I'm happy to say my second 50K is in the books.
While this year's course was a bit more forgiving than last year's (when we had to do an out and back and run uphill the second half), it wasn't exactly "easy." The McKenzie River Trail technically is a gradual downhill if you run it the direction we did, point to point. However, there is a LOT of rolling terrain, lava rock and roots in your way from point A to point B.
Trails, my friends, are bootcamp for your hamstrings.
Overall, I ran this race harder than last year. I pushed more on the flats, didn't just cruise along and I kept the walking to a minimum in those last miles where ALL you want to do is walk.
Okay, on to the day.
Fuel: Woke up at 4:15 am, had a small bowl of cereal w/ banana and nectarine. Took some green tea and a piece of pbj toast for later. My handheld had nuun water as well as Shot Bloks and a Picky Bar.
When the race started, I funneled into the line about midpack. The first 1.5 miles are uphill along the waterfalls and require a lot of hiking and little running. So being patient is key. In the end, the wasted energy of running wouldn't be worth it anyway.
Around mile 4 as we circled Clear Lake, things started to spread out.
Naturally, as time went on, my legs became more tired. The hamstrings were tired by mile 10 and the quads felt like bricks the last 5 miles.
Midrace fueling: Shot Blocks starting at mile 4, every two miles (unless there was an aid station). Aid stations were at 5, 11, 15, 21, 26 and I had orange slices, an Oreo, pringles, m&ms and pbj tortilla. This seemed to work well. The hard thing with trail running is that your energy stores deplete much quicker than road so you have to stay on top of fueling.
I won't bore you with every detail of every mile, but here are a few highlights:
- I met a woman who does HR consulting from home in Santa Barbara, Park City, or Arizona (someday I want that work flexibility)
- I had a goofy grin on my face the first 5 miles. It was a beautiful morning.
- My descending skills are pretty decent. I LOVED flying down the declines. My quads did not.
- Your brain (and eyes) start getting fuzzy after 20+ miles of staring down at the ground looking for objects in your way.
- I started hearing people behind me (no one was behind me) around mile 26
Glorious aid stations - not only for their Pringles, Oreos and water, but for the cheering, amazing volunteers and something to look forward to every 5 miles!
I could not get enough of the oranges at the aid stations! Sweet and refreshing.
My second favorite part of this race (the amazing views are #1) is that with a few hundred people running at different paces, you often get to run alone, which is super peaceful on the trail. And then occasionally, you come across someone, maybe run with them for a bit and then pass or they surge forward.
I have to admit though, I hate being in front of a pack of runners on a trail. So much pressure to run fast enough for everyone. Luckily, that doesn't happen much during this race.
And finally, I was done! That water must have been pretty important. I hope the shirtless guy wasn't trying to talk to me because I was not paying attention.
I did it - finished my second McKenzie River 50K in 5:32 according to my Garmin! I'm counting that as goal accomplished!
My mom is to thank for all these fabulous photos. Seriously, the best cheerleader!
When I got home I spent a good 20 min scrubbing my toes in the shower (they still have dirt in them) and then tried to stay parked on the couch relaxing and blog reading for a few hours. My left IT band and knee are pretty sore so I'm going to spend some serious time foam rolling and getting my yoga on this week.
So after doing this race twice, would I do it again? Yep! Do I ever want to run further than 50K? Not so much.