Monday, January 24, 2011

Capital Peak Mega Fat Ass 17 Miles

January 15, 2011

It had been two weeks since the Yukon Do It Marathon and during that time, I successfully registered for the Chuckanaut 50k set for March 19th. I had tried to regisister last year and it had sold out the day it opened. With some quick thinking and nimble fingers, I hit “submit” on the registration form online before the race filled in two hours! Chuckanaut 50k website

And then I looked at the course description:  "This is a potentially dangerous part of the course! While not continuously exposed, be very careful, especially since the rocks may be wet...the cliff occasionally precariously close to your right is over 150 feet straight down! Watch for and heed danger signs placed in strategic places where there are sudden dropoffs or slippery slabs." 

Okay then!

With two months until Chuckanaut, I don’t have time to slack off on my long runs. Trail running is great fun but I don’t have a lot of experience off-road. Getting in some trail running before March 19th is crucial.

After some prodding, I convinced my friend, Beverly, to join me for a little 17 mile trail run through Capital Forest. The Capital Peak Mega Fat Ass 17 or 34 mile run was held on January 15, 2011. My mileage has been miniscule for the year but since I had done the marathon on December 31, I knew 17 was doable.

I met Bev about 6:00 a.m. at her house and we made the drive to Capital Forest, arriving 25 minutes before race start. After we dropped off our minimal donation and a roll of toilet paper at the registration table, we made our way to a bathroom. Well, bathroom is really too pleasant a word. It was more four walls, a ceiling, and a smelly hole in the ground. Yuck.

After a breath-holding session, we made our way to the starting line, settling in to the back of the crowd. Neither one of us felt like “racing” today and didn’t want to impede other runners. At 8:00 a.m., a herd of runners took off into the endless trails of Capital Forest.

The road was wide for a short while and quickly narrowed, forcing runners to stop/start running. It was easier to relax and not run but wait until there was more clearance to begin running. The weather was thankfully mild once we set off on the trail. I am usually freezing before fall/winter races and chose to wear long pants (mostly in case I fell on the trail), a tank top covered by a long sleeve technical shirt. And gloves. I ditched my coat at the last minute as it felt like it must be in the upper 40s. We climbed and descended trails and within two miles, I had to stop and wrap my long sleeve shirt around my waist. I was overheating! Splish, splash, splish, splash…my camel pack was constantly reminding me of its’ presence. I chose not to listen to music because I wanted to be aware of my surroundings and the people near me.

Somewhere in the first five miles, Bev had fallen behind me on the trail and we were on our own. We sludged our way around puddles and muck, some runners barreling through while others tiptoed around the edges. I have to be honest and say that I was tiptoeing more than barreling. I don’t care if I get dirty; it was more a concern with falling! This mud was slick. Imagine wearing heels (okay guys, really try hard to imagine this), begin walking on marble, and now, add some Vaseline to the bottom of your heels and continue across the floor. Ooh! Now the floor is tilted! Do you get it now?

On narrow trails, I was “forced” to slow or walk due to the long line of people in front of me. There were some hills that I was okay with walking but others, I felt I was able to continue moving forward. Unfortunately with narrow trails, passing people isn’t always easy or considerate. If it’s one person, you can get by fairly easily, but you need to do it with decisiveness. If you pass them only to slow down, well, that is just rude. Passing a line of more than two people on a narrow trail is very tricky. I haven’t mustered up the courage to attempt it as I think I could easily end up breaking my ankle squeezing past runners on an uneven, narrow trail.

About mile seven, I saw a runner go down in agony! She had hurt her ankle, and at her insistence, I continued on the path toward the turnaround. Down and down we ran, runners came back toward me already past the turnaround and a few miles in front of me. It’s exciting AND discouraging. The frontrunner was a woman, Linda Huyck. Her arms flailed about her as she had recklessly pummeled past me. And that’s how you run a trail fast…let go of your fear and fly!

At the turnaround, I took in some water before heading back out. Marilyn, the woman who twisted her ankle, was arriving and did finish the race shortly after me.

Going down, down, down meant going UP! As I neared the crest of one of the hills, an older man had fallen and was bleeding, but like most trail runners, he got up and kept running down the hill, assuring everyone he was “fine!” Finally about mile 11, the seemingly endless uphill battle ended and I could feel myself getting a rhythm in my running. I was alone on the trail and that helped me run at my own pace instead of walking when others walked or moving along at their pace. My arms always seemed in the “airplane”position as I ran down the trail, ready to fall at a moment’s notice. Puddle! I gave up running around them and wow, it felt awesome to splash through the middle of the water and mud! I began to hunt them down, daring puddles and mud to get in my way. I was sure my body would careen and skid on the trail at some point but was undeterred. My shoes nearly were sucked off my feet in one particularly thick section of mud. Yum!


I ran without walking all the way to the finish, falling one time but caught myself at the last moment. In the last mile and I crossed a foot bridge only to be faced with a big uphill. Thankfully it wasn’t too long. I heard cowbells and hoofed it up the hill, splashed through puddles on purpose and crossed the finish line in 3:23. Wow, I’ve run marathons in that amount of time!

Despite my finish time, I did have fun and when I got home, I confirmed on the Garmin that indeed, I ran faster the second half. It felt like I was flying on the trail when my fastest mile was around 10 minutes.

The next day I was so sore! But not in places that usually hurt…ankles, calves and shoulders. I think my arms were almost always extended out to catch myself and that’s why my shoulders were sore. My ankles are not used to the constant variation of trails either.

This is definitely a race I would recommend to others. I’ve been told the race start has had different locations every year.

Next race is up in the air but some choices: Cedar River Trail (1/30), West Seattle Fat Ass (2/6), 4 miler in Gig Harbor, (3/5) Centennial Trail Run, Spokane 37 miles.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yukon Do It! Race Day Part 2

As we began to run en masse, I had to let all the planning go and trust that everything would work out fine.  I couldn't believe how many people were around me!  We traversed the park roads, including the campground before exiting Hilldale onto Beach Drive.  As we turned right on a side road, I could hear gasps and people talking about the camels.  Haha!  So I guess not everyone knew there were camels on the route even though I did mention it on the website.  That was a fun surprise seeing camels in 26 degree weather.

Torpedo House at Manchester State Park


Another camel!

Back on Beach Drive, we headed toward the waterfront and I was disappointed to see a thick layer of fog over the water.  Hidden in the fog was Bremerton, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Olympic Mountains.  I had been running comfortably and was able to catch up with Nicole (she would earn Maniac status at the finish of this race). 

We see the first aid station and the Fritz family was doing a spectacular job for the runners.  Boy, they looked cold!

The leaders of the half-marathon, Miguel and Jeff, flew by us at our 5 mile mark as they passed 8 miles!  They used the race as a tempo run and intentionally paced each other the entire race.  We had come across patches of ice but the road had been mostly dry.  We turned around in a parking lot and as we headed out toward the park, I saw the fog lifting!  Bremerton was partly in view and a little while later, a ferry was crossing the Sound .  Hooray!

Too foggy to see on race day

View along Beach Drive

Sadly we had to leave the flat waterfront about mile 10 and head inland toward Manchester.  My legs told me that a half-marathon was a super idea but I ran them into submission.  We entered the park and looped our way around back to the start.  It was a little tough, mentally, to push my way back out of the park when  I saw the party in the Torpedo House. 

Nicole and I kept pace with each other and it was wonderful to have a friend by my side during the long miles.  We exited the park and later found out that some marathoners turned back toward Beach Drive and did the first half of the course twice.  We didn't have a volunteer at the turn and they didn't see the arrows.  They were the lucky marathoners as that half was A LOT flatter than the second half!

Manchester was absolutely georgeous with clear views of the Seattle skyline.  We plodded up and down Colchester and finally reached Yukon Harbor.  I made a pit stop and told Nicole to go ahead without me.  This was about mile 18.  We saw the leaders heading back toward the park and I tried not to think about how many miles ahead they were.
Yukon Harbor
Southworth Drive

I continued on along Southworth Drive and enjoyed the clear, sunny skies.  The half marathoners really missed out on some spectacular scenery!  At the turnaround, I saw my daughter and husband and didn't want to leave them.  They were my comfort zone and I told myself that I only had about 6.5 miles to go. 

It was fun to encourage other runners as we passed each other along Southworth Drive and seeing happy smiles helped ease some of my own pain.  Up Yukon Harbor I saw a couple of loose dogs and eased down to a walk and waited for another male runner catch up with me.  I figured it would be safer to pass the dogs together rather than alone.  Once clear of the dogs, I pushed on and somehow made it to the top of Colchester and aptly named, "Miracle Mile Drive". 

As I rounded the corner of the park entrance, I saw my good friend, Pedro!  He finished 3rd overall.  He told me the second half was hard!  Yup, that's no lie.  It's not too bad on a training run but when you're racing, holy schmoly!

Finally I began the descent into the park, passing runners who have finished and already enjoyed the post-run food.  The clock sadly read 4:16 but I still was happy to be finished and knew that today was not about me. 

There was so much food to eat!  I think I overestimated how much food we needed. My beautiful daughter, Jessica, was alone at the food line.  Her and my friend, Ruth, somehow managed the food together for most of the race.  Jessica was freezing but stayed positive throughout the day.  We had the most amazing volunteers helping with the race.

There was some confusion on age group awards but in the end, most everyone had a great, although cold, time and appreciated the effort that went into putting the race together on such short notice.

Next year will see a new start location and it is sure to be an event not to be missed!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yukon Do It! Race Day!!!

Forgive my overuse of exclamation mark but I'm supers excited!  All my grammar buddies are cringing to see my overzealous use of shift 1. 

December 31st- You had finally arrived. 

Getting supplies ready to load

One of many boxes to be loaded pre-race

My alarm sounded at 5:15 a.m. and I was instantly alert, something that rarely happens to me.  I love the mornings but they don't love me.  Yes the sunrise is georgeous and the earth is hushed, awaiting the possibilities of TODAY, the air fresh and the birds sing.  But my body and brain have a hard time shutting off at night, making the mornings appear too rapidly and I don't appreciate all that mornings offer.  My racings friends have no idea what forces are at play for me to get up early and to the start line on time.  Some of you are roosters crowing to wake others while I am more like a coyote keeping you awake at night.  We all have our place.

My heartrate was skyrocketing as I thought about what was about to take place.  The night before, I threw a multitude of racing clothes in a pile and hoped there was something in there to wear for today's weather.  I creaked open my front door to see the weather Real Time.  Brrr!  Frost and ice covered everything and I quickly closed the door.  18 degrees.  You thought I would use an exclamation mark, didn't you?

The forecast called for a clear day so I knew snow was not going to cause any issues.  I did worry about ice and my runners getting hurt.  Since I have zero control over the weather, I continued to get ready and said a quick prayer that everything would be okay and the runners had a fun day.

With my family packed in two cars, it was time to face the day.  I stopped at a restroom along the way for fear that I wouldn't have a chance to use one before the race.  When we arrived, there were numerous people ready to help unload all the race supplies.  My fingers were going numb as the Torpedo House at Manchester State Park was being filled with volunteers and runners.  Word came to us that the little league gate had not been opened.  With approximately 60 parking spaces in the park and 266 registered runners, this was not good news.  The field parking was big enough to contain all the runners' vehicles.  Finally at 8:30 a.m., news came back to us that the gate had been opened.  I found out later that a neighbor had unlocked it after being convinced that we did have authorization to use their land. 

Heat!  We need heat!  Thank you, Jeff!
A fire was started in the fireplace and coals were also lit in the barbeques.  Runners huddled around the blazing coals trying to dethaw their fingers.  Volunteers were sent out to their aid stations or road crossings after helping prepare food for after the race.

Sisters and volunteers

Ruth like a deer in headlights...sorry! 

Tony Seabolt and I going over last minute details
 A few volunteers didn't make it, unfortunately, and this left two people to handle the food preparation, one of them my younger daughter, Jessica, and a friend, Ruth.  Thank you both!

I snuck off to the restroom minutes before race start.  As I exited the bathroom, groups of runners were walking up a hill and I realized I didn't know where we were starting.  Tony and I worked out the course together but he had finalized the details to make the course 26.2 miles. 

I walked up the hill with my husband, Jeff, and he commented on how most race directors don't actually run the race.  Ha-ha.  The whole reason I started this was so I could get one more marathon for the year.  So there.  I know a couple of things would have gone smoother if I had stayed during the run and I should have at least had my cell phone with me to answer questions from volunteers.  I have learned my lesson.

Walking to the start with my husband, Jeff, and running friend and eventual Overall Winner, Terry Fritz

Almost time to start

At the starting line of the Yukon Do It Marathon and Half Marathon

As I approached the start, the reality set in.  I was in awe of all the runners and thrilled to see so many happy runners.  Familiar faces surrounded me and I was able to get my picture at the start line.  Jeff from Route 16 Running and Tony Seabolt made some announcements and the countdown began...3, 2, 1...GO!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yukon Do It! Pre-Race

I know, I know, I've missed you, too!

The month of December found me scrambling with to-do lists.  I've been so busy living life I haven't had time to write about it!

To do:
  • Plan for big family Christmas party
  • Execute plan for party - much harder than planning
  • Plan a marathon for December 31st.
That's not a big list, right? 

It was early November when it occurred to me that I could get 10 marathons in for the year if there was one more within a short driving distance.  I had planned on doing a marathon on November 13th but I had a scheduling conflict.  I also bailed on a December 18th marathon.  If I had done those, I would have 9 for the year and thus would need one more to make in an even 10 in 2010.  I did 9 in 2009 so I thought it would be a good idea.

I posed the question on Facebook:  Who wants to run a marathon on December 31st in Port Orchard?  I received a few responses and knew if I could get 5 starters and 3 finishers, my "marathon" would count toward Maniac statistics.

Tony Seabolt of the Narrows Bridge Running Club Click here to find out more about the Narrows Bridge Running Club contacted me and offered to help me put the run together.  We started out with ideas of a group run, keep it simple, and we'd be extremely surprised if 50 people signed up on such short notice.

I created a webpage for free on Google. 

Yukon Do It!
I had the priviledge of coming up with a race name!  How cool is that!  My thought process went like this:  it's cold, it's the last day of the year, it's the last chance to run a marathon in 2010, we're in Manchester, Pugest Sound Shipyard, bodies of water names, sea life, etc.  I wanted to have a name representing SOMETHING. 
  • Last Chance Marathon Already taken by an amazing runner, Terry Sentinella, for his Bellingham race
  • Snowflake Shuffle - cute
  • Frozen Assets Marathon - hmmm, not sure if this is "family friendly" enough although it did make me chuckle
  • Manchester Marathon - this sounds like a marathon in England or numerous soccer games
  • Port Orchard Marathon - BORING!
  • And then...
  • My  older daughter, Crystal, pumped her fist in the air and shouted, "Yukon Do It!" because I had mentioned Yukon Harbor.  Hey, that could work!
So thank you, Crystal.  You have forever named the marathon Yukon Do It! Someday this will be a trivia question for the thousands of runners flocking to run our little marathon.  We must think positively!

Initially we thought it would be a free event.  As more and more people expressed interest, it was agreed a small fee would help cover some basic necessities for the race.  Tony suggested we add a half marathon to the schedule.  Since we wouldn't want a "profit" from the proceeds, I decided to donate to a local charity if any funds remained.  Backpacks Feed Kids was chosen as the local charity.

We began with an event that had no medals, shirts, timing system, bibs, sponsors, photographer.  One by one, each of these were added as different people offered to help with our event. 

As we grew in volunteers and entries, word spread in the running community about the race.  I am not the only crazy person willing to run a marathon on New Year's Eve!

Christmas with our family came and went and somehow I manage to have the house presentable for guests.  That was quite a feat as we had been accumulating food and other items for the race, adding to my already cluttered home.  Yes, decluttering is a major resolution of mine.  If you homeschool and are NOT one of the seemingly perfect, orderly families, you will understand.  To answer your questions to my daughters if you don't homeschool:

One week!  I forgot to mention that on December 23rd, my husband had shoulder surgery.  I hadn't realized how much I was relying on his physical strength to help me move and pack things for the race. 

My running life had been minimalistic during the last week but I managed at least 1.2 miles the day before the race and did my longest training run since the Seattle Marathon on Tuesday, a 12.3 miler!  What?  You have a problem with this?

December 29th, Tony Seabolt spent most of his 10 year wedding anniversary prepping for the race.  We finally had arrived at December 30th and began packing up two vehicles with food and other supplies.  Tony had finalized and marked the course and we both went over lists to make sure we were ready for race day.

Time to sleep and see what the morning brings!