Thursday, November 3, 2011

Point Defiance 50k - 10/15/11

First, apologies for not writing this race report in the SAME MONTH I ran it!  I will spare you my excuse and give you my sincerest puppy dog eyes so will keep reading my blog.

I didn't intend to run this race.  I didn't mean to sign up for it.  Why would I run a 50k the day before a well-planned, long-ago signed up entry into a half marathon?  That's nuts, crazy, maniacal (?).  Um, well, see, last year I ran this race and followed it up with a marathon the next day.  That feat evolved me into a 4-star Maniac.  So actually, it could be that this is the beginning of sanity as it's a drop-down from last year.  That's my story.

Last year, I finished this race in 5:41:28 and followed it up with the Poulsbo Marathon the following day.  The double ultra/marathon weekend awaded me with 4 spinning gold stars on the Marathon Maniac website.  This time around, I would be running a half-marathon the next day.

Since the Winthrop Marathon on September 25th, I had run 10.5 miles as my longest run.  Suddenly a 31 mile run sounded very long.  I packed my trail clothes the night before the race and made sure to include a blanket, huge sweatshirt and other dry clothes to wear after the race.

The morning of the race, I arrived 30 minutes prior to the start, found a parking spot fairly close to the start/finish line at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park and packed in my drop bag.   The 50k consisted of 3 loops through the trails of Point Defiance park.  The weather had been dry and the trails were in excellent condition.

The run started out running along the waterfront from Owen Beach and a climb up stairs to Five Mile Drive.
My goal was to be comfortable but I wanted to finish with a better time than the previous year.  I felt out my stride and rhythm, felt good and made the decision to see what my legs could do.  I knew the half marathon on Sunday was reportedly hilly and the reality of placing in any form wasn't realistic since my legs would be trashed.  I might as well toss 'em in the garbage can today!

The first loop went by quickly, listening to my Itouch and talking with other runners.  Last year I was stung repeatedly through a particular section and as I approached the same area, my heart started racing as last year's memories flooded my thoughts.  Thankfully there were no stings this time around.  My ankles have scars from the stings last year.  A surprise element this was was a change in the course:  Achilles Hill.  A short but steep hill and I saw no point in trying to run it.

I neared the finish, and as I gripped the rope at Nelly's Gnarly Descent, I carefully made my way down a steep slope and suddenly my feet slipped in loose dirt.  As I fought to recover my balance, my body slammed forward into the tree limb the rope had been attached to.  It wouldn't have been a big deal but this particular section of the limb was home to a broken off branch.  Pain seared through my left rib and I stumbled my way down the trail and through the finish line to complete the first loop in 1:39:28

Oreos and pretzels sustained me through the aid stations and I refilled my water bottle.  My rib screamed at me and I knew nothing was broken, well, I hoped.  The pain stayed with me throughout the race but it was manageable.

The second loop was less crowded as many runners were finished with their 15k race.  The loop again went by quickly.  The volunteers were amazing, making sure we were safe and refueled.  I spent some time chatting with other runners who were at my pace and was thankful to have the time go by quickly.  As I finished the second loop, I was especially careful with the rope crossed the line with a 1:39:33 split.  The even splits shocked me and I made it a goal to keep an eye on my overall average and attempt to keep it the same.  That would mean I needed to not look at my mile splits as trail miles are notoriously slower than road miles.

The last loop was lonely as the 15 and 30k runners were finished.  My legs still felt good and my goal was to keep my average at 9:42 or better.  I had to stop a couple of times to refuel but never felt like I needed to take walk breaks except on Achiles Hill.

My last loop felt great, no falls, amazingly, and I was thrilled to see my average staying consistent.  I had been told that I was the 3rd woman and the 1st woman.  I try not to think too hard on these things as I've been misinformed many times.  The idea that maybe I was first put a little spring in my step in case the 2nd woman was right behind me.

As I flew down Nelly's Gnarly Descent and to the finish line, I saw the clock at 4:58!  Sprint!  I made it under 5 hours in 4:59:06 with a third loop split time of 1:40:04!  I was the third female finisher!

After consuming some amazing barbeque, I wrapped myself up in a sweatshirt, blanket, gloves, and hat and soaked in the icy waters of Puget Sound for 10 minutes.  It wasn't as terrible as you might think.  I caught up with some old and new running friends and soon the shivering started and I knew I needed to head home and get in a hot shower.  I saw blue lips stare back at me in the rearview mirror and knew I should have left a little sooner.  I was so thankful for heated seats!

It was time to start thinking about the half marathon scheduled for the next day!

bib number:47
location:Port Orchard, WA
overall place:19 out of 112
division place:1 out of 13
gender place:3