Saturday, July 25, 2009

White River 50

Saturday, July 25 was the White River 50 mile race down in Greenwater, Wa in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. I wasn't as hot as they said it was going to be, but the humidity was high and so were the DNF's. Times were slower this year for most people.

My legs haven't been very fresh lately from all the heavy training so I figured it was a good time to push them from the start and see how they reacted. I didn't really have a solid game plan for the race. My eyes were still focused on training for CCC. I cruised quickly through the technical first 5 miles. I didn't even stop at the first A/S which I reached in just under a minute faster than last year. I started the climb with fellow Brooks ID member Ryan hot on my heals. I thought we'd be able to work together at least for the first half of the course but his broken toe had other ideas. I soon had a train of about 20 runners behind me. I asked Alison Hanks who had gotten in front of Ryan if she wanted to pass but she said she that it was a good pace. I was just running my own race and didn't care how many people were behind me at that point. I was passed by SRC runner Phil Kochik (finished 11th) and a few other guys, some of whom I'd pass in short order and others that would die on the second half of the course. Without realizing it I had lost the train and both Alison and Ryan were too far back to see through the trees. I'm sure they were there but if you look too long you'll take a dive into the dirt.

The 2nd A/S is just a water stop at a trail junction that the awesome volunteers lug everything to, 5 miles uphill. I filled one bottle and left the other one at 1/2 full. This is also where I passed some early starters, Karen then Rob and Jenny. I was still feeling pretty good and was on an 8:30 hour pace. This leg of the race was nearly 8 minutes faster than last year. I kept pushing all the way up to the first of 2 tops on that half of the race. But when the downhill came I wasn't my usual flying, balls out self. I just couldn't get a good stride going. It's like I had the E-Brake on. This continued all day. I really only had one downhill that felt somewhat comfortable.
At 18 miles I was worried that I would not be able to finish the race without injuring myself. I started going through DNF scenarios in my head. My knee had a pain in it that didn't feel like it could last another 30 miles. Maybe it was from the awkward downhill running more I'm just being over trained.

I took an Advil just before the A/S at Corral pass and was in and out quickly. I ran this section about 30 seconds faster than last year, but I felt a lot fresher this year. I soon realized that the knee felt much better. You see the trail slants because it's cut into a steep hillside and the knee was torquing sideways with every step. When I turned around at the A/S and ran the other way everything evened out. Yes, the knee was overworked going into the race but not so much as to cause a DNF.

I still couldn't get a good flow on the downhill sections but I didn't let it get to me. I was caught by Shawna Wilskey and we both passed Lisa who was just a little slower on the downhill and making my stride even worse. I stopped at the Ranger Creek water stop again and that was the last I saw of Shawna (she finished 26th right where I should have been). This part or the race was over 7 minutes faster than last year but 2-3 minutes of that was a fast A/S stop.

I passed about 6-7 guys on the way down to Buck Creek, the halfway point in the race. I still couldn't find that last gear that keeps me light on my feet, floating over the rocks and roots. By the time I reached the bottom I was getting frustrated with having to work on the downhill and was ready for a change. It took me just over 3 minutes less to run down the hill than last year but again I was feeling much better when got to Buck Creek.

Mistake #1
In the chaos of refilling bottles, drinking, eating, people cheering for runners coming in, saying HI! to everyone you see and trying to get back out onto the trail as fast as possible I forgot one of my water bottles at the A/S. This meant I'd be down on water and calories (it had sports drink in it) within a few miles and my race might be over by the time I get to the next A/S. I had a mostly frozen bottle of water that I was going to use to keep cool. Luckily nearly 2 miles down the trail, when I reached back to discover I had forgot my bottle, I hadn't used much of the ice bottle. I slowed down to think. First thought was that I'm screwed! 2nd, what a dumbass! I came up with the plan to take it easy and conserve, but not to go too slow because that just leaves you out in the heat longer. It was nearly Noon but luckily it wasn't as hot as they said it was going to be. I made it to the Fawn Ridge A/S which is halfway up the climb 2 minutes faster than last year. I felt a little dehydrated and my stomach wasn't at 100% but I knew if I drank extra at the A/S and then took it easy for a mile or so to let my stomach work, that I'd be fine and should be able to get back on track.

When I left the A/S I was only about 5 minutes behind an 8:30 pace but I knew that would soon be 10 minutes or I would risk being sick on the side of the trail for a while (which happened there last year). It was actually nice passing the spot on the trail where I was sick the year before feeling better than last time. My stomach still wasn't at 100% and I had already cut back on my calorie intake for fear of losing them. My legs felt pretty good climbing the rest of the way to the top. I ran some with Darla. We passed each other a couple times and I stopped to take my only potty break at the top. I started down to the Suntop road crossing with the intent of catching her and making up the time I spent watering the bushes. After a minute I got into a stride that was almost there. I was moving fast but I just wasn't as smooth and effortless as I could have been. I did catch & pass Darla and a guy she was following near the bottom. I had thoughts of being able to fly the 6+ miles down the dirt road to Skookum but that road is a lot different than a sweet, soft trail I was on. Without getting sick like last year this leg of the race was over 15 minutes faster than last year but now I was at 8:45 pace.

I was in and out of the Suntop A/S quickly and on my way down. The road wasn't as hot as I thought. I never did find my rhythm running down it. It seemed that I had to work harder and harder to hold the same pace. Darla passed me, twice. And finally, something worse happened.

Mistake #2
On the way down from Suntop somewhere near the bottom in the dust from the drivers speeding up the hill I lost something a lot more important than a water bottle. I lost all my motivation. I just wanted to stop. I wasn't that tired or hurt or even sick. I just wasn't into it and I knew I had a PR in the bag. Well I didn't stop even though that river looked nice. I was about a half a minute faster coming down road over last year. But 3 minutes slower than I should have been.

I last 6+ miles of the race really aren't that hard if you're fresh. It's a lot like the TrailFromHell on the CCC 100 course. It's technical but you can run it if you really want to or if you hadn't just run 43 or 70 miles (bonus for the TFH is that it's dark). I just kinda jogged down the trail toward the finish. I ran the flats about a minute faster than last year and in the last 2 miles I slowly picked it up because I knew I was nearing the end and that I could still get finished under 9 hours.

I finished in 8:59, that's 39 minutes faster that lst time. I'm pretty happy with that.

I'm ready for the real race or at least I will be in a month. I only have 1 more big block of miles then it'll be time to coast in to the starting line.


robtherunner said...

I already know how it ends up...nice work!

lindawalter said...

Wow, Arthur...first you took nearly 40 min. off of last year's time at White River, on a humid day last weekend where you were dealing with several issues. But that's not I see you took first place overall on BOTH runs this past Sat. and Sun. up on parts of the CCC course. Congrats - you are having a stellar year - PR's, BQ's, etc.!!!

Linda from Puyallup

Alison Hanks, LMP said...

i lost my motivation too, but at about mile 7. nice work, arthur. good luck at ccc!