The MacForest 50k last Saturday marked my first A race of the year. I had been working with Steph since the beginning of the year and was eager to see how my fitness would translate into a race-day situation. Mac Forest 50K is known as one of the harder 50k's in the Pac NW due to it's rugged elevation gain of 6800' vertical over the various hills of Oregon State University's McDonald Forest. Race day had 275 plus starters and was sure to be a war of attrition. When the gun went off I was adament to keep the race under control for the first half-dozen miles to let my body and legs warm up. I stuck close with fellow Vertebrata Ultra Running Team members Laura Hempel and Brian Burkhardt, helping them set a pace that they'd be able to sustain for some time. Once I hit mile 10 my legs felt good and I turned to Laura saying "ready? the race is about to start," and start it did.
I turned up the pace descending on the Extendo trail heading towards the second aid station...my legs felt good, but I still need to keep myself somewhat in check. As Laura and I meandered through the part of the course known as the maze and to the fire road that leads up to Dimple Hill, we caught up with Brian and attacked the hill as a threesome up to the third aid station. After I gulped a bottle of warm water, agave syrup, and chia seeds (a new concoction that I have been experimenting with) from my drop bag we began to fly down Dan's trail towards the "hot" part of the course at Chip Ross. On the way down I accidently clipped a rock and spread-eagled elbow first into the dirt, almost taking out Brian who was riding on my heels. After I got up and covered the cuts from the fall with my sweatbands I took a couple of moments to compose myself and catch my breathe.
Then it was "game on." It was hot out and once we got to Chip Ross the 80 degree heat started to take a toll on my sweat rate as it was a fully exposed area to the sun. After talking in a couple of salt tabs at the aid station we began the trudge up Horse Trail, the final long climb of the day. I kept my pace as best I could, as I had Brian and Pam Smith hunting me down the entire climb. I began to suffer, and at mile 25 the fatigue was really setting in. Once we got through the last aid station at mile 26.4 it was all downhill to the finish except for a "punch you in the face" short steep ascent that seemed to take a lifetime to get up. With fatigue at a day-long high we began the final descent into Peavy and I was quickly brought back to the previous year, the Mac 50k 2012 which was my first ultra distance race. I remembered walking down most of the descent because my legs were so thrashed. Not this year, with 13th place secured I enjoyed the last descent and reflected on the training and work it had took to get to this point...it was a feeling I'll never forget.
In 2012 Mac 50k I raced to 110th place with a time of 6:15. This year I was able to take 90 minutes off of my 2012 time, ended in 4:45, and finished in 13th place. A big thanks to Stephanie in helping me achieve such an improvement. I'm excited to see what we're able to do for the next A race, the Siskiyou Out & Back 50k in Ashland, later this summer in July.