Editor’s Note: This was Paul’s first 50k and I desperately wanted him to have an awesome time, just like I did during my first one. When the first text I got from him after the race read, “Fuck the roads!! Bah that was so fun. And so hard. And so gorgeous and so fun and so hard ha”, I knew it was a success.
It’s been a little over a week, my legs are 98% back to normal, and I’m still riding high on the Beacon Rock 50K. Throughout the preparation, the race and now the time after, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this lofty goal of running 31.4-ish miles. I have a lot of feelings about it all, which I’ll tell you about soon, but I’ll start with the ever present question posed by many…”so, think you’ll run another…?” …you’ll find out at the end!
I think I’m going to break it down for y’all:
- Humans – I was lucky enough to have been able to share this experience with some really incredible athletes, people and friends who I’m inspired by every day, pushed by to achieve bigger and better things, and who help me remember it’s all about the journey and fun and adventure. Thank you so much Morgan, Molly, and Adriana, I’m so proud of all of you on your accomplishments in North Bonneville, WA. Also, thank you to my #NP5280 family, for the motivation, love, hugs, and fierce workouts, y’all rule forever – F**K YEA!
- Event/Camping/Trip – The Beacon Rock 50K is one of 11 or so races in a series put on by an incredible group in the Pacific Northwest, Rainshadow Running, whose recipe for success seems to be breath-taking scenery, and ass-kicking terrain. All of their ultras are in Oregon and Washington State, and I couldn’t recommend doing one of their events more. What made this experience so different and enjoyable right off the bat was that the start/finish was also our housing for the weekend; Rainshadow had rented a group campsite for all the runners and their families. I knew it was going to be a great event as we sat next to our rental car and tents and watched the community gather and set up shop. People started wandering around introducing themselves, chatting about past races, laughing about life’s happenings, overall just being good humans. The community of ultra-runners is on a whole new level, and brought so much to the weekend. We made fast friends with our neighbor Adam, who was down by himself from somewhere in WA, getting back into the ultra-game after some nagging injuries. We bombarded him with questions, and asked for stories…we quickly learned this wasn’t some road race, people drank beer, and lounged and socialized like it was any regular day. We knew we were going to be ok. His advice, which saved me, “If you think you’re going slow, go slower”, and “if you come up on someone who definitely looks like they should be running, but they are walking, chances are you should probably walk too.” I know this isn’t the ultimate race mentality, but for my first 50K, I wanted to finish and not burnout in that real way I did during the ECSCA Trail Marathon last year. Other happenings to note: evening s’mores provided by Rainshadow, both nights. Post-race festivities: Free Beer all afternoon, a local blue grass band, wood-fired pizza – made to order, wild creations included a pizza with strawberries and blueberries on it, and a piece with a fried egg…yea I didn’t mind. The best part, all the runners just hung out, and cheered till the very last person crossed the line, what a group!
- Course – The course, I’ll keep it short…unlike what this course was. The Beacon Rock 50K was set up as a double loop, so we started and finished at the same place, at the campsite. At the 25K mark we were back at the start line and we had to go out and do it all over again, it was a big mind game for sure. The course was set up with 2 major climbs in each loop. Climb one was right off the bat, we climbed for about 4 miles, it was manageable for about 2.5 of it, then just like the second climb, it turned it to power hiking switchbacks, with many parts that were very hearty stair climbs. But as anyone knows, what goes up, must come down, and boy did we come down in style, the descents of both climbs were magnificent, these beautiful, lush, winding single tracks through the forests of the Columbia River Gorge, you had to deliberately try to not have an ear-to-ear grin on your face. Overall the 50K course climbed just under 8000ft, and similar down. We lucked out with perfect mid-70 degree weather and a perfect breeze off the river. Overall win!
- Goals – As the all-mighty and knowledgeable Coach Malone instilled in me, rules of running: 1) HAVE FUN! 2) Always look good in race photos. That’s it. As I haven’t seen the photo’s yet, I do know that I had a blast. My 2 personal goals for this, my first ultra-marathon, were to have fun, and to finish with a smile, both of those were achieved tenfold. I may not have had a notable finish time, but I know that I put my all into it, and am proud of my finish, and all those that raced on June 13th.
So, finally, the answer to the question…I think I will absolutely run another 50K in the future, it was good from start to finish, the ultra-community is unlike any other, and very little beats getting to adventure with badass humans, and crush goals and have fun doing it! If you’re considering one…do it!