Oregon Coast 50K – The race that wasn’t (for me)

Michelle and I keep going back and forth on what we envision for the blog. We have received a lot of positive feedback, but I think it’s mainly because people like seeing pictures of the babies. Which is totally fine. But I also wanted to have a venue to document my running journey and other parts of our life. I have already written briefly about my failed attempt at the Sao Paulo City Marathon and this 50K race was a victim of the same set of unfortunate circumstances.

To recap: in mid February of 2017, I started getting more serious about running. More serious than I ever had been, even during my pretty mediocre marathon attempt in 2015.  Even better, I actually started to enjoy running. I was doing a ton of time on the treadmill because of the rainy days in Seattle, but even still, I was loving it. I ran a half marathon and set a PR by over 10 minutes. I ran a 5K and broke 20 min for the first time. I decided I was training hard enough to start thinking about a second marathon – a marathon attempt I would be proud of.

Simultaneously I have a very good friend (Walter) here in Seattle who is into trail ultramarathons. I am not sure he has ever done a road race, instead focusing on trail races. These trail races had been increasingly interesting to me. I crewed (having clean socks, food, water etc) for Walter in his first 100K race at the Gorge Waterfalls 100K last spring. After that experience, seeing the amazing community and the awesome emotional victories people experienced during the 100K, I knew I wanted to do an ultra and see if I had what it took to finish at least a 50K.  I registered for the October 2017 Oregon Coast 50K with Walter. The race is put on by the same wonderful Rainshadow organization that put on the Gorge Waterfalls.

Per my earlier post, I ended up injuring my hamstring during the summer of 2017. Despite pulling out of the Sao Paulo marathon, I still had hope for the Oregon Coast 50K. Despite a slow but steady return to running, it became clear there just wasn’t enough time to get back up to the serious mileage necessary to be successful in an ultra. In early September I pulled the plug and sold my registration. (Basically every Rainshadow race sells out, and I am thankful they have implemented the ability to transfer registration and recoup your entry cost!).

I was super bummed to be missing out on running, but since Walter was still going and we already had a hotel reserved, I decided to try to volunteer. As I mentioned earlier, the camaraderie and vibe of the people sold me on trying my first ultra, and that continued to be true even as a volunteer.

I volunteered for two shifts: parking and course marshal.  Parking was surprisingly intense. We started in the dark and its amazing how poorly people drive! Despite Hi-Vis gear people still nearly hit me repeatedly. Nonetheless, it was awesome to be the first race ambassador that most people saw that morning. Most people were extremely friendly and also a bit nervous. After seeing everyone off to the start line, I took a quick nap before assuming course marshal duties.

 

As the course makes use of Siuslaw National Forest trails, Rainshadow has to abide by their rules. The one major rule the park has laid out is no running in front of the Visitor Center. So my job, for 6 hours on a glorious Saturday, was to tell a bunch of people out for a 50K race to walk.  The course actually loops in front of the Center. On the first pass, the course is headed up hill and most runners were more than happy to walk. On the way back it is a pretty stead downhill and most runners were slightly less enthusiastic about stopping. Regardless it was great to see everyone pass twice. There were some people out there struggling but overall runners were consistently upbeat, smiling, and thanking me for volunteering. I was bummed to not be out there running, but happy to help provide that experience for everyone else!

 

After the race, volunteers got free food from the kick ass after party. Including stone fired pizza. Other perks included reduced entry for another Rainshadow race and a guaranteed spot in next years Oregon Coast race. Despite the set back I am still set on running at least one ultra, and am registered for February’s Orcas Island 50K.

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