Monday, December 15, 2014

Oregon Coast 50k

October, 2014

There was a line in the sand.  I don’t think I’ve seen an actual starting line marked in the ground at a trail race before.  But we were starting on the beach.  It was raining, the wind was blowing; it would be a headwind on the beach for the first six miles.  And we started.  

The run on the beach was magical, in a way.  Something about the mix of rain, wind, surf, running through drainage streams across the beach, and seeing the large group of people running down the beach made this really unique.  I love running in “bad” weather—far more so than in anything sunny, warm, or dry.

I kept an easy pace—this would be a 50k, and my right calf was still tight from a bee sting on a run in Redwood Regional park the week before.  This would leave my strength off balance for the day.  But I was here to get out of my element and see a part of the west coast I’ve never seen, so I took this is stride and set out to enjoy the course.  

We climbed up onto a gravel trail that passed a number of resorts.  PL and MC were out and cheering, watching from right outside the room we had booked; I don’t think I’ve ever had a course pass this close to where we’re staying—only 10 feet from our door.  Along this whole stretch, many people cheered from patios and porches on the coast.  

I stopped at the first aid station, which would be the eventual finish, and changed to drier shoes.  The course passed a couple miles through Yachats, and then made a decent climb through gorgeous, peaceful coastal forest.  The rain backed off and turned to mist/fog interspersed with sunny moments, all under trees.  Along the top, there was mud, where I I was way out of my element, since I’ve only had a few rainy runs in the bay area over the last couple years, given the drought we’ve had.  The course opened up to a great view near the Cape Perpetua lookout, and then it made a fast downhill to the second aid station.

After a short flat stretch through forest just off the coast, the course started a long climb up the Cummins Creek Trail.  I mixed in uphill running and fast hiking here.  After backing way down on pace and finally hitting a consistent 50k effort at my last 50k, I wanted to bring back uphill running at this distance.  There was a small aid station at the top, which was great, since I was drinking a lot of water on this course.  The long uphill effort was rewarded with a long downhill run on forest-covered single track.  

Passing through the last aid station, we crossed back over the first hill.  The downhill was steeper than I’m used to this late in a race, and my quads certainly felt it.  After running back through town, the finish was back on the coast, where we had sun, an awesome view, pizza, music, and beer.  PL and MC made it out to the finish, and we met a number of great people, staying quite a while.  And I won a bottle of wine in the raffle.  Finish time was 7:23:24, slower than I expected, to no surprise.  But this was an awesome run on a great part of the coast, and definitely my favorite 50k. 

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