Sunday, January 16, 2011

Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass 2011 Race Report

My first Ultra:
I am a runner.
But I bartend for a living so I didn't get into bed until 2a.m. Saturday morning.
I tossed and turned a bit, looked at my phone at 3:21 and then my alarm went off at 5:45.
3 hours of sleep? No problem!
I was up! Got dressed and headed over to Craig and Rachael's place to follow them out to Margaret Mckinney (The trail head for the race).
It was still dark when we got there at 6:30 and I spent a good portion of the next hour sipping a red bull and debating if I should wear 2 or 3 layers, neither of which were the right option.
It was light by 7:45 and we all started lining up listening to John Pearch, the race director, make some announcements. Of course, I wasn't listening. This was my first Ultra and I was just thinking about what the next 34 miles was going to be like.
There was no real official "START!" that I heard, but the herd slowing started shuffling off down the road, so on I went. It was a very VERY slow start, and when the group started filing on to single track trail we would almost come to a complete stop. It was like this for a good 20 minutes before we popped out on to a service road where Craig and I were able to pass people.
It was a very nice temperature. It actually felt warm compared to the recent Washington weather.
And it wasn't raining either. Weird. I know.
We continued at a steady but slow pace down waddell loop and on to greenline #6. It was nice because the trails weren't too muddy and the race conditions were perfect. Cloudy. 50. Slight breeze.
We got to our drop bags at mile 8.5 at Falls Creek. I had a potato, grabbed some more nuun, filled the pockets of my water bottles with more GU, changed into a T-shirt and we continued on our way.
We eventually caught up with James Varner of Rainshadow Running, the race director for Orcas, and ran with him for a while. It was great for me to listen to Craig and James talk about running and Ultra Running. I learned so much just from listening to their stories and racing strategies.
We passed through some very amazing forest where the tree cover was so thick the light barely lit the trail as if it was dusk. We passed over a waterfall and creek that was swollen and rushing, drowning out conversation as we passed over the wooden bridge. I continued listening to James and Craig as we ascended some long switchbacks. I took a few points of advice about ultras:
Walk before you have to. Eat before you're hungry. Drink before you're thirsty. I can't recall the 4th one, so I hope it wasn't as important. If it was I'm sure I'll find out on my own.
We soon popped onto a service forest road that looked familiar. I had been there before on a run from wedekind to capitol peak.
We continued down the service road for a few miles to a Jeep trail on the back side of the peak that the regular ultra runners referred to as "the grunt." Earlier in the race someone had mentioned the grunt, I asked what it was, and another guy just laughed and said "you'll see."
The grunt is a steep as hell jeep trail that brought us to a slow crawl all the way to the peak. A glute burning, bach aching climb up jagged rock and what looked like old driftwood. Even though the elevation at the peak is only 2,500ft, I could feel the air changing as we approached the top. And under a rock at the top was a bag of colored rubber bands. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. You were meant to bring a rubber band from the top back to the finish to prove you did the 34 mile loop. Even though we had only gone about 18 miles so far, I couldn't help but feel excited. I thought: "HA! I'm gonna make it!"
We descended down the peak and refilled our water bottles at the last aid station before our drop bags at falls creek. The descent went 2x as fast. We barreled back down the course and passed quite a few people on the way. It was raining pretty hard by now and the rain/sweat mixture was stinging my eyes.
I was really happy to get to our drop bags at mile 26. I ate 3 potatoes and chugged 1/2 a bottle of mountain dew. It was nice to be able to throw on a rain coat and beanie. We ate for a couple minutes, left one of our water bottles, and loaded up on some more nuun.
Then we were off for the final stretch.
I asked Craig "So we ran a marathon already?"
"Yea" He responded "Congratulations!"
 I laughed "Congratulations to you too."
The rest of the run was a little challenging for me. My face started getting really hot and I didn't feel so well. I think I ate a little too much and I don't know if the mountain dew was the best idea. To much sugar maybe. Or maybe I had only slept 3 hours and had ran 27 miles up a mountain. I don't know.
We were ascending again, which didn't feel so nice after a long downhill stretch.
We broke out of the forest into a clearing and Craig said "well we only have an hour left, Korey. Anyone can run for an hour"
I'm not sure I said anything, I was having a rough spot then.
The trails had changed from the rain. There were deep puddles and running water.
The only time it felt good was when my mind was blank and I got lost in the sound of our foot steps repetitively pounding the muddy trails. I guess thats what they mean when they say you have to turn your mind off to be an ultra runner.
Towards the end I had to walk most of the uphills no matter how small they were.
My right knee was screaming and my feet were sore.
 "I don't think I want to do this again" I thought to myself.
I think Craig wanted to keep pushing through the small hills, but I wanted to walk and he stuck with me.
Looking back, I could have run them.
I saw a sign on the trail that said "1.3M > Margaret Meckenney Camp"
Craig mentioned that his feet wanted him to stop.
I said " we've only got a mile left"
I was pretty excited about that.
He didn't say anything.
That's because I was wrong and we had 2 or 3 miles left.
That was nice of him.
I realized this about 15 minutes later.
"I tricked myself with the 1 mile thing back there!"
"yea, I didn't want to say anything"
Soon thereafter we were running through the woods and I heard a cowbell in the distance.
Craig said " I hear the cowbells"
"They have cowbells at the finish?" I asked, as if there might be some other explanation like:
"No, there's probably a herd of forest cows out there running an ultra".
We kept running.
"More Cowbell!" Craig said "We're just gonna keep running, don't walk"
As we ran up this last little hill I saw the top of the finishers booth and heard more cowbell.
That was one of the best feelings ever.
I was smiling like a school boy with a crush looking at that finish line.
The runners that were there were cheering as we crossed.
"Congratulations!!!" Rachael said "That's a great time for your first ultra"
I was so happy to not be running anymore..

We ran what was supposed to be 34 miles (ended up more like 37 with 5,800 ft of elevation gain) in 5:55

Friday night at work when I was explaining what I was planning to do in the morning someone asked:
"Why do you do that to your body?"

I do it because I can.
I do it because it makes me feel alive.
I do it because it enriches my life in ways that material things never will.
But mostly...

I just love to run.

I'm thankful to have met Rachael and Craig.  And to be part of Guerilla Running and our local running community. I feel like they're the type of people who would answer their phones at 3:30 in the morning if you needed help and they'd help without hesitating. Good people. The world could use more good people like them.

1 comment:

  1. Korey...all I can say is one word...Amazing. From what I am learning from running with you talking to you and reading from your blog, it is amazing. You are an inspiration to others. I hope to someday do an Ultra....but I will begin with a half on the 30th. Then work my way up. Running make me feel alive too...good job little buddy!