Posted by: pointlenana | March 22, 2015

Chuckanut – March 21 2015

This will be shorter than usual.  If you want a few pictures, here’s last year’s (longer) report:

chucknut course

I had no expectations going into this race.  I ran it a couple years ago (partly with Janet) in 6:01:04, and improved last year to 5:48:45.  It’s a fun event, it was a chance to assess my fitness after both a hamstring problem and some big weeks of training lately.  I didn’t really taper – a long progression run on Tuesday, long hills on Wednesday, and some speedwork on Thursday – but I did take a rest day on Friday so I guess I did taper.

The forecast wasn’t great – showers – and that turned out to be optimistic.  It rained probably until noon and there was a strong, cold wind coming from the south that we had to run into for the first 6 miles.  Fortunately, the trail is fairly sheltered so every time I started thinking about tucking behind someone (and by then we were spread out, so not many options), some trees blocked the wind or the course turned.  The highlight of the first flat rails-to-trails section was running with my friend Ather.  Normally, running with Ather would spell disaster for me – he’s much much faster than I am.  But shortly after Chuckanut last year he tore his ACL.  He gutted his way to a ~3:30 finish at the Boston Marathon a few weeks later, but has been rehabbing since.  Today was his first race, and first run longer than 23 miles since Boston.  He was taking it easy, at least in sections, which is why I was able to keep up with him for a while.  He ended up running a 5:15, which isn’t the 4:40 he ran last year but a good start to his comeback.

When we turned off the Interurban trail, it got very very dim and I had trouble seeing until my eyes adjusted a few minutes later.  My goal was to push a little today – flat, up, down – and see what happened.  There’s a 2-ish mile, ~1000 foot climb up to Fragrance Lake.  That went really well, which was great because I was also trying new shoes.  My Altra Olympus did not work at all in the mud at Orcas, and today I was trying Altra Lone Peaks, again in the mud.  Total success – I never felt skittish about my footing.  From Fragrance Lake there’s a traverse and then a downhill to Cleater Road (gravel).  I’ve gotten much better at downhills on trails, and kept up on the downhill with the few people around me.  We were going pretty fast (for me) and at times I felt barely in control.  I imagine the leaders feel that way much of the time.

Cleator Road is a grind, essentially back up what we had just descended, and I tried to run the moderate sections and walked the steep parts.  One “bummer” about being a little faster now is that I’m with people who can run most of the hills.  I used to be back with people who had no qualms walking, and if I ran some of the hills it felt like I was doing well.  Now the bar is higher.

The Chuckanut Ridge trail might be the highlight (at least on a sunny day) – a technical trail in the trees along the edge of a cliff with good views (weather-dependent, not today).  Again, I pushed, and unlike the past two years wasn’t passed much.  I probably passed a few people and got passed by maybe a couple more.  After 3 miles of dancing over rocks and roots, we dumped out on the Lost Lake Road, which narrows to a trail, then a ribbon of mud, then a stream, and then an uphill muddy swamp.  My shoes did great and I ran with abandon through the mud.  A long, somewhat muddy downhill took us to the foot of Chinscraper.  This is a 1000 foot climb in about a mile, with maybe 3 very steep sections that force some people to hands and knees.  My training at Tiger Mountain lately made this feel hard-but-doable, and again I passed some people.  From the top (again) of Chuckanut ridge, it’s a 4 mile, pretty fast downhill, and then back to the Interurban and 6 miles of flat to the finish.

Up until about mile 22 or so I thought “50k just isn’t that far”.  Coming down past Fragrance Lake back to the Interurban, I felt some tired legs and realized the Interurban was going to be harder than last year.  Last year I finished pretty strong.  I think this year I was a little slower over the last 6 miles, and took a couple 30-60 second walk breaks.  That helped me recover a bit and run the last 2 miles fairly quickly.  I finished in 3:34:34 5:34:34 5:34:13 (chip time), about 14 minutes faster than last year.  I think I was 6th in my age group (with at least a couple of the “regulars” finishing ahead of me as usual) out of 31, and 105th out of 327 overall.

I was excited about the women’s race this year – Jodee Adams-Moore (women’s course record of 4:01), Ellie Greenwood (won Chuckanut and Comrades last year) and Magdalena Boulet (won the North Face 50 in December) were all signed up.  But Ellie Greenwood was hit by a car on her bike a couple days ago (broken wrist), and Jodee Adams-Moore was in Oakland for something.  So Magdalena Boulet won it easily with a time of ~4:14.  I talked to her briefly and she’s pretty impressed with that course record.

Everything at this point is about doing well at Western States in late June.  This was a good start and makes me feel hopeful about my (long) day there.



  1. Woohoo 14 minutes better than last year!

    Also, 50K is totally that far.

  2. I guess it’s all relative. It wasn’t that far in the beginning, but it was that far near the end. Congrats on your masters victory in your comeback race!

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