Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Note to self, don't drive to a race on I-5 on a late friday afternoon! The longness of my weekend started with sitting by the tacoma dome for a half hour waiting for traffic to clear so I could make to HWY 18. Kris missed the delay by taking the Puallyup shortcut, what was I thinking? Wayne, Kris, and I all car camped together at the start/finish. John was there helping out James organizing the aid stations and making a late night trip into town to pick up more supplies. Of course James waited until about 10:30pm to head out and mark the whole course! I slept great and woke up early to help get the registration table organized since James was still out marking the course. James showed up just in time to give the pre-race talk and get us started. The course starts with a two mile uphill on a gravel road which was marginally runnable. I managed to keep up with Kris, and Wayne even caught up to us, all that Rock Candy Mt training was paying off! Once on single track trail, it kept going up and I couldn't keep up with Kris anymore so off she went. My goal was to finish 1st in my age group so I started looking for old farts to pass. I was feeling good and it was great to see John making p-nut butter sandwiches at the first aid station. After 10 miles of constant up, it was great to be on the ridges, but the trail always seemed to have more ups then downs. I decided to take it easy, not knowing if there would be any relief further down the trail. I managed to pass what I figured was the last old guy and ended up running alone for a couple of hours. The weather was great at the start, but now there were rain showers and wind blowing on the exposed ridges, so I threw on my jacket and enjoyed the peekaboo views. I finally caught up to a couple of runners as we ascended the big switchbacks up the exposed grassy hillside. A couple of miles later, we made it to the aid station. It seemed that the distance between aid stations was always more than expected and the trail continued to have more up than down! Finally there was a good downhill section and I took off, leave the other runners in the dust. One of the aid station workers told me that Kris was about 8 min ahead, but I didn't think I would catch her since she is always faster on the downhills. But the down was short lived and I was back to an upward slog when I ran into Kris, who was just standing there, frustrated about where the next aid station was. We ran together to the last aid station, but shortly after leaving, Kris decided to slow down since she was doing hundred in the hood next week and only needed to finish. I told her only six more miles, should only take an hour and a half. But the trail was still going up and it took forever to reach the water drop with 2 miles to go, before the final downhill and Kris went blowing by me cussing and swearing about it taking too long to finish. I just kept plodding along at an easy pace and got passed for the first time by the woman I passed back at the windy pass aid station. I figured I would finish around 7:30, but that time went and passed and I still wasn't close to the finish. So ten minutes later, I finally saw the line. Kris beat me by over 3 minutes, but I was happy, I won my age group and James gave me a couple pairs of socks as a prize! The best part was waiting for Wayne to show up. He was concerned about finishing this hard race and we had even talked about taking the early start, but in the morning, he toed the line with the rest of us. We were getting nervous as the cutoff time was approaching when here comes Wayne, hauling down the trail with 5 min. to spare! It was a great accomplishment for him, just starting trailrunning a year ago. This course was exceptionally agrivating because it always seemed to go up and come to find out, it was probably 34 miles so it was long and it felt long. I hung out afterwards to help break down the finish and since I had room in my van, hauled some tables to Easton for storage. I ended up very tired and the next day felt that even though I had a good race, I was just burned out on the whole process and decided this was my last race for the season. I would miss hundred in the hood, but I had a good season, finishing in the top three of my age group in every race but one. It's now time to regroup, rest, then start training for next year!