A bit delayed (and many details forgotten), but here it is...
Toeing the line of McDonald Forest 50k outside of Corvallis, OR, I had in my mind the words fellow runner Nick Triolo gave me just before starting Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 miler 4 weeks prior--"patience and confidence". Simple words, I know, but perhaps the best advice I've received in quite some time. I didn't heed the advice that day, but at "the Mac" it all came together for me.
The race started at what seemed like a very comfortable pace, but it wasn't long before there was just a group of about 10 of us up front. We soon hit the first stretch of single track and, believe it or not, Max King took off on what would be his course record run. I stayed at the back of the group and just watched the guys up front, trying to get an early read on things. As the climbing started it was clear a couple of these guys would drop off soon, but most looked really strong. I just kept comfortable, knowing there were plenty of places of to push other than these first few climbs.
By the first aid station (mile 7) I had passed a couple of guys and let a few more go and was cruising well. My focus for the first hour was to relax, get extra calories in, and not get too caught up. Then see what comes. By the climb out of the 2nd aid station I could see a couple of the guys in front and I caught and patiently hung with them for a while. The pace was good, I was feeeling food about what was in the tank, and I decided to make a hard pass on a nice downhill stretch and get some separation. I quickly put a good gap as they seemed not to follow.
Things leveled out and I dialed it back in, but was soon passed by eventual second place runner Neil Olsen. He was really running hard (I think he had some sort of delay early on and was now on a mission to make up time). I let him go, but he was not going too hard on some of the climbs so I pushed and latched on for a bit. I did my best to keep up with him--and did for several miles, but he eventually got out of sight on a climb around the 4th aid station. He would only finish about a minute and a half up on me, but I never saw him again.
|Trying to hang with Neil...|
I had a mildly bad patch coming out of that aid station where I was really starting to feel it. I kept moving, confidently knowing it would pass, that my legs were stronger than they felt right at that moment, and that there was still battles to wage with this course. Where I would typically start peeking over my shoulder at who was catching up, this time I was instead mostly forward focused and ready to keep going. On the last big climb about 3 miles from the finish I was able to see one more person about half a mile up. He was walking and obviously worn out. It took a while, and wasn't a pretty effort, but I managed to catch up to him and put him behind me. At this point I knew a 4:30 finish might be possible if I kept it together. The trail twist and turns, mostly downhill, for the final mile and a half, and I was really satisfied how hard I was able to run this. I finished in 4:30:14 (so close!) for a surprising third place.
Shoes: NB 101s.
Done a ton of training in these but this was the first time racing in these. Great. No issues.
Nutrition: 1 bottle Hammer Perpetuem (early for some calories), various assortment of Gu, some water and Nuun, 4 s-caps and a little Hammer Heed from the aid stations.
Not bad on this front. The Perpetuem early worked really well. Made it easy to relax and focus on getting some calories in. Stomach was a little touchy near the end and I think it was from the Heed. Don't usually use "sports drinks", and I think the combination of the sweet Heed on top of Gu was just too much.
Tunes: Shakedown Stream--5/5/77. Great show... I love running to this podcast.