This year's Defiance 30k was a pretty different experience from last year's. Which is okay! I am glad it wasn't the same race--how boring would that be? Unfortunately this go around was definitely more difficult.
Heading in to the race the weather report was pretty unrelenting in it's prediction of rain, rain and more rain. Leading up to the race it was 100% chance of rain. Okay, I like rain. Bring on the rain! I would live to regret that attitude.
As I drove south to Point Defiance park in Tacoma very early on Saturday morning it was dumping buckets. My nerves threatened to become totally shot before I even made it to the start line. While I am generally okay running in the rain, I absolutely hate driving in it. Thankfully it let up and most of the drive was deluge-free.
Pre-race things were pretty chill. I was able to find Belia and her family, and say hi to a couple of friends who were there to run the 30k as well. Picking up my bib was easy, except for my age being listed as 45 (?!) so I had to sort that out-- you know, in case I was eligible for any AG awards (ha!).
It was cloudy and rain-free as the race started. Perfect running weather, despite the canopy of the trees making the trail feel a bit muggy. Belia and I started the race together and it didn't feel as crowded as it did last year, which was nice.
That's me on the far left. Photo by Belia's mom.
We weren't too far in to the first of two loops (each one is about 10 miles, not 15k) when the skies opened up. It was dumping rain. Huge puddles quickly formed on the trails and there was even one lovely section where a small raging river flowed right down the middle of the trail. Runners didn't even need to run through puddles to get their feet soaked-- shoes were filling with water from above.
By the time we reached the aid station half way through the first lap we were as soaked as we could possible get. The aid station was fantastic, lots of volunteers and plenty to eat and drink. I grabbed a small package of Oreos, ate a couple, then stuffed the rest in my running pack. I moved through the rest of that first lap thinking I was working far harder than I really should have been for the first half of such a long race. The puddles were relentless, but I ran right through them, thankful they were mostly very shallow.
The steep downhill right before the finish line, the one where you have to hang on to ropes to keep from sliding down the cliff, was pretty treacherous. Last year it was very fun, but it was also very dry. This year there it was basically mud the whole way down.
Belia and I finished the first lap and said hi to her family (her smart brothers ran the 15k so they were all done running and all cozy wrapped up in space blankets), hit the porta potties, and headed back out. I was thankful for her company as I was ready to bag the rest of the race! The rain and my low energy were making for a tough day. At that point it was pretty clear any random goals I had of besting last year's time were out the window.
The second loop was better, weather-wise. There were occasional sun breaks and only a little rain. The trails cleared up significantly, most of the puddles and rivers disappeared. My legs were more sore than I would have liked and I felt like I had weights around my ankles. Of course, shoes soaked with water and mud has to add a decent amount of weight!
Just before the aid station half way through the second lap we were passed by a group of five guys all running the 50k. They were funny and a nice break in the quiet of the trails. As we hit the aid station we ran in to a girl who was running the 50k who was having a lonely go of it on the second loop. She ran with us a bit and it was nice to chat some.
About four miles from the finish I finally started feeling really good and decided it was time to use the flat section of trails to finish strong. I took off running as fast as I could (which wasn't actually that fast) and slowly but surely began catching up to the group of 50k guys. It became my goal to pass them before the finish. I powered through, passed them by charging through some puddles they were tip-toeing around, then took off down the final stretch of road before ducking back in to the woods for the rope descent. Yes, they were running the 50k, but it made me feel good to "beat" them to the finish, haha. I even broke out my hard sprint to the finish line, probably looking a little silly!
Everything hurts and I'm dying. Photo by Belia's mom.
In hindsight I can say it was a fun race, though in the middle of it I wasn't having that much fun. It was a very hard race.
Soaking wet girls post-race. Photo by Belia's brother.
The Defiance race also had a few new positive (and one negative) points about it compared to 2014. I loved that I could register for the race and pay for a shirt separately. Learned my lesson last year and did NOT get a shirt this time. I also loved that we got a free pint glass at the finish! This year you could also use a tag from your race bib to get a free beer at a local place after the race. I didn't take advantage, but it was a great offer. This year they had a photographer, too. Yay! Drowned rat pictures! Haha. Better than what they had last year, which was nothing. The major negative is the course didn't seem as well marked this year. I overheard a runner telling someone that the markings were being messed with, which sucks, but at any rate, there were a few spots on the very twisty course that we were unsure about. Luckily Belia and I didn't get lost.
It was a good "character building" training run, and I excited to move on to the rest of my 50k training!