Friday, February 10, 2012

Blood, Sweat and Tears and a Shoe Review

Thanks to Fleet Feet Sports and Rain City Ultra Runners, Drymax socks and Montrail have given us 2 pairs of shoes and a bunch of the best socks in the whole wide world for running.  A bunch of us from the Rain City team tried out our new shoes at the Orcas Island 50k.  Orcas Island 50k is another Rainshadow Running event and it is a tough and beautiful run.  Every year I've done it, I have been lucky to have pretty decent weather.  This year is was absolutely perfect weather and views.  That doesn't happen often in the PNW in the winter months.  I tried out my new Montrail Rogue Racers.

I know it isn't wise and perhaps frowned upon to take new shoes out of the box and then wear them at a race.  So I ran 3 miles in them first.  3 whole miles with my dog which means lots of stopping for #1 and #2 breaks for him.  I brought an extra pair of shoes to Orcas just in case I didn't like the Rogues as I knew there would be a chance to change shoes at about mile 10.  But I know myself, I don't like to stop for long periods of time during a race unless I'm desperate.

Green Team at the start

 The gun went off and I raced for the single track with friend/team mate Sara. I learned my lesson at Deception Pass to get out there and get to the single track quick to avoid the cattle herding on the first climb. Well...that didn't go super well for me. I usually go out slow because I have to for various reasons and I threw caution to the wind and went out faster than usual. Within 5 minutes I felt maimed. I had to stop and stretch and try to walk off the intense leg pain that I thought had become a distant memory. As I stopped and stretched, most every one ran by me. I tried to get back "in line" but the pain was again immediate and I had to pull over again. For the first 10 miles, I was a hobbling mess and seriously considered dropping from the race after we hit the first aid station at mile 10. But, as I said before, I know myself and as much as the idea of running in pain for 6+ hours sounded atrocious, the thought of DNFing sounded worse. By the time I hit the powerline, the infamous monster climb at about mile 11 or 12, I was beginning to feel better. The slower pace was helpful and I tried some new climbing techniques that were easy on the pain. It took just less than an hour to get up the power line climb and I was off running the best part of the run, a sweet downhill with cushy trail which makes for a fun trip down back to the lake. I felt pretty good here and was really enjoying the day. I didn't once think about my feet. However, I did notice that the shoes felt much lighter and softer than the Masochist. I love the Masochist, even after running 32+ hours at Big Horn, my feet felt (relatively) ok. But wow, I really like the Rogue Racers! I can't see running a 100 in them, but for shorter runs they will be my shoe.

Anyway, after the run around the lake where I was feeling good, the climb up Mt Constitution was next.  This climb seemed like a mole hill after the power line, plus I was still feeling good.  I made it up there, checked out the AMAZING view, filled up my water bottles and I was off running downhill, my favorite way to run.  I had heard that Owen was just minutes ahead of me so I thought I'd see if I could catch him.  I ran as fast as I could down Mt Constitution.  What a blast that was.  But I sure paid for it.  I was maimed again after that and pretty much hobbled the rest of the way up the last climb, the last descent and the last 1.5 miles around the lake.  I was nearly in tears whenever my right foot hit the ground.  I knew had no chance in catching Owen at this point, but I thought I'd try to stay motivated to make it in under 6:20.  I did, I crossed the finish line in 6:17, just a few minutes behind Owen.  Crossing the finish line is awesome, you forget what has just happened for the last few miles and smile because you're done, you're with your friends, you just saw some great views and now you're going to eat a lot of food and talk to you're friends and cheer for other friends as they come in and cross the finish line. 
Overall, a great day with STELLAR views and weather.  The Montrail Rogue Racers were AWESOME, I had a great time seeing so many friends.  Rainshadow Running does a fantastic job at putting on hard runs in beautiful places.  Plus the food was delicious after!