Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Middle Sister

Finally a climb to post! I have been focusing so much on running that there hasn't been a lot of climbing in the last 7 or 8 months. However, that all changed last weekend when I got to attempt a one day ascent of Middle Sister. Typically, we do MS as a two day climb. From the trailhead at Pole Creek it is approximately 5000 ft of climbing (when there is no snow on the approach) and 14 miles roundtrip. We usually leave Portland around 7 am on Saturday morning, drive to the trailhead (5300 ft), and begin the hike around 11 am or noon. This allows us a leisurely 5-mile hike with overnight packs to camp at 7100 ft. The hike tends to be pretty easy, albeit a bit dusty. The first two miles are relatively good trail - although there has been a lot of blow down in the last few years that has made it a bit more challenging (needing to go around and over lots of logs). You climb very gently for two miles and then descend several hundred feet to Soap Creek. From Soap Creek it is another 1.5 miles to a climber's trail that takes you up above tree line.

This year we decided to change things up a bit. There was a Mazama provisional climb leader who wanted an evaluation of a climb and we both thought Middle Sister would be a good choice. Unfortunately for him the Mazamas have a strict rule of only one Mazama party per route per day. The Hayden Glacier route on MS was booked solid from the end of June though August for Sunday climbs (Saturday approach, Sunday climb). Thus we decided to give a one day ascent a try.

Steve picked his climb team and made sure the participants understood the rigors of our intended plan. Steve and I drove down together, leaving Portland around 4 PM on Friday afternoon. After a quick stop at a grocery store in Sisters we made it to the trailhead around 8 PM, just ahead of Steve's 8:30 pre-climb meeting. The remainder of the team arrived and we quickly discussed our intended plan for the next day. Everyone seemed very excited about the adventure on which we were about to embark. I got my tent set up, threw in my sleeping bag and pillows (the best part about car camping is pillows!), and snuggled in to bed around 9:15. Sleep didn't come until after 10, but once it did I slept really well for a few hours.

The alarm went off at 1 AM and the preparation for the day began by headlamp. The thermometer in my tent read 38 degrees so it wasn't overly cold. I got layered up, had my breakfast sandwich, and took down my tent. Once out of the tent the temperature quickly dropped to a brisk 32 degrees. The team was very organized and we hit the trail at 1:59:30 - 30 seconds before our intended leaving time.

The trail was much more interesting in the dark by headlamp. We had no moon to work with so we were completely dependent on the little beams of light our headlamps pumped out. The blowdowns made things tricky at times. Once off the trail it could be hard to find your way back. Thankfully I had a GPS track from the year prior so whenever we veered off course I was able to get us back on track pretty easily.

We found ourselves at the Soap Creek crossing in just about an hour. It was much spookier in the dark and we had to find the bridge that would lead us across the creek. The water was running high so the first few steps were on rocks instead of bridge which made it more interesting. Within about 1/4 mile of the creek we found ourselves in solid snow without a boot track to follow. The GPS track came in very handy at this point as navigating through the trees, in the snow, and in the dark is not easy. We did a lot more up and down on the snow than we would typically need to do if we were following trail. The going wasn't easy but it wasn't as hard as it could have been either. About 4.5 miles in we stopped to put on crampons as the snow was pretty firm and we were hitting some steeper sections of snow. This meant I had to take off my trail running shoes and switch over to my boots that I had carried for the first miles. It may have added weight to my pack but it was totally worth it for the ease of movement and lack of pain in my feet. Unfortunately one girl was having some severe trouble with blisters on her heels - she had rented boots and they were not agreeing with her feet. Also on an unfortunate note, I didn't carry my med kit as we were going light and Steve carried his kit instead. He had moleskin (not overly useful) while I carry a comprehensive blister kit as I have struggled with terrible blisters in the past. He did however get her patched up and we were moving again in relatively short order.

Not a clue what I am doing in this photo
We just missed getting above tree line for sunrise. But we were still making good time and arrived at my typical campsite at 7100 ft at 5:30 AM. We took a bit of a breather here and ate some snacks as we evaluated our route. The ridge that leads up to Prouty Pinnacle was pretty flattened out this year due to the higher than normal snow pack. This would make our ascent up to the saddle straightforward and pretty mild on our calves.

As we climbed to 8000 ft Steve decided it was time to rope up. This was also the time where we had to do a check in with the girl who was struggling with her blisters. She had slowed down quite a bit and it didn't look like she was feeling overly good. After talking with her Steve decided that she and her boyfriend should go back down to "camp" at 7100 and wait for us there. The rest of the party roped up and continued to the saddle. We made short work of this stretch and pushed on up the North Ridge route. About 9400 we encountered the steep section of the climb. The snow was not good this year - quite icy and non-uniform. This made forward progress harder than it really needed to be as sometimes a foothold would break out as you weighted it, dropping you forward slightly - burning more energy.

Steve protected the steep section, opting for a rising traverse up this 150 foot pitch. I typically do this part as a fixed line which I much prefer. For the first time in recent memory I found myself tied to a climber who was completely uncomfortable and unskilled - his crampon an ax technique were questionable at best. I was pretty convinced he was going to fall and take me with him. Not a fun stretch of climbing for me. As we made our way to 9800 we took off the ropes and climbed untethered the final 2050 feet to the summit. The views were spectacular! It was a bit windy and as we had two climbers waiting for us below we didn't stay long.

On the way down we switched up the rope teams with Steve taking the nervous guy this time around. On our way back through the protected stretch I pulled one picket that had been placed on relatively benign ground and replaced it on the sketchier traverse as I passed through. This would enable the team behind me to be more protected on that stretch with two pickets on the traverse instead of one.

Once we were back at 9400 we coiled up the ropes and continued back to "camp" without them. It had been almost 5 hours since we left our other two climbers and it was now approaching noon. We stopped for a long break (45 minutes), melted some snow as several people had run out of water, rested and had some lunch. It was also time to strip clothing as it was getting pretty warm in the sunshine. I went from long johns, climbing pants, long bra-tank top, top base layer, softshell jacket, hat and gloves to shorts, tank top, and arm warmers. Quite the change in a very short period of time!

After our long break we reversed course and followed the GPS track back to Soap Creek where we filtered more water and then began the 2 mile trek to the cars. The last 2 miles of this hike always seem extremely long somehow - much longer than 2 miles. We made it to the cars just after 3 PM. Enjoyed a few snacks, changed clothes, and then headed for a late lunch/early dinner at a Mexican place in Sisters. Then made the 3 hour drive home. I walked in the door just before 8 PM on Saturday night. All in all a great climb - very enjoyable as a 1 day adventure!

Stats:
15 miles
6000 ft of elevation gain - appx.
35 lb pack
4 miles with trail shoes; 11 miles with mountaineering boots.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vancouver Marathon

I signed up to run this race in May of 2010 when I first heard about it. I figured it would be fun to run an inaugural event and it wouldn't be too far to drive from my house. They were also offering a super early bird special of $45, so I thought that even if something came up and I couldn't run it I wouldn't have lost a lot of money.

Well, that was all way before I decided to sign up for the Beacon Rock 50k. And before I decided to sign up for a Memorial Day trail marathon. Adam and I did end up deciding to stay in town this past weekend - the weather forecast wasn't great and I had work I needed to do - so that opened up the possibility that I could run the event. I went and picked up my packet Saturday morning just to keep the option open as there wouldn't be any day of race packet pickup.

I worked all day on Saturday. I have been dealing with some stomach problems over the last few weeks and was feeling quite lousy all day Saturday. I did a short 4-mile run and felt like I was going to puke for the last 2. We had plans to go out with friends that night to a Peruvian restaurant. I didn't think Peruvian would be great fueling for a marathon but didn't want to cancel at the last minute. We got to eat some very interesting and tasty food -  a marlin cembiche was particularly tasty. However it wasn't quite the carb fest you usually have pre-marathon. I finished off the evening with a bowl of Rice Chex for some carbs just in case I decided to run in the morning.

My plan was to wake up at 4:45 am and see how I felt. If my stomach had settled I would give it a go and if not I would go back to sleep. The alarm went off and since I didn't feel terrible I got out of bed and started to get ready. Didn't take long to get showered, dressed, fed and out the door. I tend to get pretty stressed about parking for events so I wanted to get there early to make sure I didn't have any trouble. A friend was also going to bring me some S-Caps to help with cramping so I needed to meet up with her. I left the house at 5:30 and had slid into a parking place by 5:45. Walked the .2 miles to the Vancouver Hilton which was across the street from the park where the race was starting. Met up with my friend Sarah for the S-Caps and she and I wandered over to the starting area. The race didn't start until 7 so we had plenty of time. They did a great job with the organization. There were plenty of porta-potties (a great sign) and easy gear check.

Sarah and I pre-race.
The race started right on time at 7 a.m. My plan going in to the race was to run it as a training run. My legs were still tired from beacon and I hadn't run a long run on roads in over month. I lined up around the 4 hr pacer. I started off and decided to ignore my watch and run by how my breathing and heart rate felt for the first five miles. Right off the bat I could tell my legs weren't going to be happy. My calves hurt and my inner thigh was still very tender where it had cramped last week.

The course was a bit challenging in that we started off on the road and in less than a mile made a very abrupt 90 degree turn onto sidewalk. This required not only turning but stepping up onto the sidewalk. Naturally this was a constriction point and I spent the next mile trying to find a comfortable pace while working my way around people. We continued this on and off sidewalk pattern for the entire race. There were probably 15 or more 90 degree turns (these are notable as they tend to really slow you down). In addition many of the curbs were tiled with brick. So you would have 4 or 5 steps on brick. It was lightly raining so the brick was slick, and my Crocs don't handle slick well. So I had to slow and lightly walk across these sections.



We started off heading north west towards Vancouver Lake. I don't know Vancouver at all so everything about this course would be new to me. I also didn't look at the course pre-race. Since I was considering this as a training run I figured it didn't really matter - just take it as it comes. The run out to the lake was somewhat boring. For awhile we were on sidewalk and then we were running in the bike lane of the road. After 4 or 5 miles we turned off and ran around a park, and then came back the way we had run out. I was staying pretty close to a group of folks that were running a similar pace, but every time I stopped for a walk break they would get ahead of me and I would try to catch up. As we made the turn back in to town we turned directly into a headwind. I tried to catch the group as I wanted a wind break but I couldn't reel them in. I figured I would expend more energy trying to catch them than simply dealing with the head wind so I stopped trying to catch up. Just after this turnaround there is a short section where you come around a corner so you can see the people that are behind you. It was then that I realized I was ahead of the 3:40 pacer by a few minutes. I had no idea I was on that pace. We were around mile 8 and I checked my watch and noticed I was on an 8:08 pace.

Now that I knew I was running faster I figured I should try to maintain that pace. My goal shifted from training run, to holding the pace until my legs imploded. I ran with another woman between mile 10 and 11.5 and we talked about how neither of us had been training for this pace and we weren't sure what was going to happen. She dropped off the pace at 11.5 for a walk break. I figured I would see her again and I continued with my walk breaks but I didn't. I hit the half in 1:46. Got a bit of an infusion of energy here as we ran back through town. Then right around mile 15 we merged with the half-marathon route. The half-marathon had started at 8:30 so what we were running into was a lot of the people walking the half-marathon. I hit 15 at 2:01 so these half-marathoner were at mile 2 and appx 31 minutes into their race. What this meant was a lot of people dodging without a lot of road to do it in. We were still going between road and sidwalk. There were people walking 4 and 5 abreast and it was very challenging to maneuver your way around them.

We made our way through town and then ran through Ft. Vancouver which was quite pretty. My legs were tired but I figured this was an exercise in pushing through when your legs don't feel like trying to push hard. I knew I could slow down, but I really didn't want to. I was encouraged when I got to mile 16.2 as I knew we were down to the single digits. The next couple of miles I focused on running one mile and then walking for 30 seconds. There was a big hill at mile 19 that took slowed me down (only mile split in the 9's of the race). I realized I was getting crabby so I shoved down and Gu and some water which seemed to perk me up a little bit. I hit 22 in just over 3 hours and I knew if I could just hold even 9 minutes miles I could get a PR. So many of the tight turns came between 20 and 22. They had been forced to reroute the course at the last minute as a couple of miles of it were underwater. I think this is what created a lot of the turning.

I almost ran directly into the most beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog around mile 23 - he was huge! I had to stop to pat him on his ginormous head. Around mile 24 I had a guy pass by me. He said I had been a great pace setter and had been pulling him along for the entire race. He then went ahead of me. I tried to keep up but didn't have a whole lot of speed left. My left foot started to cramp pretty badly at this point. I didn't want to stop so I tried the best I could to spread out my toes and give it some flex. It continued to cramp all the way to the end.

Since mile 8 my watch had been consistently a tenth of a mile off of the mile markers. So I would hit the mile marker and a tenth of a mile later my watch would register that mile.We hit 25 and I tried to find a bit of speed to bring it in to the finish. Then we hit a soul-sucking mini-hill at 25.5. Soon enough I was passing 26 mile marker. My watch was consistent and showing 25.9. So I assumed it was .2 to the finish and started to kick. Something went a bit wonky with their signage at this point b/c according to my Garmin it was another .39 to the finish. I hit their 26 mile marker at 3:33 so I knew I could do .2 in under 2 minutes which would put me under 3:35. Since I crossed in 3:35:25 this stretch was definitely long. I think the .39 is probably pretty close to accurate as I kicked hard for the finish.

Bart Yasso announced my name as I crossed the line which was pretty cool. Someone handed me water and tied a space blanket on me and handed me a medal. I chilled down pretty quickly and started to shiver. I had wanted to hang out at the finish, find some people who probably already had finished and wait for others to finish but I was really cold and my stomach was starting to rebel again. I grabbed my bag from the bag check and headed home.

Overall I'm very happy with the time but the run wasn't a good one for me. It just never felt good. I couldn't get my hydration or nutrition right. I was either thirsty or sloshy, and either hungry or bloated. I never found the running groove that day and frankly I was bored during chunks of it. My iPod did really help pass the time.  My splits were pretty consistent and I was good about taking my walk breaks. I think if I pick a course with less turns, don't do a hard run the week before, and dial in my hydration/nutrition I could meet my goal of 3:30.

Results: 111/798 overall; 21/390 gender; 5/67 division   Overall pace: 8:13

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beacon Rock Recap

I was nervous going in to this race. The elevation profile was just scary. I had hiked the Hamilton Mountain trail enough to know just how steep that section of the course was going to be. 7500 feet of climbing and descending in 31 miles, running up and over two "mountains" along the way. Was I really up for the challenge?


The weekend before Adam joined me for some hill training in Forest Park. We started at Germantown Road and instead of sticking to the main Wildwood trail, we took every side/hilly trail that we could. We climbed up Firelane 10, went up Saltzman, then up and down Trillium, up and down the full length of Ridge Trail, and up Hardesty. It amounted to 3400 feet of climbing in 15.5 miles. I was whipped at the end. I didn't know how I was going to run another 4100 feet of elevation and double the miles the following week.

Climbing up one of the steeper portions of the trail.
Sunday dawned sunny and bright. The alarm was set for 5:10, but I woke a few minutes before it went off. The nice thing about waking up at 5 am for a run in the summer is that it is already light out. Makes it much easier to actually get yourself out of bed. I did the usual pre-race routine, and before long I was heading out the door. Left the house at 5:50 and arrived at the race site at 6:45 - which gave me a solid hour and fifteen minutes before the race.

I met up with a fellow Portland "Running Chick" and we chatted for a bit. We got to watch the early starters head out (you could take an hour early start if you didn't think you could complete the course in the 9 hour time limit). I had previewed the entrant list the night before and had counted 14 women registered for the 50k race. I scanned the early starters - there were probably 15 or so and 10 of them were women. Uh-oh. This concerned me. Should I be taking the early start? I was really thinking worse case scenario would be an 8 to 8 1/2 hour finish. The race director's really don't want you to take the early start unless you actually need it (i.e. they don't want you starting early so you can finish earlier). I had a few moments of panic about there only being 4 women starting the 50k at the regular start time. Would I be last?

I picked up my bib and readied my drop bag. The 50k runners were doing 2 loops, so we would return to the starting location at the halfway point. We could have a drop bag here, and at the aid station that was out on the course. I was trying to be as self-sufficient as possible, so I just had the one drop bag at the start. I was going to try out my hydration pack for this run. Instead of using one 2-liter bladder in it I instead loaded it up with 2, 1 liter bladders - filling one with grape drinking vinegar and the other with Gatorade. I had 3 gu's and two packets of Margarita shot blocks in my front pack pockets, along with my inhaler. I was hoping the pack would prove to be comfortable for 31 miles. Just in case it was bothering me at the halfway point I put my amphipod belt in my drop bag.

I met up with TrailMike from Daily Mile before the race. This was his second 50k and he was also daunted by the hill climbing we were going to face. He had decided to go light for the race and was going to carry just one handheld bottle. We would hit aid stations at 5.5, 11.8, 15.5, 21, and 27.3 so it isn't as though we had too much time between any one station.

Soon enough race director, James Varner, was giving the race instructions. In his words there were several "confusing intersections." Having gotten lost during a marathon two weeks ago I paid close attention. He had put arrows attached to garden stakes at all intersections, but at those two particular intersections he had also included written notes - first time through go left, second time through go straight - as we would be hitting those intersections twice during each lap. Seemed straightforward enough. He also assured us that there was flagging tape or an arrow appx every 1/4 mile. And without much further ado we were off!

We crossed the starting line and ran down the gravel road the group campsite was located on for 1/10 of a mile, then made a hard right turn onto pavement, went down 150 feet in .3 miles (damn that was going to hurt having to come back up that!) then a hard left onto gravel. From there it was trail or dirt road the rest of the way. The climbing began with a relatively gentle grade for the next mile 1.8 miles as were still on a "road." I ran this section knowing that we had much worse climbing to come. At the 2.2 mile mark we hung a left and had a bit more gentle climbing before hanging a right onto a STEEP trail. This is where everyone started to walk. It was up, up, up for at least a mile and a half before we topped out at 2500 feet on Hardy Ridge. Then it was down, down, down on steep, rocky, technical trail for another mile and a half to the aid station. I got passed by more than a few runners on this downhill as I am not a good descender. TrailMike caught up to me, then blew by me on his way to the aid station.

I passed up the first aid station feeling as though I was pretty well stocked. The next mile was more downhill, and then we hit the first of the confusing intersections. It was very well marked and there was even a volunteer pointing people in the right direction! TrailMike caught up to me again and we ran together for a bit before he passed on by me. This next part of the course was my favorite with a little bit of rolling terrain and several pretty bridges. But before long the joy ended as we made the turn up to Hamilton Mountain. We were probably at about 900 feet and had to climb up to 2350. I "ran" for the first 1/4 mile or so, passing TrailMike on the way, then started power walking. I figured I was wasting more energy in attempting to run than to just walk it. I passed a few people on the uphill.

Having done this trail numerous times I knew when I was closing in on the top. As soon as I hit the saddle I took off running. This section was still pretty technical but relatively runnable. Some steep downhill, some gentle downhill, a beautiful crossing of a wide open saddle to a dirt road - one of my favorite stretches on the course. Then on to a cutoff trail that had a few obstacles in the way - downed logs to hop - along with lots of rocks and roots. TrailMike caught back up to me and we chatted for a few minutes before he continued on. There was a pretty new bridge had been put in and there was some work going on along the trail.

The trail husky - happy as can be!
Then I was back at the aid station - mile 11.8. There were several people running the race with their dogs. There was a husky with his owner at the aid station and she was just having the time of her life. He fed her a peanut butter sandwich and she was just all wiggly and full of energy. I had 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich along with several cups of water and continued on. I wanted to make it back to the 15.5 miles before the 3 1/2 hour mark if I possibly could. It wasn't long before the pup and her owner passed me. The next stretch of the course was a bit of a steep hill on the road before returning to the confusing intersection. This time we went straight and the volunteer was still there to direct us. This part felt a bit like a cross country course - lots of running over grass that had taken over the old road. The temperature was starting to climb and it felt a bit steamy. This stretch ended at another intersection that I hadn't even noticed on the way up. We were at mile 13.7 and it was down the gravel/dirt road we had climbed up at the beginning of the race. I started to see runners who were heading back up the road on their second lap for the 50k. I cheered them on as they passed me - impressed with their ability. It didn't take too long before I was back to the pavement and got to climb that 150 feet back up to the start.

Trail puppy! Doesn't she look like she is having fun?
The air felt hot and my temperature was rising a bit. I pulled in to the aid station at the halfway mark at 3:17:05, hitting the time goal I had set for myself. I greedily sucked down two watermelon pieces. It was cold, wet, and delicious! Had another 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as well. TrailMike had pulled into the aid station just before me, so we set out together for lap 2. I have to admit there was a part of me that really just wanted to call it a day. It was getting warm, and the runners who had completed the 25k were lounging on the lawn enjoying cold beer and hamburgers and hot dogs. Looked like a nice way to relax. But I had signed up for the 50k so I wasn't going to quit now.

TrailMike and I stayed together for the first mile and then I continued running up the hill while he decided to walk. This second lap was much lonelier. I was on my own for the majority of this trip. I passed 4 or 5 people on my way up to Hardy Ridge. Knowing what I was facing made the second trip up Hardy Ridge a bit easier. A guy caught up to me on the descent from Hardy and we ran into the aid station together. Another 1/4 of a peanut butter sandwhich and more water. The air was warm and the sun was beating down. My clothing was soaked and I could feel the salt on my skin. I wanted to make sure I kept getting enough fluid and salt in to prevent cramping. I was about 3/4 finished with my Gatorade and was probably 1/2 way through my grape vinegar at this point. I had been take a margarita shot block just about every 3 miles since the beginning of the race as well.

I let my legs loose out of the aid station and went through the next section pretty quickly as the terrain was the easiest of the entire course. Not much time later I found myself back at the climb up to Hamilton Mountain. This time the climb felt harder and I walked all but a very short rising traverse section in the middle. I got to the top and set out to run again. Then a quiver, a spasm, and I stopped. What was that? Something felt very strange in my upper thigh/groin area. It was definitely the beginning of a cramp. I sucked down some fluid, at another block, and tried to massage it out. I was a bit scared at this point. I was a good 3.5 miles in either direction from the aid station and I had no other runners around me. I really wasn't sure if I could handle the cramps completely on my own.

After massaging it out for a couple of minutes my leg seemed to want to work again. I took the descent gingerly, being careful not to make any sudden or awkward movements over rocks or logs. I ran over the rocky saddle, hit the dirt road, then back to the cutoff trail. Every minute I pulled closer to the aid station I was happier as I knew they might have something to help me if the cramps started. I was feeling ok, and started down the next technical descent. There was a log in my path and I had to get over it. I stopped to a walk and cautiously picked up my right leg. BAM - thigh seized with a vengeance. I screamed an obscenity at the top of my lungs it hurt so bad (not that anyone was around to hear it). It was a bad cramp, the kind that leads to my whole body cramping and I was terrified that was what was going to happen. The two times that has happened I have had someone there with me. They have helped me to work it out and get me functional again. No such luck this time. I tried to relax knowing that tensing wasn't going to help anything. I worked on rubbing it out hearing Janet's voice in my head telling me to rub away from my heart. After 4 or 5 minutes it started to release a bit. I slowly started to walk again, being extremely careful this time not to make any sudden movements. The slow walk eventually turned in to a very slow jog to the aid station.

I walked up and said I was having trouble with cramps. They pointed me to S caps and told me to take two. I was willing to try anything, so I downed two with three cups of water. I grabbed a handful of M&M's as I was getting really hungry. I ran the downhill stretch much slower this time, uncertain of when or if the cramps would return. It was on this stretch that my watch died. I had turned of the auto-lap feature in hopes of getting more life out of it, but apparently 6 hours and 40 minutes is the maximum battery life of my watch. I was a bit disappointed not to have the watch as a guide for the last few miles. I had a slim hope of making it in just under 7 hours and it was going to be hard without the watch. Bummer.

I made it through the cross-country section of the course and was at the final turn onto the gravel road. I cruised down this the best I could, trying to pick up the pace a bit. I hit the parking lot, .8 from the start, ran down the final gravel stretch and then made the turn onto the .3 mile uphill stretch to the finish. I pushed up the hill the best I could and tried to bring it in strong. Just as I was closing in on the finish line I caught sight of the race clock - it was just turning over from 6:59:59 to 7:00:00. I was disappointed but still tried to finish strong - crossed the finish line in 7:00:12.

Overall a good run. I was pretty happy with my effort. I didn't have any negative thoughts during the day. I knew I wasn't going to do overly well in the standings, but I felt happy to finish 7500 feet of climbing in 31 miles of running in a single day. If I could figure out how to keep the cramps away from good I know I can do better. I did end up coming in one minute and twelve second faster than in the Gorge 50 and this was a harder course - so I feel as though I am making progress.

Stats (Updated 6/16/11 - They updated the results and I moved up a spot)
Finish time: 7:00:12
38 out of 71 overall
9 out of 21 women