This year was my second go at this race. It's an event that's been happening since 1983 down in Snoqualmie just about a half hour east of Seattle. Last year I managed a win there in 6:17 despite being in the middle of recovering from an MCL and medial and lateral meniscus tear with a surgery slated for shortly after the race. While I was thrilled with the time and win I knew there was some room for improvement time wise.
The record was set by a phenominal runner (Jim Kerby) and that was the benchmark I set for myself. His CR was 5:54:37 and my personal record was 5:52:00 so if both could be achieved in the same race I would have been thrilled! I must admit I was just pumped reading about the results coming in from my Montrail teammates at the various races that happened that weekend. Geoff Roes had cruised to a very impressive with at American River 50 Miler and Max King took a bronze in the same event. Gary Robbins had lowered his own course record at the Diez Vista 50k. Annette Bednosky had run 8:05 at the Mad City 100k qualifying her for the US 100k Team and Beverley Anderson-Abbs had notched a victory at the 50k at Mad City setting a Canadian Age Group Record in the process.
Got some chow at Whole Foods and checked into the hotel and just chilled out and hit the hay early as the wakeup call at 4:15am would come all too soon.
The course at Mt. Si is basically two out and back sections. The first goes out just under 10 miles and you come within about a half mile of the finish line at the 19 mile mark before heading out on the second out and back portion of the course. The nice part I like about the out and back portions are (a) you can see where your competition is and (b) you get to smile and wave at people! The event has the 50 mile distance and a 57 mile relay as well. A 50k event goes off a few hours after the 50 mile starts so the course is full of bubbly, sweaty people so you don't get too lonely!
Uncharacteristically I took off like a jack rabbit from the gun. About two miles in I did a little shoulder check and realized it would be running solo against the clock for the day. 10 mile split came around 64 minutes and all felt pretty decent. It was a great day for running. Temperatures in the low 50s and slightly overcast. The first bit of grumbling I had about the day came on my way into the 22 mile aid station. It was a long straight segment and a pretty strong headwind. I just told myself that it would be a tailwind in the final miles which is a much better scenario! I cleared the 22 mile station in 2:23 and still felt like there was some zip before the mental aspect took over. Last year when I left the 22 mile station I became unraveled and lost a good chunk of time between the 22 and 29 mile stations. This year I checked into the 29 mile station at 3:13. I was a little winded and starting to get energy depleted from the expenditure into the wind. Some coke and salty chips really do make everything alright again!
The next section is 11 miles of 5.5 uphill to the turn point and return to the 29/40 mile station. I had a pretty strong ascent but didn't have the best downhill section which put me in the position of doing the math in my head and realizing that breaking the record would come down to a matter of seconds to spare potentially!
I had a pretty quick transition out of the 40 mile station. There was one last crew stop at 46.5 miles that Kristin was going to meet me at but I knew that would be a grab and go for sure. I broke the last 10 miles up into different sections and with 5 miles to go the projected pace had me sitting in that 5:54 range. To make life a little more interesting that wind direction had shifted to be a headwind for the return trip!
I did a quick bottle fill with Kristin at the 3.5 mile to go mark and just put the head down and tried to turn the legs over as fast as they would go. I needed energy in me and decided to take a quick 20 second power walk to down a Clif Gel and hope that would give me one final burst of energy. I actually started laughing to myself aloud with about 2 miles to go and then ended up talking to myself saying "if you have energy to laugh you have energy to go faster!" I was laughing at the fact that I was about 40 minutes up on second place with a few mere miles till the finish but to hit a CR would require a flat out kick to avoid missing it!
It hit the pavement off the trail into the town of Snoqualmie which meant about 3/4 a mile to go. It seemed like back in the track days but I just sprinted as fast as I could possibly sprint having just covered 49 miles and change. Broke the tape in 5:54:15 to sneak under Jim Kerby's record by 22 seconds. It was most likely the ugliest finish line photo ever as I couldn't muster a smile nor have the energy to lift my arms and am pretty sure I had drool on the left side of my face and a misfired snot rocket on the right side.
I'm already looking forward to another crack at this course as I learned a few things and know some spots where I can take some more time off if training and nutrition improve.
Results are here if your keen on having a peek!