Coming into the Mt Hood 50 I was feeling a lack of confidence in my fitness and hoping that I wasn't asking too much of my knee.. prior to this run, my longest effort was the Newberry Crater Rim run only 2 weeks prior! Wen reminded me that Mt Hood 50 was about taking it slow, testing out my race day preparation and really making sure to enjoy the journey.. if it wasn't going to be my day, then at mile 28 I could make the call and pack it up. I'm a pragmatic person, and my primary interest is in getting to the start line at Pine to Palm in well enough shape to give it a solid effort.. if Mt Hood 50 was going to be too much to ask right now, then there was no point in pushing myself on the wrong side of the red line.
Mt Hood 50 is a double out-n-back course.. my Garmin tracks suggest that the course is actually 47.7 miles. The first segment measured 13.1 miles and the second segment measured 10.75.
First segment out, miles 0 to 13.1.. my split was about 2:54 and I was feeling great. For the first five miles I stuck with a small pack of 6 or 7 runners and kept a very relaxed pace running the flats and hiking the uphills. I stopped a couple times to snap some pictures of Mt Hood in all of its glory at about mile 10. I was moving well and had all of my water and nutrition in my pack, so there was no need to stop at aid stations. At the turn around aid station, I had the volunteers refill my hydration pack while I swapped out my trash for another set of 9 gels I had packed in my drop bag.
Second segment out, miles 26.2 to 37 .. split was 3:04. This section of the course is significantly more difficult, albeit shorter.. Wendie sent me out with a handheld bottle full of water to use for dousing myself with water between aid stations, this turns out the be one of the most crucial lessons of the day! The first aid station, Red Wolf Pass, is 5 miles from the start/finish area and it climbs pretty much the whole way plus another mile+ after the aid station. In the heat of the day, this hill just started to really drag on and on with only a few brief flats that tricked me into thinking I was at the top. Ice and coke at the aid station was so freakin' nice. From the top of this climb, you plunge down >1000ft in about 2.5 miles to the river below.. As I was making my way down the hill, day dreaming and enjoying the run, I caught a bit of something on the trail that sent me headfirst into the brushes and rocks to my left side. This fall was not a trip, stumble, stutter step, touchdown sort of event.. Out of nowhere, I found myself inverted and heading toward brush and a fallen log. Time moved so slowly, I remember hoping that I didn't hit the tree and noticing that both of my calfs immediately locked up in cramps. I hit the deck hard enough to knock the wind out of me and groaned hard from the impact.. My next thought was that my legs cramping could make this whole scene a whole lot worse, so I immediate sprung to my feet and stood straight legged to stretch my calfs while I assessed the damage my body took. First I glanced up and down the trail to see if anyone had witnessed my wreckage..no one around, awesome. Legs, hips, knees, lower back, neck.. everything seemed relatively okay.. my left shoulder is burning, and looks like I lost some skin.. the blood that is evident is not flowing so its just a scrape. Right on.. all systems are check, lets get back to running! Another 15 minutes or so down the trail is the river.. stopping to soak myself in ice cold water and clean off some dirt was just the refreshment needed for the 500ft climb in the remaining 2.5 miles to the turn around aid station at Warm Springs.
Some geek notes that I can refer back to;
- Fueled at about 380cal/hr, mostly gels with two king size Snickers, reminded by 20 min intervals on the Garmin
- Drank 4 fills of my hydration pack (8L total), 2 cups of coke, and a cup of Roctane
- Ice in a soaked bandana around the neck is crucial
- Ice and water in a bottle to douse with between aid stations, also crucial
- I was taking 2-3 Succeed Caps per hour, reminded by an interval on my second watch
- Trekking poles are definitely a good idea for P2P
- Be prepared to change shoes and socks at P2P
- Pay attention to the heat of the day.. if I can't run at a low heart rate, then its time to hike
- Don't forget to purge out the air bubbles in the hydration pack after its filled..sloshing sound sucks