It’s been a while, sorry. Been slackin’. Also, exciting news, I moved across the country and started a new job. I also did ….two(?) additional races in the meantime: Run For Kids 12hour (2ndOA/1stF) and a 50k in my new home state of Washington called Oyster Dome Challenge (2ndOA/1stF). So, ya know, that’s been neat. But let’s talk about the one I just finished, because it’s new this year and, additionally, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
So, Angry Owl 12/6/1-Hour races were held this past Sunday at Bush’s Pasture Park in downtown Salem, starting at 6 AM. Fun fact about the race name: it was given the title due to, apparently, the OWLS that would attack innocent park-goers who visited Bush’s Pasture and steal their hats. The race was put on by Crusty Cap Footraces; I believe this is their first race.
The course consisted of a 1-mile multisurface loop that consisted of soft trail, gravel (UGH), pavement and grass – pretty much the whole shebang. Not much gain or loss really, it was quite flat. There was this one bit I termed Mt. Vesuvius that was right at the end of the loop but, honestly, it was probably 5 feet of gain total. You go one direction for the entirety of the race. Approximately 50% tree-cover, 50% broil in the 91 degree heat. The course was well-marked, well-lit in the 15 minutes of dark we had at the beginning of the race, and I DIDN’T TRIP ONCE.
The aid station had the basics: blessed tailwind (to whom all praise be given), water, sodas, PBJs, candies, a variety of fruits and chips; for hot foods, they offered bean burritos with either regular cheese or vegan cheese. There was also caffeine from a Portland-based coffee shop called Pacific Roots Coffee, since this is the PNW after all. Bonus points awarded for there being a kiddie-pool at the aid station, although this made it very tempting to quit…
Note: the course was paperless, so bring your own cups. Save the world.
The RD/volunteers made my life better. I actually think I told several of them I loved them, with full sincerity. The race was put on by brand-new RD/runner Josh Christensen, who was wonderful. Super informative with pre-race emails, really kept things fun and made sure all runners had what they needed. He even ran a lap (or two? I honestly don’t remember) with me! He was very open about his love for the park and the city of Salem, and his enthusiasm was infectious. He had a good group of volunteers with him who were quick to get you anything you needed. He also had a LEGIT cameraman + camerawoman taking photos and videos (with a DRONE) of the race. Everyone was super encouraging throughout the entire race, even when it was mid-afternoon and everyone was dying of a heat stroke.
The timing system was, HOORAY, chip-timed. You weren’t able to see what lap you were on unless you either asked or checked the board that was updated about every 1.5-2 hrs (which I was fine with). They had the clock facing where runners came through, so looking at that was pretty unavoidable/depressing. At any rate, I’m always pumped about chipped timing systems, so seeing that allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing my tally would be accurate. This also allowed you to see what your splits were, which were provided a couple days after the race was over. Always interesting.
So now for the race recap itself:
Ah yes. The idiocy of being young and “invincible” hit me hard on this one. Lets recap the week prior to this race:
1) involved a visit to good ol’ Alabama, where I ran a bunch of miles in the sweltering heat with people way faster than me for several days in a row and also drank dirty water from a stream because I am an idiot, thus prompting me to vomit/dry heave continuously the last two miles of a run and almost get my ass sent to a hospital;
2) had an emotionally draining week in which I felt like garbage about myself, one day even involving going to bed at 1900 after eating half a bowl of cereal for dinner (it happens…);
3) deciding the Friday before the race that I felt good and would see how easy I could push a 15-mile run around Seattle before leaving for the Columbia River Gorge, where I was planning to hang out the day prior to the race;
4) deciding the DAY BEFORE THE RACE to run/hike 23 freaking miles at said Gorge because I am the most idiotic person that exists on this planet and also the River Gorge is really pretty and I couldn’t help it?
5) feeling too cool for school and starting off the first 6 hours of this race at a freakin’ ~8:30 pace, knowing I wouldn’t be able to maintain this speed.
So there’s that.
Additionally, I found out that some seriously impressive runners (namely one PAM FREAKIN’ SMITH, who casually ran for US at Worlds like a month ago) and Mike Tyler, who is this trail-running race-winning crazy dude, were going to be at this race, so you know, I felt like I had to not embarrass myself in front of them. Yep. Not in Kansas anymore. Anyway, that being said, I had a tentative goal of besting my 73 miles I got at Delano in March of this year, but yeah. LOL.
So the first 6 hours – really, the first 7.5 hours – were fine. I was running with this guy Rob (who was doing the 6-hr) or a guy named Jason for the most part. Apologies to anyone around hours 6-7 who heard Jason and I singing classic rock tunes at the top of our lungs…
I also got to run with a personal inspiration of mine, Pam Smith (sorry, keep talking about her, but IT’S PAM SMITH). She recently ran at the World Championships for 24 hours, which is simply flabbergasting. She ran about 3 laps with me (I was secretly dying, she was keeping pace with me like it was nothing) and we chatted about how we got into running, training, and female inspirations in the often time underrepresented world of lady ultrarunning. Also trotted a lap with Mike Tyler (as the rapidly approaching Jason Moisman gained on us both, eventually winding up in second place) and we talked about GDR and the Quest for the Crest, both of which he has casually done.
I hit 50 miles in what I think is a PR of ~7:40; I wasn’t really keeping up with the rest of the mileage. After that, however, the wheels fell off the wagon, burst into flame, got eaten by wolves, and then shat out. I started out the race with some leg fatigue (duh), and after going way to fast for my own good, was toast for the last 4.5 hours. Additionally, I knew that my shoes were on their last leg going into this race, but I discovered I had actually worn a hole about a dime size into the sole of my right shoe around the 6 hour mark. Oops. The only thing that kept me going was that stupid determination all ultrarunners somehow manage to have when, despite their bodies literally telling them to stop, they just keep soldiering on. Like morons. I am a moron. To my credit, throughout the entire race (save the first 20 miles), I kept to a strict schedule of run 3 miles, stop at the aid station, repeat. I’ll have to keep this particular schedule in mind, because it wound up being the PERFECT amount of time before I needed a break or to shove water/food into my face hole.
At the end of the race, I had figured in my mind that I was at 69 miles, with not enough time or energy to care about trying to make it to 70, so I stopped; HOWEVER, lo and behold, I was informed I was actually at 70 miles! Since this was the inaugural year, I de-facto got the course record (heh), and set a neat precedent of this race being won by a chick. Wassap wassap. After high-fiving Jason, I headed back to Seattle with my friend Harris, who selflessly baked in the sun to watch me run in circles for hours.
All the kudos in the world to everyone out there, since it was a hot one. Thanks for the encouragement I got from everyone – I truly would’ve stopped had it not been for the other runners, volunteers, and RD’s encouragement throughout the entire day.
Course: A (because some of those rocks were SHARP)
Aid station: A++++++++++, with the only bad part being that I didn’t want to leave
RD/Vols: A++++++++, see above
Timing system: A+
RUNNING WITH PAM FREAKIN’ SMITH: Unrated, because holy crap
Learning the hard way that resting/good shoes are important: F-
Link to ultrasignup: http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=46856
Link to Crusty Cap FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crustycap/