Frölicking trails since 2010

Frölicking trails since 2010
Frölicking trails since 2010

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gorge Waterfalls 50K - Columbia Gorge, OR - March 25, 2012

Don't go chasing waterfalls...

Course Profile


James Varner is a class act. Due to an overly destructive winter and recent inclement weather, the original course from 2011 could not be used for 2012. Over the past few weeks, the course was changed 4 times due to snow levels, trail conditions, bridge construction, and probably a few other factors (the final course change was made 2 nights before the race). As if that wasn't enough, he got a flat tire on the way to the race, and the race start was delayed 30 minutes. Even the staple gun didn't work when he tried to nail up the race results on a fence after the race. James (and Candice no doubt) went through a LOT of trouble and stress to keep this race from falling apart, and for that they have my respect and appreciation. THANK YOU for everything you and everyone else did (volunteers included) to help put on a flawless race!!! Hopefully I can make it up and volunteer for another one of your amazing races. Cheers!


Holy shit, the field was stacked! The lead group started at an easy pace, and I found myself running with the likes of Max King, Yassine, Jeff Browning, Ian Sharman, Eric Skaggs, Nick was a trip running with these guys, and I knew from the start that there's no way I could keep up with them. But maybe having a home field advantage will help? Or the fact that half of them (seemingly) ran the Chuckanut 50K the weekend before? Or that Yassine went snowboarding the day before and might be a little sore? Yeah right. After tapering 2 weeks for this race, I just wanted to have a strong race.

Photo by 
Glenn Tachiyama
If you look at the profile at the top of this blog, you'll see a little tiny hill at the beginning/end of the race. The course was a pure out-n-back, hence the mirrored image. That little hill is a 2 mile grind uphill almost 2,000' before it goes downhill at the same quad-pounding rate. I run this hill at least every other weekend, and that was my saving grace knowing every turn and exactly how far the tippity top was. It kept me calm and ready to blaze the technical downhill (my favorite). My hope was to recover from the uphill whilst bombing the downhill towards Multnomah Falls, but the grade was steep and rocky enough to keep my knees high while trying to fly. The jack-hammer effect was taking place, and my quads were beginning to feel abused. Ian Sharman put his downhill legs to work and passed me just before we veered onto trail 400 (mile 6). So begins the great depression.

My legs were drained at this point. The uphill killed my calfs and the downhill rocked my quads. The demons awoke and starting saying evil things to me. So I gave myself a little pep talk...You think that hill was kind to everybody else? Keep your head up, mind the rocks, and run like girls are watching!...That snapped me out of it. Coming into the first aid station was also a big boost right when I needed it. Thank you Nicole, Kyle, and Justin for all the Love! I was a little out of it, but I really appreciate it! I'll catch up with you at the Rumble!

Photo by 
Glenn Tachiyama
The Rocky Road to Dublin kept popping into my head because of all the damn dirty rocks just waiting to roll my ankle or trip me up. Dangerous, yet, invigorating. I tend to excel in technical terrain, partly because I enjoy dancing with the rocks...also, because it demands so much of my focus, I feel myself running in a zen-like mental state. Especially bombing a rocky downhill, where all I'm focused on is the next 2 steps I'm going to take. To help me focus, I even have a zen chant that I repeat in my head...Shit shit shit SHIT AH shit shit ok...shi-SHIT whoa-whoa-whoa!!!! ok hup hup shiiiiIIIIIIIITTTTT!!! ok, whew! 

Alas, the trail eventually dumped onto paved road for a 2 mile stretch. Flat terrain has never been a strength of mine, but it was relaxing to just sit back and put the legs in cruise control. I had no real ambition for catching the 10 fast mother lovers in front of me, so my focus was staying in front of whoever was behind me. There was no point in getting into bad habits of looking over my shoulder this early in the race, so my eyes were glued to road ahead. Whenever I run on roads, I sometimes play the 'Badwater' game. Here's how you play: Run on the white line of the road. If you fall off, you lose. That kept me entertained for maybe a quarter mile.

Zen Face, 
Photo by Renee
Reaching the 2nd aid station, I dropped my water bottles off with my coach and hero, Todd Janssen. I then darted up the 2 mile out-n-back, cheering on everyone already heading in the opposite direction. After the turn around, I found out who was behind me. Some fast guy and some fast woman, maybe a quarter mile behind me. Shit, too close for comfort. 15 miles to go, let's see what I got left! I greeted Renee Seker and grabbed my bottles from coach/hero Todd Janssen, and off I went back to the road from whence I came. This time it was full of runners heading to the out-n-back. That was awesome, being able to cheer on EVERYBODY without having to dance around a skinny little trail to let each other pass. Maybe that 2 mile stretch of road was a blessing, after all.

Getting back to the trail was a relief. My climbing legs were working strong, and I pushed to lengthen the gap between me and whoever the hell was behind me. Every now and then, I would glance over my shoulder to see how I was far so good...onward, Trail Warrior!...As I got closer to the Multnomah Falls Trail (that little hill at the end of the course profile), I slowed a little, anticipating the agonizing ascent. Ready...set...ENGAGE! Trotting up the Multnomah Falls switchbacks, it wasn't long before I alternated running and hiking. Near the top of the falls, I peaked down the switchbacks and still saw nobody...Don't let up, Jbob...only 1.5 miles left to *CALF CRAMP*...f-bomb, GU, hike...hike...Oh shit, is that Jeff Browning? Just before cresting the top of the Wahkeena Trail hill, I spotted Jeff Browning maybe a couple hundred yards ahead. His hip flexors were shot from the Chuckanut 50k the weekend prior, so he'd been hiking this whole hill. It's amazing how much ground you can cover on someone while run/hiking (especially applicable in 100 mile races).

Photo by 
Glenn Tachiyama
As soon as he crested the downhill, I knew I wouldn't catch 'Bronco Billy'...I was just stoked to be within a minute of the guy. When I began my downhill, I emptied my bottles and switched to downhill gear. It definitely wasn't a comfortable downhill, but I managed a decent pace. Passing by hikers prompted priceless expressions. Rounding the final switchback around Wahkeena Falls, the legendary Glenn Tachiyama was ready and waiting with his camera.

Running through the busy Multnomah Falls parking lot and rounding Benson Lake to the finish, I was spent.

Results: 3:56:57 – 11th out of 211 Finishers
Pace: ~7:40 min/mile
50K PR

*Gasp*, photo by Renee

Looking for a Hug, Photo by Renee
As soon as I finished, I needed a hug. First was James Varner. Second was Todd Janssen. And third was Renee Seker. Thank you guys for everything! That was probably my best race so far, in terms of effort and reflecting my current fitness. So...What's next? I've got a race every 3 weeks until the Bighorn 100 miler on June 15th. It's going to be a fun couple months! My current race schedule can be found at the tab above.


Thank you Todd and everyone at NSPIRE for the privilege to represent you at the race. Should be an exciting year, for both of us!

You shoot our faces in the most beautiful places,
making us look our best when we feel like muck,
With a pint of beer, I'll give you a cheer!
For without your photos, my blog would suck.
...Next beer's on me!

There's an awesome 50K/Half Marathon being put on in Forest Park on May 28th. Everybody's doing it! You should too! Seriously, it's going to be a fun race. Check it out!