Last year 2010 I decided to do my first Ultra-marathon (for my family that means >26.2 miles). I had run the Eugene Marathon in early May and was feeling the need for something more. I hadn't ran particularly well in Eugene and my last four (4) marathons had been progressively slower for various reasons, mostly related to training, pre-race prep, or stomach issues in later part of race:
Marathons to date (Times):
2004 - Portland Marathon (3:58)
2007 - Newport Marathon (4:13)
2008 - Boston Marathon (4:27)
2010 - Eugene Marathon (4:36)
So any marathons in 2011 looked to be slower, if I stayed on this pace trajectory. So, I decided to mix it up and see what happened. Up to last year, most of my runs were on the road and while I enjoy shorter road runs, the marathon on pavement can be painful for Gimpy. Also, the life goals list indicated I better try an Ultra and the next distance up from the marathon was 50K (~31miles). Since Forest Park is at the end of May I didn't have a lot of training adjustments I could make, I thought hey, I've run multiple marathons, how hard can it be to run another 5 miles. As they say, I would find out the proverbial "Hard" way.
2010 Forest Park 50K starts at Macleay park and heads up the Wildwood trail at the "Stone House". I remember feeling pretty good for the first 10K last year, walking some sections uphill, just like the google searches said, but getting to the first aid station in pretty good time. The volunteer said something like your still smilin' so you must be doing ok. I thought so too. I'd run the first 20K of the course in both directions, but didn't have time to run the upper section which is a lollipop loop from Saltzmann aid station, a pretty good downhill section, onto Wildwood trail, and then....................
That's right, I hadn't run this section, they had a volunteer that pointed me onto Wildwood so I was doing good up to that point. Well, there aren't many trails to take off Wildwood so it's hard to get lost, until Trillium, ah-Trillium? Up or right, Crap! too far, no ribbons go back, eventually, figured out it was up Trillium and then the road, broad and wide, can see forever, just don't see any ribbons, 'they should be every couple hundred yards'. Right was there a ribbon, do I go left or right? Right, but I don't see any ribbons, back to whence I came and / or wait for someone. Nobodies coming, Gimpy's getting tired, who's bright idea was this? OK downhill is good, I can go downhill. Gravity is good! Sometimes.
Stop complaining just keep going, and then, a ribbon. Gasp of relief, at last I'm on the right section again. However, by this time I'm out of gas. Down Oil Line, oh my that's steep and slippery. ...and so it went Gimping, Limping, walking, backtracking, second-guessing my way to the finish line. Those last two aid stations never looked so good. Keep going, I remember getting to the last 3 miles and someone merrily running up the trail I'd been jogging up 8 hours earlier and said if you 'jog it in, you can make the cutoff'. I thought great, how am I going to jog, I can barely walk. I did manage to jog some sections, and finally crossed the finish line. Happy to see the finish line, my daughter Amber, and a picnic bench. Picnic bench looks good, I will stay here for awhile. I finished in 9 hour and 5 minutes, past the cutoff. Later found out others got lost too, so the running spirits had pity on us and allowed the longer time.
I like to call my daughter "Amberito", but I was too tired to say much when I finished and she took care of me and I think for the first time, I learned the value of a caring crew to help you recover and/or just keep you moving. I think an hour later, I rolled off the park bench and gimped to to my car. Why did I park at the top of these stares? Gimpy mistake? Another hour and I might be able to drive to Amber's and shower. Well Gimpy finally finished and made it home to shower. After 24 hours of I'll never do that again, I realized Forest Park 50K had kicked my butt. Gimpy didn't train enough, Gimpy didn't train on trails, Gimpy got lost because he didn't know the course, Gimpy didn't take advantage of the aid stations. Gimpy shouldn't have run Eugene Marathon so close to this run with so little training. Did I say Gimpy didn't train enough. Lesson learned, so one day after 2010 Forest Park 50K, Gimpy McKay resolves he must return and take on this race one more time, fast forward 2011.
Forest Park Ultra is on the list early for 2011 goals, but how would I train, had I learned anything, I had no idea. I did know someone who had extensive trail running experience. Enter Mr. Mike "Spike" "Super bad a$$", soon to be called "Coach" Rosling. Mike who has been an inspiration for me for awhile based on previous runs at Boston Marathon and ease he seems to run the McDonald Forest 50K was kind enough to put together and guide me through a training plan that ultimately had me doing more trails, more hills, and more miles than I'd ever done before. And when it was all done, I felt I was ready to do Forest Park one more time. We would see who kicked Gimpy's butt or Gimpy kick Forest Parks butt.
The week before during my taper, I was thinking I should've done more hills, I should have run more, I should be running today. No stick to the training plan. Taper and wait for the race day. I know, how about if I go camping on Memorial day, spend time with family and drive back day of race and go back camping. Eric Jensen would later call and say both he and Kellie his wife said 'what the H3LL is he thinking'. All's good Eric and Kellie, training will pay off. Eric also told me don't overthink things. He was right about that one.
A number of trail runners and family had helped get me to the point of conditioning I was at, now it was up to me. I still had doubts, a couple weeks before the run heading up Mary's Peak with Mike Rosling and getting lost on the way back down. Gimpy McKay is thinking he's doomed to get lost again, wait no I ran the entire upper section twice, I got this. Gimpy McKay does not get lost on Mary's Peak, finds his way back to the bench and swears to bring blue die when he's running alone in the snow. I reread the Forest Park 50K web page, the course will be floured, yes just like in hanzel and gretel, I'll find my way home this time, if Gimpy leads his self into the woods he will not forget his self there. Not this time.
So after many miles with Rosling, Swint, Jensen, Ajayi, and Wusstig, I'm thinking I'm ready. What will this race bring. Stay tuned for the race report, but Gimpy kicks Forest Park's butt and knocks 2 hours and 50 minutes off last years time. Training definitely paid off, and now it's time to up the ante again.
July 31st - Mt Hood PCT 50 Miler - Let's go Gimpy! Time to run!!!