Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mt. Si Ultra 50K - Snoqualmie WA

We flew into Seattle on Saturday and checked into the Salish Lodge, right by Snoqualmie Falls, a couple miles from the race start in Snoqualmie. Sunday races are great. I managed to get a lot of rest in the day before in a beautiful setting. The 50K race also starts at a civilized hour (8:30am, 6:00am for the 50 milers) so I got up at 7am feeling very refreshed. I wore New Balance 940 racing flats since they worked so well at Bull Run 50M and this race looked even less technical. I also wore unpadded triathlon shorts under my running shorts - a good move that I will do again. I drove the couple miles down to the start and let Rebecca sleep to attempt an uncrewed ultra for the first time.

I saw Steve Yee, co-founder and president of Marathon Maniacs (to which I was recently inducted for doing Chuckanut 50K and Golden Gate Headlands Marathon back to back) at the start and he introduced me to some other maniacs. I left my drop bag. Using one was another race first for me, the main spur was to have some true trail shoes with orthotics in them if the need arose. My race plan was to run 9 minutes miles until mile 21 (the last rest stop) and then perhaps turn it up a notch if felt up to it. My goal was 4 hours 40 minutes (9 minute miles). Considering that I did Chuckanut 50K in 5:58 and still was above the median this seemed reasonably aggressive.

The RD started us out on the Snoqualmie Elementary School driveway and we all ran out for about a mile on flat asphalt. It was starting to feel like a road marathon so I asked the guys I was running with if we were ever going to hit a trail. At that point we turned right onto a bridge that let us out onto a flat wide hard-packed trail. I was running alongside Steve and getting the lowdown on the exploits of he and other Marathon Maniacs. These included details of training regimens for marathoning or doubling every weekend. We ran out five miles on this trail past an unattended water stop where I refilled my Amphipod.

Steve Yee and I running somewhere around mile 5
with Marathon Maniacs Prez Steve Yee somewhere around mile 5

We caught up to a 50 miler named Larry Abraham, 57 years old and looking very strong approaching mile 30 for him. He was apparently around the top 5 in that race at the time. Steve seemed to speed up but I wanted to hear stories of longer races and I was taking it easy so I ran alongside Larry for a while before speeding up. Then I ran alongside an Aussie who was taking it at a similarly relaxed pace. Some mountain biker came by yelling at us "you're 20th, you're 21st!". We laughed and wondered aloud if he realized we didn't really give a damn.

I got to the first aid station at 10 miles at around 1:28 and took my time switching to my other water bottle from my drop bag, getting more gel packets and eating some potato chips. Several runners caught up that weren't really stopping. I took off around 1:30 and headed up the trail which finally became a bit of an incline. Tim Lofton came alongside and was moving pretty well. I tucked in behind him and we worked the hill together, passing several runners. This finally felt like trail running even though the trail was still too wide and not steep enough.

As we started to crest the hill I realized I was running too fast and let him go on ahead. Over the crest of the hill and down steeply about a quarter mile was the second aid station at mile 16. I reached it at 2:14 exactly nine minute miles, but perhaps ahead of schedule due to the hill. I had some Pepsi and boiled potatoes and headed back up the steep hill. For some reason the nausea that I almost always get at some point (usually early in races when cresting a hill) hit me while still climbing. So I actually walked this hill instead of running it. I also wanted to take some Advil for my legs aching from the hardpack but it had dropped out of the bottom of the pockets of my running shorts. I would have to wait another five miles until I got to my drop bag again to get some ibuprofen. Running back down this hill, albeit shallow as it was, I really could have used that Advil.

I got to the last aid station at mile 21 at 3:00 and took my time taking Advil, eating potatoes and chips and drinking soda while several runners passed. I was actually feeling quite sore at this point from the hardpack roadlike trail. So once I started back up at 3:05 I took it easy for a mile or two. I then started feeling better and picked up the pace to around 8 minute miles. I came alongside Larry Abraham again and kept up a steady clip with him until the unattended water stop at around the marathon mark. I hit that rest stop at around 3:45 and refilled my water bottle from the dwindling supply. After that I started really moving, passing Larry Abraham again and catching up to Brock Gavery, a young guy doing the 50M. We worked together on the flats, moving very fast into the wind and passing many runners, including Steve Yee who seemed to have slowed to a walk after the marathon mark. As we came out of the trail back onto the road I caught up to Tim Lofton on the bridge. I came across the finish to the cheers of Rebecca and my kids in 4:24:15, eighth overall and fourth master. I was stunned by that time and finish in only my third ultra.

Liz, Josh and Ben plied me with bagels, bananas and delicious green fruit juice while we waited for the drop bag, before heading off to our favorite Thai restaurant for a great recovery lunch.


Post a Comment

<< Home