Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Point Defiance 30K Race Recap

Several times after this race my ten year old daughter, Iris, said to me "mama I am so proud of you for reaching your goal". As a mother to two young girls, I feel like this is one of the most powerful things I can demonstrate to them: you can, in fact, do hard things. Do very hard things, even. You can set your mind to something, put in the work, and achieve your goals. And the bonus is, you can have an incredible time doing it. I mean, what good are goals if you can't enjoy some of the work along the way? I hope to help my girls see that the hard work of training for and running a race is something they can apply to any area of their lives. I hope the message is sinking in.

I have no idea if my girls will ever love to run as much as I do, but I can still be an example of being healthy, and strong, and working my ass off to reach what sometimes feel like unattainable goals.

Iris and I before the race.

On Sunday the 12th I ran the Point Defiance "30K". I say "30K" because it was actually more like 20 miles. My Garmin read the total distance as 19.85 miles and the website for the race states each loops is 16.6K, which is 10.3 miles and a total of 20.6 miles. So, anyways, I ran somewhere around 20 miles.

As the name would suggest, the race was held in Point Defiance park in Tacoma, WA. The race started at 8:00 am which made for an early morning for my family and me. We were out the door a bit after 6:00 am for the drive from Seattle to Tacoma. Parking and check in were easy. I felt relaxed and excited, and ready to run my little booty off. 

Matt got some sweet photos of the girls and I, then it was time to go.

At Owen's Beach ready to go!

The first couple of miles were very crowded and I found it tricky to determine where I wanted to be/needed to be. I kept moving ahead in the crowd until I found a comfortable spot to stay for a bit. The further we went along the more it thinned out and after the first bit the rest of the race it was smooth sailing.

The race had three distances, the 15K, 30K or 50K, which is one, two or three loops of the course. The course wound all over Point Defiance park and covered all sorts of terrain. Wide, well-groomed trail, narrow single track stretches, up a few easy hills then up Achilles Hill which was quite steep, but not too long.  We also ran on a small stretch of grass around the back of Fort Nisqually and there were a few short bits of running on the road. As we got to the edges of the park the views of the water/islands/bridge were amazing,Actually, the entire course was gorgeous and it was constantly twisting and turning, so if you didn't pay close attention to the pink ribbons on the course you would be easily lost!

I also have to mention Nelly's Gnarly Descent, which was so steep that there were two ropes to hang on to as you worked your way down the roots and dirt. I was worried that this steep descent would be very hard on tired legs at the end of each loop, but I actually really loved scrambling down it before "sprinting" to the finish line! 

Elevation profile for the 30K.

The first loop I felt incredible, almost invincible. I was running hard, but it felt comfortable and sustainable. I was drinking water and eating every 45 minutes. At the only aid station on the loop, which was about 5 miles in, I grabbed a cup labelled nuun, and the drink in it it was yellow, so I thought, yum, maybe grape nuun? Nope, it was MOUNTAIN DEW. Yuck, not what I expected! I tossed the cup in the trash and kept moving.  At the end of the first loop I was so excited to see my family. When I got to them I stopped for a bit, drank some (actual) nuun, and ate one of the fig newtons I had my family have ready for me. They walked with me for a bit as I headed out on my next loop. 

I *think* this was after the first loop. 
The girls are getting some use out of my race apparel! 

The second loop was much more difficult. The trails seemed empty and lonely! I ran for almost five miles before I caught up to anyone. There were a few people at the five mile aid station and luckily was around a few more runners for the rest of the race. 

In the second loop I did that thing where I reminded myself to be present in the mile I was in. Literally saying in my head "I am in mile 12. This is nice, I can do this mile" and so on and so forth. It worked though, and once I hit mile 16 I just got to repeat "holy crap, this is the farthest I have ever run!" over and over for the rest of the race. There was a section of the course near the end that was on the road, maybe 1/2 a mile or so before we dropped back in the woods towards Nelly's Gnarly Descent and every step on the road I thought about how much concrete stinks and I could never run a road marathon!

Right before the descent I was standing in the woods, looking around, and couldn't figure out where the pink flags were! No one was around me, and I panicked for a moment. It looked like I wasn't anywhere near a trail, but I moved forward a bit and found a flag that led me to the steep descent. After I made my way down it for the last time I could see the finish line. My girls were waiting for me to run me in and Matt was stationed to take pictures. There was definitely some joy in crossing that finish line, but mostly relief. OUCH. My legs hurt. I grabbed a drink and headed for the Puget Sound to sit down and take an ice bath. 

Running to the finish!

My Garmin time and the official results different a bit, but the chip timing said I finished in 3:54:16. 

I would absolutely run this race again and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gorgeous fall race! 


  1. Congratulations! I look forward to our training and racing opportunities in the near future!

  2. Nice job Sybil! Congrats on reaching your goal.

  3. I love these pictures and that you did this!! Sounds amazing, Sybil!


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