Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Capitol Peak 50 mile: my first long race of the season

Going up the grunt: a 1 mile section of trail with approx 1,000 feet elevation gain.
I looked forward to Capitol Peak 50 miler with a mix of (in this order) fear, excitement, dread, awe, pleasure, and disbelief.  I have done this distance twice before, both in 2010: I ran the Capitol Peak 50 mile in April and White River 50 mile in July. I have also done about ten (or more) 50k's in the past 14 months, and a handful of 30k and under races.  Which all equated to me feeling like I should be ready to conquer Cap Peak, yet...

Two days before Capitol Peak I couldn't resist going to a show in Seattle, as it was James' brother's band and would be sure to be a lot of fun.  I knew the possible danger of going out a few nights before a big race, not only could lack of sleep damage my performance, but also poor, um, hydration could too.  All said and done, I opted to suffer from both the aforementioned maladies and took the day between the show and the race to recover.  To put it mildly, I felt horrible on Friday.  I comforted myself with the thought that it was only a 50 MILE RACE, WHAT THE F%#K WAS I THINKING?!?!  This was no time to express pre-race remorse though.  I sucked it up and drank water, took some vitamin "I" and tried my best to eat well.

On my way to the race on Friday, I dropped James off at the airport.  He had a running tour to lead the following week in TN and NC, and wouldn't be able to make it to Cap Peak.  I stayed at RD John's house (thanks John) with Wild Bill and Canada Joe as housemates for the night before the race.  Wild Bill does the t-shirt design and printing for many of Rainshadow Running's race shirts.  Joe is from Toronto, Canada and is also a race Director, and as we found out, shared some funny food similarities with me.  I was looking around John's fridge for salad dressing, darn none, when Joe came out and asked if I saw any peanut butter in there.  No, I don't see any.  Joe said, well I usually have almond butter and honey on my bread, but... What? I have almond butter and honey in my car, I said, what are the chances of that?   I spent the rest of the evening cooking potatoes for the race the next day.  Then I retired to bed, to sleep as much as possible before having to get up at 4am.

By race morning I was feeling a lot better.  I woke up just after 4 am and rushed around getting my "stuff" ready for the race: get dressed, coffee, drink more water, pack belongings into car, make sure drop bags are all ready, and follow directions to the start while eating some yogurt. All this morning rushing around took longer than I expected and I left just before 5am to drive 30 minutes to the start.  Race begins at 6am.

I was able to get the best parking spot in the house, oh yeah, thanks to bringing the potatoes for the aid stations.  Hmmm, these potatoes are worth their weight in gold.  I searched all over my car for my list of times that I had painstakingly made telling me where I should be during the race at what time.  I comforted myself with the thought that perhaps losing the list was a gift of sorts.  I will just run by how I feel.  This is usually the best way to run anyway, but knowing me, it's good to have a little extra motivation to keep me pushing my pace throughout the race.

Despite my lack of planned timing for the race, I was able to keep a pretty consistent pace throughout the 50 miles.  The only part that I felt like I really struggled on was the out-and-back section from mile 23 to mile 29, then back from mile 29 to mile 35.  The trail was often flat and gently sloping down on the way out with a couple of more significant descents.  The whole time I kept thinking, boo hoo I have to come back this way and ahhhhhh the course is different than last year!  I was hoping that we'd have the same course as 2010, mostly because I felt like it accentuated my strong suits as a runner: lots of rolling, gradual hills with a few good climbs and a really nice long downhill section (mostly) for the last 8.5 miles.  The new course, on the other hand, felt like it had a lot of runnable sections, lots of flat-ish running also with some good climbs, but not with the great downhill that last year's race had.

As my mind was comparing and analyzing the two race courses, I struggled to soothe it into enjoying the scenery and the amazing highs and lows that come with exerting one's self for so many hours.  For the first 50k I felt really good.  It was shortly after that point that my right leg began to hurt all the way from my arch to my hip.  The pain came and went, luckily, and I was able to focus my attention on my left leg, which felt great!  My left leg was saying, you've only just began!  Let's run this course backwards once you reach the finish line!  I was able to finish the race in 9 hours 45 minutes, about 10 minutes faster than last year, good enough for 6th place woman.  Not that that means much considering the course was so different, but I did notice that I was also 6th place last year, interesting.

All in all, I am feeling really confident at the 50 mile distance.  Next big race is Sun Mountain 50 mile on May 22.  Bring it on!
Coming in to the finish.  A really nice feeling!


  1. you did awesome! can't wait for sun mountain :)

  2. Sounds like you had a great race! Congratulations! Cooking potatoes? What is the magic cooking time? I am cooking them for Sun Mountain & did for the Gorge run, but they weren't the best :-) Thanks and happy running, Kristal

  3. Thanks Heather.

    Kristal, when I cook potatoes for the aid stations I make sure to watch them carefully. It's important that you cook them enough, but not too much. They should be soft enough to eat, but firm enough that they stay solid when you package them up or spoon them out of the water. Sometimes the skin will be peeling off a little or the pieces that you cut a little smalller than the rest will be a little mushy, but that's no big deal. As long as most of them are the right amount of firm/soft to eat and transport you're good!

    I fill up a large pot with water, with potatoes in it cut into bite-size pieces, and bring to boil. Let boil until they are done as described above, and drain quickly so they don't keep cooking too much.

    Good luck fellow potato cooker!


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