Monday, November 4, 2013

A Marathon Like No Other: Silver Falls Marathon Review

Monday: Running Rest Day + Bowflex SelectTech App Shoulders Workout

The Silver Falls Trail Marathon made me scared. I looked at the elevation chart and was seriously about to poop my pants... I mean - you guys saw it! It turns out that in truth those hills were HUGE but it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
It is very hard to get into the marathon. I believe that this year it sold out in 10 minutes. Because Run Wild and the State Park want to keep the trails in good condition there are only so many available spots for runners. I was given a bib by a friend who couldn't run the race anymore because she had to go on a business trip out of town (no one tell on me!). I have been wanting to do this race for a while but it is always so hard to get in, so running as Kystyna gave me the perfect chance.

The start wasn't until 8:30 for the full marathoners which was perfect because I didn't have to wake up too early and didn't have to rush to drive down. My friend Laura met me at my place around 6:30 and we left around 6:45 to get there just before 8. Since there are so few runners it wasn't a big deal to show up only 40 minutes from the start, there aren't any corrals or anything - we all just stood in a field and then started running. How I imagine cross country probably is. I actually had no clue which way the start was going to go until people started running... so that was kind of funny.
The almost 300 marathoners started out running along a road and some wide paths to thin us out. It worked nicely and there was rarely a time with then trails were too crowded.

I had almost no expectations going into this race. I had been having some tendonitis in my right foot (I talked about it in my video) and figured it would become and issue and with the elevation chart I didn't want to expect anything pace-wise so I really just tried to enjoy the scenery, which wasn't hard to do. It was such a beautiful morning. I was a tad bit underdressed, but I guess I would prefer it that way than over dressed. We ran on single track trails, through a TON of huge mud puddles, and even had to do a river and a creek crossing which was a lot of fun. Joe and Kara would have been proud of me.
There were 6 aid stations on the course and my plan was just to go from one to the other. The stops at miles 3.3 and 6 came super fast. I followed a group of guys away from the mile 6 aid station and we went the wrong way so we had to double back - I don't know how much mileage this added, but it couldn't have been more than .2. I ran into a lady who told me that the course was long last year, I didn't turn on my GPS so I don't know the distance I covered. Getting to the 10.7 aid station was a little slower. Then we had the mammoth climb to the 14.2 aid station. That is where I started to feel my foot. After our huge climb up the hill, there was a series of steep declines which put a LOT of force down on my right foot. This made my tendonitits really flair up.

My favorite part of the race trail and scenery wise was between the 14.2 station and the 19.1 station (which another runner told me was really more like mile 20). The trees were tall, the path was covered in pine needles and fog was filtering through the pine branches and tree trunks. I was also blessed with time to run on my own here and have no other runners around. Though I liked being with others - there is truly something about being on your own in nature. I tried to start to take the pace pretty easy since my foot was hurting, but then I realized I could run slow on it, or faster on it and the end result would probably be the same, so I just picked up the pace.

There were many times that I considered dropping out of the race because of my tendonitis... afraid that maybe I had hurt myself worse than just some inflamed tendons... but when I got to the 19.1 aid station, I just kept going. A friend from Team in Training passed away last week and in the very early miles of the race (1 or 2) I decided to dedicate my fight through the mud and elevation to her, so there was no way that I was stopping. There was only one more aid station before the finish.
I'm not sure where this picture was taken during the race but I don't look muddy enough for it to be near the end.
Leaving that aid station was the most painful part of the entire race. Here you move down onto the more paved-ish trails that are frequented by people visiting the park and they are bumpy and rocky which was AWFUL on my right foot. Anytime uneven ground would push up harder on the right side of my foot it would cause a ton of pain..... not to mention there was a ton of down hill here. I ended up limping while running pretty much after this point. Any downhill that I encountered I used my right forefoot/toe which made for a slow and akward stride but was the least painful. Some points I would have to walk to get the pain under control. But then when the trail would flatten out I would feel better. This was also the point where we got to see a lot of the waterfalls! If you haven't been to Silver Falls you really should go!

At about 22 miles there is a large stair case that you have to go up, then you get to go behind another waterfall, then there is a steep uphill with switchbacks. I had already chosen to walk all of these things which gave me time to admire the waterfalls, I mean how could you not? I was surprised to see the 23.5 aid station at the top of the steep incline and knew that I was super, duper close and decided no matter what my foot felt I was just going to Keep Moving Forward (I told myself that one million times during this race, best mantra ever) and get to that finish. There was one more hill that I had planned to walk up because I heard that it was hilly and muddy (trying to run in a lot of the mud up those hills would have caused you to slide backward = worthless effort, so walking was way better) but once the ground became more stable I started running up it and left two guys in the mud.
Again, with this sharp incline going up I had one more painful descent but I just went after it and tried not to slide onto my butt (not sure how I didn't fall down at all the whole time). Coming out of the trees I saw Janine and could see the finish line and was pumped. I was so excited that my in-laws were seeing me finish a race for the first time! Janine took my picture and then ran with me a few strides before cheering me through to the finish.

This was the longest that I have ever been on my feet running! I definitely could tell the difference in the amount of fuel that I could take in. I had two Island Boosts and almost two full sleeves of clif shot blocks. There were even times when I felt hungry. I did really appreciate my Montrails though, I'm glad that I had a trail shoe that was light and didn't take on too much water and mud, not to mention have pretty good traction. Also - I'm positive that running in my ProCompression helped my calves on all of the inclines!

I was so amazed that I finished this marathon. Under my time goal of 5 hours also! I know that if it wasn't for my tendonitis I would have been able to finish at least 10 minutes faster - if not more. My quads were never fatigued and I could have pushed the pace on the flats and definitely could have used the downhills to my advantage. But I have no regrets, I did the best that I could with my conditions for that day, I finished and I fought for Lisa the whole way.
I was super thankful that Bob and Janine were there with ice (like my doctor instructed - yes, I did get his OK before running another marathon) and Bob was kind enough to drive my car to their place so that I could relax and ride with Janine. They were also prepared with champagne and pizza too! I rinsed down in the hot shower and relaxed on their couch for a couple of hours just visiting and enjoying the afternoon.

Soon it was time to drive back home to see Austin and put my foot on ice (again, and again) and tell him the whole story. This was one of my favorite marathon experiences and I am definitely going to go back next year, healthy, and crush my time from this year. I'm planning on taking the week of from running to heal my foot/ankle, then get back into it so that I can reach my goal of running 2,013 miles this year. Less than 300 miles to go!

Have you ever pushed through physical pain/injury in something before?
Ever stepped in a mud puddle that went up to your mid shin? 
How are your goals for the year going?