Monday, March 9, 2015

3/7/15 Mountain Marathon

Fifth annual event and my second time here.  I ran this the first year and apparently vowed to never return, but here I am.  I guess that it took me four years to recover from the first time.  Not that it was not a great, well put on event.  It was the foot of snow at elevations above the freezing, deep puddles, shoe sucking mud and the rocky technical trails that made it more of a challenge than I was prepared for.  I did finish that year in 6:19.  Fours years later I have many more trail runs and marathons experienced and I am once again ready for the adventure.  It helped that there is no snow pack in Capitol Forest this year.  It also has not rained much and the trails should be in good shape.  Weather is going to be fantastic this year! Reaching 60 degrees and bright sunshine.

I also have been training for this.  Running lots of hills lately.  I even ran the trails here twice recently.  Two weeks ago I came out and ran the course for an hour out and then back.  I was able to keep my feet dry by walking around the couple of large puddles on the trail.  Average weekly mileage at almost 42/week.  As long as I pace myself well, it should be a good day.

The Rogue Wave and Jason Ryan are sweeping the course, so it will be nice to see them....hopefully not too close behind me.  They both will take pictures that I am using here.

I have also been studying the course map.  After mile 4.5 this will all be new territory for me, since the 2011 course was changed due to deep snow.  I have a copy of the course map with written directions and my big, detailed Capitol Forest map.  I remember last January when my 5 mile race here ended with three bonus miles.  It is so easy to take a wrong turn here, I am going to be very careful today.  No turns unless I am sure.

Map from my Garmin

Start - It is cold before we run, I in a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve and a Defiance vest.  I'll wear a hat for a few miles.  I have lots of gels and chomps and my new hand held water bottle getting its first try out.  It is larger than the little one I had been using, but it feels good.  We start pretty much on time.  Off onto the road and we do not turn up the hill like I expected.  There is a short out and back and Craig is telling us that it is to get the mileage right and we will not do this on the way back.  Everyone is going so fast.  I am running comfortably and I am near the back.  Maybe the best strategy is to run fast on the roads and when it is safe, and then slow down for the steep hills and dangerous downhills.

Mile 1 - On the uphill dirt road now.  It is in great shape and steeper than ever.  Walking the steepest parts or running very slowly.  Nice to have this wide road to sort out the various paces.  Then onto the trail and up some more.  I could pass the little group in front of me, but choose not to.  I like their pace.

Mile 3 - Out of the woods and onto the Army Line Trail, which is also a road.  Clear cut on one side with views.  Pass a few and get passed by a few.  Now a very newly logged area, logged since I was here two weeks ago.  Logs stacked up and two logs put across the trail that we are now about to go on.  Apparently the logs were put there to stop mountain bikers, but it is OK for us to run here.  Over the logs and onto the second worst bit of trail on this race.  Steeply up a "path" with baseball sized rocks strewn everywhere.  Some walking and lots of slow running.

 Then the left turn onto a better trail.  Very runnable except for the giant puddles every 50 feet or so.  Not so giant that I can't slow down and walk in a little mud on the side each time.  I suppose the fast guys go splashing through here, but I would like to keep my feet dry as long as possible so take it carefully.

Mile 4.5 - Past where I turned around two weeks ago.  Aid station, then more puddles and runnable trail.

Mile 6 - Out onto a logging road.   One woman ahead of me, really above me, this road is so steep.  Steep uphill and long.  I can see a long way up and eventually I can't help but look back.  No one behind me for at least a couple of minutes.  Half Marathon turn around.  I grab a quarter of a PBJ, two cookies and a gel.  Still on the road and still a super steep hill.  Catch up to Claire from Tacoma.  Nice to chat with her as we work our way up and up.  I pass her, but before long she will pass me back.  She is stronger than me on the downhills, but I am doing better on the ups.

Mile 7.5 - Finally at the top of the road and the last aid station before the turn around at mile 13.1.  Runnable but rocky trail to the Grunt.

Mile 9 - Connected with a bit of trail that I ran last April in the Capitol Peak 55K.  It takes me to near the top of the Grunt "trail".  To the right it goes up a short way to the top.  But we go left and down, down down.  Large loose rocks, I take my time.  In fact my pace going down this section will be about the same as when I go up on the return.  Not going to fall today! 

Mile 9.5 - A long way down the Grunt, past the abandoned car.  Two super fast runners coming back, but it will be a long time before number three gets to me.  I am at the part of the race that I was most worried about getting lost.  Crossing dirt roads, intersecting trails.  But everything is very well marked.  No trouble finding my way.  Runnable trail that finally opens into a clear cut with amazing views.

Mile 12 - Back into the woods, then onto a downhill road to the aid station and turn around.  Reach mile 13.1 in 2 hours 53 minutes.  Cup of coke and a cookie and back at it.  Mike Kuhlmann sighting, Steven Ferry Sighting.

Mile 15 - Been gradually gaining on a woman on the twisty single track forested trail.  I get close, then ease off, no rush.  Get closer and ease off again.  I want to make sure that I only pass her once and that she does not come catch me right after I pass her.  OK, it is clear that I am running faster than her now.  I get closer and look for a spot to pass.  There is a little bridge over a tiny creek and I go to say "Well, I think I will pass you here"  But only "Well" comes out, because she jumps in fright, had no idea I was there.  Within half a second I am next to her about to apologize for scaring her, but she is still reacting and pushes me with her arm.  I start to totter over the bridge and before I fall she grabs me and pulls me to safety. The whole thing happened so fast.  We are both apologizing and I think we are even, so we laugh and I continue on.

Mile 16 - Out in the sun.  Warmest part of the race.  My water is half gone.  Now I catch up to a young woman is is taking walk breaks then running just a little. More walking.  We just crossed a road and now on the trail I am not sure if she is in the race, or just out for a hike.  She looks dressed to run, but she is not carrying anything.  No water, no food.  She is in the race and as she drinks the water that I offer her, she tells me that it is her first marathon!  For the rest of the race I will worry about her crumbling with dehydration and her first marathon.  When I see the sweepers I tell them to look for her and make sure she is OK.  At the next aid station, so far away, I also tell them to make sure she is alright and give her a bottle if they have one.  I am going on to have a strong second half and it is amazing when I check the results to find out that she finished less than four minutes after me! 

Mile 17 - But for now I am still running.  I should say walking, up the Grunt.  I can see Clair above me, but too far away.  I grunt and she waves to me.  I thought that all the slower runners had come by, but now five or six people are running down toward me.  I am an hour past the turn around, so they are essentially two hours behind me.  I will learn that this little group took a wrong turn and added about six miles to their race.  That is what can happen here.  Our race is marked with blue and white ribbon.  Some how they got of course but started following blue poles, for a long way.  I feel bad for them, but proud that I studied the course, and secretly a little happy that my finish place will look a little better than it could have.

Mile 18.5 - Ah the sweepers.  Jason gets a picture of me.

Mile 19 - Out to the road and now a long and welcome downhill.  Back on to the relatively flat train with mud puddles.

Mile 21 - They cheer for me at the aid station.  One guy says "Here he comes limping along".  What?  am I limping?  I guess that I am though I had not noticed.  Nothing hurts, just maybe using one leg more than the other to keep moving forward. Grab a cookie on the run and keep going.  I have enough water to get to the finish and still have some gu chomps to eat as I progress.

Mile 21.??? - Watch distance might not be quite right.  Clock time is 5 hours and 2 minutes.  I think that I am near that spot where I turned around two weeks ago.  I had run an hour up, how long did it take me to get down from here?  Less than an hour but I can't remember.  I would love to beat six hours and this is my new goal for late in the race.  Really unsure if I can.  Happy to reach to turn onto the steep rocky downhill.  Slow going over those two logs.  Out onto the Army Line Road.  This bit will be quick.  Two sections to go.  The relatively easy downhill trail and the the downhill road to the finish.  I think that trail should take twenty minutes and the road might be a little more than that, and I start the trail with 5:20 on the clock.

Trail bit took 15 minutes.  I reach the road at 5:35.  I just can not remember how far it is to go.  Two miles?  Maybe 2.5 miles.  We do not have to do that out and back that we did at the start.  Aid station here and I blow through, thank the person but say that I am trying to finish in less than twenty five minutes. "Easy", she says, "Its only 1.5 miles to go"  Oh I hope she is right!  Down the hill, up the little hill, run to the side to let a truck past.  Big downhill.  If only I could reach that lower trail junction, then I would know that it is less than half a mile for sure.  One last uphill.  I make myself run the whole thing.  I am so tired, but it is mental.  I will regret if I walk here and don't beat six hours.  No regrets, I keep running and at a decent pace too.  Now downhill, around a bend and there is that trail head.  I will beat six hours for sure.  I run the last half mile, but easy now and so happy.

Finish - 25.6 miles on the watch, but that happens with trails.  Nice finishers stein that I will use more than a medal.  Thank Rachel for another great event.  Lots of food left and chairs to sit in.

Four years ago I vowed to not run this again.  Now I am already thinking about next year!  Fun times.

2:53/2:57 split times
51st place of 76
Race # 350
Marathon or ultra #122
Mountain Marathon #2

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