17 October 2012

Defiance 30K Recap

Ready for my 30K!
Saturday morning my alarm went off around 5am so I could get some breakfast in me before I started getting nervous.  I ate a blueberry bagel with some berry preserves and drank a glass of water before getting dressed- a peek outside told me it was raining but that didn't really suprise me.  At 6am I ate a cliff bar but by the last bite I was forcing it down so I threw my banana in my race bag and decided I could eat it while I waited for the race to start.  I decided to leave around 6:30am to make sure I got a good parking spot and have plenty of time to get myself ready to run.  I packed enough stuff so that if the world ended while I was running I could survive for about 3 weeks.  Seriously, I had extra clothes, tons of fuel and water, protein bars, coats and shoes plus garbage bags and my trusty banana (which I never did eat!).

The fuel!
The one thing I didn't bring that I wish I had?  My snuggie.  That would have been nice and cozy while I sat in my car freezing to death waiting for the race to start!  So since I live 2 miles from the start line I was way too early but it was nice to slowly get myself together and not stress about anything for that last hour before the race.  The rain was pretty solid off and on and I finally decided to get out of the car and use the bathroom and figure out where I would leave my drop bag.  While in line for the bathroom suddenly Nicole and Lindsay walked by and said hi.  Nicole was running the 15K (she was supposed to run the 50K but is coming back from an injury) and Lindsay really was running the 50K!  Lindsay did an awesome job and Nicole supported her by running the final lap with her.  Read their reports HERE and HERE if you want to hear some other perspectives on this race and the different distance options. 

I said hi to several people I knew, and then found my friend Zach.  I threw my drop bag down near his on a picnic table covered in plastic, reluctantly threw my jacket inside of it and went to get in line for the start gun.  Zach was running the 30K and his friend David was running the 50K so I decided to start out with them even though I figured they would be faster than me.  The race starts on a straight paved sidewalk, then goes up a large wooden staircase before heading into the trails.  I kept up with them for about a mile or so, but I knew if I stayed with them I would push myself too hard in the first few uphill miles and my race would suck.  I know my pace and it is the opposite of fast on those trails.  Slow and steady was my goal, so I just eased up and soon they were gone from sight but I didn't mind. 

I just finished my first trip up Achille's Hill and then back down!
Around the rhodedendron garden I was suddenly next to Steve from my Ragnar team so we chatted for a bit and then he was pulling ahead of me as well.  Then all of a sudden there were runners coming straight at us and telling us to "turn around, we were going the wrong way!" and I was like "are they serious?".  Yes, a group of 20-30 of us (including Steve but not Zach, Nicole or Lindsay) had indeed missed a turn and were going in the wrong direction.  Turns out somebody had flipped a sign around on the course- by the time I got back on track it was probably about an extra 2 miles.  I would really like to have a chat with that person. 

Devan joined me for a few minutes
So after that little episode I was trying to convince myself that 2 extra miles wasn't that big of a deal.  Even though I knew it was actually pretty significant.  And I could probably kiss my time goal goodbye.  But there wasn't anything I could do but keep on running so that is what I did!  I fueled with gels every 40 minutes or so and refilled my water at the aid station.  I passed a couple of walkers on a very narrow trail.  I saw a couple of runner's bite the dust.  I speed walked as fast as possible up Achille's Hill, and tried to make up time running back down (that was fun!).  Will and Devan found me down past the dog park and snapped some photos.  I chatted with a lady named Heidi that runs the Bee Hive massage at the YMCA for the last few miles before we headed back down to the Start/Finish line.

Speaking of heading back down to the starting area- so Nellie's Gnarly Descent was the last part of the course I was unsure of.  Basically you head off of the main road and hike down, down, down a cliff and there is a rope for you to hold onto for part of it so you don't die fall and hurt yourself.  The first trip down it wasn't too bad actually and I managed to be rather graceful.  Once at the bottom I hustled towards the timing matts and logged a stellar time of 2:15:56 and my garmin told me I had ran 12.6 miles (should have been 10.3) so I figure I had managed to add 2.3 miles to my first lap. 

See ya!
I used the bathroom really quick and like an idiot skipped past the aid station and didn't refill my water bottles.  I was keeping up with my fueling and I actually felt really good at that point still.  And then came the stairs, and the hills- those hills in the first couple miles are just never ending!  I know the exact point it finally levels off and every time I turn that corner it is like my heart stops beating out of my chest and I can breath!  This time there were volunteers standing in the pathway making sure we went the right way which was awesome.  No need to tack on any more miles thank you very much!  About a mile before I reached the aid station at Fort Nisqually I ran out of water completely.  Not a good sign, and I had been rationing my water after I realized I hadn't topped off so I was actually quite thirsty. 

Once I reached the aid station I refilled both water bottles and drank quite a bit.  I was feeling kind of yucky at that point- a little bit dizzy and a tad nauseated so I was grazing on a couple of chips and a piece of watermelon hoping it would magically make me feel better.  I had 5 miles to go and I think my garmin said I was close to 18 miles at that point.  I set off back down the hill and a few miles later I looked at my watch because it beeped at me that the battery was low and I noticed that it was on pause- and it still said 18 miles!  Great.  I must have bumped it at the aid station or stopped it out of habit and not realized it. 

The last mile of that race was the longest mile EVER in my life.  I could see the time on my watch and I knew if I hurried I could still possibly make it in under 4 hours and 15 minutes but it would be close.  Once I hit the road I tried to match pace with this guy in front of me, allowing him to pull me along until the climb back down to Owen's beach.  This time the descent was a little more difficult.  The dirt was looser and my legs were jello- I took a long miss-step at one point and by some miracle my left quad actually held me up.  There was a guy standing just below and he said "good save!" and I was like "I am just glad my legs still work!" cause that would have been a fine way to end my 30K by rolling down to the finish line!

The beautiful finish line
I finally broke free of the trail and headed out onto the pavement toward the beautiful sight of the finish line using every ounce of energy I had left.  I could hear Zach and Nicole cheering me on and that was so awesome and encouraging- thanks guys!  My time for lap 2 was 1:54:10 making my total time for the "30K" 4:10:07.  I still beat my C goal!  Zach took one look at my feet and declared me "too clean"- I guess I am a tidy runner.  My shoes were muddy around the bottom and I had a ton of dirt inside my shoes but my calf sleeves were clean.  Interesting.  I wandered around a bit and threw my gear in the car and grabbed a sandwich.  I sat with Nicole for a few minutes while she waited for Lindsay to come through on her second lap and then they both set off for one more loop.  I headed home so I could go watch my daughter play soccer at 1:30pm before finally settling down in my recliner and not moving for the remainder of the day!

My "too clean" legs and feet!
I absolutely loved everything about this race.  It was very different from a road race- the runners were much friendlier and easygoing.  There was just a different attitude in general.  I loved that we all just left our bags out on tables trusting that nobody would mess with them.  I loved chatting with random people along the way and being surrounded by nature the entire time.  I never felt dread during this race and I never wished it was over.  Those things are important to me- I do not want to spend money and time on something that I don't enjoy.  I distinctly remember reminding myself in those last 5 miles to relax and enjoy my race- the race that I spent the last 2 1/2 months training for.  And that is what I did.  Best race ever.  If you are interested in a trail race or an ultra in the Seattle/Tacoma area- THIS is the one you should do!!  I will be back next year.  Thank you Tacoma City Marathon Association for making me proud to live and race in Tacoma.     


  1. You did so awesome!! And yes your calf sleeves are WAY TOO CLEAN!!!! My legs were way dirtier. So sorry you ran so much extra. But you're totally trained to run a marathon in a few weeks now so you should just sign up for one with me??? :-)

    1. Thanks Nicole, and thanks for cheering me in :) Tempting! But I really want to work on my fitness for a few months before tackling marathon training. I have been slacking in my overall strength building. I need muscles LOL!!

  2. Great job Tiffany, you are inspiring! Sounds like you had a you had a blast. It would be a fun challenge to run this race . . . It's on my birthday next year, too!

    1. Thanks Sybil! It was a great race- you should run it on your birthday next year for sure! I will definitely be there :)