In the lead up to Chuckanut 50 km, I had set the goal of running sub 5 hours and more specifically 4:50. The year before, I ran 5:01 so I didn’t think this was a huge stretch for me. All winter my training had been consistent, not high mileage but I had been logging 50 – 60 miles per week through the long, dark, wet months of winter, so I was feeling confident in my training. I knew I was going to have a great race.
Things started to unravel the Wednesday before the race, I had woke up that morning with a sore throat and could feel a cold coming on. I still had a few days to rest up and get healthy so I wasn’t too worried. I immediately started popping the Cold FX and drinking lots of lemon tea and tried to get some extra sleep.
On race morning when I woke up, I felt crumby, so much for Cold FX and hot tea. I should stuck with beer, same results but far more enjoyable. My throat was feeling better but I was really congested. To make matters worse, I opened the curtains it was snowing, well more like half snow and rain, very pleasant. At that point, I did contemplate crawling back into bed and calling it a day but I was too excited about racing. So I lied to myself and said I felt great and got ready to run.
As we waited for the race start, it was cold and raining pretty hard. It was a safe bet that it was snowing hard at the higher elevations which would make the course pretty messy. While standing around waiting for the race to start, I took the chance to catch up with Ran Katzman. I hadn’t spoken with him since we ran together at the CFA New Years Day 50 Km race. Ran was training hard for Miwok so I knew his pace would be about the same as my target pace. I thought I would try to keep up with him on the interurban trail in hopes of keeping my sub 5 dream alive.
Over the first 6 miles the company was pleasant and the pace was fast but manageable. Besides being congested, I didn’t think my cold was really slowing me down. That all changed when we hit the first ascent, I tried to keep pace with Ran but he was running strong and I was fading fast. I had to let him go, I was having a hard time breathing so I had to dial back my pace. I knew sub 5 was no longer an option and just finishing was going to be tough. I was feeling pretty rough and thought about packing it in. The thought of standing around in the rain waiting for a ride wasn’t that appealing so I just kept moving.
The rest of the race was fairly uneventful, as expected there was snow at higher elevations which served as a nice backdrop for the race. Of course the downside was the trails would be super slick. On the slow climb up to the ridge trail, I finally met Adam Way, one of the new Kintec race team members, we spent some time getting to know each other and talking about the upcoming season. Once on the ridge trail the fun really began, since I lowered my expectations, I didn’t push too hard and managed to stay upright for the entire trail. Then came little chin scraper which was a slog but at least it was short, when you finally top out you know the finish line isn’t far off.
After some great downhill, I was back on the interurban, I was surprised that I was able to pick up my pace and that I had some left in the tank for the finish. The sun also decided to make its first appearance of the day which put a little spring in my step. Over the last six miles, I was running well and passing other runners right up to the finish. So the day ended on a positive note. In the end, I ended up running 5:17, definitely not my best effort but given the way I was feeling and the conditions, I’ll take it. I’ll just have to make sure that I wake up early on registration day next year so I can take another crack at sub 5.
A big thanks to Krissy and her team on doing such a fantastic job on the 20th anniversary race. I was a little worried about the size of the field and the impact that might have on the race. Those worries we’re completely unfounded, the race was extremely well organized and the volunteers were phenomenal. With the new start location, wave start, and minor adjustments to the course you would never have guessed that the field was double in size. As I said above, I will definitely be back, this is a Pacific Northwest classic not to be missed.
Next up, I am switching gears for the next 5 weeks as I get ready to run the Vancouver marathon. This will be my first time running a road race in six years. My last road race was my first marathon, since then it has been strictly trail ultras, should be interesting. I will need to get some training advice from my roadie teammates.