I haven’t blogged since before Boston. The reason is simply because I prefer sharing happy great wonderful run experiences. Boston was hot and miserable. I went in injured and came out 40 minutes off my goal, and was struggling for literally the last two months with partial drafts about the Boston Marathon, none of which were worthy of publishing. So I back-burn-erd it until I was motivated to write again. I found my motivation this weekend, so here we go.
This weekend was amazing! Me and 5 other ultra runners participated in Epic Relay Oregon, a 188 mile relay from Portland to Eugene. Our Captain, Stephan, just finished with a 3rd place finish at Pigtails 100 miles in under 20 hours 3 weeks ago. Jimmy, Sharon and Kathleen have been training hard and running 50k’s 100k’s all year already, Kristi and I have probably trained/run the least due to school/job commitments and I’m recently back from injury(Boston).
After breakfast together, we loaded the van with our clothes, drinks and food including an ample supply of picky bars, (Thank you Picky Bars, for sponsoring us!) If you haven’t head of, or tried picky bars, hear about them and try them now, you won’t regret it.
We were the only mixed-ultra team on the roster of 54, and for some reason they had us starting dead last with two, rather fast, 12-member teams. The first teams of the relay were out the gate at 6:30am and we weren’t scheduled until 1:30pm. I’m pretty sure I was not the only what thinking that this was lot of ground to try and make up. All the teams were in place at the starting point ready to go, and we were given the green light to start ten minutes early. So at 1:20, we were off and running. Kathleen brought us in first for the first leg of the relay, (later I found out one of the other teams took a wrong-turn and had to double-back), and then it was my turn. I was tasked with the hilliest, longest legs of the entire relay. Even though I had a good lead, I couldn’t hold off team “Rock” as they caught me towards the last of the hills on this leg. I still managed to put in a respectable time despite the “very hard” leg I had to do and sent Kristi on her way. As typical for most of us in the early stages of a relay race, Kristi rocked her leg and came in with a sub-seven pace before handing off to Stephan. This was pretty much the pattern for a while as we yo-yo’d with the teams that we started with. Another wrong turn, this time by team “The Volunteers”, and we were still with them come van-exchange time. With us being the ultra team and the others with fresh runners the yo-yo-ing didn’t happen as much and they started to pull away.
In the wee hours of the night we were a team running very much alone and dead last. We were so last, that when we got to the exchanges, the volunteers were picking up the cones and signage 3 seconds after we came through. Our spirits were hitting a pretty significant low. I don’t think I was the only one cursing the race directors for staring us last. I heard or may have even said myself “we’re dead last, there’s no way we’re going to catch anybody.” Running in the middle of the night all alone has a way of generating a few negative thoughts. However, as dawn approached and we came upon a van exchange somewhere between Albany and Corvallis, we found ourselves meeting up with some teams we hadn’t seen before. Just being around other people and teams immediately lifted our spirits. When we realized we were talking to some teams that started at 6:30 the day before and we still have 10 legs to go the “speed demons” took over and we started getting some road kill. (road kills are the teams we pass). At exchange 29 my mom, father-in-law and another runner friend, Jerry, were our volunteers and we had time to chit-chat with them before Jimmy came in with blazing speed, to send Sharon on her way. At this point there were lots of teams we were catching up to, some of which were runners we saw at the start an hour and a half before we began our journey. With the last six legs to go we were on pace to finish around 2:15 or so and were still catching some other teams. I finally managed to get a couple road kills myself, but as the heat was rising, so was our fatigue and we were clearly ready for these last legs to be done. Sharon was our last runner so after that last exchange we get our butts to Alton Baker park so we can run in with her at the finish. A total of 24 hours and 53 minutes after we started at Big Al’s in Beaverton the we were rolling over the finish line at the park in Eugene. An epic journey indeed.
Here’s the numbers:
My Ultra Peers
Fourth place overall
Total Time: 24:53:16, Pace 7:58
1st Ultra-Team, 1st Mixed team
Thank you so much to all my teammates, friends and family. I love you all more than words can say. Pics and movie clips coming soon.
Next race is Mt. Hood 50 and most of my teammates are joining me on this one too. Can’t wait.
Special thanks to Picky Bars, Mom, Bernie (dad-in-law) and Jerry (amazing runner) for all your help and support!
Until next time, Run-ON!