Top 3 (l to r) Nicholas Triolo (3rd), Jacob Puzey (1st), and me
I had heard about "the mudd" at Hagg Lake and that's why I went. This year 'apparently' was Epic! Spoke to several folks who had done the race 10+ times and they have never seen this kind of mess (partly due to the record number of allowed entrants). The only way to describe Hagg mudd is to say it changes into whatever you don't want on a particular part of the trail; a bomber descent with the greasy slick mud that flips you on your kiester or shoe stealing 8 inch mud when your legs are too tired to try and get out. Hagg Mudd, yes it morphs. Here's how my race went:
Rain for the past 8 or 9 days in Oregon set the stage for the mud but it was also cold in the morning with black ice all over the road in the predawn hours. I made my way up from McMenamins around 6:30 AM to do my pre-race ritual of getting down 20 oz of electrolyte drink with a Power Bar and then make my way to the port-o-johns and hope for success that early in the morning. All systems go. I also had enough time to do a warm up - a 3 mile out and back up a dirt road that climbs about 400 feet. It was downright chilly to start!
In the beginning nice and clean
The plan, just like training, was to start slow, get my nutrition and hydration in, and then finish strong. The race started right at 8 and sure enough there were a couple of guys off the front straight up the hill but I could tell they were going be hung out to dry. I settled in about 5th after the short out and back but somehow I was in the front of a 4 man train on single track. I felt as though I was being rushed and asked several times if they wanted to pass... they settled in behind until we got to the dam. Once on the dam the 4 took off and there was one other out front. I thought I was going at a pretty good clip, probably mid 6s, but they were a least a minute up before we entered the single track again a mile later. Now remember, I have been training very differently than I ever have before so I immediately start second guessing if I have done enough leg turn over stuff. Sure I could have stayed with them but I felt like I would have been put in the red really early. I started focusing again on the race plan and telling myself to trust my training. My pace through the first aid (7.8) was 6:41 so I was content to hang back and cruise all alone in 6th place. No major hills to speak of just some nice rollers. Every now and again I would catch a glimpse of the pack out front and the only two I knew were Neil Olsen and Scott Wolfe, both fast runners so I was making time checks frequently to make sure I wasn't falling way off. Finally I came through the first lap + out and back (17.8) in just over 2 hours with a pace of 6:57, I was happy.
Now for lap number two, nutrition and hydration were spot on and energy was solid (I'll list my nutrition later). Immediately leaving the start/finish area I caught a runner whom I suspected would be hung out to dry but I also caught glimpses of several other runners no longer running in a pack. Just about mile 22 I made a decision to put the pedal down and see what I had. Within a mile or two I caught Scott Wolfe who was still moving pretty good. And with the races that we've toed the line together we always, always finish very close to one another so passing him made me a little nervous. But I was in it to win it so I was gonna go till the fuel was gone. Not more than 1/2 mile later I caught Neil Olsen who also seemed to be moving good but I caught him on a hill where he was taking in some calories. Neil has won the race twice with a PR of 3.43 so now I'm really nervous, two veterans on my tail so I better step it up.
Add a little dirt and water and wha-Lah!
Now I'm in 3rd with only 6 myles to go so running out of real estate here. It seemed at the time I was going faster than I had been all day, I know that's not true based on splits, but it felt like it. With 3 myles to go I caught the second place guy at the aid station. I didn't pass right away because I wanted to see his tendencies and really try to push him a bit to drain his tank even more. I was feeling good but I just wanted to be sure before I made a surge past him. Two myles to go I went past him real quick and never looked back. Those final myles were surreal! I was buzzing. I felt like I was floating but in reality I was 'gliding' the mud. As it turns out I never caught sight of the winner and as I think back to time checks at aid stations, his finish loop was identical to mine - 1.48. I never made any time on him - kudos Jacob for running a strong race! The ironic thing is that I was watching tendencies of the pack lead group; what they ate, what they drank, who was surging up the hills, who was crushing the downs, and this guy who won was not carrying a water bottle. I thought for sure I would see him. What I learned is that he was eating a bunch of gels and then loading up on water at the aid stations every 5 myles.
Overall pace was 7:24. I am extremely happy with the result because a) it gives me tremendous confidence in my training and b) I finished stronger than I started. Big thanks to Lucho!!! So for those of you out there reading this, my message to you: You will race the way you train. And the most important aspect is nutrition and hydration during training. Here is a breakdown of what I took in:
Pre-race 1 hour before
1 Power Bar
During the race
1 Power bar 30 minutes into the race, finished chewing at 45 minutes
2 5 oz flasks of EFS Wild Berry Liquid shot diluted in 20 oz water* (each one last an hour 45)
*I would take a slug of this every 5 minutes. Constant calories
1 20 oz bottle of Ultragen Cappuccino
Lots of great beer, milkshakes, and pizza!
After the race I went back to McMenamins and hung out with Scott Wolfe and his crew from Oregon. Thanks guys it was nice to meet you all and hope to see you soon! Scott and I will toe the line again in Pocatello for round two.
As far as the rest of the week here what it looked like:
Monday - 10 myles Daniels park
Tuesday - AM 6 myles TM Wichita
Wednesday - AM 4 myles Griggs
Thursday - 6 myles TM Tulsa
Friday - 3.5 myles Willamette River OR
Saturday - 34 myles Hagg Lake (with warm up)
Sunday - 3 myles TM home
77 myles, negligible elevation gain, 9 hours 33 minutes