It was so nice to have friends drive to a race for a change, more so on the way home so I could sit on my ass and fade in and out of being awake if I needed it. Some of the races in the past were pretty sketchy staying awake after a long race, White River and Waldo were absolutely the worst, the WA DOT could have used me as a test driver as the rumble strips were put to good use in keeping my sorry ass awake after those. Also, It’s a good way to catch up on a million and one text messages and emails; a good way to pass the time as texts can often turn certain ways to become very entertaining/amusing. Plus it’s always fun to talk about running with your running friends, because really – no one else gives a shit – which is quite ok with me. And having not raced in 7 months - last year my body just plain sucked as I suffered from IT band crap all year - I had no idea how the body would behave and was anxious to find out. Sure, I did a lot of mileage in the past couple months, probably averaging over 70 miles per week with the heaviest weeks approaching 90, but most of that carried little elevation change as my utmost goal is a fast 100 @ JJ which is a fairly flat course. So anyway, off to the races for the first time (healthy) in about 18 months.
We rolled into the Chelan area with tons of daylight to spare, set up some tents, stared at the ski hill and instantly thought back to Waldo which also started out at a ski area (albeit a mountain) but was nonetheless thankful we didn’t start running straight up that like @ Waldo. Not much really to do after that except pay attention to nutritional needs (donuts – why don’t they have donut flavored gels?) and fluids (water = Nuun). I was good to go. Tried to go to bed at a decent time and read for what felt like forever, but then learned I drank way too much water. Off to the bathroom. What a pain in the ass that is when spending the night in a tent. But the stars were absolutely amazing. I have not seen the stars like that since I ran Waldo in 2010, some events or nights for some reason just hang out in the clearest parts of my memory, and that night did for the pure beauty of the night sky and the simple things in life that we often miss or forget to take in – myself included. It was also the last time (before this race) I showed up at a race not completely stressed out about life and divorce and kids and other stupid crap– but hey, you gotta screw up big time to learn a big lesson. And running is always there for you, and the people that love you, blah, blah, blah. : ) You can watch Oprah for the rest.
Read 2/3 of a novel, eventually fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep, noticed it was light out so I just got up and B was already up for the start of the 50 mile. I thought of doing it and could have probably done ok, but I wanted to see where I was and didn’t want to jump in the deep end quite so soon. After that it was hang out and relax, a gentle rain began to fall and then I had to get ready to run. Eat more food, lube up, tie my shoes, run a couple miles to warm up since we climbed a 900+ foot climb from the get go, and then it was time to start.
I swear the rain stopped as soon as the dude sent us off. We had about ¾ mile on fire road and then it was all single track after that. My goal was to run the first 10K @ 8:00 flat pace since it had 1000 feet of climbing, and somehow I nailed that just by relaxing and running easy up hill, and not banzaing back down. I stayed around 6:10-6:20 pace while the leader was closer to 5:30. I already drank 3 bottles in the first 10K and noticed that he didn’t even have a bottle – though he picked his up after the first 10K. There was one more guy that was kinda staying close to us and I noticed he wasn’t carrying a bottle either. The weather forecast was 82 and sunny, and with 4 hours of running planned for the day I was going to come prepared. The guy in front would gap me on the down hills about 15-20 seconds per mile, but I would always close up without even exerting much effort. I knew that running without a bottle as the sun came out and the temperature rose would greatly reduce the power available to my 2 running companions as the day wore on. I just tried to run relaxed, and felt like I was more fit (and possibly more experienced) then the other 2. When we got to mile 11 we had some flat terrain for a while and I let the one dude lead and he wanted to run 7’s for a while, and I was fine with that. If solo I would have saved more energy but this is generally a comfortable enough pace to live with. We did a 7.5 mile loop of the course with a few short climbs @ maybe 7:15 pace which brought us to mile 18 or so. I was just sitting and more worried about myself than the race. I came here to train and see where I was at, if I won then that’s a bonus, if I didn’t - I didn’t care as long as I learned where I was and got in some race miles. And no, I didn’t say I was going to win the race to Steve from SCRC, that was his spin on stuff to make me look like an arrogant ass in weekly email to the run group. Thanks Steve!
After a while I decided it was time to test my current fitness level. So on a longer climb I pushed myself just a tiny bit and as the terrain flattened out I dropped the pace to maybe 6:30 for a while to see what the other 2 guys would do. They didn’t respond, I was alone so I just ran my own race for the remainder. At around mile 22 it got really warm on a longer climb as the heat started to suck some life out of me. I dragged ass up this maybe 7-8 minute climb, and then it took maybe another mile or so of sucking (as in sucking air and running slow) before I recovered. I just continued to drink and pop clif bloks and although starting to get tired I was ok considering it was almost 30 degrees warmer than anything I am used to running in. And sunny. There was another climb at about mile 26 that sucked (I passed the marathon at I think 3:44), survived up that (barely) and then got a rhythm going and with 900 feet to drop in the last 2.5 miles ran about 6:00 pace to finish in 4:26. Overall it was an ok day, I knew my legs would be not so good on the parts they weren’t, but I also know my fitness is coming along. This course is probably harder than Baker lake and I was a good chunk of time faster than I ever ran there in definitely warmer temperatures. So hey! That’s a positive. Fitness is coming along, and it’s all just building blocks to AZ for the JJ100. So I’ll just keep building. And I got a free bottle of wine for winning. Ha ha. As always has been the case I give the alcohol away to friends – but it’ll be appreciated at least. I don’t even like the stuff. I have no idea what race is next, I am trying to find one that will fit in a schedule of kids birthdays and travel plans, and whatever else gets in the way, but until then I will keep adding to the weekly mileage so I can finally run a 100 miler I can be proud of. I don’t have any time predictions for a 100, but I know if I will be satisfied or not once I look at the clock upon crossing the finish line.
And after that, bigger things await.