Sunday, May 20, 2012

Redmond Watershed 12 Hour - 2012

I guess I could say I'm determined.  Or maybe stubborn.  Persistent?  Whatever we might call it, the fact is that when I set a goal for myself I have a really hard time letting go of it.  Once I decide I can do something, I intend to get it done.  All this is to say that I really wanted to rack up 40 miles yesterday at the Watershed and I did!  There were multiple points in the day where I reminded myself that I was going to quit when it wasn't fun anymore, but my next thought was always that as long as I was moving I might hit 40.  So I kept moving...

Just in case you don't remember my description from 2010, the Watershed has two loops: the big one is about 4.6 miles, the little one about .7 mile.  Combined they make a 5.3 mile loop that is the race course.  Everyone runs the combination until 5:00, at that point runners have to decide if they can make a complete combined loop before the 7:00 cutoff.  If a runner can't do it, then they begin running the little loop.  If one goes out on the big loop and doesn't make it back before the cut off then the miles don't count. 

I ran the first two loops on my own - the pack spread out quickly, and though I was always near someone, I was running solo. I was trying to run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute, and was holding that pacing pretty well.  I came in from loop two to find a new friend awaiting - Paige.  We had met at a race earlier in the year and have many mutual friends.  She offered to come out and run a few laps with me and I accepted.  It was great! 

Remember, I was not really trained for this race.  I ran a marathon in March, and though I maintain 25 miles a week, my longest run since then had been 10 miles.  And I didn't train for the marathon either.  With school I just don't have the time for long runs, though if I plan carefully, I can take a day out every now and then for some fun.  In order to do this particular race, I had to complete a big assignment first: reading, analyzing, and charting 20 scholarly articles.  That may not sound like much, but it was incredibly time consuming and difficult.  The chart was due today, so I had to have it done by Friday in order to run. I had it done by Tuesday - I really wanted to run this race! 

                                 Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Paige and I
Anyway, I warned Paige I would not be fast and might bail out early.  Paige and I held my pace for one more lap.  By then I was toast.  Though we tried to hold a 1/1 pace, we pretty much walked the next two laps.  Somewhere in there I lost a lap - I thought I was at 20 miles but Paige corrected me - I was past the marathon and only needed one more lap to hit 50K.  I was thrilled! I knew Paige was heading home, but I thought I could easily walk one more lap.  By the way - Paige spoiled me rotten, filling my bottle at the aid station, grabbing me food, and checking my miles.  And we talked nonstop for 15 miles - it was great! I couldn't have made it through those middle miles without her support.  All this for someone she had met once.  Amazing - many, many thanks, Paige!

                               Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
I told Glenn that I didn't have any run left in me. He assured me I did.  This was my 50K loop.

As I headed out for my sixth lap I thought maybe I could do a 30/30 (seconds).  It worked pretty well.  I came in from that lap - at 50K - and wanted to be done. I sat down with some soup and coke and really thought about quitting.  50K was respectable.  It was only 4:15, but I could just wait for Eric.  I told one of our friends who was volunteering that I really wanted Eric to come in, then he could tell me he was done and I could say "me too".  Sadly, that didn't happen.  I walked over to the timers to check my mileage (because at that point I couldn't do the math.  I knew it was a tad over 50K, but not how much).  I asked what my time was on the last loop - trying to figure out if I could do one more.  When they told me it was 1:36 and faster than my previous one, I was surprised.  Then Van Phan (ultra runner extraordinaire) told me to get back out there.  When Van tells me to do something, I do it.  So back out I went. 

And you know what? I felt great! My aches, pains, and fatigue fell away.  I kept to the 30/30 and felt like I was flying (it's all relative, right?).  I was alone on the trail for most of the loop (many runners had stopped and the rest of us were really spread out).  I decided to relax into the trail, to not think at all, to just be.  I told myself that my pace was eating up the miles. It worked - I was heading into the small loop before I knew it.  By that time we were into the small-loop phase and it was perfect.  Suddenly, the trail was filled with runners doing the small loop, including, best of all, Eric.  He wasn't feeling too hot and said it was his last loop.  We hit the aid station at the same time and he decided to go out for one more with me.  Once again, I had lost track of my miles, so the next time in I asked.  They told me I had three small loops and 35 minutes to hit 40 miles.  I shucked off my vest, threw down my water bottle and took off.  I had a blast! I pushed it and finished with minutes to spare (I thought I had four minutes but the official time says I had seven minutes left).  I cannot tell you how excited I was to get to 40 miles. 

                              Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Feeling good!

 Even more exciting - I got second in my age group!  Eric got first in his age group with 57 miles.  He was bummed because he had hoped for way more, but he had an off day, feeling out of it and sick.  I think he did pretty good. 

All in all, it was a great day - sunshine, beautiful trails in deep forest, a new friend, many old friends, great volunteers, awesome race directors, and a whole lotta miles under my belt.  Best kind of day off I could ask for...


Olga King said...

Running in the last photo awesome! Van knows what to say:) Great job, Miss Stubborn!

Paige said...

Well done, Michelle! You rocked it - strong and determined! ( and I think a picture of the chart needs to be in here too, lol )

Thomas said...

As I'm training for a 24 hrs event right now myself, I find this very interesting, especially the way you came out of that low.

You did very well there, Michelle. Well done!

Sarah said...

Awesome! You can always do more than you think you can. Congrats on a super run!

Joe said...

Dr. Barnes, you are just amazing. Way to go!! Great write up and description of the ups and downs of a 12 hour race.

You realize, though, we are all now expecting photos of your toes...

Mega back to the books!!

lizzie lee said...

HATS OFF Lady!!! And you were thinking of a 50K goal? Amazing... Congrats.... And BTW, I know Paige. I met her at Snoqualmie Cinco de Mayo run!!!

lizzie lee said...

And the pix are wonderful!

Scott McMurtrey said...

Awesome as always. You still inspire me! :)

Glenn sure takes good pics.

Paul said...


A great (rare) posting from you these days!

Congrats on a fun day!