Yesterday I ran PCTR’s Forest Park Trail Run 50K, my local ultramarathon. Conventional wisdom says trail running is better on your feet and legs than road running because dirt is softer than concrete and asphalt. I beg to differ.
Most of this 50K was on the Wildwood trail in Forest Park, with small sections on Saltzman Road, Firelane 5, and a 10K loop around a section of Forest Park I didn’t know. Wildwood trail is a great trail. I love running it. I especially love running it the day after it’s rained or even while it’s raining. The trail gets mushy and I get muddy. It’s great. But in the week leading up to this 50K it hadn’t rained in Portland all week. Wildwood got downright hard as concrete. Factor in the uneven terrain and the course beat me up pretty good.
Going into the race my strategy was to take it easy and enjoy the day. I haven’t been training as much as I like due to bike commuting. So I set my goal time for 6 hours. I was trailing Van most of the first 20K of the run which made me a little cocky. If I can keep up with her I’m doing okay. But that usually mean she’ll drop me later on. At about the 21K mark I flew past her and a group of 3 others taking the downhill on Firelane 5 way too aggressively, which sent me into the 10K loop section feeling really good. I hit the halfway mark at about 2:35. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with this pace so I revised my goal time for 5:30, leaving me with a little less than 3 hours to finish the second half. I was able to keep up with a very strong female runner for most of this section up until we hit the uphill parts. My weakness is ascents, which I learned at Mac that I need to work on. Going back up Firelane 5, Van and others caught up with me and proceeding to leave me in the dust. By the time I got back to Wildwood, my left knee and right foot were bothering me enough that I resorted to doing the running-then-walking form of ultramarathoning. Even with the foot and knee problems I felt like this was a pretty successful run. Usually with any run there’s a point where I’m questioning why I do this to myself. I always end up with the same answer, but there’s always the question. Not today. No doubts at all. I just kept motoring along enjoying the day, the trails, and taking a few seconds to try to spot the Pileated Woodpecker I heard.
Going past Stone House meant I was about a mile to go to the finish. Physically I was feeling beat up the mentally I was feeling good. I cross the finish line at 5:23:56 to beat my revised goal time.