Monthly Archives: May 2012

it’s dry out there – for soaring eagle

When we lined up at the start of Evergreen Trail Runs’ Soaring Eagle Trail Run, Race Director Roger Michel was going over the course, the markings, and conditions with us.  Somewhere in the middle he dropped a gem in about how dry things were – for Soaring Eagle Park that is.  Not surprisingly, this drew a healthy bit of laughter.  Dry by these standards means you’re not as likely to lose a shoe in the mud.  Yes – this has actually happened.

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pictures from evergreen trail runs

It was a beautiful day though – mud aside.  While the course is … twisty to say the least, it was well-marked enough to minimize the probability of ‘bonus miles’.  And despite opting for the marathon over the 50k, I was pretty pleased with my effort out there.

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Map courtesy of Evergreen Trail Runs.  For the marathon we do a short 1.1 mile loop to start, then do this loop twice, followed by the five-miler (the segment from the start and the westernmost loop, and then back to the start).

I was a week removed from the Redmond Watershed 12 Hour Run, where I’d done a slow 50k.  My legs were still tired from this, and during the week my miles were definitely slower than usual.  I’d thought about doing back to back weekends for the first time in three summers, but didn’t commit to this until Friday afternoon.  I knew the Soaring Eagle course was also a slow course, but given the forecast, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to cover some good miles.

So I rose early Saturday, and joined 48 other marathoners and 50-kers at the start.  I’d registered for the 50k, to keep my options open, and wouldn’t have to make a decision between this and the marathon until halfway through the third and final trip around.  Part of me wanted to click off my third consecutive ultra, but I wasn’t sure that was prudent – from the training to time standpoints.  I’d wait and see.

We started with a quick 1.1 mile loop which served to round the distance out.  According to my watch, this turned out to be one of my faster miles (not usually recommended to start fast and slow down).  For a good part of the initial 6 or so miles, I hung with two first-time trail marathoners – Courtney and Rusty, and swapped some stories about running and kids with them.  Their pace was a bit on the high end for me, so at the aid station I fell back a bit.

The rest of the way around that first ten mile loop, I was solo.  At first I had some trouble settling into that, but by the time I hit the start/finish area just over two hours in, I was fine.  After spending a minute or two refueling, I set out on loop #2. 

A mile or so into this loop, my GPS crapped out, staying at 12.58 miles for the next hour and a half.  That meant I couldn’t fall back on the bad habit of constantly checking my mileage, and counting down how far I had left to go.  Since I had no worries about fuel, and since I wasn’t latched to a specific pace, this was actually a good thing, although it meant I don’t have very fancy pace charts to show.  Instead, I’ve got a nice straight line instead of the winding nine or so miles of trail I covered (the segment between 12 and 13 in the map).

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By the time I’d come around for the second time, I’d pretty much decided that I would call it good with a marathon.  When I came through the finish, I ran over to get a fresh bottle of cytomax from my car.  Apparently the timer thought I’d quit, and was surprised when I came back to start my third loop (she’d marked me finished!).  Once we corrected that I was off again.

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This time, it was just a bit harder to start running again.  The initial stretch is mostly flat or downhill, so after a minute or so I was able to coax my legs to get moving again.  One motivation for me this time was that I knew the field was not too big, and thought I’d stand a reasonable chance of placing if I could keep my pace strong and steady that last trip around.  With just 5 miles to go, I tell myself that I’m just a training run from home. 

The final stint from the aid station back to the finish is a challenge though.  We’re near the southern end of the park, and need to climb a steady hill just under a mile in length.  I walked the harder stretches, and ran the level portions, coming in at 5:01.

I soaked up some sun at the finish, talking to friends for a while before heading home.  Spent the rest of the day walking a bit tentatively, but felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth in the park.

charts and graphs for running geeks

It’s always annoying being just over a milestone time (five hours in this case), but I felt pretty good about my effort.  I’d come in 4th of 26, and 1st of seven in my age group. 

My rough pace chart (per loop) is below.  I clearly took the first one too fast, but mustered a strong final five miles.

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Here’s the time plot from my GPS.  That flat segment is the nine or so miles that it was resting.  I actually forgot to put on my heart rate monitor at the start – would have been interesting to see that plot.  My perception is that my HR was high early, and then peaked again at the end.

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twelve of thirteen–running the watershed for fun

This past weekend I joined 75 others for the Redmond Watershed 12 Hour Ultra Run.  Turned out to be a beautiful day out there.

taking a break during the redmond watershed 12 hour race - a 50k for me (photo by john swenson)

photo by John Swenson

Originally the plan had been to shoot for fifty miles while doing this event.  Sadly my training had not really prepared me for that.  Over the spring, fitting in the miles for 50k had been a real challenge.  So I sort of put this one out of my mind.  Then a couple of weeks before, I was looking for a marathon or 50k to do, and the Watershed proved the best option.  Concerned about taking one of the 100 available spots – I checked the 2011 results and found that a number of participants had called it good after completing 32.25 miles (six loops).  So I registered.

The week leading up to the event was crazy busy.  There was a bunch going on at work and also at home.  When I wasn’t working, I was doing things for one of the girls’ schools.  And definitely not getting enough sleep.  My taper runs felt labored and unfocused.  I had no idea what to expect on the trail.

We all have times like this.  You don’t feel ‘ready’ or fast.  And maybe you’re mentally tired enough that the thing to do is to just have some fun.  So when I lined up that Saturday morning, I was in it for fun, not for speed.  My plan was to log the 32.25 miles.  If I felt up to it, I’d try for 40 miles, but would just play things by ear.

Since training for the 2002 NYC Marathon, the Redmond Watershed Preserve had been a reliable place to do distance.  You can fashion 5-12 mile loops, and refuel with stuff from your car in between.  The course was familiar to me, having logged hundreds of miles there.   We’d repeat loops of 5.375 miles until we were done.

kim and I running the watershed 12 hour race (a 50k for me) - photo by glenn tachiyama

photo by Glenn Tachiyama

We headed out at 7am, when it was still a bit chilly.  I started out wearing long sleeves and gloves, and joined some friends from the Eastside Runners – Amy, bob, Tony, Kim, and Ram.  Two of our friends Theresa and Dan went out ahead of us, keeping a brisk pace.

bob and I running the watershed 12 hour race (a 50k for me) - photo by glenn tachiyama

photo by Glenn Tachiyama

We took things nice and easy, and the first four loops pretty much flew by.  My stomach felt a bit off, but aside from having to take some restroom breaks between loops, I was fine.  Back then, I felt like I could run all day – and it fekt great.  We weren’t setting any personal bests out there, but that was fine.

We’d lope along talking about what’s been going on in our lives.  I talked about how proud I was of my daughters – each of them doing performing arts stuff recently, and doing it well.  A couple of friends had recently moved into a new house, so we talked about the home buying and selling process, moving, and then about how much they liked their new place.  We talked about travelling, about watching our kids grow, and shared some stories about a friend we’d lost some years back.  We talked about some races we’d done, and how we felt when surprising ourselves while setting personal bests.

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photo by Glenn Tachiyama

We could just as easily been talking over dinner, or sitting in front of a fireplace.  Instead we were outside enjoying the fresh air, and each other’s company.  And that was exactly what my race plan called for.

bob and I running the watershed 12 hour race (a 50k for me) - photo by glenn tachiyama

photo by Glenn Tachiyama

The final two loops were harder.  The fatigue hit my legs, my pace slowed, and my heart rate increased.  I didn’t end up running forty miles, instead stopping at just a shade over 50k, after running 6:45.

from-takao-redmond-watershed-12h

photo by Takao Suzuki

Bob, Amy, Barb and I all called it good after 32.25.  Kurt did seven loops (37 3/8 miles).  Kim covered 43.  Jane did 45.  Leslie did 49 and change.  Dan, Theresa, Tony, and Ram all ran at least 50.  Sharing parts of the big day with them was great.

In an event like this, you’re ranked according to how many miles you’ve covered, then secondarily how long it took to cover those miles.  So naturally, leaving 5 hours and 15 minutes on the table didn’t bode well for my ranking.  When I saw that I’d finished 12th of 13 in my age group, I felt a twinge of frustration before reminding myself what my race plan had been – 50k and fun.  And by that measure it was definitely a good day.

charts and graphs for running geeks

The split data from this day is interesting, but doesn’t tell the whole story.  There were a couple of long breaks between loops, which throws off the split and average heart rate data.  And sometimes, the heart rate data is spiky, because I picked up the pace a bit on flatter stretches.

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