Cascade Crest 100 mile run 2008
CCC100 was the culmination of a very good year of running for me. My plan from the year consisted of a series of race goals each meant to improve an aspect of my running.
Goal 1 was a 24 hour timed run back in March. I used the training for this race to build up my mileage base. I ended up with 112 miles and a third place finish.
Goal 2 was a pr effort marathon at the beginning of summer to build up my speed and maintain my base. I Pr'd by 7+ minutes.
And goal 3 was to take this base mileage and speed then add on some really long trail runs with lots of elevation gain so that I could run a 100 mile mountain race near the top end of my potential.
It might sound like a well thought out plan but I really had no idea what I was doing.
I almost screwed up because I ran a 50 mile mountain race a month ago then followed that race with a super hard high mileage week. I probably should have taken a rest week instead. Several weeks into taper I was doing some stride outs and something gave out in my right knee.
I figured I weakened something with the hard race-high mileage week combo. This was like 4 days before my race so I went into an intensive RICE therapy and was very skeptical that I would be able to finish the race.
During my taper I abstained from caffeine so to give myself an extra boost when I needed it during the race. I also did a few weeks of heat training in the sauna.
As usual my wife
and I loaded up our travel trailer with supplies and headed to the race area on Friday before the race. I like pulling in early and taking a nice easy day just hanging around playing with the dogs or play card games with my wife or even watching a movie in the trailer. I usually end up getting a good night sleep this way too.
Race morning I was well rested and joined 107 runners for breakfast and a briefing. My wife was having fun talking to many different people and petting all the dogs that were running around loose picking up breakfast scraps. I kind of just found a place to relax and concentrate on what I was about to do.
Cascade Crest 100 is as the name implies 100 miles of running, walking, scampering, splashing, climbing and sometimes falling through some beautiful country in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle Washington. The race starts at 10 a.m. which seems kind of late to me but I guess they want everyone to experience some of the more technical parts of the trail during the dark hours.
The website says there are 20000 + feet of elevation gain and about 75% single track.Key features of the race include:
3300' climb up to Goat Peak and Blowout Mt. in the first 8 miles. This is followed by 30 miles of Pacific Crest trail with plenty of minor to major climbs and drops.
A very steep bushwhack like drop with the aid of ropes down to a rails to trails which takes you through a 2.3 mile dark wet tunnel.
Another monster 2000' climb up forest roads to Keechelus Ridge followed by a 7 mile drop back down to Lake Kachess which is the gateway to the famed "trail from hell" section-a 5 mile section of gruesome trail that takes every body forever to finish if they finish at all. This section has all the features that put the word technical in some trails including steep cliff like drops into some dark abyss, old growth 5' diameter trees lying across the trail with no way around, mud, water, disappearing sections etc....
A 3000' climb up to Thorpe mountain which would be so bad except that this climb is punctuated by these agonizingly steep sections that are called "the cardiac needles". It is nearly impossible to ascend these needles without periodic breaks to get your heart rate back down.
Lastly a beautiful descent down the Silver Creek draw which brings you back into the outskirts of Easton, WA where the race began the day before.
So at 10 a.m. we took off through several miles of residential dirt road to the trail which took us up to Goat Peak. I felt very strong on this climb and my knees were only hurting a little. I was still very skeptical that my knees were going to hold out. I followed a girl for much of this climb who seemed to like to hit the lesser grades at a slow jog. We made it to goat peak pretty fast this way. I forgot to hit my split button on the watch these first few aid stations.
This day I tried something new. I used a Nathan 1.5 liter hydration pack. The pack worked great but with temps nearing 80 I ran out of water a few times so an extra water bottle would have been nice. The Nathan has some nice pockets in the front and I tried to keep them stuffed with food. I like to take something down at least every half an hour. I used mostly gels between aid stations but devoured everything while in the aid stations.
On the way up to Cole Butte I hooked up with an East Coast runner. This guy was a seriously fast older runner but had no intentions of pushing it to hard today. He was a bit nervous about getting through some of the night time technical stuff so I told him that if he was in my neighborhood he was welcome to run with me. As we went on I found that he really liked to talk and talk some more.
I enjoyed our conversation but for the most part I'm kind of a hermit style runner.
I run with the most ease and least effort when things are quiet and I'm concentrating on the act of running.
I figured at some point we'd probably split up anyway because holding the same effort with another runner during a race is very hard. During some of this early part he did help me push my pace some.
20 miles into the race you hit the PCT section which is some real nice runable trail with quite a few short but difficult climbs. At this point my legs started to really get sore. I guessed it was due to the hard uphill effort from before so I hoped I'd recover soon. As I covered more ground the leg soreness intensified in both legs. Not too much knee pain as I expected but mostly general stuff and some specific groin muscle soreness. It kept getting worse and my pace was starting to drop off.
A few times here my new found partner would slip ahead then I'd meet him at the next aid station.
At 33 miles I limped into Stampede Pass. I had a short pace chart that showed 24 hour pace at a few key locations which coincided with where my drop bags were located. I was surprised to see that I was on a 24 hour pace but didn't expect to hold it. By this time I was pretty discouraged with the soreness in my legs which wasn't going away so I decided to take 400mg of ibuprofen. I don't like taking pain killers this early in the race because to me it seems to take away the effectiveness of doing this later in the race. Plus I really don't like taking meds during a run.
So I decided to take a few extra minutes at this aid station to take my pills and to down a bottle of ensure plus I had some soup and sandwich stuff from the aid provided. I also took off a shoe for the first and only time during the race to empty out a rock that was bothering me. Not sure how that rock made it past my gaitors.
As I was leaving the aid station I grabbed a turkey and avocado sandwich and told my partner that I'd be heading up the trail at a slow pace waiting for him to catch up. He was changing some cloths or something. I never saw him again.
As I expected the ibuprofen kicked in along with the big food and ensure from the previous stop. My pace became strong again and I was moving well. This really cheered me up plus I was all alone again, which is the way I really wanted it to be, at least for a while.