Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Pacific Crest Trail 50 Mile


Short Version:
8:42:22, 5th woman. First woman new CR 8:24, the next four women all within 10 minutes of each other (8:32, 8:34, 8:38, and 8:42). Perfect weather. Trail 99% single track, some dusty, some rocky and rooty, some sandy.

Longer version:
Drove down Friday, 7/28. Was to stay with Vicki Griffiths and Barb Macklow, ages 62 and 72, both running the 50 mile race. Many people that age can’t run 50 feet let alone 50 miles. These women are MY heroes. But the room in the historic Timberline Lodge was very small. Hardly any room to walk around in. Fortunately, I had a back up plan and had brought my large tent and cot to share a camp site with Wendy Jacobs and her husband in a campground ¼ mile from the start at Clackamas Campground.

Arrived at the campground at 6:00pm. Maniac Karen Wiggins was in the next site and helped me set up my tent; otherwise it would have been a show to see me deal with the tent rods. Met Maniacs Rob Cowen and Stephanie Day as well. They were all attempting their first 50 mile. Karen and Rob went on to finish. Before I left the race, I heard that Stephanie tripped over a rock or root and had an open fracture of one of her pinkie fingers according to Karen. They were on their way to the emergency room. Now, there’s a story for you. Hope she’s doing okay. I can just see the look on the ER doc’s face when he or she asked her how she did it. “Well, you see, I was running this 50 mile race when…” Spent some time with Bill Davenport, whom I met at March Mudness 100K. I also saw him at the Lake Youngs Ultra directed by Arthur. He ran the PCT last year as his first 50 mile and came back to better his time. He also is planning on running CCC in August. I’ll probably be pacing him at that race. Finally got to bed at about 10pm. Wendy and her husband arrived at 11. Was cold most of the night. Sleep was intermittent.

Woke at 5am. Broke down my tent figuring I would be too tired and sore to do it after the race. Looked like at least 50 starters at the 6:30 time. Early starters were at 5:30. Less than ½ mile start on road, then the rest was single track. Broke out to the front (about 10 in front of me) to avoid breathing in dusty trails and jockeying for a position once the trails started. Maniac Christel Elliot caught me at mile 5 and ran ahead to the first aid station. I never caught her and she finished strong in a time of 8:38. From mile 6-19, I did not do well. My legs were telling me that I had been racing too much and felt heavy. As a result, I tripped on a root. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I saw that I was going to land on a rock, so with my other leg, I pushed off of it to allow me to fly over the rock and travel a longer distance. In the process, I tucked my right shoulder in and did a somersault roll. Other than a road rash on my right palm, it didn’t look like I had fallen at all due to the dry trail. No dirt clung to my shirt and there were no witnesses to see my wonderful falling technique. Stephanie’s broken finger makes my fall seem like child’s play. That fall took a lot of gas out of me and Wendy caught me at the mile 14 aid station. I never caught up to her either, and she finished second woman in 8:32. My stomach was not feeling well during that stretch. I used the sani-can at the mile 19 aid station and from then on, I felt much better. (Some advice-if you are having stomach problems and have a chance to use a sani-can, even if by the time you get there you feel better, I suggest using it. It will almost always be worth the stop. It’s like stopping to get a rock out of your shoe. Yes, it will take some time and you may lose your position at the time, but in the end, it will save you valuable minutes. Okay, enough grossness).

My second half went much better than the first. After that stop, I was able to pick up the pace. I was following a 9:00 finish. The web site had a race specific pace chart, and in the first 19 miles, I was struggling to stay on track. But by the 25 mile turn-around, I was 2 minutes ahead of schedule. Mile 19-25 was faster than the chart. This race is supposed to have a negative split because the first half has about 3300 up and the second half 1800 up. I think few people were able to do that. It is an out and back, so the second half is mostly down, although I would describe the last 19 miles as mostly rolling. The 9:00 pace suggested 4:33 in the first half and 4:27 in the second, a negative split of 7 minutes. My first half was 4:31 and second 4:11, a negative split of 20 minutes. Now, that may mean that I could have run faster, but I didn’t want to push myself. I still have many more races to run this year. Although I never caught any of the girls in front of me, I had fun passing many of the guys who were in front of me at the turn-around. I’m pretty sure that Vicki and Barb finished because before I left, I had heard that they had gone through the last aid station with 6.1 miles to go and 2 hours to do it in.

I would recommend this as a great first 50 mile “trail” run. The setting is beautiful. There are only a few negatives. It could get very hot as it did last year where it was in the 90’s in the shade. We were fortunate with this year’s cool temps. The trail is mostly shaded, but can be dusty. The last mile up to Timberline Lodge is sandy and tiring to get up, but running down it was easy on the joints and fairly fast. There are a few major road crossings, and hopefully in the future they will place cross-guards at them. At one point, I heard a car slam on its brakes after I had crossed the road and was above the trail, but at the time that I crossed, there were also a lot of bikers on the road.

I want to thank everyone for their support in my leading the TrailRunner Magazine Trophy Series. But I learned about three weeks ago when I read the fine print that the person who wins the Grand Prize goes to the runner who has entered the most races, not for the most points. Believe me, I have gone over this in my mind many times and get more frustrated each time. When the magazine sent out e-mails early in the season tallying all the points, the emphasis was on points accrued, not the number of races run. In the results page on their web site, they also only list total points. If the prize was all about number of races, they should have included that statistic as well. Only in their last newsletter did they mention that this guy named Adam Blum is leading the number of races run. I never even thought about reading the fine print because it only seems logical that the reward should go to the person who runs more miles and places well. So my trip to Edmonton, Alberta will not help me to win the grand Prize. Yes I set a new women’s CR and a PR for that distance, and I will cherish those memories. I am still going to stick to my original plan: run 52 marathon/ultras this year and go for as many points as possible in the Trophy series. I will not be traveling to distant places to run a 5K and get another race in just to try to satisfy a rule that I don’t think makes sense. Well that’s enough rambling. Thanks for listening.

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