Saturday, December 18, 2010

12-18-10 Pigtails 50K

My third consecutive run here, second on this version of the course. Severe windstorm predicted for the night before almost had the race cancelled. 70% chance of rain and temps in the mid to upper 30s. Four of us carpool to the start and have to stop a couple of times to clear branches from the road. It is very gusty and cold as we get ready for the start. I had struggled over whether to wear shorts or long pants but just a few minutes outside confirmed that I should go with the tights. I can always take them off and wrap them around my waist if I get super hot, but at the slower pace of the ultra I don't see that happening. I will wear my rain coat over my Maniac jacket (manufactured by Brooks) and should be fine...with hat and gloves too.

Its much easier to come back to a race for the second or more time, knowing the course and what to expect. Of the 137 who registered for the race 103 make it to the start line. I probably know half of them and it is always fun to see and later to commiserate with fellow Marathon Maniacs. We all get commemorative beanie hats that are super nice. I'll have to wait till the finish to see what style finisher's medal RD Van (Pigtails) Phan has made. They are always so unique and fun.

Start - Find M761 and we start off in the early morning light along the short out and back of the pipeline trail. Then over the Cedar River on the road and onto the long trail.

Mile 5.7 - First aid station. Stock up on fluids. Move along.

Mile 8 - I am on a PR pace. Feel fine but I know that I will slow at some point. No real time goal, would be nice to beat last year's time I guess. Big tree down on the trail, have to climb around it.

Mile 14 - Have felt the wind at my back off and on for a long time. Now I turn around and have to run into the wind for the next 8 miles. Its not so bad, but at times I can feel it zapping my energy.

Mile 16 - Bob Dolphin sighting.

Mile 21.7 - Back to the staffed aid station. Marathoners continue on straight to the finish. 50K runners go up a hill on a side trail for a 5 mile out and back. A person could decide right then to only do the 26.2, even if they had registered for the 50K. I am getting tired and a little nauseous, but I'll continue on as planned. Kimpossible who has been with or mostly a little behind me all morning had registered for the marathon but here at mile 21.7 makes the crazy decision to add five miles to her race. Awesome!!

Mile 22 - Struggling now. Simply out of energy and having a little stomach cramping. M761 moves ahead and will go on to run a PR. I remember two years ago, it was our first 50K. Neither of us knew the full course and with the small group and absolutely frigid temperatures we decided to take it easy and also stay together the whole way. Last year we ran together. M761 tired near the end and I guess that I could have beat her, but I stayed with her and pushed us only hard enough to beat the time from the previous year. This year it is good for her to work for a fast time. We know the course and are safe among a much larger group of runners. I start leapfrogging a guy named Everett and I could just stay with him if I feel like company. At the turn around I see the Kimpossible and the Lone Wolf are not far behind at all.

Mile 26.7 - Back to the aid station. I make myself eat something. Despite an upset stomach I drink some Gatorade and eat a "fun sized" snickers, some potato chips, a fig newton and then drink some warm cider. I actually feel better after that. Time to set a finishing goal. If I can hold a 12 minute mile I should get in under 5:30 and that will beat last year's time by a few minutes. I jog for a while and take walk breaks quite often. Easy to be under 12/mile, I hold it closer to 11s.
Mile 28 - One familiar Maniac passes me and then Kimpossible. I have no motivation to try to keep up, I just stick to my own plan. Snow starts, then rain, then snow then more rain. Wet and cold but trudging along fine.
Mile 30.5 - I remember last year that there was a small road crossing just about a half mile before the finish. I decide to hold back and just keep slogging along with walk breaks until I get to that road then I will push hard to the end. But the crossing never appears and next thing I know I am at mile 31.1 and can see the finish just ahead as I round a bend in the trail. Too bad, I could have cut a few seconds off my time, but I am happy to have set a goal five miles back that I have easily achieved.
Mile 31.1 - Finish. Wet but happy. Nice medal made from a pink poker chip. I am left wondering how much farther I could have kept going at that pace. I do not want to register for a 50 miler just yet, but I would like to do a timed 12 hour or 24 hour race just to see how long I can run after hitting the wall. Perhaps I will get my chance to find out next year.
2010 - 40 races, 16 marathons or ultras
29th of 39

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis the Season for a 5K Club Oly Cross Country Race #3

At Pioneer Park in Tumwater for the Club Oly cross country race. Significant course change from last year. Somehow this is both a two loop course and an out and back race. I know that does not make sense, but that is the best way to describe it. Well marked with cones and arrows. Lots of different surfaces including mushy soccer fields, nice packed gravel, some muddy trails and even a little pavement. On my warm up run I toured most of the course and found the huge "puddle" that we have to go through. No way around this and it looks deep. It is cold (about 41 degrees) and raining lightly. It has been very wet recently and there are puddles everywhere. At least it is not windy. I warm up well and keep running right until the start time so as to not get chilled. Fortunately we start right on time.

Start - Run across the mushy soccer field. Within 20 seconds I can see lots of mud on the backs of the legs of the runners in front of me. This is going to be a muddy one. Within 60 seconds I assess my position. With only 11 starters (9 of whom I know fairly well) I have a good idea of where I am going to finish. Rich, Ben, Nick and Matt are in front of me where they should be. Ron Burfurd is right behind me. He always beats me and I am going a little faster than I should, taking advantage of the more runnable grass, so he will pass me soon I am sure. Turn and onto a ball field. Onto what I think is wet pavement but is really the dirt infield. It gets muddy and slippery in one spot but I make it through. More grass and a bit of trail. I hear screams up ahead.....

Puddle 1 - Down into some thick mud and then a wide and deep puddle. This is one small section of the course that I did not preview and I had no idea this was coming. Volunteer Tammy is here and I think she was the one screaming as runners came through. The puddle is about knee deep and really muddy with bits of gravel. No way around, you have to go right through the middle of it. When I come up out of it I can feel the gravel going into my shoes and rubbing against my heel. Most of the big pieces work their way down to the bottom of the shoe and do not cause any pain, so I can keep up the pace. On to nicer trail and I push as hard as I can. Still ahead of Ron but I can hear his slapping feet right behind me. Along the river then onto pavement where I push hard. Then a turn onto grass and.......

Puddle 2 - This one is about 35 feet long and deeper than the first. Miguel is taking pictures. Ron and I are laughing. The deepest spot is almost to my waist. Then it gets more shallow and I remember that I am supposed to be racing. I slog my legs through the water as best I can and finally come up onto land. That is when I feel the cold. My entire lower half from my waist to my toes goes numb. We enter a forested single track trail that twists and has a couple of 2-3 foot bumps. I am seriously worried about pulling or straining some muscle, or falling, so I back off a bit. It is short piece through that segment and soon we are back on runnable trail and I can feel my feet again. Fairly smooth running for a while, Ron still right on my tail. At one point he make a move and we run side by side. I speed up just before the trail narrows and retake my position ahead of him.

Puddle 3 - We are now about 2 miles into the race. I have never kept up with Ron for so long. Puddle 3 is that same one as puddle 2. I am more confident now that I have been through it already, I slog on as best I can. Same numbness and sever cold on the way out. It gradually fades and I am running OK, but Ron makes his move and passes me.

Puddle 4 - Ron is just a few feet ahead of me as we turn and go through the last big puddle. This is the same as the first one except we are now going in the opposite direction. In the middle of it, I see Ron slip and come crashing down with a big splash. Tammy and I make sure he is OK and he is very quickly on his feet, but I am able to get in front of him again. All we have left is a bit of trail and then the ball fields, probably a half mile to go. If I was by myself I am sure that I would ease up and have a relaxed finish. But ugh. Ron is here, now even with me and I realize that he is going to make me work for it. I have little faith that I can beat him, but who knows, unless I try. Another speed burst, this is my last, I just can't keep this up. I am now a few feet in front of Ron and I hear him go down again. Should I stop and help him up, check on him? I can see the finish line across the field. He fell on the wet grass can't be hurt too bad if at all. I decide to finish the race and then run back to help him if needed. On I go and when I make the last turn on the edge of the field I see that he is running and is only about 20 feet behind me. And he is carrying one shoe!! I sprint on the squishy field and finish a few seconds ahead of him. We cheer on the others who are not far behind at all. I learn that Ron was not the only one to fall. Rich has a nice bloody knee and two others who finished ahead of me also had nasty falls. Everyone is in good spirits but with the rain continuing to fall we decide to go get warm before hypothermia sets in. One of the crazier races I have done.

5th place of 11
race #219
race #39 of 2010
5K #57