A few weekends ago I ran my second 50K at the beautiful Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, OR. I couldn’t have asked for better weather – the temps were cool and the sun was shining. The course was a lollipop on a mostly single-track trail with about 4,600 ft of elevation gain. There were roughly 300 racers toeing the line and the excitement at the start line was energizing. I didn’t feel very strong with my training, so my goal was just to have fun and hopefully finish in around 6 hours.The first three miles were fast – we wound along the Crooked River through the basalt cliffs. Miles 4-5 started a steady 1,100 ft climb with plenty of switchbacks. This is where the pack started thinning out and racers fell into place. I did a lot of hiking on this portion but the sweeping views of Mt. Hood and Three Sisters made it worth the slower pace. The next two miles I fell in line with a group who kept a quick pace into the first aid station at mile 7.After swinging through the aid station, it was another short climb before four miles of downhill relief. I chatted with another runner through this section about all of the other races he’s done (he had quite the impressive resume!). He helped me keep a sub-10 min/mile pace – and even one sub-9 minute mile – and before I knew it we were done with 12 miles and rolling into the second aid station. After refilling my water bladder I was on my way again.
I need to work on my facial expressions when I see the photographer!
There were about 7 miles to go until the next aid station with some killer climbing. We climbed 1,400 ft in the first 4 miles before diving back down. This portion of the trail was also through some ranch land so we saw plenty of cows. Matt and Snickers had been out hiking and surprised me at mile 17! It was nice to see some familiar faces just past the halfway point. The trail turned into a gravel service road so it was a couple of fast and easy miles into aid station 3.
It was another 7 miles to the next aid station; the first couple of miles were on the gravel road and I sped down those at a quick clip. I ran into Matt and Snickers again around mile 23 where I snagged some sunscreen and body glide before continuing on. The next three miles to the aid station were at a slight incline. My mind was saying “run” but I had a hard time getting my legs to follow suit. It was no doubt a combination of fatigue as well as altitude – the course started at 3,000 ft. and had a max elevation around 4,700 ft. I ended up hiking a good portion of this section before hitting the final aid station at mile 26. I refilled my water bladder, grabbed a popsicle, and hit the trail for the final 5 miles. I fell back into step with a couple of the people I had run with earlier in the day and we cruised along for two mostly flat miles. We hit a steady descent where I gained some speed and peeled off from the pack. The last mile wound along the river again before a final steep climb to the finish.
I cruised across the finish line in 5:52:49, besting my 50K time by 20 minutes! I was 30th female out of 118 and 13th in my age group. There were a lot of amazing, fast women in the field and I was happy finishing strong. The biggest surprise for me was just how good I felt at the end. In my last race I was dealing with some intense IT band pain, and, aside from the usual aches that come with running for 6 hours, I ran this pain-free.It was another amazing race put on by the Go Beyond Racing team! A huge “thank you!” to all of the volunteers and support teams who made it possible, especially my personal crew. Matt and Snickers have pushed me along through miles and hours of training and put in another long day cheering on me and the other runners. I truly couldn’t have done it without them.