March 21, 2010

Gettin Humbled, Chuck 50k

(The Start, pic stolen off Adam's blog, thanks)

I'll try to keep this as short n sweet as possible. I just tried to pull off a Garmin GPS image of the run itself but unfortunately it doesn't want to cooperate right now.

Without a visual reference, here's a quick breakdown:
Chuckanut 50k course consists of a fairly flat 10k start on a double track hardpacked trail. This is then followed by a 25k midsection with some good steep climbs and one ridgeline singletrack section. You then bomb back down 5km of forest service road and are spit back out onto your original 10k entry, which you retrace back to your starting point for an exact total distance of 51km.

I would never claim to have a chance at winning a race like Chuckanut as it does not contain nearly enough questionable footing to allow me to hang with the true speedsters of the sport. The 2010 edition of this race saw the absolute hands down most competitive field Bellingham, Washington had ever collected in one race.

When the race began a large pack shot to the front before getting strung out. Eventually three guys lead the charge, that being Andy Martin, Erik Skaggs, and Adam Campbell. A second group of three were about a minute back, consisting of Hal Koerner, Joseph Grant, and Yassin Diboun. I trailed these three by about another minute as an individual, and my good running buddy Ryne Melcher was a few steps back from myself. I have no idea how it strung out after that.

My goal heading into the first aid station at 6.1m/10k, was to try to keep the lead guys within a few minutes of me. Tamsin was nice enough to join me for the race and although I know it tortured her not to be running herself she was a wonderful crew! I opened in 39m30s and was just over 2min behind the lead three guys, still in 7th.

As we attacked the guts of the course I anticipated closing the gap on some of those in front of me. Instead I was left counting backwards as guys passed me on the climbs like I was standing still. This frustrated me to no end, but as the author Rita Mae Brown wrote, "Insanity is when you keep doing the same things expecting different results".

I have had this 'fact' thrown in my face over numerous races. I can climb, but I can not climb with the best of them. I loose minutes to the true climbers within kms or even less sometimes. If these climbs are followed up by technical descents than I can gain that time back and more without issue, however, take out the questionable footing and I'm simply left with a gap that is virtually impossible to close. I have not personally addressed this in my own training, so what can I really expect of myself!

(The Canadian Montrail Crew)

By the time I hit the 30k mark of the race I was shattered. I don't believe I started out too fast, but when I tried to dig deep there was nothing there. I wasn't cramping or facing nutrition issues, I just had zero zip in my legs and I knew it would be a long haul to the finish line. I even thought about dropping numerous times, and it always kills me to have to battle these demons. I believe I was still in 9th at the time, but I was dying a slow death and wanted nothing more than for it to all be over with.

Eventually we hit the steepest part of the course, the aptly named 'Chinscraper', and yet again I was passed like I was snoozing on the side of the trail. When you top out here it's 5-6km of straight downhill to the final aid station. This is where I should excel but I was in survival mode and just holding on the entire time.

I hit the final aid station at 41k and had but 10k of tortuously flat terrain left to cover. I found myself in 11th and though I had no idea what was going on behind me I knew by the level of competition that I had a better chance of being caught than actually catching anyone in front of me.

I found myself wanting to walk, and then desiring to crawl. All I could do was zone out and tell myself that my GPS watch just had to beep ten more times (per km) and I'd be done. I focused on maintaining a 4m15s-4m20s km pace and simply stared ahead until each beep. I'd check my split and zone out again, trying to convince myself that I might catch someone if I just stayed focused. All the hikers and volunteers I encountered on my return suffer fest all said the same things,

"You look great" - "Looking strong" - "Almost home"

and internally I cursed them all,

"Screw you!" - "F'in lier!" - "I want to punch you in the esophagus!"

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-MAKE IT END DAMMIT-1-DONE!

I managed 11th in a time of 4h12m14s. That's an improvement of seventeen minutes over my 08 race. This is a good thing. I finished one spot back. That sucks! I was shooting for a sub 4hr and would have been ok with a 4h07'ish, but alas, this was all I had on this particular day.

The sport of ultra running is getting faster by the day, unfortunately I'm only getting faster by the year!

Diez Vista 50k in three weeks...and it has enough rocks and roots that I should help bring some confidence back to my humbled pride!

Congrats to so many first timers out there and thanks so much to Krissy Moehl and all the volunteers for pulling off such a flawless event. It might take me a few days to convince myself to return again next year, but either way it was fun to be a part of it all!

Full Results

(Not top three, I WISH, congrats Adam on an amazing ultra debut!)



Dom Repta said...

YEP. getting fast. whatever year I did it, I ran something in mid 420's, don't know exact, but I think I was 7th or 8th overall.....the times they are a changin'....

Peter Watson said...

nice race Repta. You still surprise.

Andy Martin said...

Way to suck it up and get to the finish. I think that last 10K is nasty for everyone. Hope to see you at another one this year!

garobbins said...

Andy, if I see you at another race this year it'll be too soon, lol! Congrats on that win, very impressive! Maybe see you at TRR again?

Dommer, agreed, well done, and Watson great job too, strong runs all round!


Jude said...

a gnaRLy entry, a hilarious laugh... oh so true...

merci beaucoup!

Tom Craik said...

Wow! to all you guys who ran this thing. Outstanding performance. Try to remember us little people when your expectations aren't met, GR. You're all in a league of your own and someone had to be 11th. If I were 11th in that crew of runners, I'd quit running forever and go out with a bang. Really well done, Gary...regardless of wanting to punch people's esophagus' - is that esophagi when it's plural? Hmmm.

wiglebot said...

Nice, I love the play-by-play description even if it was not your day.

Gary Robbins said...

Thanks guys, definitely lots of positives to take away from this one in the end, and I guess I'll have to return again in 2011 to see if I can take another 17min off my time...and hopefully not finish 12th!!


Shaner said...

Bummer about the tough race Gary. Unfortunately, they all can't be great so this just makes you appreciate the good ones more right?