Wednesday, September 12, 2007

McKenzie River Trail 50K

Even coming just off of my disastrous experience at Waldo, I wasn't really that worried about this run. However, since I also had failed to complete the whole trail series this year (having bombed at Waldo) I was a bit more determined to run a faster race to try and make up for my bruised ego. I figured this course, with it's overall downhill elevation profile, would be as good a place as any to get a 50K PR. Not knowing the course is a disadvantage to pie-in-the-sky goal setting.

It's a very pretty area again in the Oregon Cascades. The run took me along trails bordering a deep blue lake as well as along side the McKenzie river. At the beginning of the run the river is narrow and rocky, but as we descend, it becomes more of a torrent then eventually a wide gushing and swift rafting kind of river. I gleaned most of this impression by listening since the technical aspects of the trail did not lend themselves to looking around. One false step and a fall was certain. There were a few stretches where the trail traverses pumice and lava flows as well as the regular roots and rocks and a fall could prove to be quite a blood letting. Therefore I kept my eyes glued to the ground most of the run. Sometimes I even forgot to blink and my eyes would start to dry out and blur. I did have a new watch that I set to beep at me every 20 minutes and I used this to remind myself to eat and drink and consider salting myself.

I ran the first 2 hours pretty hard, coming in to aid stations one and two right as my watch beeped on the hour, just as I planned. I wanted to get in place to establish a pattern of pushing myself more than usual. It seemed doable. But then the temperatures increased a bit and I only carried one water bottle. Trying to make up for under-hydration by taking in extra fluids at the aid stations (along with solid food) really bloated my stomach and gave me side stitches. I slowed and somehow gained 30 minutes on my projected goal by the time I hit the last aid station. I pushed on after this as best as I could, but I was passed by multiple people until I got to the last few miles. I finally recovered enough to start running hard and the last 1.4 miles section was especially speedy for me.

I finished in 6:03, a full 30 minutes slower than I had planned. Ah well, it was a fun run anyway. Now I have a baseline for comparison and if I run it next year I'll have a better strategy.