Muddy slóð // Muddy Trails

This past Sunday I ran the Oregon Coast 30K and oh my goodness it was amazing.  Beautiful and brutal at the same time!!  Wind, rain, mud, single track trail, awesome people, great views, tons of vertical, a new friend / Oiselle teammate, great pizza and beer, I could go on (and I will).  There are a couple things I need to work on in order to nail my next race but overall I am so proud of how it went.

My current training schedule has had me focused on my goal race in December; the Deception Pass 50K.  This past April I signed up for the OR Coast 30K to 1) see the Oregon Coast 2) ensure I kept running throughout the summer and 3) use as a training run for Deception Pass.

I admit that the 30K has not been top of mind until a week ago, realizing that I wanted more out of it than just a training run.  I wanted to use this race to check my fitness and see what I had in me.  How well could I do if I pushed a little harder?

As I started writing out my race plan, breaking the course up into 5 sections, I noticed that between my projections per mile and the prior race course results, I could easily place in the top 10 females!  Racing for placement is completely new to me.  It is both exciting and scary, as you are forced to simultaneously become tough and vulnerable in the same moment.

I wrote out my a/b/c goals and texted them to my best friend.  Either I would go out too fast, blow up, and humbly be passed by a lot of people, or I would actually nail my race plan and be in the top 10.

  1. Pie in the sky goal: Finish in 3:30 and be in the top 3
  2. WHOA so cool: Finish in 3:45 and rank in top 5 females
  3. Realistic and still proud: Finish in 4:00 hours and rank within top 10 females

I went back and forth between nerves and excitement.  Finally focusing on the wise words of my friend Krysta, “If you follow your pace plan, you will have a great race.  If you nail your pace plan, you will place in the top 10.”  It was simple as that.  I needed to focus on my race and not anyone else racing near me.

Race Morning:  Race Overview 9:55 / Start time 10am

Weather was slightly less than ideal with a mix of mist, rain, and manageable gusts of winds between 10-15mph.  James Varner, the Race Director, went over the race course and warned us of slippery wood bridges, wet rocks, and mud.  I nervously laughed, as a memory from wiping out on a wet wood bridge this past spring came back to me.  As much as I love running in cooler temperatures and cloud cover, I knew the biggest challenge would be running through the thick mud and over wet bridges.  My advantage would be the flat roads and steep downhills.

ocean

Part 1:  The Road / Miles 1-3ish:

Initially I planned to run the first three miles conservatively with easy 8:30’s or close to 9’s, but the moment I heard James yell, “On your marks, get set, GO!” I took off and didn’t look at my watch… Less than a quarter mile in, I looked around and noticed it was just me, the lead pack of guys + 2 girls… Whoops.  So much for conservative.

startline-with-guys

starline-around-the-corner

We made our first turn past the crowd, over the hotel lawn, onto the street and kept going.  My watch clicked mile 1 in 7:45, and then mile 2 in 7:41.  I wised up, pulled back, and female #2 passed right by me.  Shaking it off and reminding myself, “You are not here to win, you are here to run your race, and work your plan.  Stick to your plan.”  Alright, back to the task at hand, I was focused and ready to go again.  After 2.5ish miles you cross the street and hop onto a soft trail which begins a slight ascent and then descent until mile 3.

Part 2: The First Climb + Descent / Miles 3-6.8:

I huffed and puffed and pushed the first climb, struggling between not wanting to go out too hard & not wanting to give up too much of a lead.  Around mile 4, female 3 passed me and then shortly after female 4 ran by me.  I looked behind me and couldn’t see anyone… “Work the plan.”  I could save my energy and take my uphills between 15-20 minutes if needed and still come in at 4 hours.  The first half of 900ft climb was a mix of soft dirt and roots, the second half of the climb was thick and slippery mud!! The decent was just as challenging, but I somehow managed to stay up, keeping my foot turnover light and quick. I hit the aid station at mile 6.78, grabbed a banana + some Sprite and kept going, following closely on the heels of female 4.

68132487-img_0899

Part 3: The Second Climb + Descent / Miles 7-13

I knew the second climb would be the hardest physically but I didn’t anticipate my Garmin GPS going out.  Mentally, that was challenging but I pictured the map and elevation chart and trusted my instinct.  I looked down at my Garmin and the timer continued to count up, but the pace and miles were not updating.  This lasted for about 1.5 miles.  Somewhere along the second climb another lady passed me taking over 5th place.  I ate some gummies and kept power hiking.   To be honest this section is somewhat of a blur… I just kept power hiking as quickly as I could and focused on moving forward.  After climbing 1200ish feet, the descent felt incredible!!  I was running with another guy at this point and as we started the long anticipated descent he yelled, “This feels amazing!!” To which I responded with, “YES!! We have earned this moment!”  Finally, I reach mile 13, the second time at the aid station.  I filled up my water and drank some Coke.  I stood there for about 30 seconds and then took off for my last climb of the day!!

Part 4: The Third and Final Climb + Descent

Somehow this climb didn’t seem as bad as the first two climbs… Maybe it was because I knew once I reached the top it would be relatively smooth sailing, or it helped to know what was coming as I had already ran it in the first 6 miles.  For a large portion of this climb I had to squat down, put my hands on my quads and dig my heels into the muck in order to progress further and not slip back down the trail. Regardless, this climb and descent seemed to fly by.  I didn’t hear or see anyone behind me, and I knew if I just kept moving then I would secure my place in the top 10.  I ran past people foraging chanterelles and about 10 minutes later ran past lobster mushrooms on the trail (WHOA!!).  When I finally reached the top of the climb, I took off on the descent, running at an angle down the hill to avoid slipping through the mud.  Eventually the muddy path turned back into technical roots and then to the soft soil… and all of a sudden I was back on the road.

Part 5: Return of the Road

Initially I thought I would be able to bust out 8:30’s / 9:00’s on the way back… That did not happen.  10:30’s was the best I could do.  Maybe on a dry day where I had not wrestled the mud and fought to stay on my feet, but in this moment, I was just happy to have solid pavement below me.  “Don’t walk, keep going, almost done, almost done, almost done!! 6th female if you keep moving….”  I kept my eyes on an older gentleman who I had ran with off and on throughout the day.  I looked behind me and still did not see any other ladies.  This was it!!  I saw the finish line, picked up my pace a bit, and ran with everything I had left. As I crossed the finish, I high-fived the Race Director and said, “THANK YOU!!  That race was beautiful, amazing, hard, and kicked my ass!  I loved it.”

finishline-2

And then all the pizza, beer, and time with Tim.

Official time 4:02:56

Results: 1st in AG, 6th overall female, and 23rd overall.

*Special thanks to Tim for driving the 14 hours (round trip) from Seattle to Oregon Coast,  for his support and encouragement, and for all the amazing photos.  The photo on the ridge is from Glenn Tachiyama Photography.

2 thoughts on “Muddy slóð // Muddy Trails

  1. THIS IS SO AMAZING!! Wow, I can’t imagine running this race, much less in these conditions; you are so fierce! I love that you were able to stay focused on your plan and not get derailed by anything that was going on around you; that is REALLY going to help as you continue to prepare for Deception Pass, don’t you think? BIG CONGRATS, my friend! It was so much fun to follow along; Tim is a great social media manager. 😉

    Like

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