Sean Lang and I shortly after we finished. I want one of them new Cascade Crest 100 shirts. I think they're pretty sharp. I guess I'll have to go back up there and earn one. We met pre-race and ended up running part of the morning together. It was good running with you Sean.
Kevin Swisher, Harry Walther and Brian Wyatt, lounging in the grass post race. As well as I did, I couldn't catch Kevin who had 15.5 minutes on me, coming in 7th.
ABOUT THE EVENT In the San Francisco Bay Area we are blessed with great races and this is one of them. Race Directors is the legendary Ann Trason and Carl Andersen. This 50-miler boasts a great course; a nice mix of fire roads and single track, lots of tree covered sections, aid stations every 3 to 4.5 miles and just enough hills to make it challenging but not daunting with 7800 feet of total elevation gain and the same for total loss. The race schwag is great and so is the post race bbq atmosphere where they served burgers, beer and ice cream as well as miscellaneous snack stuff. Most runners and spectators take the time to eat and hang out. It's how I got to finally meet first place runner Hal Koerner and second place runner Victor Ballesteros and his wife. I also got to hang with the usual buddies and met more new folks. The race also offers a marathon option. These folks started at 9am somewhere around the turnaround point and shared the same finish line as the 50-milers. I got to know some of those runners as well. I stayed for as long as I could before having to beat it back to San Francisco to return the car rental in time.
MY RACE I've never had a race where my body threatened to pull the plug so early. Started at the front again like the last event. I'm much more comfortable being up front now, I felt less like a poser this time. It sure did save me a lot of time not having to pass folks in the early stages. There's a very narrow foot bridge about 2 miles in and starting at the front meant not having to wait while runners crossed one at a time. The leaders took off and after a few moments, Hal Koerner blew by as well. Did he start late? Then he blew by again after spending some time on the side of the trail fiddling with his shoes. It was quiet in the front. I did have some good company though. I hung out a bit with my usual competition Brian Wyatt, the fast and beautiful Kelly Ridgway, young gun Sean Lang and got to meet John Price as well as a couple of runners I haven't met before. These were quick conversations since everyone was focused on moving forward fast, much appreciated because so was I.
Photo courtesy of Calvin.
I'm sure footed almost all of the time but at mile 18 I nailed a root and went down. The problem was that I stumbled twice before going down. It would have been better if I had just fallen right away but the body just took over and I watched the train wreck in slow motion. My body tensed incredibly with each stumble and when I finally went down, in poison oak as I found out Sunday morning, my right calf cramped up. Thankfully it released right away but I was getting spasms/twitches as I made my way up and down the hills. I had to stop and stretch and really focus on movements that didn't make things worse. I also shifted more of my weight to my left leg, the weaker more problem plagued of the two.
I come into the 26-mile aid station and the turnaround at 3:56, right behind Brian. As he accessed his drop bag I went right back out on the course after a quick refill. Before the minute was up I was already well on my way and at 11th place. It felt good coming in 4 minutes ahead of schedule and 4 hours for the remaining 24 miles seemed very doable. 2 miles back up the hill the left hamstring starts to spasm too. You've got to be kidding me! So I stopped and stretched the muscle, quick lunges in sets of three. Overall I had to take it a notch down to keep the legs happy. I'm still moving well, just not as fast as I would have liked however this might have been a blessing in disguise.
With 9 miles to go I felt my goal of coming under 8 hours slipping and I decided to rally. The last 10k is relatively flat with the last three miles on a bike path. There are still a few rollers but no hills like we've experienced earlier in the day and I get a good speed going. I had extra energy reserves because I wasn't moving as hard on the hills. At this point my left IT band has joined in the fray. It was sore enough to be noticeable and the pain was slowly increasing, thank God this was just a 50-miler. I stopped at the last aid station at mile 47 for a quick refill and when I tried to start back up again, I get pain and stiffness from the IT. In the short time that I had stopped it had cooled and seized up. At that point I had 30 minutes to finish the last 3 miles and I couldn't get running again. Exasperated but trying desperately to stay cool, calm and collected, I massaged the tendon with the palm of my hand before trying to run again. It was painful but I hoped that once the tendon warmed up the pain would subside. Fortunately I was right and soon I was chugging along at what turned out to be 8 minute miles for the final miles of the race. The smooth asphalt of the bike path didn't aggravate anything and I gave it everything I got. It wasn't until I passed the boat dock did I know for sure that I had my sub-8, barring any major cramping just yards from the finish line - that would have been cruel but definitely possible!
Boat dock...the bathrooms...the grass...finally the finish line! Yehaa 7:55! It was exhilarating to finally cross that finish line after all the coaxing and battling with my body coupled with the achievement of my main goal to finish under 8 hours. Overall placement didn't matter just the time goal. For over half that race I duked it out with my body. It was like a long and heated argument with myself that I finally won in the end.
Coming in 8th overall and 6th in my age group was icing on the cake as well as the congratulatory remarks from fellow runners and spectators. The first person to come shake my hand was Kevin Swisher who I had been chasing all day. Maybe I come back again next year and shoot for 7:45 this time.