In 2010 I came off a season having run Hardrock 100 and Cascade crest 100. By October I was a mess. My ankle was considered Rubenesque in polite company and I had a raging case of PF in my right foot. I decided to run the BakerLake 50k anyway. I ended up getting 2nd place missing the win by about 1.5 minutes.
In 2013 I upped the ante and ran Hardrock 100 and Wasatch 100. By this October I was a mess. The same ankle was achy, things were wonky all over and I had a medium picante case of PF. Of course this meant I had to run BakerLake 50k. Not to seem elitist but the thought of ending my season with a 23rd place finish at Wasatch wasn't the flavor I wanted in my mouth heading to the holidays. My pal and R.D. and 2013 Grandslam finisher Terry Sentinella let me into the race late.
I ran hard from the start but was passed by six people in the first third of the race. I decided I was old and washed up. I thought I'd enjoy the day as the weather was grand and there were many mushrooms along the trail and I decided to count bridges on the way out so I'd know how many to uncount on the way back. 44! I hit the turn around in 7th then started to feel good, youngish and not so washed up. I counted bridges and passed people until I realized my bridge counting skills got worse as the miles added up. I hit the last climb to the access road and passed the runner in second place while wondering what happened to the extra 5 bridges I'd missed. I sprinted the 2 mile road and could see the 24 year old guy in the lead as we crossed the dam to the finish. I got second by 1 minute and 21 years. I got a Baker Bear for winning the Masters. This helped wash the Wasatch taste out of my handhelds. Then Al Coyle went and invited me to his Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon in Bellingham two weeks later.
I would say I had no excuse to not run this but I had a season of excuse. The thing that piqued my interest was I haven't run a race that short since 2005. A half marathon seemed like a fun way to spend an hour and a half. I said yes and drove to Bellingham. Marathoners and Halfers are funny, they take things really seriously and wear bright colors. The day was foggy and cool. I donned my Seven Hill Running Shop shirt and hat, my Scott Kinabalus and hit the trail sprinting. I lost the lead group fast then proceeded to get passed by the two top women before I got warmed up at the half way point. I came alive and repassed some folks and the 2nd place woman fell in behind me and we worked our way up until we caught the lead woman. I started to sag and said, "go get her!" to the gal and she did, passing her with about a mile and a half to go. It was exciting watching the women's race. Then I realized the end was near and I was about to be double chicked. I turned on the extra jets and passed both ladies on my way to 7th place overall and 1st Masters. Man did Al load me up with schwag. Two awards, one for Masters, one for age division, a bottle of wine and a running jacket from New Balance. I gotta do more short races!
Finally, rest. I have looked at the year and conceded. I am done. Time to rest and play and work on the house and hang out with my family. I love running and racing but also find a break makes the excitement of next year bigger. I am signed up for a slew of lotteries for the big races and am casting a long look at UTMB for this August. Working with Phil at Seven Hills Running Shop on some exciting stuff for next year and anxious to try the new Hokas when they arrive. I've also been really excited to watch my wife Jane train to run her first 50k. She is on track to accomplish her goal by the start of December. She's running her own race, the Jane50k rather than an established race. The finish line food promises to be good.