|Rodeo Beach, the Family Tahoe at the Start|
3...2...1...JUMP ON IT!
Filled with anxiety and a week of carbo-loading on Christmas Cookies, I bolted up the first hill and took the lead. 30 seconds later, it dawned on me that I started too quickly. 1 minute later, it dawned on my muscles that I started too quickly. 90 seconds later, my ego caught on. Shit. I tried to pull a Matt Carrell and practically sprint up the hill regardless of how I felt, but in retrospect, it was a poor choice. Now I'm slowing down, and feel like such a young/eager fool. What will Dave Mackey think?! At the 1st mile mark, Dave Mackey trotted by as I was hiking to catch my breath. His judgmental silence I will never forget.
My turbo boosters were turning into farts, my throat was scratchy and sore from breathing deeply, and I was depressed. 2 miles in, I felt like I was at mile 10...it was bad. But at least I saw my parents at the top of the hill! This was the first ultra they've been able to attend, and they were hiking around with the dogs on Coastal Trail as I trotted by. Mom could see I was struggling, but I was still moving decently well. There were maybe 6 or 7 guys in front of me. I had no idea who was doing the 50k or the 30k, since the bibs were not obviously distinguishable between the different races. The 50k course follows a 30k route back to the start for the first loop of the course, so both races were running the exact same trails. Whatever. Any company is good company.
Arriving back in Tennessee Valley (Aid Station #2), now begins the long gradual climb (2-3 miles) out of the valley. My legs were moving strong as an ox and steady as a river. My speed was found more on the downhills of this race, especially with the 6,000' of climb that was slowing me on the uphills. After the long gradual climb, there was some gorgeous scenery of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and skyline of San Francisco/Oakland. The Marin Headlands really are a treasure among the cities and roads of the Bay Area. Following the breathtaking ridge line views, I found Aid Station #3. Then 3.5 miles of downhill/flat trail later, I was back at the start. 30K done! I refilled my bottles and had to reach around a relaxed Dave Mackey to grab some cheese-its.
Me: "Good Luck next weekend!"
Mackey: "Huh? Uh, Thanks, you too!"
Me: "...um, thanks!"
Guess I caught him off guard. What I really meant was, good luck in getting 2nd place, because Yassine is going to win THE SHIT out of Bandera. God Speed, brotha! (Dave, if you ever happen to read this...please don't take it personally, I hear you're a good guy. I'm just a little biased).
The final 20K of the race follows the exact same course, minus the section between Tenessee Valley Aid stations 1 and 2. So, burnout hill...we meet again! This time, the climb was easier since I was warmed up and taking it steady. Run run run run...run...washed-out road? shit turn-around run run run ahA! run ON CORRECT TRAIL run run run. My legs were feeling a bit drained, and I was almost jogging at some of my low points in the race...almost. There was nobody in front of me or behind me, from what I could see. I had no idea what place I was in, nor did I really care at the time. I was fighting some side-stitch cramping, and concentrating on the hills to make up for my early self-destruction. My legs were pushing well over the last 20k, and I ran 97% of the hills. Not too shabby.
Arriving at the final Aid Station, someone finally mentioned to me that I was probably in 1st place. Exsqueeze me? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Score! The last 3.5 miles were then spent pounding downhill and looking frantically behind me for any possible pursuer. I was not expecting to be in this position, so I was a bit surprised by it. Regardless, I ran my butt off like a slow cheetah and ran the homestretch with my Mum and Dad cheering/recording as I crossed the finish line.
Results: 4:28:47 – 1st out of 33 Finishers
Pace: 8:40 min/mile
50K PR. Previous PR was 4:29:19 on a Flat Muddy course (Hagg Lake)
|The Official "Race Director Hand Shake"|
I'm happy with my 1st place finish, but it's nothing to get cocky about. Again, I did not expect this. First of all, my winning time would have only been good for 4th place at last year's race. Although, I did beat my previous time by about 25 minutes...which I'm very happy with. I ran a strong race, and I'm definitely getting faster. My confidence will grow with more experience, as it has over the past year. This win was simply a great day on a great course put on by a great group of people. The race itself is very ultra-esque, in that it's extremely casual with no real glory except for the reward for finishing and re-discovering the joy in running. The first half of the race I had to somehow keep reminding myself why I do runs like this...and I really don't have an answer yet. Maybe I run just because I get to blog about it? That's been fun. "Hey everyone, guess where I just ran!" Bah. My true happiness comes from what running has given me over the past year...Health, Friends, and Happiness. Whether 100 mile races are deemed "healthy", that's another story. This was a Hell of an end to a Hell of a year. Thanks to everyone who reads this damn thing! Your support is beyond appreciated. Happy end to 2011!
Afterthoughts: I probably won because I wore the Hagg Lake shirt/socks combo.
Race Fuel: Mainly used GELS, a couple handfuls of pretzels, a PB&J slice that almost killed me, and a dash of coke. Skipped 2 aid stations, didn't spend more than 10 seconds at most aid station stops, and re-filled my bottles once at the 30K mark.