Chuckanut 50k Race Report

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(NOTE: After publishing this post I noticed that when accessing it on an iPad the pics are showing up sideways.  If you are reading the post on a computer the pics are fine.  I am not an IT person and have no idea why it is doing this so I apologize in advance! 🙂  )

So after a seven-month hiatus I am finally back to the blog and excited about a lot of things that are coming up, especially my first 50 mile race.  Yes, 50 miles–I know it’s crazy!  When I first started running back in 2007 it was to check-off a bucket list item which was to run a marathon. I thought I would be “one and done”!  However, the running hasn’t stopped and the distance has only gotten longer!  So that is how I find myself currently looking at a 50 mile race which is coming up on June 6 at Bryce canyon.  But to be clear, I do feel that 50 miles is my tap-out point–I am not a 100k or 100 mile girl!!!  So to prepare for this, my friend and I hired a coach to design a training plan to get us to 50 miles (I might write more about that later) and I signed up for two practice races, one of which I ran on March 21–Chuckanut 50k.

I have a close friend who lives up in Washington who had been asking me to visit for some time so I conveniently booked a trip up north the same week as the very popular Chuckanut 50k was being run.  You see, this is what runners do–we book vacations around races! 🙂

For non-runners, a 50k is between 31 and 32 miles and most are run on trails.  The pic at the top of this post tells a lot of the story–it was wet and muddy.  Mud like this SoCal girl had never seen before!  I was covered!  But it was beautiful and fun and I would do this race again in a heartbeat.  I knew going into the race that I was not trained for it as the race itself was training for my upcoming 50 miler, so I did not expect to do well.  I had only run one 20 miler and had not done any weekend back to back runs.  The goal was to finish and not be too torn up.  Here is a run down on the race.

It had rained every day that week and it rained for most of the race.  The opening 10k (or 6.5 miles) of the race was run on an inter-urban trail that was relatively flat and gentle with just a couple of hundred feet of elevation gain.  I wish we had inter-urban trails that looked like this! I was able to preview this section the day before and got some pics…

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Trees were covered in moss which made them appear to glow…

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There were cool twists and turns, beckoning you into the forest…

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Much of the trail followed alongside a gentle steam with occasional small waterfalls…

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After completing the opening 10k the climbing began.  The elevation gain on this race was 5100 feet and most of it was in the 19 mile long middle section. The first climb took us up to Fragrance Lake and the trail began to get a little more technical with roots and rocks but nothing like it would become.

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In this pic of Fragrance Lake you can see the rain landing softly on the water…

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After Fragrance Lake I stopped taking pics for a long time as I had left my gloves in my gear bag back at the start of the race and my fingers were freezing and stiff.  The next climb was Cleator Rd.  I had read a blog were someone had wished they had walked most of this section to conserve energy, so when I saw others walking I joined them.  If I were to do this race again I would probably run most of this section as it was runnable and not technical at all.  At the end of Cleator Rd. we came to the Ridge Trail which was both stunning and terrifying.  It was a lush and green single track that was incredibly technical and very cold.  I do not understand how the top contenders run this type of terrain.  There were rocks and roots everywhere and crazy slippery mud.  A few times I had to hang on to roots to lower myself or pull myself up the terrain.  It is a miracle I did not go down!  There were many times I came close though–caught my foot on a root, flailed through the air and regained my balance; stepped onto a large rock only to have my foot slide all the way down to its base while my heart rate soared thanks to the adrenaline (twice!); numerous slips in shoe sucking mud.  I finally figured out that the safest place to run when running in the mud was right in the center of the mud puddle, so that is what I did.  I was filthy!  At the end of the Ridge Trail, the final climb came–the notorious Chinscraper!  For my local running friends, Chinscaper is like a combined Mystic Trail and Poop Out Trail–only muddy, and with a photographer recording your struggle for all to see.  Once Chinscraper was summited it was primarily downhill the entire way back.  My fingers had finally warmed up enough so I took a few pics coming down back toward Fragrance Lake.

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Once I was down from Fragrance Lake I was met by some friends who were waiting  for me at the aid station.  They got this pic of me with 26 miles on my legs and another 10k to go.

imageThe final 10k was a return trip back on the inter-urban which I ran with the girls encouraging me onward.  I really appreciated their support and want to give a huge shout out to them.  I was even able to smile when it was over.  It was also nice to have the sun finally come out!  🙂

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Also a huge shout out to my friends Jane and Violet for putting up with me racing during my visit! They were at the finish line to cheer me in!

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My finish time was not great, 7:14,  but I reminded myself this was a training run and was 12 miles farther than anything I had done in preparation. I was tired, but not torn up and recovered relatively quickly.  It is amazing how God has designed our bodies to handle stuff like this.  So my next practice race is the Leona Divide 50k on April 18. I am looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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