6th annual event and my 5th time here. This will be my 6th race in the past five weeks and although my body feels fine, I am a little mentally worn out from racing. Yesterday, looking at the weather forecast, I was just not that excited to do this one. But here I am, in the rain, sitting in my car in the dark, waiting for start time and organizing my things.
Rain stops, sun rises and its nice to be back here. Lots of Olympians here for the shorter events, though it is Terra's first 50K. Enough friendly Maniacs to fill out the long race. Logistically, course wise, value and overall vibe this is one of my favorite races. I guess that I forgot that yesterday.
Loop 1 (2:02) - Find the Rogue Wave and her brother and we start off together. So many runners on the first loop, but with the wide path along the water it goes well. A little slowdown at the steps, then on to the trail at an easy pace. About 2 miles in I take a short walk to get a drink and am passed by a large pack. Running again I can see RW just ahead, but I don't want to work to pass those people. I am right behind her for a while but gradually they pull away as I stay behind this group.
Mile 3 - The rain starts. And boy does it come down. The narrow trail before Fort Nisqually turns into a stream. Serious flow of water on the small hills, giant puddles forming on the flats. It will be a soaking mud fest from now on. Runner a couple of people in front of me falls hard, but says he is fine and continues running ahead of me. At least it will stay warm. I will be so wet for the rest of the day, but won't start shivering until it is over.
Miles 4-10 - Crazy rain, otherwise uneventful. I help a group find the left turn on the small trail (it is well marked in my opinion, but is a very narrow trail off of a much wider one) they had over shot, just past the French Woman's cable. As usual many people will miss turns at this race. I try to not follow the herd and carefully look for the markers. More volunteers on the course than in previous years and they are so helpful. Someone stationed at hydrant 25 which is often a trouble spot. Nellies Gnarly Descent is crazy fun as always.
Looking at past results I had thought that a 2 hour fist loop would be fine. Hard to pace for it, with all the different speeds and the slow descent at the end, but today I run it in just under 2:02 and I feel great about that. Grab a small baked potato to eat and carry on the trail.
Loop 2 (2:09)- The Lone Wolf and RW are just setting out again when I catch them at the start of the loop. We run the beach together and up the steps. I feel good and foolishly get ahead of them. On my own now for a long time. Rain is letting up. Half a banana at the aid station. Slow but steady around the course. Start leapfrogging a woman (Christine) who will be near me all the way to the end. Otherwise, some passing and some being passed. Get lapped by the top two 50k racers about 1.5 miles from the end of my second loop.
Loop 3 ( 2:25)- Start off with another potato in hand. Stomach doing great today. There is a big crowd at the finish. Martinho just ran the 30K and wants to tell me about it, but I am still running and have to get going on this loop before I decide to quit. Jogging along the beach. I get a great look at a seal, while apparently missing the humpback whale that was close to shore, just behind me. Up the steps (for the last time today) and the sun is out. I take off my jacket and hope for a nice sunny Fall last loop. Walk when I want to, but lots of slow running. So thankful for these shoes. Brooks Adrenaline GTS trail shoe with Brooks infinity socks. I have great grip in the mud and do not come close to falling at all. Many people will tumble today. That could be due to my slow careful pace too, I am hardly reckless on the trails. Also I can just plow through the puddles. Soaking my feet, it feels nice and cool. A quarter mile later, if there were not any more puddles, my feet almost feel dry. No blisters, no socks moving around, really happy with this set up.
Mile 23 - Wind starts to pick up, clouds roll in. View to the Narrows Bridge and the Puget Sound is a churning frothy mess. Big storm coming.
Mile 25 - I have this half run half walk thing that I do when tired. I am doing it now as I round the Fort Nisqually for the 15th time in my history of racing here, last time for this year. I will come back again, I love this race. At the aid station they ask if I am OK because I am limping so much. I feel fine, no pains at all, I just have a shuffle that looks like a limp. Half a banana and back to the trail. I try to get into a more steady run. The rain is back now, big time. Huge winds too. Lots of fir needles and small branches coming down. Up the exposed Achilles Hill, then down into the forest.
Back and forth with Christine. Now just the three "easy" miles, then the road and it is essentially over. Rain and wind letting up a little. I am running and therefore I do not expect anyone to catch up to me. But next thing I know, I hear my name and there is the Rogue Wave, who I last saw about 4 hours ago. It is an energy boost and we run together on the wide trail. Finally out to the longed for road signalling the end is near. She is running strong and I tell her to go first at the turn to the single track crazy bit. Christine picked up the pace too and she is right behind me on the way down Nellies. At the beach, I won't catch RW, but I slow a little and encourage Christine to run fast. She comes in ahead of me, but my chip time gives me the edge.
Finish - My slowest Defiance 50K but I am happy. Will come back for sure.
Only a few people left at the finish area. But they have pizza for us. And there is Mike Mahany. He was ahead of me the whole way and I never saw him. We decide to have a quick leg soak in the salt water, mostly jsut to get the mud off our legs and shoes. We both regret missing the whale.
43rd of 76
Race#130, Marathon or Ultra#130, Defiance 50K #5