Monday, May 25, 2015

Trail Factor 50K: May 25th, 2015

One of things I love most about ultra running is traveling to an out of town location and running a race on trails I've never been on.  Jess and I decided to take a trip out to the Pacific Northwest to visit some good friends and it happened to coincide with the Trail Factor 50K in Portland.  Jess and I both signed up for the race and it was going to be Jess's first ultra marathon but unfortunately she was unable to recover in time from her IT band injury at the Trail Marathon Weekend Marathon.  On this journey we spent a few days with long time friend, Cory Garlick, along with his family in Seattle and also hung out in Portland with our good friend Michael Toth-Purcell (T-P) who ran the race with me.  We are so lucky to have such good friends that hosted us during our stay out in the lush green paradise of Oregon and Washington.  They really took good care of us and made sure we had an awesome time during our vacation.

Cannon Beach Triple Stones!
Goonies House

We flew into Portland and T-P picked us up in his Jeep.  We drove out to his house in Scappoose, Oregon just outside of Portland and not to far from Forest Park, which is where the Trail Factor 50K takes place.  I will discuss Forest Park more in depth when I talk about the race.  The next morning Jess and I got up and hit the road.  T-P is such a nice guy that he loaned us his Subaru for a few days to drive to Seattle!  On the way to Seattle we drove out to Oregon's North Coast which is really an awesome thing to see.  The beaches and the fog were representative of what I pictured the North Coast of Oregon to look like.  We were on the beach where they filmed some scenes from the Goonies and we even went to their house in Astoria.  In case you are wondering I did not do the truffle shuffle in the front yard!  We went up the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column to get a great view of the coast and all the waterways.  Then we made our way to Cory's house in Kirkland, Washington.  We enjoyed some drinks on his rooftop deck overlooking Lake Washington.  We did some epic hiking in Mount Rainier National Park and got to hang out in downtown Seattle at the famous Pikes Place Market and surrounding attractions.  We capped the Seattle portion of our trip off with going to a Seattle Sounders soccer match and it was a lot of fun!

Hiking in Mt. Rainier
Seattle Sounders Soccer!

All smiles before the race!
Then we road tripped back to Scappoose where we spent a nice relaxing evening with T-P.  We had chicken stir fry for dinner which was a perfect pre-race meal on the eve of our 50K.  T-P and I got up early and drove to Forest Park.  Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the United States and has over 70 miles of trails!  The vibrant and expansive scenery in the park is something that words cannot describe and I recommend exploring this park if you ever find yourself in the Portland area.  After parking the jeep and hiking a little ways to the start line we were ready to begin our adventure at the Trail Factor 50K.  After one of the race directors told us to go we did a little loop around the start area to spread the field out a little bit before hitting the trail since the first segment was a steep climb on single track trail.  We got to the top of the climb and I was able to view Forest Park in all it's splendor.  Around every turn of the trail was another awesome view of the vibrant lush green scenery.  I was trying to snap some pictures during the run but the pictures did not portray how cool the park was through my first hand visual account.

Race start..on to the trail!
Guy playing fiddle..he was rocking it out!
There was a lot of gradual rolling terrain that we traversed which lead to flying on the downhills and running the uphills which I am not accustom to.  We definitely started out to fast and that was my fault.  I told T-P before the race that I wanted to average a 14:00 minute mile and he was quite surprised when I was dropping 10:00 minutes miles for the first nine or ten miles of the race.  I felt pretty good since I had been training hard for a few months and the gradual downhills in the park were really kind to me.  Also, we had a big group that was running with us and I am not sure how this happened but I was leading the group!  I didn't want to let them down since they seemed to like the pace.  T-P and I backed off on our pace after the first aid station.  There was no way I could sustain that for an entire 50K and also T-P had a big 100K race coming up a few weeks after this one and neither one of us wanted to burn ourselves out.  There were some tough climbs but they were nicely spread out.  The aid stations were awesome and the volunteers kicked ass.  One aid station had a guy playing a fiddle.  About mile 20 T-P developed a problem with a muscle in his thigh.  I could tell he was in severe pain and it was concerning.  We walked for awhile until his issue seemed to work itself out.  After running a few more miles his issue popped back up and I got stung in the leg by a hornet or something.  We decided it would be best for both of us to take it easy the rest of the way to the finish.

Aerial Shot!
     At mile 29 we had one last big climb and then a big descent into the finish.  The finish
All done!  Time for burgers and beer!
line was a welcome site for both of us.  The burgers and beers they had waiting for us might of been a better sight then the finish line and they were both delicious!  Nothing better then a cold tasty IPA after running a trail ultra marathon.  We hung around the beer tent for awhile and met a few people from all over the world.  Then we drove back to T-P's house to meet up with Jess.  During the day she went shopping and then for a run in a different section of Forest Park from where our race was.  I was glad she was able to see some of the park because I felt bad that her injury prevented her from running the race with us.  We were able to get some quality leg soaking in T-P's hot tub before going out for dinner and a few drinks at one of the famous McMenamin establishments.  If you are ever in Oregon I would suggest finding one of their places to go for dinner or a drink because they certainly have a top notch product!  The next day we went hiking at Mount Hood and hung out at Timberline lodge for awhile.  Then we stopped in downtown Portland for an awesome dinner and some voodoo doughnuts!  It was a perfect last day in Portland and it capped off a vacation to remember.  I definitely did not want this one to end but reality was calling.    

Pacific Crest Trail Sign

A great hike to cap off this epic vacation!