I had a great run. I didn’t get home until after 9:30 PM Sunday night because the friends I stayed over with in Seattle took me impromptu downhill skiing today. It was some of the best conditions I’ve ever skied on…beautiful sunny, recent gorgeous powder, uncrowded lift lines (Seattle Seahawks were playing today). I haven’t been downhill skiing in over 20 years (!) and despite the time off, it really is just like riding a bike and I was back to my old self as soon as I strapped on the skis. I used to be quite accomplished in my youth and the only thing I notice being different now is that I really doesn’t seem like that much exercise anymore. Even after having run 31 miles on trail last night, skiing didn’t make my legs feel worked and I never broke a sweat. I love running! Well, and skiing, too.
The race: We’ve had freaky weather in the Pacific Northwest this last week. It snowed on Wednesday and it’s been cold ever since so none of it has melted off. 3-10 inches, depending where you live. For Bridle Trails that meant about 3-4 inches crushed into frozen trail/mud. We started with a light flurry that lasted the first few hours and initially helped with the traction a bit, since it was a nice powder. But, after enough feet it made more of a slick surface. About 1/3 of each loop I would characterize as treacherous. Some was sheltered enough by the woods, and not recently horse trodden, so it was just like firm trail. All together it was oh, so much better than last year.
I dressed appropriately and never felt too cold (nor too warm). I picked the wrong shoes, however and after 4 laps (out of 6) I changed into a different pair. I have several hamburger toes on my right foot and I’ll lose that 3rd nail. Again. We had enough light to see for the first 2 laps then needed I the head lamp. I worked just fine and the trail was very well marked so I didn’t miss an infamous hard to see turn that I missed once last year.
The first lap was in about 50 minutes, 2nd in about 55, 3-5 at about an hour +/- each, then lap 6 faster. I had a really low patch during lap 5 where I felt like I was going to hurl and got very light headed and uncoordinated. Not a good combo on ice trail. Not sure what that was all about so I did a little bit of everything (ate and took another salt cap and drank something) and things eventually got better. My last lap felt very strong. By the last 1/2 I was flying and felt as good as I did on the first lap. I skipped walking the short hills. I had a great time and finished in 5:54ish I believe. That puts me just between my PR (5:45) and my only other 50K finish (5:55). I almost fell twice but saved myself a blood letting once by artful gyrations and once by grabbing a trail-side bush. Yikes. It would have been nasty to have a face plant on mud ice.
I now have the satisfaction of knowing I beat that course and I had a great time running in the dark. Overall I’m very pleased at how great I felt. I think the added rest I’ve had recently, and the recent speed work have been of great benefit. And knock wood, but the retrocalcaneal bursitis of my left heal, which has been very uncomfortable for the last 3-4 months, seems to be almost gone. I awoke this morning without any post race leg stiffness nor pain. It didn’t even feel like I had done a long run at all. I still feel great (except for the toes). I can’t wait for Hagg Lake 50K next month.