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The North Face Beast of Big Creek - Run


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Hoodsport, Washington
United States
Total Time = 3h 11m 44s
Overall Rank = 11/47
Age Group = All Female
Age Group Rank = 1/10
Event warmup:

Ran around the campground a bit, accelerating on and off to get my HR up.

Run
  • 3h 11m 44s
  • 13.75 miles
  • 13m 56s  min/mile
Comments:

Mount Ellinor was the first mountain I ever summited. I did it when I was 11 or 12 and haven't been back since.

Fast forward 20 years, I was thinking of this particular mountain and wanted to go back and climb it again. Somehow in my research I stumbled across this random race to the top and back. Of course I registered promptly. At the time I didn't realize you had to go up AND down, I thought by summit race they meant only to the summit.Once I found out you had to go back down, I decided I really needed to get to work on my downhill running skills, something I have struggled with quite a bit.

So here I was, 20 years later toeing the line. The RD cracked me up. He was very matter of fact in his little pre race schpeal but it came across a little-ehhhh, scary?

He said, "Nearly half the people who start this race don't make the cutoff. However (long pause) you guys look a little more fit than in the past. (long pause) We put the 4.5 hour cutoff at the summer because, well (long pause) this is supposed to be an athletic event. I should also warn you, there are goats and bees. Lots of bees. The goats shouldn't bother you too much, so long as you guys are peeing up above the timberline. The bees might be more of an issue. More for the slower runners."

This poor woman near me moaned, "Juuuuuust great." LOL the poor thing, sheesh! I don't think he meant o be so harsh but dang.

They had just finished the new campground at big creek so the course was brand new. It added about .75 miles to the old course so, we were setting the baseline for future races.

They fired the gun and we all took off. The trail was smooth running for the first mile or so, still trending uphill but pretty gentle and relatively smooth. We took a right onto the connector trail and it started to switchback a bit, a little more steep.

I worked my way through the trees. Since I tend to be really strong at ascending and not so much at descending I was really trying to pay attention to my energy levels and beating I was putting on my legs so I would have something left for the finish.

Fog had rolled into the trees and kept the temperature really nice as I worked my way through the forest. I hit the first aid station and took a cup of Gatorade and filled my small handheld (I opted for only a handheld and a tiny backpack with emergency stuff as this is a pretty rugged mountain)

The trail climbs with gentle switchbacks, traces the edge of a recovering clear-cut, then it undulates with a ridge edge.

The trees start to thin as you climb and the fog had rolled out giving me glimpse of the sunny blue sky. My legs were feeling the burn and I was struggling to keep the pace moderate to help my my descent.

I came into the second aid station and again took Gatorade and topped the handheld off. I looked back down the trail and to my surprise saw another women. "Fuuuuuudge" only I didn't say fudge. In staying with my moderate pace and my quick evaluation of the woman's condition she was going to pass me before the summit. This very rarely happens. I have to typically make as much of a gap as possible to the summit in order to fend people off from catching me on the downhill and often it's not enough.

It didn't matter though. I needed to stick to my plan and she was gaining quickly. I told myself that no matter what, when she passed I was not to accelerate or try and overexert myself. I would likely be running this for second place.

About 1.75 miles from the summit she passed me. I told her nice work and we chatted for just a moment before she was out of conversation range. It was hard watching her go with no response but we weren't even halfway through this race and I was honestly pretty taxed.


So, I had mentioned this race gains 5,000' of elevation to the summit but the crazier stat is the 2,444 feet of elevation it gains in the final 1.6 miles. I broke out of the forest to the exposed alpine. The trail takes on a whole different form right away. A BEASTly form. The trail more or less is gone and what you are left with is a choose your own adventure boulder scramble.

My pace at this point had gone from running to power hiking to scrambling to crawling to cursing. That's right, having just lost my lead AND being slowed to a scramble was creeping into my generally good race vibes. I just told myself to keep moving forward and emphasizing efficient moves to save myself for that descent.

I worked my way up the rock field then we did a big traverse across an open screen field. The trail would steeply around the backside of the mountain and then back to the other side again before the final push. The lead men flew past me then a few more, I counted 7 then 8 and 9, 10, 11, 12. I could now see the summit but no sign of the other woman coming down. Just as I was about the climb the last 10 feet the woman passed me and said hello. Surprised she hadn't put more distance on me I hurried to the turnaround (they took a photo) then I began descending.

I caught up to the other woman quickly and to my absolute surprise she was going very slowly. In fact, she looked a lot like I typically do. Since I have really been trying to work on this, I unleashed. I passed her then ran down the scree and picked my way through the rocks VERY quickly, not just for me but in general. I even picked off one of the men.

I just tried to stay focused and present because traveling at this speed in this terrain can easily result in a major injury.

With every step down the terrain became more and more runnable. The rocks gave way to roots and then soon relatively smooth dirt track as we plunged back into the forest. My legs still felt strong and I tried to keep my cadence high and avoid as much of the impact as possible.

I cranked hard to the aid station, took a quick Gatorade and kept going. Opting to not take more water. I figured the sport drink served as hydration and a little fuel.

I kept the same effort down past the next station (didn't take anything) and would down toward the finish. I wasn't exactly sure how long the race was (in miles) because it took a slightly different route to the finish after the final aid station. At every corner I though the connector trail would be close.

For some reason (even though I know this) I hadn't really given much thought to the fact a trail half marathon is much more like a road marathon than a half. I was over the 3 hour mark now and had only taken Gatorade and water. I didn't feel like I was bonking but I was getting that sluggish, mile 25 feel of a marathon.

I felt that at any moment the second place woman could overtake me so I really tried to crank now, knowing there wasn't much race left. Finally we got onto the connector trail and into the Big Creek Campground, I passed another guy as I weaved through the trails. I picked it up just a little more and powered to the finish line, taking the win because of my DESCENT not the climb!!!!

*Just a side note, the volunteers and other competitors were sooo amazing. Even the hikers on the trail were incredibly supportive and encouraging. What a race!

What would you do differently?:

I need to get back into some focused uphill running
Post race
Warm down:

A little jogging the hanging out at the bonfire cheering on the finishers. The second place female didn't come in for another 15ish minutes!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I did this all with pretty much one eye. I have a stye or something and it ballooned up and I could hardly see out of my left eye. Anyway, while I was hanging out watching the other finishers (with one eye) I had a young boy come and harass me about my eye. Okay, he didn't do it maliciously and lucky I have thick(ish) skin but he was like," Wooooowwww, look how puffy your eye is! You should get an eye patch. Actually, I don't think an eye patch would work. It would probably fall off because your eye is so swollen." Thanks kid. Noted.



What limited your ability to perform faster:

Still working on trail running in general. Lots of opportunity for uphill and my downhill.


Profile Album


Last updated: 2016-08-08 12:00 AM
Running
03:11:44 | 13.75 miles | 13m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/10
Overall: 11/47
Performance: Good
Course: Who's the real Beast of Big Creek? Half-Marathon(ish) trail race in the Olympic Mountains. Summit race (limit 40 participants, must be 18) on beautiful single track climbs from Big Creek CG to the summit of Mt. Ellinor at 5944' and back with 5000' ft of climbing/descent. For everyone's safety, cut-off times will be enforced on the summit course. Failure to meet specified cut-off times (4.5 hours) will result in a DNF. Don't make the summit course your first trail race. This is not a hike.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall:
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Evaluation
Course challenge
Organized?
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

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2016-08-15 10:46 AM

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Seattle
Subject: The North Face Beast of Big Creek


2016-08-15 11:16 AM
in reply to: #5195206

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Master
2408
2000100100100100
Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek
Nice race, and well done with your descent!
Soooo, what's the deal with goats? I've only ever seen them at petting zoos. Do they attack you while you pee, or what?
2016-08-15 11:19 AM
in reply to: #5195206

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Veteran
1900
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Southampton, Ontario
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek
amazing, As hard as a road marathon but I bet twice as much fun.
2016-08-15 12:50 PM
in reply to: #5195206

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Pennsylvania
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek

Great write up, fantastic effort, beautiful pics and a solid win, congrats!  You continue to amaze me.  Keep on doing what you love, it apparently loves you back!

2016-08-15 1:03 PM
in reply to: Atlantia

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Seattle
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek

Originally posted by Atlantia Nice race, and well done with your descent! Soooo, what's the deal with goats? I've only ever seen them at petting zoos. Do they attack you while you pee, or what?

Haha great question. So, generally they are pretty harmless creatures so long as you keep your distance. One guy actually was killed by one http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mountain-goat-kills-man-in-olympic-national-park/ but this was the first time it ever happened. Me thinks he didn't head the warning the goat gave and tried to proceed, despite the obvious warning the goat gave. But who knows. 

 

Anyhoo, the biggest concern with goats is that they LOVE to drink urine (mmmm salty!). In fact they love it so much, they can't wait for it to hit the ground....if that clues you into the errrrr, situation to avoid. 

2016-08-15 2:04 PM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Master
2408
2000100100100100
Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek
Originally posted by Asalzwed

Originally posted by Atlantia Nice race, and well done with your descent! Soooo, what's the deal with goats? I've only ever seen them at petting zoos. Do they attack you while you pee, or what?

Haha great question. So, generally they are pretty harmless creatures so long as you keep your distance. One guy actually was killed by one http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mountain-goat-kills-man-in-olympic-national-park/ but this was the first time it ever happened. Me thinks he didn't head the warning the goat gave and tried to proceed, despite the obvious warning the goat gave. But who knows. 

 

Anyhoo, the biggest concern with goats is that they LOVE to drink urine (mmmm salty!). In fact they love it so much, they can't wait for it to hit the ground....if that clues you into the errrrr, situation to avoid. 




Ha! That (meaning that they drink the urine, not the poor guy who died) is awesome. I live such a sheltered suburban life. Who knew?!


2016-08-18 7:48 PM
in reply to: DaveL

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Seattle
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek
Originally posted by DaveLamazing, As hard as a road marathon but I bet twice as much fun.
Precisely!
2016-08-18 7:49 PM
in reply to: melbo55

User image

Seattle
Subject: RE: The North Face Beast of Big Creek
Originally posted by melbo55

Great write up, fantastic effort, beautiful pics and a solid win, congrats!  You continue to amaze me.  Keep on doing what you love, it apparently loves you back!

Thank you!
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