Frölicking trails since 2010

Frölicking trails since 2010
Frölicking trails since 2010

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hagg Lake Double (50K & 25K) - February 18th & 19th - Forest Grove, OR

High above the mucky muck...

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Hagg Lake is one of my favorite races. The course is a muddy hell, but it makes the finish even more enjoyable. The best reason to Love this race, though, is the people that show up.


Carpooling with my friend Jen Love (volunteer, runner, true champion, vegan extraordinaire), we arrived about an hour before the race. As soon as we parked, I started recognizing everybody as if it were a Heineken commercial. Gale Henry directed us where to park, Randy Benthin arrived as casual as ever, John Lotts did a drive by chat, Nick Triolo was getting psyched up, Rick Kneedler was chatting heartily with someone, Larry Stephens was warming up by the propane lanterns, Yassine was harnessing his vegan powers, Tom Green was keeping Christina warm (or vise versa?), Marta Fisher was wearing the same shirt she wore last year, Russ McGarry was non-jogging somewhere, and Todd Janssen was all smiles. I wish I could have chatted with everyone before the race, but alas, that's what the finish line is for. So Jason went to take care of Business.


Hmm...Why are they ringing a cowbell? Isn't it a little early? Maybe they're gathering people for a pre-race meeting...wait a minute...OH SHIT!

Where most people started the race. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Where I started the race.
As soon as I heard the sound of people running past by my Porto, I dropped an F-bomb into the crapper, bolted to the starting line, and took off in last place...and I was already laughing about it. The course starts by doing an out-n-back climb up this long gradual gravel road, so I had plenty of time and space to gain a decent position before hitting the single track. As I climbed the ranks, I chatted with some folks along the way. After the turnaround, I decided I needed to switch shoes. A few weeks prior, I bruised my forefoot badly by running 20 miles with a rock in my shoe...and so the only shoe I've been able to run in without pain is the Hoka One One Bondi. As the course routed back through the start/finish (mile 3-ish), I grabbed my drop bag and switched into my moon shoes.


Photo by
 Glenn Tachiyama
The trail around the lake is a skinny single track trail that can get muddy as funk. This year was exceptionally funky. There were no major climbs in the race, but even the smallest hills had me running in place with absolutely no traction (road shoes were a bad choice). Eventually I would find myself on my hands and knees crawling to the top, using my water bottles as pick axes. Epic frustration. The downhills were more fun, like skiing without the ability to turn. The hairpin turns were especially interesting.

The course enters only a few small paved sections of road, and I ate up every bit of dry land that I could. Just before the first aid station, the trail opened up to the dam road. As soon as my feet hit the dam pavement, my dam legs took off! Eventually catching a man named Jared, we shared a dam conversation and soaked in the dam lake view. Then the pavement ended and we were back to the slippy trail. Damn.

Dam Road. Photo by
Glenn Tachiyama
Parts of the trail weren't too bad, allowing me to keep a consistent stride. And then...there were sections of rutted trails that had me skating like Brian Boitano. Not to mention, everybody else was slipping gracefully. Some runners ran off the beaten path in order to gain some traction in the grass (me included), but there was no escaping the mud entirely. Sometimes I tried running along a berm, but that just caused my feet to slip off the berm on both sides, wreaking havoc on my groin. Of course, rockstar Glenn Tachiyama was there to capture these magical moments on his camera.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
The last few miles before completing Lake lap #1 were absolutely soul-sucking. The trail was saturated from all the recent rainy weather, and the mud was trying to pull me down. The last few bits of road running gave me some much needed "venting" to shake off the tweaks and pulls in my groin and hamstrings. Then after carefully navigating the twisty trail leading to the start/ begins lap 2.


Knowing what I had to go through a second time, knowing that it was going to be worse than before, and knowing that I couldn't do a thing about it...I just enjoyed myself. My ambitions were to survive the 50K with a strong enough pace to be proud of. That, and everyone I ran with during the race had an amazingly positive attitude...we were all there to have a good time, regardless of the conditions. My muscles were getting pulled apart, but I was happy. There's no community like the trail running community, and to spend a day of misery on the trails only to find elated and ecstatic runners at the finish line huddled intimately around the same propane heater...that's why I Love this race.

Results: 4:18:27 – 20th out of 233 Finishers
Pace: 8:19 min/mile
50K PR

(Photos by Long Run Picture Company)

The only thing better than finishing the race was getting a hug from my BFF Todd Janssen. My IT bands and groin took the brunt of the chaotic slipping and sliding action from the trail, so I took a little ice bath in Hagg Lake with Sean Meissner and Cassie Scallon. After all, the 3 of us were returning the next day for a victory lap around the lake. Wait, WHY would we do that?!?! OH get a growler of beer if you do both the 50K and the 25K. There were about 20 of us doing the double (Larry Stephens, Mo Codino included)...Sunday morning, please be kind to us!!!

Mad Props to Magda for winging yet another ultramarathon and Tim for finishing his first ever race. Sorry I missed you guys at the finish!

Check out Yassine Diboun (2nd place) and Nick Triolo's (4th place) blogs about the 50K!

My car is sexy and I know it.
Thanks G'ma!

Check out the 3 Non-Joggers Podcast,
These guys are hilarious!
(Photo by Sir Charles Replogle)


Part Deux...

I wanted to shoot my alarm clock in the face. But after waking up and beginning the drive out to Forest Grove, I was at peace. There's nothing to prove today, except to just to go out there and earn what's been promised to me...a holy handle filled with 64 fluid ounces of Love. After parking my car, I immediately started jogging to get my legs moving. My groin was feeling the worst in terms of stiffness, soreness, and crankiness. Larry and Mo were suffering from the same thing, but we were determined to see this thing through...if not for the glory, than for the beer!


Don't worry, I'm in there this time. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

Photo by
 Glenn Tachiyama
The short out-n-back up the gravel road was a good little warm up. My legs recovered well, and I was climbing at a happy pace. Running back past the start/finish (1.5-ish miles), I knew my legs weren't ready for the mud. Looking behind me, I saw 5 fresh runners pushing hard. So I let them pass, since they were going to pass me on the trail anyways. It was funny watching them slide through the muddy path instead of running off the side of the trail in the grass (the only part with traction). My pace was very conservative as I non-jogged through the already twice trampled Hagg Lake course...damn 50k runners...

Halfway through the race, my muscles were loosening up a bit. My legs were going strong, my groin was getting flexible again, and my mood went from conservative to hungry...I was gettin bad! One by one, I reeled runners in. Knowing how to get through the tricky spots of the course was a big advantage, and I gained steam as I passed the last aid station (had to take a porto break, but I didn't lose much ground). By the time I was at the homestretch, I had passed about 10 runners since the halfway point, and I almost wished the race were longer so I could keep hunting people down. It's one of the greatest feelings in ultrarunning when you find yourself going strong despite running on theoretically tired legs...

Results: 2:10:38 – 20th out of 314 Finishers
Pace: 8:25 min/mile

Ice bath in the lake, chicken soup for the ultrarunners soul, and a Growler of Beer for pulling the double shift. Life is good!

Cassie Scallon, Sean Meissner, and This guy, toting our Trophies!
I really didn't want this weekend to end, but it was extremely humbling to think about what I had achieved. I'm happy with where my fitness is, but I still have a ways to go. My sites are set high on some key races this year (Miwok 100K in May, Bighorn 100m in June, Wasatch 100m in Sept), and it's weekends like this that'll help get me ready for a hopefully successful summer. If it weren't for the Hokas, I wouldn't have been able to run for the past 3 weeks due to my bruised foot, so I'm extremely grateful that I've found a solution to a hopefully temporary problem.


Great job Todd Janssen, Kelly and Eric Barten, and Marianne Jones for Directing the Shit out of the Hagg Lake races. You did a perfect job! And thanks to all the volunteers who weathered the storm to help us weather the storm. Thanks Glenn Tachiyama and Long Run Picture Company for shooting all those flattering photos. And cheers to Trailfactor, Bananasluggers, and all those non-joggers who shared the experience!
NSPIRE did an amazing job with the real-time race results, and I'm impressed with how well it broadcasted the live results online. I've ran races before that have tried using a similar timing system, but I've never seen it actually work. You guys have mastered it, and I hope more races can adopt your  timing system. Great seeing you guys again, your work is appreciated! Keep it up!