5:00am Up for coffee and banana after a good night's sleep. Trying to prepare a little better than I did for last week's spur of the moment race. I've been thinking about this one for at least 3 days now :) The race sold out Friday, but I emailed the RD and she agreed to squeeze me in if I showed up early. Other than a little fog, the weather looks perfect this morning, 48°, 2 mph wind, and 1% chance of rain.
The goal today: finish strong and beat last week's time. Steilacoom offers a lot of hills and singletrack, but the hills are not as steep and I am more familiar with this park. I'm sure there will be some surprises, but I spend a lot of time at Steilacoom Park so this should be fun!
This race was fun, as long as you didn't care about everybody actually running the same course. The organizers and volunteers were super nice, but the course marking was really sketchy compared to the Defiance 50k last week. Most of it was marked well enough, but there were several key corners that were not marked well at all. There were so many decision points at intersections it didn't seem like anybody was sure about where they were going on the course. The only volunteers on the course were at the aid stations, nobody was helping at all with directions. There was a group of about 10 runners that missed part of the course on the back side of the park and we all came up a mile short at the end of the first loop. I knew this race was a mistake when the general consenus seemed to be "oh well, everybody missed it so it's all good". I didn't think that sounded so good so I teamed up with another runner that wanted to run the full 50k. We left the rest of that group behind and continued on, keeping a careful lookout for all the tricky corners this time around and our second tour of the park was a little over 10 miles, putting us at 19 and change. The turn we missed before was a 90° left onto a deer trail in tall grass only about 10" wide. There was only one little pinflag marking it. By the last time around, somebody had added another orange tape flag next to it, but it was still easy to miss if you didn't know it was coming.
About 30 minutes into the 3rd lap we caught up to and passed the group we left behind during the second lap... interesting, I know, right? I think they got ahead of us by skipping that mile on the second loop again. During this last trip around the park my new running buddy faded and I was on my own other than a few marathoners still on the course. Two of these kind souls picked me up when I crashed on one of the singletrack sections and helped me back to my feet. As soon as I went airborn after tripping I tensed up and my right calf cramped up bad before I even hit the ground. Getting up wasn't easy! These runners were so generous and offered me everything short of a piggy back ride to the end :) , water, salt tabs, electrolytes, you name it, they were eager to help another runner. These folks made up for the poor sportsmanship I saw earlier in the race and made me feel a lot better about being out there. Luckily I shook off the cramp in a couple minutes and got back to running. Only a few miles left to go..., sort of. When I finally got near the finish area I was still a mile short from that first loop so I hung a sharp right before I got to the finish chute and headed back toward the lake until the return trip to the finish would give me at least 31.07 on my Garmin. Overall it was a good run. I did the distance and met my goals. I'm a little disappointed since my place and time don't really count for anything. I'm pretty sure a lot of runners went under or maybe even over the distance today and either didn't know or didn't care. That's not really my idea of a race.
FWIW, I'm also pretty sure I got this ultra thing out of my system for a while :)
The 50k was 3 long and 3 short loops: