Capping my peak with the Mac was perfect. MacDonald Forest is one of the oldest true trail runs in Oregon. It offers over 6,500 feet of ascent and winds around the hills just outside of Corvallis. For many it's a tradition with some folks participating for over 15 years. It has the feel of a family reunion. Lots of familiar faces, lots of veterans and many new ultra runners mingle the arboretum before the race. An hour can pass before you know it catching up with everyone who seems to be in the best of moods.
This was my 9th time running the Mac. For many years the course would change depending on what new tortuous trail the RD's would build. It's was always a different distance but always near a 50K. My best year at MacDonald Forest was 5:27 but the course was only slightly over 30 miles. That was the only short year I ran so I can't count that as a PR. For the last 3 years the course has been nearly the same so comparing times is easy. The course is 31.6 miles. My best was 2 years ago when I ran 5:35:49. This year I ran 5:35:56. Close but not cigar. :) However, I felt amazing. To put it in perspective of course I needed to analyze my training and compare both years. My fastest year was 2008 and I had to run hill repeats the day before. Though that was a tough challenge I was only on 3 weeks cycles and my total mileage for the week was only 72. This year I am on 4 week cycles meaning my last rest week was over 3 weeks ago. Since I had to juggle my runs the prior weeks to a Sunday/Monday schedule I had zero days off since last Saturday. With Monday of this same week being my long run I topped this week at 90 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing at an average pace of just over a 10 minute mile. For me that is a whopper week. First my miles are high for what I generally run which is around 80 during the peak phase for a 100M race and my quality is obviously high if I am pushing just over a 10 minute mile for over 16,000 feet of ascent
Skip through the numbers I am simply on cloud nine on how I felt yesterday. I was in complete control of my race. That means I fueled perfectly and I could adjust my gears accordingly. If I needed to bump up the pace I had it. I could climb super well. My uphill strength is probably the best it's been. My downhill running still needs improving but I suspect with the next 4 weeks of training and focusing on that I will see results. I have learned so much about recovery in the last year. How to eat, what to add as supplements and most importantly I feel a strong connection to my body. Listening to my body and reacting according is huge for me. I am a driver so I will push and push. Most times pushing too far only to find myself really tired and not recovery fast enough. Today I feel great. Some would say I should have ran harder. I ran as fast as this body could move but more importantly what this tells me as I have more in me. I am almost ready for the 100M race.
Yesterday was not just a gauge for fitness it was a blast with friends. Micheal, Carrie and I carpooled to the start only to get lost. How do you get lost going to Corvallis? I don't know but thankfully Carrie had her IPhone came in handy and it navigated us through the back country arriving at the start with plenty of time to spare. We chatted and got ourselves prepared for a glorious day full of sunshine which has been a rare but certainly welcome sight. With a field of over 270 it was going to be a busy day on the trails which made it even more fun running with friends. I spent most of my day trying to keep Cheri from passing me. I was successful but it's only a matter of time before she catches me. Now a well earned recovery week. I am ready for it. I know the final three weeks of training before Bighorn are going to be big. I am already planning the perfect runs to top off my training.