Saturday, December 19, 2009

12/19/09 Pigtails Flat Ass 50K

Last year we had a frigid cold day between snow storms. Running on 1-3 inches of snow and ice and it being my first 50K I decided to run very conservatively. Picking up the pace in the last miles I did work hard for the 5 hour 36 minute finish time, but mostly I remember it being a fun though long run. Fast forward one year. I missed running three marathons this fall, for three different reasons. I am so happy that I can be here today. This is a mostly Marathon Maniac event and it is terrific to be out with my running family. Again this year I really do not care about finish time. Except that it is always nice to run a PR. Since this is only my second 50K, all I need to do is run a 5:35 (which should be easy) and I will have my fun social run as well as a PR.

New course this year starts and finishes farther upstream on the Cedar River Trail. I do not know how much farther upstream we are from last year, but I am hoping that most if not all of the race will be in the forest, on the nice trail surface. 98 runners in the marathon or ultra makes it a much bigger event than last year, so I should have more company out there. About 45 degrees and drizzle at the start.

Start - Race Director Van (Pigtails) Phan gives a quick briefing. The course will be well marked and we will not take any wrong turns. One mental challenge is that at mile 22, while heading back to the finish line, those doing the 50K will need to take a side trail out 2.5 miles and then back. The race is casual enough that anyone wanting to change distances (drop from the ultra to the marathon) can decide to at that moment. So at mile 22 the choice is to run another 4 miles, or run another 9 miles. Hopefully I won't wimp out, but it is an option to drop down if I am in pain. I'm amazed at how good my plantar feels but suspect that it could flare up with this long distance. M761 has the same goals as me, so we will run together and I so enjoy having that company. Off we go down the "pipeline" trail.

Mile 0.5 - Before entering the main trail we are doing a half mile out on back on the other trail that is more of a dirt road. A few puddles and some gravel, but good enough footing in this early morning light. By the time we get to mile one, we are spread out enough to cross the river and enter the real trail in an orderly fashion.

Mile 5 - First aid station. We are running smoothly and taking walk breaks every two miles or so. Still going way faster than we need to. Oh I recognize this as part of last years course, we are that far downstream already. Still drizzling.

Mile 6 - On to the paved trail.

Mile 13.7 - Happy to see the turn around. Last year the whole paved section was under a little snow and it felt more like a trail through a winter wonderland. Now it is still drizzling. The trail is separated from a busy road by a 20 foot or so greenbelt, so we are plenty safe, however the noise of the cars zooming by is really bugging me. The wet road is causing the cars to be much louder than normal. I look forward to getting back onto the dirt trail and forest.

Mile 16 - Bob Dolphin sighting.

Mile 19 - Still drizzling. Taking walk breaks a little more frequently. For the slow pace and the walk breaks I should not be this tired. Energy wise I feel OK, it more that my legs feel a little beat up. It just should not be this hard at this point in the race. M761 feels the same way. After the race many others reported a similar feeling. I'm sure that the weather was a factor, but I also wonder how having to run so far on pavement, after a nice long start on the trail could affect a person's stride.

Mile 22 - Back to the aid station. I don't linger at all but instead walk up the steep but short hill and continue on this spur trail. Through an underpass and a tunnel that has good resonance for my loon call. Still drizzling.

Mile 24.5 - Welcome sight to see the turn around here. Now we are heading back to the finish for sure. Overall pace is lagging, but I am still very much in reach of that PR. Seems like the majority of runners are doing the marathon, few ultra runners to greet on the out and back.

Mile 26.2 - 4 hours 30 minutes. For the effort and how tired I feel, that is a very slow marathon time. I just need to finish the last five miles in an hour an five minutes. That should be easy as long as we do not walk the whole way. Still drizzling. At least there is no wind.

Mile 27 - Down the hill. Snap a quick picture. Fill up at the aid station and continue on. My right leg starts acting up. Some discomfort all up and down the back side of it. I had wanted to run two miles to a landmark, then walk again but we decide to walk a little more often. The hardest part is starting up again after walking. The body just resists. I'd rather keep running at a slow shuffle than stop and start, but the legs really need some walking breaks. Its still drizzling of course, my stomach is a little off and I'm getting a tad lightheaded now and then, but mostly it is the legs that are holding me back. Oh I would like to get out of these wet clothes. It is going to be very nice to put on something dry.

Mile 29 - Doing math in my head. I will get that PR

Mile 30.5 - No great desire to sprint to the finish. Actually I want to just barely beat 5:36, so that next time I can PR again without a mighty struggle. The 50K is just not a race that I am going to take competitively. I think they make good training runs for the marathon, and I like this distance, but more out of a sense of adventure and nature expedition than to prove my running ability. I am very satisfied with this effort. So we shuffle on to the finish, hoping it will be just around the next bend.

Mile 31.1 - Done. 5:33:11. PR Way harder than I expected. But I did it. And I so enjoyed being able to run long and participate in a race, with all my Maniac friends.

5:33:11 50K PR
Results pending
Race #180, Marathon or Ultra #41, Pigtails Flat Ass 50K #2

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K at Pioneer Park Tumwater 12/12/09

About a week after my last race I had a severe and unexpected flare up of plantar faciitis in my right foot. It happened on an off day after an easy run day and I do not have a definitive explanation for why it happened. I could not walk without a limp for four days. I had to take a full week off of running. Dedicated icing and gentle stretching brought the internal inflammation down and I gradually got back into running. I was disappointed to not be able to race over Thanksgiving weekend, but I am running again and I have a fresh and profound sense of gratitude and joy to be able to run. One week from today is the Pigtails 50K race with so many of my Marathon Maniac pals. Having had three "did not starts" in marathons in the past two months (for three different reasons) my main goal is to not injure myself today so that I can make the start line next week. It seems to be the speed work or short races that cause "microtears" in my plantar, so as long as I take it easy I should be fine.
I arrive at Pioneer Park nice and early. My first time racing here, a new location for the final race in this series. The course is just over a mile, so we will do three laps to make it a 5K. I am early enough and want to get some miles in, so I run three loops prior to the start. I bring the camera along during the warm up. As you can see the weather is freezing fog. The trail is flat but mostly somewhat loose and large gravel. Not the best footing. On the side of the gravel is packed dirt, but in places it is very bumpy. Lots of opportunities to twist and ankle, another good reason to take it slow. Billy and Tammy join me for part of the warm up and I snap their picture coming out of the one forested very bumpy section.

Start - I line up in the back and when we start I am amazed at how fast some runners are going and how quickly we spread out. Ruhama and I are together in the back. I'd be happy just running with her, but I am afraid that this pace may be a little quick for her and I would be more comfortable going just a little faster. Tammy is next person ahead so I catch up to her. I like this pace and settle in with Tammy.

Mile 1.4 - On our second lap. I like this pace. We pass one runner. Tammy is looking at the ground in front of her, a wise choice with all these bumps, but she misses the sharp turn away from the river and starts down the path to where the river has eroded the old trail. About five more steps and she will tumble into the river. I shout and grab her to safety. That was funny.

Mile 1.7 - I thought this could happen and here it is. Jesse Stevick is lapping us. Its one thing to be super fast on the roads, I just don't know how anyone can run so fast on this uneven surface with all these twists and turns. Just a moment later Rich Brown laps us too.

Mile 2.6 - Still with Tammy. We are holding a steady 8:25 pace. Through the twisty woods, then the final straight way to the finish line.

Mile 3.1 - I want to push Tammy to finish strong and I want her to pass me at the end. She seems to want to finish exactly together. I slow a bit, then she slows and we end up crossing at about the same time. I think she was a half step ahead of me.

A couple of us do one more lap as a cool down. That makes seven laps for me this morning. Foot feels great, so I should be good to go much longer next week. Congrats to Bill for running a speedy time, I'm not so sure I could have kept up with him if I had given a full effort. And big congrats to Ruhama for winning the shoes again this year. She may not be the fastest runner, but she makes it out to every race of the series, earning enough points to be the overall winner, while having a fun time.

Results Pending
Race #179, 5K#49