Tag Archives: ultra running

just a run in the park : point defiance 50k

The past couple of months had been kind of a whirlwind of running events.  I’d gotten a new marathon PR at Tunnel Lite, been done Blerch’d, followed by a nice jaunt along Baker Lake.  Legs were tired, but doing these had been a great way to step back from some work and life stuff that had been weighing on me.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right?  We do this for fun after all.

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When I arrived at the start of the Point Defiance 50k this early October morning, I didn’t really have a race plan.  I simply wanted to have some fun.  I’d run out there just once before, on my way back from a memorial service, another time I’d used these trails to sooth my soul (we still miss you Pastor Ron).

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Today I’d line up with some good friends, including two doing their first 50ks.  That’s pretty great.  At the start we took some fun group pictures, and talked through some nerves.  Just after eight, we were off.

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I hung with the faster kids from ESR for about two minutes, before taking it down a notch.  It would be well over twenty miles before I saw them again.  I lumbered up the steps, and then picked up the pace a bit heading up towards the point, where I caught up with a couple of friends and spent a few miles talking about life, and our teenage kids.  I was running solo by the time we came round to White Rock and Ellis Alley, then took a few minutes to replenish at Fort Nisqually.

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I hung out with my friend Robert for a while as we headed up Achilles Hill, and then back to the point.  I got some good tips about a race I’m considering doing in Hawaii and then we swapped stories about concerts from our distant pasts.

I recalled that we’d met each other while running the Tacoma City Marathon about five and a half years ago.  We’d met during the early miles when someone running with us observed that many of us had things that brought us out here, and motivated us.  I shared my story, and Robert shared his.  It’s amazing hearing about the twists and turns in someone else’s life, and then seeing what they do with it.  That day Robert was running a mile with a pace group, then speeding up to catch the next faster one.  That takes lots of focus and determine – fueled in part by things that had told him “you can’t”.  Right.

So this was the theme of the day for me.  I spent some miles with different friends, each with their own story that had brought them to the trail that morning.  And each of us surprised ourselves, at least in some small way.  Some of us did something we never thought we’d do. 

Along the way, there was some pain, doubt, and some turned ankles.  But we kept moving. 

As I started my final loop, I ran with my friend Gunnar, who’d finished the 30k, and was heading back to his car.  We know each other from work – and so talked about how easy it is to get caught up in things that steal time away from stuff that really matters.  As I headed up the steps for that last time, we told each other we should get together to run at work sometime – I really hope we do.

I completed my three loops with a very surprising consistency – each had taken within a minute of all of the others.  These were 10.375 mile loops – so it’s nearly unheard of – it means I’d varied less than 5 seconds per mile over the whole 31.25 miles on average.

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I’d be lying if I said I planned it.  I’d love to claim that I ran that smart a race, but all I did was to run according to how I felt.  Towards the end, I pushed a bit trying to get close to a 5:45 finish, but that’s the only time I paid any real attention to my watch.

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After that final trip down Nelly’s Gnarly Descent, Don and Amy cheered as I came in just a shade over 5:50.  I visited with Rikki, who had come in a bit ahead of me.  Shortly afterwards, Larissa came in for her first 50k finish, followed shortly afterwards by Bob.  We rested, relaxed and then saw Carol come in for her first 50k finish, smiling ear to ear.  One week off of a hard marathon, Sue had a tough last six miles, but she came across the line as well, with Kirk spending that last bit with her.

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That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?  You go out there to challenge yourself, but to have enough fun that you’ll do it again.  And again.

This wasn’t my fastest race, nor my hardest.  But I’ll remember this one for a long time. 

pictures by me, Larissa and Don Uchiyama, Ken O’Neill, and the Defiance 50k team

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rolling through the north cascades–baker lake 50k

I’d had lots going on this month. 

There had been some unpleasant stuff going on with work, and I was feeling like I was at a crossroads.  Real life was busy too, looking at colleges with our eldest daughter.  Lots to think about.  The good news was that I had plans to run the Baker Lake 50k.  This event put on by Terry Sentinella had been on my list for several years.  The course rolled through the the woods along the lake, in the shadow of its namesake Mount Baker.

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coming back across the river, photo by takao suzuki

Stirred up by some of the stress I’d been carrying, I didn’t sleep well the night before.  Morning came earlier than usual – after a simple breakfast, I started the hour-long drive to the start.  Thankful that the race was a small, low-key event – I relaxed a bit on the way.  I was confident about covering the distance, although this would be my longest run since late July’s White River 50 miler.  The day’s run would mostly be a retreat of sorts, a chance to step back and get some needed perspective on things.

We started on time under an overcast sky.  We wended our way up over the dam, and embarked on the trail that would take us out 14 miles to the turnaround.  Three miles in, we crossed a creek along a big log put in by the forest service.  We were about ten to twelve feet above the creekbed.  It was kind of fun on the way out, but much more interesting on the way back when my balance didn’t feel quite as sure.

The first of only two aid stations was at mile 5.5.  Simple, but functional – it was self-serve, water-only.  I took a minute to top off my bottle before continuing on.  As we rolled through hills, we sometimes ran along a steep dropoff of several hundred feet into the lake. 

The roots and rocks kept me paying careful attention to the trail in front of me.  But around mile 10, my mind had drifted a bit, and I took a hard spill, bruising my ribs and right quad.  Along the way, I managed to turn both ankles a bit too – making any lateral movement on these joints painful.  I’d feel this the rest of the way, but plodded on.

I reached the turnaround at Hidden Creek almost exactly three hours in.  I was pretty sure that the trip back would be slower, so didn’t feel pressure to work under the six hour mark.  This was the second of the two aid stations, and it would be ten miles before I got back to the other one.  I drank a bunch of fluids, and ate a bit before headed back.

I wasn’t going fast, but I felt pretty good.  I felt more calm than I had in a while, and just took it in.  This was the goal for today – relax and enjoy the miles.

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photo by takao suzuki

Right around mile 22, a group of three overtook me.  The young woman running in front apparently felt pretty intense about the run.  Each time we’d approach a climb, she’d grunt out loud.  On the downhills she’d growl.  It was interesting.  I was okay with it when they passed me at the aid station with 5.5 miles to go.   While there, she picked up one of the gallon water jugs and chugged directly from it.  I didn’t see whether she finished all of it, or simply put it back for others to share.  You don’t see that happen too often. 

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photo by takao suzuki

The final two miles were tough.  I’d reached the point of counting down, and was ready to be done.  As we exited the trail with about a mile and a half to go, I fell into a nice conversation with a woman named Simone, who shared a story about her grandchild, and how she finishes each race with a cartwheel (yes she does).  It was a nice pick-me-up as we crossed over the dam, and headed back towards the finish.

I crossed the line just under six and a half hours.  I rested for a short time at the finish, then changed into some dry clothes and headed back to Burlington for some crab shooters and brisket.

I’ve been running distance for years now, and still haven’t quite figured out how to carry over lessons learned on the trail into real life.  Can’t stress about things we don’t control, just work on making the things we do control or influence better.


2014 bridle trails 50k – one lap at a time

An hour before the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival was due to start, Kris and I were at home watching the trees whipping back and forth in 40 mph gusts.  The rain was coming down hard, and sideways.   

Odds were that the race would get cancelled.  Bridle Trails State Park is just a quick run from home, a bit over a half mile to the start from our doorstep.  I’d been running out there one day last winter, when a large tree came down over a section of trail I’d run less than a minute before.  That could hurt.

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visiting with friends in the rain and wind – photo by takao suzuki

Huddling under the tents as we waited at the start, we did some commiserating.  Someone pointed out the irony of a tree coming down on top of a tentful of us, while we were all waiting to see whether it was safe to run.

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the pre-race briefing – photo by takao suzuki

After a 25 minute delay, Race Director Eric Sach told us that the weather should change Any Minute Now.  We’d take it one loop at a time.  They’d have people stationed at the corners of the park to pull us off the course if things got dangerous due to the wind.

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Eric, our brave race director – photo by takao suzuki

We ambled off to the start, not sure how long we’d be out there.  

The first loop was crowded.  The five and ten milers were out in force, and the narrow slippery trails got us all a bit closer to each other than usual.  Kris and I ran together for a bit – a rare but nice thing.  She left me behind about halfway around, but I still took that first lap a bit faster than I should have.

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heading for the puddles – photo by takao suzuki

As it got dark, the footing was more difficult.  When you’ve got a couple of hundred people slipping around, it makes things interesting.

During the middle miles, I felt the usual restlessness and doubt.  Hitting that east edge of the park each time I’d struggle trying to find each footstrike.  It was really dark, really muddy, and this section has more roots to avoid.  At times I’d slow to a walk, because it was hard to judge where to step. 

On a very cold dry course last year, I’d finished in 5:06.  This time, I’d take longer than six hours.  Quite a contrast.  But we didn’t think we’d be able to run at all today.  That last time around I took in the quiet and dark, – running mostly alone.  Clear goal (finish), and a beautiful place – even in the mud.

Sometimes I’ll tear up a bit at the start or finish – knowing how lucky I am to be there, to be able to run.  Each time we line up, there’s an element of doubt.   You can train, but you’re subject to all sorts of elements you don’t control – today it was the weather.  We took it one lap at a time, not sure how long we’d be able to continue.  Focus on the goal, and have fun doing it.  Live in the moment.

When I crossed the finish line in the dark, I felt blessed.  Again.

charts and graphs for running geeks

Here’s the course – we did six of these loops

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Here’s the altitude.  Each of these loops should really be the same.  I guess the barometric pressure changed a bit during the race.

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My pace got slower as the race went on.  First loop was the fastest.  More walking later on too.  Not the most disciplined event I’ve done.

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My heart rate was pretty steady throughout.

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a little night magic –50k in bridle trails

We’re fortunate to have Bridle Trails State Park so close to home.  Miles of winding trails under a high canopy, some of it old-growth, less than a quarter mile from our front door.  Each January we have the opportunity to enjoy some quality hours running the park in the dark.  This year I finally did it.

Coming off of my marathon/ultra per month clip in 2012, I’d fallen a bit off pace.  I’d registered for the Bridle Trails event back in December, but had not really done a longer run since that last marathon on Thanksgiving Day.  I’d intended to do a 24 mile training run several days before the new year, but that didn’t happen.  I did some last minute cramming with a 22 miler about ten days before the event, and felt lousy.  I was effectively done after about 15, but forced another seven and a half.  It was a beautiful day, and I’d strung together a bunch of short reliable routes, doing a big circle around Bellevue, but the beautiful weather and nice trail time didn’t help.

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taking mismatched running clothes to the next level.  it got even better later, when I donned my winter sherpa cap.  photo by John Wallace III

So when Kris and I left home on the afternoon of the 12th of January, I was less confident than usual about how this 50k would go.  Thing was, this was to be my 50th marathon or ultra event, so I didn’t really want to have my first DNF either.  I donned more mismatched running clothes than usual, and headed out into the 29 degree sunshine to join several hundred friends to run the trails.

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heading out at the start.  I’m the guy in the red shirt in the back with the headlamp.  photo by John Wallace III

We set out shortly after 3 PM.  My first miles were faster than planned – consistently under 9 minutes per mile.  Part of this was motivation drawn from the other runners.  But I think some of it was the cold.  I did my best to sleep through the first two loops in the sun.

By then, it was getting dark.  I held off switching on my headlamp for as long as I could, testing my vision a bit.  I’d been nervous enough about navigating the park in the dark that I’d practiced doing this a number of times in the two weeks prior.  The headlamp would be adequate for sight.  I’d just need to pay attention and not miss any turns.  If I did, it could be morning before I’d find my way out.

And that’s an interesting thing about this park.  I run there a lot, and have for years.  Still – the trail system is so twisty, that it’s possible to get turned around in short order.  If you’re on an interior trail, you can easily lose orientation.  On one occasion years ago, I took two friends on the same five minute loop three times before they realized that I’d gotten us lost.

I didn’t want this to happen during the 50k.  I wasn’t in shape for bonus miles.  So I settled into an easier pace, and focused on the trail markers. 

The third time around, I’d settled into an easier pace, and into the dark.  And I also noticed something else too.  I’d tapped into a confidence I didn’t think would be there.  I was gliding along the frozen trail under a thin slice of moon and a blanket of stars, and it felt magic.  From time to time I’d check my form – lowering my stride, making sure to land midfoot, under my center of gravity, and gently push back, driving from my hip flexors and quads.  When I would feel tired, I’d remind myself to run with less effort, and the fatigue would diminish.  Magic.

I’d pass through the aid station after each loop, and draw nice energy from the group of volunteers doling out food and drink.  Each time I’d start a new loop, it would feel strange, as I’d pass the turnoff to home about half a mile later, and would have to focus on climbing the hill shortly after.  But each time I’d reach the top and it would be fine.

During lap five I began feeling concerned that I couldn’t see the trail as well.  I was worried that it was my vision failing me (as it did during the Pike’s Peak Marathon).  It seemed to happen gradually, until I found myself slowing to find the path through the trees.  About halfway through loop five, I stopped to swap the batteries in my headlamp, and not surprisingly this did the trick.  Clear evidence that the simplest explanation is often the right one.  Also evidence that we tend to get a bit down on ourselves during the late miles.

Once I could see the trail again I picked things up.  My pace picked up again as I began the final loop.  I’d run 26 miles by then, and knew I’d finish.  I was pretty sure I could PR, but could not remember my previous best time in the 50k.

During that last loop, I was more “in the moment”.  While running alone, I noticed that my light would reflect off of the ice crystals on the brush and branches.  The whole place sparkled – and I was pretty sure this wasn’t hallucination.  I enjoyed this as I coasted down the the gradual hill two miles from the finish.  I pushed my pace a bit, but honored my Chi, paying attention to my column, lean, low stride, and pushing back from each footstrike.

Winding up the final hills, above the corral, I stepped a bit cautiously, and breathed deeply.  Heading towards the finish there was a string of colored lights by the turnoff to the aid station, which I passed.  I made the final turn and finished in 5:06:44, a new PR for me.

I got the nice horseshoe medal from Eric, and spent time with some friends, but did not linger long.  My body was losing a lot of heat, even after I changed into a dry shirt and pulled on a jacket.  I walked the half mile back home along the dark trails I’d walked six times before.

This is why I love to run.  I can challenge my own doubts, focusing on doing the little things right – column, lean, strike, stride.  I can draw on some night magic sometimes too.

charts and graphs for running geeks

I have splits per mile from my GPS, but have opted not to look at those.  First – the distance is off – it thinks I ran about 28.5.  Second, I think the aggregate loop splits are more interesting.  The times got markedly slower when it got dark (no surprise), but I picked it up that last trip around.

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taylor mountain mud shuttle

This year has been full of surprises.  I started with a running vacation in Houston (who’d have thought?).  I’d done a string of road marathons, hitting four sub-3:45s in a row.  Considering I’d only run my first sub-3:45 at Top of Utah in 2006, this is amazing to me.

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picture by steve sanders

For a while. I’ve wanted to shift my focus to trail events.  Focus less on speed, more on the “zen” of cresting a hill and enjoying the view.  And so 2012 has included more of these, and fewer road marathons.  Three of the five events I’d completed so far had been trail events, two of them 50Ks.

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pictures courtesy of evergreen trail runs

When I signed up for the Evergreen Trail Runs Taylor Mountain 50k, I felt good about spending some quality trail time.  Thing is, this year’s weather in the Pacific Northwest has been –ahem- interesting.  Temperatures are cooler than usual, and we’re seeing more rain than we typically do.  Still – I was not anticipating what was going to happen at Taylor Mountain on the 23rd of June.

Two days prior, when Roger and Yumay had been out to mark the course, it had been beautiful.  You could apparently see Mount Rainier from the Holder Ridge trail.  The morning of the event was misty and overcast though.  Still – as the Pacific Northwest expression goes “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”.  And indeed it did – several times.

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pictures courtesy of evergreen trail runs

We headed out promptly at eight.  The crowd of marathoners and 50kers was pretty thick on the single track trail, but the pace was decent.  And then just shy of a mile, we came upon Holder Creek.  At first glance, it didn’t look like anything too hard, but when we got our feet wet, I was in up to my knees immediately.  And the guy in front of me went down even more, warning us that he’d found a deep spot.  The current was strong enough that I had to take care with my footing.  When I came out on the other side, I sensed that this wasn’t going to be a fast day on the trail.

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pictures courtesy of evergreen trail runs

The creek had separated me a bit from the pack, so I proceeded up the trail.  We’d begun to climb by then, not too steep but a steady uphill.  As it was so early in the event, I walked it, leaning my body forward and trying to keep a good pace.  I’d never run out here, so didn’t know the course.  But I noticed pretty early on that there would be some good up and down.  Better to take it easy.

When things leveled off a bit, I caught up to some other runners.  I fell into a conversation with two women running their first trail ultra.  We chatted for a while about running and our kids.  I knew their pace was a bit faster than I would sustain, so eventually they went on ahead. 

And then about six and a half miles in, something strange happened to me.  We were on a steady downhill stretch, and I noticed that my heart rate monitor told me that my heart rate was about 170, easily 30 bpm than I would have expected.  So I slowed down to try to gauge whether this was an instrument thing, and my heart rate promptly went down to about 115, where I would have expected.  So now I had a problem.  I couldn’t dismiss the reading from the monitor, but I felt just fine.  I tried this several times, with the same results – each time I ran, my heart rate would shoot up.  I actually considered dropping out – after all, if my heart rate was out of whack, I might be in trouble.  After about ten minutes of mulling this over, I simply stopped looking at the heart rate, trusting that if my heart rate were so elevated, I would know soon enough – because some serious fatigue would set in.  If that happened, I’d be done for the day.  But it didn’t seem necessary to call it quits early.  So I ran at an easier pace. but kept with it.

About two and a half hours in, I began the descent back to the trailhead, running along Holder Ridge.  As I ran the switchbacks, I passed by the youngest marathon participant, a 10 year old girl.  She was doing her third marathon in three months, which qualified her to become a Marathon Maniac.  She was running nice and easy, and appeared to be enjoying herself. 

By the time I completed the first loop, I was feeling a bit tired.  I’d ran a good 17 miler out on Tiger Mountain the weekend before, and my quads still felt it.  SO I  took a few minutes break before starting my second loop.  At this point, I wasn’t completely certain I’d stick it out for the full 50k.  I told myself I’d see how I felt after finishing the second loop, which would be the 26.2 mile mark.  If I felt up to it, I’d do the full 50k.

So I slogged along.  By now the weather had changed several times.  We’d gone from misty to partly sunny and warm, and then got some pretty epic rain – east-coast style.  I just tried to quiet my mind and keep moving.

I crossed the creek again, and did the climb.  Along the way I started running with Rikki from University Place.  We spent time swapping stories about our kids and relishing the glorious weather.  Having company made the miles fly by, and soon we were heading down Holder Ridge again.  We ran in to complete the marathon distance.  By then I’d decided I would do the third loop to round things out at 50k.  Many of the runners had come in, and they were starting to clean things up at the finish.

The five mile loop starts with a long steady climb up a fire road.  I walked along, hoping that I wasn’t in last place.  I figured I’d be a bit over an hour this last time around, and was happy when I crested the hill, and did a bit of a downhill stint.  About two miles in, I came to the aid station where we merged with the half marathon course I’d already done twice.  Just under 5k to go.  By now I was really feeling the miles.  My  hip flexors were raw and it was harder to start each stride, even when going downhill.  I relaxed as best I could and kept moving.  By the time we leveled out, I was pretty cooked.  I crossed the finish in 6:52, and was very happy to be done.

A couple of things stick with me about this event.  First, despite posing a challenge at the time, the weather added some fun to the day.  When we get deluged like that, all you can do is shrug.  Second, I’m so happy I ignored the monitor.  Sometimes the gadgets hurt rather than help.  And third, this one marked six marathons/ultras in the first six months of 2012.  Maybe I’ll try for twelve in ‘12.

charts and graphs for running geeks

The chart doesn’t say much about this race.  I knew I started out a bit fast, and knew that I slowed down as I went. 

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The map would be better if I had a reliable elevation plot.  As my GPS tells me I climbed over 12,000 feet (more than 2x the 4500 we actually climbed) I don’t trust it enough to post it for reference.

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Today was less about the numbers, and more about just running the muddy trails.


chuckanut 50k

While heading out along Chuckanut Ridge yesterday, I was a bit nervous about the 150′ dropoff just over to my right.  Because of mud and (slippery) rocks, the footing was iffy.  There were helpful signs along the way, telling us to be careful.  I could help but wonder whether anyone had flown off the cliff due to reading the signs instead of paying attention to the trail.

climbing the “little chinscraper” near mile 21 – photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama (check out his great chuckanut pictures here)

I’ve wanted to do the Chuckanut 50k for several years now.  I’d heard it was both beautiful and very challenging, and was not disappointed.  Coming off three road marathons on flat/fast courses(Bellingham Bay, Philadelphia, and Houston), I knew I’d need to hit the trail and some significant hillwork prior to Chuckanut.  But life intervened a bit.  Time constraints meant my long runs were mostly on roads, or nearby trails (not as hilly as I needed).  As most I was able to click off about 3000′ of ascent, less than half the amount I’d get at Chuckanut.  For better or worse, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d undertrained for the course.  I would just have to get out and try my best.

The morning before the event, I was driving my eldest daughter to school, and telling her that I was feeling a higher than average element of doubt about Chuckanut.  Anytime you line up to run a marathon or ultra, you can’t help but be aware that there are no guarantees.  50k is a long way to go.  She pointed out that she felt the same way when she performed.  I said “so you’re telling me to quit whining and to just go out and do this. aren’t you?”.  “Well – yeah, but I know you can” she said.  It’s great when we can learn from our kids, isn’t it?  I thought a lot about this brief conversation the next day when I was running Chuckanut Ridge.  Thanks Kayla!

looking out to bellingham bay, the evening before.  I ran up that pier while doing the bellingham bay marathon in september of 2011.

Got to Bellingham in time to catch packet pickup as it opened up.  It was a small affair – bib, shirt, and then a bit of SWAG.  But it was SWAG one could actually use – CLIF bars, Udo’s Oil samplers, and some nice dark chocolate with Udo’s in it.  I walked over to the Big Fat Fish Company in Fairhaven, and enjoyed some nice grilled salmon.  Had to pass on the steamed clams, as they would violate the “don’t try anything for the first time just before an event” rule.  Oh well.  I spent a little while hanging out at a bookstore, and then turned in.

ready to go.  my shoes will never be that green again.

After a breakfast that included a couple of hard-boiled egg whites, and two bananas, I headed out to the start.  We were along the Chuckanut Bay waterfront, several blocks from the Fairhaven district.  I went out to watch the first wave go off at eight – with ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek sending the runners off, and then lined up myself.  At 8:10 am we started our adventure.

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at the start of the first wave – photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama

I got to catch up with Marathon Maniac Guy Yogi for several miles.  I’d run with Guy several times in the past – we swapped stories about events and family.  As we wound along the mostly level Interurban Trail during the first 10k, it felt like the miles were pretty much breezing by.  This is what good company does.

We got our first taste of technical running when we turned onto the Fragrance Lake Trail.  I fueled up a bit, and started on the single track.  Several miles later, we were rewarded with a beautiful trip around snowy Fragrance Lake.  Part of me wished I’d brought a camera, but mostly I was happy to just focus on keeping moving.

At this point, I felt great.  At the 10.4 mile mark, we hit aid station #2.  I was happy to see some familiar faces there.  And it was a well-timed boost too – as we commenced a 2.9 mile climb up Cleator Road.  This was a long winding dirt road – the footing was a bit slippery, as we were running on snow, slush, and mud.  As we approached the top of Chuckanut Mountain, the frontrunners screamed by us – pounding down the icy hill at a fairly breakneck pace.

Mile 13.3 is where things got interesting.  We turned onto the Ridge Trail, which was a fairly narrow single-track with a sheer drop-off just a few feet off to the right.  The trail was pretty slippery, and the footing tricky.  I rationalized that I’d probably be able grab a tree were I to fall, but took it a bit easy nonetheless.

After traversing the ridge, we turned onto Lost Lake Road.  Not sure who thought the lake was lost – it looked like the road was actually a shallow lake or stream.  And so we plodded along through the mud and water.  Around this point was when I started feeling lots of pain in my feet.  I’d had a long-standing issue with metatarsal inflammation in my left foot, and now the right was also talking to me.  If I’d strike a stone or root on the ball of my foot, I’d whimper audibly.  Hopefully my fellow runners thought I was singing or blissfully hallucinating.

looking up the steep section of chinscraper, photo courtesy of gary yang (approval pending)

Just past the 20 mile mark, we came upon aid station #4, with the signs telling us we were about to hit the famed “Chinscraper”.  Much of this was a steep and steady climb, much like less-forgiving trails I’d run on Tiger Mountain, or Mount Si.  Just past midway, we came to a very steep ascent requiring hands and knees to scrabble up the hill.  It could just as easily have been named the “anything” scraper – it was that easy to lose footing.  It was on this stretch that we really got our money’s worth.

After cresting the Chinscraper, we got back onto Cleator Road, this time pointed downhill.  My splits here were the fast, but nothing like the frontrunners.  There was about a thirteen minute pace spread between the trip up Chinscraper and the descent.  This continued along Frangrance Lake Road, the descent totalling about 4 miles.  It felt great to go all out here, but I paid for it shortly after.

At mile 24.6, we hit the final aid station at Clayton Beach.  I’d been out here while running the 2010 Last Chance Marathon, so knew I had a fairly level 6.55 miles to go.  The next three miles I managed to keep a steady 9-9 1/2 minute per mile pace.  There were a couple of up and down spots with a 2-3 miles to go, and I started walking.  Not much left in the tank.  Less than a short training run to go, I was able to pick it up, but mixed in some walking.

I recognized the last stretch towards Fairhaven Park, and coaxed a good pace for the final half mile.  Crossing the finish felt great – because I was really done.  50k #3 was in the books.  Highlights – only took one fall, and no bonus miles.  Aside from the hill-training deficit, not a bad day at all.

added 3/19/2012 : check out this brief writeup of the race by ultra runner magazine

Charts and Graphs for Running Geeks

time 6:35:46.4
pace 12:51/mile
overall 379/547
age group 82/104
gender 282/374
checkpoint rank time pace
aid #3 389 2:38:49 11:56/mile
middle run 390 2:16:26 16:51/mile
to finish 379 1:40:30 10:41/mile

results from http://www.buduracing.com/raceresults/20120317_821.pdf#view=Fit

Splits charts for trail events a not useful, other than perhaps being another look at the elevation chart.  That is to say – you sort of trace the elevation changes by looking at when the splits slow down.  Not 100% accurate (notable exception being splits #29 and 30 below), but a good indicator.

My heart rate monitor wasn’t working yesterday, but it would have been interesting to look at my numbers on the final 10k, along the Interurban Trail to see whether my perceived fatigue was reflected in elevated HR.  There are issues with the way my GPS tracks elevation changes (the Times Global Trainer is not a device I’d recommend for a number of reasons).  Indeed you can see the inclines reflected in my longer splits in the middle miles.

The numbers are off and there’s a bit of noise, but the overall shape of the course looks like this :

The map is confusing, with many twisty parts, but the course description posted on the event site is very good.