Orcas Island 50k 2012.
I finally got the opportunity to experience the Orcas Island 50k, another race put on my James Varner (Runshadow Running). Having run Cle Elum, another Runshadow race, before I knew the amazing spirit and atmosphere James facilitates at his events. For example, the t-shirts are hand selected from thrift stores by James and have the logo printed on the back. Super rad. I also knew how he somehow always manages to create courses that are at times seemingly unmanageable. Overall, this was one of my favorite race experiences. Having everyone at Camp Moran was invigorating and the ability to shower right afterwards in the cabins where we stayed was a huge bonus. Huge thanks to James for putting on such an incredible race in some the best runnable trail I’ve been on, all around stunning views of the gorgeous PNW scenery I get to call home.
The excitement and anticipation of this race was bigger than I have had in a while because I was getting to go to Orcas Island for the first time AND take in its beauty by running with some of my favorite people. Going in to this race I had very few expectations. It was the first ultra of the year for me, as well as the first since Cascade Crest 100. I was ready to see where my lower mileage training plus CrossFit had me. As I got ready to leave I realized my watch did not want to charge or turn on. So I had to go in to the race with no way of knowing where I was pace-wise. I had set 5:45-6:15 as a timeframe I would like to hit. Since I did not have a watch, I decided to just run comfortably and see where I’d land at the finish line.
I gave a the course profile a brief look before driving down to Anacortes to catch the ferry. I saw four hills, with the 3rd looking fairly steep. What I neglected to remember was how insane some of the climbs are on James’ races. I started the race slower than I wanted to but knew I needed to reign in my excitement and tendency to burn out early. I felt great until ‘the power lines.’ I have run some steep hills before but this was leg-sizzlin’ steep. My legs had felt good until this section. The residual soreness from CrossFit on Wednesday started to seep in, like I was pumping siracha from my glutes to my calves. Thankfully this race had great downhill sections. The uphills were steep and short while the downhills were at a moderate grade and drawn out. I finally did a good job at staying hydrated but I did not take in enough calories. By mile 19-ish my stomach was growling. I had to stop running and eat the trail mix I had in my pack (almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries). After the stunning views at Mt. Constitution (mile 22.4) the food was starting to provide me with energy and just in time for some more downhill. At about mile 25 I hit a big wind. The course was predominately downhill and I was able to let my legs fly me down; I still walked some of the uphills. Sadly, I had neglected to consume anything while I was feeling great and a little before mile 31 I completely tanked. The end of the race was a little uphill on a road and then straight down to the finish line. I had decided to just walk that little stretch of road since I was shaky from no energy. At this point a bud from Seattle rounded the corner behind me and yelled at me to run; so I did. I am so glad Joe was there to push me. Afterwards I found out that elevation to mileage ratio, this race was actually harder than White River 50.
I ended up finishing at 6:15. I made it (albeit barely) in my timeframe without really pushing my legs. This puts me in a really positive mental state for this upcoming year of running. Next race is Chuckanut 50k in March and I will be running it hard. For Orcas Island 50k I learned that I will want to take a whole week off of CrossFit before an event I want to race hard and to not neglect calorie consumption in the ups.
During the race, the Wastach Front 100 Mile Endurance Run lottery was being held…more on that soon.