Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sun Mountain 50km Race Report

I couldn't wait for this popular Rainshadow Running event to start!  I remember the first year we came down for it in 2011 and there were 11 of us from PACE.  This year it grew to over 40 including spouses and children.  Considering the town of Winthrop Washington has lots for everyone, the weekend has turned into more of a training weekend than just a race, from us folk from Kelowna.

Trent scouted out a beautiful route on Rendezvous Trail and a few of us went out for a run on Friday.  Saturday Trent and Carter went rock climbing with other families while I went on a road ride with friends.

Over 25 PACE athletes participated in the race on Sunday.  It was great to see all the kids do the 1km race and I loved watching Carter finish for his 3rd year in a row.  Trent ran the 25km and had a super strong race.  He was top 15 to cross the line.  I was really proud of both my boys.  I was also very proud of all the P.A.C.E. athletes this weekend who worked hard leading into this event and pushed out on the course and gave the race their best. 

On Monday a few went climbing while the majority were all back on the bikes.  Some tackled the Washington Pass while Carter and I did a ride in the back country roads and then went for ice-cream and mini-golf.  We certainly made the most out of the weekend in terms of recreation and socializing!

I was using the 50k race as a training run for my much bigger goal this fall, Gore-Tex Transalpine Run. Finishing the race would mark my biggest training week of the year so far, so my goal was to finish proud of my weekly accomplishment and not just the race.  The week leading into the race I ran Tues, Wednesday, Thurs, Friday, biked Saturday and raced Sunday.  I decided to treat the race like stage 5 of 8 and I took time to enjoy the views, the people, the aid station treats and wild flowers.  I went into the race knowing that my day would come down to a good run strategy, being able to assess needs along the way and staying positive.  So that is what I focused on.  I also took with me some words that I wrote on my hand to help me stay focused that day.  I think it helps to know why it is important to you to finish before the race starts, so that you're not trying to convince yourself if things start to get really hard or the wheels come off.  I did glance down at my hand 2-3x's during the race and found energy and motivation in my chosen words...

Mary -  reminded me to stay positive and no matter how tired I am today or what obstacles I may encounter, I am fortunate to be out doing what I love and how my suffering doesn't come close to that of what my step-mom is going thru right now.


Calm - I wanted to stay calm and enjoy the race.  I didn't want to get all nervous and jittery or focus on anything but treating it as though I have already ran 4 stages and still have another 4 to go.  Speed wasn't the goal.  Finishing was. 

TAR - signified my larger goal this year and reminded me of the 'big picture'.

The race this year turned out to be really hot. I realized I forgot my hydration pack at home but managed to find a waist belt from Nordic season in the back of Trent's car and luckily I packed a race vest.  I wasn't too sure how this was going to work as I haven't done this in a race before but I didn't worry about it and just decided to go with the flow.  Unbeknown to me, it ended up working great as I used one bottle to drink from and the other for water and kept pouring it on my head when things really started to heat up.   

I started off near the front of the pack but just held a steady pace. Nathan was right behind me and we chatted a bit but mostly settled into a steady pace.  Actually, let me clarify, Nathan was talking more than me because I was breathing a little harder than him ;)  At one point I looked back and there was a train of people behind me. I asked if anyone wanted to pass. A few did but others seemed happy running my pace. I recall a few girls from the 50k passed me early into the race and rather than jumping on their heels, I just settled in, held my pace and put trust in my race strategy for the day.

I was able to hold a fairly good pace the whole race and as the day went on I only got stronger.  Nathan was running really well and he slowly inched away from me and just before the first aid station.  Ellen, Karen Christie and Erica, who were all running the 25k, passed me just before the first aid station too.  I didn't see Ellen again but I caught up with Nathan, Erica and Karen on the hill after the aid.  I felt good and held a steady pace up to the where the single track started.  Nathan and Karen went ahead of me and I decided to hike this short climb and eat.  I met a chatty new friend and he stuck to me like glue, asking me questions, sharing stories and he was a real happy-go-lucky guy.  He was much more chatty than me and I just enjoyed his company up to the split where he got to run into the finish and I carried on.  It couldn't have been more than 5min and I saw Karen Christie who missed the 25k turn and had to double back to the finish.  She showed great strength to dig deep for the extra miles that day.

I stopped at all aid stations to refuel but was in and out fast.  I stopped to dip my visor a few times along the trail too as it helped cool me down.  I used Hammer Nutrition Pre-Race Caps, Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue capsules for supplements.  Drank gatorade, water and had about 7 gels and a few shot blocks from start to finish.  I ate almost every 30min of the race and my energy stayed pretty consistent.  I knew I had to manage the heat and stay on top of my fuel despite how the heat makes you not want to eat. 

When I got to the top of Sun Mountain I saw Nathan again.  It was awesome!!  We started to run together but we were both complaining of the heat.  I made him stop and I put water on both of our heads.  It felt so good!!!  During the descent we came up to our friend Jody.  She was so bubbly and happy.  It was so refreshing!  Shortly after that, I got into my final groove towards the finish.  I ran sections of Patterson Hill and passed the two females that passed me within the first 30min of the race.  I remember feeling happy that I could still turn the legs over and put a little jam into the last climb.  I felt good on the descent but the by the time my feet came off the trail and first hit the pavement for the last few km's of the race I knew I just had to stay steady and grit my teeth to get the job done.  Then the most motivating and special moment happened...

Not 2min on the pavement I see a TIOGA motorhome pull off the side of the road.  As I approach it I hear my Mom yell "GO CHARLES!!".  (she called me Charles growing up cause my middle name is Charlottle)  I couldn't believe it!  My parents drove up from Lake Chelan where they were camping to surprise me at the finish.  Well I gotta tell you... I felt like I was 12yrs old again.  You know that feeling where you want to make your parents proud?  It flooded back memories of my softball and volleyball days when they used to come watch and cheer my games.  Who knew it would still feel as good at 37yrs old.  I picked up the pace and rolled into the finish line to two families.  My parents and the PACE crew.  It was a moment I won't ever forget.

I finished in 5hrs 10min.  21st overall, 6th female and 2nd in my age category and the fastest 50k I have ever ran :)  More importantly I felt good about my 'weekly accomplishment' and hit my target for the week!

Sadly, I don't have any more races plans until Squamish 50km in August.  But I do have some fun training weekends and mountain trips planned so stay tuned for some adventurous future posts. 

Thanks to my amazing sponsors.  I am so grateful:

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