Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mini Slam; Grand Slam Prep....

Let the good times roll! Photo c/o Paul Nelson
Having NO idea of what might be in store for me this summer with attempting the Grand Slam, I had an opportunity to do my own mini slam as a trial run.  This mini slam would give me an idea on how my body/mind might handle the short turnaround between races.  Gorge Waterfalls 100k, March 30th followed by Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 mi 2 weeks later on April 6th!  The Gorge had about 12,000 feet vert of super technical running while the Rumble has about 5,000 ft of vert and a fairly fast course.
Ken decided to join me on my adventure and signed up for both races.  We stayed at McMenamins Edgefield (awesome place to stay if you have not tried it out!) in Troutdale about 13 miles from the race start.  Finishing off  the race party was Ken's sister and brother in law, Carrie and Roy, who joined us for the weekend to do a little 100k crewing. While Edgefield provides a wide range of fun activities to partake during your stay, with a 4AM race start, Ken and I were in bed by 9:30PM.  Nope no movie, no soaking tub, and definitely no sampling at the whiskey bar, or the martini bar....just one beer from the tap house before bed!  Our hopes (rather stupid I admit, McMenamins is a place to party....not sleep) of a good nights sleep were dashed with the sounds of all the jovial patrons until around midnight when we finally drifted off.  Alarms sounded at 2:15 and while some guests were just making their way to their rooms, Ken was making his way to the lobby for our much needed coffee, in attempts to jump start our brains. 

Cruising into the 50k turn. Photo c/o Paul Nelson
Almost without realizing how we got there, we found ourselves at the race start....this time we were toeing the line, sporting the Rocho special, Black Diamond headlamp at the waist as well as on our heads (killer set up!).....we were not going to miss the race start today and we were definitely not going to be running around without headlamps with 3 hours in the dark!  40+ degrees and drizzling and we were off, not so bad.  We were hopeful that while we knew we were going to get wet, that perhaps the weather Gods would be kinder to us than they were to the 50k runners on Saturday.
Just about to the 50k turn around!
Photo c/o Paul Nelson

The race was an out and back, same course as the 50k runners...only of course we would be running it twice.  We started at Benson Park and began the long 1500ft climb up and over the trail for Wahkeena falls over to Multnomah was pitch black and while you could hear the roar of the water I wondered at times if it was better that I could not see; first because you were going straight up and in the dark you could not tell how far you had to go, second because we were warned of narrowness of the trail and to take caution. At points, should you would not be getting back up!  With that in mind, I trotted along the rocky, muddy terrain with utmost caution.  Ken was with me, which was nice.  I was hoping that we would get to spend some good miles together.  In a 100k it does not typically take long before you are running by yourself and while I knew it was going to be a long day of running I hoped to at least share his company for parts of it.
I emerged into the daylight unscathed and came into an aid station to see the smiling face of Katie Bien, she was out on the course crewing her hubby and fellow Patagonia runner Rod "Bandit" Bien.  I saw Carrie and Roy at the 20 mi aid station.  Carrie was taking care of Ken who came in just in front of me and I put Roy to work refilling my fluid while I ate a gel.  Asked how I was doing .... "getting my ass kicked" was my response.  I was staying on my feet but wow, not easy.  I had not anticipated ALL the rocks and adding the mud and the wet slick moss to the combination, I was feeling completely worked earlier than I hoped.  The course description advertises amazing scenery, passing by multiple falls, and moss covered hillsides, with little elves and everything....all very true and I even tried at times to take in the views but for my own safety I ended spending the majority of the time with my
eyes on the prize...the ground and not falling.

Watch out for that....rock...Photo c/o Glen Tachiyama
With that in mind I was holding out plugging in my music until the turn around....yup that was my carrot.  Just get to the turn around and I would be rewarded with some tunes!  On my way to the 50k point Ken shared one of his gel flasks, I was eating Swedish fish and jelly beans and found that my gut was not happy with the combo and even though the gel flask didn't settle great, it was easier to get the calories in with.  At this point I decided to go with only gel calories as they would give the biggest bang for the buck.  With an out and back I also had the opportunity to see the lead runners.  As the lead runners flew past (Rod appeared to be having a great race, 2nd place, and Yassine was looking good in 4th) I found Ken and I in 12th and 13th place, I was F2 at this point and was able to see that F1 was about 4 minutes up on me. 

One of the amazing falls! Photo c/o Glen Tachiyama
The turn around came and went and as Ken and I were still running within shouting distance of one another I opted for no tunes.  I came into aid station mi 40 and forced down some gel, refilled my pack and was off.  I went a short distance and stopped for a pit stop in the bushes and with a sour gut told Ken to go, I was fine and was going to plug in my tunes.  That would be that last time I would see Ken for the duration of the race....although with the many switch backs he would continue to hoot and holler at me :)

Feeling tired and looking tired
Photo c/o Paul Nelson
Sadly, my music malfunctioned after only about 20 minutes and the remainder of the race was spent we me and my thoughts and not very entertaining thoughts...."damn the rocks", "I remember this muddy section", "hope my knee does not get worse", "I think I will go through the brier bush instead of the mud bog", "common gut take a few more calories", "if this trail gave away I would be okay with that", and the best on yet..."did that switch back sign really announce that I am at 3 of 11 switchbacks to get to the top"!!!

 Next thing I knew I was running (trotting) down the final hill.  It was about 4 in the afternoon and  although I did get a few odd looks from the day hikers, I think the runners in front of me pre warned them and they all graciously stepped out of my way. 
Leaping to the finish line!
Photo c/o Bandit Bien
I finally made it to the finish line 12 hours and 20 minutes later.....2nd Female, 13th overall and with Ken 3 minutes in front of me.
James Varner RD greeted me at the finish along with Ken, Carrie, Roy, Katie and Rod (M2) and all I could do was shake my head and laugh.  What an amazingly tough race!! 
Thank you to Rainshadow Running and RD James Varner for putting on a great race and all the volunteers who took amazing care of us crazy runners coming through the aid stations....and of course Carrie and Roy for spending 12 hours out in the cold with us :) Love you guys!
What worked well:
Roch Horton special Black Diamond lighting system
Patagonia Houdini jacket (great in the early hours and compact enough to fit in the front vest pocket)
Patagonia Cap 1 long sleeve shirt
Patagonia wool socks (wet feet most of the day and no issues)
UltrAspire Spry 1L hydration vest

What did not:
Swedish fish and Jelly beans (should have stayed with honeystinger gels and solid food earlier in the race)
Ipod not set up correctly

Next up Peterson Ridge Rumble .....

1 comment:

  1. Nice dry run idea, but don't overdo things in early season races as you'll need to be really fresh when we start your final build up to the Grand Slam :)