This much fun

That was the first time I’ve raced in the dark and thought it would be fun #2 – a little suffering with the pace on Leif Erikson and then more suffering climbing Fire Road 1 followed by more suffering on the singletrack… but it turned out to be fun #1. Fun fun. Shocking.

I was running Mt. Tabor before sunup a couple of years ago but there was only a short section that was all trail. Tonight I was race pace in the woods on single track for about 5 kilometers.

Imagine flying through the forest just above the ground following a single beam of light illuminating just 2 meters in front of you. You can’t see anything in your periphery, and are completely focused on the beam of light and the surface beneath it. It’s like that. Fast. Surreal. Flying through the forest in the dark.

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We started with 5k on Leif Erikson (an improved but rocky fire road) as the sun started to go down. I made a half-hearted effort to turn on my headlamp, mostly to have it on before I needed it, but couldn’t get the correct beam setting – the button combination is weird with double and single hold presses to get the proper beam (it’s a new Petzl Tikka+). I finally got the brightest most dispersed beam just as we turned to start the climb up Fire Road 1. Essentially a wall. I ran until I blew up, then power hiked to recover, then ran again until I blew up, wash, rinse, repeat until done.

Going up that climb and looking back and seeing all the headlamps coming up behind me was beautiful – the bobbing lights in a row all the way down the hill. Very cool. There was so much moisture in the air that the headlamp was useless as we ran through little clouds. Same as driving in fog. The light just illuminates the moisture. The headlamp was clicking down a few notches and wasn’t staying where I wanted it to – the angle grooves were too light and a hard landing would cause it to jump down a few clicks. We started to descend and I pulled out my spare headlamp and turned on the focused beam – not sure how many lumens it is (Black Diamond … something) but it was perfect. I held it in my right hand and pointed it ahead on the trail, and kept my headlamp pushed back to give me a little more dispersed light. It was a pretty good setup.

At one point I passed a runner coming up from the side of the trail – he had run off the trail into the woods. Oops! Everyone’s pace definitely seemed to slow when were in the woods. I passed a couple of people – but made an effort to keep everything under control and not roll my ankle like I did last race. I couldn’t see the slope changes, but could feel my heart rate going up, so I assumed I was climbing a hill. So much fun for a Wednesday night.

Inhaled a huge bowl of green chile chicken soup (super spicy yum) and cornbread when I got home and started the process of winding all systems down for the night.

50K on Saturday. It’s my treat. I plan to enjoy it.

Portland trail series race #4 from Chris Rivard on Vimeo.

Digging the Nick Mulvey lately. Some of it reminds me of Ali Farka Toure.

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