I decided to run the ORRC Autumn Leaves 50 miler http://www.orrc.net/races/autumnleaves/autumnleaves_tba.htm about a month ago thinking that it would be a good race to judge my fitness going into the winter months. I had never run this race or a 50 miler before but heard it was a fast course. My hope was to finish around 8 hours. At first I thought running 10 loops of 5 miles didn't sounds appealing along with running on pavement but surprisingly this changed quickly once the race got started.
The alarm went off at 3:30a.m. to get a bite to eat and pickup my Dad (who was crewing me) in Portland to get to the 6am starting time for the race. Only an hour had elapsed since being up doing "diaper duty" for our daughter who is now 1 month old.
It was going to be a perfect day to run - highs in the mid-50's to low-60's.......and sunny! Couldn't ask for better November weather in Oregon.
The race started promptly at 6am. I would guess there were 50 runners at the start line. It was a chilly morning so I donned my arm warmers and gloves. It was also dark so I had my Petzel e-light with me in the hopes of it providing adequate lighting. Wishful thinking. Once we got to the off-road section of the course, I rolled my ankle, on what was probably a tree branch or root. Luckily it was only going to be one loop in the dark (for night running, I usually wear the Petzel Myo XP headlamp). Approximently 2/3 of the course was on paved trail and the other 1/3 was on single track. Sunrise was spectacular. The sky was full of color. The air cold. And my breathing was relaxed.
I got in a good groove and the first 5 laps (mile 25) went surprisingly smooth - time: 3 hrs 11 minutes. I was eating and drinking well. The 2 aid stations were well stocked with goodies - GU, fruit, cookies, a variety of drinks, fruit, etc. My Dad did a great job filling my water bottles with Nuun - my electrolyte drink nowadays which seems to work well for me.
The leaves were in full color change - reds, yellows and oranges - now I know why this race is called Autumn Leaves. The course was for the most part flat and much of it followed the Willamette River. Leaves covered some of the paved trail sections which made it even more pleasant.
Race director Fritz Pieper and others at the Start/Finish line gave me words of encouragement. I told them thanks...but didn't know how long I would be able to keep this pace up for. In races of this length one goes through highs and lows. My lowest point occurred around mile 31 and lasted a few miles. I had some stomach issues that needed attention. Finding places to relieve oneself in solitude on a looped course can be difficult. I guess if you've run any ultras before, you get used to seeing people relieving oneself and.....well enough with the stomach issues.......
The last few loops went well but my pace had slowed somewhat -- I was now averaging 41 minutes per loop. Volunteers and other runners some how new I was on my last loop (and in the lead) and were congratulating me on a great race. I crossed the finish line in 6hrs 36min.
Results here: http://www.orrc.net/results/08/08autumn50m.htm
Fritz congratulated me on a great race with my Dad snapping a photo.
Many thanks to the volunteers, Fritz for putting on a great race, and the other runners. The weather was perfect. My Dad did a fantastic job getting the drink/food I needed. And I received another buckle.
A race that finally went very, very well.