Sunday, January 3, 2010

Triplin' into the New Year

12/31/09 Last Chance Marathon: 3:52:34, 1st female
1/1/10 First Call 50K: 4:50:15, 1st female
1/2/10 Tiger Fat Ass 50K: 6:36:56, 3rd female

It has been a long time since I've done a triple. Over a year ago, when I did the Wishbone 27+mile trail run, Ghost of Seattle 50K, and Seattle Marathon in November 2008. I've done many 100 milers since then. A triple is just a different animal. But when the stars are all aligned and three races come together, I sometimes rise up to the challenge. I had decided not to do the triple the weekend of the Seattle Marathon this year and ended having to work anyway. I wanted to see where my fitness level was starting the new year since in truth, I hadn't run that much after the Seattle Marathon, being busy with work and putting on my race.

I have ran all Last Chance Marathons since its beginning in 2005 when Diana "Slug" Robinson and Stacy "Possum" Otter came up with the idea. So it is tradition for me, requiring me to request a day off from work on a Thursday. Mary Latta took it over the last few years and will be handing the reigns over to Terry Sentinella, RD of Skagit Flats marathon. It is run mostly on the Interurban trail in Bellingham and is an old railroad grade with packed dirt and gravel, mostly flat. There is a very short section of road. It is a double out and back, which makes for a social run. There are some steep and short hills that make this run a little of a challenge. I have run it in the 3:30s to just over 4hrs. Rain had been forecasted but we were mostly lucky. I didn't get caught in the rain, but the last few runners did. The first male finisher was Joe Adams in 3:01. He was flying! And, he had his wife order pizza for everyone including the volunteers for post race consumption! Mary and I quipped that he is setting a big precedence. In the future, I could see the frontrunners holding back so that they would not have to buy pizza for everyone! Overall, I felt pretty good. My back only bothered me a little, and I could pick up my pace a little when I wanted to. I also knew when I needed to back off. My goal was to run under 4 hours and I did. That was my 30th race of the year, with only 2 being marathons. Even though that is much less than my 53, 51, and 54 from 2006-2008, I ran six 100 milers this year.

Next was First Call 50K on Friday. There was a marathon option, but when there is a choice, I usually choose the longer distance. I wasn't really looking forward to running 6 more paved miles, but oh well. The forecast was for rain and wind. Again, we lucked out. I only felt a light rain in my last 2 miles. The wind was about 10-15 mph on the out with a tailwind on the back, which made everyone overheat without it being in our face and wearing too much at that point. This was a double out and back as well on the Sammamish River Trail, which was more mentally challenging than the more scenic Last Chance. Adrian Call, the RD, had placed cones out the night before for the marathon and 50K turn around. Unfortunately, it was New Year's Eve and the cones were gone by the morning, unbeknownst to everyone, including Adrian.

There was a large crowd of marathoners and 50kers at the 8am start. I was clearly overdressed, but I was worried about being too cold from my run the day before and being low on calories and hydration. It was nice to have my shell on the first out because of the headwind, but I took it off and wrapped it around my waist for the back. Because the cones were gone, everyone kept running and running. I had my foot pod and knew we had passed the marathon turn around, and I knew a lot of people ahead of me running the marathon who had kept going. Robert Lopez had his GPS and said the same thing. Some people, who obviously had GPS, turned around at the appropriate spot. Anyway, we finally started to see people. The marathoners who kept running turned around earlier in the second half. Robert and I ran to 8 miles and turned around. We were telling people on the way back that the 3 mile post was about the 6.55 mark, but in truth, it was probably more like 6.75 miles. It was just an easier landmark to turn around. So the marathoners probably ran just over. We also started to see all the half-marathoners and told them to turn around at the 3 mile post.

I dropped my shell at the start/finish, grabbed some more GU and fluids, and headed out for the second out and back. This time the headwind felt great, since I was heating up. I ran that second half by myself. It was warm again when I turned around, but I felt better after I pulled off my arm warmers. With about a quarter mile to go, I caught a guy I knew, Dave, who was walking. This was his first 50K. He said he was feeling a little sorry for himself at that point. His calf was cramping some. I grabbed him and said let's run this in. We did and he was very pleased later with making it through his first ultra. We tied for 2nd. Tony Covarrubias finished first. There were pancakes and hot chocolate as the main fare for post race. Lots of other treats also with fudge, cookies, chips, and pop. I brought a big sub sandwich which was a big hit. ( I stole Dean Kayler's idea.) It's nice to have something that isn't sweet to eat. I thanked Adrian and the volunteers. I cheered more runners in but needed to get home and rest for my last race.

Saturday was the Tiger Fat Ass 50K and 25K. The majority do one loop for the 25K. Each loop has 3700 feet of elevation gain. I had asked Steve Stoyles and Eric Barnes who had volunteered at First Call if they would like to meet me early and get started before the crowds hit. In previous years, I have found it frustrating getting caught in a pack and being forced to run too fast or too slow after hitting the single track. I know it is supposed to be laid back but it's nice to run at my own pace. They had a friend named Tom joining us. We ran the whole thing together. The weather was perfect. There was some change in the trail due to winter closures in the Swamp trail and construction at Issaquah High. But the hills were still there. We moved along at a decent pace. I was worried my back would really start to hurt with the steep ups and downs as it had for the last few months. But it did well. I think that stretching every night and running more at Tiger getting stronger on the hills has helped. Running at Lake Youngs and Cougar, where the hills are miniscule compared to Tiger and the Cascades just doesn't cut it for me anymore. My back did stiffen up if we stopped too long, but again, it loosened up faster than before.

We caught runners that started before us but for the most part had the trail to ourselves until we reached Tiger 3. This was what I wanted, running at our own pace with little traffic. We stopped at the Christmas tree around Bootleg trail and admired the ornaments. As soon as we headed down Tiger 3, the trail immediately got congested with hikers going up and down. We had a 3 mile descent, which I just love. Tom was not yet comfortable with downhill running, but I think he did pretty well. We finished the first loop in 3:05, spent 5 minutes filling our water and grabbing more fuel. I ate my sandwich walking up the road to the trail and it was raining some at that point. But as soon as we hit the trails, we had some tree cover. We did the second loop in reverse and said hi to everyone finishing their first loop. The first guys we saw on the road up to the trails. Uli was further back but started late. He ended up winning in 4:59. The first woman was Shawna Wilskey in 5:44. So our second loop started with the 3 mile hike up to Tiger 3, then we traversed over to Tiger 2 and Tiger 1. The rest of the run was mostly downhill except for the rolling trail on the back side of the TMT and the switchbacks above the high school. I felt great the whole day. I ate and drank enough. We finished in 6:36, which is not that much off my previous Tiger runs. My fastest is 6:04, but my legs were fresh still back then. I have put many miles on since.

I was very pleased with my triple and feel that I'm starting out with a good base for this upcoming year of racing. My main race is Western, and I will be doing a lot of running at Tiger for training. See you on the trails!

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