Chilly in the morning, hot in the afternoon. Central Oregon, you make running complicated!
On Friday evening, Jesse & I packed up running for multiple weather scenarios, our swimming gear, some food, and the dog and drove to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, OR.
We were able to sleep in a little bit; the race didn’t start until 9 AM. But it was still a cool 39 F at the starting line and we huddled up in the sunshine, bouncing from race day jitters, early morning coffee, and the brisk morning air.
“You’ll be running in snow by the waterfalls this morning…you’re welcome!” exclaimed one of the race directors. I guess it was still mid-April, but snow was unexpected. How high were we? Would I have trouble breathing? The answer was about 3,000 ft at Carmen Reservoir and while it was still a rolling course, we had a gradual downhill over the 18 miles. There was snow and ice on some of the bridges but the trail was mostly clear of snow.
We began immediately on single-track, creating a big bottle neck of all 125 runners. We walked the better part of a mile before we were able to spread out enough to get our jogging on. The best part about this slow paced start was that all of us from the Fatty Asses Ultra team were together, chatting away and catching up.
The waterfalls were raging, the Blue Pool was incredible, and the lava rocks were a fun technical aspect I hadn’t experienced much in an event before. At one point I stepped awkwardly on…who knows what…twisting my ankle pretty good. I turned to John and said “we’ll see if that comes back to haunt me today” and indeed it did.
I shed my jacket two hours in as the sun moved overhead and started roasting us all. Miles of beautiful mud, lush forest, bridges, and the McKenzie River passed by and I was happy as a clam. Eventually Jesse et al. were able to break away from the herd and our group split up. I was running alone for much of the time after that.
Later, at mile 13 or so just before an aid station, my knee turned angry. A stop-and-pay-attention-to-me kind of angry. I stretched it, flexed it, bent it, sat down, did some lunges, anything to feel relief. I walked a quarter mile or so and it felt better so I carried on…now I had to catch everyone I had passed before!
Around mile 15 the pain returned so I gave in and walked. I stopped on a log to stretch and had a nice chat with a lady mountain biker. Other runners passed by me, all asking if I needed anything. Trail runners are the best, truly.
At the final aid station at mile 17 I stopped and talked with a volunteer and she so sweetly offered me her car! It was tempting and I was grateful for the laughter! I hung out for a few minutes and then ran the rest of the way in to the finish line pain-free. Who knows what went on in those last miles, but I knew that twisted ankle would present somewhere. I had a strong finish, though with a slower time than I anticipated. But you know what? Who even cares? It was a fantastic run!
Afterwards, we all sat by the river and recapped the run and our lives. We made our way to the hot springs and then headed out for dinner (where I enjoyed a truly epic burger with ham, bacon, eggs, cheese…the whole farm).
We (*ahem* John, Jesse, and Lee) built a fire and we had s’mores. In the morning we drank coffee, set up the slackline, and were generally lazy. It was the perfect weekend getaway.