Cle Elum 50k: Last race in the WA Ultra Series

I'm on the far left in the light blue jacket, at the pre-race briefing.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
Despite my slight apprehension about racing, mostly due to wanting to be done with the running season after my 100 mile finish at Cascade Crest and my excitement at moving into more cross training and the hard training and higher mileage workouts that make up my off season, I decided to race the Cle Elum 50k.  It's the last ultra in the WA Ultra Series and would be the "make" or "break" for me in getting second place in the series.  Despite being in first place for most of the year, I went into the race knowing that I would most likely get second place, but if I didn't do the race, I would land in third place.  Although disappointed about second place, third was definitely not what I wanted.  I just wasn't willing to give up second place, no matter how I felt mentally about racing.

A few challenges stood in the way of my racing at all.  Injuries? Nope!  Maybe tired legs from the 100 miler, but the biggest challenge it seemed was finding child care for my two kiddos while I raced.  Lucky for me I have a wonderful boyfriend and some close friends who helped out the day of the race.
The girls hung out with RD James at the start of the race.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
My plan for the race was to take it easy and make sure I finished strong enough to have the number of points I needed to make get 2nd in the Series.  I was able to do this without much trouble and my finishing time was an improvement on my time from last year.  Although last year I ran 6 "bonus" miles due to getting off course and running uphill for 3 miles before I realized I was doing a part of the course no one else was doing, and it sure felt lonely up on the mountain.  Many choice words and frustrations later and I was back on course, but I'd already lost an hour or more on those 6 miles.  Not so this year!  I think I would have had a faster finishing time last year had I not gotten so far off course.  This year I just wanted to do the damn thing and do it... okay.  Not my usual mentality.  There just wasn't much fight left in me at that point.  My move to Bellingham, the 100 mile race, and my constant traveling for work and picking up/dropping off kids was taking a mental tole. 
Crossing the infamous Cle Elum river crossing during the 50k.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
This stress manifested during the race in the worst crash and burn I have had trail running.  I rarely fall, and if I do, it is usually pretty mild.  Heading down the mountain after the halfway aid station I tripped over a mysterious bump in the trail and hit my right knee hard.  I thought I was broken at first, but the pain subsided as it always does and I was able to continue, dirt covered and emotionally fragile.  I had to gather my strength and let go of my perceived hurt.  Yes, I was physically hurt, but there was no need to dwell on it.  There were still many miles to go. 
the knee, pic by Glenn Tachiyama
All in all, the girls had a blast volunteering at the race and playing with James, Al, Rita and the kids at the finish line.  I finished strong enough to get second place in the Ultra Series.   Now that I am done racing for the year, I am enjoying my time  "off" and have been getting 60-70 mile running weeks in as well as starting my first Crossfit workout last week.  I am excited to do a couple more classes this week, and I already feel stronger.  Is that possible?

Running in Bellingham has been very helpful for my speed and hill strength.  James and I have been doing tempo runs on the interurban trail and the waterfront trail, with some good workouts running up Sehome hill, Taylor Hill and the Chuckanuts.  Can't wait to get out there tomorrow at 5am!!!

All pictures by Glenn Tachiyama.  To see his pictures, visit his website here

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