Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013 Fort Ebey Kettles Marathon Race Report: The Perils Of Crosstraining

2013 Fort Ebey Kettles Marathon Race Report:
The Perils Of Crosstraining
Blood On The Living Room Floor

by Ras

     My wife is the coolest in the world. In the winter she lets me ride my trials bike in the house. A lot of trials riding is done at very low speeds or from a stand still, so I can practice basic moves in a small area and get in some good cross training that works my core as well as all of my stabilizer muscles, improves balance, develops explosiveness, and heightens my reflexes. That's how I ended up bleeding on the floor of the living room.

     Two days before the Fort Ebey Kettles Marathon I built a small wooden box, about 18” high, 3' wide and 4' long to practice trials moves on. I made it decent looking so that it could be inside and could be covered with a cloth or quilt to serve as a seat or ottoman. I thought it would be pretty challenging and take a lot of practice to get up on, but was able to within my first few tries the very first time I set it up. Then I was able to get up on the box, get up on my rear tire and balance, then pedal kick off, landing smoothly and perfectly. I was stoked, so stoked I tried it again.

     Kathy had just sat down on the sofa a few feet away and was beginning to eat dinner. (Yes, I was still riding my bike after I'd been called for dinner. I realize this is a bit immature, and I have no defense of my behavior. The last time my daughter was home from college she said I was like a teenager, because I had been running, snowskating, and riding my bike all in the same day, so my immaturity may be more pervasive than I had hitherto realized.) I rode up to the box, got my front tire on, balanced, jumped up and forward to bring my rear tire on, stood the bike up on the rear wheel on the edge of the box, and went to pedal kick off. That's when things went sideways.

     I landed with my weight too far back, and my rear tire washed out. I fell backwards, hitting the back of my head on the edge of the box at the same time that the handlebars hit me in the forehead. (InB4 shoulda worn a helmet.) The next thing I knew I was laying on my side on the floor, blood was dripping from my head in three places, and Kathy was screaming. I just laid there for a moment trying to figure out what had just happened. I was hurt, although I didn't think I was injured, but Kathy's intermittent screams and panicky offers of help were overwhelming, and on top of it all I couldn't stop laughing. The ridiculousness of it was too much, and it kept setting me off laughing. I needed a moment to lay there and bleed and laugh and take mental stock, so I asked Kathy to get me a cold, wet cloth.

     I hoisted myself up to a seated position on the wooden box I'd been so happy with just a moment before. Kathy handed me the cloth and I pressed it to the back of my head. She asked what else she could do, and I said, “I just need a minute. Why don't you clean up the blood.” For some reason, hearing myself say that made me laugh even more.

     I was further amused by Kathy alternately grumbling to herself under her breath and hurling concerned interrogatives at me; “I don't even know what you were doing. Why weren't you wearing a helmet?! Now you're gonna hafta crew me at Fort Ebey. You have a contusion! You can't run like this. What are the symptoms of a concussion?” And the more this dear, sweet woman expressed her consternation, concern, and dismay, the more I laughed. I was especially entertained by the idea of asking the symptoms of a concussion from the very person you suspect of being concussed. Even now, replaying the incident in my mind it brings me to laughter. My favorite part was about an hour later after Kathy had inspected the cut on the back of my head and the two on my forehead. She lead me over to the couch, brought me a bowl of pasta and a beverage, then stood back, crossed her arms, glared at me with a unique blend of frustration and concern, and said, “Now you're kinda fucked up.”

     And I was. I didn't have a headache or nausea and my pupils were evenly dilated, but my neck and shoulder muscles on the right side were painful, tight, and locking up. I may not have had a concussion, but I probably did have a minor case of whiplash. Whiplash shmiplash, it was only twenty six miles. I'd be fine.

     Two days later, before the start of the Fort Ebey Kettles Marathon, I was feeling well. The bruising on my forehead was so slight that my mother didn't even notice it when we visited her the night before. My neck had loosened up and everything was comfortable, and I was ready to run some trail.

     I had a baggy of almond butter, a baggie of chocolate hazelnut butter, a baggy of coconut butter, a baggie of wasabi almonds, a bottle of water, and a small flask tucked into the back of my shorts for mixing up Hornet Juice (which at some point was not riding correctly, and ended up giving me a tramp stamp abrasion that was both painful and funny). I wasn't using a drop bag and just carried all of my calories from the beginning, although about half of what I had brought would make two full circumambulations of the course and end up right back in my ultra bin. When all was said and done, I ran the race on very few calories, a thousand at most, felt great doing it, and recovered quickly and well. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

     I left my big Phat Pharm gangsta puffy in the car and went to find Kathy, who had headed to the start area a few minutes earlier. As the start of the race drew near Kathy looked me up and down, then asked if I was going to wear my sweat pants during the race. I looked down and realized I had forgotten to remove the cheap cotton sweatpants I had been wearing while readying my gear at the car.

     These are my very favorite pants to hang out in at home and for apres run, but they are not appropriate running gear. I had bought them a number of years ago on the way to a grappling tournament in Seattle. I purchased them along with a hoodie at a Big 5, and wore them both in the car with the heater on full blast in order cut my last few pounds before the weigh ins. The very first time I washed them they shrank severely, and have since been known as my man-pris. Much as I like them, I had no intention of running a trail marathon in them. I darted back to the car, pulled the sweatpants off over my shoes (which is a wonderful challenge to one's sense of athleticism and maturity), tossed them into the car, and made it back to the race start in order to talk with friends before the race.

     Kathy and I were running separately, each pursuing our own race goals. When the start was sounded I circled around the back of the mass of runners and up the left side of the marked course, settling into the lemming line just as the wide starting lane turned into single track.

     Fort Ebey Kettles is a great course. The trail is constantly winding, climbing, turning, descending, wending, and weaving it's way through the woods and along the bluffs of Fort Ebey State Park. With over 5000 feet of climbing it is not a particularly fast course, but the trail is non-technical and very runnable and just plain fun. Aide stations are there to refresh and revive you every 4 ½ miles, so a single Amphipod bottle was more than adequate. And the course was amazingly well marked, especially considering that there were over 100 trail junctions along its length.

     A number of times throughout the race I had runners behind me comment on the footprint design I was sporting on the soles of my Altra Lone Peaks. I took this as a good sign regarding my form, since I was lifting my feet high enough for the bottoms of my shoes to be seen. I also soon realized that most of the runners around me where running the half marathon, a single lap of the loop course. This didn't bode well for my pacing, and I began to wonder if my joke to Eric Barnes about “going out too fast and then blowing up” might perhaps be more prescient than mere merriment.

     I finished the first lap in 2:20, refilled my water bottle at the aide station, and headed out for my second lap. I slowed a bit on the second lap. I hiked a lot more of the hills. But only two runners passed me during that second loop, so while I had slowed I was still moving fairly well. No one was running near me, so I turned on an audiobook on my mp3 player and let my mind chew on a good murder mystery as I wound my way through the woods of Whidbey Island.

     I try to keep things as positive as I can, and my splits reflected that; extremely positive. I finished the race in 5:29:53, making my 5:30:00 goal by a fat 7 seconds (coincidentally, the name of one of my favorite 80's hardcore punk bands). I finished twelfth overall, 10th men's, and only 1:05:43 off of the men's course record. And as usual, I came in First Rasta with the Rastafarian Course Record. Give Thanks for Life.


  1. Awesome report. Your level and my level of maturity are probably on plane with each other. Often, on non-work days I'll run, slackline, and soon, this summer, plan to hit the skate park with my son on my revamped into a park-ride mountain bike. Psyched.

    1. Oooh, revamped park-ride mountain bike sounds fun. :) I have a blast on my trials bike at the local skate park and have had a lot of fun there on my 26" downhiller, too. And it's funny being the weird older guy at the skate park.

  2. Trying to picture you riding the trials bike in the house. Pushing boundaries. Good to see you both, great run, great writeup. (:

    1. Scotty, it's always great seeing you! Easy Pass is always there, ya know. I'd love to run that with you again, and Kathy's be up for it, too.

  3. Thanks for the report Ras. An enjoyable read and peek into interesting home/bike life. I in fact did go out too fast trying to hang with Megan for the first four miles. I decided she must have been a half marathoner because of how hard she was pushing the hills. It wasn't until the last AS that I was told that only two people were in front of me. I pushed as hard as I could from that point but only made up 1 min.

    Love the Fort Ebey trails! Much prefer the winds and twists over a long open stretch that you can see for miles ahead. Certainly a good workout with the multiple turns and climbing. I can see this race becoming very popular. Guessing it will fill quickly in years to come.

    Keep on running rasta man and be thankful for a tolerant wife.

    1. Man, trying to hang with Megan is ambitious. But you were only 7 minutes off the new men's course record. Very nice.

      Yes I, wonderful trails, great race. I concur with you predictions. The Fort Ebey Kettles would also be a great place to work out a 10 or 12.5 mile loop course and do a 100 or 150 or 200 miler, or a 24/48/72 hour race.

      And yes, continued running and thankfulness is the game plan. :)

  4. Ras,
    You crack me up. Kathy, I can only imagine your reaction. You keep life interesting over there in Oroville, don't you? Can't wait to see you guys again, hopefully soon!