Monday, January 5, 2015

A (Hopeful) Return To Longer Distances

So that race I alluded to the other day? It's the McDonald Forest 50k! Yup, I'm jumping on the mini-ultra train. Or attempting to, at least. Here's why:

I wanted to do a longer race

I don't like running fast because of all the pukiness it entails, but I do enjoy the "pain" that comes from running longer distances. I've run enough half marathons at this point that there isn't much excitement in racing them. I know I can finish one without much training and since I'm not very speed-focused I don't feel like there's much to work towards. Training for a marathon was "thrilling" in the sense that I really had no idea whether I'd be able to do it. Consequently, I wanted to aim for something longer than 13 miles.

A road marathon didn't sound all that exciting

There are marathons in Eugene three weekends in a row in May (why???). Running one of them seemed the obvious choice because I wouldn't have to go anywhere and I have a better chance of convincing friends to come watch me plod along. Unfortunately, I've logged what feels like a billion miles on Eugene's main running paths (which are nice and all but not super interesting) and the thought of racing on them is really unappealing. My lowest point of the Mayor's Marathon (which offers a much better/more varied course, in my opinion) came when I hit the paths I did the majority of my training on. I wanted to avoid that this time around. So the first two races were out! Sorry Eugene Marathon, I don't understand why people think you're so great.

The Vineyards Marathon (which takes place on the outskirts of Eugene) seemed more promising but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was almost dreading doing a road marathon despite the fact that I really wanted to do a marathon (don't worry, it didn't make any sense in my head either). I've loved all the trail running I've been doing recently, though, and the idea of a trail race was exciting!

Ultras, yo!

I was taken in by the hype the second I found out they exist (summer 2009, in a magazine I found lying around at work. I could. not. believe. there are people out there who can run farther than 26.2 miles. Mind. Blown.). I couldn't help but want to try one. Will I like it? Who knows. Will I want to go farther? I haven't a clue. But I'd like to give it a shot.

Corvallis isn't that far from Eugene

I can sleep in my bed the night before. I miiiight even be able to drag a friend or two along.

It's a forest (waaaah), but there are some views along the course

A few race reports lead me to believe there are views (at times). The only other nearby race with views (that I could find) was the Mary's Peak 50k, but that seems to be a much smaller race (I think there were 40 runners last year?). This is in the same area but attracts more people.

The timing seemed right

The race is about a month into UO's third quarter so my workload shouldn't be too ridiculous. It also means I'll have plenty of time to run during Spring Break, which should be one of my highest-mileage weeks. Or, at least, I'll have plenty of time to run if I don't decide to go backpacking instead which I kind of really want to do. We'll see how/whether that sorts itself out.

I also wanted to race earlier in the year because Oregon is unbearably hot in the summer.

I've finally figured out how to fit running into my somewhat demanding school/life schedule

The key? Running in the morning! The transition was pure misery but after weeks (or maybe months?) of incredibly shitty runs, it finally clicked. These days I'm up by 6:15 and exercised, showered, fed, and on campus by 9:00 or 9:30. I'll have to run higher-mileage weeks to train for this thing but the jump from 30(ish) to 50 or whatever should be doable.


I'm a bit hesitant to throw this goal out into the interblogs since I really hate the feeling of not following through on a stated goal. I also don't like half-assing training. School is my priority right now so if I think training for a 50k is taking away from my studies I'll have to dial down my mileage, which would likely result in a DNS. However, my excitement about the race outweighs the expected disappointment of a possible DNS.

So there you have it! May 7 (9? Too lazy to check) I'll be at the McDonald Forest 50k, barring injury/school/whatever.


For your viewing pleasure, some pictures from the rest of my stay in Alaska:

The two photos above were taken in the same spot, one when it was warmer and there wasn't much snow and the other when it was cooler and there was fresh snow on the ground. I'm not sure why the second is so dark as it was a very bright day!

I did this hike my last day in Alaska. It was amazing.

I'm okay with these trees. 

Flying from Seattle to Eugene. I can't remember which mountain this is but it's a big 'un!

Oh hey, how did this get here?! I added two pairs of Pace Gloves to my collection because I think Merrell stopped making them entirely (you may remember the buying frenzy that ensued when Merrell came out with the Pace Glove 2.0, which I thought didn't look nearly as comfortable as the original. Well, it looks as though Merrell's largely ditched its minimalist collection, which blows). A week ago I panicked, went on Ebay and bought the only two pairs of size 8s I could find. They're the same color. Too bad I'll have to find another shoe for the 50k (because mud); I haven't found anything remotely as comfortable as these for running [insert "MINIMALISM ISN'T FOR EVERYONE, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T TRY IT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT YOU TO HOLD ME RESPONSIBLE" disclaimer here]


  1. I panic-buy shoes when they get discontinued, or when a new version comes out and I don't like it, too. :) Very exciting news about your 50K! Honestly, I didn't think it would be too long before you ventured out for one of these. I am surprised you picked one in a forest with *gasp* trees. I figured you'd find one that ran the ridgeline of a bunch of craggy peaks or something, haha.

    I'm not trying to be a pain, but I'm curious. What's your plan for training? Is there any kind of specific training plan for a 50K, or are you just planning to follow some kind of general structure?

    1. Oh and FYI your race is on May 9. I checked for you. If I remember correctly, when you ran the Mayor's Marathon you thought it was on Saturday until like the week before the race! :)

    2. Ahahaha thanks, you're too kind! I've got the date written on a Google spreadsheet somewhere but was too lazy to look at it (funny given that I took the effort to link to the race itself!).

      I was actually going to talk some about training in this post but it was getting so long already I figured I'd leave it for another day! I'm not positive, but I think I'm going to use the same plan used by the blogger "Running on E" for a 50k she did last year. It has you running 5 days a week (I'd like to do 6 but just don't think I have the time), has some back-to-back long runs, which seem to be pretty important, and spreads the mileage throughout the week pretty decently (which, I learned from the Hansons, is a good thing). There's another plan I'm considering using as well but I think I'll go with the one just mentioned. The plan doesn't start for another week and a half so I've got some more time to think about it!

      I would LOVE for my first ultra to be a mountainous one but decent mountains in Oregon are, like, 3 hours away and I don't want to deal with getting a hotel room or leaving Eugene ridiculously early the morning of the race. I'm slowly coming to terms with this tree thing though so I think I'll be okay ;).

  2. Super exciting!! Good luck with your training -- hope it all works out!!

  3. They're about to release an updated of my beloved Brooks Launch for the first time since its creation in 2009 and I admit, I'm a little worried about it. Why do shoe companies insist on changing things all the time?!

    Also, I agree about Eugene. The path is nice and all, but it's just another of a zillion bike path marathons. Mayor's was my first marathon and I can still feel the pain of my crash into the wall on the greenway path. Ugh.