I got into the Mt. Hood 50M lottery many months ago. Soon after, I booked a Best Western Hotel at Government Camp, 14 miles from the start line. But as my wife and I started talking (and all kudos to her), this eventually became our first ever family RV trip. But more on that in a subsequent blog. Needless to say after an epic week of meandering around major National Forests in Northern California, we got to Mt. Hood the night before the race. I pitched a tent right outside our RV to not wake anyone up at 5:00 in the morning. Here’s my Strava activity from the run:
Mt. Hood 50M
When we were packing for the RV trip, we thought we had it all covered. What we weren’t ready for was rain, in July. As we summited Crater Lake the day before, visibility was 20-30 feet and it was raining/snowing in some places. I woke up at 1am on race day to the drip drop of water on the tarp. But turns out that was a good thing. Forecasted temperatures was in the low 60’s with no more than drizzles and cloud skies throughout the day. The trails were moist, soft and they were not kidding about “heavily shaded”. Just a perfect day for a run. Almost. Almost.
It was great to see Bryan and Aaron from the bay area at the start line. My first time running outside California and it was nice to have company. We started at 6:30am sharp and headed north towards Mt. Hood. The miles felt easy, except within the first 3 miles, I’d tripped a couple of times on the roots & twigs and rolled my ankles too. Soon enough I realized that all 50 miles of the Mt. Hood 50M were technical. And I was so not used to it. Over the next 9+ hours, I would eventually trip 14 times with 3 full face-plants. Yeah, technical terrain. All the way.
It was beautiful single track through the Little Crater Lake, FSR 58 and all the way to the turn around point, Frog Lake AS. Right around mile 10, as the vista opened up on the ridge, I was hoping for a fantastic view of Mt. Hood, but no such luck thanks to the fog and cloud. But hey, at least I wasn’t getting baked. I stopped very little and was mostly running on Glukos. Ate a couple of pita pockets (with hummus/olives) at the turn around point, but kept moving. Bryan and Aaron caught up with me around mile 16 but everyone’s pace was unhurried.
The course is essentially two out and backs (a 28 miler and a 22 miler). I got back to the start/finish line in 4:33 and was feeling great. My family was there with the puppy. Grabbed my hat from the drop bag, lubed up and told my wife I’ll be back in about 5 hours. Many of us hiked, jogged up the slow-but-long climb up to Red Wolf Pass. Tripped and stumbled more times. ~1:20 for the 5.3 miles. At the top, stashed some ice cubes under my hat and headed down into the canyon, aka Hades by the locals. The technical terrain was really starting to bug me now as I didn’t know how to go faster on the downhill. Another face plant. Passed the creek and reached the turn around point in 7:00. Spent a good 4-5 minutes snacking and thinking through what to do next. I figured ~1:30 back up to Red Wolf and I might still be able to break sub-10:00.
At this point it was all business. Just working on moving, hydrating and pushing down the gagging gels. No cramps, no GI issues, all good. Made it to the last AS and it was 8:30. A 12 minute/mile pace and I could comfortably break sub-10:00. It was all [technical] downhill from here. Took a deep breath and started down with exaggerated knee lifts. I was figuring this out as I went along and it seemed to be working. Every mile I noticed I was gaining minutes on my target. Kept pushing and eventually could hear the bells ringing at the finish line. My 13yo sprinted with me the last bit and I crossed the finish line in 9:27. And my 15yo expertly taped my now sore left ankle. That was such an awesome course! And with the amazing dinner my wife made (in the RV), I was pretty much fully recovered the next day! Miso & pineapple (anti-inflammatory) to the rescue.
Bunch of folks have asked me about the RV trip. I’ll go over our epic family RV trip in my next blog.
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