Diez Vista 50k 2013.
I write this race report having not fully processed what happened at Diez Vista 50k. I told myself this year would be different, that I would try to actually race, but there is no way I could have anticipated this result. I am just as shocked, if not more, than everyone else.
I want to first thank the race organizers and volunteers. They pulled off a classic local race that had to take 2012 off to perfection. The volunteers were amazing, standing in the cold wet Pacific Northwest weather all day on a Saturday with enough smiles and energy for all 120 or so runners. I also highly commend them on being a cup-less race, providing us with the UltraSpire reusable cup. I was very excited they chose to do this because: a) it is environmentally friendly and b) I was kinda jealous of the participants at Chuckanut 50k this year.
The Diez Vista course is tough. The slogan for the race is “some roots, some rocks, some mud and some nice trail.” Over the 50km (31.6 mi) distance there is an elevation gain of 6000ft. A comparison for some of you, Chuckanut 50k is somewhere around 4500ft and nowhere near as technical. The 2011 Diez Vista winner and accomplished ultrarunner Justin Angle has stated that Diez Vista is ”Chuckanut on steroids.” The route is essentially a pleasant start around Lake Sasamat that evolves into a big gnarly climb and an extremely technical descent. After this, the trails are much more runnable switching between gravel trail/road and lush trail around Buntzen Lake. The out and back section begins with a fairly technical ascent followed by the Powerline trail which is a wide dirt road covered in lots of large rocks and ends with a little bit of asphalt before turning around. Descending from the Powerline trail is the technical singletrack that was just climbed, then on to FU George Hill. It is aptly named and the final climb of the race. It was described to me during the race by women’s winner Suzanne as “a super nasty ascent that everyone walks.” To return to the finish it is more technical downhill, trails covered in large rocks and flowing water, followed by a nice relaxing gravel and slippery wooden bridge trail to the finish. Oh but it is not that easy, there are stairs to climb to pop out to the finish line.
I went in to the race with one major goal. Keep my heart rate in my upper Zone 1 to lower Zone 2 and see what happens. I have been doing mainly heart rate based training and I wanted to see what I could realistically train to hit at Western States. I had some pie in the sky goals of maybe finishing 5:25-ish or maybe in the top 20 or so. As I began to look at previous finishes by some of my heroes and local speedsters I began to rethink these. UltraSignup had predicted me to finish somewhere around 6:30 base on all my previous events.
I was more nervous for Diez Vista than I have been for a long time. I was nervous that I would completely bomb out; I have never really ‘raced’ before now. I have been training harder and smarter and I was nervous it was still not enough.
Beginning the race I saw Gary fly off into the distance, hoping he would take down his own course record. He did…by 5 minutes! I wanted to start fairly fast because I wanted a jump on starting the first climb. I got the chance to chat with James Varner (who heads up Rainshadow Running) for a good portion. I took the first climb easy and settled in to about 7th or 8th. Coming down the technical descent, I could not contain myself and let my legs have some fun. A couple people caught back up on the more runnable sections. I wanted to stay true to my heart rate window goal, and I am not a fast runner. I stayed in 7th for a while, still being able to see people ahead of me. At about the 30k point, beginning the ascent to the powerlines, I was feeling calm and energetic. I ran the whole thing and passed a couple people. I continued feeling stronger and by the turn around was solidly in 4th. Running up the Powerline trail the female lead passed and gave me a quick rundown on what was left. I watched as she powered on ahead, knowing there would be no way to catch her. The technical descent was just fun. I learned from the first descent that the people around were not that great at descending technical trail. I am not a competitive person (unless it involves Banagrams, then you’re going down!) but this was my first time near the front in a race and I wanted to put as much distance between the other runners and myself before the final climb. As I turned up FU George Hill the volunteers cheered loudly, ringing cowbells etc. I had just made it up the first switchback when I heard the cowbells again. I thought I would have had at least 5-10 minutes. The climb was tough and taught me I need to get back to working on power hiking skills. I saw my buddy Adam Way taking some pictures and he was both stunned and elated to see me doing so well. The guy passed me and we chatted a bit about the day and other races before he took off. I knew the last section well and decided it was time to kick it in, regardless of what my heart rate did.
I rolled in to the finish line pretty much in disbelief. I knew I was 6th and first in my age group, but I had not looked at a clock all day. I had no idea what my finish time would be and when I heard the announcer call out 5:09, I looked around for the official clock assuming I had misheard. I didn’t.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude from all the kind words of support and encouragement from everyone. I guess my training and dietary experimentation is paying off. I felt solid and consistent the whole day. I never felt fatigued or even out of breath. It was the most in control I have ever been on a run. I just simply felt good and comfortable. My average heart rate for the race was 2 bpm above my Zone 1. Looking at the results makes me sing that song from Sesame Street…”one of these things is not like the others.”
I am excited to continue training and see what happens next. I might continue to surprise myself.
Thanks again to the entire Diez Vista crew for making the event happen and go so smoothly. Thanks to all the other runners for loving this sport and its community as much as I do. The biggest of congrats to Gary for winning and setting a new course record. I was fortunate enough to finish first in my age group which got me a bag, a blanket and a scarf.