Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chuckanut 50K 4.08:43 20th place

It's where fast dudes go to race!

Long overdue, I know. I've got a free moment so I'll briefly jot down some remaining thoughts.

Leading up to Chuckanut this year I felt like I was getting some good quality speed workouts and really thought I had a chance to crack 4 hours. The field was stacked. Probably the most competitive ultra I've ever been in so either the speed was going to be my undoing on the flats or, with the right discipline, could carry me under the 4 hour barrier. No small feat for this 42 year old master runner.

The weather was cold and rainy at the start with cold and snow at the top. To me, austere conditions are to my advantage so I was grinning from ear to ear at the start with layers while others lined up in singlets with gloves shivering - to each his own. Although I don't remember exact splits I know I was averaging 6:30s on the flat 6.7 mile Interurban path and by the time we hit the single track I was in 20-something place. I could no longer see the front pack, just like last year. This year, however, I wasn't working as hard to maintain that pace so I was hopeful.

Back and forth I went all day with Dan Olmstead and Joe Uhan, both of whom have more leg speed than I do. So my strategy was to stay in contact until we got to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail and try to put as much daylight between as I could because I knew coming back on the Interurban 6.7 mile flat path I would need at least 3 minutes to beat them. I got to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail behind Dan and in front of Joe, I soon caught Dan and was buzzing. I caught 4 other people and had high hopes of hitting that 4 hour mark. The rocky, twisty, rooty single track ended way too soon, I only hoped that I didn't expend too much energy on that section but at the same time made up some ground.

On the Lost Lake Trail, unlike last year where the wheels started to come off, I was still buzzing and had a good pace going. To my surprise, Chase Parnell caught and past me and was out of sight by the time we got to Chinscraper. Chase ended up finishing right at 4 hours so he had a great race. Over Chinscraper and down to Clayton beach I was feeling really good, looking at my splits every so often on the downhill and I was under 6 pace a few times. To my surprise again, I got into Clayton Beach (24.6) in 3.20 which was only 2 minutes faster than last year. I was shocked because I felt so much better this year.

Now we head back on the Interurban flat path and I see Hal Koerner about 30 seconds in front of me. I start to push but realize I just can't go any faster, maybe around 7 pace (I didn't dare look). All I know is that I was pushing as best I could and Dan Olmstead caught me 1/2 way home. I didn't dare look behind me because I knew I was slowing down. Sure enough, Luke Nelson and Mr. Double OJ (Joe Uhan) caught me about 1/2 mile from the finish. I was cooked and didn't even try to match their pace. It's a good and bad feeling to have; good to know that I left it all out there and bad because I couldn't respond. Damn you Double OJ, passed me on the path again! All in good fun of course because at the end of the day I was a minute faster than last year with worse conditions. Having said that I feel my fitness is coming around.

My nutrition: A banana, bagel, and triple shot coffee 2.5 hrs pre-race. Two PreRace caps 1/2 hour before start, 2 1/2 flasks of EFS liquid shot, two more Pre-Race caps 2 hours into the race. I carried one 20 oz Ultraspire Isomeric race bottle with a flask (5oz) of EFS liquid shot diluted that lasted about 1 hour and 45 mins each. Total I was carrying two additional flasks in my new PI ultra sweet pocket shorts (you will see them soon). We just had our PI team summit in Boulder where Robert Kunz from First Endurance came out to give us some pointers on nutrition. More specifically, gelling agents and food in Ultras. The message: stick to as much liquid carbohydrate as you can handle.

Now in front of me over the next 8 weeks I have 4, 50 mile races. Whaaat?! I know a little nutty but I figure the only way I'm going to get the myles in is to suffer in some races. I just don't have the time to get it in otherwise.

That's all for now. Hope all is well in your world.
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