Siskiyou Out Back 50K, Ashland, Oregon 3,2

Elevation Gain: 4200' - High Point: 7000' - Low Point: 6000' - RESULTS

Scrolling Photographs of the PCT at SOB

July 27, 2013 -  The most difficult challenge I have always faced as a
practicing athlete is REST.  Scheduling two ultras a week apart should
deserve plenty of rest and lots of eating, but I would prefer to just go, go,
go between events and let the chips fall where they may.  I had planned
a snow climb of Mount Shasta in northern California mid-week between the
Tahoe Rim Trail 50M and this race in Oregon, but unrelenting hundred degree
temperatures all week rendered Shasta's snow rotten and extremely
dangerous, laying waste to that part of my go, go, go.  The weather proved
so miserably hot that all the doing I could accomplish in the week between
the two events was a single mid-week run of 12 miles on the Pacific Crest 
Trail.  The balance of the week I had no other option than to REST.

Somehow I worked on my patience and got through it - rested and fattened up.
As soon as I opted not to risk the Shasta climb I drove up to Mount Ashland just
across the border into Oregon, the venue for this race, known in the running
community simply as "the SOB".  I set up camp on a lovely breezy ridgetop
east of the top of Mount Ashland at about 6500 feet to escape the miserable
heat down below.  Being less than a mile from the race start/finish I was able
to sleep in on race morning and still get to the starting line on time.  On race
day smoke was in the air from forest fires to the north near Grants Pass.  As
dry as the West has been, wildfires are an ever present threat any time you
spend time in the mountains.  You just hope you are able to stay clear.

I decided ahead of time to vary my strategy for this shorter 50K event and
begin at a much quicker tempo since most of the first mile was slightly down
hill before connecting with single track on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Once we
were headed out, all systems felt fine until the course started undulating on
the trail through the woods.  Either I was just not trained for the quicker tempo
or my legs were still not recovered completely from the previous week's 50M
effort in Nevada - probably both.  I knew I was in over my head by two miles,
so I stopped and stepped out of queue to catch my breath and hopefully
slow my tempo once I started again after a half minute or so.  Even after
resuming the race I continued to labor for the balance of the first five miles,
thinking by this time that maybe I might be racing too much!!!

Things finally settled and I found my rhythm as the morning began to heat up
and we began a long climb after reaching the Siskiyou Gap aid station at 9M.

My climbing skills once again came to my rescue as I began to pull back members
of the field I had given ground to earlier.  From this point until the finish no one
would pass me again, as I reeled in dozens of faster starters.

At the turnaround and high point of the course at the Jackson Gap aid station at
16.4M my time was at 2 hours and 47 minutes, a more than satisfying time given
the amount of climbing and how crappy I felt for much of the event so far.  I
felt confident I could complete this 50K in under six hours at this rate, so
doubled down and got right to the business of racing.

From this point forward I had to conclude that all the tough racing I do makes 
me stronger - physically and mentally - and able to reach down and find the 
toughness that many others lack.  While not as fast these days I bring a whole lot
of TUFF to the game, maybe more than ever before, and that is this geezer's edge.

As this out and back course retraced its way back to the Siskiyou Gap aid station
my time was right at four hours for 21.9 miles.  It took me another hour to 
climb back up to the Willamette Meridian aid station at 26.1 miles and then less
than an hour to roll to the finish in 5:54:04 for 64th place of 195 finishers and
second geezer overall, four minutes back.  Except for a mostly sluggish first
third of the event it was a satisfying performance.  I collected a coveted cow
bell as an age group award and some other cool swag, had some killer tacos and a
tasty SOB Pilsner with some new friends before leaving this beautiful mountain
retreat to head back to 106 degree California and bring my vacation to a close.

Unlike the previous week's near hundred degree temps this race was a much
cooler affair, starting at 61 degrees at 0700 and ending at 82 degrees - much
easier on the stomach.  There seem to be both some pros and some cons to
racing so many miles so close together.  Overall, since too much rest annoys me,
I'm probably better off racing more, rather than less.  The body seems able to
take it, with minor complaints of course.  The Pacific Crest Trail was a 
delightful powdery singe track alternatively passing through darkened, shady
fir/pine forests, open steep avalanche chutes filled with wild flowers, and
sparse ridge tops that show that ravages of both fire and wind.  Without many
roots or rocks to stumble over I fared well once again.  It was an enjoyable
contrast to run a second race where my feet didn't get wet.  Gotta love the
West for that.  The scrolling photographs at the top of this page were shot a
couple days prior to the event.  During the race smoke from proximal forest
fires blocked much of what would have been spectacular views of this striking
Siskiyou country.  Photography on race day would have been severely compromised.