As posted earlier I not only finished the Mt Si 50K today but I got a PR out of it. I've never raced a 50K before so all I had to do was finish to get the PR, but still.... So here's how it went. (I'll categorize it so those with short attention spans can skip ahead. :)
I got up at 5:45, ate my regular bowl of cereal, got dressed and was out the door by 6:15. I stopped at the store for a gallon of water and a coffee from Starbucks to drink over the hour that I'd be in the car. Traffic was light and I arrived at 7:30, an hour before the 50K runners started. Parking was horrible but I found a spot in the overflow lot. I guess the race is popular. I picked up my race packet, which included a fleece vest instead the standard T-shirt which was an odd choice, but I'll give it a try.
I changed in the car, found the bathroom and started drinking some electrolyte drink. I popped an S-Cap and loaded up my pockets with gear. The list was a little shorter than usual because I had a "drop bag" that I sent ahead to the 10mi / 21mi aid station. I ended up just carrying some Nuun tablets, S-Caps, 4 Gels, my iPod and a hand bottle. Temps were in the low 40s so I went with shorts, a base layer and a long sleeve tech shirt but no gloves. I walked over to the start line with about 10 minutes to go before the start of the race and did some active stretching to warm up my legs a tiny bit. The Race Director herded us out to the street and gave us the countdown in his bullhorn and with a hearty "3-2-1 GO!" and we were off.
The "out" portion of the course:
The course was an out and back with a long hill to climb on the way out and descend on the way back. The hill gained about 1000' over 9 miles, deceptively gentle (I didn't actually realize that we were climbing until about 2 miles into the hill.) The first mile was through the streets of Snoqualmie and up to a big set of stairs that fed out to a trail that we would follow for the next 9 miles. The trail was almost entirely on small gravel or hard packed dirt.
I was holding 7th place for the first 2 miles due to a little ego getting into my pace as I tried to keep up with the runner ahead of me. When I realized it I backed off the pace a little and tried to just run by feel. I was pulling sub-8 minute miles for the first 4 miles. I slowed down to a little bit over 8 minute miles when another runner bridged up to me and stayed with me for the next several miles. His name was Kevin and we chatted about all manner of athletic and work things as we ran. His pace was a little slower than I would have liked to run but probably saved my legs a little bit from my ego. We were probably around 12th place at this point. The scenery was magnificent. We had a great view of Mt Si and Little Si off to the left and some other mountain range off to the right.
Mt Si (we were on the other side of those trees):
The race had self-serve water stops at 5 and 28 miles. Self serve meant a few big jugs of water and a stack of cups. I had the hand-bottle and Nuun tablets so that was just fine with me.
We were keeping a decent pace when we hit the 10 mile aid station. Kevin and two other guys that caught up to us continued on as I stopped to get a few more gels out of my drop bag, refill my bottle and grab a quick bite to eat. Just after the aid station the course started to enter a more wooded trail and the climbing started in earnest.
It was more of a trail run now where it was mostly just a dirt road through mile 10. I caught up to Kevin and passed him in about half a mile. It would be the last time I'd see him. I caught sight of the two other guys I was running with but just couldn't catch them. I knew we had about 5 miles or so until the turn around and try as I might I couldn't reel them in. My legs were starting to ache a little at this point but I was still able to peel off some decent sub-8 miles. The main thing that was starting to bother me was my hands. My fingers were getting pretty cold and I was starting to have trouble opening gel packets.
I didn't know what place I was in so I started counting the runners coming back from the turn around as I got closer. I estimated that I was in about 14th place by the time I crested the top of the climb and ran down a brutal short steep descent that lead down to the aid station. I checked in and had to ask one of the volunteers to open the ziplock bag that I had my Nuun tablets in because I couldn't get it with my cold fingers. I also had to make a pit stop at the bathroom here (which had NO toilet paper) hence the 13:58 split for mile 16. Climbing up the hill out of the aid station was brutal. I walked most of it as did every other runner I saw. Luckily it was only a little over 1/4 mile.
The "back" portion of the course:
Once over the steep short hill it was all downhill for the next 9 miles. Some parts steeper than others. I had lost a few places while I was trying to hurry in the bathroom so I picked up the pace a little bit and managed to pass two people in the first 2 miles of the descent. I rattled off a string of five sub-8 miles and started to feel a little bit foggy. It was one of those times that you know something isn't right but you don't have your wits about you enough to realize that you just need to eat something. It was another half mile before I ate most of gel (as much as my frozen fingers could get out of the packet) and started to rebound.
The sun was coming out on the mostly-shaded descent but my fingers were still almost numb. I was happy to see the bottom of the hill and the short jaunt to the mile 20 aid station where my drop bag was waiting with a pair of gloves in it! I checked in, filled the bottle, got a cookie and part of a PB&J, picked up a few more gels / Nuun and put those gloves on. The trail was a little less shaded at this point so with the temps rising and the gloves my fingers started to come back. I was thinking about the reason for them going cold when I was running and came up with this theory: I wear my Garmin 305 on my left wrist. I keep the band pretty tight so that it doesn't flop around. This has the side effect of cutting off some of the blood supply to my left hand and decreasing circulation. I usually carry my hand bottle (full of cold liquid) in my right hand which does about equally well to chill those fingers. Gloves fix all.
I was happy with the gentle descent over the next several miles but there were no runners anywhere near me. I was enjoying the "On The Run" Playlist that I set up last night just for today's run. Artists included: Eminem, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, New Order, Depeche Möde, Nine Inch Nails, and The Prodigy among others. (and no, I'm not ashamed to admit to that dated list of bands, that's what motivates me on the run. :-) My quads and hamstrings, and upper back (Trapezius muscles) was really starting to hurt by about 24 miles. The sun was warming me up (temp was probably low 60s by now) and I was out of the tree cover by this point so there was little protection other than my hat. The base layer was keeping me a little too warm. I didn't want to take it off but I wished I hadn't worn it.
I trudged on but my pace started to slow. I rebounded for mile 26 and hit the marathon (26.2) split in 3:40:31, which is a pretty good time for me, especially considering that this was a light trail marathon, and that there was a long hill in the middle It's making me consider going for a marathon PR later this year. Hmmm... Portland is in October. :-)
So after mile 27 the wheels started to fall off the bus. I stopped to walk a couple of times on miles 28 and 29. I was just trying to convince myself to keep running by that point. I was able to limit the walking but was still losing time and coming closer and closer to my sub 4:30 goal time. I even stopped at a golf course that paralleled the trail to drink out of their water fountain and soak my head with the nice cold water.
A couple of people passed me in the last two miles as I struggled with my legs, back, and neck. I got to the stairs and refilled my bottle before a labored walk back down and onto the street for the last mile. I told myself to just suck it up and keep going. I did but not terribly fast. On top of the other pain I was having my quads and calves started cramping up at the 31 mile point. It was nice of them to wait that long but a mystery to me as I was drinking Nuun the whole day and taking S-Caps every 1-2 hours. The S-Caps are much more powerful than Hammer Enduralytes but I need to experiment with the dosage in training. I made the last left turn and ran down to the school, around the parking lot and hit the finish in 4:29:14.
At the half way point I was looking at a 4:15 - 4:20 finish but I killed that with a few slower miles, walking breaks and taking a little longer at the aid stations than I could have. I'm not going to beat myself up about it though. I had a great race, beat my goal (barely) and enjoyed myself and the flood of Dopamine and Endorphins that I got out of it. I picked up my neat glass finishers medal, got some food and chocolate milk (nice touch!), picked up my drop bag and headed home. I did have to stop at Dairy Queen and enjoy a large dipped cone as a reward:
What I could improve on:
- No base layer. Maybe even a short sleeve shirt instead of long.
- Go out a little slower to save my legs a little.
- More Imodium!
- Monitor my calories better during the race / eat more
- Faster through the aid stations
- Longer training cycle, more / longer final long runs.
- Figure out how many S-Caps I need
There were a couple of people photographing the race. I'll post a few shots when they make it to the race website.
Overall it was a great race. It was well executed with a nice course and good schwag. The food and volunteers were pretty good. Some of them didn't offer to fill my bottle, but that's a pretty small complaint to have.
Place: 16th overall, 13th male.
Alt: 1000 feet.
Here is The course map
1) 7:20 11) 9:12 21) 7:53 31) 11:07
2) 7:19 12) 8:09 22) 12:19 31.3) 3:03
3) 7:25 13) 7:55 23) 7:26
4) 7:51 14) 7:58 24) 8:09
5) 8:05 15) 8:01 25) 7:58
6) 8:12 16) 13:58 26) 9:31
7) 8:28 17) 7:12 27)7:41
8) 8:40 18) 7:29 28) 8:46
9) 8:24 19) 7:51 29) 8:38
10) 8:13 20) 7:53 30) 9:43
Aid stations that slowed me down: miles 5, 11, 16, 22, 28