Sunday, January 17, 2010

Capitol Peak Ultra Report

(Mt. Rainier from Capitol Peak)

The Capitol Peak 34 miler took place this past weekend and I was looking forward to bumping it up a notch (since Badass) in a somewhat more race-like atmosphere even though this was still technically a "mega fat ass event." For those of you that don't know the lingo it basically means that there aren't really aid stations (just water jugs every 10k or so), no timers, no real entry fees (I gave a $10 bill for donation to the forest)...just another post holiday trail training run get together in the Pacific Northwest. This particular venue was nestled about 20 miles south of Olympia, Washington just under two hours north of Portland.

Trevor picked me up just after 5am Saturday morning and we hit I-5 North heading to the forest. I got a few updates from The Capitol Peaks Facebook page stating that the course was going to be pretty muddy in some places which was to be expected. The temperature was very mild though and again I am so pleased to be running trails in shorts in mid January. Fearing completely destroying my new Inov-8's that I just received (I know...I just couldn't do it this early though!) I decided to wear my old faithful Roclite 285's. Again, they served me well traction wise in these conditions.

I was really surprised how organized and how many people came out for this event. Search and rescue were present and the race director John Pearch made everything very clear in our pre-race meeting, including that it would be a 30-miler and not 34. We had tents for shelter and to cover food, burners for pots of soup, tables, lots of snacks, warming fires...I was impressed.

Once we got going I was also pleasantly surprised by the trails and area we were running through this misty morning. Nice singletrack mixed in with some doubletrack here and there that passed through areas of clear-cut forests. Mostly we were in the beautiful thick moss green forests that this part of the country is so well known for. I started off at a pretty good clip. My goal was to take the intensity level up a bit from my last event. There also was a 17-mile race taking place so it was difficult to know who was doing what race. Most of the time I just asked but some guys had on headphones.

I felt really strong Saturday morning. My energy levels were high and I felt properly fueled for the day and I wanted to keep it that way. I've been doing some research on carrying the least amount of things with me and not making unnecessary stops throughout long races. I had an Amphipod pack on my low back that held a 20 oz. bottle of water, and a little pouch that held a Clif Bar and some block shots. In my shorts I had a couple GU Roctanes and in my light jacket I had a few S-caps and a little flask of Perpetuum. This turned out to be the perfect equation for the distance. I could have probably did it on less but I'd rather err on too much than too little! I stretched the 20 oz. of water the whole way except to re-fill the bottle half way quickly at a water I probably drank approximately 30 oz.

As we made our way to the 15-mile turn around at the top of Capitol Peak I was really tackling the hills and felt good about that fact. Typically this is an area that I struggle and usually hike but I really felt like I was improving this weekend. I didn't expect some of the climbs out there this weekend either. Race director John Pearch guesstimated that it was probably about 8,000 feet of elevation change for 30 miles...not bad! I got to the top, grabbed my rubber band out of a zip lock bag to prove that I made it, and headed back down the mountain. This is where I really started turning it on! I was hopping down the mountain trails and taking some of the switchbacks banked turns fearlessly. I had a few minutes on the other guys at this point but was impressed on how well they were doing too. Trevor was looking really strong and Matt was working hard as well. Then I saw fellow Portland ultra runner Geoffrey Donovan and then Shawna Wilskey (who passed me in 100 in the Hood) who also was looking focused and fit.

I would say miles 17-27 were some of my strongest miles. Times I felt like hiking I just pushed through and I got into some nice rhythms. I didn't have a watch on so I wasn't sure what sort of time I was making or where I was in terms of mileage. That kind of freedom was nice though...I just ran and enjoyed the surroundings. I felt that by like mile 28 or so that I probably had it wrapped up and figured that I should be getting close.

Then I came across some very large trees that were covering the trail. I don't remember these?! Uh oh...I'm going the wrong way...What!....back track!...I made a wrong freakin' turn somewhere! As I ran and cursed myself I finally figured it out through the process of elimination and running all over the place and got back on track. I came across a woman that I had previously passed and I asked her if anyone came through. She said a couple guys came whizzing by a few minutes! Bummer! Then I saw the finish and I finally made it in with a time of 4:16 for third place behind Matt and Trevor. I probably ran about a mile and a half out of my way and probably would've finished right around 4:05 if I didn't make the wrong turn.

I just want to say that the course was marked really well and I really appreciate that for those who took the time to do it. I still had such a great experience and was thoroughly pleased with my performance. Apparently, I was just thinking about what I was going to eat, probably fantasizing about sitting around the fire in dry clothes and lost focus for a second, and sometimes that's all it takes to get off course!

I am registered for the Capitol Peaks 50-miler on April 25th too so I am glad that I got to meet some nice people up there and get a sense of the lay of the land. Good work to everyone up there this weekend and thanks again to John Pearch and all the volunteers.

I guess I just needed to get that full 50k distance this weekend...regardless... I had a really fun time!

Next up: Orcas Island 50k way up in the San Juan Islands...should be another gem of a race!


Anonymous said...

It was cool talking to you after the race. Nice job on your run. My friend Mike put in an extra 1.5 too and it sounds like he got off course at the same place you did. Good luck at Orcas Island.

Joe Lee

UltraChris said...

Nicely done, Yassine. Sounds like you really have it nice out there - we still can't even find the trails under the snow & ice. Too bad you're not here to enjoy the Beast of Burden next month - it will be like nothing you're running on right now! Good luck at Orcas - and don't be afraid to keep running without the watch - it's very liberating!

Yassine said...

Good to see you too Joe! This is a great start for you for your Western States training. Keep it up...I'm sure I'll see you at some of the local races (probably Hagg Lake...I'm volunteering). Sorry I forgot to mention you in the offense ;o) See you soon man!

Chris! It's crazy! It's so much much more mild. It's all relative though. I'm sure in a few years I'll be complaining about the rain and darkness and mud ;o) Anyway, miss you guys and best wishes to you at your races. Cheers!