after a disappointing 35 miler in the Oregon cascades a month ago i set the bar low for this one. billed as the “toughest 6 hour out there” i planned to make sure i could do ten 2-mile laps and not hurt myself. i had some advantages though, one is that only a mile from home these trails are part of my regular training grounds and it’s a beautiful park that runs through a big ravine right in the middle of Seattle’s north end; the other is that i wasn’t worried about anything going in. at least about the race anyway. i just wanted to change up and test some things.
i know that my usual training regimen of 40 some miles per week is the equivalent of a taper for most long distance runners but i didn’t really taper much. i did one trip to the gym on sat, 13 easy miles Sunday, 6.5 miles (on the course) Monday, a faster flatter 10 on Tues, very easy 5.5 Wed, Thurs and Fri off (long days at work though) i guess you could call it a mild taper. i tapered a lot more for that last race so i wanted to fine-tune that a little.
someone suggested recently that caffeine may contribute to cramping. i have had problems with my adductors turning into cables in the last two races so i deliberately limited my intake making sure the shot blocks and nuun tabs i used were the non-caffeinated versions. i did have my normal morning cup and did drink the coffee at the aid station but only about a cup over the six hours. no way to prove it by i hardly cramped at all! this may have been the single most influential factor in having a good day. i also took a break from beer for a few days leading up to the race. that was tough!
another factor was start time. since they had a 12-hour race at the same time as the 6 we had the option of starting at 6 am or noon. weather played a part here as a big storm was still passing in the morning making the decision easy. this enabled me to eat a big sandwich 45 min before start time. i also made myself a big banana & yogurt smoothie with lots of fresh-picked kale from my garden! the day before my mother-in-law gave us a big bag of cooked bacon that she got from a caterer friend. i brought it to the race and munched on that throughout the day. since it was just a two mile lap i decided not to carry water at all and just stopped briefly at the aid station each lap. i had to go there anyway to make certain they were marking me down.
the course was a 1.93 mile loop with 436 feet of vertical for each loop. there are lots of stairs on the trail to limit erosion and these trails are very well traveled and maintained. there were some slippery spots and i did some skating on my cliftons but all in all i am glad i opted to the lighter shoes rather than the challengers i had in my bag. another advantage of knowing the trail and doing loops is that i could plan out my footwork at certain spots and there was a tree i used to slow myself down on one slippery downhill…and i didn’t fall once!
another factor leading to a good race was that i have recently started back up cross training with weights at the gym. i feel like doing a lot of squats really help a lot, even in a long race and my body felt really good the whole race. the course itself kept me in check because there is almost nowhere to go too fast and the uphills are so steep i just kept power hiking them and trying to focus on using my glutes. my power-hike has gotten a lot stronger too and i actually passed a few people who were trying to run up. i was feeling good on the downhills too and the looped course meant that i didn’t spend too much time either going up or down so my quads were always rested a little by the time i got to the next downhill where i didn’t really hold back much, just trying to relax and use my core as much as possible. i had some nice chats with the other runners and was happy to see an older guy happily hiking his way to a pr in the 12 hour. also met a couple dressed as bees who were running the 12 hour on tired legs from running no less than five 100 milers this year. really nice folks i hope to see again some day.
the race was pretty well done. it was a perfect sized race, location and a great course! i guess my only real complaint is that when you see a bunch of 20-somethings running a race you can be certain there will be no props for the masters. i am convinced that young people simply do not believe that they will ever get old! to you: watch out, that kind of karma can be vicious!
i did ask after the event who was the RD so i could thank them but was told that the race got handed off to them, so i thanked him and was on my way.
and one more thing: thank you thank you thank you! …for not blaring crappy music on a loudspeaker during the race! i definitely appreciate that!
5th out of 30 finishers. 14 big laps and one mini = 27.56 miles. ag 1st. masters 1st (there were only 7 runners over 40) …and a masters course record for the 6! if they keep the race going i will try to defend it next year!