17 March 2018

Chuckanut 50k

The Chuckanut 50k was my first ultra back in 2012. And as I milled around the start grid on this day talking to people I realized that was a pretty common experience. Kudos to Krissy Moehl for being such a force in the trail running community.

That first ultra was tough. I had spent the last few days trying to prepare myself mentally for the return trip down the Community Trail that finishes off this race. For someone that prefers going up and down to running on the flat, the closing stretch was starting to loom larger than life. Wry social media posts were not helping.

But the weather was fantastic! Around 40 degrees at the start (and around 50 at the finish) with sunshine all day. It was so nice I walked the half mile from my hotel. This year they let you leave a drop bag at the start/finish which was super convenient.

You'd think that after a couple of decades of racing bicycles and six years of running races I would have my fueling totally dialed. Almost, it's still a work in progress. Little tweaks here, little tweaks there, but I am very close to knowing just what I will need on any given day. Today I nailed it.

I have also been using a Stryd power meter and LOVE it. Just like with cycling, power is the most accurate and objective indicator of how hard you are working. After wearing this for about one month I have a pretty good idea of what I can and can't maintain. Today my goal was to average 280 watts and I actually exceeded that by a little bit. This has been a fantastic tool for pacing myself.

Here is a link to the complete power file.

And here is the quick and dirty.

I ran the first 10k significantly slower than in 2012, like 45 seconds per mile slower. I kept right on moving throughout the middle section, in fact, I only stopped twice, each time for water. I am liking carrying all my own nutrition! I felt great on the Chinscraper climb, I even ran parts of it. I ran the last 10k significantly faster than in 2012, like 45 seconds per mile faster.

Lesson learned? I think so.

It was tough to hold back for those first few miles... people were STREAMING past me. But I started to pass them back on the very first climb and after the 2nd aid station, nobody else passed me again. Climbing Cleater Rd I went by about 20 people. Running along Chuckanut Ridge I found myself alone and that pretty much lasted until the aid station at the bottom of Chinscraper. On that climb I passed another half dozen guys, a few more on the descent and then on the return trip I just kept picking people off in ones and twos. I was working hard, make no mistake, but this experience was night and day compared to how I felt running this section in 2012.

I got water (only!) at the 2nd and 4th aid stations. I would just pull my ziplock bag out as I approached and by the time I came to a stop, I usually had my bottle open already and just needed to dump in the powder and ask for a fill-up.

All this paid off, with a 12-minute PR for this course and an age group win. I'm convinced I was faster back in 2012 but these days my pacing and fueling are better. Obviously, that matters more.

And I was able to smile at the finish.

Here I am running up Chinscraper.

Look how clean and dry my shoes and socks were after five hours!

And I love my shoes! I have been running in Topos for one year now and let me tell you, having a shoe that fits your foot and that lets you #movebetternaturally is amazing. So. Comfy.

Nutrition (before)
Nutrition (during)
Nutrition (after)

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