This race was originally not on my radar for the year. I planted the 50K idea in Michele’s head earlier in the year and she picked this race. There was no way I was going to let her have all of the fun so I signed up too! Run the burn landed 5 weeks before Dirty30 which put it in a perfect place to use it as a training run for that and my 100 miler in August.
Run the Burn takes place west of Portland in the Tillamook State Forrest. This was my first time in the pacific northwest, this ecosystem is so green and lush, I felt like a t-rex could pop out of the Jungle-esq surroundings at any moment.
Me and Michele stayed about 40 minutes away from the race location so we were up bright and early on race day. The drive to the race was filled with the normal butterfly in the stomach sensations. I knew this would go away as soon as I started running. When we got to Tillamook we found our parking spot and wondered over to pick up our bibs. We had about 30 minutes to kill before the race started so we explored around the start / finish gate and warmed our butts by the camp fire that was burning 50 feet from the start of the race.
Before I knew it 8AM rolled around and we were off running. I knew there was a big 1500ft climb in the first 3.5 miles so I forced myself to take it easy on the climb. The best thing about grinding up a big climb is knowing that you have a big downhill to follow that up. The 5 mile rolling descent off of the first big climb was my favorite section on the way out. This descent took you down a perfect piece of single track that switched back and forth down into a gulley. I was very distracted by all of the waterfalls I passed on this section of the trail. At this point of the race (mile 10) I was on cloud 9. I had hopes of a sub 6 hour 50K and a PR for the day.
This race is designed as an out and back with the turn around point being at a huge waterfall. I reached the waterfall around 3 hours and 15 minutes into the race. At this point I started fighting the mental battle I normally fight half way through a race. The bad thing about an out and back means you have to run back on the exact trail you ran out on. The good thing is I got to see Michele a little bit after I turned around and started heading back. I ran into her about 15-20 minutes after I turned around. We exchanged some nice words and a quick hug and we were both back on our way. Seeing her picked me up out of the low place I was going to mentally for a little bit.
I was dreading that 5 mile descent I wrote about earlier because I knew It was going to be a pain in the ass (literally) to run back up. As soon as I started the climb I did my best to just zone out and grind up the hill. At the top of this climb there was an aid station, I moved through it quickly because I just wanted the race to be over at that point. The last downhill was a quad, knee, and toe killer! I did my best to grind out the last couple miles of down hill and ran my way into another 50K finish.
After I finished the race I hobbled back to the car, changed into my comfortable neon orange shoes and plopped myself down at the finish line to cheer Michele in for her first 50K finish. Not too much behind me Michele came running across the finish line, I was incredibly surprised how well she looked for having just ran her first 50K. She absolutely crushed this race and I am incredibly proud of her. I am happy I got to share the race with her!