Sunday, April 3, 2016

My Gorge Waterfalls 100Km... a wonderful journey

In the spring of 2015, I won an entry into any Rainshadow race.  To an 'east coaster', this was a challenge I just had to accept.  I was trainig for Old Dominion, and a Rainshadow race was perfect for my 'post goal' race.  Unfortunately, the race I signed up for was canceled do to wildfires, but it gave me the opportunity to sign up for the great Gorge Waterfalls 100KM.

But I digress.  To appreciate the journey... and the sweet... we must touch on the bitter.  While I would classify 2015 as a success, most of my running progress was halted in its tracks.  In the spring, I ran hundreds of miles per month, particularly April and May.  By the June Old Dominion run, I knew I was ready.  But early on in the run, I didn't feel quite right.  10 or so days later, had a mild fever, but I tried to push through a 25 KM jog the following Saturday, and I was struck with fever and sweats... shivering with intense headache.  It still took way too much time to diagnose me with Lyme's disease.  Even after the daily sympoms subsided, the after effects of muscle deterioration continued, closely followed by morale and motivation.

The journey back!
The majority of the Gorge Waterfalls 100Km is in old-growth magnificent incredible forest.  A land of moss and waterfalls (maybe 6 or 8 breath-taking waterfalls), the race is a foray to the Jurassic time for this east coaster.  You kinda think you might see anything from a Brontosaurous to a Hobbit...

Coming into the race, I had not trained.  Lyme's had sapped my motivation, but I had a new running teammate that had gotten me back out there (Read about Lily here).  So, in the weeks coming up to the event, Lils and I managed about 90 miles together - and rarely did I feel tired.  And while that is about 40 percent of the mileage I should have put in, I knew I had experience on my side - enough so that I was pretty sure I could overcome being completely old and fat!

The race started at 0600.  I was completely rested!  I had arrived in Portland, OR on Wednesday night, and had run a few miles of the course on Saturday so I knew what to expect... and knew my shoe selection was 'right on' (Hoka Stinson ATR).  I napped on Friday after a good night of sleep on Thursday, had the route mapped to the start line, and got my sleep pattern on track.  Bottom line, barring actual training, I was ready! (LOL).

Racing conditions were perfect.  Probably 50 degrees at start time, with a high around 70.  When you look at the elevation map (here), don't be fooled in thinking the main mountain starts at the 2.5 mile point.  It's more at about the 1 mile point.  So us "mid to back 'o the packers" just need to know that everyone will be going to same pace - and no passing is possible.  I had mentally compared this hill to Old Dominion's 3 mile point climb, but this was nothing comparitively.  The slow speed combined with the views (even just before sunrise) made this climb fairly insignificant even with  my non-existent training.

The beauty of the terrain

For the most part, the course truly is rolling hills.  The terrain is a little rocky, but certainly not Old Dominion like.  Here is about as bad as it gets:

The beauty you can expect!

And... what about my journey?

I didn't make the 56 mile cut off time.  I'm thrilled that experience and stubborness got me that far... even though I had no right to join some of the best runners on Earth on this day.  My bride was awesome in her crewing, and the staff were fantastic.  At the halfway point, I passed some of the leaders as they were 15 miles ahead of me - and most were full of motivation as if they were crewing for us back of the packers... just terrific people.  Rainshadow staff were fantastic.  

Lastly, Lyme's disease is nothing to mess with.  Initial symptoms for me presented as the flu... but it never heals until properly treated.  Treatment can take 10 days to months.  And when symptoms have ended, there are still residual effects for some- mine was almost endless muscle deterioration.  I've yet to map out future goals - but I believe one sub 24 hour 100 miler is in the near future!

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