Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chuckanut 50K

My training for the slam started somewhere around November. The word "training" has many definitions with regards to running some count miles, some count time and other various measures that determine if you are in "training". I use the word to mean I started working with a defined plan. A plan in which runs are well thought out with regards to time, intensity and they are all scheduled. I am a planner so this method serves me well!

(photo by Glenn Tachiyama)

Since November I have known all the races I would do this year. For my slam year I plan on giving Western States 110% focus and effort, the rest of the races I am hoping to survive and most importantly soak up every minute of the adventure from planning, training and racing.

Chuckanut 50K is the first ultra race for me this year and since I was there last year I knew what I was getting into and couldn't wait to go back. I think I was the 11th person to sign up, that's how excited I was. See last year I had some high expectations for Chuckanut, it was going to be my first ever attempt to "race" a 50K. I wanted to give it a big effort and see how fast I could run a tough 50K. Unfortunately I got really sick the week of the race and ended up on antibiotics but putting all that aside I lined up ready to push as hard as I could. I gave it all I had and posted a 6:10 finish and was very displeased with the time. I don't like excuses so being sick was just a sidebar, the bottom line was 6:10 was what I had in me. This year I was emotionally apprehensive but was ready to once again roll the 50K dice.

The extended forecast for Portland called for some beautiful weather for race weekend, but Bellingham and Portland were not on the same weather pattern. Bellingham was going to have rain all day and the weatherman in Bellingham got it right! It rained and rained all day but fortunately it was warm....around 50 degrees all day. Coming from Portland, OR a little rain didn't even hit the radar screen except I would need to bring gloves.

Last year I suffered badly on the 6.5 miles of gravel bike path on the way to the finish. My goal this year was to go out moderately on the same bike path, hit the trail climb (mile 6.5-10) focused, then let it rip. Go hard from 10.5 to 31.1! I was going to roll the dice and see how I would hold up. I was even prepared to push threshold (95% of max. heart rate) on the climbs. For the first climb I pushed to near threshold but only hit it a couple of times. Once we entered the ridge section of technical trail followed by a nice old muddy jeep road I knew I was going to have a good day. Pumped and ready for the next climb they call Chinscraper named after a steep climb at the Wasatch 100M I was anxious to see how I would do on this steep climb. See I haven't been doing any REAL climbing in training so this would be pure memory here. The climb was tough and I couldn't push my body anywhere near threshold but that just means I need to get the strength back. I definitely wasn't setting any speed records on the climb but I was still passing people and feeling strong, getting psyched up for the last 10.5 miles to the finish. Once you crest the top of Chinscraper you are treated with a blazing 3 mile downhill on a gravel road, time to move! The downhill was spectacular! I sored down this at a sub 7:15 pace which for me is "rock star" pace. The next task was the 6.5 miles home on the dreaded gravel bike path I bonked on last year. Giving myself a good talking to I changed my view of this section and decided instead of dreading it I was going to view it an an opportunity to test my determination factor, flirt with pain, push hard and then push harder. Since I had this new found outlook I was moving at a pretty good pace. The miles were clicking off fast and I had a couple of additional gears to work with so there was no time like the present, take a gel and let it rip! 6.5 miles went by fast, negative splits, faster on the way back then on way out. When I was finished I was excited, 5:44 and first masters girl! I love being 40 :)

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