Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chuckanut 50k Race Report

I'm lying in bed, icing my knee. It hurts when I bend it. It hurts when I push on it. I hope it's just some inflammation that will go away soon. The reason it hurts is because I ran my second 50k of the year yesterday. Or, maybe it was the 10 mile hike and trail work I did today....

Either way, I'm gonna tell you about the race, because really, that's more interesting than me chopping and digging in the dirt for a few hours.

This was my third year running the Chuckanut 50k. As usual Krissy Moehl and a fantastic group of volunteers (many of whom I count as friends) put on a great, well supported race. The weather was as perfect as mid March in Bellingham can be (partly cloudy and upper 40's). The field this year was incredibly fast with at least 4 people breaking former course records. Big names such as Scott Jurek, Geoff Roes, Ellie Greenwood, and Darcy Africa were there.

The morning started with me walking into the registration area, and, as typical anytime I'm about ready to run, I was smiling. First person I made eye contact with was Scott Jurek...and he smiled back. Pretty sure my smile got even bigger and stupider!! Wish I'd had something intelligent to say...

The first 6 miles were good. It was hard to hold myself back, but I ran into a friend and we chatted at an easy pace. I climbed Fragrance Lake trail and descended to Cleator road in exactly the time I intended. I felt good tackling Cleator and managed to run most of it, only walking 3 short sections. The ridge trail rolled right along as usual, but I felt much slower on the descent to Dan's traverse. I caught up to a couple friends on the N. Lost Lake Trail and ran near them until the climb up E. Lost Lake Trail. On that descent I met another friend and cruised down to the base of Chinscraper. The next climb I walked entirely. I was feeling tired and the beginnings of cramps were developing in my legs. In retrospect I probably hadn't drank enough at the earlier stages of the race, although I had been feeling fine. I ate and drank and by Cyrus Gates Overlook I was feeling a bit better and ran all the way to the final aid station at a strong pace, but not as fast as usual. I focused on mentally preparing myself for the final flat 6 miles that have always defeated me in the past.

When I left the "beach party" at the final aid station I told myself, no walking except two short climbs. So shuffle running. Then I turned the music up and let my mind wander to pretty much anything but the annoying cramps in my legs and the hard, flat trail. I didn't let my mind convince me to give up and I did indeed run the entire section, only walking those 2 stretches. I reached the finish 6 minutes slower than last year: 5:51, but considering my sporadic training and the fact that I am still in recovery mode I'm going to be satisfied with that. I felt good at the finish and was even jogging around the park tracking down the various layers of clothing I'd given to people throughout the run.

While I love Chuckanut (as my first ultramarathon it will always hold a special place in my heart) I think it's time to hang it up. There are burlier 50ks, gorgeous 50milers, and epic 100's calling my name. But shhhhh...don't tell my knees :-)