Local races are a bit weird for me. It's hard to have the same level of anticipation when the course is on trails I run frequently and I didn't to travel anywhere or camp at the start. Because the race starts at a quite leisurely (by ultra standards) 10am, I got lots of sleep and awoke to a beautiful, slightly breezy day. One huge benefit of a later start is I'm able to have my daily latte and still have time for the milk to digest. I enjoyed my latte, made some fresh carrot, apple, ginger and rhubarb juice (I was dubious when Sam suggested it, but the rhubarb added a nice tang and balanced out the sweetness of the carrot. I highly recommend it) and had my standard pre-race meal of oatmeal. We left in plenty of time, so we got to Sun Mountain with time to mosey down to the start from the overflow parking area and chat with running friends before watching the kids' race.
|Before the race, feeling good.|
The 25k and 50k share much of the first half of the race and with about 300 runners, I knew I wanted to go a little hard at the beginning to get in a good spot before hitting the singletrack along Patterson Lake. I ran with Caitlin Gregg for a bit but was relieved when she went by, given that she was doing the 25k and is a much stronger uphill runner than I (those skiers and their uphill abilities!). My goal was to run the long climb up to Thompson Ridge in a sustained manner. Each time I run this race, whether it's the 25k or the 50k, the climb seems neverending and I go beyond my limits. I felt pretty good and was happy to be able to run the entire thing. While I wasn't hating the climb, I was still glad to see The Methow Valley Nordic Team dolling out watermelon (my absolute favorite race food) and cheers. Everyone knew me, so I got a huge boost from all the encouragement. Thanks, guys! I just had a little more climbing to go before my favorite downhill of the entire Sun Mountain trail system. I hiked the really steep part before the descent, and let myself go on the down. Then, I started to feel my right knee. I love running downhill and in ten years of ultrarunning, I've never felt my knees.
The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy. After my fun Women's Trail Running and Yoga Retreat I immediately drove to Port Townsend to teach my sports massage class. I came back for more work, then drove back over to finish the class, did some VO2 max testing (a blog to follow), and back over here to work and launch my modelling career (yeah, right) with some photo shoots for Sun Mountain Lodge. And do this race. Just writing all that makes me tired. I mention all this not so much as an excuse, but as a reminder that I can only do so much. My tendency is to get sick when I have too much on my plate, so my big goal was to stay healthy during this silly busy time. I managed to do that, but it should come as no surprise that I was unable to train as I would have liked, and while all the things going on are great and add a lot to my life, something has to give. Running gave. So, as I'm running down the trail in slight pain (nothing devastating but I could tell it wasn't something that would go away), I had two options: ignore it, slow down and run for several more hours and likely have to take some time off from training while it settles down; or stop. With Speedgoat 50k as my key race this year, it was an annoying but relatively easy choice. While I love Sun Mountain and James' races, this race didn't matter in the grand scheme: I decided to run it as a gauge of how everything is going so far. And what a gauge it was. I now know exactly what I need to do to have a successful race in July and can get right back to training in a day or two. As for my knee, it's sore on my weaker side, and I know what to do to get that to respond as well.
On a positive note, thanks to my sponsors, La Sportiva and Goat's Beard for getting me to the start line. The new La Sportiva shorts are AMAZING! I've never been a tight-short type person, but I've converted. They have perfect mesh pockets on the sides for gel and are oh so comfortable. Goat's Beard, in itty-bitty Mazama, has a great selection of Sportivas as well as pretty much everything else you could possibly want for running, climbing, back country skiing, all with a friendly smile. Check it out and grab a tasty treat at the Mazama Store on your way back over the mountains. Additionally, a big thank you to James and Candice of Rainshadow Running, who put on a top-notch event as usual. The pizza, beer, soda, lounging, and well-marked trails were much appreciated. If you've never run trail races before, theirs are top-notch. If you're not yet up to ultra distances, Candice hosts the Bellingham Trail Running Series, comprised of shorter distance runs with the same great party after each race. Finally, it's always great to see familiar faces at these races. I love the trail running community and even with a bad race, it's a fun day.
So while the race didn't go as I wanted, it served its purpose. I'm still quite grumpy about my bravado in thinking I'd be able to have a good race given the circumstances, but I'll get over it. Everyone has bad races; if we didn't, the good ones wouldn't feel as good as they do.