Sunday, December 18, 2011

12ks of Christmas

As we are rushing towards the end of the year, time to look at some goals and being thankful for all the running this year.  Last year I started out with volunteering at a local 5k and had a blast.  Volunteering more at events was definitely a goal this year and I was happy to volunteer at a handful of events (5k packet pickup, sprint triathlon course monitor, 50k trail run course sweep, and marathon packet pick up).  Really I am happy to give back to the sport I enjoy so much.  And there is a bonus involved with volunteering.  Some events will give you a credit towards racing a event as a thank you for coming out to help.  Racing fees can add up and I do appreciate this little perk.  I aim to continue volunteering when I can in 2012. 

It's been the season for parties and seasonal baked goods and I've been feeling like I've been partaking in those seasonal goodies too much of late.  the parties have all been fun stuff though.  Running friends turned regular friends can't be beat. Another fun party saturday night and it was just too much good nibblies and wine to resist.  Oh yeah, I'm racing the next morning though. 

I wasn't sure what to expect.  I've wanted to run the Kirkland 12K's of Christmas for a few years but just never could quite get it on the schedule.  This was the year! I was one week out from the Deception Pass 25k trail run but had recovered from the non-race effort quickly.  I'd hoped to come in around 8 flat for this very hilly 12k (long course - more like 7.6 miles instead of 7.4) but was thinking I'd be more like 8:15 overall.  I'd peeked at the elevation chart and knew this course was basically a flat first couple miles (some up at the start and then down at the 2nd mile) and then rose steadily in mile 3 and 4 to a nice downhill with some subtle up the last miles.  My goal was to go out at 8:00, stay under 8:30 for the uphill miles and then just run paying attention to feel and form. 

It was crowded!  There is a 5k that starts just before the 12k. That start was delayed and so was our start.  Not a big deal but it did start drizzling a little heavily and I started to chill.  I placed myself firmly in the "jogger" pace and waited for the start.  Within the first quarter mile, i'd passed a gal with a dog and was very careful about all the traffic.  7:57 for that first mile was perfect and I felt good.

And then I just raced.  I stayed steady on the uphill and was pleased to hit mile 3 in 8:24 and then mile 4 in 8:13.  It wasn't as uphill as I'd anticipated yet I still worked on those lessons hard learned in hill repeats last week and earlier this year.  I gradually passed people throughout and felt I was in control. 

The 5k mark cracked me up.  There was a group of earnest carolers singing the Twelve Days of Christmas with a LOT of enthusiasm.  I couldn't help but smile and gave Hi-5s to all the kids at that station.  That was a nice touch.  Woo!  and let the downhill begin.  Ok, I'm a good downhill runner and I was passing quite a few people. Lean forward, land lightly with no breaking and keep the legs moving.  It seemed to go on for quite a while with a few flatter sections.  Finally we turned onto Lake Washington Blvd which I knew would be gradually uphill. 

This is it.  Focus. Breathe. Form.  You've worked very hard to get to this point and stay with it.  Now, I always start pretending that various training partners are with me and that works very well.  No way will I stop now.  I got passed by a few guys and passed a few in turn but didn't really see any women around.  I'd passed one gal on the downhill around mile 5.  Just keep working.  I felt like I was slowing and legs were turning to sludge.  Finally we hit the final turn and all of a sudden two women are charging past.  Oh no!  One was the gal I'd passed at 5.  I'm happy to report I did beat her to the line.  Done! 

And what was I concerned about?  My cubemate at work (we've sat next to each other for a couple years now) started running earlier this year.  She's now done a couple 10ks and a half marathon as has her college-aged daughter who also started running at the same time.  I walked quickly until I could run again and started slowly trotting back along the course.  I saw K and cheered.  I saw RPD and cheered and I saw the friend's daughter and cheered.  Where is the coworker? 

coworker working hard!
This was a big deal.  She's done a few races now but mentioned that when I was planning on doing this that she'd never had anyone cheer for her in a race.  I can so help her out with this!  We all know how important the community support we get from fellow runners can be.  Finally, I see her.  She's evidently coming down with a cold but the first thing she says to me is that she's not walked at all on the hills.  Wow!  Those hills were something and I know as a new runner racing, I'd definitely walked. 

She gave me a big smile and took off!  We still had a half mile so she kept at it and soon enough we were at the finish.  Fantastic!  She's already planning her next event and it makes me so happy that she enjoys the racing/running scene. 

I had no idea what pace I'd run my own race overall.  I knew I'd run well and was pretty certain I'd hit my goal of 8 flat but was more focused on getting back out there.  I got back home and checked my garmin.  I'd read it wrong at first and was shocked to realize that I'd come in well under my goal 8 flat pace.  And I'd run this smart and well paced and did not die on the uphill.  Final time was 58:26 for 7:50 pace according to the race officials.  my garmin watch had it at 7:45 pace overall.  I so did not expect that especially post 25k and while in the midst of holiday festivities.  Bring on Nookachamps! 

And if you ever need a great way to re-energize your running, volunteer and help out or pace a new runners.  It is a wonderful feeling seeing them achieve their goals as well. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Deception Pass 25k

It's been a busy holiday season so far.  Vacation, holidays, fun parties, christmas lights, basement cleaning.  Why not add a trail running event and take a quick night and day out of the city? 

JT had been interested in Rainshadow Running's newest event.  The Deception Pass 25k was a great way to end the end the trail running year after starting it with the Orcas Island 25k.  It was a great gift of trails.

JT picked me up after work Friday evening and we made the quick drive to Oak Harbor and a hotel just about 15 minutes from the park where we'd start in the morning.  Yes, we could've just driven in that morning before the race but this was a nice leisurely way to do it and I'd do it again.  We were out of the hotel by 7 am and onto North Beach at Deception Pass State Park with a whole bunch of other excited trail runners. 

The talk beforehand was amusing.  "be careful" was repeated multiple times. Falling off of cliffs was not allowed nor was falling off bridges. no passing people on the bridge as it is too narrow and if there are any tourists walking or stopped, we must walk around them. This course was a series of lollipops, this meant we'd see runners coming and going quite a bit.  faster runners had the right of way.

and we are off only a little late.  1 mile on the road by cranberry lake.  very pretty.  I had to stop and tie my shoe.  Then onto a trail back towards the beach we started from. hey, i could drop my mittens here so perfect.  Soon we got onto the north beach trail which was pretty rooty/up and down rollercoastery and very technical.  and it had the most amazing views. 

oh screw this.  I stop to take photos and that is how it went.  as we were doing the series of lollipops you could see all the faster 50k/25k runners and would really have to wait since the trails were so narrow.  no biggie.  I stopped to take more photos.  the bridge was fun to run across.  JT caught up to me around mile 3.5 because i was stopping so much.  so we were together for a mile or so in here and then i pulled away again.  really gorgeous trails once in the woods although i really cannot get enough of those trails that go along the water.  so beautiful. 

on to mile 5.5 (mile 5 by my watch) and you hit the aid station the first time.  out to rosario head which had the most windswept remote feel.  some very rough trail over there too.  then back to that same aid station (mile 7.3 by their measurement, mile 6.6 by my watch) and i was feeling quite good in here and just steadily running.  eating a gel every 3 miles.  At the aid station teh second time i had half a peanut butter sammich and a couple of pieces of boiled potato dipped in salt and some coke.  i knew my watch was reading short so i kept nutrition/gels every 3 miles.  So 3, 6, 9, 12 plus the stuff from the aid station. 

JT had been in mexico for a few weeks and didn't run at all in november as there was just no way to get it in.  she went out and ran 10 miles last week and decided to come start this race but she did decide to drop at the aid station at mile 7.3. good choice as all the bigger hills came after that. 

It was a very long loop out to Pass Lake with a very long climb in here. It seemed to go up and up and then by this point i was completely alone. I never saw anyone coming back and no one behind me.  I kept trotting along.  the downhill then off this was pretty runnable so i enjoyed that.  but i did  manage to slightly roll that ankle again dammit.  my current trail shoes (Saucony ProGrid Peregrine) come loose plus they are slightly wider so i have to wear thicker socks.  That combined with a lower heel and more minimal feel means I want to roll an ankle.  Sadly I think these shoes are off my list.  I dislike that they have no rock protection either.  I had to stop 2 and 3 times for each shoe to retie.  I finally double knotted and it stayed but that does start to give me some numb toes.  i think the ankle is fine though.  a bit crunchy feeling when i rolled it.

Finally as i'm coming back towards the pass i start seeing and passing people.  i stopped to get some good shots of the bridge. we run across it again and then take a trail which takes us under it.  It's a very pretty forested along the pass (it's goose rock perimeter trail).  I pass a couple more people and then start the goose rock summit trail.  This is straight UP and I'm not kidding.  calf burner.  i pass some more people and really wonder if the leaders can actually run this?  I cannot!  we finally come to the top where it is bald/meadowy and there are these strange flat sloping smooth rocks.  it's flat and think i should be running. Wrong!  the rocks up here are not wet but my shoes do not grip on those rocks. And down i go. grrr.  One bruised hand and bruised front of one leg.  It could've been worse.  we start then some very significant downhill which hurts at this point.  My legs are aching. hmm.  I must need more food and how did I already make it to 12 miles by my garmin?!  These miles are going so quick.  so i take another gel.  that helps.

I come to the turn off for 25k runners. Phew!  I do NOT want to run the 50k today!  :D  it's pretty good running in here although slightly uphill on a wide trail.  i pass a few more people in here who are walking.  Finally we duck back under this little trail which takes us under SR 20 (sneaky trails all through this area) and we are back on the north beach  trail which is significantly harder now on tired legs. It's not as bad as those last couple miles finishing at orcas but it was still pretty technical.  no falling!  and finally back to the beach, i pass a couple gals coming in and I'm done! 

JT had already gotten a ride back to the finish and is happy.  they had an amazing spread of food and i realize i'm quite hungry. eat and chat a bit and we are on the road by about 12:30.  she knew this little coffee shop/store on a different bypass road around mount vernon.  They had very tasty coffee.  I was home by about 2:30 which was much sooner than i expected and ready for the big holiday party that evening. 

I would totally do this one again.  Really the variety of trails/scenery was amazing.  Single track springy forested trails,  the beach, road, grass, cliff hugging trails.  awesome. 

The day after, I am tight from a long run but that is all.  A fun run was the right way to approach this run and it makes me really happy that at any point I feel ready to tackle a 15 mile technical trail with significant elevation changes.