Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Haulin' Aspen Race Report................

Vacation is over, bummer, marathons are over, well, I got through them and here is the first of my two reports.

But to understand the marathons you should know a little about our trip so here is a link to our vacation destinations, we went through 7 states, 3 national parks and all in all we drove 5000 miles and spent a lot of time looking at some amazing sites (I will post pictures in the near future but wanted to get my reports out).

Haulin' Aspen Marathon - Bend, Oregon - August 10, 2008
The Haulin' Aspen Marathon was on day 5 of our vacation and we had spent the days up to the marathon, horseback riding, hiking, eating, driving (~2000 miles), probably not my typical taper but I think I can say it probably didn't hurt me too bad.

The race starts in Shevlin Park, it is a delightful park that is located right in the city of Bend. Bend is a mid size city in central Oregon with a population of around 77,000+. It is rated as one of the top towns in the US for bikers (non motorized type) and a pretty good place for trail runners. Shevlin Park provides the gateway to miles and miles of trails some singletrack, some fireroads.

The morning of the race was beautiful, the temp was in the low 50's with a forecast of a high into the lower 80's. Karyn dropped me in Shevlin Park and I walked over to see where I could drop my bag when to my surprise I saw a runner wearing a sweatshirt from St. Cloud State, I couldn't help but stop and ask and sure enough it was our St Cloud State (where my daughter goes to school) and he was a transplanted Minnesotan (small world after all). Karyn found a place to park and made it back to watch the start of the race. My plan for the race was to run it moderately hard as I knew the Grizzly was six days later and these two races would be my final training runs before the Superior 50 (that is if I run Superior :-). My main goal was to gain some confidence on a harder course and to not injure myself. For those that don't remember the race, here is a link to my previous post on it.

The one thing I wanted to try for this race was using a Heart Rate Monitor to track my pace. I had felt that I needed this to keep me working hard but not too hard. I want my speed back and I know I need to push myself harder in my training runs and had hope it would help. I had only gotten the HRM a few days before vacation so I had only been able to try it on a couple of runs. It is a low tech $30 - Timex that tracks time, pace and then gives you your average and peak when you are done. With this and my Ipod Nano/Nike+ kit, I had my poor man's Garmin for $60 (ok, I am ignoring the cost of the Nano). I ran a moderately hard 5 miler in Lebanon Hills and my average HR was 138 with a peak of 154. So I decided to keep my pace around 130-135 for the race.

The race loops within Shevlin park for the first couple of miles partly on pavement and then it turns into dirt, proceeds to fire roads and then back onto singletrack and then back into the park.
My plan for hydration was to carry two 1/2 liter bottles with my Clif Shot Apple Crisp electrolyte with a third bottle in my waste pack. I would drop a bottle at the second aid station and then refill the bottles at the later aid stations switching the one bottle in my hands to break up the monotony of carrying bottles. I had debated using my Camelbak but I thought this would work as it was the way I trained and they had aid stations every few miles .

The race had hit their capacity of 500 runners but it didn't seem too crowded as the start approached, I moved to the back of the pack since I was figuring on a 5:15 to 5:30 marathon, not too fast but doable depending on how I handled the initial elevation of 3600 feet and the climb to 6000 feet over the first 14 miles, I figured the 12 miles back down would be a piece of cake.

The gun went off and all felt really good, my only issue was holding back my pace since I was instantly, pretty much in last place, for many that is a location you can't fathom, for me it is a depressing reality of where I am as a runner. Oh well, the day is gorgeous and I am running in Oregon, a thank you to my family for indulging my marathon aspiration of 50 states. Remember, the goal is to finish and to do no damage. We proceeded through an aid station at around 2.5 miles (I think) and I went on through it since I had what I needed. My time didn't seem right but then I thought maybe I misread the sign.

My plan was to walk 1 minute, every 15 minutes to take in fluids/nutrition. Of course I skipped the first stop as I felt ok, so I stopped a few minutes after the first aid station and took a drink, I timed it to a quick 40-50 foot uphill that left the park. It was about then that I was trying to remember the course information (climbs, aid stations, etc....) probably should have checked the race info packet. Was the first aid station at 2.5, if so how could my time be 35 minutes, where was the second aid station? The course proceeded gradually uphill and I decided I needed to get back to plan, a S-cap on the hour, electrolyte every 15 minutes. We continued uphill and headed from the dirt path onto fire roads, where was the next aid station? Finally it came into sight, I looked at my watch, it said 65 minutes, the sign said 5.1, damn I was way off my goal pace (of around 12 minute miles) except my HR was at 142, what was going on, was it the elevation, was it the taper? Oh well, keep it going and maybe it will get better.

We continued uphill, I was starting to appreciate courses that went up and down versus this course that just went up. Ok, where is the next aid station, there it is. I was still off pace, we continued uphill, on to the next aid station, uphill. I hit what turned out to be the last aid station going uphill but missed the mileage, was it 11 and we climbed to 14. I couldn't remember oh well continue onward, I turned the corner and saw the hill that laid before me. Wow, it was like the main downhill at Buck hill but kept going up. I started out running until the HR hit the upper 150's and then I proceeded to walk, my HR fell into the mid 140's. Another corner, more hill, man this thing keeps going. I did pass a few other runners who were walking, I think I may walk hills fairly well, I just don't run them well. Upward I went, by this time it was getting warmer. Head down, another corner, more up. Man this was getting old. I then looked up and had a fabulous view, I wish I had a camera to catch it. I will admit after seeing Yellowstone and the Grand Teton's it wasn't as scenic but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Finally it seemed to start to level out, my HR fell under 140 so I started running. Where was the aid station, did I take a wrong turn? I went around another bend and I saw people, yes the 14 mile aid station. I remembered to look at the sign, I did need to ask where the course went. They pointed me in the right direction and told me it was all downhill and I smiled and said good.

I started out strong on the downhills and I thought I was doing good until I heard a runner behind me, I couldn't believe the people I passed on the uphill had recovered and caught me, turns out they hadn't it was a volunteer from the aid station. The aid stations were staffed with runners from the Bend cross country team. At mile 5 it was a group of girls dressed in prom dresses, at mile 11 they were dressed as rabbits, I can't remember the other aid stations but none of them seemed that memorable.

I kept going down and I thought to myself were was the next aid station, I was starting to lose it, my legs were drained, my left knee, hip and calf were hurting. Where was I on the course, the only mileage markers were at the aid stations and I had failed to pay attention to where aid stations were.

Finally, I came into the aid station, it said 17 but it had taken way longer than it should've the young men at the aid station said their mileage wasn't right but weren't sure what it was, oh well continue downward, it was starting to get hot, not too bad but noticeable. I was drained, my left leg was not right, I fell into a depressing run/walk routine and made it to the next aid station, the sign said 20 and I thought to myself wow this is a humbling day. I continued downward, the course was ok, nice singletrack, a few rocks to climb over, a few roots, a few mountain bikes. Another advantage of being slow, the course gets opened to non-runners.

Ok it was going to take 6+ hours, deal with it and move on. I kept thinking where was that last aid station, my last bottle was empty, surely I was at mile 23 by now ( I was pretty sure that's where the last aid station was). I kept going, I knew we had to cross back over the creek, when I looked around I thought that this looks like Shevlin park, but I must be losing it as we didn't come into the park from the right direction. A walker up ahead, she said good job, you only have a mile to go. Ok, I had to be back in Shevlin park but not where we had left the park, it seemed like the dirt section of the first 2.5 mile loop. Well, I could woggle my way in a mile no problem (woggle is my term for myself when I am in my death march walk/jog/wobble/run) and I could make it a mile without anymore water. I looked at my watch and it said I was 10 minutes into the final mile, just a few minutes longer and I would be done but if I was in Shevlin, where was the covered bridge that we went through in the first few miles?

Onward, a couple more walkers up ahead, good, they said just a 1/2 mile to go, I looked at my watch 12 minutes, from the first walker, keep going, 10 more minutes passed, I saw the bridge, where was that finish line? Keep going, finally there it is, woggle into the finish, race over, official time 6:00:52. Disappointing but completed. HR average 141, peak 161. Not quite too plan.

I look backwards now and easily see what went wrong the aid stations were supposed to be at miles:

3.3, 6.0, 7.8, 9.6, 11.9, 14.1, 17.0, 20.0, 24 and then the finish.

I thought they were 2.5, 5.1, 7.8, 9.6, 11.2, 14.1, 17 and 20.

I am not even sure now that they were all there as posted. I will look and read what others say to see if I was hallucinating or what, I know for sure that the last aid station wasn't there but regardless of that the bottom line is I went out too fast on the hills/elevation gains and paid a price for it.

Lessons learned, if you don't know the course, read the brochure, write it down and carry it with you so when marathon memory hits you can check. Over plan your hydration and fuel and stick to your plan (meaning HR and Hydration).

Oh well, course completed, no major damage, no confidence gained, onto the Grizzly..............


SteveQ said...

We've all done that death march... you kept going and that's what matters. A tad over 6 hours? I call that a great race.

Londell said...

The goal is to finish before cut-off times, and you are doing that... Congrats! Now I hope the second went better!


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