White River 50 2012.
I should have known the race would not have gone according what I had planned by how long it took us to get to course area. I had the opportunity to ride with my two new favorite people and training buddies down so of course I jumped on it. Finally not having to drive to and from a race or long run took a load off my mind. At 4.5 hrs plus a border wait estimated driving time, I was greatly looking forward to kicking back and chatting. Adam and Meredith are pretty much family to me now as much as we run and help sharpen each others skills both mentally and running. Meredith was attempting her first 50 miler so her father Steven wanted to drive down and be there to support her. We tried to leave around 10am and I do not remember when we actually got on the road, but as soon as we did…traffic. It was slow moving traffic almost the whole way to the border which had a 50 min wait mid-day. I was shocked. We stopped in Bellingham at our favorite sandwich shop and got back out on the road to be greeted by even more traffic. It was slow-steady and stop-and-go for the next couple HOURS until we finally got to the last 20 or so miles until White River course area. About half way down this stretch a car had flipped. The occupants were sitting beside the road, the shock on their faces matching all cars nearby in wonder that they were still alive. It was quite honestly one of the worst post-wrecks I have ever seen. Thankfully they were not only alive but seemingly unscathed, a true miracle.
It took us 7.5 hours just to get to the course area. At this point is was well after 5:30pm, we still had not even been to (much less set up) our campsite for the night and needed to check in. I was able to see my running buddy Jen who I had paced at Bighorn earlier this year for a quick second before we had to head off to finally start getting settled…and eat. I had never put up my tent before and it took 3 people and close to an hour to figure it out.
I had just come off of finishing the KneeKnacker 50k here in Vancouver BC followed by a taper. For the KneeKnacker, my strategy had been to keep in a steady low gear until sometime after halfway, then give’r until the finish. The weekend prior to KneeKnacker I had done a lot of vertical and my glutes/hamstrings had yet to relax. I stood at the start line wondering if I would even finish the 50k (which I had done the course + 1/2 back in the Vancouver 100); I was in that much pain. Just after the halfway point, something in my legs loosened up and I began to soar. I began passing people that passed me back on the initial climb to Black Mountain. I was having a blast seeing people further up a hill and digging deep to pass them with more ease than I have had. I finished and had random people coming up to tell me I was the freshest looking finisher they had seen. I felt like I could have done it again. I set out with a few goals and hit them all: don’t get injured, lay low then kick it in past halfway, and don’t get passed in the last 10k.
My plan going in was to go out hard and see what I could do and if/where my legs would fail. I have run White River 50 two times before and had many training runs there. I know WR50 course better than any other. From last year’s bonk, I knew hydration would be the key for me to hitting my 9:30 goal time. I knew from my recent KneeKnacker that I could blast out the end of a tough race on tired legs (granted a significantly shorter distance). After my time in CrossFit and newly acquired obsession of counting vertical gain over miles run, I was feeling very confident about the climbs. The beginning of the climbs were in a cloud, which ended up leadng to my race goal demise. I pushed too hard going up the first climb. Why? Because I was not feeling overheated and it was easy. Surprisingly easy. After the turn-around I decided I needed to take it down a few notches. While I have been getting much better at climbing, my body is still not used to running a full 50 miles. I made it to the 27 mile point about 30 minutes faster than I had initially planned. That is when I started to worry.
I began heading up the second climb when my hamstrings let me know I would run no more uphill that day. I was able to regain some speed once I hit the 6 mile gravel road down from Sun Top, but that tightened my core so much I could not take a deep breath during the last 6 miles of super fun rolling trail. I sucked it up and decided my goal finish time would have to wait until next year. So I embraced my inner honey badger and got moving.
Meredith did extremely well on her first ever 50 miler finishing 3rd in her age group. Adam loved the course and finished strong as well. Kristin and Ryne stopped early because of a knee injury. Molly stopped short due to her foot. Jen pounded out her fastest WR50 time ever. I finished 5 minutes faster than I did in 2011. Not great but a small step in the right direction. I am still trying to get over the mental defeat of not hitting my goal. I have to put it aside and move forward.
Things I will take away:
- I have amazing friends.
- The ultrarunning community never ceases to astound me. The more I am around it, the more I love the people who are involved in this sport.
- Fresh legs are hard to control.
- I can climb way better than I could last year, I just cannot maintain a fast speed for 50 miles…yet.
- Sage Canaday is a beast. (took course record from Anton Krupicka by about 10 minutes)
- White River 50 is still my favorite race. The course. The views. Scott McCoubrey’s superb race directing and post-race give-a-ways (I got a sweet pair of Scott ski goggles). Thanks to all the volunteers and Glenn for being out there with friendly smiles.