Two things from yesterday:
1. Gorge Waterfalls 50K - Hood River, Oregon.
After friend Jennifer posted a picture of this gorgeous race on Facebook, I couldn't get it out of my head. I looked at their website and was instantly enamored. I'm not a fast runner, I'm not trying to get a high placing at a race, but I love being out on the trails and how that's the best way to see everything it has to offer.
Check this course description from their website:
This is one special course! When I ran it I was constantly being blown away by how many waterfalls there were and by how amazing they were, I literally lost count within the first couple hours. First, at the start, is 282 foot Wahkeena Falls that you run right past before you've even had a chance to get warmed up. You climb from the start gaining 1500ft in the first two miles(don't worry this is the only climb of this magnitude in the race--the others are much less steep and don't gain as much elevation) and pass the otherworldly Fairy Falls. As you start dropping back down towards the valley floor you pass numerous other small falls and cascades as you make your way to the viewing platform at the top of the 620 foot Multnomah Falls(the tallest falls in Oregon and possible the 3rd tallest in the country!). After leaving the viewing platform the course switchbacks it way down the mountain with views of Multnomah falls pouring out from the cliff. At the bottom of the switch backs you've only gone 4 miles but you already seen numerous amazing waterfalls and have had views of the Columbia River Gorge. You're just getting started!
As the route heads east following the Gorge Trail and paralleling the river it continues to show off many of the best aspects of Pacific Northwest trail running. Super fun single track that rises and falls gently(most of the time) as it weaves in and out of creek drainages. The trail is mostly in the forest but every once in a while it pops out into clearings with Moss covered rocks and views of the river. Sometimes it follows a creek sometimes it crosses the creek on fun bridges. There are many more big waterfalls including the 80 foot Ponytail Falls that you run right under and 289 foot Elowah Falls that you'll run so close to the base of you'll get wet from the mist!Sounds beautiful and memorable, doesn't it? Now the scary parts...
- Major Dallas-sized mountain in the first couple miles - it's not the worst mountain, but for a flatlander like me and to put it at the beginning, that's a little scary. We're talking 1200 feet gain in constant switchbacks over a mile. And then back down the mountain.
- Infrequent aid stations - From their website: "There will be two full aid stations(mi 10.9 and 20.2) and three water only aid stations(mi 5.5, 15.4 and 25.5)." I've done two 50Ks and never had to go more than 4.5 miles between full aid stations. So this will take some practice especially since I already know I need to work on my 50K nutrition plan.
- The weather - temperatures in the 40s and wet, very wet.
- 9 hour time limit - this will be tight for me. More speedwork on the trails in my future!
But it's worth taking the risk of losing or deferring a $60 entry fee. So when the race opened registration yesterday at 10 am, I was on my computer, punching the keyboard to get in. They had said it could sell out that day, but more likely within a couple weeks. Well I'm glad I went for it because the race sold out within 12 hours!
2. Pacing Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile - Huntsville, Texas.
I'd been planning for a while that I wanted to go to the Rocky Raccoon 50Mile and 100Mile on February 4 to see, cheer, and love on all my frunners (runner friends). And I knew so many first time 50milers and 100milers in that mix too. Quite a few first 100milers. And starting at mile 60, they are allowed pacers.
So then I thought of course I want to help my friends succeed the best they can, I'm a pretty solid consistent pace runner, even though it's a slower than average pace. So I thought that could help someone. Derek's tried a couple 100 milers, and he's a total teddy bear of a guy.
Yesterday I TOLD Derek, yeah, didn't ask, but told him I was going to pace him miles 80 to 100 of the race. He has a multiple 100-miler finisher buddy pacing him miles 60-80 which will be hard to live up to that guy. It's scary to feel responsible for getting someone to the finish line, since you can have your own crappy run day that day. But I know I can do this. Nothing like 20 miles at 3 in the morning through trails and using every skill and strategy in the arsenal to get a fellow frunner to the finish line of his first 100-miler. I can not wait to see Derek succeed at this race!