The Rogue Trail Training went like this: build, taper, Rogue race1 (4th Master), recover, build, taper, Rogue race2 (1st Master!), recover, build, taper, Rogue race3 (6th Master), recover. Race3 was only 2 weeks prior to Tunnel, so I planned just enough pace to podium in the series, giving away some positions in the 3rd race to make sure and save enough for Tunnel.
One other notable of this period was a big longrun with 4 of my TrailRoots mates 2 weeks before the 3rd Rogue race, doing a bucket-list run going all the way around Lake Georgetown on the Goodwater Trail, a 26+ mile trail loop. I suffered an epic bonk at 18, and had to tough out the last 10 miles, the last 6 of which were on an empty water bottle, the sun pushing through, and I was dizzy at times.
I’m a believer in the importance of including lots of time-on-feet on very fatigued legs as a key element of marathon training, and boy did I get that in spades on this run.
Here’s a topo view of the course, it’s quite pretty as we follow the old rail line, now trail. The straight section at the right is the tunnel at the start. The course runs steadily downhill with no ups, just easy unwavering downs.
From the start, we do a quick eastward 150yds, double-back westward toward the tunnel entrance, and my GPS is already confused by the double-back when we enter the tunnel to some nice spectator cheers, and it’s telling me 7:55/mi, when I know I’m going faster. I pick it up a hair just in case... my Garmin quickly tells me lost sat reception, so I hit the ok button and it starts telling me 6:45-6:51/mi... I’m like no way, dude... so I run by feel keeping an eye on it... then 6:41... hmmm.... in a little bit I pass the 1 mile marker... at 8:30 race time! Shit! WTF! I speed up, now totally confused, but unwilling to shank my race that quickly and lose a full 70 secs in the first mile. You can actually see my heartrate jump in the graph above.
I then pass MM2 in a little over 12 minutes. Seriously? I’m not doing 6s, so now I totally don’t know what to believe... the Garmin, the MMs, my feel? Adding to the confusion is the 3:15 pacer way ahead, who SHOULD be at 7:26. The pinprick of light looms larger and we can make out the tunnel exit. I clumsily put my headlamp in my grocery bag, try to tie the handles, and at the instruction of the volunteer, drop it next to her as I pop out into the beautiful spruce and fir forest surroundings, and start heading downhill.
From MM3-13 I’m still not trusting much, but I try to do the mental math of 7:20/mi for roughly what time I should cross each MM, and eventually begin to conclude the GPS times of 6:40s to 7:06s might be, within each mile split, not far off, because I’m well under a 7:20 pace by time, if the MMs are to be trusted, which I’m still not sure they are. I start thinking about what do I do if I hit the half as quickly as I might, which SURELY will be marked in the right spot? I’m tracking a couple minutes fast...
I should be at the half in 1:36 for a 3:12 race, right? If I’m really the 2+ mins fast, I’ve probably destroyed my race already, as even this downhill course can’t save me from doom and peril at mile 21 if I’ve been 10-15sec/mile too fast. As I passed the half at 1:33:40 (a 3:07:20... yikes), I made the call to go for it, since I’d rather go confidently into the abyss then go meekly there regardless of the odds! Note: The 13.1 sign was all of 50 feet after the 13 sign... which to believe...
From MM13-21 having decided my possible doomed fate, I kept cranking out miles in the high-6s or low-7s, certain I would be in the fetal position just around the next corner... or maybe the next... I took my 2nd no-caff gel (3rd total), which should have been the 1x caff gel, at MM14.5, having plenty of water in my HH for it.
MM21 was also (to my memory) the last marker for “calibrated” mileage, so from 21 on I didn’t have pace assurance. Usually at this point in a race, I’m struggling not to be the sucker getting passed as my pace fails me, but this time, I was spotting runners ahead and closing gaps and picking them off.
I wasn’t sure how far up the finish was since my Garmin had been tracking 4 tenths or more ahead of the MM signs, but I busted out some mid-6s the last, what turned out being, 2 miles and once I went under the highway and the course turned a little and I saw the finish, I lit the afterburners, thinking I might have a little action in the 5s, but no such power was in there... I managed to drop into about 6:00/mi the last 200yds as my HR spiked to 175. I crossed the finish in with it showing 3:05:59, and I did a ginormous double-fist-pump, thinking how crazy it was I somehow pulled this off, having expected to be barfing and twitching 2-4 miles ago at my recklessly managed race. Official time was 3:06:00... whatever! I’m good!