Frölicking trails since 2010

Frölicking trails since 2010
Frölicking trails since 2010

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jbob's Hagg Lake 50k/25K - February 14/15 2015

I hate this race, but I Love this race.

Moe, Shane, Megan, Gordo, and me!
Photo by Lisa Kroth.

Every time someone asks me about the Hagg Lake races, I usually respond with something synonymous with "self-inflicted torture". The race in 2014 was by far the worst I've felt after any race (including the 100 mile races I've finished), because it was so muddy and I was pulling muscles and bruising my feet while trying to finish in the top 3 men.  This race demands a certain respect for the course, because in poor conditions you simply can't run over stumble-fuck your way through it.

Moe and his Larry 5.
Photo by 
Kristen Nelson.
That said, there's a growing number of people who are not only running the 50k on Saturday, but they are coming back the next day to run the 25k as well. Why is that? Some do it to earn the coveted growler of beer awarded to those completing the Double. Others do it...well, let's just say most people do it for the growler. This year would mark the 5th consecutive Hagg Lake Double finishes by Moe Codino, and it would have been Larry Stephens' 5th year as well.

Gordo with his Larry 5.
Photo by 
Kristen Nelson.
Unfortunately, Larry was unable to make the starting line due to a serious injury he incurred just weeks earlier. To honor Larry and symbolize how much he means to this race and community, Moe decided to run with "Larry 5" written on his body. This trend caught on, and many other runners wrote Larry 5 on various parts of their body in support. Some runners also wrote Desiree Marek's name on their bodies because she was also injured and couldn't race the Hagg Lake Double. This running community is super close, and it continues to inspire me how everyone supports one another through both victories and temporary defeats.

Moe's Legs. Photo by Jeff Fisher.


Course Description: A short out-n-back up a gravel hill, followed by 2 laps around Hagg Lake. Here's a video of the course in wet weather.


Photo by Kristen Nelson.
The course started with swift running up the gradually steep gravel roadway. Surrounded by good company and fast runners, we ran as a group for the most part. After the turnaround, we galloped down the hill like wild stallions, running 6 abreast at one point while chatting and cracking jokes. Once we reached the single track trail, we ran in a party train led by Jeremy Tolman.

Jeremy leading the train.
Photo by 
Kristen Nelson.
Now, Jeremy was feeling rather fresh this fine morning...shitballs. He led a pace that was reasonable for any All American steeple chaser and a sub 4-minute mile runner, which he was in his college days. But for a guy like me, my heart rate was uncomfortably high. Even Zach Gingerich (Badwater 135 and Arrowhead 135 champion) was like "are we starting out a little fast"? Probably. Yes. Ugh. Jacob Puzey didn't start this fast last year. I miss that guy.

The trail around Hagg Lake this year was drier than most, which translates to faster race times. In years like this, the podium finishers seem to always be the runners that start out fast and hold on the longest. Being 1 of the 8 front runners in this race, I decided to see if I could hold on. My high heart rate was concerning, and it felt unsustainable for a self-predicted 4 hour finishing time. Only time will tell.

Everyone and their Mums stopped at the first aid station, except for me. That's where I took the lead, followed by Jeff Browning, Tom Brooks, and Nicholas Davis. Since no one else wanted to lead, I took the liberty of dictating a manageable pace while trying to get my heart rate below 170, which never really happened.


The four of us ran together through the first lap, but then Jeff and Tom took off and had a race of their own on lap 2. After ripping off my shirt in sexy fashion and unfastening my bra strap...I mean heart rate monitor...I started racing Nicholas for 3rd place.

After the dam aid station, I noticed Nicholas wasn't running the hills very strong. So, I made a move and jumped into 3rd place while trying to appear like I was feeling fresh. But I wasn't. I was hurting, and for a good portion of the 2nd lap, I wanted to pull over and cry. Through a combination of starting out too fast, having no thrust, and running semi-scared, I was not happy. That's the way it goes sometimes, and there was only one way that I would be proud of my I vowed to keep pushing until I finished. Because I'm Jason Fucking Leman.

In the last 4 miles of the race, there are three long stretches where you can see far ahead of you and behind you. Of course, I spotted somebody chasing me down. Come on baby, hold together. Digging deep, I pushed a push that Salt-N-Pepa would be proud of. I gave one last glance behind me with 1/4 mile to go...I see a dude, but I can't see the whites of his eyes. I'm good.

RESULTS: 3:56:22 - 3rd out of 154 finishers
PACE: 7:37 min/mile

SPENT. Photo by Renee Seker.


Neil Olson finished only 21 seconds behind me, I thought it was Nicholas this entire time! I had no idea Neil was even racing that day until I saw him at the finish line. Every year he runs this race the same way, he always comes from nowhere and one by one hunts down the leaders. He's a smart runner, and if he had one more mile, he may have beat me. Next year, I hope to run like him and give the leaders a head start before hunting them down. It sounds way more fun that way.


After soaking in the lake and hanging out at the finish line, I ate lots of food and Trail Butter, then I drove home to take my nephew to Monster Jam for a bro-mantic Valentine's Day outing. My hip flexors were a little sore from the race, but my legs otherwise felt okay.


The drive back out to Hagg Lake has a very Déjà vu feeling, for obvious reasons. It's less stressful for me because I have less anxiety about how fast I run. For the past 3 years, my Hagg Lake 25k's have been slow, extremely painful, and care-free. This year, however, I was feeling the best I've ever felt the day after the Hagg 50k. Then a little thought bubble popped into my head...

If I'm feeling good, maybe I can break my previous Hagg Lake Double record...

In 2013, my combined times for the Hagg Lake Double were (3:40:53 + 2:19:10) = 6:00:03. If I had a good day, I knew there was a decent chance of beating that combined time.


Photo by Kristen Nelson.
As soon as the race started, I took off. Things were heavy, but I was moving well. Strangely, the trail conditions seemed better today then during the 50k. After the first mile or two, my left hip flexor began to hurt with a dull, but constant ache. To my delight, it worked itself out by mile 5.

Contrary to the 50k, I was actually enjoying my run! My heartrate was about 10 bpm lower, but my pace was almost the same as my overall 50k pace. That was very interesting, and it really made me regret starting the 50k so fast. What I couldn't figure out was why I was running and feeling so good during the 25k race...oh well! At least I was having fun! As I got closer to the finish line, I set 2 hours as my finishing goal. It seemed within reach, and I pushed hard to get under that time. When the finish line came into sight, my legs felt good enough to sprint.

RESULTS: 1:58:43 - 18th overall out of 353 finishers
PACE: 7:38 min/mile
NEW COMBINED 50k + 25K RECORD = 5:55:05

Photo by Kristen Nelson.

My two races were run at almost identical average paces (7:37 min/mile for the 50k and 7:38 min/mile for the 25k). My heart rate for the first half of the 50k averaged 175 bpm before I tore the damn heart rate monitor from my chest. My heart rate for the entire 25k averaged 165 bpm on tired legs, yet my pace averaged the same as the 50k. FASCINATING! Next year, I'm going to run the 50k race like Neil Olson. I'd much rather see if I can pull some kind of ridiculous negative split and finish with a sprint and a smile on my face. That's how I prefer to race, but often times I get so caught up in the competition that I end up letting someone else dictate my race. I've got a feeling this is one of those lessons that I'm going to learn over and over it goes.


Being my 4th annual Hagg Lake Double finish, I earned my 4th growler for completing the two events in the same weekend. If I finish my 5th Double next year, I'll earn a growler with my name engraved on the bottle. I'm hoping Larry Stephens will be hoisting his engraved growler with me and Shane Kroth in 2016.

Photo by Phil Brundage.

On top of running the Hagg Lake Double, Moe also marked the course on Friday, becoming the only runner to ever complete the Hagg Lake "Triple". Why did he do this?! Because he's Moe. He earned the shit out of his engraved 5 year growler, and he celebrated in true Moe fashion by hosting a gathering at Moe's Trunk Tavern in the parking lot.

Moe, Megan, and Shane after the 50K.

Moe after the 25K.
Fitting decor at Moe's Trunk Tavern



Trail Butter is my favorite pre-race breakfast and long run snack. This delicious fuel is #trending throughout the Pacific Northwest, and it has honorable mention by Gear Junkie, Trail Runner magazine, and others. Trail Butter is being sold at these following retail locations, try some if you haven't already!


The Float Shoppe has been a regular part of my training and recovery for the past 2 years. For one, there's so much Epson salts dissolved in the water that it causes you to float, which is a cool experience all in itself. But there are lots of researched benefits associated with floating. Check this place out, it's also Wellness Center featuring Yoga, Acupuncture, Massage, Counseling, and a Community Space.

Float Shoppe Logo


Both of these groups offer running coaching, fitness classes, and adventure runs. They currently both offer fitness classes at the new Evolution Healthcare & Fitness Center. Check them out!


This is a brand new center for Sports Chiropractic, Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy, General Medical Practitioner, Sports Psychology, Personal Training, Strength and Conditioning Classes, Altitude Training, Yoga Classes, Tai Chi, and Nutrition.

That's a lot of stuff. Brad Farra is one of the masterminds of this new operation, and he's been my sports chiropractor and one of my most trusted advocates/coaches for staying injury free with all the running I do. Oh, and the facility has a High Altitude Room that simulates elevations up to 17,000'.

Evolution Healthcare and Fitness


I still find this hilarious. The high five was eventually had.