Way Too Cool Race Report
This was my second year at Way Too Cool 50k. Unlike last year’s experience of cold weather and multiple shoe-soaking stream crossings, the weather this year was most appealing – sunny, warm, dry – paradise for a heat loving Oregonian. My main goal this was to run hard, and my hope was that I could last the entire race at a good effort. I anticipated a better time than last year’s 4:31, based on the conditions alone.
After a creaky warm-up, I made my way to the start line, where I exchanged good luck wishes with my training buddies Bev, Alan, Craig, Jeff, Lewis, Scott, and Tommy. At 8:00 a.m. the cannon went off, and we surged down the road ahead. I settled in with Jeff, Craig, Rod Bien, chatted a little, and watched ahead to see where the women were. Bev was already nearly out of site, and last year’s winner Joelle Vaught was drifting away as well. I was happy where I was, running at a good clip, and feeling that it was not too hard. I spotted Jaime, the number 3 gal from last year, and decided to run with her awhile. We chatted awhile and soon enough we were off the road and onto the trail. Tommy was near, and we ran a bit together. Craig and Jeff were pulling ahead as I kept the hills to my moderate effort (aka as SLOW). Cresting one, I caught Jeff as he was experiencing technical difficulties, trying to unwrap his Ipod from around his legs (???). He caught back up soon, and commented that we were going too fast. Behind me I could hear Andy Jones-Wilkins booming voice, chatting away, and knew he would be blazing by soon. Sure enough, next flat wide section, he scooted by and wished me luck.
At about 4 miles into the race, a crowd had gathered for our last turn before heading down to AS 1. I heard Laurie cheering me on, and looked up as she gave me a thumbs-up. Lifted as I always am by moral support, I flew down the trail. Jaime caught back up, and I chased her down the technical section, watching and following her surefooted placements.
Into the aid station in about 40 minutes (3 minutes ahead of last year?), I looked to Ed to refill my bottle and hand me a Gu. He did both, I waved to Brian, and headed for the road crossing. A group of about 4 of us were halted by a very animated volunteer – “Stop! Don’t cross yet! We have to let some cars through! Someone help me keep these runners from crossing!” Green shirt next to me says “I’m not going anywhere, are you?” I giggled and said “I don’t think we need holding back. I’ll take the rest. Besides, we can tell everyone we added 10 minutes to our time waiting for traffic.” I downed my Gu, then we were able to cross (what, 30 seconds later?) and were on our way again.
The runners were thinning out, so the single track was not congested. A couple of runners edged around me politely, and soon we were the quarry road. Another gal, Caren Spore, and Jaime were both ahead. I eventually caught them on the down hills, and they would come back on the ups. I cruised along here, feeling strong, and enjoying everything around me. Finally, the climb up to Brown’s Bar, and Caren slipped ahead, out of site. Jaime was behind me for the remainder of the race.
The running here was shaded, with filtered sunlight. I was alone, and pushing the envelop the way I like to. The trail went in and out of the trees, and I found myself smiling every time I was in full exposure to the sun. Up ahead I could see Green shirt, running behind Tommy. As I got closer, Tommy yelled back “Is that you Meghan?” I guess he recognized my cough as I was spitting out the dust or bugs. “How ya’ doin’ Tommy?” “Not so good –it’s not my day”. Tommy ran an impressive sub-4:00 50k about 4 weeks ago, and I tried to attribute his present condition to that. I ran with them for awhile, and finally went ahead, and kept cruising on. My bottle was empty, and so was my belly. Finally, AS2! I was told I was 4th woman, and the others were only a couple of minutes ahead. I filled my bottle, grabbed 2 Gus, put one in my stomach with a gulp of water, one in my pocket, and was on my way. As I climbed up, I was greeted by a pair of friendly onlooker eyes belonging to a gentleman who looked as if he had never seen the likes of us. “We’re crazy, eh?” He affirmed with a bemused grinned.
I pushed on, reveling in the sun, enjoying the trail surface, and taking in the view of rolling hills. Green shirt was behind me, and E-caps shirt in front. I caught E-caps, and went around. The 2 of them stayed fairly close – I would pull ahead on the down, and they would inch back up on the climbs. I was still hungry, so ate another Gu. The stream crossings were few and very manageable. Nearly to the turn to head downhill, I caught Alan. We exchanged ‘good job’s and sweaty lo-fives.
Catching my breath, I started a twisty-rutted decent to another stream crossing. Roots, big steps, some rocks, tight turns, and WHAM, I was sampling soil and collecting rocks. Right chest, left knee, arm and face bathed in dirt. My calves screamed and shortened into little balls of useless gristle. Green shirt and E-caps were right there, and asked if I was okay. I was evaluating my situation as my calves gave back an inch, I stood up, and realized my race was not over. “I think I’m okay – my calves seized up, but I’ll be alright”. I gingerly started up again, and in short order was down to the stream crossing. I invited the two guys to go ahead, and Green shirt said, “No, you go ahead, you’re running like a champ”. I like him.
Having only run this one time, I knew that the steepest, longest hill – “Ball Bearing”, was coming up, and that shortly after that was the aid station. I ran like it was around the next corner. And kept running like that until it really was. My calves hurt, and I wanted to get to the aid station, hoping they would have some E-caps, or S-caps. I started climbing Ball Bearing Hill with good effort. I looked up and thought – “Oh, it isn’t so long”. Well, the first section isn’t. I looked up again and saw a very small figure, very far away, and he was still going up. I decided it was not in my best interest to look anywhere but down. Green shirt and E-caps stayed behind. Every chance I got to jog a couple of steps, I did. Finally cresting, I let my legs unwind and cruised on down to AS3. I received a few comments about my scrapes and dirt. I filled the bottle, and asked for salt tabs, of which there were none. There was chicken soup, though, and I drank some down, hoping it would help with my calves. I grabbed 2 Gus, and was on my way. Green shirt was behind me, and I asked if he had any salt. He graciously provided me with an S-cap. It seemed like a good time to exchange names – Christian from Colorado. We ran together awhile and caught up to E-caps. Christian began to fade. E-caps turned out to be Mark from Reno. He invited me to go around, but we seemed pretty even at this point – he was stronger on the up-hills, and I could recover on the down-hills. My ribs were sore from the crash and a bit uncomfortable when the breathing was hard. We talked about time goals, and I didn’t have one set in stone. At that point he thought we were on 4:15 pace, which I found to be more than acceptable. There was one more big climb – “Goat Hill” and as we approached, I gave us a pep talk. Mark let me go first, and we began to close the gap on “Tat-man” – a very strong looking runner with very elaborate tattoos covering much of his back. As we passed, I complimented his artwork, and we finally pulled up to the top. One more bottle full, one more gel. My watch was at 3:37, and I had 5 miles to go. It didn’t look like 4:15 was in the books, but perhaps sub 4:20. Mark was just ahead, and I caught him quickly. Steep down hill running is his nemesis, but he stayed with me as we caught and passed Jeff. Whoa – that was surprise, but I knew Jeff was very fit, and fast, and obviously it wasn’t his day. I said something stupid about my body roll (he falls more than I do, historically). He yelled that there were a bunch of runners about 5 minutes ahead. I figured that to catch them now would only happen if they were to bonk or fall. I flew on the downs, and soon lost Mark. I passed one bonkee, and finally arrived back at AS1. Ed was still there, I grabbed quick drink of coke, looked at my watch – 4:06. I thought there was no chance I could make under 4:20, but I wasn’t about to let up. I ran/hiked up the rough section, smiled at a spectator who told me I deserved to be tired, and was suddenly within site of the finish. My watch said 4:15, and I hoped the finish was not 5 minutes away. I cranked it up and made it hurt, and nearly over-ran one of the final turns. As I turned towards the finish, the clock read 4:18:33, and in a few more seconds, I was in. 4:18:39.
I was very satisfied – 4th woman overall, and I ran hard the whole time – no bonking or frying my legs. Bev won in a blazing 4:07, followed by Caren and Joelle. The greatest surprise was learning that Lewis had WON the race in 3:41, taking over the lead with about 1 mile to go!
For the full results: http://www.capitalroadrace.com/results.html