Monday, September 6, 2010

Where's Waldo 100K: An anniversary run.

A year ago, I flew out to Oregon from DC to visit a couple of friends from Peace Corps, and to run the Where's Waldo 100K.  It was my first trip to Oregon.  I've traveled a lot, both in the US and overseas, but somehow I had never been so lucky as to visit the PNW.  I think I'm glad I didn't visit Oregon at the age of 22, because if I had, I might not have had the itch to explore elsewhere, and I wouldn't trade all of the experiences I've had for the world.  In the days prior to Waldo, I had great visits with my PC friends in Corvalis and Bend, explored the coast a bit, went for a memorable run on Mary's Peak, and spent a day at Breitenbush (which was a culture shock having just returned from a month in Afghanistan).  And then there was Waldo, with awesome views and smooth runnable trails.  Two other DC/VHTRC friends ran Waldo, as well, and I told them before we departed that I planned to move to Oregon.  There was something about Oregon that drew me, and I wanted to call it home.  So, in the ensuing months I found a job in Portland, packed up my things in a big yellow Penske, said goodbye to DC, and deserted my 2 kittens.  By November, I was living in Portland.  So, this was an anniversary race for me of sorts, marking a year of change and new adventures. 
The sweet view of the Waldo Lake from the top of the first climb, Fuji.  Last year we camped right on the lake.  
Three weeks prior at White River I had been insanely nervous.  The entire week before WR I was overly anxious, which is not uncommon for me pre-race. I wasn't nervous before Waldo, which was odd, and made me a bit nervous.  It's funny how that works; I hate getting nervous, but then I get nervous if I'm not nervous.  I was excited to have some east coast running friends flying in on Thursday, as another VHTRC friend was getting married on Sunday.  It was going to be an action-packed weekend, with Kerry, Mitchell, Aaron and I running Waldo on Saturday, followed by Keith's wedding on Sunday.

Waldo starts with a nice climb out of the ski lodge.  I remember walking much of it last year, and now I remember why.  It's pretty steep and definitely meets my steepness gradient for walking.  But once you crest the top of the hill there are some really nice runnable miles down to the Gold Lake aid station.  My VHTRC buddy, Aaron, passed me right before the AS and commented that I was moving really quickly.  Hmmm....Aaron is usually miles ahead of me, so was I moving too quickly?  I didn't feel like it, but the fact that I stayed in front of him for 6 miles made me wonder.  I could see both Aaron and Meghan heading out of the AS as I was heading in, and I kept them in sight on the climb up to Mt. Fuji.  The climb was comfortable, and I ran much of it except for the steepest parts, and let Aaron and Meghan's walk breaks dictate mine.  Coming down off of Fuji I calculated that Ashley, in third, was at least 8 minutes back, and the others were all back of her by a bit, so Meghan and I were somewhat comfortably out front.  I started to believe that I could actually achieve my goal of qualifying for Western States. Waldo is part of the Montrail Cup, and as such, the top 2 get automatic entry into WS.  New rules this year allow that to roll down to #3, if one of the top 2 are already in.  Meghan finished 2nd at WS last year so is an automatic entry, which meant that as long as she was in the top 2, it would roll down to #3, so my goal was to get one of those top 3 spots.  I also wanted to take about 40 minutes off of last year's time and finish in 11:20.  I figured that 11:30 would likely be good enough for top 3 based off of previous years' results, and if not, then lots of people had really great days out there and that's cool, too.
I look like I'm about to hit the ground to avoid sniper fire.  I wasn't, and actually felt pretty good going up the climb to Fuji, and felt great on the way down.  I was cruising down and caught up to Meghan shortly before we reached Mt. Ray aid station at mile 20.  We ran the next several miles together, and had a nice chat.  It was fun.

Meghan and I were together for a few miles after the Mt. Ray AS (mile 20), and that section was really enjoyable.  She mentioned that we were under 11 hour pace (oops), and I mentioned that my only goal was for a WS spot.  It seemed counterproductive to pass Meghan heading up, when she's a stronger climber than I, so I tucked in behind.  We ran together for a few miles, until I eventually moved ahead.  I then bonked hard and started to have some stomach problems.  I started to feel a little light headed and generally crappy and spent some time in the woods.  I was surprised that Meghan didn't pass me, and arrived at Charlton Lake AS, still in first.  A Portland running buddy, Randy, who had to drop because of injury, asked me if I wanted his pacer to jump in with me for the last 20, which gave me something to look forward to. I mentioned to Randy that I was starting to feel kind of crappy.  About a mile out of the aid station Meghan blew by me with her pacer.  Yowzer.  She passed me like I was standing still, and I lost complete sight of her within about 10 seconds.  I figured that was the last I'd see of her.    

One of the lovely little lakes as you head up the first climb.  It was not yet this light out as we passed, nor was I planning on a leisurely run, so did not carry my camera.  This was taken in July during a trail work weekend.
Similar to last year, the section from Twins 1 to Twins 2 was the hardest part of the day for me.  It wasn't as hot as last year, but this is the least visually interesting part of the course (it's not bad, just that the first 20 and last 15 are so nice), and includes a lot of gradual runnable uphills.  My memory of this part of the course is that it is all uphill, but I doubt that is true.  I just seem to lack energy in this part.  Nothing exciting happened here.  I kept plugging away, trying to make myself run when I wanted to walk, and eventually reached the sweet little downhill into Twins 2, where Marjon was waiting for me.  I felt pretty good again by this part, and we cruised downhill.  I always feel guilty when I have a pacer, in that I don't want them to be miserable, so I kept trying to run for the most part, until we reached the climb to Maiden Peak.  This climb comes at mile 50, more or less, and is a steep one.  I can remember stopping with my hands on my hips last year panting for air on the climb up.  This year--while it still seemed to go on endlessly--wasn't nearly as bad, and I kept up a good hiking pace on the parts that were too steep to run (much of it, although there are some runnable parts, too).  I was surprised to eventually see both Aaron and Meghan up on the switchbacks in front of us. My mind had switched from racing for first to holding onto second many miles prior, and I wasn't really looking forward to a downhill chase from the top of Maiden.  Meghan didn't know I was behind her, and saw me as she came down from the peak, about a minute back.  I knew the minute she saw me, that I wouldn't see her again, and I didn't.  Maybe I should have tried a little harder to catch her, but I was pretty darned psyched to be in 2nd, and wasn't so worried about chasing after 1st.  By the time we got to the final aid station at mile 54, I was a couple of minutes back, and fairly unmotivated to chase.  
Coming out of Charlton Lake aid station. I always look so darn happy.  I was a little stressed here.  I was feeling a bit feverish/dizzy and had just made an unpleasant pit stop and was convinced I'd caught the stomach flu Kerry might have had the day before.  I think it was just altitude and some stomach issues.  I was in the lead here, but it wasn't long before Meghan blew by me with her pacer.  They passed me like I was moving backwards. 
 The most frustrating part of the day was the section from the last aid station to the finish. My pacer had stopped for a pit stop, so I was alone at the time and it seemed to me that the PCT turn should have come and gone.  Over the course of a couple of minutes I convinced myself I had missed the final turn.  I stopped and studied my map a few times, and continued on timidly.  I finally decided that I had missed the turn, and headed back in the other direction.  I hadn't gone more than a couple of minutes before I ran into my pacer, and we both came to an agreement that I couldn't have missed the turn.  We turned around, and lo and behold, the turn was just beyond where I had turned around.  In the end it didn't really matter, it was just frustrating to get turned around and lose the 4 or 5 minutes that would have taken me under 11 hours and a bit closer to Meghan.  But, I finished in 11:02, which got me both my time goal, and an automatic qualifying spot at WS.  I was thrilled!  And overall, it was one of the more enjoyable races I've run, in terms of just enjoying being out there.  I didn't stress too much about what others were doing, just about pushing myself and running my own race. Full results can be found here.

One of the Rosary Lakes.  I had just run this section a month ago so one would think I would be able to follow the trail....  The Rosary Lakes part is one of my favorites along the course.  Not only because they are 4 miles from the finish, but they are also pretty little lakes that look overly inviting.  
I almost never finish a race and think, "That was fun,"--especially not a 100k race that takes 11 hours.  But I have to say for the most part, with the exception of maybe 15 miles--Waldo was fun.   At least my memories of pain or suffering faded really quickly.  And while several people commented to me about what a great race it was between Meghan and I throughout the day, it didn't feel like a race, and I didn't feel any stress of racing.  And while I didn't run on Sunday, I felt good enough on Monday to do a short run with Keith in Forest Park before he and Tracy departed on their honeymoon.  I still feel like I recover slowly, but it is amazing to think what a 100K would have done to me just a couple of years ago in terms of recovery.  Unfortunately, I crashed on my knee in FP later that same week, and the recovery from that has been somewhat slower.

The rest of the weekend was a blast.  The wedding was beautiful, and what was just a 3-day weekend with friends was packed full of funny stories and great memories, and by the time Aaron, Kerry and Mitchell flew out on Monday, it felt like we'd been together for weeks (in a good way).  Here's hoping we can continue the VHTRC Oregon vacation in August in years to come and that I can convince a few more to make the move.  There's already talk of a Waldo weekend or CC100 weekend for next year....

Gear: La Sportiva Crosslites with Drymax socks.  Feet felt great afterward.  I've always suffered from blisters, but it seems I've finally found a combination that doesn't leave my feet trashed.  A couple end of toe blisters that might have been prevented with gaiters.

Hydration/nutrition:  Hand held until mile 20 and Nathan pack thereafter.  Water and gels of various flavor/brand, mostly expired.  Drank sports drink from aid stations.


Olga said...

What an awesome way to celebrate the anniversary, Amy! Wish I were there too:((

Neal Gorman said...

Great job! So no worrying about the WS lottery then, eh? Nice problem to have. Hope the knee feels better.

Ronda said...

Nice job at Waldo. Very impressive. Love the photos! Back to back awesomeness between WR and Waldo. Congrats on your WS entry...I know I have already said that but felt like I wanted to say it again.

Gretchen said...

Great job, Amy, and nice report! It was a sweet course and with perfect weather. Waldo weekend sounds like a good tradition to me! said...

It is an amazing name for a race. You will run the whole 100m and you won't find Waldo.

AidaMathes said...

It's fascinating how Oregon captivated you to the point of wanting to call it home. Sometimes, a place resonates with us in ways we can't quite explain, drawing us in with its charm and allure. It takes courage to make such a bold move, but it seems like it was the right decision for you. King exchange