Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dizzy Daze 50k

     I felt so good recovering from Chuckanut 50k I decided to sneak into the Dizzy Daze 50k. I've never gone back to back on race weekends but I had 22 miles scheduled and I was planning on running around Seattle's Greenlake pacing Dizzy Dazers anyway so I hit up Matt and Betsy for a bib.
     My main competition was none other than Megan Arbogast , member of the USA 100k team and holder of the Western States 100 women's masters record. I had been beaten the weekend before by Ellie Greenwood of the England 100k team and I really didn't want to be "chicked" two weekends in a row. Even though, if I was, it was by two incredibly fast women so no shame there.
     Race day dawned clear and cold, the antitheses of Chuckanut. The race started at 7:00 and consisted of 10 3.2 mile loops around Greenlake counterclockwise. That's it. I went out fast because I was cold and needed warmth. I stayed fast and on loop 5 Megan caught me and we ran for a while chatting then I pulled ahead. She caught me again at mile 17 or so and I stayed on my pace and pulled away but only because my pace was my pace and I was running my race. My goals were to A- win, B- set a 50k PR and C- Beat Phil Kochik's Course Record of 3:40. My old PR was just under 4 hours so I knew that was beatable. I ran on and the loops passed by as I passed 100kers, dog walkers, running clubbers and many many ducks. I fueled mainly on potato chips, S Caps and 2 Gu Chomps. Laps 8&9 sucked as you might imagine and I'd lost track of Megan but was still running scared that she would waste me in the last 2 miles. Loop 10 was a full out sprint including raspy breathing and a saliva trickle to the finish line. I came in at 3:35:59 achieving all three goals and winning a bottle of wine and a free entry into next year's race.
     Post race I hung out with volunteers and finishers as they came in then decided to "walk" a loop with Allen Skytta who was running the 100k, then ran another loop with him before calling it a day and heading home as the new "King of Seattle Ultras" As I hold CRs in 2 of the 3 Ultras in the Seattle city limits. Allen got 2nd in the 100k by 1 minute. Kevin Douglas shamed us all by running 33 laps of Greenlake for the first known Greenlake 100 mile run.
     Good times had by all. Matt Hagen and Betsy Rogers put on a great race. My gear was perfect for the day. Montrail Rogue Fly shoes and Drymax socks. My 4th 50K of the year and I still own 10 toe nails!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chuckanut 2012 or how to get 29th gracefully

I've been trying my darndest to put Chuckanut 2012 into perspective. I ran strong, I felt good, I P.R.ed the course in snow and mud, I sucked, I finished 29th (my 2nd worse finish, 1st worse being Whiteriver 50 miler 2008 where I finished 32nd but it was my FIRST ULTRA!) I beat a lot of really strong runners, I wasn't sore enough the day after, I didn't cramp or bonk, I could have run faster, I got 5th masters, I should have only carried one bottle, I think too much.
     The reality of the 20th anniversary running of Chuckanut 50k is this: The field may have been the deepest, most talented group of runners to ever toe the line at an Ultra event in the USA. There were 30 people running with sub 2:30 marathon times, some sub 2:20. I lined up at the start about 50th so I wouldn't get trampled. All things considered, I suppose 29th was pretty durn good.
     I hoped for crap conditions because I figured it might slow down the marathoners and warm weatherites. My dreams came true in spades as the early morning downpour turned to slush for the start. I was vomited out of the start chute onto the interurban trail from hell and as I watched the race disappear ahead of me I was happy to fall in with Joe Creighton and his rugby ear protection headpiece. The miles of horrible flat gravel clipped away and Bill Huggins joined us to gloat about having a full head of hair and to get into a Glenn Tachiyama picture with people as short as himself. Finally the hills came and I felt better, started passing people and felt strong as the slush turned to snow. Fragrance Lake was beautiful but I saw it for about .23 of a second as the trail was super dicey and slippery. I got passed... what? Yeah, some dude in a yellow singlet passed me on singletrack, I took note and slipped it in my shorts next to my bag of peanut butter crackers. I was looking forward to Aid #2 where Team Rain City Ultra Runners aka Team FleetFeet Seattle was manning the tent. I passed a gimpy Jen Shelton and a few more than broke into the aid station and it was a sea of St. Patrick's green and Leprechans and mustaches and it freaked me out and I couldn't really look at anyone because my eyes were used to staring at the rocky, rooty, snowy trail. Sara Malcolm passed me my magic croissant and I bolted just as Allen Skytta was driving in. It took me roughly 3 miles of uphill Cleator Rd. to choke down my chocolate croissant while passing many early speedsters. I skirted aid #3 and passed Jean Pommier in the process and hit the ridge trail. The ridge was like dancing with a professional ballroom dancer, lots of footwork and very scary. I made it through unscathed but just barely. The next part of the trail is usually a bit muddy. This day it was more puddingy. Unavoidable soup. I praised my drymax socks over and over as my feet felt comfortable even though I was clomping through snow covered mud. The trail rose to another extended climb and I saw a yellow singlet in front of me. Ha! So we meet again. I reeled him in and passed him. Downhill bomb to Daniel Probst's aid station #4 with doughnut holes and Bushmills, I grabbed 4 holes, threw them down the hatch and headed up Chinscraper. I felt fine going up the beast and passed about 4-5 sufferers on the way up. Crossing the parking lot at the top there was easily 7 inches of snow. Downhill road run from there back to the Interurban was super soft underfoot and really easy to run. Saw Betsy Rogers and Matt Hagen on their way up Cleater as I was going down. Passed the last aid station then I was all alone on the 7 mile gravel grovel. I pulled out my Ipod and fumbled about until I filled my ears with The Supersuckers and punk rocked my way down the path. As if the return trip wasn't bad enough, I had two stops to retie loose shoe laces, two! I pushed to the finish 'cause I eats my spinach and came in at 4:17:30 for 29th place, 5th masters and a Chuckanut p.r. of 24 seconds over my 2010 time where 4:17:54 was good enough for 12th overall and 1st masters.
     Post race festivities were a whirlwind of recovery soup, Krissy congratulations, chatting with C.R. holder Ellie Greenwood, rubbing elbows with the best Ultra runners in the country, seeing local friends, drinking cocoa, packing my jacket with Udo's Oil samples, peeling mud from my lower extremities, and finally getting a ride home with Allen and some dude named Uli who won the St. Paddy's Day Dash and pocketed more money in his 3.5 mile race than he would have if he'd won this prestigious race.
     I suppose 29th isn't so bad, could have been worse, could have come in 30th.