Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bellingham Trail 1/2 Marathon Race Report

I saw a Facebook post Candice Burt had written about the Bellingham Marathon. She was introducing a new ½ marathon option and said it was going to be AWESOME and that the course was stellar! As someone who likes races that are described so enthusiastically, I jumped on board.

I decided to head down the morning of the race because it didn’t start until 10:30am, however we had to be at Padden Lake at 9:30am to catch a shuttle bus. I left my house in North Vancouver around 7:15am and was hoping to get there around 8:30am and 9am at the latest. Of course, due to the long weekend the borders were super slow going. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it to the race when I was still at the border at 9:00am. I hauled ass as fast as I could to Lake Padden. I literally drove in at 9:28am, leaving myself exactly 2 minutes to park and grab my bib. Luckily, there was no line-up and everything worked out smashingly. BUT Man was that stressful!

I got on the bus and we went for a nice 30 minutes drive to our drop off point. I immediately remembered the area from Chuckanut 50km. In fact, a lot of the trails we were going to be running are part of the Chuckanut 50km course and because I have done that race 3 times already, I am quite familiar with the area. I love these trails.

I went for a nice 10 minute warm-up because it was quite cold and I had been sitting for the 3 previous hours. Once the gun went off a girl darted out in front of me. She looked like a really strong runner and I knew instantly this was a race for 2nd! She went on to win the entire race.

This race has just over 2600ft of elevation gain and I swear it’s all in the first 4 miles. At first the trail switchbacks upwards and then once you hit chin scraper its pretty much straight up, with a few zig zags. I ran these 4 miles just in front of 2 other ladies. Having them behind me kept me on my toes and pushed me harder than I might have if they weren’t breathing down my neck. I figured if I could hold them off uphill I had a good chance of keeping 2nd place. Up next was the ridge trail which is a 5km section of technical trail. This is one of my favorite parts of the Chuckanut 50km course and it is where my true colors really come out.

I hammered this section and the downhill that followed it, passing quite a few men along the way. Up to this point I had been feeling pretty good and continued to feel great on anything that was flat or downhill. However, anything that was even slightly uphill I felt like I was slogging. It felt so good to run fast in the trails again. I am really enjoying racing some shorter distance races at the moment.

The last 2 miles back to Lake Padden felt pretty long. I was passed by a guy doing the marathon. I tried for the life of me to keep up but it wasn’t happening. Luckily he came in 2nd so I don’t feel to bad about myself ha!

I finished up the race in 2:16, 2nd female and 4th overall. This race is super awesome and the course was fantastic. The post race food (handmade pizza, soup, and everything else you would expect) is top notch!

Something worth noting: I decided not to carry any water with me which is out of the ordinary for me. However, because it was so cold I knew I would drink less and there were 3 aid stations I could get water from. I found that this worked out great and never really felt like I needed a drink.

Footwear: I decided to wear my La Sportiva Vertical K’s instead of my Crosslites (which I love). I had never raced in the Vertical K’s and was a bit nervous about it. In the end, I made such a good call because they felt great. They are incredibly light and really comfortable. I highly recommend this shoe for training and racing.

Thanks again to Candice Burt and Rainshadow Running. She has a lot of really awesome races throughout the year and I would put this one on your calendar for 2014. It’s a great late season event.