Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chuckanut 30K, or 19 miles of up



Sunday morning was calm and easy. We had scheduled this race as a supported training run so there was no pre-race nervousness the night before like with most races. Driving there was quick and easy, a friend doing the 12k offered to drive so I knew I just had to make it to the car and I’d be good in the morning.

I had a short run Saturday and the legs felt good, a little tired, but no issues. I had 34 miles for the week already and was determined not to rest for this race as I wanted to truly use it for training. Plus, 19 miles on tired legs is something I should be able to draw on over the next year or so.

Run goal was to not go too deep and run easy. Nothing above 80% effort.

At the start I tucked in the back with Alley because we both didn’t want to get caught up in the early race excitement and end up over doing it too early, with 900ft in the first two miles that would be pretty easy to do. I stayed with my group until mile 1 then slowly paced away from them, I was loosely the last person in the bigger group up ahead breaking away.

I ran easy in the back until we hit the top of mile 2 then wanted to enjoy the downhill within reason. I past about 10 people within the first minute of the down section and started to run easy with lots of speed carrying into the switchbacks. It still surprises me how fast you can gap people on the downhills. I could see 2 people about 10 seconds ahead and was gaining quickly on them. On the switchbacks I could see a guy in an orange shirt gaining on me and I yelled out something stupid like ‘YEAH, WORK THAT SHIT!’ I love running the downs, but I really love watching someone run the downs.

I was staying on 6:10 pace and this guy was full out flying behind me. LOVE IT!

He caught me just as I caught the 2 in front of me and about 3 seconds later we hit the 3 mile climb. Orange guy started the climb aggressively and I never saw him again. I started the climb and did 2 minutes on, one minute off. I kept telling myself it’s just like hill repeats, pace, it’s a training run. I ignored the people around me and just concentrated on my watch. 36 minutes to climb that beast, fukkas! I could of watched an episode of Friends in that time.

I was kind of running with two guys up that thing, but dropped them on the last qtr mile or so before the 1st aid station. I stayed at a steady strong pace (not race pace) and looked back after 2 minutes and there was no one.

I was happily in no mans land

I didn’t stop at the aid station and started on what turned out to be my favorite part of the course. Rock scrambles, tight single track turns, 2-4 ft drops, bounding from stone to stone. Running on the ridge, to the left the hill fell away pretty quickly through heavy forest, while on the right there was a stone wall about 4-6 ft high. Every once in a while the wall would open up to a large flat stone and I could just catch a glimpse of the view to the right. After the second time seeing an opening I told myself, ‘this is a training run STOP and look!’ So on the 3rd one I rounded a corner and ran up a 4 foot stone slab to the top to see the view………..HOLY SHIT!
I think I saw a monkey raising a baby lion up over it's head? Could of been the sweat in my eyes!?!

I could see about 3 valleys rolling into one another and a mountain range behind them catching the amazing yellow cast of morning light. This side of the ridge was a cliff wall that just fell straight down. I stood there for about a minute just drinking it all in. Then someone ran by. Oh. That’s right, in the middle of a race, but so glad I stopped.

I caught up with the guy that went by, who was wearing a Lake Stevens 70.3 visor, and followed him until we hit the down and he let me go by. That was the last I saw of him. I still couldn’t believe what a beautiful course we were getting to run on. By the bottom of that hill I could feel my hips starting to tighten up and then after the endless 3rd climb I couldn’t really get a good rhythm on the downs.

I’ve noticed lately that the Run Gods giveth and taketh, just as easy one way, as the other.

By mile 12-13 my hips were pretty tight and the downhill before the last climb was killing me. I felt like I was being pushed down the hill and just barely had time to get me feet under me before falling forward. This has happened a few times before, comes on so quickly, maybe over the course of 3-4 minutes? It was a wide open easy down that I should have been able to fly down, instead I was painfully scratching out 10 minute miles. Ugh….

Finally I hit the aid station at 14.4, which was the base of the famed “Chinscraper”. *queue claps of thunder and a bwhahahahaha……

I walked (hiked) the whole thing : ) that shit was steep. Reach out in front of you and grab a tree root steep.

On the hike up I stepped up oddly on a root with my right leg and my inner thigh freaked out and spiked with pain. Hmmmm, this could be bad!?! I stopped for a minute and started walking and then started to laugh a bit because I wasn’t moving too much slower than before. So my plan was to ignore it and shuffle along for a bit. By the time I hit the top, 30 minutes later, the leg was fine and I felt oddly rested. Whatever.

So this was a training run and not a race. My mental rules were as follows:

1.       No racing

2.       No effort above 80% perceived

3.       No going “all in”at any point

4.       Let people pass and go by without contest

5.       AND NO FK’N RACING!


However : ) when I hit the start of the 4 mile downhill to the finish (dropping 1440’), the hips were open for business again. I tested a bit then just gave the legs the “free to fly” green light - (Run Gods Giveth)

Breathing was rested, legs were doing little work, heart rate was way down. Light, easy, fun.

I past 4 people in the last 3 mile stretch, but wasn’t trying to catch them. I just kept saying to myself ‘have fun, run easy, enjoy this’


Last 4 mile splits: 7:12, 7:02, 7:08, 7:35

Finished in 3:38, 20th overall

6500’ of elevation gain


The course was the middle part of the Chuckanut 50k that Alley ran a few years ago as her first ultra. Running through some of the single track, rock scramble, hand over hand climbing portions of the course ( the best parts) I couldn’t imagine doing it covered in 3’ of snow and frozen mud like she had. I had a huge sense of pride and ultra understanding of what a Badass Alley is. Overall it was a fan-freakin-tastic great day out on the trails. A must run for anyone interested in trail running.


And my pre-race goals were met. I never felt like I was racing, I didn’t care who past me or who I past. I was just out for a long run on a great sunny day.