Second time here. Two years ago it was super wet, but today we will be in between storms. Big rain coming, hopefully I can finish before it starts.
Race improvements - Porta potties at the start/finish. Also a 9AM start time which makes driving up from Olympia so much easier. I leave home at 5:40AM and still arrive in plenty of time. It is a long drive but at $30 entry fee, scenic and safe course, fun medal, and generous aid stations, this is well worth it.
Out and back on a very flat trail. Various surfaces but mostly very nice for running and little pavement. Wide trail so you can run next to someone and have room for others coming the other way. Little trail use other than for the race which is small. Parking right at the start/finish. Can you tell how much I like this race?
My plan is to run about a ten minute mile out and then try very hard to have a negative split.
Windy and cold at the start. I will wear a jacket and hat the whole way, gloves most of the way. The Maniac jacket has pockets big enough to hold small water bottles comfortably. It is so much better than that fuel belt.
Start - Largest group is doing the half marathon. Many doing the 50K. I opt for 26.2. We all start together.
Mile 1 - Run with Maniac Tricia for a little while until it is time for me to take a walk break. I am going to try very hard to be disciplined and run my own paces today, even if it means running mostly alone. Any time that I get too comfortable and my pace drops to 9:45 I will walk until it gets back up to 9:59.
Mile 2 - Strong head winds. The 10 minute mile is not quite as easy as it should be. The wind will come at us the whole way to the turn around. Strongest when the trail has no trees along it, just open fields. Fun to see all the farm animals. Horses, goats, pigs, chickens, llamas, various cattle. Now a bald eagle sighting.
Mile 4 - First aid station. Run with a halfer, Chris. Nice to meet a new guy. We get through the one muddy section. My very new and white shoes are christened to the trail.
Mile 6.5 - Aid station 2. Halfers turn around and I go off solo. Trail goes right along the mighty Skagit River.
Mile 7 - Zone in on blue shirt woman far ahead. Ever so gradually gain on her.
Mile 9 - Strongest of the winds, right in my face. Somewhat discouraging. I still feel fine, but I know that it must be zapping my energy.
Mile 11.5 - Short course detour onto a paved road. Pond with seven swans a swimming, plus two more. Back onto the trail.
Mile 12.5 - Herd of bison in the field. Would have been fun to bring my camera with me. Finally catch blue shirt woman. She says that she has been zoning on the two in front of her for so many miles.
Mile 13.1 - Turn around. Right at 9:59 pace. 2:11 on the clock. OK here we go. Goal is now anything under 4:22, and a sub 4:20 would be awesome. Reset the watch and soon I am running 9:30. I remember how at Pigtails I took off at mile 14 and picked up the pace way too early and fast. I paid dearly for it that day. Today I reel myself back, walk until the new pace is 9:45. I now plan to keep it at 9:45 until mile 20 or later and then see if I can go faster.
Mile 14 - Lisa Wood sighting
Mile 16 - Nice tailwinds! Passing a few people.
Mile 19 - I like that at some places in this course you can see about a full mile ahead. I have probably passed about 8 people since the turn around. Now I catch up to one more guy. But there is no one ahead of us. I ask him jokingly if he is in first place. He comes to a full stop so that I get ahead of him and says "No, you are". We cruise in together to the 19.4 mile aid station. Take two cookies.
Mile 20 - I continue to let the pace drop into the 9:30s and then walk to bring it up to the 9:40s. So far so good.
Mile 21 - Maniac Wendy is just a tiny speck in the distance. I would like to be able to catch up to her, but she is really far away.
Mile 22.2 - Last aid station. I still have plenty of fluids so I just grab a cookie and get out of there. Now some serious tail wind. So strong a couple of times that I feel like I am riding on something. What a great feeling for mile 22 and 23.
Mile 24 - Pace about 9:35 for this second half. I should get that negative split no problem. I may be able to go sub 4:20 too. I remember that the course is a little long, so I keep working hard.
Mile 25 - First rain drops, but not much. Now I am ready to be done. No wall today! What a great feeling to still have energy. Legs are tired but I feel like I can just keep on going at this pace. Well I try to pick it up and I can barely go any faster. I am locked into this pace and that is fine. Is that the finish line so far away? No need to walk now, just keep grinding away.
Mile 26.2 - Done! Very happy with my time. 2:11/2:05 splits! Some of that is due to the winds, but I will take some credit for smart running. So much more fun to feel good throughout. No aches, pains or injuries to deal with. I hope to run this one again for sure.
12th place of 39
Marathon or Ultra #106
Woolley Trail Run #2