Chuck-A-Nut Redemption (With an Asterisk)

My team (The Spokane Distance Project) and I spent the winter building miles for the Chuckanut 50k trail race that was held on March 16th, 2024.  We put in some good miles to get ready for this event.  This race was especially important to me since my first true 50K trail race last summer (The Broken Goat) was a complete debacle.  Last summer, I spent a lot of time working on remodeling my rental house, and less time putting in the training that was necessary to run a 50k trail race.   Relying on my past racing experience and my competitive nature, I was sure I could “get through” the race without too much trouble.  I got through it all right.  There were 4 major peaks that had to be scaled in the hot summer sun and very few available aid stations.  I spent the 2nd half of the race cramping in different places with every step.  The race cut off time was 11 hours.  I finished in 10 hours 59 minutes and 17 seconds.  It was a team race and there was a lot of fun to be had afterward.  For me, that fun consisted of a half-a-piece of pizza and a half-a-can of beer.  I was a vegetable for the following 3 days.

The Chuckanut 50k was my redemption training.  The course was substantially easier than the broken goat, but I had no idea how I would feel running this race.  My winter training with my team (The Spokane Distance Project) went well.  We were able to set up a training plan that gradually ramped up the mileage throughout the winter to prepare us for the big day.

The Spokane Distance Project: L-R: Brian, Phil, Jared, Keith, Dave, Me, Mike, Andy, Ryan, Jack, and Ben.

The Chuckanut trail race fills up quickly when it opens up  for registration, but the team was all in and we all registered within the first 2 hours of registration being opened.  When the race started we we all settled into our positions.  Ben, a premier trail racer in the Pacific NW moved out way ahead of the group.  Following him were Dave, Keith and Jared.  I settled in next with the rest of the group behind me.  Within the first 5 miles, I caught up with Jared and moved on ahead.  My goal was to not race, but stay within myself and run consistently and comfortably – being sure to not over exert myself early in the race.  I felt good.  At mile 10 I assessed how I felt and determined that I was still running pretty well.  Feeling confident, I warned myself to avoid getting overly confident because there was still a lot of race left.  At a certain out and back in the race, I saw Dave coming out as I was going in.  He was about a mile ahead of me.  The out and back is a loop, Keith was still ahead somewhere on the loop but behind Dave.  I was happy to be this close to them.

At mile 15, I caught up with Keith.  He was having trouble with cramps and in his words “guzzling salt tablets”.  I moved on ahead with my eye on Dave.  That is where the asterisk comes in.

With a hip replacement and a partial knee replacement, I don’t look up much when I run. I am watching where my feet fall to make sure I don’t trip over a rock or a root.  I keep my eye on the runner(s) ahead of me and I follow them.  On one of the hardest climbs of the race (The Chin Scraper) I was running in this manner.  The Chin scraper ascent was hard, but I was holding my own, watching the runner(s) ahead of me.  At a certain point, Chin scraper was no more.  I was on a nice trail that seemed to parallel the top of the mountain.  Wow.  Chin scraper wasn’t so bad.  Eventually, I was running down the other side of the mountain.  That is when Dave caught up with me and asked “How did I get ahead of him”.  Jokingly I said, “You must have been in the bathroom, or I took a shortcut”.     It was only after the race was run and our runs were loaded into strava, that I realized I did in fact miss 95 feet of vertical and skirted the top of chin scraper.



Dave passed me on the downhill off the mountain, but he was suffering from hammy issues, and I was able to catch him at the bottom.  Hoping to run in with him, Dave told me to go on without him as he was struggling.  In the end I finished in 5 hours and 43 minutes.  Dave would finish in 5 hours and 48 minutes and Keith would finish at 5:50.  Had I not gone off course, it is likely that Dave would have finished ahead of me and Keith and I would have been in a bit of a race to the finish.

I will TAKE the asterisk!  This was REDEMPTION for me.  I felt GREAT at the finish and am happy to report that after 12 years with this hip, I am still running strong!

For all of you Hip Runners out there!  Keep posting!  Stay Optimistic! It is great to see how you all continue to live your BEST lives after Hip Replacement!

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