I’m sitting here after a hot and slow run with my friend Chris and I’m wondering how I could have completed an ultra-marathon just five days ago and now I’m finding it tough to churn out a measly 5 miles. Then it dawns on me … I just ran 31 miles five days ago!! I guess I can cut myself some slack.
Out of the three ultras I’ve done this year, I must say I’ve fallen in love with the McKenzie River 50K. The beautiful run around the lake, the magnificent waterfalls, and yes, I did stop briefly to enjoy the scenery a few times, the fun ‘log’ bridges, and of course the running along side the river all combined to make this a relatively fast, fun ultra. Strangely enough I was feeling very calm going into this race. My running training was minimal, with the kids home for the summer and our trips to Canada and camping, I found it hard to get in long runs. In fact I used Hood to Coast as my long training run. Definitely not optimal. However, I have been doing a fitness boot camp with Mark Nichols of Sledge Athletic Solutions for the past four weeks and I’ve been working out and eating super healthy. In fact, with Mark I’ve lost over 4% body fat! Maybe my fitness workouts were giving me a false sense of preparedness, but hey I’ll take it.
Some of our wonderful friends took care of our kids overnight and shuttled them to soccer (thanks Lisa, Diane and Chris) so Darin and I could both run the race. As Darin mentioned, we camped at Dave and Lynn’s again this year and we were up early, early on Saturday morning. Mark recommended I eat two hours before the race and since I was doing the early start, 6:30am, I managed to eat by 5am. Race day was beautiful and the first 10 miles were amazing. I was in a near state of euphoria and my self-talk included such things as, “My body is a machine and look how it performs when I fuel it right – wow, I get to live in this machine and experience all these cool things.” Even having to run back and forth due to the lack of trail markers and running out too far due to a missing turn-around cone (we did manage to yell at a runner who was up ahead to come back), I was just in awe at being able to just run and experience God’s majestic world!
The lead runner passed me about two hours after I started and it was amazing to watch him bound over the lava rocks and disappear on the trail. Darin caught up to me after three hours and after I asked him where he’d been all this time, he said I was just going way too fast. Caroline was also hiking on the trail and I stopped for a quick hug and some encouragement. All in all, it would have been a great 20 mile race, but my lack of training and an unhappy knee, caught up with me on the last 10 miles.
I actually think it was the boot camp and the Mark’s nutrition plan (he had me eat turkey, olives, sweet potatoes and yams at mile 20) which keep me going. By mile 24 my self-talk was something like, “My machine is broken and in need of repair!” Needless to say cyclists and hikers on the trail were of no help when I asked how much further it was to the ranger station. The answers ranged from 5 miles (pretty accurate) to 2 miles to “uh…it’s a ways down the trail.” Seeing Darin at the finish line was such a relief.
I finished in 6:48 which is a PR for me and I did enjoy myself, even though it was hard work. Darin and I were able to grab a shower and hang out for a bit at the lunch, but we had to get back to Tigard and the kids. It was so great to have a little ‘vacation’ with Darin and a real treat to have hours of adult talk time in the car – we must do this more often. To top off an already wonderful day we went out for dinner out with the kids and headed to bed early.