When we lined up at the start of Evergreen Trail Runs’ Soaring Eagle Trail Run, Race Director Roger Michel was going over the course, the markings, and conditions with us. Somewhere in the middle he dropped a gem in about how dry things were – for Soaring Eagle Park that is. Not surprisingly, this drew a healthy bit of laughter. Dry by these standards means you’re not as likely to lose a shoe in the mud. Yes – this has actually happened.
pictures from evergreen trail runs
It was a beautiful day though – mud aside. While the course is … twisty to say the least, it was well-marked enough to minimize the probability of ‘bonus miles’. And despite opting for the marathon over the 50k, I was pretty pleased with my effort out there.
Map courtesy of Evergreen Trail Runs. For the marathon we do a short 1.1 mile loop to start, then do this loop twice, followed by the five-miler (the segment from the start and the westernmost loop, and then back to the start).
I was a week removed from the Redmond Watershed 12 Hour Run, where I’d done a slow 50k. My legs were still tired from this, and during the week my miles were definitely slower than usual. I’d thought about doing back to back weekends for the first time in three summers, but didn’t commit to this until Friday afternoon. I knew the Soaring Eagle course was also a slow course, but given the forecast, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to cover some good miles.
So I rose early Saturday, and joined 48 other marathoners and 50-kers at the start. I’d registered for the 50k, to keep my options open, and wouldn’t have to make a decision between this and the marathon until halfway through the third and final trip around. Part of me wanted to click off my third consecutive ultra, but I wasn’t sure that was prudent – from the training to time standpoints. I’d wait and see.
We started with a quick 1.1 mile loop which served to round the distance out. According to my watch, this turned out to be one of my faster miles (not usually recommended to start fast and slow down). For a good part of the initial 6 or so miles, I hung with two first-time trail marathoners – Courtney and Rusty, and swapped some stories about running and kids with them. Their pace was a bit on the high end for me, so at the aid station I fell back a bit.
The rest of the way around that first ten mile loop, I was solo. At first I had some trouble settling into that, but by the time I hit the start/finish area just over two hours in, I was fine. After spending a minute or two refueling, I set out on loop #2.
A mile or so into this loop, my GPS crapped out, staying at 12.58 miles for the next hour and a half. That meant I couldn’t fall back on the bad habit of constantly checking my mileage, and counting down how far I had left to go. Since I had no worries about fuel, and since I wasn’t latched to a specific pace, this was actually a good thing, although it meant I don’t have very fancy pace charts to show. Instead, I’ve got a nice straight line instead of the winding nine or so miles of trail I covered (the segment between 12 and 13 in the map).
By the time I’d come around for the second time, I’d pretty much decided that I would call it good with a marathon. When I came through the finish, I ran over to get a fresh bottle of cytomax from my car. Apparently the timer thought I’d quit, and was surprised when I came back to start my third loop (she’d marked me finished!). Once we corrected that I was off again.
This time, it was just a bit harder to start running again. The initial stretch is mostly flat or downhill, so after a minute or so I was able to coax my legs to get moving again. One motivation for me this time was that I knew the field was not too big, and thought I’d stand a reasonable chance of placing if I could keep my pace strong and steady that last trip around. With just 5 miles to go, I tell myself that I’m just a training run from home.
The final stint from the aid station back to the finish is a challenge though. We’re near the southern end of the park, and need to climb a steady hill just under a mile in length. I walked the harder stretches, and ran the level portions, coming in at 5:01.
I soaked up some sun at the finish, talking to friends for a while before heading home. Spent the rest of the day walking a bit tentatively, but felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth in the park.
charts and graphs for running geeks
It’s always annoying being just over a milestone time (five hours in this case), but I felt pretty good about my effort. I’d come in 4th of 26, and 1st of seven in my age group.
My rough pace chart (per loop) is below. I clearly took the first one too fast, but mustered a strong final five miles.
Here’s the time plot from my GPS. That flat segment is the nine or so miles that it was resting. I actually forgot to put on my heart rate monitor at the start – would have been interesting to see that plot. My perception is that my HR was high early, and then peaked again at the end.