Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sunny Day at Sun Mountain 50 K



First off, the scenic drive through the North cascades  and methow valley was absolutely amazing! Beautiful views everywhere I looked, but the best was yet to come....



THE FIRST STAGE  ( to 8 mi aid stn) started  at 10 am with beautiful rolling trails alongside   lake then tucked into a cool creekside trail.


I had a nice visit with my friend Sara, but as the hill grew steeper, I couldnt keep up with her , so had to temporarily "unfriend" her as I struggled up the long incline.  I also had a brief chat with my training partner Lara as she passed, and  then met several others on route. Up I went, through fields of beautiful yellow flowers, looking back to the valley views below. As usual, my calf siezed up, then my foot went numb. I kept run/hiking, pondering "if it was circulatory would my toes fall off if I kept going?"  Thankfully , I got my feeling back on a nice flat section. Another little hill, then the first aid station! It was well used as the heat of the day came down upon us earlier than expected.


THE SECOND STAGE (to 17 mi aid station) started off on a hot, dry  road, ugh... Thankfully it tucked back into a little hilly trail that led me out to a knoll with amazing vistas up TWO valleys! The knoll, the valleys, the flowers- I broke out in song "the hills are alive with the sound of music". With pure glee I barrelled down the fun single track, wahooing away, feeling at one with nature, folicking in the woods. At the bottom of the hill, about 14 miles in, my legs were telling me to stop having so much fun and slow down or they'll blow up. So, I took it easy to the 17 mi aid station, where I spent an extraordinary amount of time reuelling, refilling my pack and dousing myself with water as I was feeling the heat at 1 pm. Spring training in Vancouver did not prepare me at all for the heat the  day.


THE THIRD STAGE (to 25 mile aid station) had a very enjoyable single track trail undercover and out of the sun. It seemed to go down forever at a nice decline I could just relax into. Occasionally I would get an open flower filled section that would remind me how hot it really was. Then i'd get a reprieve back into the forest. The happy down didn't  last forever,  I was slapped back into reality powerhiking up a series of switchbacks under the blaring sun.  it was pleasing to know we got to do 2 loops, meaning I'd be back in the happy forest again. After the second loop, instead of going up, I followed the usual exceptional marking along the side of the mountain, the sunny, HOT north east side.  I was running through beautiful hillsides of flowers.

 Not only huge yellow flowers, but purple lupines, and some white cactus type flowers. Of couse cactus type flowers, cuz it was so HOT, and there was no cover.  The heat was getting to me, literally, as my quads started cramping. Yikes, I've never cramped in a 50 km, let alone only 3.5-4 hours in! So I started taking my salt tablets every 1/2 hr instead of hourly, simply because I would cramp up every half hour.  After pushing through one of the many cow gates, and climbing over a fence using  some man made steps, I was getting that real cowboy feeling of Winthrop!

 FRIGGIN' 4TH STAGE ( the last 5 miles) included a lot of F-bombs in my vocabulary. The volunteers at the third aid station were most helpful, sending me off in good spirits for the final leg. After running 25 miles, the RD added to the "Fun" by having us crawl UNDER  a barbwire fence!. I felt sorry for the tall guys trying to get back up again. I headed off into the sagebrush, heading up what I thought was the final hill.  It was so hot on this section of the

trail, even the flowers were wilted and curled up! Rounding the corner, I see runners comming down a steep hill and signs for an out and back. Argh!. Too steep for me to run,  and feeling a bit woozy,I concede to powerhike it. It was one of those relentless, character building hills,  where you think you're summiting it only to see the next wave of people getting smaller and smaller as they go up into the distance (Insert more F-bombs here). 

Finally, THE TOP ! worth every step with its 360 degree views- AMAZING !  I had a brief "I'm the king of the world" moment, then, "oh, gotta go back down now". 

I let gravity pull me down the hill as fast as I could control! Essentially a controlled fall.  Hitting the road at the bottom was like, well, hitting a road... and Wading through thigh high pavement. Meeting some friends and family on the road was a huge boost...amazing how things like that pick you up. On the 1 mile trail to the finish I chose to run in the sun, walk in the shade.   Crossing the finish line in 5:20, I exclaim "wheres the lake!".

As per usual, Rainshadow running put out a beautiful, well marked course with great post race festivities,  laidback supportive atmosphere, and pre dravvn prizes.  I've done 2 of his races and highly recommend his series!

It was so great to reconnect with so many other ultrarunners at this  event !


Heather V

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