I’m getting accustomed to waking up before my alarm on race days — usually my bodies’ clock telling me I’m ready to go. At Beacon Rock State Park things were a tad different as the hoards of chirping birds outside my tent compromised my Z’s at around 4:30am.
My plan for Beacon Rock 50k was to use it as a long training run. I trained hard the week of the race, keeping my mileage high. I had two goals: first, to see how hard I can push on tired legs. And second was to nail down my race hydration and nutrition.
I laid around until around 6 before peeling myself out of the sticky tent. On to the next challenge – coffee and food.
I’d met fellow runners and campers George, Herb, and Tom at the campfire the day before, and they generously invited me to join them for morning coffee. Seeing is how my camp stove was on the fritz, it was a welcomed invitation. These guys were awesome!
Breakfast of peanut butter sandwiches and a peanut butter chocolate KIND bar went down swimmingly. And what better way to wash this all down than with an extremely strong stove-top espresso that I nursed for half an hour on a lawn chair.
I love watching the other runners rise, assemble, and putter about checking gear.
This was the ultimate calm. My mind was where it needed to be, no nerves, no excitement. Ready.
Out for a rip
The race started out with a few guys taking off up the first climb. These were the runners running the 25 km race as we’d all started at the same time.
I settled in alongside Kory at a comfortable clip, making quick work of the short climb before descending into the first aid station at around 10 km.
The downhill was plush, fast, and mostly non-technical — easy to bomb and easy on the legs.
We hit the aid and I moved forward on a flat section, catching a few glimpses of the leader before the 2nd climb.
I caught him near the top of the climb, feeling good and ready for the nice ridge section and long 10 km downhill back to the start. The 50km race was two loops of a 25km course.
I hadn’t planned on trying to win the 25 km… but it was a nice surprise when it happened.
The gathering crowd at the campsite were a bit confused to see a 50km runner win the 25km as well. I was grinning ear to ear as I gave James a quick high five before heading out for the second loop.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
I generally reward myself with small things during the race, like music. It gives me something to look forward to. I’d planned on listening to music for the 2nd half of the race, I even made a playlist!
Unfortunately, my ipod being in my pocket the whole time turned on while I was running the first loop, killing the battery. Oh well, avicii will have to wait.
The second loop was fairly uneventful aside from me constantly looking over my shoulder for the second place runner catching me. This is a crazy headspace like you’re a small animal being chased down.
I did what I always do, just keep grinding it out. I learned this from my dad; keep working hard and things will sort themselves out.
This is why I love to compete in mountain running. There’s no hiding. No getting by on talent. Performance is all on you and how hard you work.
I approach my training like this and I genuinely believe that if I’m diligent about my time, no one will outwork me. They can’t. From here it is a matter of intelligence and experience — two things I’m working on.
Anyways, there I was really enjoying the last 20 km of beautiful sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge.
I pushed the last climb and a few grunts later, saw my buddy Trey from Uphill Running doing live race coverage with a golf pencil and scrap paper. Only the finest materials.
One lengthy and fun downhill to go. Now my running was fuelled by wanting to eat pizza, drink beer, oh and how mad I’d be if someone were to pass me with 5km to go… Luckily, it never happened.
Some minor gut issues in this last downhill section made me let up my stride a bit. The long downhill rumbled the shelly, but it passed after 2km or so and I cruised into the finish.
The last 500 meters is flat running through the campsite to the start / finish. Perfect victory lap of sorts
Seeing even the small crowds cheer for you is a powerful feeling. I’ll never forget it.
The party was already getting started with the 25 km runners chowing down on the amazing ‘za and drinking beers in the sun. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the rest of the day to cap off an amazing weekend.
Thanks to James / Rainshadow Running for a great weekend. This event is highly recommended!
Finally a huge thanks to KIND Snacks for keeping me fuelled. I must have taken down an entire box of these bars throughout the long weekend.
Now for a week off running before one last hard training block which will take me to my three goal races of the summer. I can’t wait to get back to hammering workouts and tagging peaks. The snow is finally melting, making the playground more accessible. I really do enjoy the training. I’m able to push myself pretty hard, and the body seems to respond pretty well to the stress thus far.
Trailstoke Revy – July 21 – Revelstoke, BC
Angels Staircase – August 9 – Carlton, WA
The Rut – September 13 – Missoula, MT