Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rumble Pics

Jasmine's Rumble Pics:
If anyone has a favorite (or a few faves) and wants a full sized pic, let me know, and I'll be happy to send it on. :-)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peterson Ridge Rumble!

On Sunday I ran the Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k in and around Sisters, Oregon. It’s hosted by the speeder ultra runner and all around nice guy Sean Meissner (

Up until the morning of the race, I was still waffling on whether to run hard, or take it easy and treat it purely as a training run. I hadn’t planned on making this a “target” race, so I hadn’t tapered much for it, but I had tapered some (some of it a “forced” taper as I was only able to get in minimal running for the week Jasmine was in Thailand). And last Monday I managed to sprain an ankle a bit – if felt OK but it was pretty swollen for a couple days. And on Friday prior we’d taken Avery sledding and snow-tubing at Santiam pass, and I managed to wear myself out a bit hiking up the hill and, more-so, building a snow-cave and tunnel with Avery. For the snow cave I spend way too much time kicking away at the snow, and afterwards I discovered I’d managed to over-stress something in both shins in the process, and found myself hobbling around a bit. But at least it was a great snow cave - well worth any injury. I know.... whine, whine, whine!

(Speaking of whining, Jasmine, in a search for sympathy, wants me to include the fact that she suffered a rather debilitating injury while sledding. The injury is to her “bum”, as they call it in the Queen’s English. She’s been sitting on an ice pack or a donut shaped pillow ever since.)

So I wasn’t feeling overly rested, but I have been feeling great running lately, and putting in lots of training miles. The morning of the race I was walking from our hotel over to the start (letting Avery and Jas sleep a bit longer). It was a perfect morning, I was feeling good, so I decided I might as well run as hard as I could. Plus, the course was shortened due to heavy snow-pack from 38+ miles to a mere 34. For some reason 34 miles seemed a lot easier than 38, so what the heck.

I had very little idea what to expect from the course, other than it was considered “runnable” except for a short “grunt” section. The start was pretty flat, on easy trail. There was a group of 5, I think, that took off in front setting the pace. Another pair of runners followed closely behind, and I settled in not too far back from them. The pace was really fast for me, but the course so far was easy, and it felt good.

We crossed a bridge, then crossed a paved road, and then got onto a long, flat, straight stretch on a dirt road. Finally we came to a right turn back onto a trail, and arrived at the first aid station. I still had water in my bottles, but grabbed a couple gels for my pockets, and downed a few M&Ms.

The next section followed a trail along a creek. I’m sure it was lovely, but I was focused mostly on the trail, and trying to keep up the pace with the pair of runners ahead of me. Eventually we crossed the creeks, and the trail started rolling a bit, mostly up-hill, but pretty gradually, and it was all runnable. I could occasionally hear female voices from behind, sounding way too casual for such a quick pace.

I passed the 2nd aid station, filled up with water and electrolyte drink, and grabbed a couple more gels. Soon after, I came across Jasmine and Avery, taking photos at a sunny section, with a great view of North Sister. The 2nd aid station also served as the 4th aid station, so I’d next see them right there on the return. I tossed my gloves to Avery and kept going. It was already getting pretty warm.

It didn’t take long to get to “water only” aid station 3a. I still had water, so I kept on going. The next section was the “snow-shortened” section, so instead of 6-7 miles, we’d be looping back to the same aid station “3b” in just a couple miles, so I didn’t stop. By this point, I was running in a pack of four runners. The guy I’d been following for a while was Justin Angle – who’d I normally have no business keeping up with, but he was just coming off an impressive 100 mile run, and he wasn’t exactly racing today. Stan Holman (former Hagg lake 50k course record holder) from Washington was with us, and Kami Semick, star ultra runner and all-around outdoor athlete extraordinaire from Bend, was setting the pace. It was exciting to find myself in this group, though it made me worry that I was over-reaching, pace-wise.

I managed to take a spill here at one point. No injuries, but I got pretty dirty. I felt bad that Stan stopped to make sure I was OK – I didn’t want to slow anyone down. I got up as quickly as I could and caught back up to the group.

After a bit of easy climbing along a gentle ridge, we dropped down into a canyon. Here there was some snow on the trail, and some serious ice in one or two sections. I’d fallen a bit behind the group prior to the ice, but I managed to run down the ice section pretty fast (it reminded me of heading down the hill from the rec-center to the dorm at Michigan Tech back in the day, where the sidewalk was always a sheet of ice), catch up, and slide past the more cautious runners. Soon after the ice section was the “grunt” – a steep, loose climb straight up back out of the canyon. No running here. Just hiking it hard left me pretty knackered by the top, although it was only a few minutes long.

Back at water-only aid station (“3b”) I filled a water bottle and kept going. I was really trying to stay on top of eating and drinking and I think it paid off later in the day. From 3b, it didn’t take long to get back to aid station 4, where Jas and Avery were still waiting. Avery had on her new pink cow-girl hat. Very cute. J

From AS4, it was mostly downhill trail to AS5. Coming up the other way on this section were lots of 30k runners, many with their dogs. (Dogs were allowed in the 30k race). It was occasionally “exciting” to run past runners and dogs, at high speed (going downhill) on a narrow trail.

By this time the runners had spread out a bit. Kami was well ahead, running with another woman who had caught and passed me, as were Stan and another runner that had caught our group. I think Justin stopped back at an aid station. At one point Stan and the other guy appeared to take a wrong turn. They were pretty far ahead, but I could still see them. I stopped at the intersection – they were following a very rough looking “unofficial” trail, while the main trail turned to the right. I started following them for a second, but stopped, and some early starters caught up from behind and agreed the right turn had to be correct. I shouted – not sure if they heard or not. The early starters started shouting, so I kept going. (I found out later from the other guy (not Stan) that he lost about 4 minutes on the wrong turn. He caught back up and passed me 5 or 6 miles later). I was relieved to see a yellow ribbon soon after, indicating I was on the right trail.

I reached the next aid station, and then re-joined the long, straight road that we’d come up earlier. Except, I think it gad grown longer for the 2nd time along. This was about 20 miles into the race. It was strange being able to see so far – I think it was Kami ahead of me, probably by 1/4 mile or so. After a long slog, I finally crossed a road, then a bridge over a creek, and turned back onto a single track trail. This section followed a creek for a while, and then meandered through the woods. I was running alone by this point, trying my best to stay focused and keep pushing, while saving a bit for the last few miles.
Eventually the course dumped back onto gravel road. A volunteer made sure I made the correct left turn, and informed me that it was 2.3 miles to the next aid station. What he didn’t tell me was that it was almost all up-hill, and almost all fully exposed to the sun. So it was a long 2.3 miles, but a good 2.3 miles. The hill let me change my pace and cadence enough that it felt good on my legs, and I was able to run the whole thing (except for a few quick walking breaks to drink and down a gel). Occasionally the hill appeared to crest, only to start climbing again around a corner. But it was all pretty gradual and runnable. I was passed once in this section by one of the guys who’d taken the wrong turn earlier. He was running strong. A few minutes later I passed a runner who was walking up the hill. He said he’d tweaked his ankle pretty good. I offered some Advil, but he said he was OK to keep going without. I pulled away, and with about 9 miles to go I was running alone again. I didn’t pass, or get passed, by another runner for the rest of the race.

Aid station 6 finally appeared. I refilled both bottles, grabbed a couple more gels, downed some food, and started off again on a single track trail. From this point on, it was mostly downhill to the finish, though there were a couple rollers that involved some uphill running. I figured I’d run conservatively for the next two miles, then try to push it a bit for the last 6 miles or so, if I had any gas left. 15 or 20 minutes out from the aid station I downed another gel, struggled up a warm, sunny uphill section, then tried to push it for a while. This part of the course was stunning – narrow single track meandering through a wide open hilltop, with views up and down the Cascade volcanoes. I made note to come back some day and hike this area in order to soak up the view – for the moment I tried to keep my eyes on the trail. I passed photographer in this section (I’m looking forward to that picture), then a kid out hiking with his family who assured me I was near the next aid station… finally back into the trees, and into the aid station where Jas and Avery were waiting.

I refilled both bottles again, ate a gel, and asked what place I was in. They weren’t sure, but thought “definitely top 10”. I was pretty excited at the prospect of a top 10 finish, and I definitely didn’t want to lose it on the last 4.2 mile leg to the finish. Also I knew I had a shot at a sub 4:30 time, especially if it were indeed mostly downhill to the finish. I took off determined to run hard, though I was struggling a bit at this point. For the next 15 or 20 minutes I tried not to think of the finish or count down the miles, but rather just keep a steady pace. There was one modest uphill section. I power hiked a bit while drinking some, and pouring as much water as I could over my head. I also started looking over my shoulder quite a bit, wary of getting passed. Before long there was a nice, gentle downhill, and I was able to run it pretty fast. A long straight section let me see that there was nobody within several hundred yards behind me (or in front), so I felt pretty confident my place was set. I started focusing on getting in by 4:30. A sign said 1 ¾ miles to Sisters. The finish line was at least ½ mile before Sisters, so I figured I had at most 1 to 1 ¼ miles left. My watch read 4:18. The trail was still a gentle downhill, so I kept running hard. Sooner than I expected, I saw the road in front of the middle school (where the race finished), and I knew sub-4:30 was in the bag. I crossed the road, meandered through the parking lot, and entered the track, where the finish line was still about a half lap around the track. Avery joined me for the last bit on the track, and held my hand across the finish line. I came in just under 4:27. 8th place! Whoo Hoo!

Next up is our “hometown” race – the Mac forest 50k, just four short weeks away. I’m hoping to break five hours, as last year I missed that mark by just three minutes. Hopefully I can recover fast from yesterday’s run, get in a week or two of solid training, and leave time for a decent taper. After the Mac 50k, I’ve got 10 weeks until the Tahoe Rim trail 100 – my first 100 miler!