aid station and we pushed back towards Laura waiting for us at the aid station.  Jeff was continuing to run very well, so I dropped to a workable pace as although he had opened a bit of distance between the two of us, when I hit the aid station Laura said I was about a minute or so behind him.  Switched bottles again, soaked my head with a cold sponge (felt great as it was starting to warm up a bit now) and was off.   And that was kind of the beginning of what turned out to be a longer day than expected. 

I had been hoping to break 6 hours.  And was in pretty good shape coming out of that aid station, but about 3/4 of a mile out and starting the downhills, I started to get one of my migraine auras.  I tried massaging the back of my neck and shoulders to see if I could minimize it but wasn't long before I was only able to see a small tunnel vision.  This has happened before (most notably Pisgah last year - huge thanks to Eric Randall for guiding me through), so I kept my eyes down to avoid rocks and roots and kept going.  My pace was fairly decent and I knew if I could deal with the 20-30 minutes of aura, that I could run through the headache once that hit.   Which luckily I was able to do and hit the Little Crater Lake aid station for the second time and got ready to run the last ten miles in.   A quick check of my watch and calculated that I could still come in around 5:50 or so.  Giving me a little time to spare.  

A couple miles down the trail and my toe hits a root and when trying to catch myself, my right knee decides it wants to bend to the right.  Which if you haven't done to yourself before, #1 - it's a really really weird feeling and #2 - I dont recommend it.  Because then the wheels really came off.  The knee started hurting which changed my gait, and then the hamstrings and hip, etc.... weren't having any part of a lot of running regardless of pace.  Did the on and off until the Dam aid station and then pretty much walked in the last 4 miles.  Finishing in 6:09.  Disappointed - yeah a little, but happy with the majoirty of the run before I tweaked my knee.

View from Timothy Lake on the way back to the finish line
Would I recommend this race to anyone - absolutely!!!  Would I do it again - probably not as it really is more of a destination race and there are so many others I want to do.  But that is completely the only reason.  I love the northwest and that race is so well done.

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