I’m pretty much ready to be done with the spring. It hasn’t been my (racing) year so far, although I’ve had some of the steadiest training I’ve had since I started running. The Beacon Rock 50K kind of summed it up. The second lap 45 minutes slower than the first lap. My overall time 40 minutes slower than last year. We’ve had a warm year in the Northwest so far… and the heat is owning me, badly. This racecourse was as beautiful I remembered, but as soon as the temperature rose…
This race has 25K and 50K distances, with the 50K simply being two laps of the 25K course. I don’t like laps, but this course is nice enough to make the second lap a reward, not a chore (generally). There’s a very generous dose of vert (7500′ officially, but I got 8000′ on my watch). Despite the climbing, it’s also a VERY runnable course… which can make for a painful day!
The start/finish is a big open area where the group camping takes place. From the start, there’s a brief, fast downhill (maybe 1/2 mile), following by a long, gradual climb up dirt roads. This can really knock it out of you, as it’s not steep enough to warrant hiking – but a very long uphill. Eventually you hit singletrack and steep switchbacks. The total climb is bout 2000′ over 3.5 miles – a solid warm-up!
There is a fun, long decent over the next several miles; a mixture of single-track and dirt roads. Eventually the trail turns up for another (final) climb of the lap – about 1300′ over 1.3 miles. There are some rollers on the long descent back to the finish. Pretty simple! Then repeat.
The day was clear, still, and warm. Last year was very foggy, so the morning stayed cool and we didn’t get much sun in the first lap. No luck this year. Mt. Hood was a beautiful sight at the high points, but the sun took its pound of flesh in exchange for the view. I remained very stead for the first lap. I aimed to keep my heart-rate at about 160 or below (which typically feels sustainable to me), and I managed to finish the first lap with my average HR being… 160. Not bad. I was drinking a lot of fluids, but wasn’t able to keep up as the heat bore down, though. The 2nd lap was a mission. My HR wasn’t getting high, but I was just dragging. My muscles felt totally taxed.
One thing this course doesn’t have: Water crossings. At the top of the second climb, you get a great view of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. I could see the mist towering well above the dam. All I wanted was to be standing in that mist. If there had been a river or creek to cross in the course, I wouldn’t laid in it for a while – and it probably would’ve been time well spent!
Of course, there were great people at the finish and the always awesome Rainshadow Running post-race party! A few slices of pizza, fresh out of the oven, and I was already getting over my race…
Other Things That Happened
It was awesome to see Korey Konga claim a solid victory. I saw him take off fast at the start, and I guess he just kept it turned on the whole time! His American flag shorts sure seemed to be a hit (the guy next to me said “there goes Captain American” as he took off). That road marathon training is really paying off for him.
I also got to meet Ethan Veneklasen after the race. I had chatted with him on Twitter a few times, so it was great to meet him in person. Really nice guy! I almost felt bad that my race goal was to keep up with him (I failed, of course).
I don’t carry a camera or phone during races, but here are some scenes from around the start/finish.