Monday, April 28, 2014

4/26/14 Capitol Peak 55K

I have volunteered here three or four times but have never run the race.  It is always one week before the Tacoma Marathon and I have wanted to save my legs for that.  This year I can not run Tacoma, so I signed up for this.  55K is about 34 miles and I have never actually done a race that is this long.  I have gone farther than 34 miles, but on timed events with easy loops.  This one will put me way out there.  I am a little nervous for the trails I have mostly not run on before and Capitol Forest has so many trails and logging road crossings, I think that it would be easy to take a wrong turn.  Since I have not run this before, my main goals are just to not get lost and to have a fun time.  I plan to be out here all day and just enjoy it.

10th annual event.  Cheap $40 entry fee includes a 10th anniversary bandana with a map of the course.  Volunteers include Thurston County Search are Rescue.

6:30AM start is not so bad since I live fairly close.  I also know exactly where the start area is and getting there is no problem.  It is a little chilly but dry.  Chance of rain, but it will hold off and actually be terrific running weather all the time I am out there.  50 mile race is also happening and starting at the same time with most of the runners doing the longer event.  Big event for a trail race.  Our large group heads out on time.

Start (Margaret Mckinney campground) to Falls Creek - This seven mile section is mostly forested.  After crossing the creek it goes uphill for a while, but nothing bad.  I get stuck behind quite a line of people.  Single track rutted path with no place to pass.  I tell myself to just go with the flow.  I feel fine, but we are walking any uphill.  Then a bit on a logging road where we can sort out.  There will still be people close ahead and right behind me, but not as close as before.  Very runnable section.  Nice long downhill to Falls Creek.  I do not look forward to climbing back up this section on the way back, around mile 28-30.

Falls Creek to Capitol Peak - All new territory for me.  Other than a few miles out from the start/finish, I have not been on these trails.  Lots of cushy dirt and not much mud.  A few rocks and roots but nothing too bad.  Climbing and opening up into some clear cut areas.  Starting to get some nice views. First time that I look at my watch I see that I have been moving for 2 hours 46 minutes.  I pass a couple of people, and the switch-backed climb to the top is not bad.

Capitol Peak - Aid station at about mile 13.  From here we go out on a road for a mile, turn onto a trail and do a small loop before returning to the aid station.  I will be back here in 4 miles.  Looks like my hand held water bottle and small bottle in my pocket will easily get me to each station on this cool day.  The road is nice because it is so runnable and I get to see fast people coming back toward me.  Also some folks who took the early 5:30AM start.  Now on to the trail and I have to watch for runners coming toward me, but the trail is fairly wide here and there are no problems.  The short loop takes us to the very top of Capitol Peak.  This super steep trail is called the "Grunt".  I let out a few grunts but really it goes Ok for me.

 Nice views but the volcanoes are not out.  This is actually my first time at the top of this little mountain.  I have wanted to climb up here for a long time.  The trail down is not nearly as bad as the grunt but it is very rocky and I pick my way carefully.  Gentle downhill on the trail and then up on the road.  Very few runners on the out and back now and I wonder how many are behind me in the loop, or way behind me, not at the aid station yet. As I leave Ulrike at the aid station she says that it is 6 miles to the Wedekin aid station.

Capitol Peak to Wedekin - Jen had said that is part was very nice and she sure was right.  Gentle downhill and no rocks.  I get faster and pass a couple of people.  We are very spread out now and I often have long periods where I do not see anyone.

Wedekin to Falls Creek -  Just over 20 miles.  Bill is at the Wedekin aid station and things have slowed down enough that he offers to run some with me.  We go off mostly downhill and pretty fast.  Fun to have some company and conversation.  The trail opens into a clear cut, then and then a burned out clear cut area.  I have never run through anything like this before.  At about 22.5 a 50 mile runner comes flying past us, in first place of that race and 16 miles ahead of me (they do an out and back at Wedekin).  Bill turns around at mile 23 and I feel a little bad that he has three miles of uphill to get back, but I think he can handle it.  On I go, continuing to leapfrog two women from Portland, and passing a couple of runners.  Just a little knee pain/ache that goes away after a bit.  Otherwise feeling very good.

Falls Creek to finish at Margaret Mckinney - The route now rejoins that trail that we set out on, so for this portion I will be retracing where I was for the first seven miles.  Basically, a long uphill that I have been worried about, and then 4 miles of mostly downhill.  All runnable and not very steep or rocky.  I am behind the Portland women and we walk the first part of the uphill.  But I am feeling really good and decide to pass them for now and try jogging up the hills.  I am so happy and surprised that I have no nausea and I still have energy and leg strength.  My feet are just starting to feel a little beat up, but they have felt much worse after this much time on my feet.  I feel way better than I did at Carkeek three weeks ago.  I sort of regret not doing the 50 miles today, but who knows how I would handle an extra 16 miles?  I should just be happy that this is going so well.  The early walking up the hills has paid off and I will have a negative split as my pace per mile has dropped from near 14 to sub 13:30.  Of course it is a lot more downhill in the second half.  Almost to the top and I reach a major milestone, my 20,000th lifetime mile.  I have been keeping a log of all runs since April 1995 and this puts me at 20,000.  In January I started to think about when I would reach this goal, and saw that it could happen near this race.  I had to step up the mileage.  Wanted to make 20,000 be the grunt, but could not quite get there. 

Start of my 20,000th mile

A half mile to go and the second 50 miler passes me.  I step off the trail and cheer for him.  As he flies by he tells me to cheer really loudly for the next runner.  At first I think that is so nice, he is concerned for the guy behind him.  These ultra trail runners are all so supportive and kind to each other, everyone is so friendly.  But then I think some more and I realize that these 50 milers are super fast and are competitive.  The second place runner wanted to hear me yell and then he would know how far back his competition was.  I should have screamed out right away just to spur him on, but I did not think of that till later.

Across the bridge and now so close.  Up a gravel patch and around a big puddle (why get my feet wet now?  I can't believe that they have stayed dry all day).  Now a runner coming up on me.  I am pretty sure that he is the third place 50 miler, but he could be a 55K, in my race, putting on a grand finish.  I put on a sprint and run as fast as I can, with somebody on my heels.  We work really hard to finish it off, luckily I don't hurt anything.  I come in half a second ahead of him.  The second place 50 miler is laying on the ground and I confirm that he did want to know where number three was. 

Change of clothes, hot soup and sit for a while at the finish area.  I would like to wait for Jill, Kim, KP, Monte, and others but they will be out there for another 4 hours.  So after a little rest I head home very pleased with the day.

2 Days post race - no blisters, toe nails in good shape and very little quad soreness.  Just a few weak spots around my feet/ankles.  Still feeling like this went as good as it possibly could.  Hope to run it again next year and with more focus on racing, less on picture taking, I should be able to be a little faster.

19th place of 47
Race#325, Marathon or ultra#109

Saturday, April 12, 2014

4/12/14 Spring Forward Tacoma 5K

8th annual event, but my first time here.  I had not planned to race today but Jody suggested it and who am I to decline a "race date"?  She is building up her speed and a 5K today works well for her.  I had that brutal run at Carkeek Park last week.  I took it very easy as a recovery week and still felt beat up and tired on Thursday.  Rested yesterday and I will just hope for a good run today.  No time expectations.  I have not raced a 5K since December (22:37) and when I get a look at this course I know that it will be tough.

This race has a lot of positives and I am surprised that more runners are not here.  Start and finish at the historic Stadium Bowl.  Cheap entry fee, with T-shirt and it is a fundraiser, with all proceeds going to autism programs.  I have run past this High School stadium during a race, but I have never stopped here.  This view is from the parking garage.  Free parking, plenty of restrooms, chip timing, lots of volunteers, very well organized.  But getting up and down those

Jody and I get our numbers and T-shirts and walk back up to the car.  We head out for some warm up miles, but get distracted by Bob Martin and Bullseye.  Great to see him here.  We have no idea where this course goes, but we learn that it will be hilly.  It will start up the hill a ways and then finish on the track so we will get a net downhill.  I warm up for about a mile and do not feel all that good.  Then Jody wants the car key to take her jacket back.  I offer to run it back for her.  At the car I remember that I do have my racing shoes in the trunk, ones that I use for less than a half marathon, Brooks Launch.  I was not sure if I would wear them today, but here I am back at the car so I put them on.  I wonder how much is mental, but as soon as I am jogging back I just feel so much faster.  I put on some strides and am ready to race.  It really does feel different and I wish that I could wear them for marathons, but my arches do not like that.

I run over to near the start with my camera, to get one photo of the course, and the hill.  Runners are just starting to gather there.  Back to the car to drop off the camera and then get to the start line.

Start - Nice to see  few of the usuals. Bob, Marci, Judy, Barb and Erik.  Erik has been beating me now for 15 years!  He has run this before so I plan to stay behind him at the start and see how it goes.  Nice wide street with room to run and we start off on time.  I follow Erik up hill and downhill along nice residential streets.  Some big houses with amazing views.

Mile 0.74 - A nice downhill and I happen to look at my watch to see my mileage and that my pace is 6:54/mile.  Faster than I should be going. Up and down but nothing too steep.  Around the lolipop part and I pass Erik on the uphill, wondering if I am being stupid.  Keep watching for potholes, there are lots of places where i could trip.

Mile 2 - Still feeling pretty good.  Legs are alright today.  Fairly flat on the out and back bit.  A mile marker says two miles, but my watch only reads 1.87.  It is mismarked.  When I finish my GPS will read 3.12.  Now a very steep downhill where I have to put on the brakes, then a wonderful long gradual downhill section.  This is where I should be slowing and tiring, but the gentle downhill is so nice I am actually getting faster.  Too far down though, now we turn and head back uphill, but not so steeply.  Not passing anyone, but also not being passed.  Longing to see that drop down to the stadium and finally there it is. Steeply down and onto the track.  Always fun to sprint it out and finish on the track.

Finish - 22:31 (7:15 per mile pace) and really happy with that.  Net downhill must have helped some.  I cheer on the other finishers and soon Jody is in.  With chip timing we get results quickly.  Jody gets third in her age group (two gel packs) and I get second in my age group (socks) 

19th of 113 who finished under 1 hour
Race#324, 5K#85

Sunday, April 6, 2014

4/5/14 Cottontail 6hr at Carkeek Park Seattle

Instead of Yakima Marathon or the Run Like a Fool 5K, I find myself in Seattle to try out the tough loops of Carkeek Park.  I need a good hilly trail workout before the April 26 Capitol Peak 55K and this seems like the thing to do.  There is a 12 hour and a 6 hour race.  When I registered, they stated that the 12 hour starts at 6AM and the 6 hour starts at 12PM.  It will be nice to sleep in a little before driving up to Seattle.  A few days before the race, the times are shifted to 7AM and 1PM with the option to start the 6 hour at 7AM if I want to.  That is tempting, and half the runners in the 6 hour race will do so, but I stick to the later start.  I also toy with the idea of running the 5K in Olympia at 9AM before driving to Seattle, but that just seems like too much for one day.

Loops are 1.93 miles with 436 feet of elevation gain and loss per loop.  There is a 0.84 mile short loop that can be run too, a good option for later in the day, but that still has most of the hills and I won't try it.

I have been warned that 6 hours is not enough time for me to get in 26.2 miles, so I won't be able to count this as a marathon.  My goals are to enjoy a race, and get in some trail/hills training.  But when I see that Maniac Ron is able to complete the 14 loops (marathon) plus a short loop as a 7AM starter, I wonder if I also might be able to go that distance.

I get here early enough to look around and take some pictures.  The course is not as steep as I expected and there are some nice flat sections.  Betsy says that it is "deceptively tough" and I have to agree. The trails are in great shape, wide and little mud. 

 It is cool and cloudy.  Between hours 3 and 5 it will rain lightly, but I will not get too wet.

Start/loop 1 - Seven of us take the 1PM start.  Some will start even later.  We follow the RD about a half mile to where he shows us the turn for the short loop in case we want to do that later.  Now we proceed on following the flagging.  One mile in and I am by myself, one woman ahead of me, the rest somewhere behind.  Very runnable.  I walk up the stairs and steep parts to save energy but I also feel like I am going faster than I should.  The course is well marked.  On one downhill though I miss a turn and go about 20 feet before reaching a road and I know that I need to back track.  At one other junction I have to stop and look for flagging.  Now I know the course and I should not have any navigation problems.  Finish the loop in about 24 minutes.

Loops 2 and 3 - Easy running.  Feeling good.  Passing the 12 hour runners knowing that I will soon enough be slow like them.  Lots of people enjoying the park, but the race is small and I never run with anyone.  End of loop 3 and I am starting to feel a little tired.  Volunteer puts a sticker on the board after each loop to keep track.  I like the system.

Loops 4-7 - Uneventful.  They will be raffling off some prizes at the end of the day and for each loop we get a raffle ticket.  Also they have hidden Easter eggs, with raffle tickets inside, along the trail.  I keep an eye out, it gives me something to think about, but I never do find any.  I finish loop 7 (half marathon) at 2:55.  I would need to keep this pace up to make the full in 6 hours and now I know for sure that I can not do it.

 Loop 8 - I have been eating the usual ultra fare.  Usually I save the coca cola for after the race but I do down some now.  Mostly I have been alternating between the Power Aid that I brought and something labeled "Electrolytes" at the aid station.  Chips. pretzels, fig newtons.  Nothing I have not had before.  But at the end of this loop I feel it a little in my gut.  That too is normal.

Loop 9 - Stomach getting worse.  It is not the usual nausea though.  More a pain in the abs.  Enough that I mention it to the volunteers.  I wonder if the pounding down the stairs has pulled my abs a little.  It does seem worse on the downhills.

Loop 10 - How much farther should I go?  Getting some pains in my feet.  Stomach/ab pain getting worse.  I decide to take my time and do one more loop and quit before things get even worse.

Loop 11 - Knowing that it is my last loop I take my time and enjoy it.  Stop to enjoy one last view of Puget Sound.  So much walking that my legs have recovered a little and I am able to run up some of the lesser hills.  Clock hits 5 hours.  I could do a short loop or even another long one, but it seems like the smart thing is to call it a day.

I finish up and feel good about my effort.  Take my time putting on dry clothes and I stay for the raffles, but do not win anything.  Now that I am not running I realize that my stomach is cramping up and then quickly releasing every couple of minutes.  Sometimes it is quite painful.  I don't think I have ever experienced anything like this before.  The drive home is a little worrisome.  I time the "contractions" and they are happening about every two minutes.  From drinking a little coke while running?  From the pounding down the hills?  From something else I ate?  Glad to get home.  Warm shower and I lay in bed for a little while.  Cramps subside and all is fine.  I eat a little food and am back to normal.  Not sure that I need to come back to a race at Carkeek Park, but at least I can say that I have run there.

5:11:00 (forgot to stop my watch, so time is estimate)
11 loops, 21.2 miles, 4,796 feet of elevation change
13th place of 15