Cle Elum should have been in June. In June I was ready to run 50k and make it count. 3 weeks after Cascade Crest I wasn't.
The trip started out on a rough note. I took the long way around–which ended up being the epic-ly long way around (8 hours!) and hit a deer on the way. Kevin and I finally crashed on the ground beside the car a few miles from the start at 1 am.
Race morning traffic woke me up at 5. 4 hours of sleep is plenty, right?
I was excited to see my friend April from Corvalis and as the race started in the overcast morning she and I ran together. We chatted and people passed us as we turned onto trail. We walked uphill and April commented, "I think we're last."
We continued on and I eventually got ahead of her. The climbing was ongoing, although I was frequently surprised by downhill sections. I had intended to take them easy because my knees have been having issues since Cascade Crest, but they were steep and the thick dusty dirt was soft...so I ran them harder than I intended.
I reached the ridgetop and was met with cold wind and spluttering rain. So much for the sunny side of the mountains! By this time I had passed a decent number of people and was excited to see a lot of friends, both running the race and volunteering, at the midpoint aid station. After some food and a water refill I set out, running with two friends. We climbed some more (all told I heard this course had 7,000ft of elevation gain which I was glad I didn't know beforehand!) before setting out on a set of long, loping switchbacks that carried us deep into a valley. I pulled ahead of them and settled into a steady pace at the bottom. What I didn't know is that the entirety of what was left was completely runnable.
About mile 20 I realized I was almost done. "Wow! This is short!" Running 100 miles certainly skews your thinking.
With only 5 miles to go I realized that if my friends hadn't caught me by now, they might not if I didn't slow down. So my competitive side surfaced and I ran hills I would have otherwise walked. When I reached the final descent I killed it. My knees didn't much like the rough treatment of me bailing downhill so fast, but oh well. I reached the finish in 6:23 and placed 4th (in the women's race).
Now, for some much needed rest, recovery, and Chardonnay!