Micheal, Bushwhacker, Steve and I headed south to Eugene for their fat ass called the MLK. Stephan Willow has been putting on this event for years but I have never run it. Looking for the best possible training for 2 Moon Micheal and Steve felt this fat ass would be a good one to attend and they drug me along, thanks! With 6,500 feet of climb all on single track they had the right idea. The event was a series of loops, not all the same but one would be repeated near the end. It was super cold all day with the high only reaching around 36 degrees but no precipitation. The dense fog made it feel even colder. The sun was trying to burn off the fog but only bits of blue to could creep through.
Of course we arrived very early and after some mulling around and getting ready we decided to go ahead and get a jump on the run instead of waiting until 9 a.m. Graciously Chris led us up the first 10 mile loop. It was a fast start and I was certainly working keeping Bushwhacker and Chris in my sights. We booked along the trail which was wonderful single track. It reminded me of Forest Park only in much better condition. I think since this park is much smaller it gets a lot of trail attention with nice bridges and gravel spreads to prevent erosion. Our Forest Park trails are much more rolling while these are bit more of a gradual up and gradual down. It was perfect training ground. On the first loop we got to take a off shoot on a very steep trail. It was so steep that it was hard to keep your footing on any of the mud. Up, up, up we went on the knee knocking climb and near the top we were treated to wonderful warm sun and an awesome view above the fog. A faster group made it to the top first and were enjoying the warmth and the views pointing out all the surrounding mountains. Once we got all warmed up it was a killer descent. Great single track downhill was just what we all need.
With the first 10 miles under our belt we headed out for loop 2. A six mile rolling trail that eventually climbs to the top of a butte where we did a lollipop then re-traced our steps back to the car. Now with 3+ hours of running done you would think we were warmed up. There were sections in those woods that were so incredibly cold but just warm enough to cause the ice on the high trees limbs to begin to melt. As this melting progressed we would run through areas of raining ice/frost. It was interesting. Done with another fast loop and we were off to repeat loop one without the knee knocking climb to the summit of Spencer Butte. Loop 3 would be 8 miles long.
I could feel the miles and time on my legs. I had a bit of low moment on this loop and keeping Micheal and Steve in my sights was about the best I could do. I hadn't been fueling very well. I was chugging the G2O but my gel and food consumption was on the lighter side. With the cold temps and the workload I should have eaten more. I began the rebound by shoving gels on the 20 minute bell. On the way back I started feeling more energized but still needed fuel. Back at the car and now 24 miles done I ate some potatoes and took 2 more gels with me.
We were now repeating the 6 mile lollipop loop and it was a slow first half. When we got to the road crossing just above the fog there was cool view of the trees who's tops were still covered in frost. The bottom branches were all thawed and green while the tops were still white with frost. It was a neat sight. The climb to the butte went pretty well and we began the descent to the finish. With about 3 miles to go and all of it a mild up grade Steve challenged Micheal and I to run every single step. He was off with Micheal right behind him while I brought up the rear. I was all over the challenge and got in my zone. It was hard and my legs were really feeling it but watching those guys begin to disappear on the switchbacks made me trudge on running every step. There were lots of folks out on this section of trail including a bunch of dogs. I love dogs and am not at all afraid of them. There were big ones and small ones. When I came upon 2 small Chihuahua's on a retractable leash I slowed to get around them and one of the little suckers bit my ankle. It was no big deal and only felt like a bee sting but that fat little beast thought he owned the place. The owner was of course horrified and I just laughed. I was fine but that little guy is brave.
We did the 30 miles with 6,400 feet in 5:42. It was great training for 2 moon. Look at the freaky head shot. :)
Things are heating up on the training front. I have the 1/2 marathon this Sunday and I am hoping to beat my time from last year. A tall order since I was in really good road running shape at this time last year preparing for OC100K. Still anxious to get my race plans for 2009 cemented but probably won't have anything more to add to my list until after the Hardrock 100M lottery. The results will be out sometime in early February.