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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hallow's Eve 2014 Race Report: Two Years of Trails

This year's Hallow's Eve was a special moment for me as it brings about two years of trail running.
In 2012, this was my first trail race, and I signed up on a whim, and did the half marathon distance. I had no idea where we were running, or how the course looked. In fact, I didn't even realize people ran on trails like the ones on this course!

Well, two years later, several races, including Ultras that both went well and went not well, I wanted to have fun with this course and see how it translated compared to two years ago.

I was planning on beating my original time, and had a lofty goal of 2:20, with a secondary goal of sub 2:30.
Of course, training was not really happening and my mileage leading into the race was super low (as in calling it "training" is not really a fair statement).
I was maxing out at 20k per week, which is not much at all. I was also still figuring out nutrition woes, so the fact was that, despite the experience of two years, my ability going into this race was only slightly greater than the first year I entered.

I had my mask and chain arm sleeves as Hallow's Eve is a costumed run. We had very little of our running group at this race, since many of them had completed the Oregon Coast 50k the weekend prior and were embracing much deserved recovery.

Natasha, Marc and I were the only ones doing the half, and Jamie and his family were there also (his wife was running the 10k as her first trail race).

Chatting with a super chill Peter Watson (RD)

Hallow's Eve is part of the Mountain Madness series, run by Peter Watson, who also has Fat Dog Ultra as his opus.
His races are always fun and super chill, and this was no exception. We had a quick chat after registration, and he looked relaxed. I used that and just allowed myself to chill out too. On this race, whatever happened, let it happen was my mantra. If I wanted to go fast, slow, run up, run down, do the hokey pokey, walk, sit, drink whatever, just let it be.

I was going minimal on the fuel. I had a 20oz bottle of gatorade. Yup, that's it. Anything else I was going to grab from the Aid Stations.

My family was of course there in full force to cheer, take pics and spook us on the trails.
Do I trust these cannibals or what?

We started, and the first section through the cemetery was great. I was able to see the leaders all the way into the woods trailhead about a kilometre in. Everyone in the front to mid-pack went the wrong way immediately after that, and we added close to a km in distance with a missed flag. Not a big deal, but it did affect my time goals with an added 3 minutes 30 seconds to the total time.
I felt we were off course, but as the whole group was there, we reconnected with the trail in a short time and carried on.

Termininan (aka my wife)

After the technical beginning of the BP section, we start a scattered net uphill with a mix of stairs, roots and runnable single track. I ran and walked where necessary but felt fatigued. It was low mileage in training and I was fine with it. Post SQ50, my mental needs were more important.
Ironically, I felt a little mental as I started counting my steps as I ran. I would count 1 to 100, then do it all over again. I tried to break the habit, by thinking of a song, but couldn't. All that I could think of was counting. Then Radiohead's Karma Police came into my head, which is NOT a great song to run to, so I allowed the counting to continue. It stayed with me the whole race. I must have counted to 100 several thousand times over the distance of the race. Good times!

The first Aid Station had coke, so I drank a cup of that, rinsed with some water, and then carried on.
The steps up to Old Mountain Highway went by quick, saw my fam for the second time, and then I was looking forward to Griffin Trail. The single track was slick, muddy and wet, and I just cruised along.

Once we hit Lynn Headwaters, I knew Cedar Mills trail was gonna be boring, so I just settled into my counting of steps and focused on form.
The climb up to upper Lynn Loop felt longer than normal, but I always forget the last set of stairs on that section.
The top of Lynn Loop has had a lot of trail work done, some new bridges, hard pack dirt, and a covering and filling in of the technical roots and rocks made it almost unrecognizable. It's a heavy use trail, so understand the needs to prevent erosion, but it still changes the dynamic of that path a lot. I prefer the eroded version.

I ran past Solana and Jay who were jumping out and scaring people (they missed me luckily! Ha suckers!!) as they were running to a new position.

The descent into LSCR was fine, and the day was getting really warm. At the final aid station I splashed water on my head, and cooled myself off as I ran. I immediately got life into my run, which wasn't "bad" up to this point, but it wasn't "great" either; it was simply "good" or "meh" up until this point. No real excitement, and no struggles, just kind of "whatever".

I felt more alive with the water on my head, and as I passed the suspension bridge, my wife and kids were there, so I called for them to run with me! They ran about 50 meters with me before I disappeared down the trail.

My kiddos 
The final out n back section was good, and I was excited when we finally kicked out onto the road and headed back through the cemetery. Jamie snapped some shots as I ran down the final stretch and I cruised into the finish.


I suppose I was expecting some form of magical experience on this race after two years of running, as though it had something to live up to. I did expect to perform better than I did overall, but none of those things happened. In hindsight, I guess it's natural to have those highs and lows in a season, and this was neither high nor low, but somewhere in between, likely the middle as my balance points (both physically and mentally) reset itself after a challenging season.

So what's next? Our running group is having an anniversary run (also 2 years on), and then race planning for next year. The Ultra goals are still on standby as we continue the investigation medically on the puke factor, and my training goals are going to be mixed.
Nothing is concrete until December at this point.
I'm relaxed about it all, and am looking forward to lots of exploration into the high country for 2015 with alpine peaks and back country expeditions.

We also have a number of night runs planned (I LOVE night running), so I'll post some tips and strategies on those experiences in a few weeks!

Until then, see you on the trails and mountains.

Crush and Coffee
Natasha and I post race

Strava File 
Official Time: 2:31:24
Placement: 62 out of 115

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