The Sisters Poker Run is a small, really laid back, trail ultramarathon through the Sisters Trail network. The course changes every year according to the whims of Gene, a.k.a “Fatboy”, the organizer. It’s not really a race at all but a 34 mile poker hand. You pick up cards at each of the 5 aid stations with prizes going out to the best hand drawn and the worst.
That said, I really had no business being out there. My last long run previous to yesterday was the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon 2 months ago. I had a couple of 15 mile runs after that but they hardly count. Both where on flat terrain and about 6 weeks prior. Looking at my training log, I see a lot of blank space in the 3 weeks leading up to yesterday. I didn’t do any running while on my trip to Europe. That wouldn’t have been so bad if I did some core strengthening workouts, which I could have easily done in the hotel rooms. But I didn’t, so that’s why I suck.
After passing aid station #2 somewhere between miles 11-12 it was a long, hard, slog up hill. For me at least. The elevation gain wasn’t steep at all. If I was in better shape it would have been fine. But I wasn’t and I did a lot of walking. Then I started cramping in my quads. Not good. It was at about mile 15 when I decided to turn around and bag the whole thing. I got a crappy picture of the Three Sisters volcanoes on my cell phone camera which doesn’t do the view justice so I was reasonably happy.
The course is designed to be around 34 miles so I was 2 miles short of the turn around point. At the slow as molasses pace I was going I expected to be passed by the lead pack on the back portion of this out-and-back section of the trail. But no. That made me suspicious that the turnaround point wasn’t just around the corner. Turning around at mile 15 ended up being a good move for me because the course ended up being long at 37-ish miles. There’s no way I would have made that distance in the shape I was in. By the time I made it back to the finish area I ran/walked 29.5 miles in nearly 7 hours and ended up with a 3-of-a-kind of nines (which wasn’t a winning hand).
Things I learned…
- Don’t underestimate caloric intake at these distances, erring on the side of eating more has a better downside than running out of gas
- I lose fitness fast; this seems to be related to why I don’t taper well. I thought all the 40-50 miles per week weeks over the summer would have carried me through but they didn’t. Three weeks of absolutely no running really took a toll on my fitness. This was the first time I’ve cramped up this year and I don’t think it had anything to do with an electrolyte imbalance. It was simply lack of fitness and training.
All in all, it was a really fun event. I love central Oregon.
UPDATE: Results are posted. I can’t believe I beat Sean Meissner and Krissy Moehl. Only time that would ever happen!