Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Crater and Haulin 2006 Race Report

8/12/06 and 8/13/06

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this sore from a weekend of running. The day after, I was walking down the stairs one step at a time. Perhaps it is finally the cumulative effect of all of my racing, but I think it is more that my body does not do well with road marathons. I had planned on signing up for the Super Triple (26, 26,72) instead of the Tahoe Triple, but after this weekend, it was apparent that I need to minimize my time on the roads. But I need them to get to my 52 this year. I plan on racing very few road marathons next year.

Our original group of five (Karen Wiggins, Chris Warren, Gayle Zorilla and her husband Ruben, and me) dwindled down to two. Unfortunately, Gayle’s father passed away and Chris did not sign up in time for Crater. So Karen and I drove down Friday 8/11 to Crater Lake. We had a nice stop for lunch at a thai restaurant before arriving at 4:30pm. We checked into the Whispering Pines Motel, a scary place right off of the busy highway 97. I don’t recommend staying there unless you don’t mind water coming out of the faucet that smells like urine. We did not shower there. We drove the course and knew that the next day was going to be a tough one. There was very little flat on the course. It was either up or down. We did not get to drive the last 4 miles that included the dreaded uphill climb on trails. The park was spectacular, however. Since there was no decent place to eat, Karen was kind enough to share with me her sandwich fixings for dinner. We were in bed by 9:30, but there was traffic all night on the highway. That night I dreamed that I had a DNF at Crater, a road marathon of all things! Not a 50 mile, 100K, or 100 mile, but a measly marathon! I woke up with that sense of relief that only comes with, “Oh, it was just a dream!”

Because our bib numbers were higher for not signing up early, we were required to catch the early shuttle to the start. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the pick up spot, no bathrooms were open or honey buckets present for all the runners scrambling to go. We boarded the buses and were dropped off in the clear morning with temperatures in the 30’s and a decent wind. The race did not start for another hour and twenty minutes and we were all frozen by then. Many maniacs were present to share in the misery. Finally we got moving on our numb feet with a reasonable uphill start for ½ a mile. Then it was downhill for 1.5 miles. After that it was up and down until mile 9.6. Then it was just up and up and up for the next five miles. I alternated running and walking by picking a rock or a tree to run or walk to. It worked out great because I finally caught up with Any Yanni. I believe that there is a 35-year-old body trapped in 52-year-old Amy. This woman is amazing. I don’t think I have finished before her in a marathon, at least not lately. We pretty much stuck near each other until the turn around at mile 14.5. Then she took off on the downhill. I stopped to tighten my shoes for the downhill and before I knew it, she was just a spot on the horizon. Already, my knees and quads were aching, and I wanted to scream down the hills, but I also knew that I needed to hold back for Haulin the next day. I passed one gal at the beginning of the downhill and another gal passed me a little later. I passed a few guys. There were these two guys that I was closing in at mile 19. Black shirt guy was in front of me and red shirt guy was in front of him. Red shirt guy stopped abruptly to massage his calves, I presume because they were cramping and black shirt guy and I passed him. Then I passed black shirt guy. Next thing you know, I hear someone huffing and puffing behind us and it’s red shirt guy trying to catch us. He passed us right before the aid station. He stopped to get a drink as I cruised through with my hand held water bottle and splashed some water on my head. I could hear him behind me coughing then dry-heaving. He obviously went out too fast and did not want to get passed. He later finished almost 20 minutes after me. Anyway, at 22.5 miles, we ran past the finish before the climb up a hill for 2 miles on trail. It seems almost cruel that the finish is right there and even crueler that this part of the race is in the end. Yes, the last 2 miles are downhill and is wonderful if you have anything left in you, which most people didn’t. I passed that girl who passed me on the downhill part. At the turn around, there was a girl up ahead almost a minute before I got to the turn around. But as soon as I reached it, I was on a mission to get under 4 hours. As I was running past her, I yelled, “Come on, you can get sub-4! Let’s go!” I could tell that she tried to follow me, but I’m a pretty fast downhill runner and I eventually lost her. She did go on to finish sub-4 and thanked me later for pushing her. I finished in 3:56 and 3rd in my age group. Amy was 3rd woman. Terry Sentinella was the first Maniac to finish even after coming back from an injury. I think his time was 3:18. For the most part, the Maniacs performed well, but we all agreed that Crater is a pretty brutal course. After all that uphill for 5 miles, your legs are pretty much mush for the downhill section. I had some post race food then soaked in the little stream at the end for 10 minutes in very, very cold water that made my toes ache so severely that I could barely stand on them after getting out. But I needed to for the next day.

Karen and I left Crater at about 1:30 and drove to Bend. We went to Foot Zone for our packets and saw Slug and Bill Barmore. We told them that we were headed for Sean Meissner’s house for a pasta feed, but they already had plans. Karen and I checked into the Red Lion Inn, much better than the Whispering Pines and showered. We arrived at Sean’s at 6:30. Maniac Phil DeYoung was already there. It was just the four of us, but we had a nice cozy dinner chez Sean’s. He prepared a wonderful meal of whole wheat linguine with his mother’s special sauce, spinach salad, and bread. Sean agreed that Crater is the hardest marathon that he has ever run. Good, I didn’t feel so bad about my time. The party broke up at 8:30 since we needed to rest up. Karen and I were again in bed by 9:30 with sleep a little easier from wasting ourselves earlier in the day. No DNF dreams this time.

We were up again early (4:45) to catch the shuttle to the start. Again it was cold in the 30s. But this time, the wait was not as long for the start. Everyone kept coming up to me and saying, “You must be Pigtails!” I wonder if they know my real name. Even a guy from Canada recognized me from Blackfoot and told me that I was even the talk of the town where he lived! The marathoners started at 7AM and the half would not start until 9:30. I saw lots more maniacs glowing in their bright yellow jackets and hats. We started out with numb feet and hands again on a short section of road until it turned into trail for the rest of the run. Although I was stiff, I felt I was running pretty well. I was surprised to see a couple maniacs dash out in front. Lesa Overfield looked strong. Monte Fus took off after telling me before the start that he hurt his ankle and was going to see how things went. Eric Barnes was gone and I never saw him again. I ran with my friend and age group competitor Wendy Jacobs for the first 5 miles, then she took off on the uphill like always. I never saw her again either until the end. It was about then that I caught up with Lesa. She had a good race. I caught Monte at about mile 10. One girl passed me on the uphill and I passed at least 2. I passed a couple of guys, too. I was feeling surprisingly strong after all the pounding the day before and ran most of the uphill before the descent. As soon as I started down, I took off, but already I was starting to feel that my tank was becoming empty. I just could not replenish myself fast enough. I was still burning calories from Crater. Although I did pass one girl on the downhill, I told her as I was passing her that she would catch me on the flats, and sure enough she did. I knew that I could not sustain that pace needed to stay in front of her. In addition, at the 17 mile aid station, I was disappointed to learn that I still had 9 miles to go. I thought I was closer than that. So I scaled back a little and let her go to avoid bonking too early before the finish. But then I arrived at the 20 mile aid station earlier than expected and realized that the 17 mile aid station was probably more like 18.5. By then, I had lost some ground on her. Every time I took in a GU, it disintegrated in 5 minutes. So I had to just dig deep to keep moving. The downhill helped, but there was still plenty of flat and a few short sections of up. Was there any pain? Absolutely! Although on trail, my quads were pummeled at Crater and were still betting a beating. I came upon this guy, and after seeing me behind him, he picked up the pace. But, eventually, I caught him in 10 minutes. Again, here was another guy who did not want to be passed by a girl. I remembered him taking off in the beginning and knew that I would see him again. The half marathoners joined us with 5 miles to go and it was unnerving to hear foot steps behind me. But they were moving at a much faster pace and it was fairly easy to know it was them and not worry that it was another marathoner. The last 2 miles brought more pain as I could feel a sharp pain from a blister on the bottom surface of my left 4th toe. I maintained my position for the rest of the race until I passed another girl with less than 2 miles to go. With a few hundred feet to go, I saw a different girl behind me and ran in as fast as I could. Turned out she was in the half. That last sprint at the end sent me into an asthma attack. I came in 10th woman and 2nd in my age group with a time of 4:07. Last year, my time was 3:57, but I had not run Crater the day before. I think I was the first maniac finisher of those who did the double. Eric Barnes was the first Maniac to finish Haulin in a time of 3:58. Karen finished both races in 4:50. I told her that at least she was consistent and probably ran a better second race than most of us who had longer times at Haulin. We received cowbells for our finishers medal and a one-liter Nalgene bottle with the Haulin insignia on it, the best schwag I’ve received for a marathon lately. I just love this race! Great post-race food and atmosphere. After I caught my breath, I was interviewed by the local paper. I mentioned the Marathon Maniacs but he did not include that little bit of information in his report. Check out www.bendbulletin.com. Then after that, I ate and sat in the stream for 10 minutes, which was slightly warmer than at Crater. Karen and I hit the road at 1:30 and did not get back to Tacoma until 8 due to all the traffic. What a weekend!

I’m still ahead of schedule with 34 marathons/ultras. Next weekend (8/19) is Where’s Waldo 100K, then 8/26 I’ll be pacing someone 50+ miles at CCC, then 9/3 Walk in the Park 50K, then 9/8 Lost Soul 100 mile, then 9/16 Cle Elum 50K, then I have a week-end off, then the quad with Tahoe Triple and Auburn marathon the week-end of 9/28-10/1. Whew!

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