Portland Racing 2015

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Portland Racing 2015

Postby BC » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:23 pm

Race to the Cape 10 Miler
Cape Lookout State Park. Oregon
March 8, 2015

A few friends from school told me about this race, so I decided to sign up. It is a beautiful headland on the Oregon coast, close to Tillamook, where they make the cheese. Here is a link to the website with a few photos: http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=24726 I headed out on Saturday with a friend to join a few other friends camping out at the beach. The campsite was right at the start of the race, so it was great. We had a nice campsite close to the ocean, so we hung out on the beach for a while then made a fire and hung out with the guitar. A nice relaxing pre race night.

In the morning we got up and got organized for the race. I got my gear on and headed down to the registration area to pick up my number. It was an hour before start time, and registration wasn’t set up yet. I laughed, but it was a small race so I wasn’t really surprised. I ran up with first couple k of the trail for a warmup, then headed back. My timing was pretty much spot on, except that they decided that since some people were still coming from Portland they were going to hold the start for ten minutes. So my friend and i went jogging back out for a few minutes to keep warm. As we were coming back to the start everyone was lined up and waiting. They decided to move the start time up while we were out doing our warmup, Luckily some friends were there and asked them to wait for us to get back! I crossed the start line, turned right back around, and then it was 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-GO!

The race is a 10 mile out and back. It starts at the beach, and then climbs steeply up some switchbacks to the headland. At about 4k there was an aid station, which we hit again at about 12k on the way back. From there it was a rolling trail along the top of the headland to a lookout. The day was beautiful, and it was perfect racing conditions.

Registration for the race was limited to 65 people. Looking at the list of registrants, I figured that I had a pretty good chance of winning the race. Glancing around at the start, there was one guy in a pink Spartan Race shirt that I picked out as potential competition. Otherwise, I felt like I was looking pretty good.

At the start of the race I surged out pretty fast, and sure enough the Spartan was right behind me. We wound through the campground for the first flat kilometre, then started the climbing. I gapped him a little bit there, and then just focused on running strong and not looking back. The climbing was tough, with some sections that definitely needed to be walked. There were a few sections where we wound around a gully so as I turned the corner I could glance back out of the corner of my eye. Spartan was out of sight so I probably had at least 30 seconds on him. After hitting the aid station, there was a beautiful section with a slight downhill that you could just fly down. It was an absolute blast. And then I was out on the headland proper. The trail was rough and rocky, so it was hard to go fast. But there were a few clearings and the view was incredible. It was a straight beach that stretched for miles and miles. The sun was blaring down and I could see the sun glinting in the spray off of the waves. I wished that I wasn’t racing so that I could enjoy the view! But I was focused on the mission at hand. Suddenly I got to a lookout and there was no more trail. There were no markers, no pylons, just nowhere left to go! I started running back, not knowing if I had taken a wrong turn or whether it was just that low-key of a race! I was scouring everywhere for a turn that I might have missed, but I couldn’t see anything! It definitely took some of the wind out of my sails and I slowed down significantly. Then after a couple of minutes I saw the Spartan coming towards me. It was an incredible relief to be reconfirmed that I was on the right trail. We exchanged congratulations and carried on. I didn’t notice how much of a lead I had on him, but it still felt too close for comfort. I had also wondered about the possibility of a course record, but I forgot to look up the exact time of the previous record. Just before the race, a friend had told me it was somewhere in the 1:14’s. I had been on pace for that for most of the race, but lost some time at the turnaround. If I was consistent and strong I might still be able to hit it. So it turned into a battle of will between pushing hard for the win and the record and just holding on until the finish line. Being an out and back, it was also fun to see my friends on the way back. Finally I got to the final descent that I recognized from my warmup. I pushed it down the hill, and pounded back through the campsite. I looked at my watch and I knew that I wasn’t going to hit the record but should be close. I felt confident at this point that Spartan wouldn’t catch me, so my main goal was to finish strong. I pushed through the finish, and the race director congratulated me, saying, “Wow! I think that’s a course record!” I didn’t believe it, but didn’t feel it was worth arguing the point. There was homemade chilli at the finish as well as some other goodies, and they even had a keg of beer. I grabbed a small portion of each, not wanting to be too greedy when lots of people still had to come in. I was still a little hungry after finishing, so I asked if I could have a little bit more and the lady who was serving (and had also made all of the chilli herself!) replied, “You won the race! You can have as much as you want!” It was pretty hilarious. The Spartan came in about 5 minutes behind be, and he was followed by the two top women - two of the friend I had come over with. It was crazy because they finished 10 seconds apart. When they described the race, they had traded places back and forth three times in the final part of the race!

I would say that this was definitely one of the best value races that I had ever done. The entry was cheap, and there was tons of great food. The setting was amazing, the volunteers were amazing, and the whole experience was absolutely fantastic. Definitely a race that I would do again.

And my time in the race was 1:15:18, which turns out to be the course record! My friend had remembered wrong and the previous record had been 1:16:24. Stoked! :)
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Re: Portland Racing 2015

Postby Kiwi Keith » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:55 am

Way to go Brad! Yet another great experience to tuck into your bag of memorable events.
"Aint nothin gonna breaka my stride, I'm running and I won't touch ground, oh no I've got to keep on movin."
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Re: Portland Racing 2015

Postby WayneC » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:36 pm

BC, I love your description of the race. Almost makes me feel like I was there. Well, actually, I was there. I remember running that trail when we camped at the Capes last Summer. Cool that you were racing there. Sounds like a lot of fun. Looking forward to the report on your upcoming Ultra.
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Re: Portland Racing 2015

Postby BC » Mon May 25, 2015 10:34 am

Smith Rock Ascent 50k

May 9th, 2015

The race had the option of either a 25k or a 50k. My friend Sissel told me about the race and she had signed up for the 25k. At first, I didn’t realize that there was any option other than the 25k. It definitely looked like an awesome race, and when I saw the option for a 50k I stopped. Hmm. Tempting. Do I have time to get in enough training to do a 50k? I had no idea, but I decided to just sign up and that would give me motivation to get more running in. It certainly got me out the door for more training, but in the end I didn’t get in as many long runs as I would have like. I hit some runs around the 3 hour mark, and did some good climbing as well, but I didn’t hit the solid mileage like I had in the past, and only managed a couple decent double long runs. This may well have been the first race that I went into feeling well and truly undertrained. But undertrained or not, I was going to give myself a taper the week before the race and give myself the best chance possible to have a good race. I definitely noticed the difference in my legs during the taper compared to normal, with none of the aches that I usually feel. I had also done very little speed work, so I decided to skip my usual day before race carbo-loading routine. Usually I like to do a hard kilometre the morning before, then follow up with my carbo loading but I felt like the risk of doing that speed the day before the race was not wise.


Because the race was going to be hot, I decided to use my race vest. Originally I was going to bring both bottles, as well as a 10oz Nathan bottle for my UCAAN. I decided that it would just be extra weight that I didn’t need. Aid stations were at 7miles, 12miles, 19miles, and 26 miles so it should be no more than an hour between aid stations. I opted for one large bottle, and one small Nathan bottle. That way, if I decided I needed more water later in the race I could just fill up the Nathan bottle but otherwise I wouldn’t be carrying a whole lot of extra weight. I also wanted to have a GPS track of the course, but didn’t want to be constantly looking at my pace, so just before the race I started my watch and threw it in the back of my vest. I had another watch with me that was set to a 30 minute timer to remind me to eat, which has been a system that has worked quite well for me. One new thing that I did before the race was to tape my nipples. On a run the previous week, I found that there was just a little bit of chafing happening. It wasn’t a big issue, but between the length of the race and the extra heat on race day I decided that it might be an issue and decided to pre-empt it.

Time to get to the race. The start was a flat section of trail for a few hundred metres before a short but very steep descent down to a river. From there we followed the river for several miles before climbing back up a long set of switchbacks to the first aid station. I started near the line and ended up at the back of the lead pack of about 15 guys. There was also a woman in a WonderWoman outfit who started right at the front, but she quickly dropped off the pace and disappeared. The first few miles were a comfortable pace and the pack stayed together, but eventually the group started to break up a bit and I was just off of the back of the pack with a couple other guys. The leaders were easily in range, but I knew that I didn’t want to be pushing this early in the race. My mantra was “Body Management”. At this point it meant don’t go out too hard, not only so that I wouldn’t blow up later in the race but also so that I wouldn’t overheat. I definitely worried about how I would hold together in the heat so I didn’t want to start building up too much heat too early in the race. I think it was Simon Whitfield who talked about this with the Beijing Olympics, where the smart athletes did little to no warmup to delay overheating in the already too hot race conditions.

I slowly dropped off the back of the lead pack, but was feeling good. When I hit the aid station at 7 miles I made back a few places. A lot of guys were doing a full aid station stop, but my plan was to do quick pit stops only. I flew in with my water bottle already open, got a quick fill up, and then was on my way. I passed a couple guys and caught up to a few more so that we left in a pack of three of us. We cruised along for a while until we hit a downhill and one of the guys took off. I stayed tucked in behind another guy in the group, knowing that this was still a reasonable pace for this point in the race. Somewhere in here is where my stomach started to not feel great. Nothing bad, just a little bit unsettled. But I stayed in that little pack for the next 5 mile section until we hit aid station number two.

Again, I blasted in and out and made up a couple more places. I came out of the aid station with one other guy, a Japanese guy wearing knee socks, knee length tights, and a long sleeved top. All that was showing were his hands and a 1 inch strip around each knee. I couldn't believe it, and couldn’t imagine how hot it must be! But he seemed to be doing fine. He tucked in behind me and was happy to stay there. I asked if he wanted to pass, but he declined and stayed tucked in to pace off of me. The trail was rolling here, and really nice. And then we came around a corner and could see a massive climb ahead. It was probably one of the steepest sections of trail that I had ever seen. And people were lined up single file, hands on knees doing a death march up to the top. Crap. We must be stuck behind the 25k runners now. Dang! But right when we hit the trail that would take us up the climb, there was a big sign that directed 50k runners away from the climb. Nice! We bombed along down a nice little descent instead, feeling relieved that we didn’t have to suffer through such a massive climb. Then another mile or so down the trail, there were a couple girls posing and taking selfies. There were no women ahead of me that I knew of, and they looked like 25k runners.

“Um…..this is the 50k course, right?”
“No, we’re doing the 25k.”
“Um…I’m pretty sure this is the 50”

I was pretty sure that I had read the signage right. But could I have been mistaken? Crap! It seemed like I was most likely right, but it definitely got in my head and made me nervous through this section. But finally I reached the aid station after 7 miles, and all was looking good. Once again, another quick turn over and then it felt like I was on the home stretch. One more 7 mile section back to the first aid station, then back 5 miles to the finish. (For those who are counting, the route back was slightly different than the route that we took out, following the 25k course.) I felt good but tired, and this section felt like a slog. My stomach was definitely not happy, and I was having to force myself to eat. I was doing my best to stick to my eating schedule, but was falling behind little by little. So at this point, Body Management became getting down whatever I could tolerate and staying as close to schedule as I could. I was running mostly on my own for this section. In looking at the course profile beforehand, it had looked like there was another decent climb in this section. And I was at the point where I was looking forward to a good climb so that I could walk for a bit just to change things up. But there never really was much of a steep climb. I needed the break, though, so on some of the climbing sections I would break it up by walking. “Ok, I’ll walk to that rock, then I’ll run again.” The Japanese runner had pulled ahead heading down into the last aid station, but here I caught back up to him and passed him on the climb. Now it looked like he was starting to suffer on the climb. I caught another guy on the climb as well, so as much as I was feeling beat up it felt good to know that in the scheme of things I was not doing too badly. I hit the aid station and did another quick bottle fill, and then was on my way into the final 5 miles of the race. Feeling pretty good! There was about a kilometre of rolling terrain, and then a big descent into a river valley, before a final short climb back up to the finish. It was in the bag!

And then the thought popped into my head, “Nice! This is the first long race where I haven’t had any sort of cramping! That’s awesome!” Sure enough, not long after that thought entered my head my leg was cramping. Apparently I should have knocked on wood! It was just before the long descent and my left inner thigh cramped up. I hobbled and hopped along for a few minutes, as it worked its way into my quad as well. Then as quickly as it had popped up, it was gone again. Tragically, just as I was walking it off I came around a corner and there was one of the race photographers. “Guess I should fake it, right?” I said. He laughed and I started jogging for a spectacular race photo. The descent had lots of large, loose rocks and with my leg having just cramped I was a little tentative. But I was still passing people (nevermind that they were 25k runners!) And then it was down into the river valley, and just a few short kilometres to the finish. As I passed one 25k runner here, he said, “Did you see that huge rattlesnake back there?”

WHAT!?! RATTLESNAKES?!? I hadn’t considered that there might be anything like that out here! Yikes! Thankfully, I didn’t run into any because I would probably have been totally oblivious and stepped right on the bugger! This kept me distracted through the river section, and then it was the final short climb and the finish line. Stoked! Another 50k under the belt. Finish time was 4:27:05. Placing wise,I had no idea where I was. I estimated that I might be in the top ten, but it was hard to keep track of who I had passed in the aid stations as I blasted through, so I only had a rough idea. This was the first race that I finished with my stomach not feeling good, so I waited around in the shade for a while for it to settle. And then it was time for burritos and beer. I love racing in the states!

Eventually I saw that I finished 12th overall. Especially considering my training for this race, I’m really happy with how it turned out. Also exciting, and totally unexpected, I got third in my age group. Technically I was 5th, but they have a no double-dipping policy and two of the guys in my age got awards for being in the top 3 men, so I got to enjoy the spilldown effect. I’ll take it! The best part is that body wise I felt pretty good after the race. I was able to walk around fine (except for one other incident of cramping) and within a week, I was able to get out for a decent hour’s run. In this past, there never would have been the slightest possibility of this happening. So I decided that I might as well make the most of the fitness that I have right now, and sign up for another race. So now I’m doing another 50k at the start of July!
I've got nothing to do today but smile :) - Simon and Garfunkel

Toenails are for sissies!

We the artisans of dirt, rock, and snow, humble dancers of steep mountain trails...
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Re: Portland Racing 2015

Postby WayneC » Wed May 27, 2015 2:30 am

Very cool report BC. You should read that post under running articles about race execution. You lived it! Great management of your race to get it done.
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