Sunday, August 21, 2011

Angels Staircase Race Report

The PACE crew headed back to Winthrop, Washington last weekend for another Rainshadow Running event put on by race director, James Varner.  This would be my 3rd RSR event, with the first being a few years ago in Cle Elum and Sun Mtn this May.

Two of these three events I have ran with my friend from Salt Lake City, Shelley.  Trent met her husband, John in 2003 while on a climbing expedition in Argentina and we have all remained friends ever since.  Every year we try to bring our families together and have since meet all over the world in places such as Costa Rica, Moab and McCall Idaho.

There were 6 PACER’s, including myself that came down for the race and they brought their families too, so it was just awesome to have a mini holiday with everyone outside of Kelowna and around recreation.  Alison, Karen and Hayley ran the 25k (along with Shelly) and Andrew and Kevin were up for the big task of the 50km!
Andrew at the start of the 50k, after running Knee Knacker 50k 4 weeks earlier
We arrived Thursday and spend a relaxing day with our Salt Lake friends.  I had a pretty rough week, with my body deteriorating after our 45km Saturday run the weekend before.  So I had decided to just dial it all down and have some faith in what my body was telling me.  I ran Tues, Wed & Thurs, but reduced volume to 1hr runs and took out any speed work.  By Friday I was starting to feel a bit better, but had resolved that after the week I had, I needed to just cool my jets on race day and get the time on my feet without digging a hole (i couldn't get out of) this close to the Alps.
We had an early rise on Saturday – 3:30am.  We were out the door by 4:20am to pick up the others and head to the race start.  It was approx. 50min to the start and we rolled in with just enough time to pick up our race bibs and get in a last minute ‘bush’ stop before the race started.
The trails were spectacular!  It gradually climbed… and climbed… and climbed.  Passing waterfalls, and eventually winding up a steep switchback into an open meadow before the final step ascent to the summit of the 25k turn around point.  I took a celebrex by the meadows, as I was starting to feel nauseous, dizzy and head achy.  And my back ached.  I was such a dummy… took way too much water and finished with ½ a bladder full of fluids.  Nothing like carrying all that friggen weight up and bringing it back down.   (sigh) 

Now, I am not gonna lie to you guys… Karen was right ahead of me and then when Alison and Shelly all asked to go past me on the climb, it took everything for me to not jump on their heels and turn the day into a ‘race.’  But I had a game plan and I really wanted to stick with it.  So I continued to hike and jog some sections of the climb, but kept my heart rate low and legs happy.  I wanted to use this race as practice for stage one.  What would my pace feel like if I knew I had 7 more days ahead of me…

Well, the girls all summited approx. 12min ahead of me.  It was an out and back, so I first saw Alison, then Karen and then Shelly.  Hayley was just behind me on the climb, although I didn’t know that until I doubled back on her.  I decided to take photos on the way up and I stopped for some photos on the way down and had a pee break. 
Shelly on the descent
I was pretty relaxed and didn’t feel any race pressure or need to pick up the pace yet.  In fact, I figured I wouldn’t really start to push the downhill until after the aid station and just past the big waterfall further down.  So I just paced it and enjoyed it until then.  At that point, I had passed Shelly but not seen Alison or Karen, so I figured they had enough of a lead on me and without hammering the down I didn’t think I was going to catch up.  But with approx. 1.5km to go, I did catch up to Alison.  Karen was already in and I believe came in approx. 3min ahead of me.  So I ended up making up pretty good time on the way down but regardless, I finished strong, happy and not at all depleted.  I ran my ‘stage’ and felt really good about it.

Karen ended up taking 3rd female.  I finished behind with 4th and Alison was right behind me in 5th.  Shelly and Hayley both did amazing.  Shelly has a mostly road running background and climbed the piss out of that course!  And this was Hayley’s 2nd trail running race and 1st race in the mountains and at altitude.  Wow!  the boys did amazing in the 50k too.  Finishing in under 8hrs and placing in their age categories as well.  As a coach, it was a very rewarding day for me and I was so proud of everyone.  The race wouldn't have been as much fun without sharing the trail with my friends that day!

The highlights for me this weekend weren’t actually the race though, despite how awesome the terrain and views were.  (oh!  And the signature Jimmy V Beer at the finish)  It was the company and quality friend/family time I had.  It was a reminder of just how busy I have been trying to fit the training in and the one area that was on the backburner was my ‘girlfriend’ social time.  If it wasn’t on the  PACE scene, it didn’t really happen.  I missed it and really enjoyed this quality down time.
Having said that, I only ran 6hrs in total, including the race last week… so my original plan to peak and then start a gradual 3 week taper would have to be changed.  Instead, I headed into this week with a 12hr running goal and 2 week taper.  We’ll see how that formula works.  So far, so good!

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