Running Through Mist: Oregon Coast 50k, Part 1

Streak Day:733
YTD Mileage: 8 / 2017
(2112 miles for 2016)

October 8, 2016, is a day I had eagerly anticipated for six months. img_4793Knowing that the Oregon Coast 50k sold out within the first couple of days of registration the previous two years, I waited up on April 26, 2016, to register for the 2016 event as soon as registration for the race opened. Oregon is two hours behind Texas in time zone, which meant that I had to wait up until about 2 am Texas time to register for the race. After I registered Phillip and myself for the race, I was able to sleep easily, knowing that I had secured two spots for the spectacular 50k. Now, the one thing I did not do, which anyone planning to run this 50k needs to do immediately upon registering, is to reserve a room The Adobe Resort, the official race hotel. Two days after I registered for the race, I remembered to call The Adobe Resort and reserved one of the last three rooms available race weekend, and the LAST room with an ocean view.

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The room in which we stayed is the best room EVER! The race finish line is at the Adobe, and it was right outside of our room. We walked out on our little patio, looked to the right, and watched people setting up the finish line in preparation for the race. The proximity of the finish line to our room also meant we could finish the race, shower, and immediately walk back out to join the finish line festivities.

Having reserved spots in the race and a room with a view at the official race lodging, I began to look forward to seeing Oregon and the Oregon coast, as well as running this unique 50k (unique to those of us who live land-locked in S Texas, anyway). I repeatedly watched the official race video:

I continued to train with my weight vest twice a week, despite the usual intense Texas summer heat and humidity, making one of the twice-weekly weight vest workouts a hill-sprint session on the hill up to the tower in Eisenhower Park. Through the six months of training for this race in the brutal seasonal weather, through heat-sluggish runs plagued with nausea that turned into afternoons and evenings of missed meals, through dehydration that took hours to remedy, I looked forward to the Oregon Coast 50k as a child joyfully anticipates Christmas morning.

The OC 50k has a cut-off of eight hours, a much shorter cut-off time than other 50ks I’ve run. I was not really too worried about the short cut-off, however; I’d been sick and walked more than half the Brazos Bend 50k last spring, and still finished well under eight hours. I also know from experience that the nearly impossible summer training in my home climate makes up for many shortcomings in my preparation for fall races in cooler, more mountainous regions.  Assuming my stomach would behave a little better than usual in Oregon’s cooler climate than it did in the heat and humidity of the BB50k, I figured I would manage the 4500 ft elevation gain and still finish within the eight hour limit.

Part of my planning for the 50k included deciding whether to run barefoot or to wear huaraches. My Luna huaraches had broken on a trail run in May, and I had not bothered to replace them. I was using a pair of yoga sandals on trails while I researched other styles and brands of running sandals. I ended up buying a pair of Unshoe Pah Tempes to wear on trails, possibly on the Oregon Coast 50k trail. The design, with straps that cross the toes instead of going between the toes, appeals to me. They are light, too, with very little sole, and thus allow one’s feet to – somewhat – still feel the ground’s surface. I decided to try the Pah Tempes with only about a week left to receive them before flying up to Oregon, so I added that information in a note when I ordered the sandals. The sandals, semi-fitted and thus made to order, don’t ship right away. I worried about getting them before we left for the race. KUDOS to the people who work at Unshoes! Someone let me know my sandals would be quickly made, and I received those sandals with time to spare before heading to Oregon.

Kudos, also, to Rainshadow Running RD James Varner, who immediately responded to my email about the condition of the trails on which we’d be running the 50k. The first six or so miles of the race are on a beach, and then the next two or three miles are on the road from the beach to the mountains. I was worried about the nature of the mountain trails. I really feel uncomfortable running with anything, no matter how minimalist, on my feet. The rocky, gnarly, technical nature of the trails in Central and South Texas require that I wear something protective on my feet. Trails in other areas of the country, much more forgiving in surface, are easily run barefoot. I’ve run the softer, less rocky trails in Washington state and Colorado with completely naked feet: no problem.

Knowing I’d be more comfortable with naked feet (the comfort of the Pah Tempes notwithstanding), and wanting to be as comfortable as possible during the 50k, I studied images and videos of the race course online trying to discern the exact quality of the trail. Parts looked navigable with bare feet without risk of injury, but other parts I just couldn’t tell. I finally emailed Mr. Varner, explained that I run barefoot purely for comfort (as opposed to making any kind of statement), and told him my plan to leave my sandals in a drop bag in case I needed them. I also explained that I worried that I might need them between entering the mountain trails and reaching the mile 14 aid station, where I would need to drop the bag with my sandals if I went with that plan. Mr. Varner responded quickly, explained that parts of the trail are fairly rocky, but offered the suggestion that I carry my thin, light sandals with me in a pack and use them as I needed them, if I needed them.

I appreciate Mr. Varner’s interest in helping me find a way to run the race as comfortably as possible! He clearly takes a personal interest in the needs of runners who register for his races. Based on his suggestion, I purchased a generic hydration pack, which I filled with my Pah Tempes instead of water. The pack was light, especially considering the weight vest training I’d been doing for months. I had the security of having my sandals if I needed them, but I never needed them! I ran the entire 50k, most of it on mountain trails, with my bare naked, comfortable, happy feet : )

Finally, October 6th arrived. Phillip and I flew up to Portland, OR, and began our most excellent adventure! We landed at PDX about 8 pm, took a shuttle to the car rental place, and were inexplicably upgraded to a Mercedes Benz from the mid-level car we usually rent. The woman who helped us gave us no explanation for the upgrade, except to say that the upgrade is unusual but she just wanted to do it. We thanked her and explained that we were on a trip to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary (October 11), so the upgrade was like an anniversary present!

From the car rental place we made our way to the PDX hotel at which we had reservations. It boasts a restaurant with a gluten-free menu. In keeping with my practice of avoiding restaurant food before a race, but being too tired after hours of travel to look for a grocery store where we could purchase food I knew for certain was gluten-free, I had a salad and some chips. The next morning we made our way to Whole Foods, where we stocked up on gluten-free foods (fruit, nuts, g f lunchmeat, cheese, Udi’s muffins, and such), and drove up the coast to Yachats. That entire area is amazingly beautiful.

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Oregon Coast 50k Race Report: Part 2

 

Author: TD Morris

I am a small business owner (ATX Ultra Eats, gluten-free, grain-free products www.atxultraeats.com) who loves God, my family, my dogs, running, barefoot running, cooking, eating, and reading!

3 thoughts on “Running Through Mist: Oregon Coast 50k, Part 1”

  1. looking forward to part 2. if u like the Pah Tempe, have you looked into the Xero trail running sandals (like the Umara Z-Trail)? They also don’t do the toe tug thing but go ovjer the forefoot. i love em. and i wonder how they compare to the pah tempe….

    1. Hi, Ric! Thank you for reading my blog post! My first pair of running huaraches were Xeros. They broke in the same place my Luna huaraches (which I bought to replace the broken Xeros) broke. Xero didn’t make the Umara when I bought my first pair, nor when I had to replace that pair. The Umara is a fairly new design offered by Xero. I did compare the Umara with the Pah Tempeh while trying to decide which to buy last fall, and decided upon the Pah Tempeh because according to the comparisons and reviews I read, the Pah Tempeh is lighter in weight. Other than the weight, I believe the Pah Tempehs and the Umbras are similar (gathering from what I’ve read). The problem I have with any footwear is that my form changes even with the thinnest sole. I’m so used to feeling the ground with my bare feet when I run that anything that interferes with the contact between my feet and the ground changes the way my body feels and the way I run. For that reason I really would like to always run trails without even the most minimalist of footwear, but in Central and South Texas the trails are so harsh that running them barefoot is impossible most of the time. Running trails barefoot in other states, however, is possible – and I supposed may be possible in some parts of North Texas but I’ve never run trails in that part of Texas so I don’t know for sure. One of the reasons I run roads most of the time is to be able to run without anything on my feet. Do you wear your Umbras all the time, or only when you run trails? What do you like most about them?

  2. I’m not a true barefoot runner — or at least rarely. On pavement, yes, and on beaches. I haven’t toughened up enough for doing it on all but the mildest of dirt trails. My standard is either huaraches or Vibram FiveFingers for anything less than 15 miles. My first Karachi’s experience was with Lunas about two years ago – loved them, but couldn’t dial in the fit after two pairs to prevent rubbing where it connected in the front between the toes, and so switched to the Xero Umara right when it came out, and the immediately became my go-to shoe, though I still love the more barefoot feel of the VFFs when a trail isn’t too technical. I did have some problems with my first pair of Xero Umara’s with the strapping going haywire, but their generous return policy allowed for a replacement, and the new had no problems. I’m now starting on my fourth pair, but not averse to trying out an alternative such as the Pah Tempeh…. The Umara for me seems to be the right combination of sufficient footbed for even a technical trail, a secure fit on irregular surfaces, and comfortable enough that – yes – I use them as street footwear as well, after the tread has worn enough to make them insufficient tractionwise for the trail.

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