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