Jackie’s Chuckanut Race Report
Leading up to Chuckanut, training seemed to be going okay and then the 2 weeks before the race I found myself not as motivated to do as long of a long run as I felt I should be doing….a tough couple weeks at work followed by a few Friday nights of “blowing off some steam” may have contributed to the lack of motivation, but usually I’m pretty good at overcoming these self-induced obstacles. Anyhow, I decide to call it tapering, crossed my fingers and hoped I would have a good day.
As I packed for the weekend away and packed all my running/racing gear I realized that I had had too busy of a week and not had a chance to refill my stock of Clif Bloks and race food, oh well! The night before the race my friends Ryne and Kristin and their buddy Colin from Calgary (well actually from Tuk Tuk NWT), headed down to Bellingham to stay at Mike’s buddy’s cabin. We made a few pitstops along the way and picked up some pizza to cook up at the cabin. The cabin was full of runners, mostly fast and elite runners. I’m a pretty solid mid-pack runner, but when I hang out with all my fast friends (ie. Ellie Greenwood, World 100km Champion) I start to feel like my race is insignificant sometimes. Anyhow, I’d been having trouble sleeping all week and this night was no different especially since my mattress had a slow leak in it and I woke up pretty much on the floor. I was awake when the alarm went off at 6 am when we all frantically grabbed breakfast and our race packs and headed out the door. I wasn’t sure what the temperature was going to do, it seemed a bit colder than anticipated so I opted for long sleeve and since we’d gotten some new compression socks, I decided on shorts and the socks that I had never worn or tried out before, because we all know that trying new things on race day is a fantastic idea.
We got to the race pretty early and it was cold so we spent time chatting, catching up with people and warming up by sitting in the car and making jokes at the expense of the people in the port-a-potty line up and finally it was time to start the race. As we started running I quickly realized I was irritating everyone around me as when I realized I was low on supplies and didn’t have the usual electrolyte container I just threw a few tabs into an Advil bottle that proceeded serenade me, and everyone around me…oops! Anyhow, I found myself running with fellow teammate Chad and my buddy Wade as we headed out on the flat 10km of InterUrban Trail that is far from my favourite part of this race. We reminisced about the Western States a few years ago when I paced the 2 of them and had a few laughs. Then I let the two of them go, I had no idea what today had in store for me, but I felt going out too fast would be a bad idea. I passed Wade as he pulled off for a pit stop and finally the pain of this flat 10km ended with the aid station which luckily was well stocked so I grabbed a bunch of Clif Bloks ate a few and stuffed a bunch into my vest pocket for later, I like to be well prepared for races as bonking is no fun and unlike those people that live off just aid stations, I need to eat whenever I want. My buddy Wade caught back up to me so we went up the switchbacks together and ran the next second to the second aid station, where I filled my pack with water and then realized one of the buckles on my brand new pack had snapped off… luckily there were 2 buckles and the other was still there. I didn’t stress and began the long climb up this hill that is a really boring section of forest service road. I was feeling good and running a lot of sections that people were walking and thought I might pay for this later. However, I just went with it. Finally, we got the third aid station after which follows my absolute favourite part of the whole race. I grabbed some PB and J tortilla’s from the aid station, ate some potato chips and then proceed to run through my favorite part of this race, it’s this mossy, soft most spectacular section of single track, with beautiful views and I’m pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. I had struggled with running the past 2 weeks, I had felt demotivated and tired and all of a sudden I just felt “alive” again, it was awesome! I remembered what I love about this sport (aside from my ability to have all the beer and chocolate I want) and I just felt so in the moment and took it all in. I passed a few people and felt like I was flying…of course, it’s all relative!
I was feeling great and wondered when I was about to bonk, but for now, I just decided to “go with it”. I made it to Little Chinscraper feeling pretty good and from having done it last year I knew Chinscraper was like doing 20 minutes of the Grouse Grind, so I grabbed some food, filled my water and ate and drank my way up so I could hopefully have a good finish. After Chinscraper is a huge downhill, that seems to last forever, 30 minutes I think it was of downhill forest service road mostly so this is where trying new things on race day became a bad plan….there was a steep bit of single track downhill which suddenly made me aware that I had a blister on my big toe and I felt it burst (note to self: don’t wear socks you’ve never tried before on race day). It was pretty painful on the downhill and I thought “crap, this going to ruin my day, I was feeling so good”…well I said worse things than that to myself, but suddenly the trail was a little less steep and I found running the gradual downhills and flats to be less painful…crisis averted for now and the rest of the race is the damn 10km of InterUrban. I had set a bit of a goal with myself at the beginning that I wanted to run the interurban trail faster on the way back than my split on the way there. I was feeling good, but not THAT good, and I got a bit confused a few times on the way back with directions being a bit unclear….so I didn’t reach my goal, I was 2 minutes slower on the way back; I did, however, beat my race time from last year by 5 minutes and finish in a time of 5:30 which was good for 13th woman. And I believe it’s the Hokas, I was not nearly as sore as I was last year after finishing this race, aside from a blister on my toe, I felt relatively unscathed and managed to do a short run the next morning with the crew.