...what's the @#$!% difference. These were the words going through my head on the worst part, for me, of the Chuckanut Trail 50km. That seemingly endless 6 miles back to the finish after a 25 minute descent makes my feel like I'm moving through sand. I know last year I challenged myself to run this last section in a pace of 7 minutes/mile and accomplished it. This year, after a month of weird hamstring discomfort, I just wanted it to be over. It was here that I started in 15th place and thought, "Hey, I'd be happy with that". Until the first person passed me and now I'm thinking, "There is no glory to be found between 16th and 20th so I don't care if four more people pass me". And on I went.
This was my fourth edition of this race, still my favourite as I do quite a bit of training on it. It's the area I plan to run a lot on in the coming months to get ready for the longer trail races. The training will include long runs, night runs, and long night runs.
The day was so bright and warm it was easy to believe that spring was only a day away. Through the flat 6 mile beginning I felt pretty good, the hamstring not bothering me at all, possibly thanks to some pre-race advil. I re-filled my bottle and headed up the Fragrance Lake trail at the first aid station. Normally I can go up this without stopping and ended up only slowing twice this time with the legs quite comfortable chugging merrily (not quickly) upwards. When I hit the top I could tell there was some trail-training lacking. They were a bit jello-y and not feeling too peppy. After we passed the lake we descended into aid station 2 where I was glad I didn't need to refill the bottle for the long, arduous climb up Cleator Road. I managed this one without stopping but to the casual observer I'm sure my running looked like walking.
At the top of the road I grabbed more water, headed up a ways more to the start of the Upper Ridge Trail. This is usually my favourite area to train on and that's how fast I went on the path on this day - training pace. Not really too fast, just enjoying the warmth and the many views from up high. It also felt very non-race-like because there was no one else in sight in front or behind the whole way on the ridge. It wasn't until I started up the Lost Lake trail that I found and passed some folks. I think I only walked a couple times near the top of this trail before flying back down to the bottom of Chinscraper and aid station 4. Regrettably I had to fill up again at the worst possilble spot before this steep section. I did take the time to chug some coke in hopes of breathing life into my legs.
All the walking I didn't do before caught up with me and the steepest sections owned my running legs. I thought at some spots that I might as well run because walking wasn't going to help refresh my legs any and I wouldn't need rest for the long downhill to the flats. I still walked anyways.
I got to the bottom and through the last aid station without stopping and shuffled through to the finish. Four people passed me on the way in, the last one being two hundred metres from the finish when I was taking my shoes and socks off and ran BF across the line.
I was quite pleased when I later checked my previous results and found I was only 6 minutes slower than my personal best on this course. I tell ya, maybe I'm better off with very little training then hoping for the best during races. Should I sit on the couch from now until Diez Vista? Might be worth a try.