Sunday, January 16, 2011

Capitol Peak 17 Miler

Well the first semi-organized "Fun Run"/Race has come and gone and I'm fairly certain my legs were expecting a little less vertical and a lot less pace than what I threw their way yesterday. Not that I really care...I decided to thrash them again today and will do so again tomorrow until they fall in line and decide to quit being pansies.

The fun run was located out in Capitol Forest. For those of you unfamiliar with the area it's a little bit south of Olympia and consists of a collection of hiker, horse and ORV trails. If you are out there and listen closely the sweet, calming sounds of a gun club can be found over the annoying traditional wilderness fair. (Babbling brooks, winds, birds...that sort of thing) The area is actually quite nice for trail running as everything is pretty well marked and the area itself is smorgasbord of mileage for those people that live in Tacoma or further south. Unfortunately that means for your truly the day started at 5:00 AM. The drive from Seattle is about an hour and a half a full 45 minutes longer than it takes me to get up into the I90 corridor for my training runs so I probably won't be making myself out to Capitol forest much before my next race there on April 30th.

In any event, woke up, took a slight detour in the Tacoma area to pick up Doug and then head out to the Margaret McKinney campground and found to our surprise that a few hundred people had shown up for the run. We managed to find parking, got geared up (Which didn't consist of much..)grabbed our entrance fees (5 bucks and a roll of toilet paper) and then checked in. No race numbers at these "Fat Ass" events so following the registration we just milled around with other runners and listened to the sounds of hundreds of Garmin Watches booting up in preparation for the next 17 or 34 miles. (Doug and I ran the 17 miler)

The race itself is put on by capitol peak ultras who are also responsible for a couple other races in the Capitol forest area. They did a fantastic job with the event giving us runners enough guidance to get us through the run without getting lost or feeling idiotic but also keeping it low key enough to where it really just felt like a fun run despite the fact that there were water aid stations, a finish line clock, and well marked trails. Super nice volunteers and friendly runners rounded out the day to create a great atmosphere. Oh and what would it be without the infamous Capitol Forest mud of which there was plenty.

In any event, the 17 mile run itself was an out an back with 2500 feet of total elevation gain. It stuck mainly tot he waddle loop and green line trails. The beginning started easy enough...not a whole lot of mud and just an easy pace. Trail runs are interesting in that you are locked into other peoples paces for a vast majority of the first few miles. After about 3 miles everything started to spread out and the mud made its first appearance in spectacular fashion. Most runners seemed to be trying to avoid the nastiness but Doug decided that we should embrace it and hit every puddle on the mountain. This strategy really paid off as we didn't do nearly as much dodging as many of the other racers. That being said we also didn't make too many friends during those early miles as I'm sure we splashed a ton of folks who were trying in vain to stay clean and dry. One instance saw me whooping as we sprinted strait into a giant 15 foot puddle being fed by a temporary creek that happened to be running down the rest of the trail. I splashed through, yelled "On your left" to some ladies that were trying to dodge all the water and proceeded to pass them as they screamed "Don't splash me!". Ah...great stuff.

The rest of the first half was pretty standard. We maintained a pretty fair pace up the 1000+ foot climb and then sped up a bit on the descent. We lost a bit of time at the turnaround as I had to fill up my bottle and empty my near bursting bladder. (Damn you breakfast tea!) I felt pretty good at the turnaround so I decided without consulting Doug that we would actually race the second 8.5 miles. I set a pretty ridiculous pace (for me) up the incline and we almost immediately started picking people off. This just served to fuel my inner speedster and I increased the pace further. We ended up picking up a few additional folks and turned our two person racing machine into a four man freight train. (Freigt train was actually what one of our additions used to describe it.) Once we got to the top we cranked it up to 11 on the descent, splashing our way past several other runners while trying our hardest not to barf.

I seriously started questioning whether or not I would be able to maintain the pace we set (I say we but I'm pretty much to blame here since I was in front) when I took a swig of fizzy Nuun and had a serious bit of nausea almost overwhelm my anti-vommit measures. I immediately backed off the pace and let our two newfound friends pass. (I think Doug was having a similar bout of stomach nastiness so he ended up staying with me) In any event...I tried to pick off a few other people but just couldn't convince my legs to go any faster. The last half a mile came and went without too much difficulty. We were cheered into the finish area by a few crows, a frog and a couple of kids giving us as much cowbell as their tiny arms could muster. Big thanks to everything that cheered us on as this always seems to give me a nice shot of adrenaline during any type of race.

After crossing the finish line we wrote down our official time (Mine was 2:56:00 I believe) and reconvened with the other two members of our freight train. I was told almost immediately that if I hadn't set that pace that none of  them would've run that fast. I mostly felt good about this but a tiny part of me asked the following question...

"You mean I didn't need to run that fast?"

I immediately squashed this girly man thought, doubled over with my hands on my knees and grinned through the near constant micro-cramps that were shooting up my thighs.

We ended up hanging out at the finish line for 10 or 15 minutes congratulating our fellow runners. The director of Evergreen Trail Runs came in and told me that I had set a pretty ridiculous pace on the second half. I thanked him, chatted for a bit, had the same girly man thought I mentioned above, and for the first time felt that I might actually be okay at this running thing. The rest of our time was spent cleaning up (we were pretty filthy after splashing through a hundred or so mud puddles) and partaking in the finish line bonfire and potluck. I crammed my face full of some food, dropped off some homemade guacamole then started the long drive back to Seattle. Pretty awesome day. Big thanks again to Capitol Peak Ultras for putting on the event and Doug for coming out and doing the race with me. (And putting up with the pace that almost made us both barf)


  1. Your blahg makes me thirsty. I'm not sure why.

  2. Subliminal messaging. I'm actually an Anheuser-Busch employee and this whole blog is just an advertisement.