Writhing on the Ground in Pain at the Chuckanut 50k

The above image from the top of the infamous last climb on this course known as Chinscraper around mile 22 pretty much captures my last 10 miles of this race. Along with the titular writhing on the ground in pain that took place about a mile after the picture was taken. I had been feeling some twinges in my legs starting around mile 10 and had a few short cramps. I was frustrated about stopping to walk them out so I decided to attempt to run through them. But the intensity built and when I tried to stop and stretch, my legs just gave out and pain flared through muscles. I fell to the ground in pretty intense pain for about 15 seconds. A few runners came by and asked me if I was OK which was a bit embarrassing. There was really nothing they could do and I didn’t want to slow them down so I urged them on. After that my body just wasn’t the same. I couldn’t really run even on the flats. I think I probably averaged 12 minute miles for the last 7 miles of the race. I was able to pull it together though and still managed to finish in 36th place with a new 50k PR by default (first 50k) of 4:45. Looking at the race results and recognizing the people that passed me during  my muscle seizures I’m pretty sure I could have made the top 25 if I could have held things together a bit more.

Despite the breakdown overall I would mark the day up as a success. The course was great and it was fun to race with some of the members of the SRC Brooks team. We had three members of the team finish in the top 20 with Evan Williams taking 8th overall and first in his age group, Derek Reiff took 13th overall, 2nd in his age group. Olin Berger toughed out a 17th place finish despite hitting a pretty hard wall. The event was incredibly well organized and a pleasure to run. I was able to catch up with a lot of friends and enjoyed the post race amenities a great deal. Definately a race worth putting on the calendar again.

Pre race team photo. L to R Olin Berger, Evan Williams, Matt Hong, Derek Reiff.

Pre race team photo. L to R Olin Berger, Evan Williams, Matt Hong, Derek Reiff.

I think a lot contributed to this being a harder race for me but the key ones are probably:

  1. Not enough time to fully recover my muscles from the PR effort at the Lake Sammamish Half two weeks previous.
  2. Not letting myself fully recover from the Lake Sammamish Half before diving into a high milage elevation focused week immediately after the half thinking it would help me get strong for Chuckanut (52 miles, 9600 ft climb)

As folks keep reminding me – I need to keep my expectations realistic for how many really hard times I can race a year. You have to be willing to accept that if you want to pack races in two weeks apart you can only really focus on one of them and reign it back for the other.

Starting line photo - I'm on the far right checking my watch. Glenn Tachiyama http://www.tachifoto.net

Starting line photo – I’m on the far right checking my watch. Glenn Tachiyama http://www.tachifoto.net

Things went well for the first 7 miles – I stayed pretty much on my target of 7 minute miles for the relatively flat part going out. I was feeling weaker than I expected though and could not keep up with my teammate Derek because I wasn’t feeling great and I knew it was going to be a long race.

Feeling good about a mile in. Photos Courtesy of  Glenn Tachiyama - http://www.tachifoto.net)

Feeling good about a mile in. Glenn Tachiyama – http://www.tachifoto.net

The first climb was rough – I had a hard time getting into climbing mode. I got passed by a few people but the descent was probably my favorite part of the day. I passed a few people and was really just enjoying being on the mountain and the trail. It was fun to go through the Seattle Running Club aid station and get cheered on by the folks in the club.

Another shot on Chinscraper. Glenn Tachiyama - http://www.tachifoto.net

Another shot on Chinscraper. Glenn Tachiyama – http://www.tachifoto.net

There is a long road climb in the middle of the race that I wasn’t a huge fan of but I moved through it well. The Chuckanut ridge trail was technical and fun – although a few of us got a little lost. The last climb was brutal as has already been documented. The most brutal part of the race though was the last seven miles of flat after my body had already failed. I walked for quite a bit of it and I wasn’t in the best head space. This part of the day was not fun. But I put it together and was able to at least jog the last three miles.

Finish line was great. The RD and Seattle Running Club legend Krissy Moehl and her family / team put on a great event and the finish line area was full of huge grins. The weather actually turned sunny at the finish – although it was windy and rainy on most of the course. I probably should have worn a shirt instead of the singlet as I got pretty frigid at times.

Gear Rundown:

  1. Brooks Cascadia 10s – really nice stable shoe for a longer trail run. I do like the Grits better though. Debating which to run in at White River – the additional support of the Cascadia’s or the feel of the Grits.
  2. SRCBrooks Singlet and shorts – as mentioned I may have been better served by a real shirt but I love running in the uniform
  3. Camelback hand bottle – worked well. I don’t think my cramps were due to electrolyte deficiency as I drank plenty of electrolytes during the race
  4. Garmin Fenix 2 – this was the dog of the day as far as gear. It kept losing GPS and resetting on me. I was only able to get a track for the first half of the race.

What’s Next:

Boston Marathon on April 20! I’m shooting for a sub 2:50 time – we’ll see if my body can recover enough for that. I hope to have one good training week next week before a two week taper. I’m also running the BAA 5k on the Saturday before the marathon with Carrie but I need to make sure I run the 5k in 24 minutes as the fastest as this is just a shakedown run. I will be very frustrated with myself if I finish any faster.


One comment

  1. Nice job Matt! I can totally relate to all the stuff you are learning right now, I had to learn it all myself. 🙂 Way to take some positive from this run, it will serve you well in the future.

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