Posted by: pointlenana | March 20, 2016

Chuckanut 2016 – A Perfect Day

It’s not that common that everything goes well at a race, but today exceeded all the hopes and expectations I had going in.  This 50k was really just a long training run (I’m training for the Boston Marathon in 4 weeks) but it was also my one chance at running a trail race quickly for a while.  I have a bunch of trail races scheduled this summer but they are all long and none will be fast.  So, this was a chance to have fun moving quickly (or as quickly as my 54 year-old body can move).

I had three goals going in:  1) Stay upright.  I hate falling and couldn’t afford to during a marathon training run.  2) Track down (I’d say “stalk” and that might be accurate but it sounds creepy) at least one of the elite athletes – this race draws some really really good runners.  3) If things worked out, run the last 10k pretty hard to make it a higher-quality training run.  I was successful on all accounts.  Plus, I got some extra credit.

I’ve written at length about Chuckanut before, so I’m not going to repeat all that.  Just the highlights:

In what is becoming an annual ritual, I ran a few of the first miles with my fast friend Ather.  I was running quickly but trying not to overdo it.  He was sitting in his car drinking tea before the start and lost track of time, so he started way at the back.  He caught up to me pretty quickly so I sped up a little (and he slowed down).  As I was running I noticed I was running at marathon effort and kept thinking “50k is shorter than a marathon, right???  This is not going to end well.”  I let him go during one of the short steep drop/climbs and eased back to my quick pace.

The ~3 mile ridge section is my annual test of my trail running skills.  I think 1/4 of the race (about 100 people) passed me there the first time I ran this race.  It’s relatively technical, and people with younger reflexes, younger eyesight, good footwork, and less fear run faster there.  I can’t do much about the first two but I’ve worked on the last two and this year I was only passed twice – and I exited the ridge just a short distance behind those two people.  So that was a victory.  (Also, I passed those two people later, so there…)

Glenn - Chuckanut 2016

The obligatory Glenn Tachiyama photo, climbing up Chinscraper around mile 20.

At each aid station I picked up about a minute relative to my PR time on the course (from last year – 5:34:12).  When I reached the last aid station – about 10-11k from the finish – I was about 4 minutes ahead of last year.  Ok, time to run hard.  Just before I reached the aid station a younger guy FLEW past me down the hill.  I was a little faster at the aid station so we pulled out together and chatted for a bit.  He was holding back and digesting so I pulled away, but a mile or two later he flew past me on one of the down/ups.  I thought he was gone but he never disappeared, and eventually I started creeping up to him.  I passed him on another down/up and didn’t look back.  (Most of this section was done at marathon effort – again, I think a 50k is shorter than a marathon).  Then I chased another woman for a mile or two.  About a mile out, I accelerated and eventually reeled her in, and flew into the the finish probably at 10k pace.

Official time was 5:24:18, about 10 minutes faster than last year.  And during the awards ceremony I was somewhat surprised to hear my name called as 3rd place in my Old Guys age group – that was good for a mug and some Flora Olive Oil.


After the finish I talked with a friend of a friend – she’s just moved to Seattle and it turns out she lives close by.  Oh, she was also the 3rd woman to finish – congratulations Sarah!

And I did manage to track down one of my heroes.  Ellie Greenwood won Comrades a couple years ago (she and Sarah are both going there this year) and the video of Ellie overtaking the leader is one of my all-time favorite running moments.  I’m projecting this on her – she told me she was worried about being passed once she was leading – but I love the combination of focus and joy in doing something well.  I try to channel her when I’m tired near the end of a race but having a good day and need to keep going.  Oh, and not surprisingly Ellie won the women’s race today.  WP_20160319_001

And I saw a bunch of friends – Ather, Charlie, Jeff, Craig, Yvonne, Herb, and several more.

A great day…




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