Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pier Park Six Hour Run

The first Pier Park Six Hour Run was held yesterday in none other than Pier Park in Portland, OR. Though I lived in Portland for six years, I had never even heard of it due to it's very northern location. I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful park with lots of tall fir trees. The 1.01 mile loop was half dirt and half paved with little roller hills through-out.

I was pretty worried about the six hour time frame. I joked to a few people that I am only a four hour runner. Indeed, my longest two runs have been 4:46 and 4:40 (50k's), everything else I have ever done has been under 4 hours. Also, I didn't know how I would like doing hamster loops, but there was plenty to see and think about so it wasn't an issue.

I hit the 8 mile mark in 66-67 minutes which seemed like a good pace, but a lot can happen with five hours to go! A bit later I caught up with Geoff. Geoff congratulated me and said I was now running with the leader of the race. I was very fortunate to get to run with him for the next 40 minutes or so, because he was great company and because meeting new people at these races makes me feel more and more a part of the PNW ultra-community. After a few laps together, Geoff went to get his dog and he fell behind a bit, so I was by myself once more.

I felt good through 26 miles (3:32). I rewarded myself with a trip to the bathroom on lap 27, but even with the stop, I came through lap 27 in 9:15, 3:41 elapsed time. At that point I knew I could do 40 miles. I told myself, "just keep up the pace for one more lap and then you could hit 40 miles by doing 10 minute miles." That was a mental relief, even though I was starting to tire some. From there I just keep breaking it down into chunks: run two more and then you'll only have ten to go, etc. Mentally, it worked and I just kept running my little 2-3 mile chunks without slowing too badly.

After 32 miles, I was in uncharted territory: I had never run that far. At 33 miles I asked the aid station crew if Geoff was still out there. I hadn't seen him in almost 15 miles. They said he was still going. I told them to encourage him to catch up to me, because I was ready to have somebody to run with again! I decided I would whip off two more laps and then at mile 35 I was going to dog it till the end of six hours. When I got to the aid station at mile 35, I was pretty certain 40 miles was my limit. I told them,"If Geoff can do more than 40 miles, this race is his." But the two women at the aid station were really psyched to have a woman win the whole thing and they wouldn't let me give up. "Geoff just came through here a couple of minutes ago. If you keep it up, you'll lap him!" Well that certainly got the competitive beast in me fired up!

When I did catch him, I was just so glad to have someone to run with again. I had been running out there a long time by myself and I am not always the greatest company! His wife was running with him at that point, too, so we had a merry little group. The final hour passed quickly despite how tired I was. I ended up finishing 42 laps (42.42 miles, if you add in the .01's!) in 5:53, for first place overall - Ten miles farther and over an hour longer than I had ever gone before! Plus it gave me another 70+ miles week (73M!).The race was well organized and had great food and aid. Plus Olga and Caroline were fantastic cheerleaders who really kept me going!! I got a trophy and a certificate for a free pair of running shoes, which was awesome because I had told Mac just the night before that I desperately needed new shoes since my current ones had WAY too many miles on them (and it didn't help to add 42 more!). A wonderful day all around!