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Strap on your traction devices and go get it. It has been a little slick and icy here in Stumptown.
December marked a laid back month for fitness with lots of work travel. I'm working on mobility everyday to clean up some weaknesses and just general bad habits I have formed from not taking care of these things in the past. Running started ramping up just enough toward month's end to let me know where I am and that I am ready to start getting back to a more consistent weekly mileage.
Below are some pictures from a few runs in December.
The year is winding down and my running has been sporadic at best. I have been relaxing a bit, not worrying much as a break was needed both physically and mentally. My work travel schedule was in full gear too so I squeaked it some miles where I could. Below are some pictures from a few of those runs over the last few weeks.
Be Merry, Group Run
Dec 11 - North Portland Roads and Trails
There are places you can just keep going back to over and over again and never be bored returning to. For me Tomlike Mountain is that place. From the first time I stepped foot on the Herman Creek trail and climbed up to its summit 2 years ago to the 6th or 7th time I climbed it last Saturday. This place always draws me back. I am genuinely excited each and every time I wind my way up the 10 miles to crawl over the spine of this gem of a location.
Goals for Mountain Lakes.
- Knock out another 100 miler to keep my streak at least one 100 every year going.
- Get in under 20 hours
- Enjoy this cool race with great scenery supported by my community of friends
The gun went off at 8 and myself and 100 plus crew of like minded folks started ready to take on the day and everything that was thrown at us. I settled into a sustainable pace and let 20 plus people pass me in the first few miles. I was probably a bit fast too but if there is one thing I have learned over the years doing these is that these events are so long that, within reason, you almost can't go slow enough.
I ran with a few folks early on in the first 26 or so making sure not to take on anyone else's pace and just keep doing my thing. I played the course and ran the flats and downs and power walked the hills. There was not a ton of climb on this course so I really made sure to pay attention to my perceived effort on even small climbs and if it felt like my HR was getting high I backed off and let things calm down.
I had some great friends helping me along the way too that I always looked forward to seeing as the day went on. Brian Donnelly crewed me early then paced and crewed me later. I didn't give him a ton of instructions because I hate to be a pain in the ass with tons of specific requests. It's enough to dedicate a weekend to helping someone run one of these things, it's another to stress them out with all these demands so I just like to keep it laid back. Again, there is a ton of time out here and I'd rather take an extra minute and keep it relaxed then create a feeling of panic every time I see these people. With that said he was on point. He gave me full bottles of Tailwind and had a few solid food snacks ready when I saw him at crew stops. No wasted time or effort. It was about as efficient I could have hoped.
My buddy Jordan came out to help as well and run the 17 mile section around Timothy Lake. He also did double duty by running the last 30 with another racer Robbie O'Grady later on. We've spent a lot of miles together but none like this in this race setting. It felt just like any other run though. We chatted, kept moving, sang a little and kept it light. My goal was sub 20 hours. I was ahead of that pace the first 55 and the goal through this section with Jordan was the same. Keep the pace under 12 minute miles and keep building the buffer. Success. Jordan dropped me off back at the aid station after a few hours together where I fueled up on some solids, threw on a slightly warmer layer then headed out into the night with Brian to finish this thing off.
My left quad had started barking on the lake loop and was getting progressively worse. I could still move but running and especially maintaining much was becoming a problem. "Luckily" a lot of this back portion of the course is climbing back up to the start and my power walk was working for the most part. I settled in and just kept hiking and hiking. This wasn't the finish I was hoping for. I really wanted to push on this back section but the body was not having it so I just kept to task. Brian and I would talk for a bit then he'd stop and check on keeping me fueled up. I'd drink or eat a little something and keep leaning into knocking this thing out. We'd move in and out of aid stations making sure not to waste too much time and just kept moving forward as slowing down had made sub 20 a little harder than expected. There was no magic to be had, no sprint finish here, just stubborn forward motion and I was lucky to have Brian there to provide some extra motivation and the occasional push. We finally popped off the trail and back to the finish in 19 hours and 47 minutes. Good enough for 6th overall.
I checked all the boxes for my goals on this one. Another year another 100 - check (8 years). Go sub 20 - check. Enjoy the race - check. What more can you ask for on 100 mile finish number 9? Not much really. Would I have liked a better time? Sure. Does this race let me know I could go faster? Yes. Ultimately that is what these things are all about. Can you ever put all the puzzle pieces together at an exact point in time and walk away 100% satisfied? I doubt it. So, I'll do another one and keep trying.
Lastly, GoBeyond nails it. They put on great races with a excellent vibe throughout. The views are killer and the aid is top notch. This course is tough enough to be interesting but not so hard that it is unapproachable to the first timer or perhaps the slower runner and gives plenty of chances for those looking to "lay one down."
Look, I get it. I never write here anymore. I should. Not for anyone reading it (though I do appreciate it), but for me. I like getting my thoughts out in text in the now and having a bit of a historical record of the day. I'm pretty good about getting race reports out, especially if everything went to plan. It is when things don't go to plan I retreat into a hole and this (along with my social media) goes dark.
This summer I had a pretty big blowup and I've thrown a few things out here and there about it but never really said much about it. Mainly because there was an independent film made about it (more on that another time) and I didn't want to "spoil the surprise." Of course those who know me or follow me on social media knows the outcome. I've never really let on my how disappointed I was with this whole failure. It sucked bad. I went after my biggest adventure to date of trying to cross the state of Oregon on the PCT in under 8 days and couldn't make it. I dropped with an injury, not because my head wouldn't let me. While we cant always control injuries I probably didn't do enough to prepare properly. That slow grind run/hike got to me. Extra weight in my pack got to me. Hardly any downtime between huge efforts got to me. I think.....
And thus the crux of all of these pursuits are exposed for what they are, giant unknowns. These things are so big and so out of the norm we can't pin down exactly anything. We only know the outcome. My outcome was not what I wanted, but I've accepted it and I'll seek redemption.
Redemption will not be 1:1 this go around, but the thought of what could have been will be present a lot. I'm running Mountain Lakes 100 this weekend. Most of it on the Oregon PCT and all sections I didn't get to during the PCT crossing because I dropped. So here we go, another year, another 100 miler. Time to keep the streak alive.