Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 McKenzie River Trail Run 50K Race Report

On Saturday, Heather, our friend Audrey, and I slogged our way through a very wet and fairly windy edition of The Oregon Marathon.  I'd love to get that all written up, but I think first I need to back track to the McKenzie River Trail Run 50K that Heather and I did on September 7th.

When Heather and I first got the notion that maybe an ultra would be a good thing to do, someone told her about the McKeznie River Trail Run (MRTR).  This was in October of 2011.  We had just come off of running the Columbia River Power Marathon and I was pregnant.  The problem with MRTR at that time, was that it wouldn't be until the following September and I was set to have Euan in May and wouldn't be able to run an ultra by September.  So, I convinced Heather that we should just build off our current marathon shape and instead sign up for Frozen Trails 50K that December, which we did.

Then life went on, I had Euan, we moved to Coos Bay.  I got back into running shape and ran a few races.  April 1st came and Heather and I put our names in the lottery for MRTR, I ordered some new trail shoes, then May came and we found out we didn't get selected for MRTR, I got very sad, sent back the trail shoes that I had never worn and moved on with life.  Heather and I decided that since we couldn't run at MRTR we would volunteer and by doing so, secure ourselves spots for 2014.  That was the plan.  Still sad to be out the trail run, on August 1st, I signed up to run the Silver Falls Marathon and therefore felt the need to get some trail shoes again, which luckily I did because on August 28th, MRTR posted on Facebook that they had 10 spots open to the first 10 lucky people that responded to their email.  Now, there is some debate as to whose idea it was to run last minute, but I think the following texting conversation can put most of the blame on Heather:

Here is where I tell Heather about what I saw on Facebook, but let her know I'm okay with waiting a year:

 And then, her response, notice my hesitation...
 When I ask her if I should email, she responds with the fact that she already did...

 And then, just like that, we're in... and signed up and not at all ready to race.  :)
So, a few trail runs after that and a total of 9 miles on my new trail shoes and I was as ready for race weekend as I could be.

My sister and I drove over to Eugene and met up with my mom and Heather.  Heather was kind enough to put us up in her house for the night and my mom and sister were on board to shuttle us to and from the race and act as our super awesome race/photography crew.  Seriously, they are the best race support ever!

Night before the race, I took over Heather's oldest son's room where I got my race day outfit ready:
 and enjoyed some very encouraging affirmations he had posted around his room.
Then, the night was over and it was time to run.  Going into the race, Heather and I agreed that we were doing the race strictly for fun, that we would enjoy ourselves, stick together and use it as our last long run for our upcoming marathon (Sept. 28th).  Going into it with that attitude, made the race incredibly enjoyable for me.  I knew that I was going to take time at the aid stations, stop and take pictures along the way and just enjoy the scenery.  I completely stuck to the plan and honestly enjoyed every. single. step.  Between my pics, the official race pics, and the pictures my sister took, here is almost the entire race in picture form:
Hanging out before the start
 And then we were off.  It was fairly crowded at first, with a whole group of runners funneling into a narrow path, but since we started off rather quickly, it was good to be forced to slow down, we had a looooooong way to go and there would be plenty of time for passing.
 After a bit in the trails, the course opens up to the lava fields.  The sun was on the water and the rocks were everywhere.  It was really, really awesome.
 I did almost kill myself taking this picture though.  I wanted to get Heather so I stepped slightly off the trail, turned around quickly and snapped it.  In doing so, I tripped and stumbled, but luckily didn't go down.  It was very early in the race and it would not have been pretty.
 While my mom and sister were waiting for us at the first aid station, they had some fun too.
 Then we finally came running in for some snacks.
Then we were off again...
 Then we were at the next one.  It all seriously seemed to go fairly quickly and looking forward to hanging out with my mom and sister at each stop was a wonderful experience.
 We spent a fair amount of time at each stop, which allowed me to be a little too silly at times.
 After a while the miles were ticking off and the aid stations piling up and we were more than halfway done.
 Enjoying some Coca Cola and salted potatoes.
 The scenery was amazingly beautiful, I seriously enjoyed every step.  The only problem was that there were so many rocks and roots to watch out for that I couldn't truly appreciate all that there was to offer without fear of totally eating it.
 There were quite a few bridge crossings, some had two railings, most only had one.  The first couple I crossed, were a tad bit scary to me as they were bouncy and seemed unstable, but as I got further along in miles, I was bouncy and unstable with every step, so the bridges didn't seem much different. :)
Poor Heather was having some pretty decent tummy and Achilles issues the last few miles so we walked a fair amount towards the end, but I think we still look pretty good, even at mile 29ish.
Then all of a sudden, well, it didn't seem like it at the time, it was a pretty long last couple of miles, we could hear the cheers and rounded the corner and up the hill to the finish line!
After that, our awesome race support (thanks mom and Stephanie!!!) drove us to the "after party" area, where I was super excited to find cherry Pepsi!! (my usual reward for a long race)
and a freezing cold McKenzie River to cool off in.

Overall, I have to say that I truly enjoyed everything about this race.  I ended up finishing in 103rd (out of 200 finishers) place with a 6:14:12 (which bests by previous 50K PR by 35 minutes) and I know that had we actually raced it, we could have easily gone under 6 hours.  (Heather was 102nd with a 6:14:11.)  I felt that I did well with my fueling.  I fueled about every 5-6 miles with either a Clif gel or some Powerbar chews.  I also enjoyed salted, boiled potatoes, a few pretzels and some red licorice at most of the aid stations, as well as the occasional sip of Coke.  I did learn, however, that eating a pretzel while running down a hill can be a bit dangerous if you start to choke on it... luckily no one had to preform the Heimlich.  I didn't have any issues with nausea and I only started to get a bit leg crampy the last little bit, but nothing enough to stop me in my tracks.  As for my shoes, which were mostly untested, they preformed quite well, in fact, I'd go as far to say that I loved them and despite their low mileage and no previous double digit runs, I came away blister free.  (They are Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 shoes, seen HERE, although I got a much better deal for mine with a coupon and a special sale at

The course itself is beautiful and has enough variety to keep things interesting.  There are a few hills but nothing insurmountable and the downhill sections are divine.  I can't say enough about the awesome aid station volunteers.  There were these adorable ladies in bee costumes... they were so fun!  (I can't believe I didn't get a picture of them.)  Speaking of the bees, I managed to escape unscathed, as did Heather, apparently other runners weren't quite so lucky.  The race was very well organized and the spectators were awesome.  In our swag, we got a very awesome bottle of wine 
and the most amazing race shirts ever...
long sleeved, 3/4 zip, with thumb holes and a kangaroo pocket.
I absolutely love it and wear it all the time.  
In fact, I'm wearing it right now, hence the terrible "photo booth pics".
Last year they gave away water resistant picnic blankets.  They were also super cool and since they were selling them after the race, my mom and sister, picked one up for me for my birthday.  Yay, happy early birthday to me!!  This will definitely be a race that I look forward to running again in the future.


Jenna Lovell said...

WOW, Laurie! Congrats to you and Heather for such an amazing accomplishment! I'm glad you got through it all with smiles on your faces. You are the coolest!

Maureen said...

I was there! And they are seriously the best race shirts ever.

Pahla Bowers said...

Only you could PR an ultra by 35 minutes while running for fun and looking as cute as you do!! I'm not jealous at all... :P
LOVE all the pics!!

Heather said...

I still deny responsibility for this race...even with any incriminating screen shots you can produce. YOU INITIATED the conversation...I wouldn't have even known 10 spots were available if you hadn't texted me. And I KNOW YOU well enough to know that YOU KNOW that you just need to "suggest" something to me and I'm in. So subconsciously (or more likely KNOWINGLY) you sent an "innocent" little text message to me so that I would take the bait and you could hold me responsible for the insanity. ;-)

Oh, and let me just say that your mom and Stephanie are the BEST RACE SUPPORT TEAM ever!!!! I'd like to bring those gals to EVERY race (except I've sworn that I'm not doing any more races long enough to require race support....unless of course you text me again with some crazy race idea...but let's wait a few months, okay?)

Marci said...

You guys could make anything fun, I mean seriously. And I believe Heather because I have also fallen victim to your suggestions...and have never regretted it. Nice race report. Now I can't wait to hear about the marathon.

Heather said...

Glad to see Marci's got my back. Of course, now she's falling victim to our latest idea... ;-)

Raina R. said...

Oh my gosh! Last minute fun, eh?! I can't think of a better trail 50k to jump into. :)
You always have the cutest race outfits!
Thanks for the info about the race and it's good to know about the food supplies. I've heard some bee stories. Would love to know if you plan to do it again this year. ? Email me if you are, or if you'd like to do some trail running this summer. :)