On a theme of chasing my second 50k ultra, I decided I wanted to try a tougher elevation profile race. Before heading off for a trip to Iceland, I signed up for the Baker Lake 50k, a tough and predictably rainy-weather course that looked fun and challenging.
However, I admit that I signed up for Baker Lake 50K as somewhat of a concession. I really wanted to try the Oregon Coast 50k after I saw a video filmed and produced by Ethan Newberry covering the race through the experience of his then fiance, Kimberly. The video showed how beautiful and tough the course was, and I had set my heart on racing it, only to find it filled up so quickly, it sold out before I had a chance to sign up.
After returning from Iceland, I went out for an easy fun run of 10 miles to stretch out the legs and start mentally preparing for the 50k distance again. Everything felt good, the legs were strong, and I had just texted my coach about getting a workout plan up on Training Peaks.
After 56 days of dry weather in the Greater Seattle area, and Canadian and central Washington wildfires putting smoke in air that had caused days of unhealthy air quality and limited outdoor exercise for those of us with sensitive lungs, the subtle hint of a cooler weather pattern rolling in was a welcome change from the high 80’s and low 90’s of the previous weeks.
Location: Bloedel Donovan Park, Bellingham Washington
Date: July 15 2017
After racing Eastside Triathlon and feeling more confident that I was not going to completely break my body by racing again, I signed up for the Lake Whatcom Triathlon two days after racing Eastside Triathlon. Silly Snappy Dragon!
My Coach suggested that I give the Long Course distance (aka Half Ironman) a brief break and focus on shorter distances, while training up for another 50k trailrunning race. With what happened to my guts in Victoria six weeks earlier, it was a sensible choice, yet I was feeling unsatisfied. My brain comes alive on the longer distances, even if my body doesn’t always like being dragged along for the ride. After searching and comparing some different options for races in July, I settled on Lake Whatcom Triathlon as a single-distance race.
Oh boy! I haven’t raced an Oly for almost two seasons! This is going to be fun!
After a quiet 2016 without a triathlon race at the same site, Eastside Triathlon (Raise the Bar) drew the local teams back to this sweet hometown favorite. Not only is it close to where I live, the Lake Sammamish Loop is a frequent training ground for me. It is also the site where the previous 2015 Issaquah Triathlon in June and the 2014 Lake Sammamish Triathlon in August took place, and so I have warm memories of learning about triathlon racing right here.
On my, “third time’s a charm” return to Victoria BC for the Half Ironman distance triathlon on June 4th 2017, I had high hopes that this would be the time I could come close to breaking the six-hour barrier, a decent goal for someone who battles Autoimmune Disease and also contends with a kidney disorder that attracts electrolyte imbalance issues like the ice cream truck draws small children to chase it down, block after block.
One change I made this year was to try connecting the dots between my love of being outdoors, my need to have fresh and organic foods free from allergens, gluten, and preservatives, and a reasonably priced triathlon race accommodation. After collecting the necessary pieces and calling in an early reservation, I decided this was a good time to try camping instead of staying at a hotel.
The Mt. Si 50-Kilometer and 50-Miler ultramarathons are a local favorite in the ultra community. Known for its comparatively flat sections and easy-going ten-mile false flat descent back to the finish line, the 50-kilometer trail race is the perfect introduction for the newcomer to this distance.
The course begins at Snoqualmie Elementary school on a low-traffic road, uses a stairway to get onto the Snoqualmie Trail. It then winds through a golf course, park, under the I-90 freeway, across a bridge, and then through the forest on the way to Rattlesnake Lake. At the lake, runners are directed onto the Ironhorse trail, enjoying more forested dirt trail, waterfalls and bridges, while running along the old whistle stops of the former railroad bed. Descending steeply to the 16 mile turn around point, runners encounter the only real elevation change that is not gradual, and after returning through the Rattlesnake Lake aid station at Mile 21, it’s literally all downhill from there to the finish.
I call edibles “phood” if it’s processed and filled with chemicals, preservatives, sugars, and cheap oils, or if it’s a sugary treat that triggers sugar comas and gastrointestinal hell.
In any case, just inside a month after Ironman Mont-Tremblant, I had scheduled myself to run the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon Sept 18 2016 in Carnation, WA with my sister, who is also an avid 10k and Half Marathon runner. Unfortunately, she was injured and unable to run, so I took this opportunity to run by myself and wear a silly, food-related costume.
The response to being “Empress SPAM” for the day surprised me. Almost
everyone, even the fastest marathon runners on their uber-speedy return to the finish line, broke out in smiles and cheers when they saw the cheery colors and familiar packaging of this iconic meat from the war era.
I had intended to run slowly and walk a good amount of the half marathon distance because I was not fully recovered from Ironman Mont-Tremblant, and I was actually unsure what would happen to my body after Mile 9 or 10, since I hadn’t been running much the previous three weeks. Considering my recovery status, I was pleased to run the majority of the race, and forced myself to take a few photo opportunity breaks with fellow runners, give and receive a few high-fives, and run slowly across the finish line in 2 hours and 12 minutes, with no pain soreness, stomach upset, dizziness, or extreme fatigue.
This is (I believe!), my last scheduled race for the season. My Coach has strongly urged me to focus on allowing my body to gain back some precious weight (“be a chubby Asian”), which I realize sounds really strange to many people who fight hard to keep their weight under control. In my case, I experienced what the pros do when training for high volume races, and it’s now time to build me a fat pad so I can start training for my next big challenge — Mt. Si Ultra 50K on April 23, 2017.