Monday, March 14, 2011

Hagg Lake 50K

My first ever 50k. I had heard about this race a couple of times over the last two years. Last year I was going to sign up for the 25k but it sold out before I could register. This year I decided to go all in and sign up for the 50 and see what happened.

The race was due to start at 8. Wanted to be at the start by 7:15, so got up super early - 4:45 to have time to get everything done at home before needing to leave. Alice picked me up at 6 and we headed out. The roads were really icy. We saw 3 wrecks on the way out there. We picked up another friend in Beaverton and made out way, very slowly, out to the start.

We got there and parked, and by the time we were out of the car it was a little after 7:30. I packed some stuff into my drop bag (we would come back by the start at mile 17 so you could pick up or drop off anything you needed in your bag as you passed by). Had time to use the facilities and then we were off.

The first .25 miles was on the road. An icy road. I was doing more sliding of my feet than running to ward against falling down. At the .25 mile mark you transition on to gravel road, and thankfully you had purchase on the gravel where you didn't on the pavement. This short 1.5 mile out and back had a big hill at the end - about 450 feet straight up. You turned around at the top, zoomed down, back onto the pavement, and then right back by the start. I dropped off my hat at this point as I was already warming up. The temp was about 30 degrees at the start. I was wearing tights, tank top, arm warmers, and a long sleeve shirt. The long sleeve shirt was quickly tied around my waist.

Once we looped back by the starting point we hit the trails. It was muddy. In fact, muddy is somewhat of an understatement. There was mud that was super wet, there was sticky mud, there was mud that stuck to your shoes and made them feel like they weighed about 3 lbs each. At about the 5.5 mile mark you hit a sign that says "detour - bridge out." Needless to say our track did not follow the detour, rather we got to ford the creek. This required one to jump down about 1.5 feet into sucking mud. Wade through the mud, then through the creek, hope up onto several logs, and then back onto trail. So from this point on, my feet were wet.

We hit the first aid station at mile 7.6. Aid stations on ultras are awesome! There was gu, gu chomps, bananas, oranges, trail mix, m&m's, potato chips, fritos, pretzels, fig newtons, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, potatoes and salt, gummy bears, water, electrolyte drink, sprite, and coke. Couldn't quite get over how much food there was. I grabbed a few squares of PB&J and a cup of water and was back on the trails. More slipping and sliding, some veggie belays to get up hills (I was very happy about my hiking skills at this point), etc... Next aid was was 12.7. Refueled and back onto trail. This was where we got to the caking mud. There was about 1/2 mile stretch where you were carrying so much mud on your shoes that it was just incredible. My feet felt so heavy!

We got a break for a bit with about a 1/2 mile stretch on the road, then another few miles of mud and we were at the drop bag site/aid station. This as mile 17. The first half I could not envision how I was going to get back out there and go for another round. I tried to make my stop very quick, loaded up 2 more bottles of gatorade on my fuel belt, grabbed a few pretzels and gummy bears and set back out. I didn't want to give myself any time to think about calling it a day here.

Round 2 was actually slightly easier than round 1. I learned that you aren't really supposed to run the slippery hills, that you are better off walking them and saving energy. Got a horrendous thigh cramp at mile 18 and had to have a long talk with my thigh about how it was way too early to start cramping. I chugged some Gatorade and some salty shot blocks to try to keep the cramps at bay. Hit the aid station at 21.6 and asked them about how to stave off the cramps. They suggested some different foods and I gave those a try.

Between the aid at mile 21.6 and the aid at mile 26.7 I ran with a guy who was struggling. He started to use me as a pacer and said I was helping to give him a second wind. It was nice to feel like I was helpful to someone.

More sodium at the aid station at 26.7 along with some PB&J and I was ready to finish it off. The last 1.5 miles seemed to take forever (even though time wise they really didn't).

Finish time: 5:50:53. 92 out of 211 finishers, 12th out of 49 women, and 7th out of 21 in my age group. I feel pretty good about those results in my first ultra. I can honestly say the course was really, really challenging. People who have run it before have said it was exceptionally muddy this year.

Glad to have done it. Would have to think long and hard about whether or not I would want to do that course again though. I find the two loop thing to be really challenging. Knowing that you are going to come right back by the starting line and that it would be very easy to bail was a mental challenge for me.

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