Friday, July 4, 2014

Taylor Mountain 50k Race Recap

Hello! I am indeed alive, and I recently survived a 50k trail run! This is a long one, beware.

I did the Taylor Mountain 50k, which is (unofficially) one of the Issaquah Alps just outside of Seattle. The trails are not that developed because it's kind of unknown, and the race was even cancelled for a while because the trails were in such bad shape! But thanks to the Washington Trails Association, I got to run.
beginning and end of the half marathon loop

Kate was supposed to run with me, and actually this whole thing was her idea, but she sprained her ankle a few weeks ago at work so she unfortunately couldn't. But that meant I got both Betsy and Kate for my crew!

The course was 2 half marathon (13.1 mile) loops and a 5 mile loop.
creek crossing

The excitement started right away at the end of the first mile with the first creek crossing. It got deep in the middle, but I'm no stranger to creek crossings. They were two other slightly smaller ones throughout the course. Then it goes straight uphill in a creek bed. Think mud and rocks. Luckily, the first time up wasn't terrible and there were lots of people around me. The trail kept going up and there were beautiful purple monkshood flowers lining the trail! And blocking the trail... Eventually I made it down to the first aid station! I didn't want anything salty the whole race, only sweet.

pretty much the only trail
with an actual name
We continued down a fire road to the trail at the lowest elevation of the race. It was raining on and off, and started raining pretty hard. I was soaked by the time I made it back to the aid station. I put on my ankle wrap because I knew the way back to the start was very steep. It was a good call. The last 3 miles are brutal. I finished the first 13 miles with my knees hurting from the downhill. After a quick snack, I grabbed my iPod in case I needed it and was off. It was much quieter the second time around! And after a couple hundred people had been through combined with the rain, it was quite muddy. Up to my shins. There was a woman running in vibrams and jeggings and she was struggling walking up the hill through the mud.
preventative ankle wrapping

I made it to the aid station but Kate and Betsy were nowhere to be seen. Luckily I wasn't too desperate, and figured I would see them in a few miles. It was really pouring now, and this part of the trail was literally a river. I'm talking monsoon level here folks. Plus a horse almost ran me over. I'm not sure who thought it was a good day to go riding in that weather. I was really wanting some of my snacks and a change of socks, but I missed my crew again! The aid station was pretty much out of any real food, so I had to grab a clif bar. The 3.5 miles to finish the second loop were brutal. Luckily I saw Kate and Betsy where we crossed the fire road and changed socks. There was about 5 lbs of mud in each shoe.
My eyes hadn't been focusing right for most of the loop, but this part has steep uphills and downhills. The downhills are fast switchbacks, so being able to see is nice. Plus it was basically a slip n slide covered in ankle sprainers, aka rocks. Luckily I did not sprain my ankle but I was hurting. I dropped my waist pack and iPod, and started walking up the fire road for the final 5 mile loop.

My dedicated crew

not a fan of the cold and rain

This was right after I pulled myself out of the shin deep mud and was running in a creek bed train in the pouring rain
 I met up with Kate and Betsy and they walked up with me. I took ibuprofen and that combined with the long walking break gave me new life. Plus, there was watermelon at the top! It started pouring again and I started running. They ran a little with me, but I got ahead on the trail. I don't think they realized what I meant when I said "this part's really wet." But they got standing water mixed with horse poop!

this is what it feels like when you finish 31.25 miles
I finally made it back to the start/finish! Alive! It was pretty anticlimactic because they didn't even have the finish arch up anymore since it had been raining too hard. I finished in about 7 hours which was pretty much the best I had hoped for.
 I ate the nutella off a gross bagel and then we left and went to a restaurant in nearby Issaquah. I got a veggie burger WITH CHEESE that I hadn't had in many months. Verdict: the cheese wasn't that great. Not worth it. The best part of the meal was tea. And the fries. I was craving salt at this point!
lunch at the Issaquah Brewing Co.

Betsy warming up at home.            Gotta put my legs up!

We got home and washed everything and I felt surprisingly good. I was a little sore the next two days but not worse than normal soreness!

I'm really glad I did this race, and would take monsoons over way too hot any day. But I'm not sure I'll be doing another ultra any time soon. I got annoyed with training! I'm looking forward to just running for fun this summer and staying active by playing this summer!

Update: here's the course from my Garmin before it died. The distance is not entirely correct because I forgot to turn off auto pause, so anytime I was going too slow (often) the watch would stop - there was 4500ft elevation gain.

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