I wasn't really planning to do Hagg this year after doing it the last two years. There is only so much mud you need to run through before you kind of feel like "been there, done that", and with two victories, I didn't feel like there was anything left to prove. Plus, this year the race fell on my son's birthday and I am pretty sure that is at least minus 250 Mom points for racing on your son's birthday. But RD Todd sweet talked me into entering. Besides, everyone knows I do love me a Hagg Lake shirt... I guess even enough to take the minus 250 Mom points! :)
Hagg Lake is 14 miles around. The 50k has a road out and back at the start (uphill 1.5 miles then down) and then two laps around the lake. The first lap is muddy, but after 200 runners churn up the course, the second lap is a slop fest!
In what seems to be the new normal for every Mom and Pop 50k in the Pac NW, the field was stacked- Joelle Vaught, Cassie Scallon, Ashley Nordell, newbie local speedster Natalie Bak- so the opening road miles took off fast with me right in the middle of the fast chick pack. But in the first mile on the trail, Cassie and Ashley passed me by, seemingly unaffected by the mud. Meanwhile, I just felt really tentative on all the slick trail. I could have used a lot more shoe, but I don't think that was the major issue. Mostly, I just didn't feel comfortable, which is funny because in years past I have always really enjoyed the mud and felt like I ran well in it. Not sure if I was shy after two hard falls at Orcas, or maybe my legs were just fatigued enough to not plant well, or maybe I was just being a big sissy, but I was timid in the slick areas and handfuls of people passed me in the first trail section (including Rui, one of my training partners).
|I was planning to change into sleeves, but kept my jacket when the race rudely started 4 minutes early. With all the rain, I didn't regret it, but you can't see my Hagg shirt. Of course, I am wearing one! |
(photos by the awesome Michael Libowitz)
By mile four, I was telling myself the front ladies would have to come back to me as I didn't think I'd make my way up to them. The only upside to going out slow is that my first nine miles on each lap were nearly identical splits. Consistency paid off a bit as Ashley came back to me around mile 24, as did Rui. I personally am all for racing when it comes to podium spots and I am especially not a fan of ties for a victory, but beyond that I think it is great to be able to work together with someone on the trail. With Cassie, Natalie, and Joelle ahead of us, I told Ashley I totally respected her if she wanted to race it in, but I was happy to just run with her. She was agreeable to the latter and she made the last 7 miles go by a lot quicker. I was moving a little better than her on the flats, dry stuff and roads, but she was much more sure footed in the mud, especially on slick hills.
We took turns leading where we excelled and passed a couple of guys in the process. I was 5 minutes slower from the last aid station to the finish, but I really feel like that had a lot more to do with the chewed up conditions of the course than anything. I was being a little more risky to try to stay with Ashley and ended up falling THREE times - a new record for me! But they were all soft falls where my foot just slid out from under me. No big deal, just a lot of dirt!
"Yay! You guys tied for third!" one of the RD's told us. What??? Turns out Natalie had dropped. The computer didn't process ties, so Ashley and I got times 1 second apart, with Ashley very deservingly getting the faster time.
|Ashley and I finishing together. Actually, it does look like she is a step ahead. Hmmm...|
And that is mud on my butt, I swear!
I was quite happy with the day as I was 1 minute 40 sec faster than last year on a much muddier course and just two weeks after a hard effort at Orcas. And I am pretty sure I earned my 250 Mom points back for Liam's X-wing fighter birthday cake!