Thursday, September 18, 2008

The past couple of weeks

Well, in the time that it took me to write my short novel about TransRockies, Sascha and I actually did some other cool stuff. After taking 3 days off to recover from TR, and with Sascha going bonkers, we decided to hit the mountains for a couple hours of playing. I absolutely love this time of year in the mountains! Cool, crisp mornings, warm days, pleasant evenings, and as a bonus this year due to super-late snow melt, lots of really pretty wildflowers are still out! Sascha kind of reminds me of Garfield, running and frolicking through big wildflower-filled meadows. It's cool to watch her play...and catch the occasional mouse and eat it.

The next day was the big cross country season kick-off race for all of the local high school teams. Mud 'n Blood is a super-fun 5k race, basically a scramble more than anything. There is a creek crossing, log jumpings, scramble up a steep hill, single track, and one more creek crossing at the finish. It's a blast! There is first an open division, then the kids get to race, with each grade being a different race, rather than just having varsity and j.v. races. In each race, the girls get a 3 1/2 minute head start, making for some great finishes between the sexes. Only 5 days post-TR, I surprised myself with a course p.r. of 19:01, good for 2nd in the men's division, 6th overall in the open race. I was also happy that my time would have put me on the Sisters Boys Varsity that day (it's the little joys in life... :).

Then on Friday (the next day), Fatboy and I decided to climb the Middle Sister. Neither of us had done it before, although Sascha and I had two attempts that were aborted not too far from the summit (she has a good way of telling me when she's at her limit). FB and I started at Pole Creek TH, ran most of the way to Chambers Lake, then just kinda bee-lined it, part cross country, part climber's trail, to the summit. There were some pretty steep scree slopes where it was easier to climb on all fours. We made it to the top in about 3 1/2 hours and were surprised to see 5 other people already up there! We chatted with them, watched some cool rocks crash off the side of the mountain and into the glacier, and enjoyed some snacks (mmm, Babyruth, mmmmmm...). About 10 minutes later, a group of 12 started summitting. So yes, on a random Friday in September - after Labor Day - there were 19 people on the freakin' summit of the Middle Sister. Really none of us could believe it. So FB and I took that as our cue to head down. We took a longer, not as steep route, back down to the lakes, which let us do a bit of glissading and running a bit more cross country through some open fields of wildflowers. Sascha would have loved this section! FB and I eventually made our way down the trail and back to the car. The total roundtrip took us about 6 1/2 hours, which included stopping time for whatever, and we estimated that we got 23ish miles in for the day. Climbing the Middle Sister is definitely a fun adventure!

Since there's really no rest for the weary (or fit-feeling after spending a week running at 10,000'), the McKenzie River 50k was just a day after the Middle. I was looking forward to running this beautiful trail, and with my past week and a half, I didn't burden myself with any real time expectations. I started amongst a sea of RVR Green, and also very conservatively. I easily just cruised through the first 8 miles, enjoying the company of ultra virgin Will and one other guy from Eugene. Then as usually happens in ultras, I gradually increased my pace and effort, catching up to my friend Steve from the Bay Area. With a loud, obnoxious, and very cool Hawaiian shirt, he was dressed Fatboy-style. Steve and I spent most of the run together, talking about how non-technical Rod told him the trail was (Rod is a liar), how much he likes CarboPro, and how he's getting back in shape for a big run at Quadipsea this year. Our little duo eventually turned into a quad, as we caught up to Todd and John caught us all. With all of that testosterone flying around, the pace naturally increased and I forgot to take a gel. Oops. So I had a little bonk from 23-26, where those guys easily distanced themselves from me. Oh well, I never got too out of it, so I didn't lose too much time and was able to pick up the pace again after 2 quick gels. I would never catch those 3 guys again, but I did notice I was oh-so-close to the golden 4-hour barrier. So I tried to go harder a few times, but my legs reminded of TR from only a week ago and the Middle from yesterday. However, with 3 miles to go, I did notice that I was now slightly ahead of my 4:04 time from last year. My new goal became finishing faster than that. So I zigged and I zagged my way along the cushy trail under the lush forest canopy next to the rushing McKenzie to the finish in 4:01, 7th place. I was happy. With no expectations coming in, I felt I ran a good race, enjoyed the comraderie of others, and didn't go down at all, despite the sharp and pointy lava rock (I went down 5 times last year). It was a good day.

Much of the next week was spent prepping for the Pine Mountain Hill Climb, for which I was the race director. I even got to show-off the course to Aaron Schartzbard, who was in town from Virginia for a few days to play in the Central Oregon mountains. You can read all about the race here.

Thinking back on my last few weeks and months, I've had a pretty kick-ass summer! I'm kinda sad for it to end, but, as I have for the past 7 years, I'm really looking forward to heading to Tahoe at the end of the month for a little pavement pounding fun!


Sunshine Girl said...

Time flys when yer havin' fun! I met Fatboy at TR last year, with his Texan in toe. The Texan had the largest drumsticks I have EVER seen, the man was solid. Glad to hear the Sisters Cross Country team has nothin' on you!! Go kick those 16 year olds ass(es).

Matt said...

Hey Sean,

Congrats on a great summer. Have a great fall, and have fun at Tahoe! All that running at altitude lately should serve you well.


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