Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Return to Sun Mountain

What a weekend! Dave and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on Saturday, which is pretty amazing especially considering that we were "living in sin" (as my dear Grannie B would say) for over four years before getting married and because my previous relationships were more likely to be counted in weeks rather than months or years so hooray for us and hooray for love. Marriage is the best endurance event ever! Okay, enough of the mushy, gag-inducing stuff...

Gettin' hitched at the finish line of the Peach City Half Marathon.
Dave and I also had the opportunity to run Rainshadow Running's Sun Mountain trail races in Winthrop, WA this weekend. Sun Mountain was my first ultra way back in 2010 so it holds a special place in my heart. (It also prompted my first ever blog entry.) That year, Dave and I both ran the 50k race and had planned to again. However, after a quick recovery from the Vernon Dirty Feet 50k two weeks ago, I made the last minute decision to run the 50mi this year. (Dave ran the 50k again and not only shaved over 17 minutes off his previous time but also took first place!)
From 2010: Nervously awaiting the start of our first ultra.
Having just re-read my 2010 race report, the most striking differences between the races would have to be the weather (cold and wet in 2010 and hot and sunny in 2013) and my attitude towards walking hills. I seemed really bummed out about it three years ago coming from a road running background when you just don't walk...ever. Now that I'm a trail running veteran (ha ha), I actually look forward to some power hiking breaks as it's a good time to get in nutrition and stretch out the hamstrings.

It's also interesting to note that I'm still using the same Nathan hydration pack which now is stained and has holes in the mesh pockets where hungry mice have nibbled through to get at my gels, but is still totally functional.

Tiptoe through the tulips...or lupins!
Photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama
I've done five 50 milers now and Sun Mountain has been the best one for me by far. I felt calm, relaxed, strong, in control and happy the entire race. I'm kinda a spazz so for me to achieve any one of those emotions for more than five minutes at a time is remarkable but to experience them simultaneously for seven hours and 19 minutes is virtually unheard of.

My stomach didn't act up. Heck, I didn't even make a single pit stop in the bushes. Everything just went really smoothly. Within 15 minutes of crossing the finish line, I was downing pizza and beer - a pleasant and welcome change from my usual post-race nausea and vomiting. 

The only negative thing I can come up with (and it wasn't easy to do) is that I felt a bit lonely out there. I didn't see another runner from the 50mi race after about 35k in and, other than a handful of 50k runners who passed me late in the race, I was alone out there. Fortunately, the course and views were exceptionally beautiful and there were plenty of bright and cheery volunteers and wildflowers along the way to distract me.

She'll be coming 'round the mountain (Patterson) when she comes...
Photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama
Huge thanks to James Varner and Candice Burt of Rainshadow Running for another memorable day on the trails (and for the post-race East 20 pizza and kegs of beer)! Full results for the Sun Mountain races can be found at Ultra Signup. And check out the official Sun Mountain race video by Steven Foreman and photos by Glenn Tachiyama.

I'm taking a bit of a break from running now before I begin my preparations for the IAU World Trail Championships in Wales. Bring on the bon bons and soap operas! :)

Going, going, gone!
Photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama