Before the Capitol Peak Run
I drove up to Falls Creek Campground Friday afternoon to set up camp for the night. Since I was "camping" in my Honda Element setting up camp involved finding a parking place, flipping the seats down, laying out a futon & sleeping bag and I was ready. Karen Wiggens had already established her camper in a large campsite so I was able to park in front of her truck. I got set up, set out some camp chairs and ate a chicken pot pie and some red potatoes that I painstakingly prepared at Top Food Grocery. I pulled out my guitar and played a while. Several other runners were arriving and trying to secure campsites. Karen came over and shared half of a spectacular Porter Beer made by Kona Brewing Co. It was a Coffee Porter and it may just be better than my favorite Black Butte Porter. We decided to walk over to the start to see if John Pearch, the RD, had arrived so we could get our race numbers. The start was located in the Falls Creek Day Use Area, which was about ¼ mile away from the campground. As we got to the start the weather became misty, more like fog than rain. It wet weather only lasted about 45 min. and the skies were dry from then on. Several car-campers and volunteers were at the start but no RD. Karen and I went back to the campsite and it was starting to get dark so we planned a 3:45 AM alarm and went to our campsites. The campground is miles from any rural roads so I got to enjoy the quiet solitude of the forest. All you could really hear was the distant sound of frogs croaking and the occasional mosquito buzzing by. I put out all my running gear so it would be ready for the morning and then read over the course info and aid station data one more time. I don’t think I fell asleep until about 10:00 PM. I had a restless night but 3:45 AM came quickly. I had my camp stove, and tea kettle with me but Karen offered to boil up some extra water on her camper stove so I got dressed in my running gear. The only near disaster of the day happened when I was putting my contact lenses in. I thought I had saline in my hand when in fact I had the lens cleaner. I just about sprayed the cleaner in my eye but noticed the red tip on the bottle and stopped just in time. I managed to get my contacts in without saline and then put everything away and stored it in the car. I took my oatmeal, banana, and tea over to Karen’s camper and said good morning. After breakfast we cleaned up and then grabbed our drop bags and gear. Being highly trained long distance endurance runners we elected to drive the quarter mile to the start in my car. We arrived at the start about 4:40 AM. We placed our drop bags in the appropriate areas and got in line to get our race numbers.
The 50 Mile Run
The early start at 5:00 AM had about 8 people. Arthur and Shawn were among these people starting with Karen and I. Arthur had his dog Sheila with him too. Two of the early starters had forgotten headlamps or flashlights and they were dependent upon those of us who had. John Pearch took us to the line and said go. I had fresh batteries in my headlamp and it seemed to be one of the brightest. I took the lead and started following the trail up the first loop. The first half-mile of trail was marked with the occasional glow stick to help keep us from making a wrong turn on a side trail. We were in dark forest on single-track trail. We moved along at a moderate pace and started to separate into groups after a mile or so. I knew that Arthur and Sheila were behind me because I could hear him telling her to heal. I thought the person behind him was Karen but it turned out to be Shawn. Plan A was to stick with Karen until the sun started coming up. As we climbed up a switchback we looked down and saw Karen and two other runners heading up the trial below us. We were far enough ahead that it was obvious that my A plan was out the door. I was now onto plan B which meant running with Arthur the Alien, Shawn, and Sheila. I stayed in the lead for about the first 3-4 miles and then Arthur and Sheila stepped to the front. I was glad because I had been clearing spider webs and knocking dew/rain water off the bushes being the lead. It didn’t take Arthur very long to figure that out. As we ran I Arthur told me that he had only gotten about an hour and a half of sleep. It turned out that he and Shawn had carpooled to Olympia in Shawn’s car and were stayed in town that night. Arthur got a call that his father had a heart attack and had been admitted to the hospital in Seattle. Arthur called Shawn and borrowed her car to drive back to Seattle to be with his dad. You can read his blog for more details. He got back to Olympia in time to get that great 90 minutes of sleep before his 50 miler. The sun was rising and the sunlight cast through the trees and moss cast a relaxing morning light.
The first section included an 800-ft climb with 400-ft of decent to AS-1. James Varner was there to care for us. We quickly picked at a few things on the table and headed back down the trail. The trail dropped us back down into a 400-ft elevation valley and then we started the second climb of the first loop. Arthur was still in the lead and pushing us a bit. I wasn’t having difficulty staying with him but the prospect of the Eugene Marathon the next day was on my mind. We crested the second climb with occasional hiking and eventually came to AS-2 at an elevation of 1100-ft. We dropped 500-ft as we ran back to AS-3 which was at the Falls Creek start. This section went well but with the downhill Shawn’s knee started hurting from an injury she received earlier this year. We spent about 5-7 min. at AS-3 filling water and eating. I had a PB&J and some potato. We met Jesse M. who had intended to run the 55K only to lock her keys in the car when she went to get her race number and sign in. Instead of starting the race she called AAA and had them come out to unlock her car. She got in about an hour’s trail run while she waited for the locksmith but was ready to go out again. She decided to join us and do the 16 mile loop. We headed out for AS-4, which is located at Capitol Junction at 2300-ft elev. This was the first of the two 2000 ft climbs on the course. It was on the climb to Capitol Peak that Arthur really started pushing Shawn and I. Well maybe just me because Shawn was keeping up and Jesse was running with me. Arthur kindly started smack talking me when he got far enough ahead to be looking down on me from a switchback. Fortunately nature called and while Arthur was delayed I was able to pass and maintain the momentum to AS-4. We were passed by some of the fast 50K 50 mile relay, and 50 mile 6:00 AM start participants near AS-4. Among the runners was Sam Thompson who ran 51 marathons in 50 days last summer to raise money and awareness for the hurricane victims of Katrina. When we reached AS-4 Jesse made the turn and headed to Wedekind and then back down to the finish line. Arthur, Shawn, and I continued on.
From AS-4 you run gravel FS road for about a mile before starting on a very steep grade to the top. I ran well on the FS road and then started the miserable climb to the top of Capitol Peak on a very chunky and steep grade. Glenn Tachiyama was near the top of this grade taking pictures. When we got near to the top James Varner was providing encouragement and had a radio blasting out some good tunes to help get us to the top. The view from the top was incredible. It’s the first time I’ve been to the top of Capitol Peak when it was clear enough to see several miles. The view toward Puget Sound was beautiful. We ran to the other side of the summit around the radio towers on the mountain and headed out on a beautiful trail that took us around the summit and back down to AS-5, which also served as AS-4. I met Karen at AS-5. She looked at me, smiled, and said "so much for taking it easy on the first part of the run". I couldn’t argue with her and in the back of my mind I was concerned about maintaining the pace I was on.
We ran the 3.7 miles to Wedekind where AS-6 was located. At this point we had run 27.6 miles. This is where Arthur and Shawn made the decision to head back to Falls Creek rather than continue to Hells Loop. I feel it was a good decision because Shawn said she probably would have had to hike down hill instead of run because of her knee. Arthur also decided to bag the 50 miler so he could go back to see his dad in the hospital. My drop bag was at this AS so I drank half a bottle of Pepsi (the elixir of life) ate half a PB&J, filled my hydration bladder and headed to hell. About 200 meters from the AS I realized I had left my right glove next to my drop bag. I turned around and went back to get it. I need to add the 600 meters on as extra credit. I ran about 1.6 miles down the C-Line FS road then turned right onto a single-track trail. About a half-mile down this trail Tom Riley caught up to me and we talked and ran for about 3 miles together. Tom slowed down for me and pulled me through some sections that I may have elected to hike. I really appreciated his time with me. Tom slowly pulled away and I kept on a fairly even pace into AS-7 then descended to the bottom of hell. At the bottom of hell you cross a bridge over a creek and the fun 2000-ft climb begins. I think I managed to run about 200 meters of the entire climb. The trail was basically a washed out riverbed that ran parallel to a fast moving creek. The climb was at least 4 miles long. It didn’t help to have Van Phan run, yes run, up behind me and pass about ¼ way up the climb. I think she was humming a happy little song on her way to her 8:58:53 CR! Anyway after much pain and suffering I finally clawed my way to AS-8. These volunteers probably heard some of the best one liners as the runners came off the steep trail onto the road they were set up on. All I said was that the loop was appropriately named. I had them fill my hydration bladder about half-full and continued to climb for the next 2.5 miles. By now my "climber" wasn’t working so well but I still managed to run most of the section. Just before AS-9 Glenn Tachiyama was set up taking pictures. I grabbed the other half of my PB&J from my drop bag, ate some potatoes and took off for the finish line about 6.6 miles away. After about a mile of running down hill my right IT band started to say hello on the left-hand switchback turns. I backed off pace when I came to left turns and it helped. I passed one 55K participant on the first section of the trail that is deeply rutted by rainwater and motorcycles. I pressed on feeling tired by knowing that I could cruise on in to the finish.
When I entered the finish area Steve and Rob along with Wendy and her girlfriend were there to cheer me in along with many others. Steve and Rob had run the 55K and Wendy and her girlfriend had driven out from Puyallup to cheer us on. Finish time 10:18:27. I didn’t waste much time asking where the nearest access to Sherman Creek was so that I could soak my legs in it’s icy waters. Steve and Rob had already soaked their legs so Steve took me down to a great area. I walked out to the middle of the creek in my trail shoes and sat down. Laura Houston was on the other side of the creek standing in the water up to her ankles. She wanted to soak her legs but couldn’t muster up the courage. She had just completed her first Ultra with the 55K. She couldn’t believe that I just walked out and sat down so she had her friend take a picture of me. Steve timed me and after 10 min the cold water started hurting more than the 50 mile run so I got out.
We said our good-byes to Steve and Rob and I headed off to Eugene for the marathon the next day. We stopped by closest Starbucks to the finish line but before we purchased coffee we bought dinner and ate it at the deli in Top Foods. The Starbucks was attached to Top Foods so we finished dinner, purchased coffee and headed for Eugene. Rob drove south of Portland and then we switched and I finished the drive to the hotel that Rob was staying in. We got into Eugene about 9:00 PM. I got lost on the way to our hotel and didn’t arrive until 10:00. Michelle was ready to crash so I quickly arranged my gear for the next day and hit the hay.
We set the alarm for 4:30 AM and our day began. We heated water in the coffeepot made coffee and oatmeal then packed up and headed out. We parked our car near the finish line and took a shuttle bus to the start of the race. While we were waiting for the start we met up with many of our Y-Run Club runners and several Marathon Maniacs. Patch, one of our Y-Run Club runners and a MM was interviewed by channel 9 television of Eugene. Thanks to Michelle I was also interviewed about my 50 miler and the marathon. I don’t know if either one of the segments was aired. Subway Sandwich was a sponsor of the Marathon and Jared was present at the start. Patch, Mike, and Frank all had their pictures taken with him. We lined up at the start with the Marathon and Half Marathon runners. I’ll make my description of the race short. The day was beautiful and sunshine was upon us. The course had some gradual long hills but nothing that had any steep grade to it. Eugene has a great network of bicycle trails for commuters going to work and to college. The course took advantage of these trials. Most of the trials were asphalt but some of the newer sections were concrete. The concrete sections sucked. The cold soak in the creek did the trick because my legs felt great for having run 50 miles the day before. The 3:45 pacer was not a very popular fellow as he kept speeding up and then slowing down. I ran for a while with a couple of frustrated runners who had been worn out by the surges. At mile 18 I came upon an intersection that was being controlled by a police officer. I was running low on energy and when I saw the taser on her utility belt I asked her if she would taser me. She politely told me that she could not do that. I thought that three guys that were running together were going to die of laughter after hearing my request. At least if I couldn’t run fast I was entertaining. After a gu and some Cliff Bloks I started feeling better and managed to keep running except for the water stations. I spotted Tom Riley a couple of times along the course taking pictures with his new digital SLR camera. Mike & Frank were along the course several times supporting all the Y-Run Club runners. Mike was in a wheelchair because of surgery he had as a result of an injury he received while training to become an Army Ranger. Frank is getting ready to deploy again to Iraq. His wife Michelle S. was running the marathon. Mike’s girlfriend Monica was also running the marathon. I also saw Rich out taking pictures on the course. Rich’s wife Linda was running the Marathon after a long recovery from a hamstring injury back in 2005. She’s back and looking strong! Melissa, Margaret, Jenny, Lesa, and Amy also ran the marathon. Long time Y-Run Club runner George K. ran the Half-Marathon.
The last mile reminded me a lot of the 50-mile run I had done the day before. It seemed like it would never end. I picked up my pace to a 7:43 the last mile and rolled into the finish. I got Bling!
We had a nice late lunch with Darryl and his wife, Rob, Jenny, George, Michelle and I. Michelle, Rob, and I started our drive back to Puyallup. I drove first but that ended when I found myself drifting over the fog line onto the rumble strip around the Corvallis exit. Rob took over duties and I sat the back and got about 15 min. of sleep. After my rest I took over driving duties when Rob started getting tired. When we got home I filled our bathtub with cold water and jumped in for 20 min.
I went for a 5-mile run this morning and it looks like all systems are still go! I guess I’ll start my taper in July.
Thanks for reading this long-winded report. This double gave me a great deal of confidence in my training to date. I won’t say that I didn’t have my doubts at a couple of points on the 50 miler regarding the 100 mile Western States run but Sunday sealed the deal. I’ll be more than ready!
I'm back! I'm back!
16 hours ago