Looking for one last longer run before the Portland Marathon on October 6th, Candice Burt‘s Cle Elum Ridge 25K seemed to fit the bill. Not too far (although it was), pretty, and a great place for photos running through a stream taken by Glenn Tachiyama. While not everything worked out quite that well, the weather turned out great and it was a fun day with lots of friends.
I have racing goals and work with a trainer, Michael Covey, from the Pro Sports Club to come up with a training plan to reach those goals. Michael runs the Triathlon Running Development course, which is focused on running in general and not just Tri. When I mentioned Cle Elum to him, I was surprised to hear that he was interested in running the 50K. He will be pacing another trainer on a 100K (100M?) and wanted to get some trails in. After talking it over, we were both in.
In a mail a few weeks before the race, Candice sent an update letting everyone know she had remeasured the course and after 15 years of being advertised as a 25K and 50K, the race was actually closer to 30K and 55K. Woo-hoo! An extra 5K at no extra charge. At this point longer is better for me so I was pretty happy. Here’s the course:
I’m really not into the “get up at 4AM to drive 2 hours to my race, register, race, and drive back” thing so we headed out on Friday night and stayed at the Best Western Plus Snowcap Lodge which had great rooms, pool, hot tub, and free breakfast. They also asked if we were part of the race as there were several other races staying there. Recommended. We drove to the start line to make sure we knew where it was and how long it would take to get there and had no problems. We did see several quail along the road but they were faster than I could get my camera out. 😦
Had a good, albeit slow, meal at Beau’s Pizza and Pasta then headed back to the hotel for an early evening. We made a quick stop at Safeway to pick up the morning food essentials (banana and bagels for me) since breakfast didn’t start until after we would have to leave (turns out cold things were out early so we would have been OK. Ah well.). Ran into James stocking up on ice to keep the beer cold. Cool!
Pre-race habits are interesting. We both settled into quiet, deliberate action as we readied our gear for the next morning. Clothes, packs, water, nutrition, and hydration were all set out, checked, and double checked. Garmin watch charging verified. Phones charged. Three alarm clocks set; I sleep better knowing I’ll wake up on time.
Woke up feeling good. Went through another quiet routine of getting ready, filling up extra water, triple checking everything, and then headed out. 40 minutes later we were at the start line of the 50K, which started an hour before the 25K. Also ran into Lisa Wood who was running the 50K. After a quick briefing (“Follow the signs and orange ribbon”) and getting set (“Pretend there is a starting line Here (pointing)”), the race was off. I then waited around for the 25K to start (with official start line!) and took off towards the rear of the pack.
Cle Elum Ridge is a beautiful place to run, with all the trees, streams, and views you expect from a great trail race. The actual trails, however, sucked in many, many places. They were made up of more tennis and ping-pong ball sized rocks than dirt. They also had huge ruts where dirt-bikes had dug into the trails. It was possible to run on the side in many places, but sometimes you were just stuck in the bottom of the “V” rut trying not to twist your ankle too much. Blech. As usual, the aid stations were well-stocked and had wonderful volunteers who were great at cheering.
Passed a few people. Had a few people pass me. Some people are better at going uphill. No one beats me going downhill (someday I’ll seriously wipe out and will finally slow down). Ran for a while with a woman whose boyfriend was an injured Iraq vet and was finally back into running and doing the 50K. Did the last few miles with another woman who had two kids a bit younger than my own. Good conversations. It’s more fun running with other folk and I slowed down (and stopped occasionally) to stay with my last partner, but in the end she was petering out and I was itching to finish strong so I took off.
Looking back, IMHO the runner tiring out wasn’t eating nearly enough (essentially <200 calories for the entire 4 hours) and that was really holding her back at the end. In comparison, I went through 2.5 Shot Bloks (500 kcal), 2 Honey Stinger Chews (320 kcal), and a Gu (100 kcal) with caffeine with 4 miles left (in addition to a few chips and candy at the aid stations). I hadn’t tried caffeine before and I definitely enjoyed the kick it gave me; definitely need to try that again in the future. Also did my standard Nuun and went through about 3 24oz bottles.
Glenn got some great pictures of us, although I’m still bitter that my shot was where I was power-hiking to the top of a hill while Michael’s was the iconic stream crossing.
Crossed the finish line at 4:03, placing me 62nd out of 92. Could easily have beat 4:00 but slowed down to hang with other folk and took too many pictures. But I had fun, which is why I do these. Next time I’ll go faster and hopefully break into the top 50% (probably doable at 3:47). Michael finished in 6:53, an awesome time for his first 55K trail. Rockstar!
As usual had a great after-party with the Pine Hearts. For some reason we had a bin of Free Cucumbers for the finishers (I think someone had a bumper crop this year and was trying to get rid of them). I did win a $50 gift certificate from Seven Hills Running Shop. Thanks guys!
And of course got the mandatory picture w/the Race Director (which is far better than usual thanks to Glenn’s amazing photo skills).
Great times. I love the trails and the people are great. Looking forward to doing it again.