I was working on our yearly Christmas letter, actually looking for an old letter to see how to start the new one, when I stumbled across this. Its 5 years old now, but fun to read. I didn't edit it at all, so there's probably a few typos.
|Photo: Michael Lebowitz/Long Run Pictures|
Ken Ward thought that I should write up how McKenzie River went, so here's what happened.
Coming in to the race I knew I could be fast, top ten, maybe top five. This was my third 50 miler but the first one I knew the course. Since I tend to do best climbing hills, I wanted to push the pace going up the river and then have enough left to finish going down.
When we started out in the dark, I just couldn't get relaxed and really enjoy the run. Maybe it was having to focus with only a flashlight to guide me, maybe it was running with so many people I didn't know. Usually I prefer to run alone or in a small group with people I know. Probably though, its hard to get excited at 5 in the morning. Once I took of my headlight and it started to get lighted I got really excited to run. I was around 8-10 miles into the race and I decided to really start to push the pace. I caught up with Todd Temple and talked with him for a few minutes and then took off up the river. I probably passed 10-15 people between then and Carmen and then left Carmen just ahead of Denise Bourassa. At the time I didn't know, but I was in 6th. I headed up toward the lake and I could feel my legs but still managed to hold a fast pace. I passed a couple more 50 milers before the turnaround and felt pretty good. Coming back through the turnaround I saw Denise again and I realized I was a mile ahead of her. I still felt great and made good time going around Clear Lake. I was lucky all the 50K runners were in small groups and let me pass right away so there was no hold up. When I got back to Carmen I was feeling good on the downs but on the small climbs (most are only a few hundred yards up) I could feel my legs getting tired. Coming into Carmen I was in third place but didn't know that until afterword. I was able to make good time coming out of Carmen and then flew through the lava near Tamolitch Pool. That is when I heard from some runners that I was either in second or third place. Going through the lava I caught Dan Olmstead who I recognized from the start. I asked him if he really was Dan, and if he was leading? He told me he was in second and the leader was about 7 minutes out. I kept hammering through the lava and in just a few minutes I caught my brother, Dennis Gamroth, and Scott Leonard. They all gave me a lot of encouragement which helped me keep going strong. By the time I reached the next aid station, maybe 12-14 miles to go, I was really feeling tired. My legs were tired from climbing hard early and I was only feeling alright from going so fast. Between then and the next aid, 9 miles to go, I passed a lot of 50K runners and asked how close I was to the leader. This was not very reliable information because the answers ranged from half an hour to 100 feet. A few people I caught told me that I looked better than the leader and was closing in. With 9 miles to go I got my vest filled half way with GU Brew and asked how far back I was. I heard it was maybe 3-4 minutes but they were not sure. From there I was just hoping to finish the race and not get passed by Dan or someone else I passed earlier. My legs were really hurting between then and Deer Creek aid with 6 miles to go. On the bridges there is usually a few steps up to them and down and I could feel my hamstrings and quads didn't have much left. I made it to Deer Creek in good time and my dad told me I was 3 minutes back of the leader. I knew from there I would have to give it all I had. I passed one 50K runner who got ahead of me at the aid station and then kept pushing as hard as I could. About 3 miles from the finish I saw Mike Rosling who told me "Catch him, he's right there" Just ahead of was a guy in yellow who I assumed was the leader. I caught him in less than 20 seconds and opened it up once he let me by. He said, "Don't worry, we're not in the same race." This really confused me because Mike said that was him but he said we were not running the same race. That didn't matter, I went flying away from him on the next down and caught up with another runner on the next small climb. I passed him as well but he said he was running the 50k. From that point I was just hoping for the race to end. My legs were hardly working although I was still cruising and I felt a little sick because I was working as hard as I ever have running. I passed one more walker who seemed to be involved in the race. He said I was in the lead and I asked "Isn't there someone still ahead?". He told me he was almost positive that I had the lead. From there it all ended in a hurry. It was easy, flat running down by the river and then I rounded the corner. There was the small hill leading to the finish and I could see people and the flags marking the finish line. I went flying across the finish and didn't know if I had won or not until my dad told me that I had just won. I must have been really moving because the guy in yellow, he really was the leader, came in about 2-3 minutes after me. All in all, it was a pretty awesome and I'm probably pretty lucky Dan Olmstead didn't run better that day. I just want to say thank you to all the runners who encouraged me during the race and to my mom and brother who's support meant a little something extra. Maybe my biggest thank you should be to my dad who was at Carmen reservoir both times, Deer Creek, and the finish. Without all the support, especially Mike Rosling telling me the leader was right there, I don't know if I would have run as well as I did. Most Important, I need to thank my mom who got me started running and has taken me to run every time I want to. When I was younger, she had to wait for me many times or run slower than she wanted but she alway let me run with her. Without her, I wouldn't have been able to run like I did Saturday.
I think my time was ~7:12. I have not seen the final results yet.
I got to meet John Ticer at the finish. It was cool since one of my first McKenzie River run experiences was walking along the McKenzie River trail with my dad and my brother thinking no runner would be coming for a while and then all of a sudden John Ticer comes flying across a bridge 10 minutes ahead of any other runner.(I think Scott Jurek was second)
I'm busy with school, band and soccer now so my running will be scaled down a bit. I play soccer with my brother for Corvallis HS. We play Sherwood, Tueday at 6 pm at the CHS turf field.