Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cle Elum 50K 2006


Short version: 6:22:04, 4th woman, 2nd F30-39

Long version:
I hadn’t planned on writing a report for this race since I’ve tried to write only about distant races that most others would never have a chance to run. But I decided to continue with my “memoirs.”

After returning from Lost Soul 100 mile, I promptly caught a cold. It didn’t take much as my immune system was down from all the traveling and running. So, I didn’t run all week because I didn’t want to screw my chances of running at Cle Elum 50K on Saturday, September 16. I rested and took Airborne day and night. It seemed to work because it didn’t blossom into a full blown cold. Mainly, lots of sniffling, congestion, and a mild cough.

I awoke to the sound of pouring rain 4:45AM Saturday morning. I met Tony Covarrubias, Arthur Martineau, and Shawn Lawson at the Maple Valley park and ride at 5:30. Shawn was volunteering, Tony was the trail sweep for the first 21 miles, and Arthur and I would try to run our best, both having completed 100 milers recently. Shawn and Arthur had finished Cascade Crest 100 mile on 8/26.

Fortunately, as we dropped down to the eastern side of Snoqualmie pass, the weather cleared up and it was looking like a fine day for running. Due to a bridge closure, we had to take a longer route to the start but arrived in plenty of time to check in and get ready for the start. Krissy Moehl, the race director, had marked the course the day before with snow falling on her at Windy pass. So we all prepared for possible inclement weather.

My plan for this race was to just enjoy myself. It was the last race in the Trophy series for me, and after having garnered 400 points the week before, I knew that I didn’t need to place in the top three to win the series. Besides, my legs were probably dead and I was dealing with a head cold. I started out very conservatively, even running next to last place in the first 3 miles. But one by one, I started passing people, still running at a comfortable pace. Although my calves were tight from all the hill climbing in this race, I wasn’t feeling too bad. I did produce a ton of snot from my cold. Gross!

For the first time in the four years that I have run this race, I really started to look around and realized what a nice course this is. Sure, there are areas where the motorbikes have trashed the trails with big divots, but there are still a lot of runnable areas. I’d say that 70% of the trails are runnable, granted you have not trashed yourself in the first half with all the hills and end up having to pay for it in the second half. The first year I ran this race, which was also my first ultra, I went out too fast and ended up struggling with frequent walking in the 2nd half, particularly in the last 10 miles. It wasn’t very pleasant. On this day, I kept it at a comfortable pace, enough to get my breathing going but not so much that felt I was riding on the edge. I was able to run the entire second half.

Unfortunately, there was a motorbike race happening that same morning. Krissy said that she applied for her permit long ago and couldn’t understand how another race was allowed on the same day. She was able to delay them starting an hour to 11AM, but I still encountered many motorbikes during my run. Not only did they stir up dust, but the fumes from their bikes were even worse. I had brought my face mask in anticipation of this, as my asthma has been bad at recent races. Thankfully, for the most part, my asthma did not bother me during the race.

I took me 3hr45 min to get to Windy Pass, which lived up to its name. It’s amazing how the climbs just went on and on. I think it was about 17 miles into the race by then, and I figured it would take me another 3 hours to finish. I had been running with the same guys for a while. We continued to pass a few more ladies. There were several stream crossings, but nothing higher than ankle deep. I reached the 21 mile aid station at 4:38. I figured then that it would take me another two hours to finish. From that point on, I was able to run ahead of the group that I was running with except for one guy-yellow water bottle guy. I kept him in my sites for most of the last ten miles. We ended up passing a young looking gal, but then she decided to pass me right back within a half mile. Guess she didn’t like the fact that I had passed her. I told her as she was passing, “Don’t worry about me, I ran a 100 miler last week-end and am fading.” She said, “What? Are you psycho?” and continued on. She never got too far ahead of me.

With about 3 miles to go, we both passed another girl. Then we passed yellow water bottle guy when he stopped at a water station with 2 miles to go. Still, young looking gal was always within my sites, probably only 20-30 seconds ahead, but she was running like there was no care in the world. When we reached the last downhill section, which marked about ½ a mile to go, I gunned it down that hill as fast as I could to catch her. She was still just trotting along, unaware that I was closing in on her. A hiker was coming up the trail, and just about then, my shell jacket fell off of my hydration pack, having loosened from the bungee cord holding it in place from my pounding down the hill. She alerted me that I dropped my coat. “Oh no!” I cried. She helped pick it up for me. I thanked her and went on my way to catch that girl again. As I was coming up right behind her, she turned to see me coming full speed and picked up her pace. I wanted to pass her before the last turn down the short single track switchback, but I ran out of trail and she entered it first. The finish is practically right there when you emerge from the trail. She ended up finishing before me, 11 seconds according to the results, but I think I was more like 5 seconds behind her. She took third and I was fourth. If I had known our position, I would have run harder after I had passed her to keep her behind me. So I didn’t get any extra points for the trophy series, but no matter, I pretty much clenched the series win with my performance at Lost Soul. My race number was 19 and I came in 19th overall. Cool, huh? My time of 6:22 was only 9 minutes off of last year’s time. Not bad on spent legs, I thought.

Arthur finished 15 minutes faster than his time last year with a 6:55. But he struggled with hip pain that he developed from Cascade. Tony did his trail sweep to mile 21 and looked forward to running in the last 10 miles at his pace. But when he got there expecting to hand off the duty to someone else, he was told that he had been signed up to do the whole distance. So he ended up sweeping the entire course, running more like 35 miles in an effort to keep moving. He would run ahead and back to the last runners, trying to get them to eat and drink as they were seriously bonking. Thanks Tony for taking on that duty!

The post race festivities are always very cold in that area due to the shade. So if you ever run this race, make sure you pack extra warm clothes to change into. Also bring a chair to sit in. The awards ceremony was fun with great prizes and give-aways (Krissy has great connections). I won a pair of Montrail shoes (and who needs shoes more than I do!) since the first place F30-39 was not there to get first pick. Lucky me! Next year, Chris and Marty Fagan will take over the run, but did a fine job in the “Race Directors in Training,” on this day.

I don’t have a race next week-end, but the following week-end will be the “Quad” with Tahoe Triple and Auburn Marathon. See some of you there!

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