Monday, June 23, 2008

20th Century 100K

I made sure to start out conservatively, but not wimpy. After the first mile I was DFL and stayed that way for almost the whole day. I looked at the others as they passed me and checked off a few saying to myself "I'll see you later, and you and you." My first and second 10K were done in about an hour each. The first 25 miles were all up hill varying increasingly from 1-3% grade, which isn't really a big deal but felt pretty relentless by the time we finally turned around and headed back down. I had my usual low spot from about mile 20-30. I wish I knew why that happens because it's pretty miserable. My legs ached, my feet hurt I got side stitches.

As the day wore on I just kept plugging away. After my first hour I did the 20:2 run:walk ratio through until the last hour. At about the 50 mile mark I was feeling better and better. I even started getting in AT pace range. By the time I was about 2/3 done I figured I could finish in under 12:30 if I kept it up. By the time I got through the last aid station with 7.7 miles to go I passed 5 of those people I had counted on seeing again. Two of them were a pair of women who were walking together. They caught up with me right after I passed them and we kept pace together, almost imperceptibly accelerating as we went. We were going at about 8:30 miles and they were really giving me a run for my money. I decided to see if I was pushing them or they were pushing me, so I slowed down and sped up occasionally to see if they would follow suit. They stayed right with me. I asked them what kind of walk:run sequence they were following and they said they were just playing it "by feel". I told them I wasn't interested in beating anyone but the clock and I wanted to finish in under 12:30. Further, my walk breaks came every 20 minutes, for 2 minutes. One woman huffed that it didn't seem like enough of a break but I assured her it was working for me. Have you done that for the whole race? I sure have, after the first hour. I warned them that I'd see them later because my walk time was coming up. As soon as my watch beeped and I stopped to walk they slammed on the breaks and we walked together. I think I really beat the life out of them with that fast stretch of 20 minutes. I took off again after my 2 minutes were up and they stayed behind.

I flew the last 10K feeling very, very good. OK, I was tired but I still had a good time and felt like I could push it hard. Unfortunately at one point I became unsure of the route and backtracked trying to decide which way to turn at an obscure intersection. I got in about an extra half mile and lost about 5 minutes. I waited for the 2 women to catch up and we confired about the likely route. I took off again and luckily we guessed right. I continued stronger and stronger on to the finish. After I pulled ahead again I didn't see them until they crossed the finish line about 20 minutes after me. Right at the end there was a pleasant single track next to a river then up a suspension bridge over the river and down to the finish line. I was pleased with the 12:23. I ate some food (forced myself) and went to bed very achy. I finally took some Ibuprofen and was able to sleep, more or less.

Capitol Peak 50 mile

This is the first time I have taken advantage of its close location and participated in this run. What a fine choice to add it to my running list this year. The trail is a fun combination of single track and hills through forest and recent clear cut. Despite the somewhat desolate feel of the clear cuts they do afford the best views, such as the sunrise I witnessed during our first hour on the trail. It was a breathtaking neon pink and purple display of the Puget Sound area with Mt. Rainier to the right and a huge full moon rising on the right. It was so indescribably beautiful I stopped on the trail a few moments to take it all in.

I got in a day early and met up with my friend Heidi for a car camping weekend. She was is training for a 50 miler of her own in June and did a 50K worth of hiking whilst I was running the race. She was able to meet up with me at a number of the aid stations and provided much needed encouragement and support.

I took the early start and followed a particular fellow for the first few miles. Eventually I was passed by a number of the front runners doing both the 50K and 50 mile run. The big climb up to Capitol Peak comes at about 20 miles and the view was worth the elevation gain. There were a few sections of snow pack to trudge through but the remainder of the road up and back down the peak were clear. However, the next section between aid stations was a nearly un-runnable collection of long deep snow fields that took far more energy to cross than I had hoped. Even the few open trail sections were covered with so much debris, they weren't really very runnable either. After over an hour of that we went on a much more pleasant out and back section. It got lonelier and lonelier out there as the 50K runners were spared this section.

Finally I made it back to the last aid station and was happy to hear that the final 10K was a gentle downhill meander back to the finish. About a mile in a took a big spill and landed right hip square on a large pointy rock which left me yowling in pain, much to the dismay of a fellow runner who was clicking a photo near by right as I fell. I knew I would be fine but needed to wail for a while so I assured him he was free to go and leave me in my misery. I got up and started running again, but it must have been the adrenaline from the fall because soon I was cruising along at quite a clip. I was able to keep this up most of the rest of the the way and finished up just a few steps behind the fellow I started out behind low, those almost 12 hours before, Even though we didn't really see each other all day we finished just as we had started and had a good laugh about it.

My goal was to finish under 12:30 and I completed my run in 11:50 so I was quite pleased with myself. It's funny how I can save up enough energy to finish strong, even though I feel bad in the middle. It's a great race but it's full of all these elite Pacific North Westerners. Even though I took the early start I still was almost DFL. I try not to let this demoralize me and hope that my strengths come into play for the 100 milers because I may be able to run really slow, but hope to still be running the whole way when other people are forced to start walking. We will see.

Hagg Lake 50K February 2008

Put a fork in me, I'm done.

I guess skiing for the week before a 50K provides some training stress. My legs were SHOT for this run yesterday, from the first step. I finished but in a disappointing 6:25. The weather was perfect and the course was miraculously DRY this year. My PR here is 5:50 in wet and muddy conditions.

Oh well. I suspect some of my difficulty was also the lack of trail running I've had in the last 2 months. What was NOT a good training technique was the one fall I took (apparently tripping on a patch of air) about 2/3 into the run. I tweaked my right knee and it made the subsequent downhills difficult. Uphill was about my only gear left. Too bad I wasn't doing Pike's Peak.

Ice on the drive home and some ibuprofen have taken down the swelling. I still notice a twinge going downhill so I'll be taking it easy this week and restricting myself to flatness.