Chuckanut 50K Race Report – 2017

This year’s Chuckanut 50K was quite the experience and a real contrast to last year’s race! This year heavily featured mud, rain, and a dash of hail. While that may sound pretty miserable, I still had a lot of fun! Unfortunately, due to the (rather incessant) rain, I wasn’t able to take many photos. The weather gods did not wish it, so you’ll have to use your imagination instead. ūüôā

Before I get into the report itself, I just¬†want to say how amazing all of the volunteers were! Volunteers are a huge part of any race, but I was even more impressed on this particular day because of the awful conditions. It’s one thing for the runners to be cold and wet, but at least we’re¬†moving, and not having to huddle under a tent and focus on muddy, addle-brained runners coming through an aid station looking for food, drink, and encouragement. So, THANK YOU¬†Chuckanut volunteers!! My sweaty, rain-soaked running hat is tipped to you and your awesomeness!

This year they changed things up a bit in the park, so we had to park elsewhere and take a shuttle to the start/finish. It was well-organized and easy to manage, and they allowed us to bring a drop bag for post-race change of clothes, etc. That was thoughtful and ended up being key since the weather was, um, rather damp.

The course was slightly different than last year, but still¬†very¬†distinct sections, so I’ll utilize the colors on the map to indicate which bit I’m talking about.

Chuckanut 50K Course 2017

From the Chuckanut website…

Interurban Trail (orange on the map):
The start was slightly different this year in that ran a bit around Fairhaven Park before getting onto the Interurban Trail. There was definitely a bottleneck, and a little jostling to avoid some huge puddles (no point in getting soaked less than 100 yards in.) After a mile or so, we spread out a bit and settled in to this straightforward part of the course. It’s¬†mostly flat, and a nice warmup for the challenges ahead. Not much for scenery, especially in the foggy rain (Chuckanut Bay was hidden from view.) However, it’s mostly gravel, so¬†I enjoyed the mostly mud-free miles.

Fragrance Lake Trail (pink):
After the aid station (which moved due to the course change), we began our first ascent. These switchbacks aren’t the most fun when it’s dry, but certainly less so in the rain and mud. My feet were sliding out from beneath me (sort of like a roller-blading motion, but without the 1999 nostalgic fun), but I knew this was just the beginning of the mud – so I had to get used to it! There were some nice¬†views of all of the very green moss, ferns, and trees – pretty classic Pacific Northwest. We ran around Fragrance Lake (I honestly don’t know what the ‘fragrance’ is referring to, but I do wonder…) and then onto…

Two Dollar Trail (pink, part II):
I remember liking the Two Dollar Trail¬†last year as it’s a nice place to pick up the pace because of the runnability of the trail. However, the first part was quite muddy, so it wasn’t as quick as I had hoped. Roots and rocks were hiding in the mud, and you didn’t know until your foot was already on it. It turned out to be an exercise in quick and light feet (not a bad skill to acquire in trail running!) The very end was a bit drier, and the shouts of encouragement from the aid station was very heartening!

Cleator Road and the Trudge of the Ultrarunners

Cleator Road (green):
Normally, I thoroughly dislike this part of the course. An unlovely 3 miles of annoyingly pitched road. Ugh. However, due to the weather, I was looking¬†forward to it! Why, do you ask? Because I knew it’d be mud-free. ūüôā I’ve recently been doing some tough but awesome long hill repeats¬†on an equally unlovely forest road (thanks, Jess!), so I was mentally prepared for it. I was determined to not let the pitch get to me, so I challenged myself to run as much as possible (it seemed like many folks walked most of it.) In the end, I don’t know if I did better than last year, but I was pleased with my progress nonetheless.

Ridge Trail (purple):
When I reached the¬†top of Cleator, I smiled at the aid station’s 60’s peace & love theme, complete with a kissing booth. (I wonder how many runners partook?)

Hula hooping in the rain!

Peace and Love before the Ridge Trail

I had just blown through the other aid stations since I was fine with my own food and water, but I paused at this one for a refill, some oranges, and a moment to mentally brace for the Ridge Trail.¬†Last year I had fallen twice on this part (luckily, no injuries), and with the very wet and muddy conditions, I was certain it would be treacherous. Well, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I had feared. Granted, I got passed the most in this section, but I know technical trails are my weakness (I just value my limbs and joints whole and undamaged, okay??)

However, by expecting the worst, it ended up not being so bad. There were some runnable bits near the end of the Ridge Trail, and it all went by much faster than I remembered. My only real tragedy was losing a precious handwarmer in the cleanup after a poorly executed ‘farmer blow.’

Pretty sure I took this exact photo last year, but it caught my eye again!

North Lost Lake Trail (purple, part II):
Even though it wasn’t as bad as I expected, I was grateful to get off the Ridge. I remember feeling pretty drained last year at this point, but this year I was just thankful that I had already gotten through some of these tough sections. That gave me some energy to get moving and try to tick off some miles before we found the¬†real mudholes a little further down the trail. At this point, the rain had continued in earnest, so I didn’t get any great photos of some of the slop we ended up going through. What I did find interesting was all of the different colors of mud that we ran through: yellow, gray, and red-brown.¬†As I’m not a soil expert, I couldn’t identify why it was so different in just a span of a mile, but it was sort of interesting anyway. OKAY, maybe¬†not so interesting, but 16 miles into a 31 mile race, I’ll take just about any external distraction.

My shoes USED to be fuschia…

I also decided that the sound my shoes made while running through the very wet mud was¬†slorp slorp slorp slorp. I mentioned this to another runner, and her response was, “ohhh, now I want a milkshake. But not a chocolate one.” Ha!

Chinscraper (blue):
There was a full aid station at the bottom of Chinscraper, and I paused for a snack and a mental break. At this point, I was tired and sore (duh), but my bigger problem was how cold I was becoming. I was completely soaked through – honestly, I would be drier stepping out of the shower – and the wind was starting to pick up. I was a bit worried since my hands were already numb and not working, but there wasn’t anything to be done except get moving. Chinscraper wasn’t going to climb itself, so off I went.

I remember last year being focused on distracting Adam with lots of chatter because he was struggling a bit mentally. Without the need to create a diversion for someone else, I became more aware of this vertical beast, and it ended up being longer (but not steeper) than I remembered, ha! Turns out the amazing photographer Glenn Tachiyama isn’t at the top like I thought, but only halfway up. Oops. Also, remember how I said I was soaked through and the wind was picking up? To add to it, it starting¬†HAILING.¬†I employed some colorful language at this point, and then just started to find it funny. At least with hail I wasn’t getting any wetter? Type two fun all the way.

Fragrance Lake Road (blue, part II):
Once I reached the top of Chinscraper, I was happy that all the vertical was behind me! It was all downhill or flat from here on out. Last year we had headed back down the Fragrance Lake Trail, but this year the course went down the Fragrance Lake Road¬†instead. Turns out, it’s¬†much nicer to run on! A gradual descent on a gravel road. Just what the legs needed – some non-technical, easy miles.

Random waterfall sighting!

I was starting to feel a bit tired (huh, wonder why?), so I decided it was time to blast some music to keep my energy up. I had brought headphones, but with the rain¬†that was a no-go. Fellow runners, I hope you didn’t mind my music choices!

Interurban Trail (red):
Once I hit the final aid station and knew that I only had 6 miles to go, I was hopeful I could beat last year’s time by a little bit. This became my sole focus. Legs were tired and sore, of course, but luckily, it hurt less to run than to walk. This section, being mostly straight and flat, is nice¬†in the beginning of the race, but is a soul-sucker at the end. It seems never-ending…but it’s not. This too shall pass.

Also, this is when the rain stopped, and we started to see patches of blue sky. Ah, well, better late than never, I suppose??

Some clear skies on the way… how nice.

I passed a fair number of people in this last section, and was happy I still had some energy left. Some kind strangers told me when I had less than a few minutes to the finish, so I was able to even give a bit of a kick at the end (I’m sure it still looked like a jog, but whatever.) Yay – DONE!

Some quick numbers:

Finishing time: 7:26:09

Elevation gain: ~5,500 feet

Calories consumed: ~800 (6 Glutino Oreos, 2 pouches sweet potato/apple baby food, 2 homemade almond cookies, bite of potato, 1 orange)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to food to eat and some shoes to wash… ūüôā

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Seattle Whisky Jewbilee 2017

I’ve been mostly focusing on my training so far this year, so I haven’t done much whisky exploration lately. It was about time for some drams! On March 2, some friends, my husband, and I attended the second annual¬†Seattle Whisky Jewbilee. It’s an event for whisky lovers that included a kosher buffet, a tasting glass, and a selection of roughly 250 whiskies to¬†enjoy.¬†It was the perfect activity for a particularly dreary Seattle night!

Being the nerd that I am, I looked over the pour list ahead of time, and compared it¬†with my whisky tasting log. I noted the whiskies I hadn’t sampled before and then any that caught my interest. (Yes, I did research before an event with copious amounts of liquor. You can’t be any cooler than me, really, lol.)¬†As an enthusiast and not a drunkard, I wanted to be strategic about the whiskies I sampled. I’m glad I did this as it would have been easy to be¬†overwhelmed by the many offerings.

When heading into the venue, WithinSodo, our IDs and tickets were checked, and we were given a wristband and our wee tasting glass. The venue itself had an interesting minimalist/industrial/rustic look. There were three rooms with tables of distillery representatives, and another room for the buffet. The food offerings were very tasty! Various meats on sticks, sushi rolls, small pasties and savory pies, and a table with sweets: cookies, hamantaschen, lemon bars, and strawberries. All of the food was very good and I was pleased that none of it had an overpowering flavor Рperfect for whisky tasting! The only thing I found slightly odd was that after about an hour, the food was completely taken away. So if you went straight for the whisky or got hungry later, you were out of luck.

It was quite a crush of people in the beginning and near impossible to get to the tables to get a sample (or even see which distilleries were represented.) I really wished for a small “program” with perhaps a map of where distilleries were in the space –¬†it would have been really helpful. (Particularly when our friends were specifically looking for one distillery that was supposed to be there but it turned out they weren’t.) Anyway, a bit later, it calmed down somewhat and became a easier to move around and chat with the distillery reps.

I had intended on taking more photographs, but I was a bit more focused on enjoying the whisky than visually documenting the experience. Oops. ūüėČ

Sl√°inte!

So, without further ado, here are the drams I tasted!

Glenfarclas 21 Year Old

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 43%ABV

Nose: Fruit and sweet bread

Palate: Tastes exactly like it smells – fruity, sweet, with baking spices. Easy to drink and nicely rounded.

Notes: Our friends adore this¬†distillery, and I can see why! They are a family-owned distillery,¬†and have classic¬†Speyside offerings. (Still kicking myself that we didn’t go there last May.) You always know their drams will be well-balanced and fruity.

Brenne 10 Year Old

Single Malt (French) 48%ABV

Nose: Fruity, and VERY sweet. Like cotton candy or bubblegum.

Palate: Doesn’t taste like it smells. Kind of sweet, burnt sugar, with an odd grapefruit note. Not as candy-like as the original Brenne.

Notes: I’ve had the ‘original’ Brenne before, and it blew my mind with how much it smelled and tasted like bubblegum. (Which, honestly, is a weird flavor to get from whisky.) This particular expression¬†is matured in ex-cognac casks as well as new French oak, which definitely gives it a unique flavor.

Cutty Sark Prohibition

Blended Scotch 50%ABV

Nose: CARAMEL

Palate: Very velvety for the ABV. Creamy, and not fruity at all. Lots of caramel.

Notes: This was at the Highland Park table, and I had been hoping to try a different whisky. I can’t say I was disappointed, though, it was a delightful dram! Very easy on the palate, particularly given the ABV.

Mortlach 1995 – 17 Year Old (Exclusive Malts)

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 53.3%ABV

Nose: Oaky, and caramel

Palate: Exactly like it smells – more oak and hints of caramel

Notes: This was the only one I didn’t finish. Don’t get me wrong, it was fine, but… meh. I wanted to ‘save room’ for ones that I truly enjoyed!

Hibiki Japanese Harmony Masters Select

Blended (Japan) 43%ABV

Nose: Dark fruit, brown sugar

Palate: Balanced. Sweet, fruity, bit of brine on the finish

Notes: The whiskies are drawn from 5 different types of casks, including American white oak casks, Sherry casks and Mizunara oak casks. Like other blended whiskies, this one was easy to drink.

Laphroaig LORE

Single Malt Scotch (Islay) 48%ABV

Nose: Sweet SMOKE

Palate: PEAT, but more brine than a typical Laphroaig. It lacked the classic Laphroaig medicinal notes (which is a-okay by me.) Sweeter than their standard drams.

Notes: Adam really liked this one, and I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t. I had a pretty strong¬†reaction to the nose, but it was early on in the evening and I hadn’t sampled any other smoke bombs. However, it¬†wasn’t like licking a burnt band-aid, which is how they normally taste to me.¬†ūüôā

Glenmorangie Bacalta

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 46%ABV

Nose: Very sweet honeyed fruits, but not in a cloying way.

Palate: Sweet, smooth, with some drying oak and hints of spice. Like drinking sunshine.

Notes: Matured for 2.5-3 years in a Madeira cask. This was my favorite of the night! I’m always a fan of Glenmorangie’s offerings (the Nectar d’Or specifically), but this one was pure ambrosia. I’d love to get a bottle of this on my shelf!

The Macallan 32 Year Old (privately-owned cask)

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) Unknown %ABV

Nose: Balanced juicy fruits, grains and nuttiness.

Palate: Perfectly sweet, with hints of brine. A very well-balanced dram!

Notes: There was a gentleman who had a bottle ‘under the table’ that supposedly was from a friend of his who owned a cask and gave him a bottle of it. It was in a very old Laphroaig bottle, but we were told it was a Macallan 32 year old. I only have his word to go on, but a fun offering nonetheless!

Glen Moray 12 Year Old Madeira Cask (Single Cask Nation)

Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 54.7%ABV

Nose: Fruity sweetness with buttery undertones.

Palate: Tastes like it smells – fruity and buttery, with the addition of some spices.

Notes: It spent 6 years maturing in a first fill bourbon barrel before maturing for an additional 6 years in ex-madeira cask. Another fine example of what a madeira cask can accomplish! Very easy to drink, especially considering the ABV.

Ben Nevis 20 Year Old (Single Cask Nation)

Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 55.6%ABV

Nose: Caramel with fruit, hint of nuttiness with brown sugar

Palate: Rich and sweet with dark fruits, nuts, and brown sugar

Notes: A great whisky to finish out the evening.

 

The whiskies offered ranged from single malts to blends to bourbons, but I leaned heavily towards single malts as they’re my preferred whisky (if you hadn’t gathered that already!) This event gave us the opportunity to try quite a few whiskies that would be difficult to sample otherwise, and that alone made it worth it.¬†Overall, it was a very fun event that we enjoyed with our friends, and I would happily go again next year!