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The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

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The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Mark B on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:55 pm

Beacon Rock 25K

Weather: Gorgeous! Sunny. Temperature rising from mid-50s at start to mid-70s later in day. Gear: Altra Lone Peak 2.0, shorts, T, small (50oz) Camelbak. Fuel: LaraBar every 45 minutes as long as I could stand it (which was 3.5 bars), then a Gu. Also a few shots of Mountain Dew, E-Caps every 30 minutes to start, switching to every 20 later.

Quick report on a race that was significantly free from drama.

The race went well. I didn't have any big problems, though I worked pretty hard getting up those mountains. My HR, which is supposedly at my lactate threshold at 143, averaged 150 for the whole race. There were entire miles where I nearly averaged 160, and that was power hiking, not running. Those trails are steep.

I was cautious on the downhills and in rocky areas, trying to stay relaxed and loose -- and avoid torquing my foot on anything. I knew any time I could make up would be on the last few downhill miles as I came off the mountain. That's where I was slowed to a walk in 2011, and I wanted to avoid that. I did, which was great.

I'd thought it'd mean I'd finish faster than I did, but I remembered out on the trail that I did the event in 2011 a couple of months after completing a training cycle for a marathon that I ended up jogging half of after I blew up. So I had many more miles in my legs last time. I nearly matched the time, so that's good enough. It was what I am capable of right now.

And I was so pleased that I dropped down to the 25K. I wouldn't have enjoyed a second lap. Smile

The event was great. Alita volunteered at check-in and serving food after the race. The organizers create tough courses but end the events with a bluegrass band, pizza cooked in a woodfired oven, free adult beverages, etc., etc. They even set up a giant slip-and-slide for the kids (and some of the adults).


All in all, it was very satisfying..
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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Lobo on Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:58 pm

One lap is good.

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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Tim C on Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:02 pm

Nice Mark. Sounds like a great day......

Especially the parts about the bluegrass band, pizza cooked in wood-fired oven and adult beverages......
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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:47 pm

Nice work, Mark!
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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Michael Enright on Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:01 am

Glad to hear it went well!
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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Mark B on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:45 am

Thanks, all!

I've been noodling around trying to see if I can come up with a more "written" report for this, but I'm having a difficult time finding a narrative thread to carry it along. Perhaps it's enough to say that this is the first race I've had since December 2009 that didn't involve one catastrophe or another during training or the race that challenged my sense of self and purpose.

So obviously, this would qualify as a good race. Smile

But I don't want the notes I've taken to go to waste, so I offer them here now in the order I wrote them. Hopefully they sort of make sense.

Random snippets from race:

-Pressing hard, eyes focused on the trail, when a little voice in my head says LOOK AROUND! I pause for a second, look up, and I am blown away by the beauty of the trees, logs and light all around me. It was one of those jaw-dropping sights that can’t even be captured in a photo, and I almost missed it.

-After working hard on two climbs and picking my way through extremely rocky sections of trails unscathed, I hit a moderate trail through the forest. (Don's Cutoff Trail) It feels heavenly as I relax into it, changing my speed and angle with the ebb and flow of the trail beneath my feet. This is what I did all that other stuff for.

-I work my way through rocky sections slowly. I know if I pulverize my feet with a series of weird landings, I’ll be whimpering on the last big downhill sections on the road. I run less in some areas than I do move as quickly as I can.

-I catch up with an older gentleman and realize to some surprise that I’m actually passing someone. I stayed with him a while, chatting, and I guided him through the most technically challenging (and steep) part of the climb. This guy nearly cracked 3 hours in the marathon years ago and still runs cross-country, so he’s far from being newbie. On his shirt, he’d written in all-caps DO NOT RESUSCITATE and DON’T PADDLE ME, BRO! I mention it, and he says he means it. “Better than crapping on a bedpan in a nursing home.”

-One of my goals — not getting lapped by the winner of the 50K — dissolved before I’d reached the top of the second peak. I was power hiking, heart pounding in the 160s, when this young guy breezes past like he’s out for an easy run… except he’s going up this mountain THE SECOND TIME. I ask him if he’s doing the 50K, and he says yes. I get to joke “Oh, man! Lapped ALREADY?!” before he disappears around a corner up the mountain.

-I realize later that not getting lapped was a tough goal. The 50K people started an hour before the 25K. Still, I was only passed by the top five runners, so that’s not too bad. (I checked later and, if you take the hour head start into account, I only truly got lapped by the winner. Ha!)

-I pass another runner, a woman maybe a little younger than me who is having a rough time with the ascent. I ask her if she needs anything — I really wished I could help her somehow — but she said no, she had everything she needed. I pressed on, and I was happy when I saw her finish later.

-When I set out, I had this notion that I might be able to better my previous race here in 2011, even though the official race predictor on ultra signup.com had me finishing a few minutes slower. I’d done pretty well but battered my feet and ankles, leaving me limping and cursing for miles. I thought I might even be able to get in under 4 hours. But I didn’t realize until well into this race that I hadn’t taken into account how much better shape I’d been in 2011. (I’d just trained for a marathon the winter before — this race was the farthest I’ve run in well over a year.) I started doing some mental math and realized that I’d probably finish close to my previous time, after all. And you know what? I was okay with that. This is where I’m at now.

-Mountain Dew is the most amazing tasting substance on the planet midway through a race like this, though it may not be a good idea to overdo it, unless you enjoy belching when it shakes up in your guts and mixes with the rest of your fuel.

-You know your brain is messing with you when it makes the song “You’re so vain” pop into your head as you’re going along casually thinking about the merits of races vs. simply going for runs in the woods. It just started up, all on its own. I wondered, where the hell did that come from? Then I figured it out and had a good chuckle at my own expense.

-I wasn’t feeling so terrific in the last couple of miles, with my stomach being off and my legs starting to fatigue. But I was surprised to pass someone who pulled away from me much earlier int the day. His quads were thrashed, and he’d gone to walking. Felt sorry for him — been there, done that — but I was glad to see him finish a while after I did.

-At the end of the big downhill from the mountain there’s a final quarter-mile stretch of uphill pavement to the group camp where they’d set up the start and finish. As I was ready to hit the road, I was thinking I’d do my best to run up it. That is, until I turned the corner and saw how steep the road was. Uh, never mind. I power hiked it, too, getting passed by the first place woman (fifth overall) on the way up. Once I got to the top of the rise and made the left turn into the campground, I was greeted with applause from runners and their family scattered about, then a bigger cheer as I hit the finish line. A little kid was waiting there with a squirt gun. He started spraying me, saying it was his job to cool runners off. It felt awesome.

-Alita was there the whole time. We’d arrived at 6:30 a.m. to help with sign-in, and she was working to keep the food station stocked for hours as the post-race party rolled on. She saw me run, amused folks at the pizza oven by yelling “Yes! He didn’t die!” and gave me a happy greeting after the squirt gun kid lost interest and moved on.

-Alita had agreed to volunteer until 5:30, so we stayed for several hours after I finished. I hung out, drank a couple of beers and a good amount of water, and snacked on wood-fired pizza and Doritos while listening to a bluegrass band and watching kids on a giant slip and slide they’d set up on the lawn. It was a pretty sweet afternoon.

-30-

So, that's it! It has left me wondering (as I have wondered for a while) if I will ultimately be happier focusing on shorter, sub-ultra trail race distances, swapping ambition for the simple enjoyment of being out there in beautiful areas with nice people. I'm not quite ready to make that move, though. I'm still getting back in shape from a long dry period.

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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  Tim C on Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:56 pm

Awesome read, Mark. Sounds like it was a really great day and I love your perspective.

My wife and I recently went for a nice hike up in Idyllwild - that's what she wanted to do for Mothers day - go figure. Part of me was thinking "this would be a really great trail to try and run". Then I realized just what a great time I was having with my wife and taking in the sights with no sense of urgency whatsoever. It was nice...

Great job.
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Re: The No-Drama Race (Beacon Rock 25)

Post  JohnP on Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:08 am

Nice job Mark. I'm glad you didn't run this one barefoot!
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