It was a beautiful morning for a run May 8th in the hills North of Corvallis. I actually paid attention (briefly and early on in the race) to birds singing in the trees, wildflowers, great views, and thick forest. I shed my long-sleeve shirt after the first 30 min. There was some mud in the middle of the run, but not much. I wore light-weight Sacony Fastwich, which gave me adequate traction which was great, but they were a little thin as I felt the gravel through them later on. Maybe next year we'll get lucky and have more bone chilling drizzle and slop like a few years ago.
A bunch went out fast. I think I was in 13th at the top of the first big climb 30 minutes into the run. On part of the descent towards Soap Creek my GPS watch showed under 5:20 pace at one point, but Brian Morrison was still pulling away!
Into the Starker property maze of trails, and on the downwards section of extendo there was plenty of company from the early starters. For the next 10 miles I picked off people as I could, while trying not to fry muslce fibers.
Towards the end of the maze I caught Michael Lynes, who admitted he would have felt fresher if he hadn't just won the Tacoma Marathon the week before. I pulled up even with David Larsen on the long uphill to Dimple Hill and we passed the leader (who was brave but we could tell he was new to ultrarunning because he wasn't carying a water bottle). At the Dimple hill aid station I changed into the green Rouge Valley Runners singlet, to look fresh (and harder to spot in the woods).
David must have blazed through that aid station, as I had to bomber down the hill to catch and pass him. I got a minute or so on him by Chip Ross, but started having muscle cramps - first just when jumping a stream, later in spurts with every step.
So I was pretty nervous heading up the horse trail. That is where a couple of friends passed me last year. I was able to keep it under red-line, and finally hit the gravel road at the top. I came upon a cyclist, who jokingly said "go runner!" I didn't realize until was right up to him that it was Ken! I had cryptically indicated to him that I might be in town. He was out on a ride, bumped into extra traffic, figured out what was going on, and rode up the gravel road on his road bike high above the Lewisberg saddle to cheer me on.
I adjusted my stride to avoid having cramping with each step. Later I got a cramp in my arm. Started me to thinking what other muscles were beating hard that might cause trouble if they cramped...
That last long uphill doesn't look bad on paper, but it drags on forever. The down-hill was a relief in that it is a different kind of pain. Then it was just a matter of holding on until I heard the sound of my daughters 1/4 mile from the finish line.
I've now placed 5th, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 1st at this race. I have loved Chip Ross and dimple hill since running them from my back door in high school 25+ years ago. 4:13:51 was the slowest winning time in a few years, but 16 min faster than I did last year.
It was the first time in several attempts that my parents timed it right to be at the finish line at the same time as I was, which was great.
The following days I just had the standard can-only-go-down-stairs-one-at-a-time soreness. No lasting cramp damage.