A curious guy walking around Green Lake asked me, “What are you all doing? I see you wearing race bibs, what’s going on?”
I excitedly told him that it was Dizzy Daze and that whoever ran the most laps (3.2 miles each lap) around the lake in 12 hours was the winner. He grinned and said, “That is freaking awesome! Go get it man!”
I run the Green Lake loop in northern Seattle frequently, as I appreciate the flat, gravel surface, as well as its convenient location. When I learned about the race I became immediately interested.
To top it off, the race directors are cool and make the event into a fun and memorable adventure. With bibs that say, “Keep the Lake to your Left” and commemorative key chains that read, “I ran all day and all I got was this @?#$! Key chain” how couldn’t this be fun? In our pre-race email the director sarcastically stated that much to our disappointment, we were destined for no rain, perfect temperatures, and sunny skies. They even marked the one little hill (~3 ft) with spray paint so we knew we were doing a hill. Lastly, in the pre-race talk, they told us that whenever we saw a “B” painted on the ground, that if we stopped and looked in a 360 degree rotation from that spot, then we would fine a bathroom.
My goal going into the race was to move for the entire 12 hours, to smile a lot, and to not be too injured by the end. I also figured that depending on where I was competitively in the race with a few hours to go, that I’d try to place well too if possible.
Julie had a workout scheduled for the day so I ran the first four laps with her as she did marathon pace (7:40). This quickly put a gap on most of the competition.
After Julie finished I ran a lap on my own, and then for the first time ever, I ran with headphones. It was awesome! I would pick up the pace for a pump up song, slow it down a little on a more chill one, and I began singing as I ran. It made for a good few next hours.
In between the tunes, I began finding people to run with. I ran a lap with John Bernard and found out we have an Ohio connection. I ran a lap with a guy not in the race that was out doing a marathon training run. We were running close to 7 minute pace for awhile. After he finished up I eventually met up with others including Chris Heidman for a lap and Arya Farahani for another. I ran a lap with another guy named Mike a little while later, and then one with Adam Hewey. It was a blast as we all chatted it up quickly passing the time on a pretty day.
I kept up laps under 10 minute mile pace through 17 (51.2 miles) and then something in the left hip became noticeably aggravated. I walked out of the aid station with Julie and ate a sandwich she’d brought for me. I continued on walking for more than 20 minutes. Every time I tried to start up again the hip sent shooting pains. I knew I could walk it in and that I had less than four hours remaining to go.
Then I came up with a game. My Timex watch has a timer set for 30 second increments for when I do strides. It beeps every 30 seconds. So I started the timer. I’d shuffle for 30 seconds and then I’d walk for 30 seconds. With this strategy I finished lap 18 and headed off on lap 19. I was in a groove for the first mile of the lap and when I caught a woman in the race and told her my strategy, she said, “I could never do so many transitions from stopping to starting, but good luck to you”.
I was feeling a little better and thought I’d try shuffling 60 seconds and walking 30, but after 60 seconds I knew I could keep running. I ran the rest of the way.
I ended up winning the race with 23 laps in just under 12 hours, covering a total of 73.6 miles. I smiled the entire way and while sore, I think I’ll be recovered in time for my next race.
-It’s not always over when I first think it’s over. I thought with my hip hurting, there was no way I was running anymore. And then I started running again. Granted, it was slow, but still under 12 minute miles and fast enough to get me a couple extra laps. Had I had this mindset, along with better goals for Rocky Raccoon, I may well have persevered and have a Western States spot to show for it. I can do more than I think I can.
-Ultras are brutal. This race was literally a stroll in the park. It was flat, with perfect weather, on a loop course with tons of aid. Yet I am still wrecked with a mush brain the day after. While I haven’t fully figured out how to race these longer distances yet, I do know that they take me apart in ways that middle distance races never have. Not only do I feel deep physical breakdowns, but my mind actually feels broken and cloudy after these races.
-Fast transitions are really good. I saved a ton of time when I would get in and out of the aid stations. Later in the race, Julie had my water bottle so I’d drink as I was peeing or walking/jogging out of the aid station. I would typically grab a couple gels each time and then be on my way – I think I ate 40+ Power Gels during the race. Looking back on my splits, my slower, later laps weren’t much slower than some of the earlier ones because I spent more time hanging around the aid station, essentially negating my faster running pace. My shuffle was nearly as fast because I simply kept it moving without stopping.
-Maybe slow and steady will be my new mantra. Other than my hip, the rest of my body doesn’t feel too bad today. My thought is that if I go out really chill, maybe I’ll keep the body stronger for later in the race. If I could run straight 9 minute miles throughout rather than going from 7’s to 12’s, maybe I’d feel better and run faster.
-Only Julie or I should race on any given day. Julie took care of me during and after the race and had we both been as tired as I was yesterday, it could have gotten ugly. She got me home, got me fed, and got me into bed. The place was cleaned up this morning and clothes were already in the laundry. We already know we make for a good team, but we’re even better when one of us isn’t experiencing ultra brain mush.
-Great community. I already learned this long ago and it’s one of the main reasons I keep trying at these races. I had fun with everyone out there, I enjoyed the whole thing, and I’m honored to be part of the ultra community. Great job to everyone out there, especially to Arya Farahani who picked up 2nd place. He is quickly improving and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to progress as a runner. Thanks everyone for a good race and a fun day at the park.