White River 50 Mile -12:57
One of my favorite races of all time. I trained hard, I ran a smart race, and I enjoyed the beautiful terrain, helpful volunteers, and the joy of being outside.
Getting to the start:
Usual drama - cut it too tight for flight, then got flagged for secondary screening. Made a dash for my flight, with no time to buy food / water. On the plane I realized I hadn't brought a jacket - unclear whether I left at home or lost in dash for flight. Ate Jimmy John's, bought new jacket from REI, and hydration supplies from Freddie Meyers (Kern's for pre-race, Coca-cola for race-morning, Gatorade for race, Mike's for post-race).
Made it to Alpine Inn at 5:50, just in time to pick up my packet & pasta supper. Pasta supper was hard to eat - dunno if I was too nervous or just not appetizing. I was nervous about fueling enough. Sat next to lady from my hometown (Stefanie from Arlington, VA) and nice local couple (Lars & Erin).
Stayed at the Alpine Inn for $50 (including tax)/ night, a total bargain. The walls were paper-thin - I woke up at 4:50 AM to the people above me getting ready for the race. I got ready too, but it was 5:20 when I got to my car - and realized I'd forgotten my parking pass. Quick ride down to the start, but ended up on the wrong side of the airstrip - start parking not really labeled at all.
Quickly pulled on my pack, my headphones, my snacks -- all systems go, but no time for the bathroom. Then the race director announced that he would wait for everyone in line…so I got in line!
Start to AID STATION #1: CAMP SHEPPARD (MILE 3.9)
So excited to start - quick jaunt around Air-strip, a brief detour down a side trail, then oh-so-quickly at Camp Shephard. Still plenty of water in my pack, so no stop. Looking now at my split, perhaps way too quick.
AID STATION #2: RANGER CREEK (MILE 11.7)
The climb started in earnest. I had a conga-line behind me, so rather than feel the pressure to go faster, I'd step off the trail. Rob, the aid station from Cascade Crest, caught up to me - I was delighted to see him. After a few minutes of chit-chat, he ascended quickly into the distance. Run my own race, I told myself. Ranger Creek was a campfire in the wilderness with water.
to AID STATION #3: CORRAL PASS (MILE 16.9)
More climbing to pop out at a scary cliff-edge, then ascend and descend along a ridge line. The front-runners were coming back, and I cheered "San FRANCISCO" when I saw a guy wearing a San Francisco Running Company outfit. I'd checked him in at an ITR run - he looked in fine fiddle. Then the fun / stress of trying to keep a decent pace while darting off the trail for the pack coming back in my direction. I overtook a few people on the climb, but mainly tried to stay out of the way of the charging pack coming my way - probably detoured for ~60 people. INCREDIBLE VIEWS - truly breathtaking. My phone was out of battery, but I really regret not getting some snaps here.
At Corral Pass I reloaded my pack with hydration, then set out.
to AID STATION #4: RANGER CREEK (MILE 22.1)
WOWSERS. Some beautiful views. A quick pit stop in the woods, then I started passing more and more runners. I was worried I'd lost the way, but I was just in dense forest.
to AID STATION #5: BUCK CREEK (MILE 27.2)A descent through the trees, listening to Gabriel & Dresden '2006 from WMC, where I felt like I could truly run forever. I wiped out and face planted twice, but I just go up and kept running. The soil was soft and cushiony and all I had to do was brush myself off and keep going in time to the beats.I was in a trance as I passed people. I cranked the tunes and let myself run so fast through the endless pine needles, trying to avoid the roots and sticks and rocks and enjoy the surge of gravity and wilderness carrying me forward.
At the Aid Station I re-filled my pack and quickly left, in a band of other runners.
to AID STATION #6: FAWN RIDGE (MILE 31.7)
I'd left the aid station with a lady who bystanders called "Karen", Lars & Erin from the night before, and a couple I'd passed on the descent. We overlapped and then fell into pace on the climb uphill. I look on climbs as a chance to recover, so I let them go off ahead as I pondered
-wtf was I doing in the woods
- why am I doing this
- no really, why am I doing this.
Long grind uphill. I pass a hurting Texan from near Galveston, on his first 50 mile race. He was doing a Coach Ken like shuffle where he would try to run uphill, when I was walking faster than he was running.
I LOVE the Fawn Ridge aid station - super volunteers, sponges, ice.
to AID STATION #7: SUN TOP (MILE 37.0) More up. A delightful down, then up to the top. I was excited about using the bathroom, but no lock and disastrous, lost 6 minutes here.
to AID STATION #8: SKOOKUM FLATS (MILE 43.4)
put in the headphones, cranked to G & D Sirius. Legs felt strong, no pain, just clicking out the ~9 minute miles, passing people where I could.
to the Finish.
At the aid station, a runner said to her boyfriend "I made the cut-off, I'm walking to the finish". This has been me at other races, but today? HELL NO. Even if I was moving at 16 minute / miles, I could pass people walking at 20 minute miles. A slow-speed chase through the darkening woods. I had hopes of finishing at 12:30, but I felt increasingly sleepy and tired. Had I gotten enough rest? Or was I just tired from running 12+ hours?? Finally, I popped out on the gravel road at the finish. I strided into finish at 12:57
The finish: I hung out and cheered on the runners after me. It was great to see Erin (from the pasta supper) the married couple (the guy was doing the Grand Slam and had run Vermont the prior weekend), the Texas guy finishing, and then Barry, a guy I'd run with at the very beginning. I decided to wait for the last finisher, as the last finisher usually gets no food & no glory. Cutoff was at 8 pm…the last finisher finished at… ~9"30. But it was great to see him come in - way to gut it out!
What I did well:
Scouted out race location before-hand. On a work trip to Seattle, I'd driven out to Buck's Creek and tried to run a loop. I realized - the trails were hard to find. There's NO services in the area. And it's BEAUTIFUL. So I stocked up on everything I needed in Seattle. And looked for ribbon.
Tried to run a smart 1st half. If there was someone faster behind me, instead of speeding up, I'd step off the trail and let them pass.
Kept pack filled - never ran out of water
Applied copious Body Glide
Tried to say thanks to volunteers, hikers, bikers, and a hearty "Great Job" to other runners.
Cheesecake on Friday night to celebrate birthday.
Even when felt low (mile 29, miles 46-48), kept moving forward.
Fell, brushed self off, kept running.
Hard training - many weekends of Willow Fire Road to strengthen quads paid off. Even the day after, quads still okay, feel better than some 50Ks
Things to improve on:
I wish I had more energy for the last 6.6 miles of rolling trail. Very runnable, but I was just "blah".
Overall pace management - I was afraid of missing cut-offs so was assertive. Now, looking at splits, I wish I'd cooled it for the Corral Pass section and blasted it on Skookum Flats.
Getting off the trail for the front runners - it was a scary single track. Not a ton of room to get off.
I should have left 25 minutes sooner for the race (5 AM vs 5:25 AM) to avoid stress.
More sleep on Thursday - IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY! and I was out til 1 AM. OK, no regrets on that one.
My sister says she'll crew me in a 100…DARE I???