I did it! What you say? Ran two 50Ks in a day. One a training run; the other a race. So only one counted. Why? To prepare for the McNaughton 150 miler in April. My race plans for 2009 will involve less races but longer distance. I’ll be bringing you along on the journey. Join me if you want!
I only know of one other double in a day here in the Pacific Northwest. In March, you can run Chuckanut and then drive 3-4 hours to Longview, WA and join the Pac Rim 24hr run already in progress. This year I’ll be foregoing Chuckanut and trying a hand at my first 24hr run. I don’t really know what running around on a one-mile loop will be like. I’ve run around a track for 6 hours and have done a 12 hour run on a 5-mile loop. Who knows? I might actually enjoy it!
Earlier in the week, I came up with idea of running about a 50K distance before the 3pm start of Bridle Trails. If you have ever run Bridle Trails, you know this is a tall order since conditions are typically wet, cold, and muddy. Think over 200 people running on a rolling 5-mile loop that is a horse trail with rain making each loop increasingly difficult. Originally, I wanted to run the first 50K at Bridle trail self supported and then run the race. I e-mailed what I felt were like minded masochists such as *tc, Shawn McTaggart, King Arthur, Eric Barnes, Rob Hester, Jess Mullen, and others. No takers! I re-thought the idea after we had record flooding from rain combined with all the snow that melted from our winter snow.
Friday night before race day came and I decided to run my 50K with members of the Cedar River Runners. Mary “mph” Hanna was looking for a long run and was in for 28 miles. We met at 6:30am Saturday and ran only 5.5 of our goal of 7 miles before the usually group met for 14. I had never seen Cedar River so high and fast flowing. We saw many homes surrounded by water. So sad! Mary and I had nearly 20 flat miles and capped it off with two hilly 4 mile loops of the Bear Run in Maple Valley. I then added the rest to make 31 miles. Weather was good. I was done by noon and had 3 hours before Bridle Trails. A couple years ago, Mary and I had run a half marathon in the morning and then Bridle Trails in the afternoon/evening and I developed hypothermia, almost causing me to DNF. I found that I needed to refuel my calorie deficit to avoid that problem. Knowing this in preparation for this double, I had all the intention of filling my tank. But I made the mistake of going to a teriyaki place and ordering yakisoba. First, it took forever for them to make it, there was not enough noodle to vegetable ratio, and the shrimps were pathetic! I barely had enough time to eat it and digest if before the race started. I should have gotten some pizza or a burger! So needless to say, I felt somewhat empty starting out the race.
The 5 milers started first, then 5 minutes later the 10 milers, then 5 minutes after that the 50K solo runners and 50K relay teams. I stayed in the back of the pack, determined to take my time and not push myself. Most of the trail is pretty wide but you feel that it is almost single track because you have to pick yourself through the mud and spots that have better footing. The 5 and 10 milers had already churned up the trail, which was the worst on the back side of the trail at miles 2-4. It’s a 5 mile loop and the first two of six loops can be done without a headlamp. Uli Steidl, the male winner had three loops in before dark and lapped me twice during the race. Results are not back yet at the time of this writing, but I expect he ran well below 4 hours.
Some maniacs caught me halfway through the first loop. Them: “Hey, I think that’s Pigtails, but I only see a ponytail.” Me: “I was lazy.” Them: “We shouldn’t be passing her.” Me: “It’s okay, it will be a long night for me. I ran 50K this morning.” Them: “What race was that?” Me: “Just a training run. Don’t let me catch you later!” I finished the first 2 loops each in under an hour. But the third loop was slow and hard. I was working too hard to keep my form running while slipping and sliding. So I started walking. I was still under 4 hours after three loops. Loop four felt better but I was just over 4 hours at the end of it. It started raining before the race and never stopped. I was getting wetter and colder with each loop, and my calorie deficit was the reason. I stopped by the aid station every loop to find food. Aid station volunteer: “Hey Van, how are you doing?” Me: blank stare. Volunteer: “Can we get you anything to eat?” Me: “Soup.” Volunteer: “Can we get you anything else?” Me to myself: a warm bed, a hot tub, common sense? I had put on all the clothing that I had in my drop bad, and they were all soaked.
Each time I left the aid station, I was shivering and was sure that I would never warm up again. But each loop after I got moving, I’d warm up enough to continue. But I was constantly cold. Plus, I had to stop at least once each loop and twice in loops 5 and 6 to pee. Thank goodness none of the other! Even though it seemed like I was well hydrated, once when I went to pee, my shoulder blade muscles seized up on me. By loop 4, I found that I did a better job running through the mud and horse-sh-- puddles if I just ran through the middle and taking small steps instead of trying to weave from side to side trying to find good footing. This was even more important in the dark when you couldn’t really see that well. It took me over an hour each to finish loops 5 and 6. My original plan to take it easy and go slow changed when I got too cold going slow and I wanted to get out of the elements as soon as possible. With about 2 miles to go, I picked up my pace and even ran all the hills. But my faster pace actually made me colder maybe from the wind moving over me faster. And my right IT band at my knee started to ache. So close to 62 miles and I had to slow down!
I finished in 6:23. Scott McCoubrey, the RD, said that the race was probably more like 30 miles, but I told him that it was probably 5 miles long with all the slipping and sliding. I headed straight for my car. There were less than a dozen cars left when earlier before the start of the race parking had filled up fast and people resorted to parking on the road or across the street in residential areas. King Arthur, who had a strong race finishing something like 4:44, walked me to my car, started it for me, and helped me put my heavy fleece robe on. I have found that bringing my robe to races and training runs during the winter is great because you can put in on over you right away if you are cold and change underneath it. I had a hard time getting into the car because one of my shoulder blade muscles cramped when I tried to close the door. I went to the other side and used my other arm. While my car warmed up, I sat there shaking uncontrollably. I had just paid $400 the previous week to replace a broken thermostat in my car that prevented it from heating up the car. Best money I have spent in a while! I slowly peeled my drenched clothes off without going into a full body spasm and just sat there in my robe for another 15 minutes. After my Succeed caps kicked in and I had changed into some dry clothes, I headed home, but not before grabbing a burger. I still woke up at 3am starving marvin. So that sounds miserable, right? Well, actually the first 50K was fine. I enjoyed it. Bridle Trails yes was mostly miserable, but the way I think about it, the misery that I experience now will hopefully make my 150 mile experience less miserable. We all know that the feeling that we get after finishing a race is what keeps us going and coming back for more.
Summary: 50K training run in morning: 4:50. Bridle Trails: 6:23. Total: 11:13 Note to self: Volunteer at Bridle Trails next year. The End!