Monday, October 28, 2013

More F's at Autumn Leaves

Last week I wrote about the Four F's of Poor Running. After taking last weekend off to remediate a few of the F's that I was suffering from, I was feeling pretty good going into Autumn Leaves and that let me experience some F's of good running: Fun, Fast times and Friends! Plus, there was lots of great Fall Foliage to boot.

Autumn Leaves 50k/50M is a low key local ultra that tacks place on a 6.25M loop in Champoeg State Park, a mere 40 minutes from home. The loop is 80% paved bike path and 20% trail/grass. It's pretty flat, but with a couple little rolls each loop, such that my Garmin 910XT recorded just shy of 2,000' gain for the 50M. One nice feature is that the loop contains an out and back section so you see everyone on course multiple times. The autumn colors have been splendid this year with our dry weather plus there were lots of crunchy leaves under foot, so the race definitely lived up to its name! But maybe the best part of this race are the RD's - Bret and Gail Henry are wonderful people and such a cute couple. They travel around the country running marathons (and formerly ultras) together. I want to be like them when I grow up!

Last year, I had a good run, but with pouring rain all day and slick conditions I just missed my goal of sub-6:30. I was certainly looking to go under 6:30 this year, but I have been feeling pretty strong all year and though sub-6:20 would be doable. And then right before the race, I learned about the lists for fastest times of the year and saw the leading female 50 mile time for 2013 was 6:19:44, so that was the goal! I am well aware that fastest time does not equal best time since most of the big 50 mile races take place on difficult courses, but if you are running on a fast course, why not try to run a fast time?!

However, my most important goal of the day was to win the costume contest! My costume win streak at this event is almost as good as my race win streak. I didn't win my first year because the RD's thought I looked so good in my orange dress that it couldn't be a costume (I don't know, I guess they are getting old and their vision isn't so good anymore). But Medusa and Cleopatra brought home the big basket of goodies! This year I didn't really have a vision, but perusing the racks at Goodwill, I had a instant connection to a metallic purple and silver swirl shirt. Add three dollars worth of silver polyester from Jo-Ann crafts and a pair of $1.25 sock sleeves from Walmart and Space Girl was born! Woohoo - let's go rock 50 miles!

My Autumn Leaves history 2010-12

Ready for take off, er, race day, complete with matching purple Injinji socks (I've been upgraded by Injinji from coupon-only status since WS! Thanks, Injinji.)

Nothing says "Ready to Race" better than caked on lilac eye shadow and a little bedazzling!

We started at 7am with headlights for the first lap. 200 meters in I was leading the race with no one around. Umm, hello?? But Jeremy Tolman and Ian Little soon caught up and we ticked off two laps together, with Jeremy and I chatting it up and Ian interjecting some commentary on Comrades in his gentile British accent. We joked he could be mistaken for Ian Sharman! Ian was running the 50k so he picked up the pace after two laps, while Jeremy and I hung back. Jeremy told me he had posted on Facebook the day before that his goals were to 1) finish his first 50 miler and 2) not get beat by Pam Smith! Haha. So I guess it was no surprise when he pulled ahead in lap 4. We were already a good bit under the 7:35 pace needed to hit 6:19, so I let him go, but at the start/finish he hit the port-a-potties and I got ahead and managed to stay ahead for the loop as Jeremy was starting to struggle with some nagging injuries.

Ian won the 50k in 3:43, I came through next in 3:49, and Jeremy called it a day when he hit 50k, picking up 4th amongst the 50k finishers. I was a little jealous that my companions were done, but fortunately, I had an awesome running buddy who had agreed to do his long marathon training run as my pacer. I like road running, and I don't want to say it is boring (especially after Killian got lambasted) but after 5 loops of the same thing, let's just say it's nice to have a diversion. So thank you, Grant, for keeping me company. Besides accompanying me, Grant's main assignment was to be "my voice". It's nice to see so many people on course and I really want to give out encouragement, like they were giving to me, but late in the race it is just hard to find the energy, but Grant was awesome giving everybody props. He's such a social guy!

The end of loop 6 was where that cement-in-the-legs feeling started to set in and I stole another F phrase from Amy Rusieki: "Finish this F*cker!" and so we did without the pace slipping too much. 50 miles in 6:11:40, first overall and breaking the course record by 19 minutes (previously held by some lame chick from Salem, OR)! And more importantly, costume contest victory! (which is really all my kids care about since that means a basket of candy for them).

Splits (6.25M):
1- 46:48
2- 45:57
3- 45:48
4- 45:53
5- 45:52 (marathon 3:12; 50k = 3:49)
6- 47:05
7- 47:27 (includes my only stop (~15-20 sec) to drink a 6 oz can of Sunkist before my final loop)
8- 45:52

My kids were pretty happy with the prize basket. Liam said, "Mom can you do this race again next year and win the costume prize?" I told him I had already done this race four times and maybe I should do something else next year. And he fired back,"Well, how many times have you done Western States?" Touche, little man. Good point. :)
The real reason I run this race!

I celebrated with a hot bath, a bag of candy corn and a Jello No-bake cheesecake - because even low carb eating needs a day off sometimes! And being a doctor does not put me above enjoying white trash desserts!
Prize basket goodies that I shared with my own two little boogers.
I am very happy with my race and the way I am running right now, but I am bummed that I wasn't at the 100km World Championships instead of Autumn Leaves on Saturday. One of my New Year's resolutions was to help team USA repeat as gold medalists, but we didn't get the chance. Even though Autumn Leaves has been wheeled and GPS measured multiple times, it is not certified, so I still have to qualify for the 2014 US team. It is in the plan for 2014 (probably Mad City). But the current focus is still on Desert Solstice. This weekend proved I am fit and fast, but now I have to practice getting slow! As silly as this sounds, I had a hard time with this last year and I need to do better in training at hitting paces that are a minute per mile slower than my typical run pace. I know I need that kind of discipline and comfort with that speed in order to be able to keep moving for 24 hours. On the bright side, I can't move anything but SLOW today. :)

Happy Halloween!


Anonymous said...
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Aliza Lapierre said...

You are amazing in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your stories and continuing to be you!

simplifique said...

amazing and funny !!!
tks for sharing and as aliza said: continuing to be you.

Gary Gellin said...

A hard 6 plus hour effort with a last lap faster than the first. That's got to be a record in itself.

MJ said...

Your splits are amazing - I wish I could hit those in a flat road 10k! :) I look forward to seeing what you do at Mad City and anywhere else you choose to run. I really enjoy reading/hearing about your training and your attempts to "balance" the aspects of your life. You're one of my inspirations/role models - maybe I'll see you at an ultra eventually! (well, you'll be giving interviews and celebrating when I come across the line, but it's possible....)

Jon Finkel said...

Hi Pam,

I am a writer for Yahoo! Sports and I would like to set up a phone interview with you to discuss Ultra Marathon running for a feature I'm writing. You can contact me at: jonfinkel (at) Thanks!


Unknown said...

Hello Pam!

Not to be a bother on your blog, but I am seeking out some advice regarding my own running-related injuries. Because you a) Live in the same city as I b) are a runner and c) are a doctor, I thought you might be of help.

Any chance you'd be willing to talk with me?

I suppose the best way is to send me a message via email: Hughes064 @ gmail .com

I hope to hear from you!


Anonymous said...

Copyright infringment? Somebody else is talking F's down under?
-josh z.

Carilyn said...

Dang, girl! You are FAST and costume proficient! So not fair! Congrats on a great run and a great costume!

I will gladly help you with the "slow" part of your running equation. Get on the TM, set it to 9 minute pace, tune into Top Chef, and run. Oh, and then eat a couple of doughnuts when you are done :). In return, I need a little help picking up the pace :)

Looking forward to 24 hours together at DS. When you get a chance, e-mail me your cell if you want to have dinner on Friday - a group of us usually get together for a quick bite.

RTP said...

Pam, I just finished reading this blog for the 3rd or 4th time. I think the best lines from your kids were: 1.)when Megan asked you to do 2 blind mice..... and then ask, " hey, what happened to the 3rd mouse? (Does that go back to Babe Watch days?) and 2.)Liam's Western States comeback.
Looking forward to a great Christmas at your place. All my love, Dad