Monday, December 20, 2010

Pigtails 50k Race Report

Candice and Genia, 2nd and 1st place respectively at Pigtails 50K 2010

I signed up for Pigtails 50K in Renton so that I would have a race in December.  I had not raced since early October and was itching to see how my training would play out.  50K is my favorite distance: it's long enough to feel like you have really put out an effort, but short enough to do, well, everyday.  Or every weekend anyway.  Another nice thing is that I was able to sleep at home the night before and drive to the race in the morning, no major travel arrangements.  I did have to get up at 4:30 AM, but I'm not complaining.

The day before the race, race director Van Phan considered canceling the race due to high wind and storm warnings for Saturday morning.  Enough of us protested, after all a good stormy run is fun too... And the weather turned out to be quite accommodating, but a bit cold.   We began the race with a light sprinkling of snow that stopped for most of the run and began again a short while after I finished and then turned into a heavy downpour.   I ended up running in a t-shirt, gloves and my long running tights, thanks to the fast course.

I didn't have any specific plan for the race, but when I found my friends Terry and Kevin at the start line I decided to run with them.  The race began calmly enough with lots of chatting and since no one really seemed to be pushing the pace, a few of us led the race with a couple guys sprinting out into the lead.  Kevin and I held onto 5th-ish place for much of the first half marathon (8:25 pace per mile) which brought us to the farthest "out" point of the out and back course. At this point Kevin took off.  I was feeling pretty good, but the way back there was a head wind and long straightaways that followed a busy road for about 5 miles, b o r i n g!  This was one of the few time I have wished that I had music to listen to.  I struggled to stay motivated and to keep my legs working as they began to feel tighter and tighter.  I have been mostly running on soft single track trails and the paved trail (about 12 of the 31 miles was hard pack gravel) was wearing on my legs.

The way back was by far the most challenging part of the race.  I held first place woman until the last aid station about 10 miles from the finish, then was passed by Genia Kacey.  I stayed in second place for the remainder of the race.  The 50k runners (that's me) took a 5 mile detour to add the extra mileage at the last aid station, and the marathoners continued onto the finish.  The last 5 miles went by very quickly, and before I knew it, I was within sight of the finish line.  I finished in 4:39:00, happily sneaking in under 4:40.  I think that if I had conserved more in the first half, I could have maintained a more consistent pace. As it was, I ran a good tempo 25K at the start.

Two days after the race my legs are still pretty sore, including a really tender heel on my right foot.  A surprise to me since I've been doing a 50k almost every weekend up until a few weeks ago.  But here's why I am so sore: all the 50k's I've done have been on softer trails at an easier pace with a lot of ascents and descents.  That's quite a big difference from the flat, smooth and gradual, long uphills at Pigtails.  I have only ever done one marathon, and it was a year ago, so it was fun to see that I easily broke 4 hours at the 26 mile mark (3:50).  It makes me want to do a marathon! 
These are the shoes I wore, racing flats Inov8 230's.  Love them, but still getting used to them. They are very light and minimal.
Finish line and food for racers
Van Phan, Race director
That white line to the left was the finish line. 
Candice and Genia
Saturday night I went to a solstice party with some Seattle friends.  Pretty cool party had a fire dancer and this man was breathing fire.  Lots of fun!

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