Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hundred in the Hood Race Report

The Hundred in the Hood

As I was planning my race schedule for the 2009 season, I read somewhere that Oregon was going to get its first 100m trail race. I have always thought to myself that if someone put on a 100m race in OR, I was going to do it. I grew up in Portland and I still feel a strong connection to the area and I have already done a 50k and 50 miler in OR in 2006 and 2007. I checked the date and it worked out perfectly because I wasn't planning on running the Wasatch 100 this year. I also noticed it was on the same general area of my first 50 miler I had done in 2007, the PCT Ultra 50 Miler. Another great feature was the course was going to be run on the Pacific Crest Trail which I knew from experience was really nice single track through nice older growth forest. The route was also two out and backs sections so it was going to be fairly easy to crew which was important because I was going to ask my wife to crew for me again.b

The were two aspects of the race I was worried about. The first was the course is flat, at least for the type of races I was used too doing. As I've stated in previous post I don't consider myself much of a runner, more of trail slogger. This course only has 12,000 feet of vertical gain. The question to myself was could I turn myself in too a 100m trail runner instead of 100m trail slogger? The next issue which I was less worried about was what kind of problems would come up with the race being put on for the first time.

Marge and I spent Friday before the race checking out the aid station locations, checked in for the race and then went for a short hike on the course. This turned out to be a great idea. The trail was very, very dusty. I decided that there was going to be no easy warm up in the morning, I needed to get myself into the top 10 or so unless I wanted to spend the first 1/2 hour choking on dust, not a great way to start a 100m race.

Race directors Olga Varlamova and Mike Burke set us on our way promptly at 5:00am, I let all the guys with sponsor shirts go ahead and slotted in behind two ladies, I was perfectly placed somewhere in the top 10, it was little dusty but not to bad. I can't image how bad it was back in the main pack, it must have been brutal. I could tell that the two woman ahead of me were determined about making time as there was absolutely no chit chat at all. In fact in the first 14 miles not a word was said between any of us running together. As I came into the second aid station at mile 14 at 2:20 in the race I realized I was 30 min. ahead of my schedule. I didn't worry about my pace as I didn't feel as I had pushed at all. After this aid station we would reverse course and head back to the start finish area.

The return trip was uneventful, I ran into the Horse Camp aid station mile 28 at 4 hours 40 minutes, now 40 min ahead my schedule. Marge took great care of me and I was off, I wasn't expected to see Marge again until mile 55. I was now basically back at the start finish line and was headed south for the next 37 miles then would retrace my steps and return to the start finish. It was starting to heat up but most of the trail was covered with shade and for once I almost looked normal instead of being covered head to toe in drenching sweat. The miles went quickly and I arrived at mile 44 aid station still 40 min. ahead of schedule.

This is when things started to get a little weird. When I arrived at the mile 44 aid station they asked me if the other aid stations had been set up and if they had water yet. They had for me but I guess for some of the front runners the aid stations had not been set up in time. Earlier at the mile 33 aid station the lady there had said I was at mile 28. I said that's funny because I left mile 28 an hour ago. She just looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about. Then I was informed by the mile 44 aid station attendant that the next aid station was not going to be there. No big deal I thought 10.5 to get mile 55 aid station was not going to be a big deal. I took a little extra time to fuel up and headed out.

I was still moving good and had expected to cover the 10.5 miles in around two hours. Two hours came and passed, I had run out of water and it was the hottest part of the day.I thought maybe I was just moving slower than expected, then I ran into another racer Mark Tanaka, and he was not happy . We both knew that we had to leave the PCT to get to the aid station at mile 55 and both had been looking for it. Mark's GPS was saying we had gone 14 miles since the last aid. We both realized we had missed the aid station. A few minutes later we arrived at the mile 58.5 aid station. Now 14 miles with out aid is no big deal if you know that going in, 14 miles not knowing kinda throws you for a loop. Plus now I had missed Marge with my lights, jacket and of course my energy drink and power gels. I was also really worried about her. Would they give her updates as to were I was? Would she try to come up the rough road to the next aid station and miss me somewhere? It was a bad scene with angry runners and the aid station people trying to do all the could to take care of people and get in contact with the missed aid station. I decided to try and focus on what I could control grabbed some gels and took off.

The next section of the course was spectacular, high alpine lakes and views of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and of course Mt. Jefferson itself , and finally some nice rough trails and some climbing to make me feel at home. This took my mind off worrying about Marge and I moved along nicely. I hit mile 65 and the turn around aid station still 40 min ahead of schedule. It looked like I was hour to and half behind the front runners. The two girls I had run with at the start were running around 30 minutes ahead of me and I figured I was still somewhere around 10th place. On the way back I started to feel some pain in my left knee, not terrible but enough to make me worried. I started to slow down no so much from the pain but more from trying not to pound the knee too bad knowing I had a long way still to go.

As I neared the mile 75 aid station which was now marked as though a crazy person had been given 1,000 feet of flagging I was praying that Marge was there. It was getting close to dark, I had one very tiny emergency light, no jacket and was not sure what I would do if she wasn't there. She was! Wow what a huge weight off my shoulders, I have never been so happy to see Marge during a race. I decided it was going to pay off later in the race to take a good break and sit down for 10 min and eat some soup which is what I did. I was in good spirits and realized I had 7 hours to make my goal of 21 hours for the race. I knew I had a good chance of beating that time. Marge had me all set up and I headed out in feeling revived, my only worry now was my knee, would it hold up for the next 25 miles.

I passed two guys soon after I left Marge, than ran alone for the rest of the race.(in fact I ran almost the whole race alone) The 10.5 miles seemed to take for ever before I hit the next aid station. Its was one of those great aid stations that seems to really put you in a good mood. It was manned by ultra runners (you can always tell) Talking Heads was blasting on the radio, and they kept trying to get my to drink some booze which kept me laughing the whole time. After 5 min I figured I better get moving or I was going to sit down by the fire and start drinking rum and cokes.

The next two hours were very hard and I had a huge motivation problem. My knee was giving me problems but the pain was not that bad I just couldn't get myself to keep running. I kept talking to myself asking were the motivation was, where was all that drive I had earlier in the race, I actually felt embarrassed for moving so slow. I thought of the other guys in the MRC and how they fought through their low points in this years Wasatch 100, which just made me more mad because I really didn't have any major issues, so I didn't feel I had excuse for moving so slow. I think a good pacer could have been a great help at this point to say the least. I slowly started moving at a good pace again and was surprised nobody had caught up with me.

I hit the last aid station and was feeling better. I was 18:40 into the race and thought I still had a chance at a 19:30 finish. The aid station attendant told me I had 4.5 miles to go. I took off with a quickened pace thinking the race was in the bag, 4.5 miles of mostly downhill, no problem I thought with a smile on my face. 4 miles later I was sitting on the trail staring at my head lamp that was 5 feet off the trail in the bushes wondering if I would manage to find my water bottles. I had just taken a great rolling fall going downhill on a perfectly smooth trail. I picked myself up, found my bottles(but lost my jacket) and thought no problem .5 mile to go. Nope, wrong again, turns out the mileage from the last aid station to the finish was 6 miles. Oh well, the finish came soon enough, just not at 19:30. I crossed the finish line at 19:50, got a hug from Olga and buckle for going sub 24.

Even with the glitches I loved this race, the trail was awesome, scenery fantastic and the aid stations when functional, were great. First place overall went to Ray Sanchez in a time of 16:56, first place women and 6th overall went to Shawna Wiskey her first 100M race in a time of 18:26. 41 people went under 24 hours! Full results here. For a behind the scenes report check out Olga's R.D. report here. Its gives great insight to what R.D deal with. Thanks to Mike and Olga and all the volunteers. On a final note even though I told her of course, a big thanks to my wife Marge who come through with flying colors and not only took care of me but also many other runners as well. I can go with out a pacer but would be hard pressed to tackle a hundred without her.

Now its time to get back to a course with some climbing! Christian and I will tackle the HURT 100 in Jan.Can't wait

P.S The Swiss knot rocked, perfect for 102 miles!


Christian said...

Way to go Greg! In my mind sub-24 is the first barrier, sub-20 is the next one. You blasted right past the sub-24 to record a fantastic time!

olga said...

Sorry, sorry, sorry...all I can say. Won't happen again. Although I am sure something else will, but at least I think we got with major disaster out of the way in a first year:) Marge was awesome to hang around with! And you did great, no-flat-lander you are. I am petrified of such courses myself, that's why I direct this one:)

Erik said...

Three cheers for the Swiss knot!! And you held up pretty well yourself, Greg. Nice run!

Jason said...

Great job Greg! I really enjoyed the report. Sub-24 is a great time. Sounds like a race I'd like to add to my bucket list.

Jay Aldous said...

Fabulous job Greg and great report. Three cheers for you and the Swiss knot...

peter said...

Fast time, great report, great year.

Brian Beckstead said...

Nice job Greg! I missed your most excellent photo taking skills at the Bear though. Good luck at Hurt.

Jason Berry said...

Nice run Greg, I look forward to running with you this fall.

Three cheers for the Pacific NW!

Jason Berry