Saturday, January 23, 2010

1/23/10 Pigtails Lake Youngs 50K

9.6 mile loop trail around Lake Youngs in Maple Valley. The lake is part of the water supply for King County so it is closed to the public with a very long fence. As a rookie trail runner I like this as I know I will not get lost. Just stay on the trail next to the fence. To make the race 50K (31 miles) we will do three loops of the lake. Then we will start a 4th loop but turn back after 1.1 miles. I also like this because I will never be more than 5 miles from my car. I have been battling some Achilles tendinitis and if it flares up today, I would rather drop out of the race and not injure myself anymore. I rested a whole lot this week and I think everything is OK but I will monitor closely.

If my Achilles does well I will be happy with any finish time. A PR is always nice. I figure if I do each loop in 1hr 41 minutes that will give me thirty minutes to "run" the last 2.2 miles and get that personal best time. But seriously, just to be out there doing this is great. This is not a peak race. Its actually training for future marathons. I think a couple of 50Ks will make 26.2 seem more manageable. Contrary to the weather report it is drizzling and fairly wet. At the last moment I decide to wear my heavier rain jacket and hat. Van Pigtails Phan gives the shortest pre race announcements ever and we are off.
Loop 1 - 1:37:06
My loop times will be different than the officially reported times as I will reset my watch upon leaving the check in area each time. There is only one aid station and I will try to not linger there, but I will need to refill my fluid bottle and grab a few munchies. As we start I know that there will be a steep downhill right away on a somewhat narrow trail. We were given detailed instructions via email and the race web site. It is still somewhat dark at 7:30 so we pick our way down the hill carefully. There is a surprisingly large crowd with some runners only doing one or two loops. Lots of people that I do not know, but many friends to make this an enjoyable day. At the half mile mark my pace is about 12/mile which will not do at all. But soon the trail gets wider and I can pass a few people and find my stride. Soon I develop a plan for this course with its rolling hills. I will run the flat parts nice and easy, use gravity to speed up on the downhills and then walk up any steep uphills. Walk breaks are in the plan from the start. The major uphills are spaced about 2 miles apart and after a few miles of settling in and not feeling all that great, I start to feel very comfortable. Its still raining lightly though and I'll keep my jacket on for the next loop.
Loop 2 - 1:36:20
Still raining. Trail is a little muddier the second time around. Some leapfrogging with Ken Briggs. Then we run together for quite a while. Not talking, but it is nice to have him with me. I know that his finish times are about the same as mine (he is 15 years older than me) so it makes sense to be near him. We have the same strategy of running and then walking up each hill, so we
talk about that a bit. I know that I was ahead of pace after the first loop, but the second time around seems easier and I just do not feel like going that slow. I am sure it will hit me on the third time around. Rain might have stopped for a bit, but it is on again.

Loop 3 - 1:39:10
Start off strong and gradually pass a pack of guys. Then I am all alone. Not going as fast this loop but on the downhills I am able to hammer the overall pace down some. Finally at mile 24.5 my legs start to feel tired and I slow some. So happy that I made it this far without fatigue or pain. At mile 26 (I have my hat and hood on) I am at a narrow part of the trail and completely daydreaming/zoning out, and some runner politely says "on your left" so he can pass me. I was so startled I practically jumped off the trail. Back to reality and slogging out the miles. A couple of people have passed me and I have marveled at how muddy the backs of their legs are. It is still raining and the trail is getting muddier, but how did these people get mud all the way up their legs? Matt Hagen catches up to me and the last two miles of this loop go quickly with him.
2.2 mile out and back - 24:27
I arrive at the finish area to check in and see that the clock reads 4:52 I am ten minutes ahead of schedule and can run the last part in forty minutes and still PR. Matt and I make a quick turnaround and head out. At this moment I feel my left Achilles for the first time. Its a minor soreness and I will walk it in if it gets worse. Matt has tons of energy left and leaves me in the dust (mud actually). The downhill is so steep I can feel it now in my quads and my energy level is low. I had been able to eat and digest well today and I think that helped a lot. I am at mile 29, of course I am low on energy. The turnaround takes forever to arrive, but eventually the flour mark on the trail is seen and now I am going to the finish line. With one minor issue. In another eight tenths of a mile I will have to go up that steep hill that I had been going down at the start of each loop. What a difficult way to end a race. I can see the hill in the distance and it takes some time including short walk breaks to get there. Finally I am climbing up. It is steep but short. I am walking and at one point I think about stopping to rest a bit, as if I were out for a hike, but I keep moving and then cover the last bit of mud to the finish.
After finishing I go to the car to dry off and change my clothes. It is there that I notice the backs of my legs are caked with mud and I laugh. Later my Achilles is a little sore but not as bad as it had been. I get my camera and snap a couple of pictures near the finish, including that last hill. Not sure if I will race before 2/14, but today was a good effort and gets me that needed long run prior to that race.
5:17:03 PR by 16 minutes
results pending
3rd 50K, 42nd marathon or ultra

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1-9-10 Run for Faith 5K

First time event sponsored by the Lutheran church in Elma. Barb Johnson is the race director and I know her from many years of local runs. Fliers were posted at the running store so I hope for a good number of runners, but expect it will be small. I have been resting and tending to a tender Achilles heel this week. I had to abort a run on Monday after half a mile due to pain and then rested for two days. I eased back into running on Thursday and although the pain is gone, there is still a little ache in there. Today I opt for the 5K race instead of the 10K, so as to not overwork the heel. Jody, Bill and I make the 30 minute drive to Elma together and with a 10AM start I even get to sleep in a little. The weather is perfect. 46 degrees, dry and no wind. We find the church in plenty of time and get registered. $25 day of race includes a long sleeve T-shirt. I see some regulars and a couple of folks from the church who will walk the 5K but other than that it is a very small event. Bill and I do a mile warm up. I meet a newcomer to the area, moved here recently from Alabama. He looks fast and I am glad that he will run the 10K. As Barb is giving us directions she asks to see who is doing which race. There are only 4 in the 10K. About a dozen in the 5K. Other than the Lindberg twins and one unknown, I am sure I can beat everyone else in the field. Well Bill is here and I will have to work to beat him, but although he has been getting faster, I have confidence, as long as the Achilles does not nag.

Start - Out the parking lot and right onto Main Street. Bill and Joseph (Alabama) are in front and I am right behind. Eventually Erik Lindberg passes me and runs with Joseph, they pull away just too quickly to keep up.

Mile 0.5 - Onto the quiet back road, I catch Bill and run along with him.

Mile 1 - 7:07. Running with Bill. I feel good and know that I can not catch Erik so I settle into a comfortably hard pace. Through the school parking lot, through some gates, then right on Third Street.

Mile 1.5 - Bill had gotten ahead and I caught up to him. Now at the turn around he is ahead again. We are going back up and over the highway. I am feeling tired and if I let Bill get too far ahead, that would not be good. I put on some speed and get even with him. Nice to make that turn back onto the less used road. Out and back course, so I can see Jody and others.

Mile 2.0 - Nice flat section of good pavement. I decide to speed up and see if I can put Bill far enough behind me that he will not catch up. I can see Erik still far ahead, but the gap may be narrowing a bit. I find a new, faster gear, knowing that I will not be able to hold it for a long time. Intersection ahead. I blow through it and see a truck coming towards me. I wave at it trying to signal that another runner is behind me. The truck continues on and I know that I have put some space between us.

Mile 2.5 - Dog barks in yard. Silence for a few seconds. Dog barks again. I know how far back Bill is, without having to look. He is actually very close. I need to keep working hard. Right turn. I want to look back but I know that is a sign of weakness, plus what is the point? I know he is right there behind me. Up a little hill after the turn and I can feel the tiredness in my legs. I can feel the Achilles with every step but it is not painful. My stomach feels fine and breathing is OK considering. I am having a decent race, my finish time will not be outstanding, but maybe is better than expected.

Mile 2.8 - On Main Street heading toward the finish. I see Erik turn in for the win. I keep up the pace, all the while listening for Bill's footsteps. I can not hear him so I relax but finish strong.

Mile 3.1 - Done. Stop. Turn off my watch. Turn around and there is Bill. He has run a PR by 22 seconds and is thrilled. I'd like to think that my running with him and his having to chase me helped him run such a fast time. So I will take some credit for his time.

Now it is spectate and wait for the others. I congratulate Erik (58 years old) and then I realize that with only 4 runners in the 10K, if Jody comes in ahead of Ruhamma she will be the overall female winner. She is and gets a trophy. Lots of food at the awards ceremony. Barbara Olafson (in her 70s) is female winner of the 5K, and yes there were at least three other female participants. Very enjoyable race that I plan to do again. Next race, as long as the Achilles is OK, will be the Pigtails Lake Youngs 50K on January 23.

2nd of 11 runners and walkers

Friday, January 1, 2010

1/1/2010 Steilacoom 5 Miles

My fifth consecutive New Years Day five mile race at Steilacoom. My 7th time doing this race. My ninth New Years Day race. Previous times here:

2000 - 37:00

2004 - 39:13

2006 - 37:32

2007 - 36:18

2008 - 35:33

2009 - 37:44

I have not done any fast running since November and have had minor recovery issues from my last race, so I really do not know how fast I can go today. Plus with the late night last night, this race is just difficult to predict. At least I made it to the start line and I feel good. It is windy and threatening to rain. I will go out at a 7:30/mile pace and try to hold that, unless I feel like I can go faster.

Start - Large crowd and I am farther back than I should be. Have to pick my way around some runners, but I take my time and gradually find my pace.

Mile 1 - Running with M1074, but she pulls ahead some and I let her go.

Mile 2 - Slowly gaining on M844, run with him a bit then pass him. He jokes that I am trying to get revenge for the Rainier Round Up of 5 years ago. That was really funny. But soon I am struggling to maintain pace and the negativity arrives.

Mile 3- It is very difficult to maintain a positive attitude. I am not getting passed, and I am holding pace, but it is very hard and not fun to do so. I have not raced this distance much lately and it has been a long time since I have had these feelings. I remind myself that this is part of red lining. I am right on the edge. I can ease back just a tiny bit and feel better, or pick it up and fall apart completely. It is a battle of breathe and legs and willpower and I play back and forth on either side of the edge. Hearing M844 just behind me compels me to work harder. Seeing my pace maintain, allows me to not stress or struggle as much.

Mile 3.5 - Gradually catch up to M726. We encourage each other as best we can and note how tough this distance is.

Mile 4.5 - Pass M726 and finish as strong as I can down the hill and onto the track. Very difficult going but I managed to pass a couple of people in the second half and not get passed at all myself. Try to speed up around the track and finish strong.


58th of 162 runners, 8 of 11 in age group