Tuesday, June 30, 2009
20th Century 100k and Beyond
I’ve definitely begun tapering for Hardrock at this point, but I guess tapering is all relative. After maxing at about a 250 mile week, I was itching for another long run, so I decided a few days prior to the race to do the 20th Century 100k last week. Because this is a very easy course as far as 100k trail races go, I figured it would be a great way to get in a solid long run mileage-wise without a ton of time on my feet (the best of both worlds!). I know hindsight’s 20/20, but I’m happy to say that my foresight for once matches my hindsight in this situation, so I’m really happy it all worked out well.
It’s kind of fun to sign up for a race at the last minute and to go into it with the total mindset of it being a training run. I felt zero pressure and had a really fun time all day long. Race day itself began with beautiful weather and nice cool temps. I rode out to the start with my friend Lindsay and we were definitely running a bit late. We parked at the finish in Carnation, WA and were fortunate enough to barely catch one of the RD’s leaving the parking lot as we arrived, so we bummed a ride to the start out in Easton, WA with him. Whew! The course itself is pretty straightforward. There’s an old rails to trails railroad grade (the John Wayne trail) that runs roughly East/West from somewhere around North Bend to somewhere else pretty far away (Vantage maybe?). Anyway, it goes a long way and it’s a very moderate grade, and basically feels like you’re running on pancake flat ground the whole time. The course essentially follows that from Easton west to Carnation. However, due to a tunnel closure through Snoqualmie Pass, there was a fortuitous reroute on the course this year up and around Snoqualmie Pass. This meant an additional 1,000 or so feet of climbing and a section of some of my favorite single track trail from the Cascade Crest 100 course. This section came somewhere around the 15-20 mile mark if I remember correctly, and was a very welcome change after a quick warmup on the railroad grade. I wasn’t sure who was registered for the race, but knew it was a fairly small crowd and sort of expected to be running alone for most of the day. However, I was pleasantly surprised to have company right from the start. A guy I hadn’t meant before (Shawn Bussert) hung right with me for quite a while. It was fun having him there to push the pace a bit and not let me slack off, and it was fun chatting with him a bit here and there too. He’s new to ultrarunning, and a great runner already, and this was his first go at the 100k distance. Needless to say, he ran a great race. We came into the 50k aid station (and halfway mark) right together at right about 4:30, and then pressed on down the railroad grade. Not too much to report other than I was really tempted to go off on many side trips to mix it up a bit (specifically, I wanted to turn off on the McClellan Butte trail for some nice single track and a fun summit, I wanted to join the folks we saw climbing for a quick up and down, I wanted to turn off and run a quick time up and down Mt. Si…), but I abstained and stayed on course. My pace stayed pretty steady and by mile 40 or so I was running alone and would be for the rest of the day. The last 6 or 8 miles seemed super long, but the finish line eventually came into sight, and a really fun 100k came to an end. The race directors (Michael Cartwright and Scott Krell) spare no effort in putting on a race and truly put on a tremendous event. The course was incredibly thoroughly marked, the aid stations well stocked, the volunteers amazing, the finish line extravaganza unmatched. I feasted on a fully loaded hot dog, and Scott’s wife made me a fresh strong cup of coffee (with the beans ground right there!). I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a race with delicious on demand espresso drinks available post-race- wow! This was a super fun day out on the trails, and I’m really glad I made the call to go out and do this one. A huge thanks to all the volunteers and to Michael and Scott!