Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I had a great weekend! It started off early Friday morning by Rod and I road tripping to Portland to visit both Montrail and Nike headquarters. Hey, we're opening a Fleet Feet...we gotta see the goods!
Shortly after arriving at Montrail (actually Columbia) Headquarters, we were excited that our rep, Bryan Tooley, was able to get us an impromptu meeting with The Woman herself - Gert "Ma" Boyle. This was coolest part of the weekend. She is 83, and the ads don't lie - she's tough! She is definitely into knowing how and where her dollars are spent. She hand signs every check that goes out of Columbia. She wanted to know what I was doing to justify my Montrail sponsorship. She wanted to know how much our opening order was for Fleet Feet. She razzed Rod for wearing his Fleet Feet shirt with a Nike logo; I helped save-face a bit by taking off my sweatshirt and revealing my Montrail shirt. Gert is a very pleasant woman. While chatting, I learned that her daughter is an artist and gallery owner who lives in Sisters, and her granddaughter lives less than 1/2 mile from me in Sisters. Hopefully I'll get the chance to have lunch with her and show her the store the next time she visits. Seriously, this meeting with Gert was the highlight of my weekend.
Oh yeah, Rod and I also got to see the latest and greatest from Montrail. Lots of cool new shoes in different lines: running, hiking, sandals, and some cool new casual stuff. I definitely saw some winners in there, including my racing shoe for this year, the new Streak! We were sent on our way with a big bag of new Montrails so I could put them on display at Hagg (see Gert, that justifies my sponsorship!).
After lunch, we headed to Nike. The Nike campus is incredible. Some cool stats: 175 acres; 6,000 employees; 4 main divisions - running, tennis, soccer, and golf; 2 really cool workout facilites; lots of really cool memorabilia in each building (the Pre stuff was the best); a 5-lane all-weather track with a forest in the infield (so you can't see the other side while running around it); a 2-mile bark chip path around the perimeter; lots of reserved parking spots for Nike's super-elite athletes (we randomly parked near Bendite Priscilla Welch and Sisters' Dan Fouts spots). If you ever have a chance to tour this campus, do it. It's fun.
Our main purpose for going was to see Nike's eyewear and timing lines. Slick. Sleek. Nice. They have some cool stuff going on there. I'm not a tech-geek, but I don't think anyone comes close to touching their Nike+ and iPod Nano stuff.
After Nike, we headed west to Forest Grove's Grand Lodge. If you're running Hagg Lake, this is the place to be. We found Bendite's Dan Harshburger, and Karen and Jon Gnass hanging out in the basement, so we enjoyed a nice dinner chatting with them. My college buddy Jon, his girlfriend Alicia, and Maniac Brandon also joined us a little while later. I finished off the night watching Michael Clayton while enjoying a hard cider. Mmm, hard cider...
Saturday morning was beautiful - sunny, clear, and warm. Rod and I got to Hagg with plenty of time to set out the new Montrails, say hi to many friends (including ultra-virgin Nessski), get in a warm-up, and change in to my skirt. I wore the same pretty, flowery skirt that Kathy Harshburger made for me last year. I figure I have one skirt, and that's enough. There were 6 guys in the skirt competition this year and the moment I saw Tom, I knew he had won. He wore a hideously awesome full-on grandma flower dress. He was the man. The one thing that would have made it better is if he wouldn't have been wearing a shirt...next year, Tom.
Aside from being pretty sick, not being able to breathe, not having a voice, and constantly blowing snot-rockets the whole run, I felt okay. I ran the first 5 miles close behind Ryan and Neil, at which point Neil decided he needed to run faster to get a course record, which he got! Also with me was Trevor, formerly of Bend. We finally caught Ryan around mile 10 and I really enjoyed running with him for the next few miles. At 1:20 into the run, Ryan had only gu'd once, so I suggested he take another. Since Ryan and Laurie moved to Portland last summer, we haven't run or raced together much. It was fun to be sharing some trail time with my friend in his first ultra.
At the 13 mile a.s., I did a quick bottle re-fill, grabbed a gu, and was gone. Ryan must have stopped to eat a little and I inadvertently dropped him there. We stayed close, though, as I went by the start/finish at mile 17 in 2:13, only a minute ahead of him.
Hearing that I was close to current c.r. holder and fellow Shadle Park High School alumni Stan Holman, I decided to pick it up a bit. After a few miles I saw Stan and when I got within 30 feet of him, I decided to humor both of us by chanting our high school cheer:
Me: Chicka Locka, Chicka Locka, Chow-Chow-Chow
Stan (without hesitation): Booma Locka, Booma Locka, Bow-Wow-Wow
Me: Chicka Locka, Booma Locka, Who are we?
Stan: Shadle Park High School, Yes-sir-ee!
Yes, it was silly, but very fun, and reminded us both that these ultras can be a lot of fun. It's just too bad I hadn't caught him while going through the start/finish area; we agreed that the folks there would have loved it.
At the 22 mile a.s., I was feeling relatively good and didn't break stride while grabbing a cup of water and asking how Rod was doing. He was solidly in 2nd behind Neil, and finished there in a strong 3:56. I continued to cruise at a decent pace for another couple miles. Right about the "1/2 way around the lake" sign, with 7.1 miles to go, I started a pretty good bonk. I was guing every 30 min., but I think my lack of hydrating had caught up. I didn't realize it until the finish, but I only drank 2 1/2 bottles of fluid throughout the race, mostly Kona Kola nuun. Anyway, so I shuffled to the last a.s., put 1/2 water / 1/2 Coke in my bottle and hoped that and a gu would get me to the finish. I continued struggling, but was really enjoying the pretty day and lack of mud. A little more than 1/2 mile from the finish, I heard someone coming up on me. I took a quick look back to see if it was a 25ker or 50ker, but couldn't tell. Oh well, it didn't really matter. I wasn't going to let someone pass me so close to the finish. So I picked it up, hit the last parking lot, threw down a surge, and cruised to the finish. 4:10:34 for 4th place (my customary placing in ultras) in my 5th Hagg Lake finish. The almost-spoiler was 50ker Kurt Eisele, who finished 6 seconds back. This earned me the coveted Hagg Lake Hall of Mud 5-year Buckle. I was tired and I couldn't really breathe so well. My friends Ryan (not the one running) and Scott helped me sit down and both got me food and drinks. It's good to have nice friends.
After a few minutes, I perked up a bit so I walked over to Rod's van to change. Within a few minutes of being at the van, Nessski shows up wrapped in a space blanket and beaming. He had finished his first 50k in 4:24 for 10th place! Stellar performance, my friend! The next few hours were spent socializing and catching-up with friends, eating, cheering finishers, and hanging out in the warm February sun of Hagg Lake (which will never happen again!). In addition to Ryan and Rod, congrats also to Chris, finishing in 4:33, Darla, 5:01 for 4th girl, and Jon, 2:16 in the 25k to earn his 5-year Hall of Mud Buckle. It was a good day. Thanks Party Girls, you put on a great event - even without the mud.
Rod headed back to Bend and his family (including ready-to-pop Katie), while I stayed the night at the Grand Lodge again. Good friends, soaking pool, frisbee golf, hard cider, long island ice tea, a tasty hunk of prime rib with lots of salt, and live music all made for a great ending to a wonderful Hagg day.