Distance: 100km ♦ Elevation: ~4,000m ♦ Location: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
It feels really good to be writing a Race Recap again, and even better to get to write about completing the Gorge 100km race with Rainshadow Running. This was my second Rainshadow event, after joining them last year for the Sun Mountain 50 miler in Winthrop, Washington and I can start off by saying I look forward to my next race with this group!
Let’s start with that week leading up to the race. I spent a good number of hours writing out my usual notes of how many calories I will have (roughly 200 – 250) per hour and what these calories will be composed of (primarily tailwind, with additions of gels, aid station snacks and cliff shot blocks). Then I prepared my drop bags, gear bag for my crew (Katrina- best crew ever, thank you!!) and wrote a note of what I needed her to check in on and give me at each aid station. Once this was done I prepared my race day bag with items I wanted to have at the start and what I would want at the finish (everything &anything fleece).
Skip ahead to race day, 4:00am wake up and 4:30 hotel departure. We arrived earlier than anticipated as I thought it would take 30minutes to get to Benson State Recreation area, but only took 15..this is better than the opposite outcome, phew. I’m a big breakfast kind of person, so I had my typical oatmeal with hemp hearts for a little extra protein and brown sugar for a little extra happiness. I ate almost a full two cups….I might also be a nervous eater, but I always find my body can tell something is going on when I wake up at 4am and stick on my runners, so I ate until I was not going to be hungry (or too full) at the start line and that day it was a big-ass bowl of oatmeal.
Check in was smooth and then we chatted and got excited for the adventure to come! The race start was delayed by a few minutes due to an accident on the highway slowing down some of the racers. Then with a few wise words from James Varner (RD) we were off!
I won’t cover details of the entire course, because we saw a lot over the course of 100km! In summary, stunning– climb, descend, aid station, climb, waterfall, descend, aid station, mossy forest, rivers, treeeeeees repeat. Towards the out and back the majority of racers had the joy of watching the top speedsters cruise back after their turn around and then we essentially all got to double back past each other. I love this part. Seeing almost everyone that is on course and getting to exchange smiles and offer encouragement is like another energy boost that is more than welcomed after having just reached the turn around point.
On the way to the turn around and shortly after the turn around I had the pleasure of running with a few other racers (to each of you, thank you!). I had some of my faster kilometres while running with others, which is a great reminder for me to stop thinking and run. It passes time so quickly to chat with others on the course and this really carried me through kilometres 55 through 65.
What I describe as my “suffer cave” came between km 65 – 79, I wanted so badly to reach that point with 20 km to go, and 65 – 79 was the longest gap between aid stations, I thought it took me 3 hours. Shocking..I was wrong. It took 2, the exact amount of time I had planned for it to take me (shut up brain- shut up). I apologize to the volunteers who were at the top of the rope climb for my grumble of curse words before I decided to get over it and crawl up the rope…this actually led me to a great laugh when I realized the volunteers likely heard my thoughts about having to climb a rope, and then I was able to cheerfully continue.
I saw Katrina with 20km to go and she didn’t let me say one negative thing, and that amazing, smart friend did not ask how I was doing (this is my number 1 rule for crew / friends don’t ask, because I am stronger if I don’t get to say how I am, good or bad). Then, and I think thanks to her, I checked back in with myself and realized in that last section I had caught 3 racers and not been caught by anyone. I put it back in my head that I must have be doing ok and this was not supposed to be easy. I crawled out of the cave 🙂
The last 20km were great, I was more than looking forward to reaching the finish and the last 10km were a push, as more than half of those km’s were upward. On that final stretch there was one racer not too far ahead and I remember thinking the whole time, please turn, please turn towards the finish line, let this straight stretch end. And then it did. I can almost get happy tears now, a week later, thinking of turning into that finish line for the high-five and huge smile from Colton Gerhart (Rainshadow Staff). I could not have been happier for the hugs received at the finish line.
Every step leading up to this moment was worth it. Entering the lottery and not getting in until 6 weeks before, training runs that winter weather made less desirable, late night prep the week before, and many steps covering this course led me to overwhelming happiness, a 9th place female finish, 100km in 13hrs and 9minutes, and 56th place overall.
Event website: http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/gorge-waterfalls-100k.html
Gear & Logistics:
Pack: Salomon 12L
Shoes: 35km in Nike Terra Kigers, The rest in Nike Wildhorse
Socks: Various pairs of Darn Tough, BodyGlide at the start.
Fuel: Tailwind, Gu Gels, Cliff Shot Blocks, and a few handfuls M&M’s / Mini-Eggs, one pickle (yup), and a cliff protein bar.
Clothes: Lululemon Fast & Free tights, Swiftly Tech crewneck, and cool racer back – chafe free light layers.
Race day hydration / fuel: 200-250 calories per hour, 2 x 500ml soft flasks 1 with tailwind, 1 without (and every 2 aid stations 2 tailwind), a gel every other hour, cliff shot blocks in the last 2 hours – full pack, a pickle and cliff protein bar at half way to up the salt and the calories / to push off hunger, and some M&Ms and Mini eggs when I saw Katrina. Oh and 1/2 cup of Coke at the last aid station.