Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inaugural Orcas Island Triple Ripple Trail Running Festival

Doe bay, looking out from the Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island
First things first: what a wonderful weekend of racing on magical Orcas Island.  The Triple Ripple race series was a well organized effort by Susannah Beck and her crew.  This race is definitely on my radar for next year.  I highly recommend participating in all three of the races.  The weekend consisted of three trail races in two days.  On Saturday a 4 mile around the lake in the morning and a 10K uphill (climbing Mt. Constitution) in the afternoon.  Sunday morning was the 30K.  The 30K course traversed many of the trails around Moran State Park including a steep climb up Mt. Pickett and Mt. Constitution.  Each race was challenging in its own way and then there was the added challenge of doing all three!  I was surprised to find that I enjoyed each race more than the one before it.  The week previous to the race I played with the idea of only doing one of the three races (the 30K of course) as the blisters on my arch from Cle Elum 50K were still pretty painful, especially on my right foot. 
Here's the blister from Cle Elum 50K
James checks out the map at Deception Pass, Whidbey Island
The weekend fun began on Friday with a 4 mile run at Deception Pass Park. James Varner, of Rainshadow Running, wanted to check out the trails for a possible future race and since we missed the 3:30 ferry and had to wait for the 6:30, a run sounded pretty sweet. 
Candice, James, and Laura on the Ferry to Orcas Friday night
We got to Camp Moran after dark and were still able to check in and get our race numbers and packets.  Time to set up tent and get some sleep before the big weekend.
James gets some work done while we wait for our lunch
The Four Mile Around Mountain Lake
After some breakfast James and I headed up to Mountain Lake for the 4 mile trail race.  Of all three races, this was the race I was not really looking forward to.  I haven't done any short races this year, other than a 12K in May, and I felt a little out of my element.  Despite my apprehension, the race was a good challenge and I enjoyed how quickly I was finished.  In fact, I think I will enjoy doing more 5K distances in the near future.

James, Laura and I had lunch at the Doe Bay Resort on Saturday between races then went for a soak in their three hot tubs.  Each tub was a different temperature ranging from hot to cool.  The resort is a short drive from Camp Moran.  It is located right on the water with incredible views.  A spectacular place to rest and enjoy some food and sunshine.  Soon it was time to head back to Camp Moran for the uphill 10K race.

10K Uphill (Climbing Mt. Constitution) 2,497 feet elevation climb in 6 miles

The 10K was really fun and rewarded runners with incredibly clear views of the sound, San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker.  The race began at Camp Moran and wound around Cascade Lake then began the climb up to Mt. Constitution.  The ascent hit my legs hard at the start, but by mid-way up I was feeling pretty damn good.  Breathing fully and pushing uphill felt like wonderful agony.  Because it was only 6 miles I kept pushing myself to go faster.  It is pretty hard to bonk on such a short race (at least for me anyway).  But I was keeping it in the back of mind that I still had a 30K race the next morning and so I held back a little more than I would have otherwise.  Perhaps that was unnecessary, nonetheless it was hard not to consider saving something for Sunday's race.  I was surprised that I felt so good for each race.  I think that starting with low mileage races and working up to the 20 miler kept my legs feeling fresh. Well, that and some really great company.

Post race Laura Houston gave a talk on Chi Running (a big help it turned out for the 30K the next day, thanks Laura you are awesome!!!) and there was a yummy dinner and beer at the camp prepared by Jen Vollmer and staff.  Following the dinner was live music and dancing until about 9 PM, all of which I partook in of course.  At that point Laura, James and I headed back to the Doe bay Resort to get in some more soaking in the hot tubs.

30K Moran Sate Park: 4,600 feet elevation gain/loss and letting go of old ideas...
This race marked a significant change in the way I race.  I consider 50K my usual racing distance.  My race strategy up to this point has been to hold back a good deal during the first half of the 50K to make sure I don't use up all my energy.  An exception to that rule being downhills, which I enjoy speeding down.  The 30K taught me that I can have a lot of energy and keep up a faster overall pace.  I came to the race thinking how much shorter the 30K was than the 50K so I pushed my self harder for the first 10 miles and continued to keep up the quicker pace.  Instead of feeling tired and unmotivated like I feared I might for the second half of the race, I felt warmed up and energized.  It helped that the second half of the race was mostly downhill and flat and that my legs felt great- no significant pain.  The first 8-10 miles has almost 4,600 feet of elevation gain, making it the tougher half of the race.  The hills are where you can really lose time if you aren't careful.  My persistence in the first half paid off and I didn't lose too much time climbing up Pickett and Mt. Constitution.   

The race had a lot of Aid stations for such a short distance.  This allowed me to take just one hand water bottle and only two GUs.  I grabbed two more GUs at each of the Aid Stations (I think there were 5 aid stations, one of which we ran by twice) and refilled my water bottle a few times.  The GUs helped me keep my energy up. I have been avoiding them this last summer thinking that they might give me a stomach ache like the nasty one I had at Chuckanut Mountain 50K in March.  Today though, no tummy problems, just lots of quick energy.

Overall I enjoyed the 30K the most of all the races.  Somehow the 4 miler and the 10K Uphill made the 30K that much better!  If you have just the right amount of crazy and physical ability to run all three races, do it!!  With each race you get to know the other runners better and you might just have an "ah-ha" moment in relation to your racing strategy like I did.  I have a lot more confidence to push myself in the longer races.  I can also see how doing shorter (10K to 30K distance, maybe even 5K) races will improve my 50K times as I become more comfortable racing faster.  
Preparing some snacks for runners in the kitchen
The rowdy table, clockwise from left to right: Joseph (1st place man in series), Christy, Candice (2nd place woman in series), James (4th place man in series), and Willie (3rd place man in series).
Laura Houston teaches runners about Chi Running
Morning of the 30K James determines that I might need some duct tape on my shoes which have been ripping along the sole on both sides.  I took his advice and they held together for the 30K much to my relief. 
here's another great technique for blisters that helped my feet survive the 10K and 30K (thanks again for the idea James!): small bandade over my blister then a generous piece of duct tape over that.  The duct tape kept the shoes from rubbing on the blister and making it worse.  It worked so well that my blister wounds didn't get irritated at all.  Pretty impressive. 
My shoes with duct tape along the inside of the shoe kept the side rips from getting bigger.  Time to get new shoes...
Top 3 ladies for the 30K: left to right Rebecca (2nd place), Lindsey (1st place), and me (3rd place).  We finished within 10 minutes of each other.
James prepares to ice his legs in the lake post 30K
soaking in Cascade Lake
Post 30K meal: What a spread!  I'm very thankful for the delicious post race soup, salad, rice, and dessert, thank you Triple Ripple!  
Coffee while waiting for the ferry off the island.  I was feeling pretty sleepy at this point.  My legs felt good though.

1 comment:

  1. definitely worth the wait. you're a good writer. lindsay was the name of the first place 30k runner.


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