Monday, December 26, 2011

Mary's Peak Trail Run - Day after Christmas Gift

Thought I'd post a couple of photo's from today's day after Christmas run with Eric Jensen and Mike Rosling up Mary's Peak.  This was a good run for me, especially at this time of year.  I feel like I'm a little ahead of where I was last year for training miles, but I was definitely feeling the quads after I got done with this run.  Of course, Eric and Mike beat me back to the truck.

I wished we could have got Gene and William up the trail too.  I'm sure William and Mike will be doing a double or triple sometime soon.  Gene the trail is looking good, lots of roots, rocks, and well a bit foggy, but still got some good views in near the top.

Eric and Mike leaving me in the dust (Snow)  - Dec 26, 2011

Coach Rosling (#1 to top of Mary's Peak - Dec 26, 2011)
The final time for me was something like 3 hours and 16 minutes up and back to the North Ridge Trail Head Parking area.  I couldn't find my time from May 2011, but there was a lot of snow back then and we didn't do nearly this many miles.  So this is my new bench mark to beat next time.  Maybe a Mary's Peak Double in 2012.

Gimpy (#2 to top of Mary's Peak - Dec. 26, 2011)

Thanks Eric and Mike, fun run...

Hope we get back up there soon...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No Western States 100M, No Swan Song, and I ain't no bump on a log neither

The Western States lottery (2012) and raffle selections (2013) are done for now and it looks like a lot of good runners were selected with at least 8-9 running to represent Oregon.  However no 'Gimpy' McKay on the list to toe the line in June 2012.

Oh well, thanks to the Rosling and Jensen families for being so supportive before/during/after the selection process, maybe next year...  The quiche' and fresh fruit was delicious!!!

So what's a 100 miler worth relative to goal setting and accomplishments.  For now, I need to regroup and prep a new set of running goals...

A couple options:
1) Complete the Oregon Trail Series (Tough, but possible with extra miles)
Hagg Lake (50K)
Peterson Ridge (40M)
McDonald Forest (50K)
Siskyou Out N Back (50K)
Mount Hood (50M)
Waldo (100K)
McKenzie River (50K)
Flagline (50K)

2) Run a Marathon or two (I'd like to go sub-4hrs and ultimately <3:30 for a Boston qualifier):
Timberline Marathon
Foot Traffic Flat Marathon
Victoria Marathon
Silver Falls Marathon

3) Specific Goals:
=>Re-qualify for WS100 2013
     a) Run a 100K in under 14 hours
     b) Run Mt Hood PCT 50 in under 11 hours
=>Run a sub-4:00 Marathon(s)
     a) Victoria Marathon
     b) Other??

4) Stretch Goal:
=>Throw caution to the wind and run the Plain100 (Scary for sure, depends on how I feel after 100K)
=>Beat the "Weiner Dog"

So while I still need to figure out what additional runs Gimpy will do in 2012, I know it's not the end of my running and I won't just be sitting around.  When I ran Peterson Ridge 20M last year, I thought the run might be over when I got a cramp at mile 8-9.  I ended up slowing my pace, regrouped, and finished one of my more memorable running experiences.  I think that's how Gimpy see's the lottery for Western States, it's just a little cramp, now I need to adjust my pace, regroup, and just keep moving.

I took this picture of a swan at Cline Falls near Redmond before the 2011 Peterson Ridge run.  It made me think about the phrase last "Swan Song".  So, even though I didn't get into Western States, it's not my last running experience.  In fact, I have many more running adventures to go.  So in fact, it's NOT my last "Swan Song".

"Swan song" is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement.  (Reference from Wikipedia)

...and since I like to run and try new adventures, I won't be a bump on a log either.

So with a little advice and reflection...  I should be back on the trail in no time.

I'll probably consult Team Rosling on this one...

Not a "Bump on a Log" either

Until then, Let's Go Gimpy, Time to Run...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shellburg Falls - Sunny with a Chance of Fun

The Shellburg Falls Trail Run is not a super competitive event for Gimpy, but since I started running trails last year I get a chance to compare my times over similar courses.  I was hoping to do a little better this year on this somewhat hilly course since I'd started running a lot more hills over the last year.  I'm also hoping to run the entire RunWildAdventures series this year, if possible.

I woke up a little late for the drive up to Shellburg Falls, but was able to make up some time and got to the race start early enough to see William, Mike, and Gene, do the packet pickup, and still get a little warm up run before start of the race.

Carmen at PDX, returning home
The reason I got a late start was that Carmen, my wife and partner for a little over 31 years, had just gotten back from a three (3) month vacation/family reunion in the Philippines the running logistics are getting more interesting.  I was pretty happy to see her and wanted to give her  a chance to hangout with the kids before heading home.

Andrew, Carmen, and Amber
We decided to hang out with the younglings, (Amber and Andrew), before driving back to Albany.  We went to Blitz's Sports Pub for dinner and then to my sons apartment about a block away to wait my daughter.  We didn't get home until about 1AM and it was close to 2AM before I snagged a few hours of sleep and then headed out with a delayed start to the run around 730AM.

Carmen's not big into running or into being cold so she decided to stay home and catch some sleep while I drove up for the run.  But, she supports my running addictions and I hoped to be back home before she got up.

Shellburg Falls is a pretty cool area and even though I've lived in Oregon most of my life, I'd only learned about the place the last year when I started running trails.  It's similar to Silver Falls Recreation Area, but not as developed.  There are still a lot of nice trails to run, hike, and bike on, but can be hard to find if you don't know about it.

Upon arrival at Shellburg Falls I noticed my arch foe "The Weiner Dog" in pre-race form.  He looked good and I was a little nervous that he was running the race.  However, I was hoping I'd get a little competition and find out how my hill climbing would pay off.

Shellburg Falls Trail Run
Shellburg Falls Final Time

The race went well, I think,  compared to last year:

Mile #     2010            2011
1             8:53             9:18
2           10:48           10:30
3           16:20           14:52
4           10:36           10:09
5           10:39           10:10
6             9:04           11:00
6.9        13:17               -
6.5           -                 8:09
Final      1:14:49       1:10:37
Overall the course was shorter than 2010, but matched the inaugural 2009 run course, which I didn't get a chance to run.

I think I did better in the first 3 - 4 miles where the course is the same as last year.  I tried to stay with Gene who took off pretty fast and I only caught him briefly while he went over the first bridge, where I'd decided to  take the creek route.

There is always a queue going over that bridge and the wet feet are only a minor inconvenience for a few steps before you forget about them on the next somewhat rocky uphill section.  I was trying not to save anything for the stairs after the falls or the big hill that I knew was coming, but my legs still felt a little heavy going up the first little climb to the falls.

I do think the latter part of the course might have been tougher last year mostly because of the added distance and a hillier trail section before popping back onto the road for the finish.

Gene pulled ahead of me again right after the first bridge and I lost sight of him as we headed up the trail and I kicked into Gimpy gear from here to just before going under Shellburg Falls.  I had no idea where my "Weiner Dog" challenger was, but I was going to push as hard as I could because I didn't think he was in front of me at this point.  Ultimately, I held him off until the steep hill climb where he passed me like I was standing still.  I tried to stay with the little "Weiner Dog" as best I could, but those short little legs are faster than you might think.  This is also where I spotted William "The Sasquatch".  Thanks for the high five William, it gave me a boost along with following that little four legged critter that ultimately helped me increase my pace enough to pass Gene on the same uphill section.

Once we got to the top of the "Walking" hill I lost sight of both Weiner (ahead of me) and Gene (Behind me).  Now I had my mind worry about keeping my pace up to stay ahead of Gene and glancing ahead to see if I could find Weiner.  I managed to stay ahead of Gene who finished close in 1:12 and some change.

Nice run, Gene!!!

Weiner dog beat me by almost four minutes (Dang!!!).  I'd like to say part of that was because I got behind someone who was faster than me on the uphills, but slower than me on the downhills.  The last mile or so is downhill and I tried a couple times to pass, but he wasn't having any of it and every time I'd just about pass there was a switchback or the trail narrowed.  Well so much for my excuses, I'll have to take a few more chances next time.

I'm still not sure I'd have caught the "Weiner".  Nice run "Weiner Dog", errggghhh!!! Until next year!!!

Also note worthy, Mike Rosling finished a strong 3rd and had a nice run time of 49:57, just breaking 50 minutes and a 7:20 average mile pace.  Wow, way to go speedy Gonzales.

Mike and I had a good 8 mile run on Wednesday at Cardwell Hill and then the Fitton hill loop, I'm now convinced those good training runs before a race can pay off sometimes.

Well, I'm looking forward to a good running year in 2012 and can't wait 'til next year...

Until then gotta few more days before the Western States 100 drawing, raffle, and many more miles on the trails.

Until then, Let's Go Gimpy!!! Time to Run!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

'Alea iacia est' - The Die has been Cast

Young Will Rosling High-5 at Lap 7
(Autumn Leaves 50M)
Young Mr Rosling
Pacing me through Lap 7 of 8
(Autumn Leaves 50M)

'To finish is grand to run is bliss' --- That's how I felt at Autumn Leaves this year.

This was my qualifier to start the next round of ultra running distances.  With a sub-eleven hour qualifier I will try for Western States 100 mile run or equivalent.

On 11/10/11 @ 09:00AM: I sent in my WS100 raffle application for the 2013 100 mile run (Last year I bought a few tickets and didn't get selected).  Mike Rosling got selected and ran in 2011 to a great finish.

On 11/12/11 @ 12:03AM: I registered for the 2012 Western States 100 Mile Lottery.  I think I just missed being one of the first ten (10) to register, but only because the raffle winners were already listed.  I guess I was a little excited and I know I will be a anxiously awaiting the lottery results on December 10th.

On 11/12/11 @ 1420PM: There are already over 490 runners registered for the lottery to be held December 10th.  So it looks like even though my odds are going down for getting into Western States easily, my level of commitment to run a race of this distance has increased.
Rubicon River in N. Italy

Gimpy's Rubicon River

I woke up this morning with lottery and raffle applications submitted and was thinking,

"The die is cast" for the next chapter in my running adventures.  When I looked up this reference I discovered it came from a something Julius Caesar had said as he crossed the Rubicon River in Italy on his way to Pompey.

The phrase 'Alea iacia est', as I understand it from wikipedia means essentially 'The die has been cast', as Caesar exclaimed after crossing the River Rubicon in Northern Italy on his way to Pompey in 49BC.

It turns out there is also a Rubicon River on the middle fork of the America River very near where the Western States trail crossing occurs on the way to Auburn and the finish line.  It seems coincidental, but highly auspicious to me.

Note: I do not intend to realize the ultimate fate of Caesar, but that crossing of the Rubicon holds a significant turning point in my attempts to conquer the 100 mile ultrarunning barrier.
So here I go, I'm planning on tapering down the mileage for some fall and winter trail runs.  Then sometime in December depending on the WS100 results and hopefully with some coaching help from Mike and William (Veteran 100 milers) I lay out the training schedule for a 2012/2013 100 miler.

Autumn Leaves 50M Finish (9 hrs 47 min)
Let's Go Gimpy, time to run!!! 

Credits:  Thanks to Mike Rosling for the photo's at Autumn Leaves.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Leaves 50M - Happy Trail ! Oh Yes!!!

The Autumn Leaves 50 Miler at Champoeg State Park finished out Gimpy's 2011 ultra running season and I think with my best pace/mile to date for 50K and over.  My previous long runs have been up and down for time and pace.  I see this as part of my running journey as I gain more experience with different terrain and running conditions.

The Autumn Leaves 50M is definitely a different kind of running challenge.  The flat looped 10K course on mostly paved trails means faster pacing, with a risk of going out too fast.  I'd run the 10K in 2010, so I knew what I was getting into as far as terrain and I'd ran four loops a few weeks earlier.  I had a good idea the pace I wanted to hit for early miles.

Fortunately, I got a nice parking spot right across from the Pioneers Mother's Cabin where I'd set up the back of the car with a few extra things in case I needed anything not in the drop bag or aid stations.  It turned out I'd need a few extra Gu gels, so it was worth the early morning drive to get the spot.  I'm not a big fan of Chocolate and Huckleberry Gels.  Gimpy likes 'em Vanilla or Plain (about 12-15 of them).

The short walk to the pavillion with headlamp was required just to get to the packet pickup area and set the tone for the race start.  I'm not much of an early morning runner, but the 6AM start in the dark was a nice experience.

I saw Josh Gum and we exchanged greetings and best wishes before the run.  As Bret Henry started the count down I wished Josh a good run and we were off into a light fog.  It was pleasing to to see the bouncing reflections and head lamps as we started out on the trail.  The fire was crackling and inviting us back after each loop.

To start I wanted to keep my heart rate around 130 for the first half of the run, expecting it to start climbing as the run proceeded.  I was generally successful and I'd adjust my pace downwards if it started to climb above 135.  This was my strategy to avoid going out too fast per Coach Rosling's suggestion.

Garmin 110 failed to save :(
I think I spent a little too long in the aid stations, but felt like the pace was 11' or less for those first four loops.  The Garmin 110 served its purpose to maintain heart rate and pace for the first six (6) laps and then as if on cue from previous runs died with a low battery and worse failed to save any of the run. (Irritating, requiring note to self: 'It's time to replace the Garmin with something that can last the long run, it's let me down on three of my last five (5) long runs.  I'm resolved to replace the battery and if that doesn't do it, it will become a Christmas present for someone who likes 5K's and 10K's.

It will be somewhat difficult to stop using it, since it's logged over 1500 miles for Gimpy in the last year.  The actual distance longer due to battery fails.

The completion of the first loop was a relief, revealing solid footing along the entire course.  The wood bridge wasn't as slippery as my previous run.  Although I was about a minute/mile slower on the 1.25 mile trail section, it didn't get as muddy as we expected and I was able to run the entire course with only brief walking breaks at the aid stations.  My goal was to continue jogging through as many miles as possible.  Even the slight elevation gain at the turnaround point was runnable for me until my 6-7th loop.

For comparison, I'd crossed the finish line on my first 50 miler a bit on the exhausted side at the Mt Hood PCT 50 in 12 hours and 30 minutes.  In that run, I'd really paid the price on those hills and I was looking forward to see what I could do on a flatter course.  I checked a few people's times who'd run Autumn Leaves and Mt Hood and it looked like 1-2 hour improvement was possible.  I felt I could run Autumn Leaves faster, I just didn't know by how much.  My goals were similar to previous runs, with minor tweaks to the times.

My Autumn Leaves 50M goals were:

1) Finish with a smile
2) Finish under 11 hours (this is the last year Autumn Leaves will meet a 2012 WS100 qualifier)
3) Finish under 10 hours (I'd told Mike I'd be super pleased if I could finish under 10 hours).
4) In Gimpy's dream world I'd love to have beat 9 hours, but this will have to be reserved for a future run

Comparing Results:
May 2010: Forest Park 50K:         Gain (3185 ft):   Time:  9 hr 05 min (Pace: 17:35'/mile)

May 2011: Forest Park 50K:         Gain (3185 ft):   Time:   6 hr 14 min (Pace: 12:04'/mile)
July  2011:  Mt Hood PCT 50M:   Gain (5630 ft):   Time: 12 hr 30 min (Pace: 14:31'/mile)
Sept 2011: Flagline 50K:               Gain (4200 ft):   Time:   7 hr 30 min (Pace: 15:00'/mile)
Oct  2011:  Autumn Leaves 50M:  Gain *(1300 ft): Time:   9 hr 47 min (Pace: 11:45'/mile)

One thing I appreciated was seeing Josh Gum as we passed on the course, this was his first 50 miler and he really got my spirits lifted.  It was especially inspiring since he'd just finished pacing his wife Wendy for the Portland Marathon.  Josh is a man of generosity and positive attitude.

I also got another big boost as I came in at the end of lap seven (7).  I saw Coach Mike, Ella, and Will Rosling near the gate approaching the turn around. Will gave me a high five, followed by Ella and then amazingly young Will paced me to the turn around point and that really got me psyched for the last lap.  I completed the turn around and the three of them paced me out towards my last lap.  I had goose bumps and was running high for the first two miles. 

Like the great coach he is, Mike gave me a challenge when he said we'll see you in about an hour.  I think I said maybe a little longer.  Even so, I felt strong like I'd almost saved too much for this last lap.  My quads were definitely aching and the balls of my feet were starting to hurt.  I put that out of my mind and started counting the miles down, 6,5,4,3,2, and finally 1 mile to go.  I ran the whole thing with out walking.  The Garmin had died so I had no idea what my pace or heartrate was.  I checked my phone and I could see I was going to come in under 10 hours but wasn't sure if I'd be closer to 9:45 or 10:00.

I popped out off the trail on to the parking area and I could see the finish line and pushed hard wanting to finish strong.  Josh's family had been cheering me on and I saw the Rosling kid's just past the finish line.  I would repay them soon.

50 miles done...  I briefly thought about whether I could turn around and do it again.  The thoughts slipped away after I mentally checked off the personal OK to register for the Western States 100 lottery.  Whether I'll actually do it if selected...  Well that's a future blog.

I did think about it again while talking to Mike at the McDonald Forest 15K, 100 miles seems like an aweful long ways.  "Pain Train", I'll work on my back to back runs next year.  Oh and I be very pleased if you'd provide a little coaching on those scrambles too.

In  the mean time, I've got a little down time between the next Run Wild Adventure run and WS100 registration on November 12th to think things over.

For now, I'm just happy to have gotten another 50M on the running resume.

Josh, thanks for be a smiling face and offering encouragement as we passed each other on the course.  I'm really glad we got to do a 50 together, best of luck on your next big adventure.  It was inspiring to see your family sharing in your running experiences.

As to the Race Directors Bret and Gail Henry and all the volunteers, very nice job.  The course and all the organization was exceptional.

The chicken soup at the end really hit the spot.

P.S. Mike, hope the kids didn't get too many gummy bears, cookies, chips, and other junk food.  Ella and Will, hope your dad gave you the Payday bars, 'cause I know he likes them too.  Tonya, thanks for letting Mike and the kids cheer me on.  You've got a super family, definitely filled with character and good will.

Some Bling from the race and some of the gear

Happy trails...  Gimpy's looking forward to next year

Until then, Let's Go Gimpy, got some winter trails to run...

Monday, October 17, 2011

No Blues at the Blue Lake 5K

The Fall season felt fine, it was slightly overcast Saturday with a good chance of running fast.

Gimpy's discovered that the Blue Lake 5K course is a great flat and fast course for newbies and experienced runners alike.  The RD's and volunteers really take good care of the runners young and old; before, during, and after the run with Subway sandwiches, assorted cookies, soda, milk, and award ribbons for most runners.  All Gimpy needed was a good nap to complete another awesome running experience.

This was my second time running the Blue Lake 5K course and I made some solid improvements from last year.  There's still more running this year, Autumn Leaves 50M is a few weeks away, but this has been such a good year for me, I'm taking a moment to enjoy the progress made since last year especially for my 5K run time, currently this is a PR for me, and I'm quite happy with the progress so far.

I would be remiss if I didn't plug the coaching support I got from Coach "Spike" Rosling.
Thanks Mike, Help Gimpy run faster => Check => Mission accomplished:

Near the Finish

Pain Train at Monument Peak

<=I can't say my running attire was in the best form, I probably need to consult a fashion guru like Pain Train aka "The Scrambler", before my next run. ==>

Very nice legs there William!!!  I believe I'm having a jealous moment.

A friend of mine, Derek Sterling, also ran this year.  This was Derek's first race since his Army days and I think he did a great job for someone just getting back into running after a long break.  Derek's been running with me over the last couple of weeks and really made some good improvements towards his health and run times.

  Thanks to Kelly Barton and Marianne for the race photos.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Flagline 50K - Pre-Birthday Surprise - I finished!!!

I recently finished the drive back to Albany from Mt. Bachelor after running the Flagline 50K put on by Superfit Productions.  I haven't seen the results yet, but I heard Max King was 1st for the men.  He crossed the line about 4 hours before me.  Ehhh, I'll get him next year (: )


Now for the real blogification:

I am glad I signed up for this 50K trail run.  Well, I can say that now that I'm done and can make a few reasons up.  Although on the drive back I was scratching my head as to why I signed up for this race with no training at this elevation.  I could have just as easily run another half marathon at sea level and called it good.

The only thing I can come up with is it was an early birthday present.  Back in the day, when I was still 50, I decided I needed to do a 50 something before I turned 51.  It probably could have been a 50 yard dash, a 50K, or a 50M.  I ended up signing up for the Forest Park 50K, something in the middle distances between some really short and really long.  In previous blogs, you'd see Gimpy finished after the 9 hour cutoff.  So, I think this year with a bit more training, I decided another 50K would still work for a birthday pick me up.  So a Sept. 24th run was on order, freeing up the 25th for the celebrations.

I'd have to say the prep for this run was not optimal as I'd violated a bunch of Gimpy rules.
1) Get the training miles in on similar trails, I didn't!
2) Know the course, I didn't!
3) Don't overthink it, I did!

So maybe this is a new Gimpy rule, if the urge hits you, just sign up anyway and see what happens.  They'll be the material of future running tales and blogs perhaps.

With respect to item #1, I'd definitely deviated some from the training plan I'd discussed with the "Coach" and had done a couple of half marathons instead of running some longer miles.  These were the long training runs we had discussed, before I did Autumn Leaves 50M at the end of October to attempt a sub-11 hour time.  So, I thinks after the fact, what the hay, maybe a good 50K would offset those shorter runs, before the big taper.

#2, I had studied the maps of the Flagline course, but with Forest Park, the first time I ran it, I got lost.  I was seriously worried about this, as last year the lead runners at Flagline had got off on the wrong trail as well.  In their case, I believe they got inadvertently mis-directed.  Gimpy doesn't need mis-direction he gets lost all by his self.  Fortunately, this wasn't an issue as the course was very well marked.

As to overthinking, I always do this. Sorry Eric, I'm working on it.

So when I finally got to Bend, of course I drove up to Mt Bachelor just to get a sense of how the elevation might affect me.  Of course, standing next to my car gave me all kinds of confidence.  Back in Bend I found a place to spend the night, had some pizza, and then tried to sleep.  I think I woke up every hour, once from leg cramps, the rest from general nervousness and anticipation.

Mt Bachelor before the race start
I managed to take care of the checkout and get up to Mt Bachelor without incident.  I finally decided to drop my Nathan running vest fully stocked on the tarp for Broken top (mile 17.5) and use two hand bottles for the first part of the run.  I also decided to wear the Brooks Cascadia's, instead of New Balance MT101's and took the shuttle over to the start about 20 minutes ahead of time.

In the van, I didn't know anyone, but I was starting to feed off the other runners excitement and regretted not having someone else I knew running the race.  I decided to park myself near the back, which was a smart move in hindsight.  This was a USATF National 50K event, so some big names were in it, like Max King.  I didn't want to get in their way so I only contemplated the early start for about 10 seconds.  Thankfully, I didn't need the extra time

I managed to snag a few pictures and then about a minute before the start, I suddenly had to pee.  I managed to get a few feet into the bushes as the RD counted down and proceeded to pee on my leg.

...and I was off to a great start.
Heading up to the Start line

Me looking nervous running above 6K feet

The RD wished everyone a good run and got everyone started. There was a 10 second delay while the faster runners took off and then the back of the packers like me got going.  Within a hundred yards I was not feeling very good.  No stomach issues, just didn't feel like I had any energy.  There was a slight down section and the first little hill up and I wanted to quit.  I checked my heart rate and it was already over 160.  What the heck!!!

I decided I better get it down around 145 or I was going to be in trouble much sooner than later.  While I tweeked my pace, I finally found a couple of ladies decked out in yellow I could keep tabs on as they went by me and one said: "I see you adopted my running philosophy, start out slow and then go slower".  She had no idea how much, I just said it seems to work.

I managed to keep them both in sight through the mile 8 aid station and they chatted most of the way.  While I was thinking of all the good reasons I could tell Mike and Eric about why I'd dropped.

The trail was mostly down and I averaged around 10'-11'/mile pace on these sections.  That would be the fastest pace of the day.  I knew mile 8-13 were going to be tough uphill section for me, so I ran what was runnable and used a 145, 150 heart rate check for the rest of the hill.  (If my heart rate was above 150 I walked, when it dropped to 145, I ran).  This approach seemed to get me up the hill as good as any technique I've used before.  Although I was seriously considering dropping at the next aid station, if I didn't start feeling better.

Unknown Stream where I rinsed off
When I got into the second aid station something clicked in my brain about being almost half way done and mentally felt better, but was still thinking if my pace and mental state didn't start to improve by mile 17, I'd pull myself and just jog back to the start and call it a 22 mile training run.

Even though my brain was starting to get into the groove of finishing, I felt really bad for the volunteers as their table collapsed while I was standing next to it.  I don't think I was the reason it fell down, I hope not.  I just remember looking down and seeing my toe about an inch from the table leg.

Fortunately, by mile 17 my mental commitment to finish was increasing and I was feeling upbeat enough to keep going.  I ditched my long sleeve shirt and swapped my water bottle for the running vest and kept one bottle with Heed.  I'm not sure why, but just putting on the vest seemed to boost my confidence.  Of course, it helped the next section was a three (3) mile downhill.

My quads had been feeling hammered since mile 8 and this would be my pace limiter as I rarely had my heart rate above 130 after mile 8 even though I was huffing and puffing like a horse when I was "speed" walking the uphill sections.  I was also a bit surprised and thankful the elevation didn't give me headaches or make me sick.

I rinsed off at one of the stream crossings around mile 21 and felt a ton better.  I'd taken a minor tumble at mile 5 and had dirt/mud all over my hands and bottles.  I think all future summer runs should have a pre-requisite stream crossing.  Having clean hands, face, and wet cap definitely made the hike back up to the aid station more bearable.

The views and scenery were great around Broken Top whenever I got to sections I could take my eyes off the trail in front of me.  I think I was being extra cautious after tumbling twice at the Mt Hood PCT 50.  Some sections were more technical than others and I didn't want to land on any rocks, if I could avoid them.

By mile 24 I wasn't moving fast, but I knew I only had 7 miles to go.  It felt like this wasn't going to be a great time, but I was hoping to get under 7 hours and 30 minutes anyway.  At the beginning of the race especially after that first hill, I would have been happy to get under 8 hours or just finish.

I managed to jog most of the down hills and power hike the ups with my 7 hours and 30 minute target in mind.  However, the Garmin showed I still had a little over a mile to go and my pace times weren't adding up, so it didn't look like it was going to happen.  The last 2 miles seemed like they went on forever, but when I finally saw the finish line I felt good I'd run the last mile without stopping.  I didn't see what the finish clock said for time, but the Garmin says I was under 7hr 30min.

By the time I finished, most everyone except the race volunteers and few stragglers had left, but I got a nice finishers glass and a chicken burrito, that turned out to be just what I needed about two hours later, delicious.  In addition, I received a really nice Soloman running belt for sticking it out to the finish.

After I'd hobbled over to my car, I noticed the guy in the truck next to me, he'd finished 5 minutes before me.  I also spoke briefly to one of the ladies dressed in yellow I'd tried to stay with.  She'd won her division and finished about 20 minutes ahead of me.  Those medals looked really shiny, maybe next year when I beat Max King.

Here's what I was thinking regarding the elevation:

Coach Mike tells me this run will be a good predictor for next years McDonald Forest 50K.  Let's hope I train up for more hills and get my time below 7 hours and 30 minutes.

Until then, rest up on your Birthday Mr Gimpy! Then let's go Gimpy, it'll be time to run!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two Half Marathon's - Lesson learned - Run faster

Since Mt Hood PCT 50, Gimpy has finished a couple of back to back half marathons.  I feel pretty good about these last couple of runs, even though Gimpy's now been beaten by both Rosling siblings.  Two words come to mind, no sprinting.

Ultimately the times for the half's speak for themselves, there is still room for improvement, but speed is something Gimpy plans on working on next season.

The first half marathon was the Health Heart Home Classic in Corvallis, Sept 10th, started at Crescent Valley HS and heads up Jackson Creek into McDonald Forest via Dimple Hill.  The first five miles is in some ways the toughest part of the run.  I felt like I got off to a good pace, even though I watched the lead runners including Mike "Spike" Rosling quickly pull away in the first half mile. Gimpy made it to the top of Dimple in about an hour.  The next couple miles are quicker downhill and surprisingly I got to Upper Horse Trail turn off between the first and second place runners.  "Coach" Rosling went flying past me in second, already completing the trip to Lewisburg and back, and I didn't even think about trying to keep up with him.

Eric Jensen came flying by a little later on his bike, and Gimpy couldn't keep up with him either.  Eric you're an animal, heal up so you can try to beat me at least once, you know you can.

I was routing for Mike to finish in under 1:30 and I knew if Eric was having trouble keeping up with him it was a good sign he get close to that time.

Gimpy hit the bottom of Upper Horse for the first time and headed up to Lewisburg Saddle and the aid station.  Thanks to Frank Schnekenburger who took photos I know I was looking pretty beat on this uphill section.  I snagged some water for my bottle and started back up the upper road to take Upper Horse one more time.  Gimpy was looking forward to the downs so gotta push this last uphill section when possible.

I felt like I was running within my abilities and had plenty to finish strong into the finish.  There was one steep down section on Lower horse trail, where Gimpy was doing more braking than gliding.  That was a steep section for sure.  That section would be nice to do over, but had to put that behind me with the Jackson Creek road fast approaching and I'd scoped two people near the bottom I'd like to catch.  Gimpy knew at Jackson Creek there was only a couple more miles to go.

Gimpy could find a faster gear and the two runners didn't seemt to be getting closer.  At the other end of Jackson Creek, I met Eric coming back up on the bike and it was nice to be able to say a word or two without collapsing.  Thanks Eric, you really got me motivated to finish strong even if I didn't catch the runners ahead of me.

Ultimately you helped me finish just over 2:15 and some change.  When I started the day Gimpy would have been happy under 2:30 for this course. So no complaints from me on this time.

The second run in two weeks, the Champoeg Park half marathon, July 18th, was the run Gimpy just finished and with the exception of a couple hundred feet of elevation gain in the middle sections, it's a flat and fast course.  I focused on keeping under 9'/mile pace as I was suspecting and unfortunately confirmed my Boston qualifying target pace of sub 8'/mile is still out of reach.  One of the highlights of this run was seeing Kristin, Mike Rosling's sister between mile 7 and 8.  I tried to stay relaxed and didn't think she would catch me......, well until she blew by me at mile 12 like Gimpy was standing still.  Way to go Kristin!!!

So in the span of 8 days, I've officially been beaten by both the brother and sister Rosling's.  Oh well, gives me something to shoot for next year.  I'm pretty sure Gimpy can beat both of them when they are not running.

After getting passed Gimpy pushed through the last mile and came in at 1:54, avg 8:45'/mile.  This comes close to my Pacific Crest Duathlon Half in June 2011.

Overall, the event sponsors did a nice job organizing.  The kids day care looked like a good idea, and the beer and BBQ hit the spot at the end of the run.  Gimpy left Champoeg Park feeling good from the run, the food, and the experience.

Overall, Gimpy enjoyed experiencing the differences between these two half's.  The only thing better, maybe Eric or Gene kicking my butt at either one, hope to see you guys on the trail soon.

Reviewing the original training plan that Mike "Coach" put together for me, Gimpy can say these relatively shorter runs don't make up for the longer ones, (22-24 miles), that Gimpy had hoped to put in before my Autumn Leaves 50M, regardless Gimpy can say he's tested and found his max speed for the half for the year under hilly and flat conditions.  I'll get one more chance for a long run at Flagline 50K next weekend, before starting my taper.

We'll see how long it takes to blog that one.

For future comparison

Pacific Crest Duathlon Relay Half: (June 24, 2011) - 1:53
Health Heart Home Classic Half:   (Sept 10, 2011) - 2:16
Champoeg Park Half:                    (Sept 18, 2011) -1:54  

Until next time Gimpy, time to run faster.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mt Hood PCT 50M - Run Gimpy Run... OK, walk if you really have to

Time for Gimpy to get these Mt Hood PCT 50 training runs and the race blogged.
Clackamas Meadow across the road from the Ranger Station

The Mt Hood PCT 50M on July 30, 2011 was Gimpy's longest run, the most challenging, and ultimately the most rewarding.  50 miles, it certainly was the longest trail run to date.  Fortunately, I had the benefit of running the course over two previous weeks so I was able to get a good sense of the course elevation, difficulty, and the potential places Gimpy might get lost.

Besides the Forest Park 50K at the end of May, I had two training runs of ~27 and ~35 miles respectively to prep for the 50 miles, an intimidating distance for sure.  So the plan is to include some of those training details in here as well.

The first training run on July 2nd took Gimpy from Clackamas Lake Campground up to highway 26 near Frog Lake and back.  I wasn't as prepared as I should have been for this run.  Gimpy had two hand held bottles and a third bottle on a holster style belt and still ended up running out of water and electrolyte on the way back around mile 20.  I'd noticed someone had left water at the gravel road and had a small dilemna as to whether to take some, Gimpy ultimately decided to take about 20oz of water to get me back to the campground.  I probably could have made it back without it, but given the heat would have been pretty miserable if I hadn't.  Not sure if I breached some trail etiquette by doing this.  I silently thanked whoever left it there and hope I didn't create a worse situation for them.  The guilt still hasn't quite gone away.

Mt Hood in the distance
The PCT along Timothy Lake felt like a highway due the campgrounds in the areas that generate a lot of hikers, bikers, etc.  It was still quite spectacular and after getting past Timothy lake, only saw one or two hikers heading South, no one going North.  The trail North still had a few fallen trees across the trail so it was looking a bit like an obstacle course.  Ultimately, the volunteers cleared these away prior to the race.

I took several pictures of Mt Hood and other sights as I was heading North, but Gimpy misplaced these which I'm still kicking myself for being so absent minded and so the blog will be a bit light on photos.  I shall take a moment and shed a tear thinking about the lost images.  Ok, done...

Gimpy could only imagine how amazing previous PCT runs were that went up to Timberline lodge and back, to see Mt Hood getting steadily bigger and more imposing over time.  What a sight that would be!  The weather was awesome and this run really had me psyched for the 50 miler.  I was thinking I had a good shot at getting under eleven hours based on how I was feeling, which in Gimpy's dream world would qualify him for Western States or some other 100 milers.  (Ahhh!!! to dream such a dream, it's good there is no pain in Gimpy's dreams).   I will ask William and Mike what that pain feels like, as they've experienced it firsthand.

The following week, July 10th, I went back for the final long training run from Clackamas Lake Ranger Station to Warm Springs Meadow, then back to the Ranger station for an extra side order of circumnavigate Timothy Lake and finally back to the Ranger station one last time.

The location for the race start was still a bit fuzzy, as Gimpy wasn't quite sure where the trail was supposed to go from the Ranger station, so ended up going through the Joe Graham horse camp apparently on the wrong side of the lake before heading South and up to Red Wolf pass and then on to somewhere near the Warm Springs Meadow road.  The trail was definitely under repair, so the going was a bit rough although the downed trees had been cleared on this entire section.  The elevation gain on the backend of the 50 was going to be the most challenging.  The elevation gains for Gimpy this late in the run were giving me doubts about the 11 hour finish goals.

Moving through the power lines really highlighted for Gimpy the warmer weather and some of the concerns to run in the heat of the day, but I had plenty of water and electrolytes this time. 

It's definitely a good walk/run up to Red Wolf and I have to say while in the woods the trail and surrounding area is beautiful, the power lines however are a bit of an eyesore.  I knew the aid station would be near here so this dead zone would become both a desireable refueling point and a reminder to get through this section quickly. 
The hill going down to the Warm Springs river feels quite steep and Gimpy took his time refreshing at the river before heading back up the hill on the other side.  As I was guessing how far to run, I realized on race day Gimpy didn't go far enough on this training run, and completely underestimated the amount of walking I'd be doing on race day in both directions as I left the river.  This was both a training and mental thing and I really wished I'd known this section better ahead of time.  During the training run, I realized from this point forward the run would be hard going.

I made it back up to Red Wolf Pass and never quite sure where the turn around point was.  Regardless, Gimpy was still seeing it all as a challenge and knew while difficult the 50 miles was in my ability.  At this point over the two training runs, I'd completed a good portion of the 50 mile course.  I wanted a bit more so headed back to Timothy Lake for a loop around the lake before calling it a day.

I made it back to the ranger station and re-fueled and hydrated headed North to complete the loop around Timothy Lake.  This wasn't part of the course, but the planned 35 miles worked out and gave Gimpy a chance to explore the lake shore area.  Somewhere around mile 30 the Garmin gave out so there is no record of how slow Gimpy was really moving.  It was with relief I made it back to the car and eventually home.  Pretty spent, but feeling good about a good 35 mile training session where Gimpy was on his feet for nearly 10 hours.

It was now time for the real deal. The Mt Hood PCT 50 - July 30, 2011.

The race started with plenty of optimism and great hopes for a fun run.

Gimpy felt like he had a really good pace heading out from the start, the weather looked good for warm and sunny skies and I was hoping to make some progress before the heat of the day kicked in.  Decided to wear the New Balance MT101's on the way to Frog lake as they are light and make me feel fast on the up hills.  The plan was to switch into the Brooks Cascadia's at Frog lake which I'd left in the drop bag.  I think this was one of my better overthought decisions.  Eric Jensen is reminding Gimpy not to overthink things too much.  Still working on this, though I think is right on about this subject.

I gotta say thanks to the Photographer and her daughter from Brian F. Conaghan stationed reminding me to smile.  As a result Gimpy has a couple of photos from race day.  The first pic below was taken heading North just past Timothy Lake and the Rhody's are pressing in on the single track and leaving just enough space to squeeze through.  The other was taken on the way back South at Timothy Lake around Mile 25. 

Gimpy was feeling pretty good at this point, looky there I am smiling.

Heading South wearing Brooks Cascadia's

Heading North wearing the New Balance MT101's

Coming off of PCT at the South end of Timothy and the little ups were getting harder as I headed back to the the Ranger station, even so Gimpy was feeling pretty good about his time coming into the start/finish line.  Miles ago I'd seen "Coach" Rosling and "Pain Train" heading back along with a number of other lead runners all looking like they'd only run a few miles.  Gimpy was working for a bit faster time early on and I ultimately finished my 25 miles in a similiar time as the first 25 miles at the Forest Park 50K.  If Gimpy could calculate faster, I would have realized the pace was probably a bit too fast (See below for comparisons).

I didn't have a lot more references for times, pacing, or heart rate as the Garmin gave out early again with less than 6 hours of battery useage.  A bit frustrating and was feeling like Gimpy should maybe toss the thing.  I remember going through Warm Springs and Red Wolf asking what time it was and getting the reply I was about 30 minutes past the cut off times.  Well fortunately, the race director and volunteers were routing for the slow pokes, because they encouraged us to get in and out.

There a lot of good reasons for not running too long during training and every mile longer is new territory.  This was true for me after mile 35.  It was especially true as I came into Red Wolf at mile 46 and I was thinking maybe Gimpy should drop, how good would that feel to sit down and get a ride back to the finish line.  All the way up that hill was a slow slog and Gimpy had plenty of time to contemplate the DNF.  Doesn't sound too bad, I may get yanked anyway.  Ahh, here is the ugly powerlines, ah oh! there is Todd the RD, he's gonna pull me.  That would be good, Gimpy could relax, lay on the soft rocks and roots.  Maybe I should drop myself and save them the stress of saying sorry, you're just not gonna make it this time.  That hundred yards was the most second guessing Gimpy had done all day.  The volunteers looked like they were packing up, so this is it.  Or was it....

A few more steps...

What's this they're filling Gimpy's water bottle, uh, oh, I'm gonna have to keep going.

Yes, Yes!, Yes!!!, I'm gonna have to keep going!!! Thank goodness they're gonna let me keep going.  Wait, I was hoping they'd pull me.  That's ok, reset the head, it's downhill from here.  I flashback to Forest Park 2010 and walking most of the downhills near the end of the run.

Can Gimpy get above 20 min/mile?  No reference without a watch, well the sun hadn't set.  I can do this, I was definitely thinking I could do this.  Will Gimpy get back before dark, and so it went for those last few miles.  Since Gimpy couldn't find his drop bag at Warm Springs Aid station I had no flashlight.  It was going to be a dark finish, if I didn't get the lead out.

Somehow, I got the idea I was almost there and the legs got moving.  Yes that gravity is a good thing, don't fall.  I'd done that twice in the first ten miles about 250 yards apart.  Somehow, Gimpy didn't get hurt.  How do these things happen?  Usually it's talking and running and I'd started talking and when Gimpy talks he doesn't watch where he's going, boom - face plant.  Ok, Gimpy no talking let's get moving.  From somewhere behind me someone said "Hey, did you run all the Run Wild races?", why yes I did, well all except the Silver Creek falls half marathon, but I gotta sweep that..."

Pause for affect.... And boom..., faceplant.  What the heck, ok no broken bones, minor scrapes.  No more talking, talking leads to face plants.  Gimpy doesn't like face plants.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one.  I'd already seen two other people do the same thing about the same time, maybe that section was sown with tripping curses.

No way to know, I knew at mile 45-50 I needed to stay focused cause I was really tired.  Gimpy liked this down hill section, I hoped it would go on for awhile, Gimpy even passed a couple people, hang in there I thought, we're almost done.  Gravities momentum carried me for a couple more miles until things flattened out and I unfortunately I was back to a walk again.  Oh well, walking's ok.  Walk if you have to... Gimpy thought about about one foot in front of the other and that's what I did.

There were a couple of nice surprises in the last mile:

1) My sister Darlene hiked up to meet me and boy was I glad to see her.  Talking and laughing distracted me from the aches and pains and while I'm sure we were barely moving, it felt like we were really hauling.  For that I really gotta thank her and say how much that means to me.

2)  Around one of the last corners and there's the road to cross and finally I see the finish line, somehow Gimpy managed to trot those last few yards toward the finish and saw my great-nephew Davonte, Joe who had riden over 100 miles on his bike from Jefferson, and my nephew Jeramy sharing in this moment, my 50 mile challenge.

I was starting to tear up from finish fever and surge of endorphins or something.  I was on cloud 50 or so it seemed.  I'd felt this way once before during the finish at the Boston Marathon in 2008.  It is an amazing feeling to have.

Gimpy still had a few yards further to go and just across the finish line saw Mike "Spike" Rosling and William "Pain Train" Swint.  I raced Davonte to the finish line, he was all smiles, I was all smiles.  All done and what a relief and fantastic feeling for a first 50 miler.

Mike and William had come in hours before, the winners and lead runners already on their way home, but these guys had hung around and were cheering me on for my first 50 miles.  It's hard to express what that feeling is like, to do something challenging and ultimately share it with family and friends.  It was even more special 'cause these guys had helped me get to this point.  I thought about Eric, Gene, Samuel, and a chair... Yes, I think I better sit down.  These guys, not the chair had helped me get motivated and help convince me I could do this crazy challenge.   Thanks guys, it was definitely worth it!!!

Someone ran over with my PCT 50 finishers glass and I managed to pull myself together and I don't think anyone saw any emotion save my smile.  'Cause that's how Gimpy likes to finish, always with a smile.  I think I thanked the race director for a great race, they really did a nice job.  Got a hamburger and chips out of the deal and Cloud nine slowly became Cloud ten.  So began the slow painful walk to the car and eventually home.

That's all part of the good feelings that go along with these fun runs.

So that's it, Gimpy ran his first 50 mile, I'm an Ultramarathoner.  Over two years, two (2) 50K's and a 50 miler on the running resume.  There will be more. . .
Overall I'm satisfied with my first 50 miler.  Can't say I didn't want to quit, but I'm so glad I didn't and I've already got plans for my next 50K at Flagline in September and a 50M at Autumn Leaves at the end of October.  Hoping to break 11 hours for the 50M or the fallback per usual, finish with a smile.

Gimpy definitely recommends the Mount Hood PCT 50, it's well organized, has great volunteers, and gets you out of the house into Oregon's backwoods country.  It is by no means easy and you gotta put in the miles and hills to do well there.  This is one I'd love to do again.

Gimpy's back of the pack, but he got it done.

Rest up Gimpy, then let's run.

Just a note: I really like the way NSPiRE reported the results for the PCT50, I hope they can be used for other runs in the future:
I'm tossing in a few numbers below for comparison in the future.

Start to Frog Lake and Back:          28.4 miles: 05:37:46
Start to Warm Springs Meadows:   21.8 miles:  06:51:54
Total miles:                                     50.2 miles: 12:29:30

Mt Hood PCT 50M
Forest Park 50K
Avg HR
Avg HR
25 miles

25 miles

Memorabilia is nice...
2011 Mt Hood PCT 50 - The Glass and number to go with it