January has been a busy running month! One of the side effects of joining the SRC Brooks team has been a greater connection to the Seattle running community and along with that comes more opportunities to run – as well as more opportunities to annoy my wife by talking about running. I’m working hard to develop a filter and remember that she is not as interested about the minutia of the Seattle Running Club as I am right now.
One of the runs I found out about by following the Seattle Mountain Runners Group (SMRG) on Facebook occurs on the first Saturday in January every year. There is no organization that sponsors it – it’s just a group of enthusiasts that show up to run a 50k on Tiger Mountain spontaneously. Some folks bring some donuts. Some folks mark the trail with awesome Christmas ribbons. Some will decorate trees including battery powered lights along the trail. It’s a pretty amazing community endeavor and left me totally blown away by the passion for trail running of the folks in the area. It’s great to be a trail runner in Seattle. Did I mention that the race is totally free? It’s what is called a Fat Ass race which has minimal support, no swag, no numbers or official timing, and no whining.
The race itself was beautiful. Despite forecasts of rain it turned out to be dry and unseasonably warm. The course is a Seattle Classic – actually known as Seattle’s Favorite Loop in guidebooks. Run 1 loop for a 25k and 2 loops for a 50k. I decided to run the 25k since I was still a little tender from the Loop the Lake Marathon and I had a limited amount of time.
It was fun to see a lot of the stalwarts of the Seattle trail running community all together. I ran for a while with another member of the SRC Brooks team Arthur Martineau who was doing the 50k but decided that since I only had 25k I would push it a little harder. The best part of the race was hitting the snow covered peak of Tiger Mountain. The views of the area were amazing – the day was clear enough for some spectacular looks at Mount Rainier which always makes my heart smile. Punched down the mountain with some pretty fast final miles on my way to get a doughnut.
I finished in about 2 hours and 25 minutes somewhere near the front of the pack. Here’s the track on Strava.
January 10 I ran the 10M and volunteered at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival put on by our club at Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland. It also turned out to be a nice day to run for a January day in the northwest.
I helped set up for the race and got the excited job of parking attendant. It was not that much fun to try to direct everyone to park sensibly. The race itself was eventful. At the starting line Eric Sach – the race director was looking for predictions on who would win the three offered distances – 5M, 10M and 50k. Everyone was pretty sure our resident speed demon Keith would win the 5M. When he mentioned the 10M one of my friends said my name and another said Joe who is a former member of the SRC team and just finished 10th in the Seattle Half Marathon in under 1:17 so I was pretty sure Joe would beat me – but I wanted to see if I could keep up with him for a bit so I asked where he was and said I would try to stay with him.
I think he took that personally because after about 5 minutes he was out of sight. As with most of the multi distance races its hard to pick out who is running what distance. It’s hard to know if the folks around you are racing the 5M or the 10M folks and you hope you are fast enough to be in front of all the people running at a 50k pace. I settled in to running my own race after the first three miles when everyone had pretty much separated themselves on the trail.
The trails were very fun to run on – not technical and not very much climbing involved – but enough to keep it interesting. Mud also added a fun element although it was not terribly muddy this year. I did have some pretty sweet mud running up and down my legs after the race though.
I was running sub seven minute miles according to my watch and keeping my heart rate in the 160s for first 5 mile lap. I was running pretty much alone at this point. For the second lap I pushed it up to the 170s as fatigue started to set in and I was looking for a negative split.
Around mile 6 I caught up to one of the other 10M runners and passed him. About mile 8 I was passed by the legendary Uli Steidhl which was kind of cool. I tried to keep up with him for a while but couldn’t sustain his pace. It was fun to watch him work though. I always love to see people who are world class do what they do. Around here I also started to lap some of the slower 50k runners.
About mile 9 I spotted one last 10M runner I could try to catch. I started pushing the pace again and he rose to the challenge but I could tell he was suffering a bit and during the last climb I was able to separate. I bombed it down to complete my fastest mile of the day – 6:26. Although due to tree cover and lots of turns I only got 9.5 miles on the GPS and I’ve been assured the course is a full 10M so I was perhaps a bit faster.
I ended up taking 3rd place which I’m super happy about. My fellow SRCBrooks Joe Creighton and Evan Williams teammates took first and second respectively. I did negative split the course but not by much.
Overall it was a great day for SRC. Our team captain Trisha who is married to the aforementioned Uli broke their 10 year old record for the pairs 50k. Olin Berger on the team took first place in the solo 50k.
It was pretty much a perfect way to start my year on the SRCBrooks team. I went home and watched the Seahawks game and helped put the kids to bed and then I went back out to the course to “sweep” the course around 10:45pm. Sweeping is the process of running the course to pick up all the markings. This enabled me to get a significant number of the service hours that are required as part of my membership on the team.
Here’s a track from Strava.
What’s Next? The Lake Sammamish Half Marathon on March 7 where I’m hoping for a sub 1:20 half.
I also registered to run the Chuckanut 50k this week which I’m pumped for as I’ve heard great things about the race. It’s already sold out and happens on March 21. I can guarantee a 50k pr there as long as I don’t DNF since it will be my first 50k.
Special thanks to Takeo Suzuki for the photos. You can find more of his stuff at http://www.runners.photos.