Two zombies are sitting on a park bench, one turns to the other and says,"I just feel like our popularity is dropping, like the public is totally over with us." The vampire on the bench behind them leans back and says, "Tell me about it!" This is what I think about while running 50 miles through the Capitol Forest in Olympia. That and root, root, rock, hey! a chipmunk!
Saturday's race was a step up from the early season 50ks and a training run for the mid summer 100 milers. It's been one year since last I ran this distance race and I was curious what would happen. Allen and I camped at the start and shared a spot with Kent Holder the jedi master of ultra running. I slept in the minivan and realized I'm officially over pre race jitter sleep, I slept like a baby until the 5:00AM alarm. The day was perfect for a race, not raining. The start was abuzz with friends and new faces but I was mostly concerned with Rod Bien and Gary Robbins, two very talented ultra hombres. The Go! sounded and we went. Rod, me, Gary and a bunch of other folks in that order. By mile 4, Rod was gone and Gary and I had a nice conversation going and a group of three behind us. By the top of Capitol peak Rod was still gone and I had put some distance between myself and Gary. On the ride down from the peak I put it into cruise mode and ran relaxed to the out and back section where I finally saw Mr. Bien who had a 10 minute lead on me. I hit the aid station and went back out to find Gary and his cling on were only 2-3 minutes behind me! Yikes! I put it back into race mode and hauled ass up the hill to aid station 7. At aid 7 Owen told me I still had 10 minutes to make up in the last 15 miles. I hit it hard. I pushed, I felt good for an old guy, I ignored the phantom footsteps behind me as it was only the sound of my Nathan handhelds sloshing back and forth, not Gary's Montrails hunting me down. I skulked into the final aid station and rejected their offer of tequila settling for PBJ instead and continued on the final eight mile sprint to the finish. I was now passing lots of 55kers and still feeling strong and focused. Finally the sight of cars through the forrest made my spirits leap, it was over! I may not have caught Rod but Gary didn't catch me and hey here is the clock and it says 6:58:20, if I sprint into the campground I could break 7 frickin' hours. Wasn't that my hidden goal? It was, I did. 6:58:35 and a new PR for 50 miles. I took 16 minutes off my time from last year! Perfectly content with 2nd place- I made up half the time in the last 15 miles and Rod got me by 5 minutes. Gary took 3rd convincingly and deemed himself race ready after his recovery from injury.
April has been a great month. A first at Yakima and a second here but most of all it's been a lot of fun. Great people, great teammates, beautiful places to run and the support of my awesome wife, kids, friends and family.
It's great now but at some point way down the road I might become a zombie on a park bench. Or maybe I too could become a Jedi master of ultra running...