Sunday, March 28, 2010

3-28-10 Redmond Watershed Preserve Marathon

Northwest Trail Runs organization puts on a couple of races around Seattle each year. I did the marathon in Redmond last August. Apparently the venue for their usual March event was not available so they hosted today's event back at the Watershed Preserve in Redmond. It was nice and no stress to come back to this low key event I had run before. Race does not start till 9:30AM unfortunately I had to drop some family at the airport at 5AM. Woke at 3:40AM, made the drive to the airport, then continued on, arriving at the park at 5:30. Managed to sleep a little in the car. It had been raining, but by 9AM it was just cloudy. This course is fairly confusing, last year I let the pack take me on a wrong turn that added a half mile to the race. This time as I listen to the prerace briefing I am confident that I will remember the course and make all of the correct turns. I also will not have to worry about bees, this early in the season, after getting stung here last Summer. In fact as I stand around with fellow Marathon Maniacs I feel very relaxed. I'd like to beat last year's time, but my main goal is just to get in a good long fun workout on the trails. There is also a 5 and 10 mile race and they will start a few minutes after us. Large turn out, in fact the race was sold out, good thing I preregistered some time ago.

Last year I ran the three loops in 1:26, 1:24 and 1:45 having an epic meltdown on the last go around. I ran out of fluids on that hot day. Today I have sent a bottle to the "drop area" where it will be available to me twice on each loop. There is a minor change to the course with the first loop being about a half mile longer than usual. This will allow a later part of the course to not go quite so far and cross a road. The section that was removed was totally flat, the added part has a hill, but there are so many little hills its not going to make much of a difference. I like that the later loops will be just a little shorter.

Loop 1 1:31

Start - Wearing my rain jacket. I fully expect it to start pouring at any moment. The start is a narrow trail and it is tough to pass or be passed, however I have apparently positioned myself well. Things will sort out eventually anyway. After a mile or so I find myself near the back of a large pack. M27 is leading the way, although I know that there are faster runners ahead. I meet M1095 who I had known of and we have pleasant conversation for most of the loop. No rain and I am warm so I ditch my jacket at the bag drop area. Around mile 4 I feel like I should be going a little faster. I'd like to get ahead of this pack but am really boxed in. The 5 and 10 mile runners keep coming at us too, I decide to just stay put for now. The whole herd of about ten of us charge on to the finish area.

Loop 2 1:27

I take a very fast break here, make sure the race director sees my number, I fill up my fluids and head back out. Others are lingering so our big pack has disintegrated. After the short out and back section, there is a very nice mostly downhill trail for over a mile. I am comfortably running quicker than I had been. No one else around except M27 just a little ahead of me. Plus random runners approaching from the opposite direction occasionally. Much quieter now in the forest. M1095 catches and passes me. She ran the Yakima Marathon yesterday!! M27 stops for a break and I have to pass her. I know full well that she will catch me sooner or later. Before the second loop is over she is back in front of me for good. She ran 102 miles just seven days ago!!

Horse and rider on the trail. We are going in the same direction but the horse is going very slowly. They have the right of way and I do not want to pass by them without the rider's permission. Great excuse for a walk break. Kinda cool that I am running faster than a horse too. She does encourage me to pass and I do so. Starting to tire and taking some walk breaks on the uphills. Sun is out, then a brief sprinkle, but my feet are dry and the mud is not bad.

At the end of the loop there is a small crowd at the finish area. I raise my arms and yell out "done" so they will think I have completed the race. Some start cheering, but I quickly finish my sentence "....with the second lap". People laugh and I grab some food and drink and set out for one more loop.

Loop 3 1:40

Really tired now. Lots of walk breaks. Doing about 12 minutes/mile. M1078 catches me. I knew that he was not far back and had been expecting him to get to me soon. We run together for about a half mile and it is really nice. He ran the Yakima Marathon yesterday!! I think that my fatigue is at least partially mental, I am running fine with M1078. Whenever there is another runner around I seem to be able to move along, but all by myself I lose any drive and just shuffle and walk some. No pains just fatigue. Doing the "second loop of the third loop" I see two runners who are about 3 miles behind me, M1077 and M 748 who both ran Yakima yesterday!! I pick up my jacket and down the last of my fluids. I have given up on beating my time from last August but I should still be close. Get really close to two black-tailed deer as I jog in the last bit. Cross the finish and call it a day. Great soup and other foods at the finish area. I stay for a little while. When I do finally get in my car it immediately starts raining.

23rd of 41
Race#191, Marathon or ultra #45, Redmond Watershed Preserve Marathon #2

Sunday, March 14, 2010

3/14/10 Rock Candy Mountain 8 miles

Inaugural event. I have done races including marathons on nice packed gravel trails but this will be my first race with serious elevation gain and what they call "technical" trails. 1,700 foot elevation gain in four miles, then back down the way we came. I am somewhat worried because yesterday I had lingering soreness in the quads from the six hour endurance run of the week prior and I ran the 10K yesterday at top effort. With the loss of an hour due to daylight savings, my legs did not want to get out of bed this morning. But I did manage to get up and take the short drive to the Capitol Forest. Capitol Forest is state property that is managed for multiple uses including logging and hunting. Many of the trails are rocky, steep and tough. There are lots of logging roads and trails that intersect, a great place to get lost and I generally avoid it for the safer, easier trails of Mount Rainier, or the Olympic Mountains. I did climb Rock Candy Mountain with Jody and the boys about ten years ago and I look forward to being able to race here. The cost was $15 including a great looking T-shirt. I was debating whether or not to carry some fluids when I learned that volunteers would be driving one of the roads to the top of the mountain and setting up an aid station. So happy about that. I see a couple of friends including two I have not seen in years. Nice friendly group as I expected. The sun is out but threatening to cloud over. Its chilly and then I notice the snow near the summit. I grab my sweatshirt and will start off wearing it.

Start - Elevation 570 feet. Finish time is meaningless since this is my first run here. Rather than track miles or time, I'll only look at my GPS watch to see what the altitude is. The summit is somewhere around 2,300 feet. I do a half mile halfhearted warm up. Legs are tired, especially the quads, but nothing hurts. Soon we meet for instructions and go.

700ft - Muddy but smooth dirt road at a decent grade up hill. Nothing too bad. I should be going faster here since I know that it will be tougher going soon enough. The event website posted some photos, that I am using here, and that was helpful to have an idea of what to expect.

800ft - Turn onto a decommissioned road. When logging roads are taken out of service the culverts that allow water to pass underneath are removed. As a salmon habitat biologist I think that is a great idea. As a trail racer I am changing my mind. Every two hundred feet or so we have to do a real steeplechase thing, climbing up a mound, then down into the mud and back up again. Its just too big and wide to try to jump over, so its a real time killer. Also I am trying to keep my feet as dry as possible. This is very entertaining, I have never raced on a surface like this before.

1,100ft - Now we enter a real hiking trail. Single track, rocky and steep. Have to walk in places. Pass a couple of guys but none too quickly. I take off my sweatshirt and tie it around my waist. Switchbacks and up up up.

1,900ft - Back onto a logging road. Volunteer there to direct us the right way. Road has baseball sized rocks all over, no way I would drive my little car up here. Opening up to some views but I don't dare look away from my feet. Patches of snow on the side and on the middle of the road. Less steep than the switchbacks, but a couple of tough climbs. Here come the front runners blazing by.

2300 ft - Great to see the aid station and turnaround. Gulp a little Gatorade and head back without enjoying the view. I will need to come back here soon, when I am not racing.

1,900 ft - So great to be heading downhill. Flying down the road, trying to be careful but I feel like I am going so fast after that long uphill slog. I know that I will have to be more careful when I enter the single track switchbacks.

1,600 ft - Now I am picking my way down. I stop to make sure that Ron, who has taken a spill is OK. He is on his feet and moving and seems OK, so I keep working my way down the trail. I am worried that my tired legs might cause me to slip where I otherwise would be sure footed, so I am extra careful, but I feel like I am moving fast. Mike Strong passes me, absolutely flying down the trail, bouncing recklessly from rock to rock. I am amazed at how fast he is going and he is quickly out of sight.

900 ft - Back on the decommissioned road. Don't care about the mud or getting my feet wet anymore. Pick my way over the obstacles, then on to the better road.

700 ft - See two people jogging and I gradually catch them only to find that they have already completed the race and are just cooling down. Nearly there now, I keep up a good effort and finish strong. I wonder how much faster I could have been had I not raced hard yesterday and were not coming off a high mileage week. I guess that I should have been able to make it to the top a minute or two faster than I did, but I doubt that I could have been any faster on the downhill without risking a fall.

Very fun, well organized, low key event that I will plan to run again.


21 of 38

race #190


Saturday, March 13, 2010

3-13-10 Run For Luck 10K

My 6th year in a row doing this race. With the six hour ultra last week and the new Rock Candy Mountain 8 mile trail race tomorrow, running today was iffy. But I feel good, enjoy this race and Bill is hoping that I can pace him to a PR. I know the course well and have a plan for today. Its cool and a little breezy. I can't decide between a rain jacket and sunglasses and finally take neither with me. Dry for now with fat dark clouds around.
Start - Line up near the front and off we go. Really try to not go out too fast. Bill and I plan to run 7:32/mile as long as we can. At the half mile mark we are right on pace. Most of the runners are doing the 5K, and that route turns south on the paved trail, where we turn to the north. I can't hear anyone behind us and there is one kid up ahead. Other front runners are way ahead already, so it is just me and Bill.
Mile 2 - Right on pace. It is getting a little more difficult however. Breathing is fine but the big muscles are still sore from last Saturday's 32.9 mile run. Definitely running on tired legs, but not too bad.
Mile 4 - 10Ks are really hard. Still with Bill, and now we have caught up to the kid. The three of us trying to hold on. Headwind now that we are on the way back. Not super strong but it is a factor. At times Bill pulls ahead by a little and I wonder if this will finally be the race that he beats me. I start to dread my planned surge at mile 5. The course is mostly flat with one good bump on the bridge over the Yelm Highway. I want to run mostly with Bill and help him get his PR, but I also want to beat him and I do not trust my finishing kick. I decided about a week ago that I would drop the hammer at about mile 5 on that uphill and run as fast as I can for the last mile, hopefully pulling away enough to break him. But now that the time is approaching I am not looking forward to it. I am already digging deep just to hold the pace, how can I dig any deeper?
Mile 5 - Bill has pulled ahead on the downhill prior to the bridge. I have to speed up just to get even with him. The kid is still with us. Now it is time and I make my move with a yell. Run as hard as I can up over the bridge. This is intensely difficult. I told myself that this would be the toughest mile of the week if not the toughest thing I have to do all week. Soon the breathing is ragged and I feel like vomiting. Don't let up the intensity but I know that I am slowing down to some degree. Finally the turn to the final quarter mile and a quick peek back shows Bill far enough away that I am confident of finishing before him. I listen for footsteps just in case and continue to run as fast as possible. Then the last turn to the finish and enter the chute.
Finish - Turn around and watch Bill come in ten seconds later. He got his PR with even pacing. I ended up two seconds faster than last year and a nice negative split. We go inside for potato soup, raffles and ribbons.


6th place of 69, first in age group
Race#189, 10K #26, Run For Luck #6


Saturday, March 6, 2010

3/6/10 Invest in Youth 6 hour race

Event is a fundraiser of the local YMCA. RD is a Marathon Maniac and most of the runners are Maniacs looking to get in a long run. Instead of a set distance, we will run as far as we can in 6 hours. As long as I cover 26.2 miles I can count it as a marathon. The farthest I have ever run is 31.6 miles so my goal is to beat that if possible. I will try to run 10 minutes per mile for as long as I can. I know that I will be running faster than that, but then I will take scheduled walk breaks to keep the pace at 10/mile. Up at 5AM for the almost two hour drive to Snohomish County, I find the Machias trail head to the Centennial Trail. It is a wide and paved rails to trails path with some areas of runnable dirt trail along side. Mostly very flat, just a little incline at one spot that will actually be good for the legs. Very few road crossings. We will run out 2.575 miles and then back to the start. This is great because I will not get lost, I will always be fairly close to the car if something goes wrong and I will see lots of friendly faces as we pass each other back and forth. It is surprisingly cold, but brilliant sunshine and it is going to warm up to be a terrific day for running. People are gathered in the picnic shelter but I stand in the sun trying to get some warmth. Eventually a few friends join me, then it is time to start. Each lap is 5.15miles so at a ten minute mile I should complete a lap in 51:30 to stay on pace.

Lap 1 (0-5.15 miles) 51:28

There is no aid on the course except at the start/finish so I will carry my fuel belt with Gatorade in order to stay hydrated. At this slower pace I should be able to digest some foods so I will try to eat more than usual while running. I would never go without food from 8AM to 2PM and although I will not stop for lunch, I will try to keep consuming small amounts of something. I find myself with Betsy and Jessica and the pace is good. Scenic course, bright sunshine, trout stream, pasture, baseball field. After about 3 miles I realize that my hands have thawed and I am feeling good. I hit the finish area a little ahead of schedule, use the bathroom and ditch my jacket. In order to stay on pace I can not dawdle and I need to head back out.

Lap 2 (5.15 to 10.3 miles) 51:07

Running alone now and will be solo for the rest of the race. Except that everybody is well spread out and I am constantly seeing a friendly runner come towards me. Plenty of room to pass each other and wave hi. Some runners started early and are separated from the bulk of us. Occasionally I will pass someone and run with them for a bit. Sunglasses off on the out route but I have to put them on for the return run directly into the bright sun.

Lap 3 (10.3 to 15.45 miles) 50:22

All warmed up and naturally moving faster. I have places now, 2 miles out and 3.5 miles where I take my intentional walk breaks. Course is familiar but not boring.

Lap 4 (15.45 to 20.6 miles) 51:47

Feel the first tweak of the Achilles at mile 19. Its not bad and will not bug me until hours after finishing. Then it will be sore and creaky for a day or two, at least that is how it has been for the past two months when I feel it while running. Every time that Guy Yogi passes by me, going the other way, I am on one of my walk breaks. He must think I am walking the whole thing. Lots more bicyclists on the path now, but as long as I stay close to the side it is not an issue.

Lap 5 (20.6 to 25.75 miles) 54:06

At 24.5 I start to tire and have trouble holding the ten minute pace. This is disappointing because I should be able to run that fast for a whole marathon. Shawn "laps" me, looking very comfortable. I have to check in at the aid station so my distance can be recorded. They only have water and soda, no Gatorade type drink, and only pretzels to eat. Good thing I have a stash of gu and also some fig newtons to munch on. I linger too long and time is going too quickly.

Lap 6 (25.75 to 30.9 miles) 58:17

Long sleeve shirt comes off and I run in short sleeves. I have seen Winter change to Spring and now to Summer in 5 hours. I pass Monte at the start of this lap. There is a sign set out at the half mile mark, so I could just run one mile and be done with 26.75. He tells me that I did not drive all this way to cut it short now and I agree. Running low on energy. I decide that 12 minute miles will be fine and if I can hold that I can still make my goal. I expect things to get much worse but they do not. I have thrown in extra walk breaks but they are short and I am pleased that I can hold the pace around 11/mile.

Lap 7 (30.9 to 31.9 miles) 11:08

The 11:08 includes checking in at the aid station, dropping my fuel belt, drinking something and generally relaxing knowing that I can do this very slowly and finish in good shape. The half mile trip out is easy, it just seems so close after all the longer laps I have done. Great attitude, try to encourage others and just enjoy the time. Very pleased that when I did tire and slow, it was not nearly as bad as the wall I hit in my last marathon. This is the farthest I have ever run.

Lap 8 (31.9 to 32.9 miles) 11:09

Victory lap. I finish in 5 hours 40 minutes which is also a time on feet record for me. Someone suggests that I have time for another lap and I really feel like I could, but I decline. "Save something for next year" I say. This is plenty good enough for today. I am amazed when Shawn lopes in at 5:48 and Tony tells her that she has 12 minutes left, she should go do one more mile, and she trots off like its nothing. Going beyond both the standard marathon distance and the 50K mark puts me ahead of some runners who are much faster than me. Official results have me in 7th place, but somehow missed my last mile. Correcting for what I did actually run puts me in 6th place, but really today was not about "winning" other than accomplishing my personal goals. I did run farther than ever and to do so comfortably, on such a beautiful day, with so many friendly people, made this a terrific day.

32.9 miles
6th farthest of 58 participants
44th marathon or ultra, 1st 6 hour endurance run