Revel Mount Hood Race Recap

With all the travel this past month or so, I’ve really gotten behind on my race recaps.  This one is a big one though so better late than never.

I don’t think I ever recapped my Revel Mount Charleston race back in April, but even though I crashed & burned at that race, it was a turning point for me.  I hit the halfway point in a PR time of 1:51 (7ish minutes faster than my official half marathon PR) and was soooo excited.  I quickly found out that my body wasn’t really prepared for all those fast miles & my hips & calves pretty much shut down, culminating in me laying on the ground screaming at mile 22 with the worst calf cramps I’ve ever had before.

That being said, I was hungry for more.  I wanted to see what I could do!  Could I actually BQ?  I had thought that was a pipe dream, I was 40+ minutes off my BQ time & you pretty much need to go at least 5 minutes faster to actually get in, that’s a huge jump, but maybe with some training, I could do it!

I bought a book, Run Faster, Run Less or something like that fully intending to do a crash course training plan after Nanny Goat. Unfortunately, Nanny Goat set me back a bit further than I would have liked & with all the travel we had for June didn’t help either.  My mileage in June was one of my lowest mileage months for the year.

I finished up June with Black Mountain 25k & then we ran the Crown City Classic 12k on July 4 which was a pretty good & speedy race for me. Then I kind of just did maintenance runs here and there with some climbing days on our treadmill when I was home and it wasn’t a billion degrees in our house, lol.

I got off the waitlist for TRT 55k so I added that into my schedule the week before this race.  I had a good race at TRT, followed it up with a nice 7 mile hike/run with Sean on the Tunnel Creek trail & then didn’t run the rest of the week, until Friday when Sean & I did our shake-out run in Portland.

The expo for this race was held at the convention center, it was pretty low-key, like most Revel expos are.

The only thing that was really unique in this race was that for the marathon there were waves that were 15 minutes apart.  Ok, so waves aren’t that unique, but in this instance, they weren’t based off time, they were based off how early you registered.  So because we waited until June to register we had to choose wave 3 at registration.  I emailed and was able to get us moved up to wave 2, but Sean was trying to go for a better BQ & the pacers were in the first wave.  We were able to convince the timing guy to allow Sean into wave 1 fortunately.

I totally get that they were trying to reward those who registered early & they kept saying it’s only 200 people per wave so it’ll be open & not much congestion in the waves.  That’s fine, but I found it very odd to not allow the fast people to be in the front like is the case in most races.

In any case, we got our packets, chatted with Christy from Running Skirts, she told us about this amazing shave ice place, which coincidentally has a location in San Diego too! and we talked to the Altra rep for a bit too.

Since Revel buses everyone to the start & wave 1 started at 5:15am, we needed to get up really early again.  We had a super yummy dinner at Prasad in downtown Portland, followed it up with a second shave ice and then headed back to our hotel.

We got our gear out, including drop bags with a change of clothes & warm gear for the morning at the peak, set our alarms and were in bed by 8am.

The alarm clock rang really early! But we were up, dressed & ready to go by 2:30ish.  It took about 30 minutes to drive to the high school where we would catch the buses.  The wave 1 buses were leaving at 3:15am sharp and the lady who was in charge was pretty cut-throat.  No seat was left unused & I’m glad we got on without her seeing my bib because I feel like I would have been kicked off since I was wave 2. LOL.

I rested a bit during the ride up the mountain and when we got off the bus, we were told that they didn’t have a sound system, the lodge was booked, but by other people so they couldn’t have sound.  They did the pre-race announcements on the bus and then we were able to mill about until the start.

Sean & I hit up the port-a-potties (no lines because we were the 2nd bus there), saw a few other Altra Red Team members & said Hi.  We chatted for a short bit and then it was time for Sean to get ready for his wave.  Since there were only about 800 people (if that) in the race it wasn’t super crowded at the start.

I wished Sean good luck, he was going for a better BQ to ensure he got in for next year. Then hit up the bathroom again before dropping my gear bag.  It was a little chilly at the start so I was glad to have my sweatshirt, jacket & track pants.

They walked us down the mountain to the start line, it was pretty low key with no one really wanting to be by the start, I really had no idea how this was going to go, but once we started, I decided to stay with the 3:45 pacer.  At Mount Charleston, I started out way too fast and paid for it so I figured I’d try to stick with the 3:45 guy for as long as I could.

He was with another guy who seemed to be a friend, they were chatting the whole time.  As a pacer, he wasn’t great, he never asked if any of us around him were running with him, etc. I stuck with them until they dropped off at mile 5 to chat with some friends that were cheering.

At this point we were on Hwy 26, which I remembered from our last trip to Mount Hood a few years back.  We ran past Government Camp and just steadily moved towards the finish.  I started running a bit too fast, I told myself to just settle in and keep moving.  Eventually I was able to do just that.

My calves were starting to tighten up a bit around mile 6, I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of things to come or just a normal ache.  Around mile 10ish, the inside of my ankle started to hurt, I told myself, just get to the halfway point.  I got to the half marathon in 1:45:30, which was 6 minutes faster than Mt Charleston!!  I was feeling pretty good, relatively speaking.

I was running pretty consistent splits at this point: 8:06, 8:07, 8:05, 8:19, 8:00, 8:03, 8:06, 7:58, 8:08, 7:41, 8:05, 8:08, 8:03.

I told myself to just keep moving, I settled in again and just kept the momentum.  I was passing people, wondering if they would pass me again later, but just trying to keep moving.

The weather was absolutely perfect! It felt cool for most of the race & we were in the shade as well.  I was soaked in sweat but I felt nice and cool until about mile 22/23.

This race is unique in that the marathon runs a separate race from the half until the last 3 miles.  We basically run from the base of Mount Hood down to Hwy 26, turn right and then run on the side of the road down Hwy 26 to the fish hatchery.

I had to stop to get rocks out of my shoes once around mile 20 I think, it was driving me crazy.  The 3:45 pacer passed me around mile 22, he was gone & I never saw him again, he had to have finished few minutes ahead of me (under 3:45).

Around mile 24/25 there were a few smallish hills that I ran/walked.  I didn’t really look at my watch too much during the race, but towards the end, I was really doing a lot of calculations in my head.  I was thinking, could I do it?  Could I really BQ?  I knew it would be close and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t be under enough to actually get to run in 2019.  But could I do it?

I knew I was going to PR, but I still wanted to try for the BQ.  I was finally at the turn to get to the finish.  I was .3 miles over and I was hoping I was wrong and that I’d get those .3 miles back, wishful thinking lol.  I was moving as fast as I could, where was the finish line???  My calves were starting to cramp and then I saw my friend Paul with his go-pro out.  I said Hi & he took a few photos of me as I made my way to the finish.  He got this photo of me checking my watch, so close!

I made the final turn & I could see the finish line! Working hard to get there as fast as I could!

I was over 3:45 but I did it! I ran a 40 minute PR and came sooooo close to a BQ.  And without any specific speed training!  I was in shock as they said my name.  I was so happy, but I couldn’t believe it, where in the world had that come from!

Second half splits: 8:02, 8:06, 8:21, 8:36, 8:49, 8:36, 9:32, 9:01, 8:39, 9:38, 9:17, 10:02, 9:17, 8:19 (.56)

I saw my friend Helen, asked her how her race went, she BQ’d, Yay! I told her I got a huge PR and she was a little shocked, lol.  I then tried to find Sean.  I couldn’t find him so I grabbed a bottle of water & a banana before going to the gear check.

They couldn’t find my bag, so I asked about Sean’s and they said no, so I knew he grabbed them.  I ran into one of my Altra teammates, chatted with him for a few minutes and then had to keep moving.  My calves were so tight.  I walked backed towards the finish line and finally saw Sean.  I was like 40 Freaking minute PR baby!

He was super happy for me!  We got a few photos before I had to get changed.  I was soaked & my calves were seriously cramping.  It took me about 10 minutes to change, lol.

We finished up, grabbed a piece of pizza, Papa John’s was there, we just took the cheese off and ate the crust lol, got a coke and then got in line for the buses back to the high school where we left our cars.

Again, like at the Yosemite Half, the buses were a huge problem.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes before a few buses showed up.  The lady said that they finally were in sync and had 3 buses coming at a time to get more people transported back at a time.

Overall though, I would definitely recommend this race! It was beautiful, fast, downhill, shaded, great weather, good swag (nice tech shirt & great medal) and super fun.

Now to decide on the next marathon & get that BQ!

2018 Tahoe Rim Trail 55k

We love Tahoe & go at least twice a year.  TRT has become a part an annual tradition.  I ran the 50 miler there in 2016, my first mountain 50 miler & the 55k last year.  Sean has run the 100 miler 4x so it’s a pretty special race for us.

This year, I didn’t get in immediately, I was like 31 on the waitlist so I had to wait until maybe June to find out if I got in.  I knew that I would run if I got in.

We got our new treadmill at the end of June so I was trying to get in a few climbing sessions here and there.

This year instead of flying into Reno, which is closer to Carson City & the side of the lake where the race is, we found really inexpensive flights into Sacramento so we ended up driving about 3 hours on Friday morning/afternoon.

We got to stop by one of my favorite places, Basik Acai, which has a location in Reno, on our way to our hotel so that was a plus :).  Unfortunately I forgot to book a room earlier in the year so we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn, which is nice, but note to anyone who stays there, they do not like early check-ins and are pretty rude when you try to check in before their official time.

In any case, we had to sit out in the car so Sean could get his drop bags set up until we were able to check-in.  We got that all sorted & raced over to the packet pick-up/100 mile race briefing. How cool are these bibs? This was the first year for these and they are so pretty.

It was starting to get pretty windy when we got there.  We saw Kat & Kristina and a bunch of other friends before the meeting.

During the meeting it got so windy that a few of the trees starting cracking and branches were falling on people.  They ended up finishing the meeting early because it was getting pretty bad out.

After the meeting we had to get in a quick shake-out run so we headed over to the spot where we normally run and did a quick & windy run.

We headed to a pizzeria in town for dinner, they had a yummy vegan pizza.

We got our gear ready & then headed to bed very early, around 8/8:30 because we had a 2:30am alarm.

Since we were in Carson City, we had to drive over to the start area.  They wanted everyone to take a bus over to the start from Carson City, but since I was also going to be crewing Sean, we decided that we would pay for parking and then I would be able to come back after my race to find Sean.  That meant getting there really early so that we could get a spot.

The start is pretty crazy, since they were busing everyone there, it was crowded a lot earlier than normal.

The 100 miler started at 5am so I saw Sean off and then headed back up to the car to take a quick nap before my start. I ran into Kristina & the gang on the way back up.

I also ran into an Instagram friend Janice before the start and said Hi.  I put my drop bag at the finish line, it was cool, but not as cool as last year so I decided not to run with my arm sleeves.

The 50 miler & 55k start at the same time so it can be a pretty crowded start.  I was maybe half-way pack in the pack.  I as usual just run my own race.  I was just taking it easy at the beginning, following a random pack, but the guy in the lead ended up being pretty slow on the downhills so I passed him and just kept moving.

I got to the first aid station, Hobart, which is about 7ish miles in.  I was feeling good so I got a little more water & a few orange slices before taking off.   I hiked out of the aid station & got a photo in front of Morraine Lake before continuing on.

This section we could really smell the smoke from the Yosemite fires.  I was moving pretty decently on the downhill, but realized that my eyes were getting a little black around the edges, it was really odd.  When I got to the Tunnel Creek aid station, mile 12ish, I got checked out by medical & was told I was fine.

So I got a little food & some ginger ale before heading down on the Red House loop.  I felt better so maybe I was just calorie deficient or something.

I got back up to Tunnel Creek, mile 19ish, got ice in my bladder pack, in my hat & buff and took off back over to Hobart.  I was feeling pretty good, just hiking back up the trail.

I made it back to Hobart, had a horrible time getting my bladder pack open.  I really dislike the hydro pak bladders, they are sooo hard to get open & closed.  It took 2 other guys & myself to get it open, ridiculous!

I got a few sips of ginger ale, some more orange slices and more ice for my hat and took off to get to Snow Valley.  It’s only about 3 miles up to the aid station and then 7 miles to the finish!

I passed a bunch of people in this section and was passed by at least one 100 miler.  I made it to the aid station without much trouble, I was hiking really well.  This aid station is really nice, the boy scouts put this station on & they are super nice, greeting you by name, taking your pack, etc., etc.

I got a little more fuel, ice & then took off.  I wanted to finish as quickly as possible so I just started moving.  I passed 2 guys in the first mile or so.  I remember looking at my watch and realizing that if I could keep moving, I could get really close to 9 hours. So I really pushed it going down the mountain.  Running as fast as I could on the downhills and hiking fast on the uphills.

I passed a few more people on my way down.  I was trying to remember where the last water only aid station was.  It was inside 2 miles to the finish.  And it was getting hot by this point & I was running pretty fast (for me at the end of a 55k).  The last 2 miles were so tough, I could see the finish line but it seemed like it was getting further and further away.

But then finally I was at the split for the finish & the 100 mile (50 mile aid station). I was so close, I managed to finish in 9:09, which was an hour and 1 minute faster than last year.

I was super happy & felt pretty good after the race.  They give us a free meal from a taco food truck so I got just beans, veggies & rice.  I chatted with a 65 year old guy who came in about 25 minutes before me.  He was from Bishop & had a lot of fun stories to tell me.

Then I went up to meet up with Kristina while she was waiting on Kat & some other friends from San Diego.  Christy from Running Skirts was running too.  We just chatted for a bit & then I started to get worried about Sean.  I couldn’t find his pacer and he was taking a lot longer than I was expecting.

Christy came in, then Matt, then Kat, who said Sean was like 1/4 of a mile away and that he wasn’t feel well.  It took him a really long time to get into the aid station at least another 20ish minutes, which was making me really nervous.

He finally got there and was really bloated and having a lot of stomach pains, so we got him some ginger ale & some vegan broth to see if he would feel better.  Nothing was really helping him so eventually he decided to drop.

So now, we had to figure out where to stay.  I don’t normally get a room for Saturday night since I sleep in the car waiting for him to come in at Diamond Peak.

There was a huge concert or something in town, which sold out every hotel in the area of Tahoe, Carson City, Reno, Truckee, etc.  We had to drive to Placerville in order to find a room.  It was a crazy drive too on the 50.  I don’t like driving in the dark and this was so much downhill with people driving crazy, scary and frustrating.  The view of the lake at sunset though, was amazing.

We came back the next day to get Sean’s drop bags & did a nice hike/run up Tunnel Creek. On our way up, we ran into Magda which was super exciting.  We got a quick photo before she ran off.

Again, this is a race that I always recommend, if you have the opportunity to run this race, it’s well put on, great aid stations, great swag (Patagonia shirts) and it’s in Tahoe, which is absolutely beautiful.

The Peak Half Marathon Race Recap

A few weeks ago, Sean & I started discussing our summer runs & Sean wanted to get in another decent run in July before TRT so we decided on The Peak in Julian, CA.

We go to Julian quite often but don’t typically run to Cuyamaca Peak & knowing that I was going to be running TRT & then Mt. Hood I didn’t want to push it so I signed up for the half marathon while Sean signed up for the 50k.

Local & shorter distance races are pretty low key for us these days and I don’t typically stress too much about anything in the days before the race.

I do still set out my clothes the night before, just in case & get a change of clothes so I don’t have to search for that in the morning.

I woke up a little before my alarm to go to the bathroom & then right before my alarm actually went off around 3:30am, I got a text from my boss (who was in Paris at the time) that I needed to do something for work so that kind of messed up my game a little.  I got that taken care of, then got my pack fuelled & ready, grabbed a few random things and then we were off.  This was probably the first time ever Sean was ready before me, lol.

We drove out to Cuyamaca & got to the start area around 5:20ish.  They told us to go towards the front to park since we have a small car & ended up being right at the start/finish line.

The start was pretty low-key.  The 50k & marathon runners started at 6am & then the half marathoners started at 7am.  I just kind of hung out at the car & then started to see a few friends.

And then it was time to get the show on the road! We started out on a dirt road then turned & started up!  I ran maybe a half a mile before I started hiking.  My goal for the day was to really work on my hiking & then run the down.

I felt really strong climbing, barely having any issues with breathing, etc. I wasn’t moving crazy fast, but I was moving pretty well.  We got to a nice section of downhill & I ended up passing a few people before getting to the next section of uphill.  This section is very rocky & was a bit more slow.

I passed a few people here & there, chatted with one girl who got lost last year, a guy who was sooo negative, literally every word out of his mouth was a negative comment & then caught back up to the girl & we finished climbing to the Peak together.

So side note on the negative person: I enjoy chatting with other runners when I’m out there & I try to be super positive, because I’m super excited to be out there & especially on the shorter runs, I’m not really going through any major lows lol.  But if I run into a people & they are being negative, I do try to distance myself because if you are having a rough day it can be easy to get sucked into that mindset.  After the race, I ran into that guy again & he told me & another runner that he did not enjoy one minute of the race.

We get to do this, we all paid our money to be out there on the trails & in my opinion, any day I get to be out there in nature, enjoying the trails is a good day!  There’s always something to smile about & for most people, the next high is just around the corner.  It was an absolutely beautiful day & I feel a little sad for him that we wasn’t able to enjoy just being out there.

Now, back to the recap & off my soap box.  I got to the Peak, saw my friend Jeff, got more water in my pack, ice in my Running Skirts neck wrap & they insisted on putting ice in my hat.

I’ve only been to Cuyamaca Peak a few times so I had to get a photo & then I started on my descent.  It’s always fun to be on the second half of an out and back because you are heading towards the finish!

I was able to run for maybe a mile or so before it got pretty rocky.  I chatted with a guy from Iowa for a while before I passed him and kept moving.  I got to the bottom of the rocky section, hit up the next aid station got more ice for my hat & then headed up for the last section of climb (about 2ish miles).

In this section I passed at least 2-3 more people on the climb.  I was dripping wet & not just from sweat, between the ice in the hat & the neck wrap, my shirt & shorts were soaked!!  I kept thinking to myself that the people behind me were probably following my water drops lol.  Except that there weren’t really any people following that closely behind me.

I finally made it to the top of the last big climb! And it was time to start running! So I immediately passed a girl and then I saw a guy, he was running, but then stopped to walk so I passed him.  Then I turned a corner and this woman came out of nowhere, so we ran next to each other for a while and then I passed her too. I just kept moving steadily heading towards the finish.

As I got into the last mile, I saw two more people, a guy & a girl a little bit ahead of him so I set my eyes on them.  I was able to catch the guy and then I eventually passed the girl with less than a mile to go.  I kept heading down to the road section.  There was another guy in front of me, but I wasn’t able to catch him.

I don’t normally play the pick-off runners game, I just do my own thing, but it was a fun way to finish off the race since I had done so much hiking.

We finished got a medal & then I headed up to get a coke & some orange slices.  I took my traditional post race medal selfie & then changed into dry clothes.  I enjoy the after race just chatting with other runners while I wait for Sean to finish his longer race.

It was a fun day!  I really enjoyed it, and I knew it was going to be a challenging race.  Although I think that I must have heard a good portion of the half marathoners comment that it was soooo tough.

Again, like at Black Mountain a number of people commented that they weren’t expecting it to be like this, this tough, this technical, this unrunable (a matter of opinion, Sean said it was crazy challenging but he did run the entire first 6.5 miles, our race).  And I understand as a road runner we don’t always look at the course map or elevation because it’s not that big of deal.  But with trail races, it’s different, first for most people, you aren’t going to run as fast as you do on the road, second, even in a half marathon, there can be a lot of climbing, third, it’s not always runnable terrain for everyone but that’s ok, if you keep up with it and train the next one will be easier and finally, remember to look up & out occasionally, the views at trail races are so much better than most road races!