As soon as I saw that James Varner and Rainshadow Running were planning a 50k near our town I knew it would be a 'must run'. This year has been the biggest in my running 'career', but I'm as motivated as ever. Deception Pass felt like the start of the 2012 season, and I treated it as a long training run.. with the twist that I planned to run with the leaders and see how that played out.. I expected my local knowledge to help!
After a chilly start a couple of way-too-fast miles got the sweat going, and we headed up the hill to the Deception Pass bridge with me just behind Yassine for the lead. Although the pace was fast, I felt comfortable. The thought that I should take a gel did pass through my mind, but I decided to hold off. Mistake #1. Right at about 8 miles Yassine gapped me, and shortly after that John from BC passed also. I spent several miles running alone in third. As we approached the bridge again I was surprised to see them just across about one minute ahead! I caught a glimpse of them again after the steep climb up Goose Rock. Around mile 15 here they come jogging back to me due to course markings that had been pulled down. Here is where my course knowledge helped them (not me) as I quickly got them back on course, and they proceeded to pull away. It's interesting sitting here writing about this, as it's so obvious that I needed to take gels/food at shorter intervals and do something to catch back up, but I stuck to a schedule of about one gel per 40 minutes. I started to lack energy, and eventually became slightly dizzy. After the final aid station I had to walk a bit, and got passed twice to put me back in fifth. I was so out of gas I couldn't even stay warm while 'running'! The end result was fifth place in 4:54. The next day I wasn't even sore, so I think that indicates a pretty high level of fitness. I just need to eat more and maybe take a more conservative approach for the first few miles.
Overall this is another great race put on by Rainshadow Running. Not the most difficult 50k at 'only 4000-5000' elevation gain, but the technical trails and short steep climbs and descents are great training. I can't wait to run it next year! Next up is Orcas Island 50k (also by Rainshadow) February 5th. I ran to a 10th place/5:39 last year. Orcas brings some great runners from all around, and this year the field is expanded to 300 runners. Bring it.. I'm stronger than ever!