Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oregon Coast 50k: Before and after

“Yachats” (pronounced YAH-hots) is derived from the Chinook Indian word, Yahuts, meaning “dark waters at the foot of the mountain.” Nestled between the lush forested mountains of the Coast Range and the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean, Yachats is the ideal spot for rest, recreation, and romance. The quiet unhurried atmosphere of this tiny (population 635) resort village offers vacationers a unique alternative to the hustle of city life and impersonal quality of a large coastal community.s

Where do I even begin?
I've procrastinated on putting this memory to pen and paper for so many reasons. The most weighted reason being I don't know where to start.

Lets go ahead and start with the first 6 miles of the race.

The 50k starts from Patterson Memorial Recreation Site just south of the town of Waldport and runs for about six miles right on the beach, where it'll meet up with the Oregon Coast Trail. Sitting on my couch back in Los Angeles during a normal 96 degree day-it seemed pretty awesome and honestly really easy. (Never saying that again)
"No big deal" I thought.

Well it was a big ***king deal once you are on the starting line and you're trying to not get blown off your feet.

OK California girl, we are no longer in LA where it's 90 degrees all the time.
James, the head honcho, started promptly and without hesitation.
The first mile seemed like hours had passed.
The effort to take a single step felt as though every force of nature was pushing you back.
My quads where stinging. Shocked at what I was doing to them and trying to not continue as much as I was pushing it to go further.

The problem was that half way through the beach run I broke off from the group I was running behind hiding from the big bad wind. Trust me, if I hadn't had to re tie my left shoe lace I would've be glued to that group.
Unfortunately once you stop there is no hope in regaining the momentum to return. For the fear of exhausting all efforts in trying to catch up to them I just continue running alone.
All efforts my own.
It's just me and the wind.
And the terrible thoughts going through my mind.
I continued forward at a very slow pace despite my quads screaming at me to abort this mission. Leaning completely forward in hopes that the wind doesn't whip me backward.
It wasn't until the conga line appeared behind me that I felt hopeful.

I had not truly appreciate the idea of drafting until this very moment. I've heard of this during cycling but never really before in running.

Runners (or cyclist) rotating through a line, taking turns running in the front (pulling) before peeling off and latching onto the back. When you draft like this, by tucking in close behind the front runner, you expend less energy.

And that's what we did in our conga line.
Words can not express how thankful I am to join this group once I was alone for a period of time.
The moment I joined the back of the line I instantly felt the difference and my body thanked me.
We continued changing the front runner until we reached the end of the beach run.
One more mile until the aid station and I was spent.
Every inch of my body ached.
Well, Sawna dear, this is what happens when you don't train.

The weeks leading up to this race I had dramatically scaled down my weekly mileage and two weeks up to the race I had completely stopped running.
After Gorge Waterfalls 100k I had felt a bit of pain in my feet. I thought it was sore feet from the technical terrain of the race. I, of course, ignored it. I stretched when I felt like it and continued doing what I loved to do- run in the mountains.
My plantar pain continued and in July I was forced to scale back in my climbing due to how painful my left foot would get along with how tight my calves where. I religiously foam rolled and stretched and the weeks I was in Sweden I was able to run with little to absolute no pain. I thought I was cured!
OH how wrong I was. Once I returned to sunny Southern California I couldn't wait to get back into the mountains.
I was training for the Baldy Race to the top, a 7 mile run up to one of the highest peaks in Southern California reaching 10,069ft.
My plantar fascia pain came back and with vengeance. After the race I completely cut back in mileage in fear of making the problem far worse.

Since then I have continued to foam roll, stretch and strength train in hopes that the pain will subside and it has dramatically.
The week prior to the race I was considering not running at all despite already having everything planned out and paid for.
The FOMO was real.
(Fear of missing out).

I had already mentally agreed that I was going and that I would walk the entire course if necessary.
There was absolutely no need to "race" when my only intention was to enjoy the beauty that surrounded me, this new area I have never been to and its gorgeous nature!

Running up to the first aid station I instantly saw Dave and hugged him trying not to cry.
I laugh at myself at what a baby I was.
It- being my entire body.
I quickly refilled my water, grabbed some trail butter and continued running with Dave about half a mile out before the wind continued to soar and I just couldn't go any faster to keep up with him.
From the Adobe Resort aid station, the course follows the Oregon Coast Trail through the town of Yachats to the Amanda Trail which begins the mountainous 22 mile race. My left plantar fascia started to throb, it wasn't painful but it did poke at me and remind me that I needed to scale back even though the real running should have began into the dense green nature.

Words can not describe how mentally challenging it is to hold back when all you want to do is run.
My body was hurting and I didn't want to push myself when I wasn't particularly having fun. I hate to say that I wasn't having fun but I would be lying if I said the handful of miles after the beach run where a walk in the park.
Well realistically, I was walking through a (somewhat) park.

While packing I had forgotten to pack my garmin and each step I took I was unaware of where I was in the race. The mileage wasn't being calculated and I had no real desire to know.
A few miles before Cape Perpetua I started running with a Vancouver local. It was during that time when I had ignored the pain and just slowly paced myself toward the next aid station. We talked about the beautiful landscape that surrounded up, races we have ran, traveling the world and things in between.
The trail community can be really uplifting and oh-so friendly. It was really fun running with him and I appreciated the little time that I forgot about the pain my body was in.
After the second aid station both my quads and feet were throbbing. I felt as though I had so much energy but my body where being a party pooper. This is when the climbing began and I honestly walked every step up while my frustraion just grew.
Handful of people where passing me.
I don't blame them- I felt as though I was moving backward. I knew that going slow was the right thing for my body however mentally I was being very hard on myself. There was a time, during that four mile climb, that I was reconsidering my passion for running. Thinking perhaps I should start knitting again, or doing something less harsh on my body.
It's not as though my fuse was tripped and I slowed down involuntarily. I had chosen to listen to my tired body and just continuing forward at whatever preferred speed.

Within every race, even long training run I've always seemed to receive a second wind around or promptly at mile 20. Climbing to the next aid station, not knowing what mile of the course I was on and at that point had lost all hope of that second wind. It was during the Animal Athletics aid station talking to Yassine that I realized my body feeling pretty incredible. (The Exploreo was a lifesaver)
It was as though my bodys lightswitch went on.
Second wind- CHECK.
After that aid station there I did a full body check of how I felt and with every good feeling I gained momentum.
My quads had a rebirth and finally agreed with what I was doing. Thank you.
The plantar throbbing I was experiencing completely disappeared. Thank youx100.
I listened to what my body wanted to do and that was to run!
My heart rate was low as I sped through the downhill section, passing the handful of people that had passed me during the climb. I was focused on the technical terrain in front of me and the constant hairpin turns but I couldn't help but soak in the beauty. The dark lighting with the sound of the roaring wind along with the rain induced a runners high that I longed for the 20 miles leading up to that moment. I was disappointed in myself for quickly disregarding my passion for this sport and how quickly I realized how much I appreciated this journey I was on.

Climbing back up to Cape Peretua I set into a slow jog and enjoyed the complete downpour of rain. This is when my heartbeat crew faster, not because of the climb but the fear of being lifted off my feet. Completely pushed to the side of the trail, once you are at the peak you are exposed to the storm and all that it has unleashed. The sideways rain felt as though you were being shot by bebe guns as I held my hat to the side of my face in hopes of being masked from the bullets. The runner ahead of me was almost taken off his feet as he tried to escape the storm.

At this point into the storm the trails had completely disappeared under the flowing creek and massive puddles of water. Any traces of footprints had completely disappeared.
I continued on the rolling downward creek that I believed was the trail and knew there where only a handful of miles left. Once you hit the road it's about two miles through the town and neighborhoods of Yachats to the finish line.
Thankfully it was flat and with a tailwind that helped push me to the finish line.
I crossed that finish line with what I thought was a smile (note to self: work on actually smiling) on my face as I gave James a high five and stunned that the clock read 6:15. The memory of the beach run seemed like days ago as I just experienced some of the best trails with incredibly insane weather... ever.

Although the weather did not help with the celebrations, it didn't stop us from enjoying the best company along with several pieces of pizza and lots of beer... LOTS!

Rainshadow Races have been by far some of my most memorable races to date and even with such adverse conditions the race directors always seem to know how to put on a great time!
They have built this community of trail runners that can't seem to get enough of their races- and I consider myself one of them now and look forward to Orcas Island in February.

I don't think I would've enjoyed the race as much without the beginning physical and mental challenges, I definitely fully appreciated every moment afterward.

The next day, Sunday, was an absolute stunny day in Yachats! Perfect weather for their second race.

I'll be honest. As I'm writing this I'm dripping with sweat as it is 93 degrees in my apartment. I am daydreaming of Oregon from the three short days I was there and can only be happy to be preparing myself for the heat that will be Javelina Jundred at the end of this month.

You gotta love SoCal ;)
(on that note- if any PNW trail folk would like to house swap with me for a week... )

Till next time,
Peace, love and happiness

While waiting for Dave in portland- I was able to take a tour around i.e. stop at Deshutes Brewery and enjoy a tasty beverage.

Todays music selection.

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