Rainshadow’s Gorge Waterfalls 100 km
Finally getting to this Recap of Gorge Waterfalls 100 km race… Not to mention to also posting on this blog after about two years!
I attempted to run Rainshadow’s Gorge Waterfalls 100 km for my second time last weekend. This was also the second time I have every tried running this distance. My favourite distance to run is 50 km races, but I also want to push myself to go further.
Races don’t always go as planned, but that’s why I love trail running! Running ultra-marathons can feel easy some days and on other days, the same race, trail, distance can feel extremely challenging. This was one of those tough challenging days for me.
Prior to Gorge 100 km I was feeling good and excited to run under all the beautiful waterfalls on this course! I remember having a blast last year. I took a tough fall last year on some rocks in the first 10 km due to my headlamp going out, but I was able to recover and I learnt a lot from this experience about having good lights! I had some expected lows as well, but I was able to push through without too much difficulty.
I was also excited and grateful to have my best friends and boyfriend there. Alicia was also running the race, and Tory, Julien and Ryan joined for the fun trip down to Portland Oregon!
The race started at 4 am on Saturday, and I woke up around 2:45 am feeling pretty good and somewhat rested even with the early start, as we had gone to bed so early! It was great to have my best friend Alicia Woodside running close by for most of the morning. I would get a bit ahead on some of the up hills and then Alicia would come barreling down fast on the down hills and pass me, and so on.
This year I ran up most of the switchbacks early on in the race. Last year I think I hiked more early on as I was scared of the 100 km distance and more scared of not finishing. This year I wanted to beat my time and before the race I didn’t even think about not finishing. In hindsight not really knowing this distance well, I should have started a bit slower and see how I felt later in the race! I have gone out too fast many times in races over the years. I have been pacing myself well for 50 km races with no real issues but 100 km is a different beast and I have yet to figure it out!
After around 20-25 km Alicia and I were running behind a train of about 10 runners. This felt unusual for how far we were in the race. It was on a downhill section before we got to the 2 miles of road. I like going pretty fast on the down hills and Alicia is even faster so we were both wanting to pass but it was a narrow single track. Once we got settled in and realized it was not going to happen it was fun running down this smoother section all together (still some unexpected rocks that were hidden!).
Once we got to the road section this train spread out and we were able to run at our own pace. Alicia and I were together on this section and I remember feeling pretty relaxed. I remember asking Alicia how she was feeling as well and we both thought we were feeling great and going at a good pace. We weren’t really focused on who was ahead. One woman took off really fast it seemed all of a sudden when we hit the road, which surprised us both. We both were not really sure how many women were ahead. We talked about how we remember last year we ditched our lights at the end of the road, as it was light by that time. I thought we must be going faster this year as it was still dark when we reached the aid station on the road and I couldn’t ditch my lights until later on at Cascade Locks aid station.
After the road we separated out a bit and I was mainly running alone. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. Then somewhere around 30-35 km (before Cascade Locks) I started to feel nauseous all of a sudden. It came on super fast. I was running down a gravel road section and all of a sudden I was projectile vomiting Vega Gels. I had been eating Gels all morning and had not had any issues until this point. As I was vomiting I didn’t stop running. I was thinking, No this is not happening so early on, I’m going to be fine and I will recover. I thought I must have just been eating too many gels and I was too full. I had stuffed myself with oatmeal before the race and was eating gels throughout the morning. I have had other races where I have vomited and struggled to get through the race, but in those cases I had taken salt pills and attributed getting sick those times from taking salt pills when I probably didn’t need them.
I continued on and didn’t feel like I had dropped the pace. I got to Cascade Locks a few km’s later and was worried I had vomited up most of the gels I had eaten the whole morning so I grabbed two peanut butter and jam sandwiches to try and maintain my energy. I struggled to eat them and they ended up in my pack squished and mostly uneaten. I tried eating some M&M’s and and candy instead to get anything down but was also having difficulties eating these yummy treats. Between 40-50 km I was still struggling to eat anything. I was still feeling nauseous, having stomach cramps, and felt like all the little climbs were difficult. I found myself wondering how much further until the turnaround at 50 km. I was walking up some runnable sections. I didn’t have a watch and asked a group of hikers if they knew what time it was. At this point they said it was approximately 9 am. I have been able to get through lows in past races but this seemed to keep going on longer than normal. I was grateful for any down hills to try and recover. There was a downhill section before the turnaround at 50 km in which I was able to run down and I must have looked alright as everyone was saying how I looked stronger than Michelle who was up ahead about 10 minutes or so, and I should try and catch her?! I didn’t reveal to anyone that I was feeling terrible as I still had hopes of getting through this. I grabbed some Gu gels at the aid station to try and get something new tasting down. I started out back up the hill and I saw Alicia coming down not far behind. She also said Tara, there are two girls ahead of you about a km, you can catch them. I wanted to believe this but I knew I was struggling and wasn’t thinking too much about trying to catch anyone, more about being able to finish. When I started back up the hill I felt like I was getting worse and worse, not better and I had to do a lot of walking. Alicia caught up to me when we were running down a long logging road looking path. I remember I kept looking back to see where she was and if she was close behind as I was really needing some help. Sure enough when she caught up to me she was encouraging me to stay with her and run with her. I confessed I had been feeling awful for the past few hours and I was thinking of dropping at the next aid station. She told me that I will feel better in 20 minutes and to give it time. She told me to run with her and she would lead us for a bit. What a great friend! I told her that she should keep going and try and catch the lead girls. She looked strong. I tried to stay with her but I couldn’t keep the pace she was going. She gradually got further and further ahead as I continued to fade and I could hear her yelling at me to continue on as she took off down the hill. Thinking back to her continuing to yell at me as she gradual went further and further ahead makes me laugh, as I could no longer hear what she was yelling to me, but I know she was trying to encourage me to go on.
I continued to try and walk/run. I was having stomach cramps and had to make a dash for the bushes a few times. I continued to struggle with stomach cramps, was dry heaving at points, and was not eating. At some point I changed my goal of finishing the race to just trying to make it to Cascade Locks at 65 km. I started thinking why am I putting myself through this and I decided I was really NOT having fun anymore..I didn’t want to hate trail running. I decided I was done and finishing as soon as I could. I was asking other runners as they ran by me how far they thought it was to Cascade Locks. One runner told me maybe about 3-4 miles. This sounded far. I started looking down the mountain to see if there were any trails that lead to the road/ highway and I could hitch hike back to the start, but there were mainly just steep cliffs. I could hear the cars down below but there was no exiting out of the trail. I got to a sign that said Cascade locks 2 miles and it sounded so far. I pushed myself to try and run/walk to get there faster and be finished my run for the day. I was still ditching the trail to go into the bushes. Other runners were asking if I was ok. I told them I was having a rough time and I was dropping. There were so many amazing people in the race that were trying to encourage me on but I had made up my mind and was excited to just be finished walking/running for the day.
I got to the aid station at Cascade Locks and saw Tory and Ryan and found myself tearing up. I’m not sure if it was more because I was embarrassed I was dropping, because I was not feeling well, or that I was so happy to be at the aid station. I told Tory that I was sorry but she was not going to be able to run with me. I was not going on. I left to find a toilet down the hill. After, I sat down next to the aid station and tried to drink some Gatorade and rehydrate. I had numerous people come up to me (Tory, Matt, Solana) and try and convince me to continue on. I was being extremely stubborn and told them I was not having fun and I had already made up my mind over an hour ago! I didn’t want to walk and struggle for another 35 km. I was happy with finishing my run here at 65 km. Today just wasn’t my day and I didn’t want to run anymore. Poor Tory, Matt, Solana, Ryan. Thanks for trying and dealing with me! Everyone was trying to be so supportive but I really didn’t want to continue on. I wanted to go cheer on everyone else running and hang out at the finish line! Tory even kept trying to convince me to go for a walk with her “over that way” and listen to Taylor Swift and see how I felt. Solana again asked me if I was sure about dropping when I was in the back of the truck ready to drive away! You guys are all amazing and I felt more terrible saying no to all of you than actually dropping!
I’m not sure why I was nauseous on this particular day. Trail running is always a learning experience! Always having to tweak and test out hydration, food, pace, until you find what works well for you! I was happy with running 65 km and know there will be many more races! I had a great time at the finish line and seeing Alicia come 4th! And Alexa and Hilary crushing their first 100 k! See Cloe’s Race Report on the Gorge Waterfalls 100 k: Chloelongstride.blogspot.ca