I was really looking forward to writing a race report for the Ghost of Seattle 50K. Sadly, circumstance and my own disorganization intervened, but mostly circumstance.
The morning of the race I woke up nice and early in preparation for the 6:00am start time. Because the start of the race was so close to my house, I thought I would run there. The distance between my house and the starting line was just enough for a good pre-race warm up.
Once I got to the destination, however, I realized that the starting line was actually a good mile and a half to two miles to the South. There was no way I was going to make it by the starting time, at least not on foot. I was kicking myself for not reading the directions more closely and for not having driven there.
It was thirty degrees and I was feeling embarrassed so I just walked home and crawled back in bed. After I woke up later that morning, I sulked for a couple hours before realizing there was nothing stopping me from running the distance I had trained for. I resolved to run the distance the next morning anyway…even if I wasn’t going to get a medal for it.
The Seattle Marathon was the next morning, so I had to get up early if I was going to get away from the course and have a clear route to run. I headed out at 5:00 a.m., before the roads closed and went to the Burke-Gilman playground, a favorite starting point of mine to get on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Just as it was the previous day, it was cold (about 30 degrees) and incredibly foggy. For the first hour of my run, I could only see the beam of my headlamp relected in the fog and a small patch of ground a few feet in front of me.
As the sun rose, I was nearing Kenmore and noticing that the fog had barely lifted and everything around me was covered in frost. As I continued on, the Burke-Gilman trail turned into the Samamish River Trail, where I had previously run the First Call 50K. I continued heading Northeast around the top of Lake Washington and noticed the frost was turning into patches of snow and ice. It started getting a little slippery, but I ran more cautiously and am grateful I never fell.
In Woodinville, I had run up to the halfway point, 15.5 miles, and turned back the way I came to complete the full distance. I was feeling really good. I had dressed properly and felt warm in the frigid weather. I had a hydration pack that I was making good use of and a had been taking gu gels at a regular basis, about every 7 miles and had a homemade sports drink as well. It appeared that running the 50K distance without the help of aid stations wasn’t going to present much of a problem.
Ironically, the only negative experience that I had was at the 19 mile mark when I had broken off from the trail briefly to make use of a restroom at a nearby McDonald’s. I slipped on some ice in the parking lot and rolled my left ankle a little bit. I don’t think I did any serious damage but I had a dull ache in my ankle for the rest of the run.
I really enjoyed the solitude of the early morning run to Woodinville, but the run back was a lot more crowded. Even in freezing weather I was dodging bikes, dog walkers and large groups taking up the trails. While I was happy to see people still enjoy being outside, I had gotten spoiled having the trail to myself earlier that day.
When I got back to the car, I felt an intense sense of accomplishment that more than made up for the disappointment of missing the race the previous day. Although I didn’t get a medal, I felt even more accomplished for having completed the distance I had trained for anyway. In my mind, my dedication had made up for my organizational mix-up of the day before.
I got a good time, setting a PR* for the distance. Although I’d prefer not to miss races I signed up for, I feel like having my own private “race” is a fine substitute.
Up next, assuming I don’t miss the starting line, is the Yukon Do It! Marathon in Port Orchard in December. I’m considering some 50Ks with greater elevation and some >50K distances next year but haven’t nailed down any firm plans just yet.
* Caveat: Time is watch-time not chip-time. So it doesn’t include time I stopped to eat gu, change playlists or go to the bathroom. I still think I beat my previous PR with all that, too.