Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Capital Peak 50 miler and Tacoma City Marathon

Myself, Jessica and Michelle getting ready for the Tacoma City Marathon early start. More TCM photos at the end of this post.
It's been a busy week and a half. It's been a tiring week and a half.

First, April 25 I ran the Capital Peak 50 miler. This was my first real trail 50. I have run 50 miles at Autumn Leaves and at the Pacific Rim 24 hour both in 2008. So, I like to say this is the first one with mountains thrown in. I was a bit nervous about running on these particular trails because it was along the same trail that I sprained my ankle so badly back in January. With that weighing on my mind I chose to wear lace up ankle braces for the run, on both ankles just to ease my nerves. Steve, Eric and I carpooled down Friday night and camped with Lesa and her husband in a nice camper so I could take the 5am early start Saturday morning. Now I knew I could run 50 miles in the regular 12 hour limit as I have done so before, BUT I felt I needed the extra hour as I would be being very careful on those trails as well as it being the first real trail 50 with mountains as I said earlier. Turns out I did as I finished in 12 hours and 43 minutes. I was nervous about running this mostly by myself too. I thought I might get discouraged or talk myself out of completing the 50 miler and opting for the 55k instead without having someone to talk with. It turned out okay. I saved my ipod for the last 12 miles and it saved me and helped me keep up my pace.

I started out in the dark with Karen Wiggins and Tom Riley. I used a headlamp and a small handheld flashlight. I found that using both made it brighter and I could direct the light without moving my head. I stayed with them until I needed to make the first of three adjustments to my right ankle brace (this is the ankle not used to wearing the brace) I think I had it on too tight. It felt better but the others were ahead now and I didn't want to push it catching back up. It was getting lighter and I was noticing what a beautiful day it was. The birds were singing and I was so happy to be outside. The trail was in great condition and I was thinking how great it was that the trail was so runnable and not covered in mud and giant puddles as it has been every other time I have run in Capital Forest. Soon I took a right hand turn and stopped to check my directions. It didn't seem right. The first regular starter passed me here as I was on the side of this trail. I mentioned I didn't know if this was the correct way or not, but he just flew right on by! I kept on going and soon met Tom again and another runner standing on the side where the trail ran into an old road. They too were confused as to if this was the correct route. Another front of the pack from the regular start came off the trail and ran one way, soon to come back and say it was a dead end. We just stayed there for a while (Here I adjusted my brace for the second time, removing shoe and all) He went up the road the other way and soon returned with the first front runner and all of us headed back down the trail. One of us fixed the trail markers to point in the correct direction so no one else would get lost and we were on our way again. I stayed with Tom for a mile or two until we hit the first real climb of the day and then I sped up and he slowed down. He hadn't run more than 14 miles in a while so he was taking it easy. It didn't seem too much longer and I was at the start again at the 19ish mile aid station and on my way again after getting a few bites of potato.

This next loop starts with about 6 miles of climbing to the top of Capital peak. I tried to run as much as possible, but ended up power hiking as fast as I could leap frogging a couple of hikers on my way up. They seemed to be going a little faster than I on the steeper climbs, but as I mentioned to them I had already gone 23 miles by then, they had come 3 miles. It was along this path too that I was almost taken out my a mountain biker flying down the trail. I was overjoyed when I came out of the trail and onto the road and into view came the aid station! Jess Mullen was a sight for sore legs! I took a new to me route to the top of Capital Peak. The trail wound around the backside and then up a steep and rocky climb to the top and Glenn Tachiyama's camera waiting in the frigid peak to capture the joy on each runner's face. Then it was time to run down the long maintenance road back to the aid station....and the choice to drop to the finish and take a 55k or head on for the full 50 miles. Of course I knew I was moving on for 50 miles. Whether I finished before the cutoff, I was going to conquer these trails and run 50 miles doing so. I dropped off two empty gel flasks and grabbed two fresh ones from my drop bag and was on my way. I knew this section would be rolling hills and that I would get a chance to rest a bit. It was funny to me the last few miles as I encountered every kind of weather imaginable. Wind, rain, hail, snow, sleet, and blazing sun. It only lasted about 5 minutes or so each time, never enough to be bothersome.
Once I made it to Wedekind aid station I headed out on the 6 mile (12 miles total) out and back. This was a nice rolling section with some kinda weird terrain mixed in. There was rocky sections, nice single track sections and these parts where it seemed like someone just dumped bunches of broken sticks all over the place. I hated these sections both times I went through them. I knew I had developed blisters on my big toes and it seemed I never failed to kick a stick into the other foot and right into those blisters. It hurt so bad. It was along this section that I first ran into Steve and Eric. They were a sight for sore eyes. Just that brief encounter helped to pick up my moral. I also ran into Shawn again and close to the turnaround, Karen. IT was good to see them and have contact. Of course I had passed along this section most of the 50 milers, but seeing the people you know makes a big difference when you are out there alone. I kept thinking how it's good that during Cascade Crest that I'll be able to have a pacer to talk me through those last difficult 50 miles or so. I could have used one at Capital Peak! I tried to keep up the positive talk and make it to the end. I was elated to see the aid station tent through the trees and head back in the other direction! I knew I still had 12 miles to the finish, but 6 to the Wedekind aid station again. I popped on the ipod and let Bruce Springsteen carry me and remind me that "Baby you were born to run." My uphill legs by this time were done and I power hiked anything that resembled an incline. I ran on the flats and downhill sections, but was slower this time. Once I reached the aid station I knew it was mostly downhill to the finish and I was looking forward to that, but not so much the "V Trench of DOOM" I had to run down. Thank God that Laura informed me that the trail was being rebuilt and they had filled in the trench with gravel. Let me tell you it was SO AWESOME to run down that trail all nice and rebuilt. It was still hard as I was so tired, but a bazillion times better that the previous times I have run there.
Soon I was nearing the end and I couldn't wait. I felt very emotional about finishing within the cut off time on my first real trail 50 miler. I passed through the clear cuts and back into the forest and kept thinking I'd see the tents at the finish. Man that was the longest 6 miles ever. Soon I saw the "finish this way" sign and literally teared up and had to control my breathing to clam myself down to avoid being a blubbering mess when I crossed the finish line. Lots of people were there cheering for me when I came out of the forest and into the clearing. Lesa, Dave, Shawn, Steve, Eric, Karen, and many others I now I am forgetting now. Thanks. It meant a lot. I just wanted to sit down. I sat and took my shows off to examine the damage of the blisters. They were giant on the insides of my toes. I wore Drymax crew socks in hopes that I wouldn't get any blisters. I did. Next time I'll put a little body glide on my toes. Which is what I normally would do, but heard you're not supposed to do with drymax. I will also give Injinji's a try.
Anyway, I spent the next day resting in bed and being lazy around the house. Monday I felt a lot better and walked for an hour at the Y. Th rest of the week I felt fine besides nursing the blisters. I just wanted them to heal and be ready for the Tacoma City Marathon coming on Sunday. I worked out on Wednesday and ran again on Thursday. Volunteered at the Marathon Expo on Friday evening and rested and hung out with the family on Saturday. Sunday brought the Tacoma City Marathon.
This event was fun for me this year. I took it easy on my tired legs and started at 6am for the early start. I had a fabulous time running with Michelle and Jessica who made the race just fly by. The weather was perfect and I didn't even mind the course changes that took us up the Vassault mile long hill (minus the fact that there was no police and no runners on road signs and there was a lot of traffic that honked and caused some near misses on this hill) and the new finish was great. Check out Michelle's blog for more detail.
The following are some shots of the Tacoma City marathon course including Stadium High School Castle and it's bowl stadium (This is where they filmed the movie "Ten Things I Hate About You.") the water front, the entrance to Point Defiance Park, the awesome volunteer, mad Monkey Steve, the Tacoma narrows bridges and getting close to the finish...enjoy!

Thanks for reading my LONG update!
Grace and Peace to you.