Chuckanut Foot Race

This past Saturday was the 50th Annual Chuckanut Foot Race, which is the longest consecutive race in Bellingham’s history. The local Bellingham Herald wrote an article covering the unique history of the race, which you can read HERE. How cool is that? Less than a month out, I decided to sign up for the race after going back and forth on if I was ready to do it. The last race I did in early June was with the BOB stroller (Race Beneath the Sun) and since then my training felt like it lost direction. Do I focus my training for speedy shorter distances or slower long distances? Luckily over the weekends during Eisley’s nap, I was able to do a “long-ish” outdoor run each Sunday. Week 1 was an 8.11 mile run at an 8:24min/mi pace. Week 2 was a 7.28 mile run at an 8:13min/mi pace. Week 3 (week of the Chuckanut) was a 10 mile run at an 8:30min/mi pace. During the week I still did treadmill runs, weights, machines, and stretching, with two rest days. My goal was to race at a 7:45min/mi pace, which seemed fairly realistic since I finished a half marathon doing 7:58min/mi…but that race was farmland flat (literally, in Everson, WA).

I decided to do early packet pickup the day before, which was at Aslan Brewing between 4-8pm. Aslan even closed off their outdoor patio just for the runners to enjoy a “pre-race party” and gave out a discounted ticket for your first pint. Did you know that their beer is 100% organic? Around 4:30pm I drove by, still in search of any street parking. The bib pickup line was INSANELY LONG and I had little Eisley with me, so we drove back home. I dropped her off with Poppa Bear instead of having to test her almost-2-year-old patience while waiting in line. By the time I drove back, there was easy parking across the street and only five people ahead of me. Wahoo! Since I’m a Greater Bellingham Running Club member, my entry fee was a whopping $5 and for non-members it was still only $35. That’s a steal of a race entry! They held a logo contest since this race was the 50th year and the logo for the shirts turned out awesome! The choice was either green or yellow tech singlets; I obviously went with green since it’s my favorite color. They also made finisher medals with the logo that were available for purchase and doubled as a bottle opener! At home, for a pre-race dinner I made couscous with leeks (from our CSA box), fried dole, and a rainbow chard salad. I drank plenty of water and even had an Emergen-C packet for that extra umph. Since I’ve night-weaned Eisley, this was the first race that I’ve ever had a full night’s sleep (minus me waking up all night due to excitement). 

Route of the race!
I woke up at 6:50am, made some Bulletproof coffee, and whipped up some oatmeal topped with pecans. Cue the toddler cries! I got our little one fed and ready for the day before kissing the family goodbye. I headed out at 8:20am to Fairhaven. We live super close to the start of the race, but I was unfamiliar with the exact area and wanted time to warm up. Parking was in a huge field and was nicely organized with flaggers everywhere. I was anxious about all of the people! Where can I go to run? There was a group of runners heading up the street, so I decided to tag along. MISTAKE #1. It was chilly and the warm up run felt GREAT. I was happy, springy, ready to go! When we got to the start and I checked my watch, it had been 1.48 miles! I feel like that may have been too much, especially since I’ve never done much of a run before a race in the past; just stretching and strides. 

We took off at 9:00am. MISTAKE #2: I started the race way too fast on the road when I usually start at an easier pace then speed things up. It felt like I was playing catch up the entire time and my heart rate was too high. The course was a 7 mile race, starting out at Marine Park in Fairhaven with a bit of road running before jumping on the scenic Interurban Trail. We passed Arroyo Park and gently climbed up Chuckanut Drive, only to meet the steep glory of California Steet! It didn’t seem to be very long distance wise, but it sure had an incline that many people chose to walk up instead of run! My biggest issue with running has always been my breathing, not legs feeling weak or tired. I had asthma with various inhalers growing up as a kid in Colorado, but that could’ve been in combination with the high altitude. It took me a while of slowing down to get back in my rhythm of controlled breathing. There were only a few runners around my pace at that time, so I’d pick one to try to creepily follow until I had the strength to catch up to the next one. There were three aid stations along the way with volunteers and water cups. One station even had a bubble machine for us to run through which was super fun! The trail winds along with the Chuckanut Mountains to your left and Chuckanut Bay to your right. With two miles left, I could hear the live music which was happening on stage at the finish line party! At mile six I kicked it into high gear. Apparently lots of other people did too, because it was the most company I had since the start of the race. The final leg crosses Chuckanut Drive and it all downhill to the finish line at Larrabee State Park. Even though they had posted a sign, “Race photo taken ahead” I was moving so fast (and focusing on not slipping on the wet mossy road from the previous night’s rain) that I couldn’t/didn’t care to look up or make my face look less…focused ha. My watch said I finished in 56:44, but it was off and only tracked a 6.95mi distance. My official chip time from my bib was 56:40 with the full 7 miles, averaging an 8:06min/mi pace.
According to my TomTom watch
The finish line food spread was all donated, consisting of: regular/gf bread, peanut butter, Nutella, watermelon slices, strawberries, and grapes. Yum! There was live music playing some catchy cover songs in the amphitheater. Even though I was much slower than my goal, I managed to place third in my age group (25-29) which was a surprise to me! They butchered my last name again, I'm starting to get used to that. The overall first place runner was a 21 year old male who finished in 37:46, averaging a 5:24min/mi pace. That is insane! After the awards ceremony, there was a shuttle that took us back to our cars at Marine Park which kept the event more environmentally friendly. 

Finish line festivities!
I really enjoyed the fun, positive spirits from the volunteers and everyone in charge of the race and am happy that I was able to be a part of it! Next year, I hope to see you at the 51st Chuckanut Foot Race! 


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