Sunday, October 9, 2016

Defiance 50K Race Report 2016

I hadn't heard of Defiance 50K until the night prior, but I was signed up for Oregon Coast 50K and decided that due to my poor planning, it was unrealistic for me to get up at 2a.m. to drive 11 hours round trip to run that race. So I got online and found Defiance, which had plenty of space left as well as day-of registration.
This 50K is held on the trails at Point Defiance starting at Owens Beach. It's a loop course of roughly 10 miles with about 1,000 feet of gain per loop and it's all runnable. Even my favorite descent, Nelly's Gnarly Descent, is runnable; it has a rope from top to bottom, so you just hang on tight and bomb down (I recommend bringing gloves for this). The trails are gorgeous and I sure do love a course where you can get a steady rhythm and good turnover, it makes for a fast day.

PC: Marylee Martucci

The first mile or so of the course is on a concrete path along the waterfront before you climb a set of stairs up into the park. From there, besides a few road crossings, you are on soft, groomed North West trails under beautiful old growth and typical PNW flora. It's an easy and scenic course, two things you don't often get in one trail race. There is only one steep climb, Achilles Hill, and it's very short.
Despite running an average of only 50 miles per week for the past two months following my back to back 50 Milers, I was feeling pretty good. I came through the first loop in 1:15 and the second in 1:17, but during the third loop I lost a lot of time. When I started the third loop I was on pace for a short course PR, I even sent my wife a photo and message that said "I have the lead and I'm on pace for my PR!" but I spoke too soon.
Mid race selfies are a bad idea
PC: On The Run Events

Getting tired had a lot more to do with my slower time on the 3rd loop than anything else, but I will say that this was one of the poorest marked courses I have ever run. There was no mention of what color ribbon to follow pre-race, which thankfully ended up being pretty self explanatory since there was only one color out there, however, during the first loop myself and two 30K guys (one who was really pissed about it) got off course a total of 3 times. On my last loop, after coming to an intersection with pink ribbons in multiple directions, I took a wrong turn and added 1-2 miles to my run. The volunteers were very friendly, but they didn't seem to know what was going on as every one I asked either had no idea what distance they were stationed at or told me a distance that made no sense and contradicted the previous volunteer's estimation. Maybe I'm Spoiled by Rainshadow Running and Destination Trail, but the lack of course marking and volunteer organization became very apparent on my last loop.
Even with those little bumps, I stayed positive and had a blast. Can I really complain about getting some bonus miles?Besides, it was a fast and beautiful course and I managed to snag the win. Nelly's Gnarly Descent was by far my favorite part. It was thrilling to hold on to that rope and pretty much free fall down that steep section of trail. So much fun!
The aid stations were well stocked and at the finish there was endless pizza. Can you really ask for more than beautiful Pacific North West trails and endless pizza?



We went back the following day for Wifey's Long run. Here are some photos of the beautiful trails out there:







Thank you to all of the volunteers who make these events possible.

Thank you to Clifbar.

For personal coaching visit Upper Left Distance Training.





Saturday, August 13, 2016

SOB 50 Mile Race Report 2016

The last time I ran 50 miles was in 2013. At this race. And I did not have a fantastic day. In fact, I swore off 50 Milers all together and decided to stick to the "short stuff" after that.
But here I was. 5:44 AM sitting in the car in one of my favorite places in the word with my beautiful wife and daughter in law, watching the morning sun cascade over the mountain range with snow capped Mt. Shasta in the distance, waiting patiently for 16 minutes to creep by.
This year I felt very comfortable with the starting pace (mid 7's). My breathing wasn't labored like in 2013 and my legs finally felt fresh. I yo yo-ed a bit with Brett Hornig, Rod Bien and a couple other guys who's names have escaped me (sorry dudes!). Coming into the mile 9 aid station, my favorite aid station; captained by one of my best friends, Joseph Chick, I was leading and feeling strong.

Leading in to mile 9 A/S

Best aid ever

Captain Chick
If you haven't had the pleasure of running in Southern Oregon, do yourself a favor and GO! It is absolutely amazing. This particular race has over 8,000 feet of gain and descent over the course of 50 miles, and meanders mostly along the buttery smooth PCT between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. Joe describes the gain and loss as "rollers" but after mile 40 when you have to climb 1,000 feet over 3 miles, it doesn't feel like a roller. But I train on flat roads 90% of the time, so I'm probably just soft.
I tried to hang on with Brett for a while, but he slowly pulled out his RVR legs and I was soon left in the dust. Rod and another gentlemen pulled away from me around mile 30 during a 1,000 foot climb and I didn't try to keep up. If I could change one thing about my training leading up to this race, I would have done more hills, but I didn't. I was here and alive and happy to be, so I just kept clicking along the best I could and tried to think about what my wife said which was "Remember to have fun out there!"
The course is beautiful. It runs through blooming meadows, warm pine groves and a few fast fire roads with views for days. It's easy to get lost in the beauty of it all and catch your toe on a root, so be careful when you go. 

Mile 33 or so

It's hard for me to remember the events of the day by now, but it was amazing. I had a moment around mile 39 where almost every emotion I felt when I had to move away from Ashland flooded back into me. How I didn't want to go, how I couldn't stop drinking, how my shitty race in '13 felt like a direct reflection of the mediocrity I felt in life at the time. I couldn't stop from feeling the sadness while simultaneously feeling fortunate to be alive and to be here. How after all of the darkness, the nights I can't remember and the mornings I woke up hating myself, I changed. How I came home and found the woman that made me want to be better. How I have a healthy body and a good job and more than any man could ask for and how I could die happy today if it came down to it, but that I didn't want to because there's too much life left to live. I felt immense pain. And immense joy. I was proud of myself. And then I said to myself "You can't run well like this, Korey. Knock it off." So I stopped. I was happy I would get to see Joe and eat watermelon at mile 41 and tried to get there as fast as I could.

Mile 39 or so

The rest of the race was a real grind. My climbing legs were gone, but I still had to climb. I dropped a couple 14+ minute miles and felt ok with that. I just put one foot in front of the other; sometimes that's all you can do. I arrived at mile 45 feeling a little woozy and I must have looked like shit because the volunteer said "Here. You need a sponge." And doused me in freezing water. I had some grapes and continued on.

Coming out of the pain cave

I came through the finish line in 07:13 which is a PR for me and was good enough for 4th place.
Alicia and Jordin were there looking proud as ever and I was a happy man.





Gear Used:

Pearl Izumi Trail N2 v3
Pearl Izumi Custom Tee
Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Short
Clifshot Gels and Blocks
Feetures! Elite Crew Socks

Deets:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pearl Izumi Trail N2 v3 Review

*Pearl Izumi has decided to exit the run business and will no longer produce shoes as of January, 2017*

Are people going to think this review is bias because I run for Pearl? It's certainly possible! But keep in mind that I've never wasted my time reviewing a shoe I didn't like regardless of my sponsors and I decided to review these bad boys on my own because I haven't put on a trail shoe this comfortable in quite some time. To be honest, I mostly train on the roads, so I never even tried the TN2v2. My v1's have plenty of life in them and I find them to be a perfectly acceptable trail shoe in most situations.
But my buddy Ryan sent me these and I loved them so much that I only put one 8 mile / 2,000 foot test run on them before I took them out for SOB 50 Mile and then turned around and ran them through White River 50 Mile the following weekend for a total of 108 miles and 19,000 feet of vert. If that doesn't make you want to buy them and you're a nerd like me, then read on for sweet and short review. 

The TN2v3 Weighs in at 10.5oz for a men's 9 with an 8mm drop at mid stance and an MSRP of $125.


UPPER

The upper is as comfortable as ever with Pearl Izumi's well known and loved seamless construction. A bonded toe cap provides plenty of protection against aggressive rocks and roots (I kicked plenty of gnarly rocks in the middle of White River and I still have all of my toe nails).
The overlays are bonded and flexible and the heel counter is firm, but not ridged. My heels feel locked down, my midfoot feels secure and the toe box opens up comfortably giving just the right amount of wiggle room. The upper almost moves as an extension of your foot and feels extremely natural with great breatheability. They fit true to size.


MIDSOLE

The midsole features Pearl Izumi's 1:1 energy foam coupled with a crash pad in the heel and EVA throughout. There is just the right amount of cushion and response in these kicks. Not too much, not too little. The midsole is firm enough for clicking off 6 minute miles on fire roads and cushioned enough for bombing 4,000 foot descents. The balance achieved here really is spot on for a trail shoe. 
The midsole also features Pearl Izumi's Dynamic Offset. With the toe spring positioned lightly further back than most shoes and a slightly concave midsole shape, it eliminates a static offset and forefoot slap. According to Pearl Izumi, Dynamic Offset "allows the foot to move continuously and smoothly through mid stance, rather than pausing briefly, as weight is transferred to the forefoot in preparation of push off." So the drop of the shoe changes throughout the gait cycle providing the runner a very smooth feel under foot. If you haven't had the pleasure of feeling this, do yourself a favor and try any pair of Pearl's E:Motion shoes.


OUTSOLE

The outsole features carbon rubber with multi directional lugs for superior grip and a forefoot rock plate for added protection. They have the same lug pattern you've come to love from Pearl; the pattern you'd recognize if you saw the foot print on fresh snow or dusty single track, but they've decreased the durometer of the rubber providing a stickier rubber on wet surfaces. 
Like I mentioned previously, I didn't try the N2v2, but this outsole is a pleasant departure from the v1. I'd have no qualms about running slick ridges in these, whereas the v1 made me fear for my life on slick, mountainous terrain. The improvement is noticeable and would be a big confidence booster if running in the aformentioned conditions. 




CONCLUSION

If you want a shoe designed for the mountains, in the mountains, then this is your shoe. I've never liked or trusted a shoe enough to take them on one test run before hammering a 50 Mile race, so that alone should say enough. The fit and comfort is unmatched in the trail market right now and the durability makes them worth every penny. Get yourself a pair and let me know what you think.


SOB 50M finish in the TN2v3 - PC: Terry Croft


Running the TN2v3 at White River 50M - PC: Glenn Tachiyama

Monday, May 16, 2016

Capital City Marathon 2016 Race Report

Here I am. Mile Two. Shoulder to shoulder with last years winner, Jesse Stevick, running 5:45 pace, talking about work and life and thinking holy shit. This pace feels comfortable.
Jesse's breathing was labored and I knew he had been dealing with a small injury. I thought to myself: This race is yours.
Any time Jesse made a move. I pushed. Any time his local fans would cheer him on I would cheer back, throw up the hang loose sign and surge. This was my race. I'd been picturing all of this for weeks.
At every hill I thought: You know this hill. This is easy. At every down hill he would push and I would push back until we were side by side again. At mile 12 I could hear people cheering for him, so I pushed ahead to show them this was my race. A few people looked confused and concerned and who the fuck is this? And I loved it.
My splits were almost exactly what I had planned meticulously in a journal weeks prior. I ate a gel every 35 minutes at every aid station I had written on my fore arm in sharpie. I drank at every single water station, a skill my wife had helped me perfect in the parking lot the night before the race. Everything was perfect.
At mile 16, after the large hill at Woodard Bay, I went to make my move, but my legs didn't have the energy in them that I thought they would have. I looked down at my watch which read 5:55 for the lap pace and thought: DO NOT give up. If you can't push the pace to 05:43 then just hold. This. Pace. 10 more miles and it's yours. The people you care about are there. Do not let them down. DO NOT let them down.
I couldn't hear Jesse's shoes slapping the asphalt anymore. I couldn't hear him clearing his nose.
Just keep moving.
As I approached the mile 18 aid station I went to pull a gel out of my shorts, but my arm felt unusually heavy. I didn't want to eat the gel and thought I would vomit if I did. I grabbed some electrolyte drink from the volunteers. I spat that out all over myself. Keep moving, Korey.
On 36th I was finally passing the half marathoners which I thought would give me a boost, but it didn't. I watched the pace car inch along wishing I could give up and get in it. Every group that cheered for me could be heard less than a minute later cheering even louder as Jesse was getting closer.
On Friendly Grove, right before mile 20, the cheers got louder and he passed me. I couldn't push at all.
Nice work, Jesse. I mumbled, as every bit of motivation that was once a raging torrent left my body in a trickling stream of defeat.
I stopped at mile 20 to try and drink some water, but I spit it out and almost fell over.
I bent over to puke but nothing came out.
Everything was a bit blurry and I started jogging in zig zags. In and out of the line of runners.
I don't remember it very clearly, but I do remember thinking that I had to get to Alicia so that I could stop running.
And that's what I did.
I kissed her, like I did the year prior. Except this time laid on the grass and said that I couldn't run anymore.
We can go home or you can walk the last 4 with me.
She smiled and said: Yea! I'll walk with you! Let's go! And she jumped up.
I changed my clothes and proceeded to have the most enjoyable, peaceful and calming final 4 miles of a race I had ever experienced. This woman changed my day, the way she's changed every aspect of my life.
We smelled the flowers blooming in yards. We talked about how beautiful the world was. We took deep breathes and commented on the smell of spring and the sounds of the birds and how they made everything seem even more beautiful than it already was. We joked with the volunteers. We held hands and laughed and talked about the future for 4 miles. I felt complete, even in the midst of failure and defeat.

I finished in 03:46 in 64th place. The farthest back I have finished since I started running in 2010.

We are our own worse critics and I am especially hard on myself. That will not change. It's what makes me want to be great. It's what makes me want to be the best dad, the best husband and the best runner. It's what makes me want to be a better person. And while I know my goal was too lofty for many reasons, I can't help but feel that I lack something that defines real champions. I can only hope to grow into that one day.

I could not be happier for Jesse. He is such a kind and genuine person. To take your 10th win with an injury? How impressive is that? He's a local hero. He deserved that win. This is not my town. It's his.

I want to thank the good people at Clif and Pearl Izumi for believing in me and standing behind even when I feel I've let them down.
Especially George at Clif and Emelie and Shannon at Pearl. Thank you.

And Alicia,
You are the most amazing and beautiful person I've met in my entire life.
Thank you for loving me the way you do.


In the marathon world 2:30 is not very fast at all.
I will break it. But for now I'm headed back to the trails.

I hope to see you all out there.

 Photos provided courtesy of South Sound Running






Gear Used:

Pearl Izumi RN1v2
Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Shorts
Raspberry and Vanilla Clif shots

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Deception Pass Half Marathon Race Report - 2016


Deception Pass State Park is a 4,000 + acre park about 2 1/2 hours from my place in Lacey in which you can meander along ocean shoreline, tide pools, lakes and sheer cliff edges.  The pass itself is a straight that separates Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, connecting Skagit bay to the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Deception Pass Bridge crosses the pass connecting the two aformentioned islands; it's a breathtaking view and a stunning place to visit.
My wife and I made the trek up this past Saturday so I could race the Bellingham Trail Running Series Deception Pass Half Marathon. I wasn't too sure what kind of race I would have as I had been sideline with a knee injury for the first part of the year and had only recently got my average weekly mileage up to 40; a far cry from my 80+ this time last year.
The race started in the parking lot of West Beach. I went out fast with Benoit Gignac. I thought maybe he didn't intend to run that hard the whole race so I attempted to make a few early surges on him, but each time I'd pull ahead or catch up with him on a flat, he would widen the gap by twice as much on a descent. Nonetheless, we ran neck and neck for most of the race.
The course is only on the road for .2 miles before becoming all trail, excluding the 2 crossings of the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. There are two large climbs, the largest being Goose Rock. It's not a terribly long climb, but when you've been flying down smooth trail as fast as you can and then BAM! You're suddenly running up the side of a cliff; it hurts. The cumulative elevation gain on my watch said somewhere around 2,000 feet, but I don't have an altimeter, so it's hard to tell if that's accurate. I'll tell you one thing: it's a tough course!
The constant rollers and technical terrain make it hard to maintain a steady pace so you're forced to have strong skills on flats, climbs and descents if you want to run well. I couldn't hang on those technical descents. I tried to let go, but I would hesitate and Benoit would just vanish every time we hit a rocky, root strewn downhill section.
My favorite part of the race was the headlands. It's a quick single track lollipop that offers expansive views of the ocean and surrounding landmarks and makes you feel like you're in your own issue of Trail Runner Mag. It's breathtaking. From here it's only a few miles back to the the bridge and the West Beach finish.
The last 3 miles I never caught up to Benoit. I tried, but just not hard enough. I can't say I'm disappointed with my result, but I can say that I did not run a gutsy race. Not at all. I found myself thinking "If you sit back here and catch him at the end, then this will be the most ball-less race you've ever run." Benoit stayed super strong though and I never caught him. Still, it was the most ball-less race I'd ever run for 2nd place. That didn't make it any less enjoyable though! It was so beautiful and so much fun.
I want to thank Candice and Garret and all of the volunteers for such a great race. The course was marked SO well, it would have been impossible to get off track and everyone was super nice, fun and encouraging. At the finish line there was a live band and a BBQ and a ton of socializing. It was like a chill party and finally felt the way  trail running used to feel  to me. It's good to have that back again.
Thank you Pearl Izumi and Clifbar for the support this year and most of all thank you to my beautiful, supportive wife. I wouldn't be anywhere I am had I not met you.


I'll leave you with some photos:

Photo by Takao Suzuki

Photo by Takao Suzuki

Finish

Podium with Benoit

From the trail - post race hike

Headlands
Photo by Takao Suzuki





Monday, June 22, 2015

Beacon Rock 50K Race Report 2015

I really wanted to break Connor Meakin's course record from last year and I definitely thought I had the fitness to do it. On race day I went out hard figuring #1 that no one could beat me and #2 that if anyone did have the fitness to beat me, they would be intimidated enough by my fast start to think that they couldn't.
The course consists of two 15 mile loops. Some people don't like loop courses, but I do! I think it's great to know exactly what's in store for the second half of the race and what to be prepared for. And even though it's a loop course, the views are stunning and the elevation gain and loss are substantial. 
You start the race with a half mile downhill road section followed by almost 2,000 feet of vertical gain in just 4 miles. It's a tough way to start a race and believe me, it feels much harder on the second loop. After the initial climb, the course drops about 1,300 feet in under 4 miles on beautiful single track through picturesque North West forest. Without any warning, as you're hammering downhill being hypnotized by nature, BOOM! You immediately start another climb of over 1,100 vertical feet in just 1.5 miles. Once you are on the ridge though, you are rewarded with some of the most stunning scenery you will ever see in any race: expansive views of the Columbia Gorge and the surrounding mountain ranges. From that ridge you drop about 1,700ft in roughly 6 miles back to the camp/start/finish before you head out on your second trip to do it all over again for a total of 30+ Miles and 7,500ft+ of Elevation Gain and Loss.

Ascending the second/fourth climb. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama 

I came through the first loop in under 02:10 and was fairly confident the course record would be mine, but I slowed considerably on the climbs during the second loop finishing in 04:32:06.


Coming through the finish in 04:32:06 for 1st place

If I had to pin point a weakness in my running right now, I would say it's my ability to maintain speed on long climbs. I live in a town with no hills long enough to mention, let alone train on, and I think that has been slightly to my disadvantage. But I've done the best I can with what I have and I do have to say that all of my tempo and speed work from Spring marathon training definitely paid off in all aspects of the race.


Happy with my race

I love Rainshadow Running! They put on the best events with the best scenery and the best after parties. Beacon Rock 50K is no exception.  If you've run one of their events, then you don't need me to explain how amazing they are and if you haven't? Well do yourself a favor a sign up for one! It might just change your life.
You know what I did after the race? Mingled with a bunch of like minded runners, ate fresh wood fired pizza, listened to the Pine Hearts and napped in the shade with the love of my life. Seriously, why run anywhere else?

Thank you James, Matt and Kerri and all of the volunteers for all of the work you do to make these events possible. I know how hard you work and I can't thank you all enough.

Thank you Alicia for waking up at 2AM and coming out to crazy races  in the middle of nowhere with me :)

And thank you Seven Hills Running Shop, Clifbar, Feetures and BOA for all of your support.


7 questions with 7 Hills
Feel free to follow me on twitter & instagram @koreykonga