First time event, just west of Port Angeles. The Adventure Route of the Olympic Discovery Trail is a new trail being built on state lands. Race website says that it is a tough course but the elevation profile does not look so bad for a trail race. Just under 4,000 feet of gain for the whole course. Longest climb is about 1,000 feet but spread out over some miles. Elevation profiles can be so decieving though, I really won't know until I get out there. There is a 7 hour cut off time.
I had so much been looking forward to this event. Especially fun to do a trail run that I have not done before. But after this last week I have serious concerns about what will happen.
Monday I ran the Sporty Divas Bad Azz marathon and it went horribly wrong. My slowest marathon on a paved surface and that was not for lack of trying. Fast first half with Tammy and then a complete meltdown. Worst split ever. I don't think I have ever been that dehydrated before. I shuffled in at 5:18 and felt so bad the last two hours.
Tuesday - Rest day, but a 2 mile hike with Jody and my legs feel OK. Hopefully the slow time at Sporty Divas saved my legs some. I never planned to be fast at the GOAT, this is more of a fun scenic run, but I don't want to drag the whole way.
Wednesday - At yoga I notice that my right foot is slightly swollen. I have had minor pain on the side of my left foot for a while now and it flared up a little on Monday, but the right foot has had no problems. It does not even hurt now, just a little swollen. Ice.
Thursday - Swelling gone but now it hurts a little. High in the foot, low in the ankle. Went for a three mile easy run and stopped to walk it out a couple of times. Not serious pain but something to watch.
Friday - Drive to Port Angeles. Walk from my hotel to the race packet pick up and I can feel the right foot with each step. Not bad enough for me to drop out, but I am thinking about my options here. I could drop to the half, but I don't want to. At the race there will be aid stations every 4 or 5 miles so worse case if I am in pain or get dehydrated again I am sure that I can make it to a station and drop out there. I don't feel nervous or bummed out, it is what it is. Hopefully all will go well. If it doesn't, that is the price I pay for racing so close together.
Saturday - Roll out of bed and the foot feels great. Noticeable that there is no discomfort. Leave PA at 6:30 to get to the Joyce Grange by 7AM. Shuttles leave at 8 so I have plenty of time. Going to be a hot day so I carry my small water bottle and my fuel belt. Been hydrating and with the aid stations much more often than on Monday I am sure to not get as dehydrated.
I have been studying a map of the course. It looks confusing in places, with intersecting logging roads. I hope that it will be well marked. One runner assures me that it is a new well marked trail with plenty of signage. I hope he is right.
The shuttle consists of 3 vans and the drive is only about 10 miles. Small group with a larger half starting later at a different location. Fun to see a few fellow Maniacs. Jason, Susan, Nancy, Will, Suzanne.
Start - As usual no one wants to line up in front. The very start looks wide but we know that it will soon be single track. My goal is only to finish and I do not want all these guys having to pass me, so I also move toward the back for the start. We start a few minutes late and with the sun up it is already feeling warm.
Mile 0.25 - Well this is going poorly to start. I remember now that I hate that fuel belt. I need to tighten it up, but the velcro is not long enough. So it jostles up and down and I think it is going to rip apart and fall to the ground. Plus I brought my phone and it is secure in my lower front pocket but is swinging wildly with each step. If I put it in a regular pocket I am afraid that it might fall out. I move it around and it settles in there. Throughout the race it will flare up and I will have to make an adjustment that lasts for a while. In the meantime I start drinking from the two bottles in the fuel belt. When they are each about half full, the belt is much more manageable. It moves on its own to where the bottles are in front and that really helps them stay in place. OK now I can focus on the race.
Mile 2 - Lovely forested trail. A few runners have stepped aside to let my larger pack through, now we are marching along just fine. Uphill but gradual. Soon I see that there are 4 women in front of me and I like their pace. They are all talking and everyone seems relaxed. One has "run happy" socks/calf sleeves. The woman who is just in front of me has helped build this trail. I stay far enough back to not crowd in on her, but close enough that we can talk a little. She sees that one hole has developed and plans to come back to fix it. Trail is in great shape. Hard packed dirt, few rocks, no roots. No mud, it has been so dry.
Mile 3.5 - We enter the first clear cut (this is a working forest) and have an amazing view up the Elwha valley. I want to stop and take a picture but I just passed some people and I do not want to repass them. I like my position here, but I also want to enjoy the view. Fortunately Jason ahead of me did stop for a photo and let me use his here:
Mile 5 - Gentle climbing. Switchbacking. Big trees. Almost trip once but I recover quickly and do not fall. Walking the steeper uphills but keeping up with my four leading ladies. Metal trail mile markers and we started right at zero. My GPS is already way off though. It will read over a mile short by the time we reach metal mile marker 24.
Mile 7 - Steeper uphill. Wider trail and I pass one person. Long steep way but I feel good. Check the altimeter ap on my phone. 820 feet. Another 800 feet to the highest point of the course.
Mile 7.5 - Second aid station. Only water and Nuun again. I will have plenty of fluids but I might get hungry by the time this is over. I do have two gels (provided with my race number) and some Gu chomps, so I will not starve.
Mile 9 - After more gentle uphills, we are now on a gorgeous gentle down-slope. No rocks. I am way ahead of schedule but feel great and still feel like I am holding back. Two women drop back and now it is just me and run happy sock woman. Her name is Alecia and it is fun to talk about races and find out that we have done some of the same ones. We see the only piece of litter on the whole trail.....a cigarette pack. Doubt it was a runner who dropped it.
This course is so well marked. Many red arrows on the trail. When we cross a logging road there are ribbons on both sides of the trail, across the road making it clear where to go. At one crossing we have to go about 50 feet on the road but there are volunteers there to direct us, even though it is also clearly marked. This gives me the confidence to strike out on my own. At some point I pass the run happy socks.
Mile 12 - False Ginger sighting. I have been gradually catching up to her and seeing her on the upside of the switchbacks as we near the high point of the course. She has earbuds in and does not hear me ask to pass her. I have to wait for a wide section of trail to make my move. I like having all of my senses when I race. Later I will hear a raven call and that in itself is worth all of the effort.
Mile 16 - Still running!! Aid station has pretzels and orange slices. Out into a clear cut and a view across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Canada (Vancouver Island). Have to stop for a photo here and to salute my favorite Canadians, Dixie and Tracy. Warm in the sun.
Mile 17 - Back into the dark forest. Still terrific trails. It dawns on me that if I can keep this up I have a reasonable chance of beating my time form Monday! I never expected to do that. If I had to walk it on in from here I would still be happy about it, but really I feel great and am running fine. Sometimes I find myself going faster than I should and I hold the pace back. Wonderful to be doing that at mile 17.
Mile 20 - Above photo and some of the others provided by the race organizers. Aid station here with lots of food. Stuff some pretzels in my pocket, fill up fluids and drink a lot. Also eat a golf ball sized salty "seed and nut ball". It tastes good but either that or the different fluids and the pounding of the trail finally gets to my stomach. I will battle a little upset stomach the rest of the way, but really not so bad. I have enough water that I can pour some on my head to cool down and still have enough to drink.
Mile 21.5 - Run Happy socks catches me, good for her. First person to pass me since mile 7. We exit the trail and negotiate the only rocky section of a poor dirt road. I walk this bit and as it gets easier I still walk a little as she picks it up on the nice downhill. Then on to the real, driveable dirt road that will take us to the finish.
Mile 23 - Alternating long sections of sunshine and heat, with some shade. Taking walk breaks now but when I do run I am pleased with how far I am able to go. Hot. More water on the head. Great to fill up at the last aid station. I thought this road would be mostly downhill but it has more ups and flats. Pretty sure that I will beat Monday's time. Generally thrilled with how this has gone. Never even came close to turning an ankle. Right foot is fine. No pains anywhere. Hot and tired but this has gone way beyond my expectations. Run walk conservatively so as to not blow up.
Mile 25.5 or so - Only 24.4 on my watch so I don't know how far it is to go for sure. Reach a T in the road and a guy in a chair says that it is only about 800 feet to the finish. Had I known that I might have tried to beat 5 hours. Sprint on in to the finish line at Lake Crescent.
Finish - 5:03:45 on the watch but a 5:05:15 official time. Runner ahead of me was recorded at 5:03:42 so they might have the times off. The GPS miles can be off but my clock should be correct. Either way I smashed Monday's time. Hope to come back next year and beat 5 hours, and have a towel and sandals in my drop bag so I can cool off in the lake.
Hang around for a while at the finish and as soon as I am ready they announce a van is leaving for the parking lot. Short drive and nice to chat with Suzanne. Trails >>>>> roads, at least this week.
15th place of 35
Marathon or ultra#115