Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Four Stars* * * * Part One

Point Defiance 50k

October 16, 2010
Race start 8:00

My alarm sounded at 5:30 am and I tiptoed out of the bedroom so I wouldn’t wake up my husband. Today I am on my own. Jeff had offered to go with me but I felt guilty asking him to wait around for me for hours.

50k Breakfast

I stepped outside and found the weather cool but not freezing. I opted to wear a tank and long sleeve Maniac shirt layered with my Maniac coat and long tights over longer compression shorts.  And of course, I had to wear my Dirty Girl Gaiters http://www.dirtygirlgaiters.com/
to keep junk out of my shoes.

Dirty Girl Gaiters
After checking and rechecking my gear, I took a deep breath and began the 30-40 minute drive to the race start.

I arrived at 7:40 and found the parking lot full! I finally found a spot on the main road. There would be no coming back to my vehicle or using it as a drop-bag location today. It took me 10 minutes to walk to the starting line, each minute drew my stomach into tighter knots.

My wonderful friend, Beverly, was already there and had her drop bag. I had to rush by her as I has seven minutes to get my number, use the porta-potty and hastily decide what layers to wear or not wear. I used the bathroom first as there was only one person in line and then proceeded to the check in table. Four minutes…I decided to go with the shorts and tank and tied my red shirt onto my drop bag and left it on a picnic table. I did keep my gloves on because my fingers are sensitive to cold.

One minute! I walked through the starting line and moved over to the side which went against every competitive fiber in my body. One aspect of this weekend I hadn’t considered was the mental side of holding back. Yes, I suppose I could have approached this weekend with a “racing” attitude, but realistically I knew that even if I did that, my times wouldn’t be fast enough to place and recovery would be a lot slower. I had to keep my end-goals in mind.


My Garmin 305 was located and we’re off! We begin each loop on a promenade/walkway along the waterfront and the cool wind is biting at my face.

Owen Beach- Start and Finish location

I set off conservatively. My friend, Beverly, is doing one loop and passed me with a smile. Turning right, we headed up stairs and ran cliff-side, the water on our right. I treaded lightly over roots and rocks, slowly gaining a rhythm that felt comfortable for a longer run.

My good running friend and motivator, Pedro, caught up with me and we ran step for step about three miles. A couple of steep drop offs surprised me and am very careful not to trip. I was feeling good and my pace had increased slightly and then suddenly a woman in front of me screams a little and slows.

What is happ…OUCH! What in the world?!? As I hobbled over to the side of the trail, I reached down to dislodge the needle that must be hooked into my ankle. Nothing. My ankle was screaming and Pedro stopped to see if I was okay. I got back on the trail, wincing in pain, and OUCH! Another bout of searing pain hits the back of my neck. My pace has slowed considerably as I work through the stinging sensation. Other runners informed me that there were wasps or bees in that area. Awesome. I get to go through there two more times.

I had hoped to run with Pedro at least through the first lap as his pace felt right for the distance and he wasn’t “racing” this one either. I was unable to stay with him after the wasp incident. During the loop, just when I thought the pain was somewhat bearable, the agony of the first moment I got stung would reoccur, like a ghost sting.

I passed the time talking with Patty McKerney, another Marathon Maniac. What an amazing woman! She has finished numerous Ironmans and is still smiling and looking for her next challenge. The loop presented runner with logs to jump over, low trees to sneak under (hope everyone was paying attention), and one cable strung across the trail. I walked over most logs and the cable. Today there would be no-risk taking.

Fort Nisqually

We were treated to beautiful views of the water and Narrows Bridge, amazing trails, and incredible volunteers throughout the course. The aid station at Fort Nisqually had music and the volunteers were amazing!

Finally nearing the end of the first loop, we encountered a trail so steep that there was a rope to hold on to as we made our way back down to the walkway. That was pretty fun but I wondered how my legs would handle that at 31 miles. I finished my first loop in 1:45. I was a little disappointed in my time but I reminded myself to keep the end-goal in mind.

I waved at Beverly near the food line (she finished in 1:38 and had a blast!) and started loop two. Kent Holder, friend and ultra runner at age 70, no less, was there to greet me. He did one loop today as he had another ultra planned for the following weekend. This guy is amazing!


I arrived at a trail section and was confused as I didn't see arrows, pink ribbons or solid lines indicating “do not cross or you will be obliterated into a thousand shards of glass” . Finally other runners saw me stranded and together we found the right path. I ran with military guy for a while who was prepping for longer distances, hoping to do a 50 mile to qualify for a 100 mile race. Most runners were concerned about the bees except for a lucky few who didn’t even know about them.

I made a couple of wrong turns but am corrected pretty quickly. My anxiety level was rising as I knew we were approaching the bee zone. OUCH!   I’ve been stung again on the same ankle! Military man took off in sprint ahead of me and I can only assume that he is doing a Fartlek and is NOT AFRAID of bees.

Throughout this loop I felt somewhat nauseas and a little discombobulated (what a great word!). I think over my nutrition and decided that was okay so maybe it was the bee stings bothering me.  My right ankle is achy but I work through it.  I thought I was stung three times but later discovered six marks, four of them on the same ankle. 

I ran comfortably and near the last part of the loop, Maniac Matt Hagen passes me. He had twisted ankle the previous day and was playing it by ear. He would go on to complete a 50k the next day. I let a group of guys get in front of me just before the rope section as I didn’t want to slow them.

The clock read 3:38 as I finished the second loop.

As I'm leaving, the men's 50k winner was crossing the finish line! Amazing! I had to stop at a bench along waterfront to apply Aquafor to my feet as I felt blisters forming. I chose to walk up steep stairs. Maniac Andy Fritz Andy Fritz is ahead of me and my goal is to finish this loop without injury.

I took special care near the cliff as I didn‘t want my death on Race Director, Tony Phillipi‘s, consciense.


I'm positive this is how Tony must have looked after taking care of the bees.

Tony Seabolt training to run faster than bees fly.
My concerns were tripping, blisters and bees. A volunteer has informed me that the bees have been taken care of and that relieves some anxiety. I found out later that there was a nest of bees in an old tree stump in that section. Tony Seabolt, awesome volunteer and a competetive runner himself who didn't run because of a hamstring issue (from running 1:20 half marathon in Portland!), eradicated the bees in superhero fashion. That is a funny story that Tony will have to share with you himself .

A family of raccoons sat in their lawn chairs while barbequing some opossum near mile 23...wait…what? Okay, there was a raccoon family. The rest of it was purely imagination to keep my mind entertained.
Fire up the grill, Rocky!

Blisters were hurting as my feet aren't used to the side to side motion of the trail but I was able to maintain an easy pace, walking steeper hills and slowing over obstacles.

About mile 27, I jogged down a descent and ahead I am sure I saw a black bear!  I continue down the trail, my heart beat faster as I approached the bear sighting area, turned right and looked left, only to see the "bear" attached to a leash. Black bear… Newfoundland dog...same thing after 27 miles of trail running.

Newfoundland "Bear"

Near the finish and I know the rope is close. A family is ahead of me with their little dog and I squeezed by them and continue on the trail only to discover a few minutes later that I missed my turn. I could see the finish line almost directly below me but I knew that it should be to my right from up above. Backtracking, I passed the family again and saw my turn. When they moved over for me, they were standing directly in front of my turn and that, my friend, is how easy it is to miss a turn on a trail run.

I carefully made my way down the rope and with trepidation, let go and begged my quads to not let me fall down to the final straightaway. I saw the finish line and "sprinted" (this term highly subjective right now) to the finish, crossing in 5:41:28. I'm happy to have finished in under 6 hours. Maniac Merita Tremovich was at the finish line, having finished over an hour ahead of me. She took 2nd place and is preparing to run a Quadzilla - four marathons in four days - in November.

Lori Hart handed me my finisher’s coffee mug with the race logo. I eagerly made my way to the food line and had the most delicious salmon ever! And then I begged for seconds and had a pulled pork sandwich. I sat in the sunshine at a picnic table and swapped war stories with the other runners who survived the first PD50k as I devoured the rest of my food.

Okay, it was time to gather up courage and stand in the cold waters of Puget Sound. Maniac Jenny McClure Appel was already in the water and I figured it would be easier to withstand the post-race soak with someone else. After four minutes, my legs were fairly numb so the rest of the time wasn't so bad.

I carefully made my way out of the water and gathered up all my stuff and began the long hike back up to my vehicle. The hill went on forever and I finally reached the top and relished in the fact that I completed the first of two races that would get me my four stars.

Point Defiance 50k schwag
Overall place: 31 out of 97

Division place: 3 out of 6

Gender place: 7 out of 27

Time: 5:41:28

Pace: 11:03

Lap 1: 1:45:15

Lap 2: 1:53:39

Lap 3: 2:02:3

Elevation Gain: 3,742 ft

Elevation Loss: 3,723 ft

Min Elevation: 12 ft

Max Elevation: 345 ft