Sunday, January 31, 2016

1/30/16 Lake Youngs Nuts Run 50K

Another Saturday morning, sitting in my car in the dark, waiting for light and a race to start.  Left home at 5:30AM to get here in plenty of time for the 7:30 start.  It rained a little on the way here and there has been a lot of rain lately, but it is dry now and will stay that way all day.  Cooler than it has been, I'll wear a jacket the whole way and a hat for most of it.  Trails are in great shape.

6th time here for the 50K, if you include the two years it was put on by Pigtails.  Speaking of Pigtails, she is here and so is Monte, the third week in a row that I have raced with them.  Much smaller crowd this year, what may be the last year for this race.  It has been a great January option for me, but after 18 loops of this lake, I won't be too sad to have to find another race.

$20 entry fee and no frills, but there will be a second aid station

Loop 1 (1:41) - Off we go and I am almost in last in no time.  There was a one hour early start, so many of the slower runners took that, in the dark.  I am in no hurry, so I just mosey down the steep hill and gradually catch up.  Nice to not have that big crowd all herded together on the steep down, like in previous years.  Take my time and eventually start passing people.  Just when I decide that a 10:30/mile pace would be a fine first loop (and pace to finish) my autolap vibrates and I see that I just ran the first mile in 10:30 even!  Walking the steeper uphills I keep getting passed by one young woman.  I pass her on the downhills.  Over and over this happens.  Until now I had not felt much like running with anyone, but finally my social side comes out and I ask which race she is doing.  Too bad its only the one lap race.  And it is her first ever race, which is so fun for me. We chat a little and then I pull away and the rest of the lap is uneventful.

Loop 2-end - Leaving the check in station to start the second lap I hit the "lap" button on my watch.  I always compare lap times here.  But alas, my new Garmin was set to autolap, so all I did was make a short lap and in a few minutes it will complete another mile.  By the end of the race I will have 31 laps to look at but not the three big ones that I want.  I really don't want to see them anyway.  Midway through lap 2 I start slowing.  I did stop to give a horse half of a fig newton.  Back to running, and it is not so bad, but my overall pace is pushing 11/mile when I finish lap 2.  Time wise you could call lap 3 a disaster.  Worried that Dan Sherman, somewhere behind me will catch up I try to keep moving along.  I do get to run with Deb and then Monte for a bit before pushing on.  Now all alone and not too motivated.  This is where a running buddy would be great.  My legs are so tired, but there is no pain.  I have not gone 50K since October and I think my mind is telling my body to ease off as we have not done this in so long.  After one walk break it is super hard to start running again.  I am afraid that I will have to walk the rest of the way, but I find a low gear and then pick it up and I can run for a while before walking.  Oh I so do not want to do the "short" out and back after loop 3.

Ending the third loop I am somewhat surprised to know that this will be my slowest time here by far.  Surely I suffered like this in previous years.  It may be that I am just slowing down in general, and/or the five races in five weeks including Capitol Peak last week and the Loop the Lake Marathon two weeks ago are taking their toll.  Other years there have been more people to pace off of too.  Today the out and back are not so bad.  Yes it seems forever long, but for a lot of it, I can run faster than I was running an hour ago.  I think my brain knows how far to the finish and is letting me get it done.

Finish - 5:49:39 - No pains.  Of course I will stiffen up and have little trouble spots later.  Side of right foot and lower bit of left knee.  Nothing a few days rest and easy come back won't heal.  Nothing particularly exciting today, just a long long run, getting my exercise in and a great feeling of satisfaction to complete another ultra.

Results Pending
Race#377, Marathon or Ultra#135

Monday, January 25, 2016

1/23/16 Capitol Peak Mega FatAss 26K

I first heard of this race many years ago and seemed insane.  Only a crazy hardcore trail runner could and or want to run to the top of Capitol Peak in January.  The full race does it twice!!  There is a once up and down option (26K or about 17 miles) but that still seemed way out of my ability all those years ago.  Then I did run the Capitol Peak ultra in April (twice) and the Mountain Marathon (twice) and have done more trail running in the Capitol Forest.  With no other plans for the weekend my racing choice is the Steilacoom ten miler (boring) or an adventure in the forest.

I signed up for the 26K, with no real time goal.  Legs felt OK this week, better than usual after a marathon last weekend.  $10 entry fee for this no frills event.  All volunteers.  Nice to have the Thurston Search and Rescue out here, to practice their thing and be able to help if needed.  The trails will be very well marked.  There is no reason that anyone could take a wrong turn.  I have run all of these trails before, so maybe that is just my bias, but throughout the race I will see many trail markers and paint arrows and never have any concern about where to go.  I will not hear of anyone having navigation trouble.

After lots of rain this week, it was supposed to clear up and maybe have a passing shower, but the forecast just changed to rain all day.  Not stormy, but light rain the whole day.

Though I have run these trails, I have never driven to the Falls Creek Trailhead and driving in Capitol Forest is as much an adventure as running there.  I looked at the road map more than the trail map this week.  So I leave home early and get into the forest in utter darkness.  Eventually I come upon a lone vehicle stopped in the road.  I pull next and the driver thinks that we are supposed to make a turn but she is not even sure if that is a road to our left.  She checks it out, it is not a road, and I go ahead with her following me.  Finally a sign to the trail head, then some crazy in the dark up and downhill on potholed dirt roads.  So happy to see the lights of the start line area.

6:45AM - Wait in the car until 7AM, then walk over to the sign in tent.  But they are not ready to give out numbers.  Back at 7:30 and they still are not ready.  They have the numbers but not the info on who gets what number.  Meanwhile more and more runners showing up.  Its wet and getting light out and I wish I could get started.  About 7:45 the info arrives and we all get in line.  No way we will start at 8AM

Start - 8:32 AM - I am wet and cold and ready to run.  Good thing I did not sign up for the longer race.  They have a cut off time, where if you can not complete the first loop by 12:30PM, they won't let you start the second loop.  This is understandable, but starting 30 minutes late is going to make some folks near the cut off time not even be close and will be unable to get the long race done today.  We do get running and it is single track from the start and very crowded.  Lots more participants than I expected.  Great to see some familiar faces though.

Greenline to Capitol Peak road (5.5 miles) - Up some, then flattish, then up some more.  Second clear cut is the fun one, with the real steep trail.  Three miles in and I can look ahead and up and see many runners all climbing up.  Gain some altitude, then look back and see just as many behind me.  Lots of passing and being passed, too crowded for my tastes.  No view in the clouds.  Then into the woods and another steep up with switchbacks. Work hard and push it up to the road.

Road to the Peak and back (5.5 to 7.0) - The road to the actual peak is longer and steeper than I remember.  Really I thought it was much closer.  I walk up much of it, envious of the runners heading back down.  Pigtails sighting.  Just a little snow in places.  Stop to tie my shoe, then around the cell towers.  Now able to run on down the road.  Mike Mahany catches me.  We run together for a short way before he goes on ahead.

Crestline Trail (7-11) - Oh the beautiful Crestline Trail!  I was so happy to see that we would run here today. I have such pleasant memories of running here in previous races.  After all that up hill, this will be flat and easy.  Except that it is not.  Rockier and more up and down that I remember.  With small branches down everywhere.  The flat sections are so muddy.  With my hat and jacket hood on, I can't hear much.  With so many obstacles on the ground, I just can't afford to look around.  Eyes on the mud puddles, every step I  have to think about.  Get passed by a couple of people.  A real let down, but it is not so bad.  Keep moving along at what seems like a safe and decent pace.  Happy to reach Wedekin though, it takes longer than expected.

Wedekin Trail (11-17) - This trail is in much better shape for the most part.  A few small streams to run through.  Happy with my trail shoes.  I can get them soaking wet and they do not cause any problems.  Back to normal in time for the next soaker.  Gorgeous huge waterfall.  Need to bring Jody here instead of the Crestline trail.  Couple more bridges and waterfalls, then the part through the clear cut.  A little back and forth with one guy who keeps stopping to take pictures, then gets ahead of me.  I run faster trying to not let him catch me again.  Running really as fast as I dare, footing has been great, but I really do not want to fall.  Tell myself that the finish time does not matter so much, just relax and have fun.  I feel like I should have been faster, since I am doing the short race.  I am barely going to be under 4 hours, if I had tried the 52K, it would have been misery.  Instead I plow on through the flat section to the end, on tired but functioning legs, with little walk breaks.

Finish  - 16.72 on the GPS.  Hot soup is nice ( we all donated a can).  But it is still raining lightly and now I am getting cold.  Go to change clothes and then decide to head right out. Glad I ran it today, but I don't feel like I need to come back for a race at this time of year.

64th of 112, 46th of 53 men, 15th of 15 in age group


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

1/16/16 Loop the Lake Marathon

Instead of many loops around a little lake, this is one big loop around part of a giant lake.  This race has been done a few times before, but nearer the holidays.  This is my first time here.

Some really great things.  The race is free.  I registered on line, but there was no cost.  Clothing and money donations collected for those in need, so I did contribute a little cash. The start and finish are at The Balanced Athlete (indoor staging area) store at "The Landing" in Renton. Less than an hour drive and easy to find just off the highway.  Big empty parking garage next to the store.  75 runners and I know many of them.  Though I will run mostly alone, it will be comforting to have friends ahead and behind me.  There will be five aid stations.  That is amazing for a free event.

Some not so great things.  It is a race and should count for Maniac stats, but it is very low key.  We are told to keep track of our own times and results will not be published anywhere.  No medals or shirts but I am fine with that.  There are two clip boards going around and we add our names.  When we are done we can check out, so they know that everyone is in.  While the directions seem simple (keep the lake on your right) I know that there will be some tricky points.  The course has been marked with flour arrows, many of which will be dough blobs after the rain. Not every turn is marked.  But the RD gave some clear directions about some points and also said that we follow the little green signs with the bicycle icon, staying on a bike trail most of the way.

Still I am a little worried as I zoom in on the course map.  I never carry my I-phone with me during races, but decide to do so today, despite the rain.  It goes into a zip-lock bag and deep into my rain coat pocket, should it be needed.  I also have a trash bag, hat and gloves that I will not wear.  Carrying my water bottle.  Forecast is for rain, could be heavy at times.  It is raining at the start.

Start - We pose for a group photo and then are off.  Taking my time, we make a turn and are on the sidewalk.  Joe Schrum sighting.  Wait for a walk signal, then onto a paved trail where the Cedar River flows into Lake Washington.

Mile 4-6 - Rain picked up and the trash bag went on.  Sidewalk running with big downs and ups at every driveway.  Rainier Ave is super loud as the cars go by on the wet roads.  Make the turn onto Seward Park road and things quiet down.  But a long uphill (with Fontanel street at the crest!) was not expected.  This is all new territory for me. Photo op as I enter the aid station.

Mile 8-10 - Into Seward Park.  Rain stops and the trash bag comes off.  Been following Ted Eckert and gradually gaining on him.  He is running for two miles, then walking and averaging a 10/mile pace.  All of that works for me too.  He knows the route and I would be smart to just follow behind him.  On the sidewalks there was not room to run together, but here in the park there is room.  I catch up to him right at mile ten, aid station, and he diverts to the restroom.  I continue on my own, hoping that I find the way OK.

Mile 10-14 - Steady pace.  Weather getting nicer.  Easy route to follow and the course is the same as the Seattle Marathon, except we are on the sidewalk/trail instead of the road.  Fun to see the I-90 bridge get close.  I remember that I have my phone with me, so I snap a picture looking ahead and back too.  Christy Hammond is not far behind.

 I continue on.  Plenty of water in my bottle, I decide to skip the next aid station....but they have cookies!  So I take a chocolate chip and munch on it as I go on.

Mile 14-17 - Approaching I-90.  Things get a little confusing here but I see an arrow pointing left.  Coming back on the road is a runner with a Maniac hat, asking me if I am in this race.  She says that she added 4 miles here, and just could not find the bike path to take onto the highway.  I show her the arrow that I had just seen and we head up and to the left.  (At times the arrows were hard to spot, among all the city paint markers for this and that on the pavement)  We see a set of steps and I know that we are supposed to go up steps, but I am also sure that we are supposed to go under both sections of highway before going up the steps.  We go on, under the second bridge and there are the steps.  Up, up and up, is not too hard.  I stop for a photo, then we see the green bike sign and the path over the lake.  Now along the highway.  My new runner friend takes off.  Great form and if she really was four miles ahead of me, she must be super fast and also frustrated.  She becomes a small speck ahead of me.  I see the blue skies, remember my camera and get a photo looking back to Seattle and a tiny Christy.

Mile 17-20 - On to Mercer Island.  Overall pace has slowed with the steps, unsure turns and photo stops.  I don't care.  Up around the bend and there, standing still is the fast runner, very unsure of where to go.  The paved trail splits off and there are no markings.  I believe that we are to stay close and parallel to the highway except when we go above it on the "Mercer Cap".  I tell her that I am 90% sure that this is the right we.  She gets ahead of me pretty quickly.  But farther onto the island, it gets more confusing.  There are the green bike trail signs, (mostly) but no course markings.  Lots of crisscross side paths and sidewalks.  Coming back on one is the fast runner.  She must be so frustrated!  We navigate together now.  I ask her name and when she says Amanda, I know who she is.  I should have recognized her running form.  I have no business running with her at this stage in a marathon, she is way out of my league.  But that is the fun thing about these races, the unexpected company. We talk a bit and it is nice.  Twice I ask locals if I am heading the right way, because it is not so clear.  Finally we get off the island and reach another aid station. After a few more sketchy turns we are on a clear bike route and it should be straightforward from now on.  I am keeping pace with Amanda who is probably going slow to stay with her navigator.  But I will never hold this pace the whole way and it would be wise to dial it back for now.  I send her on and we both will reach the finish and stay on course.

Mile 21-26  - Nice route right along I-405.  Stop for a photo.  Walk at times when I feel like it, but run slowly long stretches.  No real wall, but tiring legs and little motivation.  All alone and I am not even looking at my pace.  Every once in a while I look back, but there is no one there. 

Surprise on the course is to run right past the VMAC, home of the Seattle Seahawks.  They have a playoff game tomorrow.  I stop for a photo.  Then I send a Snapchat to my family.  Really not having my head in the race.

Clouds come in and it starts to rain a little.  Finally I come up with a goal of beating 4:40.  Uphill, then a nice downhill into Renton and I know I am close.

Mile 26.0 - Stopped at the first of two big intersections.  Waiting forever for the walk light.  Body thinks it is done running.  Cross the street and have to wait again.  Might lose that 4:40, but after I cross it is just a short way to the end.

Mile 26.4? - At the store.  GPS reads 26.23, but the RD had said it would be 26.4.  I go into the store and turn off my watch.  Pigtails and Amanda are there to greet me.  Body feels pretty good.  I sign the clipboard and count the number that have come in, to determine my place.  Need to get home, so I head out right away

Earliest in the year that I have run a marathon.  Glad I did it and I would do this one again.

18th of 75
Race #375, marathon or ultra #134 

Monday, January 11, 2016

1/9/16 Run for Faith 10K

Elma WA.  6th annual event and my 4th time here.  Twice I have done the 5K, this will be my second year in a row for the 10K

Beanie instead of a shirt is a welcome change. $30 pre registered with proceeds to the church's food bank.  Course has some minor changes and sounds a little confusing, but I am not worried.

A little rain on the way over, but it is dry now.  Cool but not too bad.  A half mile into my warm up and I am back at the car to put on a jacket and gloves.  But after another mile, I decided to race without them, and not wear a hat either.  Shorts and two long sleeve shirts will be fine.

It is the Run for Faith, so we gather at the start and have a short prayer.  Barb gives us directions and our little group sets out.

Start - 5K and 10K together on the open road and sidewalk, but I positioned well and there is no passing or being passed.  I try not to go out too fast, but I did warm up well and am moving along.

Mile 0.5 - Pass one guy.  Now the sketchy bit behind the school and through a narrow gate.  Right on Third and over Highway 12.

Mile 1.5 - Just behind Mike Henderson, but like last weekend he is doing the shorter race, so he reaches the turn around and waves goodbye.  Two runners ahead of me.  I saw Loren at the start so I knew that I would not win today.  That took the pressure off, wondering who would show up at this little race.  Now I wonder if there are any runners behind me.  What if everyone else is doing the 5K?  At the right turn I look back and do not see anyone, so I am either in last place, or comfortably in 3rd.

Mile 2.0 - Long straight flat part.  Keep losing my focus.  Thinking about work, its been so busy.  Bring my mind back to running form and I go faster.  Orange shirted Steve is a ways ahead of me, but when I put on a burst, I am catching up a little.  I can't not handle the speed for long and have to ease off.

Mile 2.7 - Right turn into the "airport".  Quick turn around, staffed by volunteers.  Back to the main road, then a volunteer points me to a trail for a short out and back.  I am happy to see three runners well behind me. Later I will see one guy walking.  So I am right in the middle.  Rough narrow trail along the lake.  I stop for a second to let Steve pass by coming towards me, ahead of me.  Then I reach the turnaround and keep following him.

Mile 3.2 - Back on the road, now another diversion, around the little lake.  Paved trail this time, but we have to go up a giant curb and over some grass the get there.  Volunteer points the way.  Smooth running around the lake but my average pace has slowed to just over 8/mile.  I wanted to be sub 8/mile and under 50 minutes.  Last year I ran this (slightly easier course) in 47 something.  I know I will be slower today, just like I was last week.  But I feel better than last week.  I am able to pick up the pace for a bit.

Mile 4.5 - Quick water stop at the aid station.  Then over the bridge and into town. Left turn.  Watch for traffic.  Behind the school now.  Gaining on Steve but he is too far away.  Look back on the up hill turn but don't see anyone.  Cruise into the finish with a pretty good kick.

Finish - 6.16 on the GPS.  Slower than last year but I'll take it.  7:53/mile so a good even/negative split.

Now inside for the raffles.  So many prizes and so few runners, that we each get to pick three items from the table.  Barb has results together quickly and I get a ribbon for winning my age group.  Really happy to take home a pie and honey.

That is it for "fast" running for a while.  I have a couple of epic adventures planned, both urban and wild, in the coming weeks.  Still enjoying the races and happy to be injury free.

3rd of 7

Friday, January 1, 2016

1/1/16 Steilacoom 5 miler

14th time racing on January first.  Pre registered and easy to get up here for the 9AM start.  Great to see old friends, continuing racing into another year.

New chip timing should really speed up results.

Super cold.  About 25 degrees at the start, sunny and frosty but not too slippery.  Will have to watch for ice spots though.  I decide to wear tights along with jacket hat and gloves.  Rare to race in long pants, but it is just so cold.  Start warming up at 8:40 AM and a couple of loops around the track have me ready to run.

Start - Smaller crowd than previous years, with many people doing the 5K.  Still packed on the track.  We get going OK and I only have to pass a couple of people to reach my desired pace.

Mile 0.15 - Just after rounding the track I can feel stress/pain in my left ankle.  No warning, warm up was fine, I have not felt anything like this in a while.  It is not so bad, I just keep running and hope it goes away.

Mile 1.0 - 7:45 - Left ankle bothers off and on, but it is not stopping me, or slowing me much.  So cold, it is harder to catch my breath than normal.  Pass a couple of people and now gaining on Mike Henderson.

Mile 1.55 - Mike reaches the turn around for the 5K race and I have no one to follow.  Working hard and glad that I only have one mile till my turn around.  Lose some speed on the little uphills.  One guy about my age gradually catches me.  We will go back and forth and spur each other on for the next couple of miles.

Mile 2.5 - Turn around and now more downs than ups.  Every time I try to speed up I am only good for a few steps and then my breathing gets me and I just can not keep moving my legs so fast. Not having a great run today.

Mile 4 - Still pushing hard but I don't think that I can beat last years time, which was my slowest here.  Do my best and hit the track for a decent finish.  Never find that fast gear though.

Mile 5 - Mile 5.06 on the GPS.  Cross the finish.  Ankle seems OK.  Hurts a little with some movements, I think some rest will make it fine.  My slowest time on this course, but still nice to get out and race on the first day.

New Garmin Fenix 3 watch, with lots of features.  It kept track of my mile split times which were:
Mile 1 - 7:44
Mile 2 - 7:52
Mile 3 - 8:02
Mile 4 - 7:43
Mile 5 - 7:50
Mile 0.06 - 26 sec

32nd of 91