Saturday, October 6, 2012

THE OREGON ADVENTURE AND BEYOND


It’s been about 7 weeks since I returned from the running of Where’s Waldo 100K in Oregon and finally found some time to sit down to recall my adventures in the Cascade Mountain Range.




WHERE’S WALDO 100K RACE REPORT 2012

Willamette Pass Oregon, August 18, 2012

Wed morning before the race, up at 3:00 am to catch the 5:18 am flight, leg one to DC.  I dropped the car off at Thrifty airport parking.  No one was at the office so I put the keys in the drop box.  This meant no shuttle so I had to walk about a ½ mile with luggage to the airport at 4:00 am.  Good thing for wheels on luggage.  Boarded plane on time and on we go… almost.  I have yet to take off on time from BTV when we are the first plane to leave that day.  This time we taxied out for take-off but got a message from the captain saying there was a computer glitch and would have to try a control/alt/delete.  So we sat in the middle of the runway and had to turn the plane completely off, sit in darkness as they “rebooted” the plane to see if it would solve the “issue”.  After 5 seconds in total darkness they turned the power back on.  Apparently it worked or we hoped it worked and soon we were off to Dulles, in DC.  Amazing but I think we even arrived on time, it was 7:15 am at Dulles.  Walking into the terminal my phone rang and was notified that I had an email message.  No one calls me at that hour, except….United.  Sure enough my 9 AM flight, the next leg to San Francisco was cancelled.  Instead I was rebooked on a flight to Denver leaving at 3:55 PM with final arrival time in Eugene near 9PM.  I tried my luck at customer service but no go.  So now what to do and how would I get in my run today?  I’ve been stuck in this airport before.  I figured I would make the most of my time in DC and jumped on the bus to the Aerospace Museum only 15 minutes away.  I knew they had lockers to store my bags and I could get a run in there.  I did that last year on my way to UTMB.
Space Shuttle at the museum

The grounds at the museum are surrounded by barbed wire so you can’t go far but I created a perimeter loop and did that a couple of times to get in 45 minutes of run time.  Back at the airport I visited customer service again only to find out my next flight was also delayed but they found another flight leaving in 15 minutes so I quickly jumped on that.   I arrived in Denver with about a 2 hour layover until another delay on the flight to Eugene.  I finally arrived in Eugene at around 9:30 PM.

First thing I saw when I got off the plane,
a pic of legend Steve Prefontaine


Immediately the phone buzzes to notify me that I have an email.  It was from the race director letting us know that there was a fire in the middle of the race course and that the race was now in jeopardy.  Great!!  After another hour they found my luggage which had arrived earlier but was lost in house.  I got my rental car which was way smaller than I had reserved, no way to car camp in it.  And then found out the road I needed to drive on closed at 8 PM due to construction.  Here I was stuck in Eugene after an 8 hour delay, late at night and had no idea where I was or where I was going.  Luckily the guys at the United desk in Eugene were awesome and finally after another hour I had a place to stay in Eugene compliments of United :)  I arrived at the hotel after midnight, after being up for 25 hours, totally exhausted but I made it!

Thursday morning after a great sleep at the River Hotel I got some breakfast and was off on the next leg to Willamette Pass.  The drive from Eugene to Willamette Pass was very enjoyable.  Not much traffic to deal with along this scenic one lane highway surrounded by huge trees.  I had to stop at the tunnel for a while as it only allowed one lane through during the day due to construction.  Shortly after that I arrived at Willamette Pass Ski Area, which was the start and finish area as well as the camping spot for the Where’s Waldo 100K Race.  It was pretty quiet on this Thursday but I did run into one local runner from Eugene.  He gave me the low down on the area and told me of a better spot to camp for the night.  So I headed to Gold Lake, just a couple of miles down the road off the beaten path.

Gold Lake is a small self-serve campsite of 20 or so sites.  I found an awesome site overlooking Gold Lake and set up my tent.  Afterwards I returned to Willamette Pass to get in a quick run before having dinner.  While there I met up with another local, Doug McCarty from Eugene who was also running Where’s Waldo.  He gave more info about the race and the general area.  After a while, I departed for my run and headed up the mountain on what would be the start of the race.
Fires at Bobby Lake
It was an uphill climb right from the start to near the summit of Willamette Pass and then would continue into the woods.  But instead of going into the woods I decided to go directly to the summit to get a good look at the views.  On top the views were spectacular although a little hazy from the fires.  I could see below the Bobby Lake fires in the middle of the race course.  After enjoying the views, it was time to depart and I found some great single track mountain bike trails to descend.  Back to Gold Lake for a wonderful dinner and a good night’s sleep!

Dinner of champions at Gold Lake



Friday morning I awoke to the smell of smoke.  Over night the smoke had sunk down low and surrounded the area.  As I looked across Gold Lake I could see the smoke billowing over head.  After a little breakfast I packed up and returned to Willamette Pass where I would set up camp for the next 2 nights.  It was more convenient to be there for the race start and finish.  I met up with friend and assistant RD, Meghan Arbogast and was filled in on the latest fire update.  They just got approval for a new course that would bypass the fire area so the race was on!!

Smoke over Gold Lake


The new course would add some distance to make it more like 66 miles.  I decided to get in a little run and followed the finish of the race which was on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The trail was surrounded by tall pine trees and the surface was a layer of soft dirt and pine needles.  Not the usual rock and roots like at home.  Wow, was this nice!  I just ran up about 2 miles and decided to build a number of small rock pagodas alongside the trail.  This way I would know when I was about 2 miles from the finish.  After the run it was time for a swim.  The north end of Odell Lake was only minutes away and I found another small campsite which had a trail leading to the lakeshore.  It was a great swim and nice to be clean again!  Back at camp it was time to get the drop bags organized.  The aid stations were fully stocked with GU Brew drink, GU gels and S-caps, all my usual so I didn’t need much for drop bags.  Still I packed two bags with spare shoes, socks, clothes, Body Glide, emergency S-caps, an extra water bottle and a few other odds and ends.  They offered a great pre-pasta dinner which I enjoyed and then it was the pre-race meeting before retiring for the evening.

Race Start at Waldo


Saturday morning, 4:00 AM, time to get up.  Race start was at 5:00 AM so being up an hour earlier was good to get a little food in and a hot cup of tea.  It was already warm, near 60 degrees with the day forecasting to be around 80 or so with sunshine.  The start of the race went off and up we went on what was more of a service road.  The course was so dry that the dust was flying.  It was more of a fast power hike up.  Already the lead pack of Tim Olsen, Jacob Rydman and some others took off.  I ran in another group that included Yassine Diboun, a friend who I met years ago at the Finger Lakes.  Yassine knew the course so I figured I would hang with him initially.  The uphill certainly warmed things up.  Just before we reached the summit the trail veered off into the woods.  And downhill we went.  Yassine took off on the downhill with his long legs and I would never see him again until the finish.  I was in a pack of about eight runners going at a good clip all the way down to Gold Lake.  The trail was excellent, soft and not too technical and led to the Gold Lake aid station.  I arrived right on schedule at this 7.4 mile stop.  This was the elevation low point of the race at 6600 feet.  With the re-route we would return here again at mile 50.  I quickly got rid of my headlamp, refueled and headed up towards Fugi Mtn.  Luckily the skies were overcast with a light drizzle, way better than the forecasted hot sun.  At this point it was time to run my own race and I knew there was a good uphill coming and many more to come so I backed off a bit.  Fugi Mtn. was one of my favorite parts of the race with really nice single track trails winding through the woods.  It had a short out and back to the summit at 7144’ which had some fun rocks to run on, more like back home.  And it gave you a chance to see where everyone else was.  Jacob and Tim went cruising by well ahead of the rest of the field.  I was running in about 10th place.
Yassine crushing the downhills


The downhill all the way to the Mt. Ray aid station was fun.  Great footing, dry and fast single track.  From there it was on to The Twins and part of the re-route due to the fires around Bobby Lake.  The trail just sort of meandered about, nothing too technical and then a short segment on the road before heading back into the woods.  The next part of the race to Charlton Lake I was feeling like I was losing steam.  I was running by myself and was just feeling tired.  My legs never had the usual energy right from the start but sometimes it just takes a bit to get warmed up.  Not today, just not happening.  While running on this fabulous section of fun single track I thought back of all the races I’ve done this year and have been going non-stop since last December.  Hmm, maybe it was time to take a break and rest up the body.  Well first I needed to finish Waldo, and then it would be break time.  I figured if I could just maintain I’d be fine, I only had about 36 miles to go.  Soon I heard some soft footsteps behind me, it was Denise Bourassa.  She was running strong and steady.  I let her go by and she pulled me along which was what I needed.  We got to Charlton Lake, quickly refueled and off again.  I slowed up a bit after that and Denise was shortly out of sight.

Jack following Denise
at Charlton Lake

Next up was the 4290 aid station.  The sun had come out and it was starting to get warm, especially in the sun.  My nutrition and hydration had been good so far.  I had been successful in opening up my s-caps and dumping them in my water bottle instead of swallowing them which recently has caused some major GI distress.  And at 4290 I picked up a second water bottle from my drop bag figuring it would be getting warm at this point.  But after 4290 I was really starting to feel the heat and backed it down some more. I figured I could make up some time later on when it cooled down.  There was some good climbing heading up and around The Twins which are just over 7000 ft.  The course then descended to The Twins aid station again and this time I sat and ate for a while   I needed something to get me going.  And they had popsicles!!  My new favorite race day treat.  Next stop, Gold Lake aid station.  The section to Gold Lake was slow but steady.  I was maintaining with some surges of energy from time to time and then loss of energy.  I arrived at Gold Lake and knew it would be an 8 mile uphill to Maiden Peak.  This was part of the re-route of the course.  Gold Lake was the lowest elevation of the course at 6600’ and Maiden Peak was the highest elevation at 7818’.  Usually I enjoy these climbs and can maintain a good steady pace but today would be another story.  I got some good food in and refueled the water bottle and off I went looking forward to summiting Maiden Peak.  About 50 feet from the aid station I took a sip from my water bottle.  The s-cap I poured in the drink must have been sitting on top of the ice cubes and I got a full mouthful of that.  Within seconds my stomach turned and I was on the side of the trail puking out all the food I just ate and then some.  It hurt and more to come too.  As soon as I could stand up straight I moved ahead slowly.  Not good.  This has become an all too familiar pattern.  So onward I went, slow and unsteady.  I couldn’t drink either as that made me nauseous too.  My pace really slowed down.  After about 4 or 5 miles there was a small aid station before the final ascent to the summit and I tried to suck on some jelly beans, not happening.  The final ascent was steep and at one point I had to sit down on a log as I was starting to get dizzy from lack of food and water.  When I did get to the summit I looked for a place to lie down and wanted to take a nap but it was too rocky so I just sat for a while and re-grouped.  The views were awesome so I took advantage of the situation.  I chatted with some other folks and hung out for probably 10 minutes.  From the summit it would be an 8 mile downhill to the finish.  Coming off the summit was the Leap of Faith, a steep technical downhill that normally I would love.  I was like a snail.
Heading down the
Leap of Faith


Between the final ascent and the downhill, numerous runners were going by.  I arrived at the final aid station, Maiden Lakes and tried again to eat.  I grabbed some food and a coke.  After one bite, I was on the side of the trail again purging what was left in me.  The volunteers at the aid station were wonderful, bringing me a wet rag and wanted to help more.  I sat down on a log for a while and regrouped once again.  Unlike Tahoe, I wasn't going to quit today.  I had plenty of time to finish and was going to finish.  The downhill to the finish took me about twice as long as it should have.  I even got passed by the guy who swam in all 6 lakes to win the Wet Waldo award but I must have passed him during his last swim.  With about 2 miles to go I saw my rock pagodas, a happy sight!  I finally finished with a time of 13:43:13 and in 25th place overall.  Not a pretty picture but I got’r done :)  Afterwards I went back to the tent and crashed for a couple of hours and then returned to eat.  All was fine.


Jack and Meghan at the Finish




The Gear:  Pearl Izumi Trail II shoes were awesome as usual as were the Drymax socks.  If only the rest of my body felt as good as my feet.  And the Headsweats Ultra Race Cap kept the hot sun off my head.  Thanks!
















ON THE ROAD TO BEND

I woke the next day and thanks to some local traveling advice from Doug, I was on my way to Bend, Oregon, a place I've wanted to visit for years and was even thinking this could be a place to relocate to.


Devil's Lake



The road to Bend along the scenic highway went from forest land to old volcanic fields to more desert like conditions.






Mt. Bachelor



Snow still on Mt. Bachelor.










Arriving in Bend I was able to get in a run through downtown and along the Deschutes River, a popular spot for tubing.

Deschutes River













Nightlife in Bend includes numerous local breweries which I had a chance to visit a few.

Downtown Bend













Back to Eugene the next day.  More incredible views along the way.

Three Sisters and Broken Top








I drove another scenic highway and was amazed at the lava fields.  This road cut right through the Sea of Lava which was miles and miles of old volcanic activity.

Sea of Lava













Soon I was back in Eugene and had a couple of places to visit on my list.  The legendary Pre's Trail was a must see.  I had enough time before flying out to get in a run.

Pre's Trail in Eugene













And then I had to see Hayward Field, another historic site.  From Pre's Trail I found my way to historic Hayward Field.  It was an awesome site.  I felt the need to go run on it, even being a trail guy.  When I got to the entrance it was locked shut.

Hayward Field Entrance
With my adventurous ways I decided to run around and eventually found the "back door".  I had the whole track to myself.  I did a warm up lap and then ran a mile just because I felt the need.  Even after just running a 100K plus I was inspired enough to put in a sub 7 minute mile.
























And so goes Oregon.... another adventure in the books.




and then, A QUICK VISIT TO MINNESOTA

A couple of weeks after returning home from Oregon I was on another journey to the Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile Run in Minnesota but his time crewing and pacing for Ryan Welts and Kristina Folcik.  I also dragged Serena along to help pace Kristina.  Ryan had an incredible race finishing 3rd overall and posting the 6th fastest time on that course.  Kristina had a come from behind win for the ladies and set a new course record.  Congrats to Ryan and Kristina!!!



AND BEYOND

Now I get my well deserved break from my own racing and can focus on another adventure.  This fall I'm the assistant XC coach at South Burlington High School for the women's cross country team working with 20+ talented ladies.  Go Rebels!





To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
Steve Prefontaine


You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. 
It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.
Steve Prefontaine

3 comments:

Mike L. said...

Jack, the rumors of your summer retirement were just "rumors"..what's your next ultra?

Jack Pilla said...

Rocky Raccoon 100 in February but who knows before that, anything might pop up. Also might have shift gears to run short and fast for the USATF Masters National XC Championships in December. So we'll see.

Anonymous said...

I really liked your blog! It helped me alot… Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!