Thursday, 4 April 2013

The 2013 Chuckanut 50 Race Report: Running as a team, waiting, flying, and failing.



I have been reluctant to post this report. This race fell short of my expectations, and with a vacation immediately following the run, I had no impetus to write it up. Three weeks on, this race report is better late than never.

After the Chuckanut 50 ultra, my first, longest run of 2013, I took some much needed time off with the family over spring break and headed down to San Diego and L.A for a trip to the land of golden sun. Reinvigorating the body and rest was what I needed after the last few months in Portlandia Vancouver, and it was a wonderful time in California.

The Chuckanut 50k ultra was on March 16th. It was a good day.


It began at 4:30 when my alarm went off after a sleepless night of anticipation. I used to have sleepless nights before every race, but somewhere along the way, I got used to the excitement and managed to calm myself down, relax, and focus. Until the big races came along. MYM50, Chuckanut 50, Whistler Gran Fondo, or anything that I have not done before. The big, new races present challenges to me, and I guess that I just can't get a good night's sleep in before the race day.

Last night was like others before it, dating back to my first Vancouver Sun Run in 2000. I remember thinking "Can I do this?" in the middle of the night, restless from the thought of not being able to do well at or at least complete the 10k. Fast forward 13 years, and the memory of those days make me laugh. To think I was nervous for a 10k?! Really? As the races get longer, the nerves for the shorter races evaporate.

The nerves definitely set in for the running ultra marathons. I tackled my first marathon after running many half marathons. Next after the road marathon came the ultras. The unknown is what I was nervous about.

For this year's Chuckanut, the way the day worked out was almost textbook, if not for a few speedbumps along the way. A cool but not cold day, absent of any rain greeted us in Fairhaven-- a welcomed change from one year prior--with all the snow and rain and cold. Speedcross 3 CS on my feet were my weapon of choice for the day.

Lite tights, vest at my side, I was comfortable.

Knowing what you are capable of, and not fulfilling those expectations....that is something that is hard to swallow after all is said and done. Today was no exception to that rule. My running partner and brother in arms, Sean, and I set out to run this race together--pulling each other through the tough parts. I felt great from start, pacing well for a sub 5 hour run. Sean on the other hand was having difficulty with his day. A slower pace, and much resting at the aid stations hampered our time goal of 5 hours.

Pics by tachifoto.net. Thanks Glen!
I waited for him at aid 2 on the base of Cleator Road, and started to make tracks before he was ready to go. Alex caught up to me and yelled at me to run with her as she started to power up the fire road climb. I told her that I had to wait for my bro. Sean met up with me and we set the diesel engine in motion. I think my words of encouragement for Sean on this day were more annoying than supportive. Mark Rowat caught us up the climb, and we had a great chat as the race got going. Good to see him!

At the top of the climb, I stopped to wait for Sean and grab some fuel. Sean came up a few minutes after me, and set off as I took a nature break. I ran the ridge way quicker than last year. Knowing what is to come on the run is much of the battle. I had a really good run through the first 32kms. With the temperature in the not too cool zone, I kept taking off my gloves for the climbs, and putting on them back for the downhills.

By Chinscraper, I stayed to wait for Sean. 7 or more minutes went by until he came in. As he had been doing all race, he for the last time told me to leave him, and run my own race. I knew he meant it this time, and I was ready to go. Still feeling steady and ready to race having given up many minutes to those around me in wait and walk breaks, I took up up the hill. Chinscraper felt fast. I hike/walked the steep pitches, and managed to push when I could. I felt like I flew up Chinscraper, passing as many people that left me at the aid station. By the time I got to the top, I was charged and ready to descend the mountain.


Powering and passing people up Chinscraper. Best part of my day!

One of the best parts of the run this year was that Krissy and company changed the course, sending us down the singletrack ascent that we did up to Fragrance Lake, instead of the fire-road downhill from last year. What a better route to run! I stayed with two other runners on the downhill as we chatted and kept morale up.

11kms were left by the final aid station. I hit the Interurban trail ready to run quickly, but my legs would not have me go faster than a 5:00 min/km pace. I settled in for a 5:00-5:45 pace, yo-yo-ing back and forth as the terrain varied. The slight inclines had specific muscles in my legs cramping. It was a tough go, but not demoralizing like it was last year. Steady pacing, knowing what my body could do, and keeping a positive attitude kept my going.



51.44 kms on the foot pod.

Not my best result. 

I came into the finish in a time of 5:29 minutes and change. Sean had a killer final 20kms after he regrouped on Chinscraper. I had hoped for a sub 5, which I feel was possible   on this day, however, Sean and I set out to run it together. I have a feeling that this will be the last run that we do with that in mind. The reason being that it is too tough to run side by side with your running partner. I found it to be difficult when I had the legs to go, and Sean must have felt pooly for not knowing what was going wrong, and trying to keep up the pace with me when he was having and off day. As Mike Murphy said to me the night before--"run your own race". I tried to run for two of us.



At this point in my running life, I feel like changes are happening. I am no longer the recreational runner. I feel the competitiveness  within whenever I toe the line. This is not a hobby, or something to occupy my time. This is a lifestyle. I have experiences that many runners do not have. I train specifically to get faster. I treat my body better at 36 than I ever have. I am ready to see how far I can push the efforts to get better. I would say that Sean is the same way. Knowing what I was capable of, and not meeting that goal was a bit disappointing. However, looking at the bright side of things, I managed to cut 41 minutes off of last years time. A small victory.

Is sub 5 possible? Yes. The next time around, for sure.

This years Chuck was a great day. Sean pulled in just 10 minutes after I finished. We cleaned up at the aquatic center post race, and stopped for Bob's Burgers and Brew on the I-5 on the way home. It was solid.

It seems like the 50k race is getting a bit easier. I did have some serious DOMS after the race--walking for a few days around Disneyland was a bit tight and tender, but I felt pretty good on the whole. By Thursday I made a run happen with my good friend Andy along Santa Monica Beach out to the Venice Beach pier and back. It was a slow but hot and beautiful 10k run.

Like the Canucks, there is always next year.

Results are here. And here.

Race gear:

Icebreaker 200 (Blue)
Sugoi vest
Descente compression tights
Skullcap beenie toque thing
BMO Gloves
Sole socks
Ibex Merino boxer
CamelBak Delaney race


Post Script: 

It is now 2 weeks and 5 days since the Chuckanut 50, and I have been dealing with Achilles tendonitis over the last short while. I have only done 3 runs since the Chuckanut 50, in the 3 weeks that have followed. I will spend some time with my PT this weekend, and try to sort it all out. This puts marathon training in the dumper for the short term, although I did run this am, for 12k, and it felt pretty darn good. We shall see what happens...