Friday, December 02, 2005

Quad Dipsea yet Again!: A Race Report

My third Quad Dipsea, a 28 mile / 44.8k trail running race. I love this event. It's on Thanksgiving weekend, officially signals the end of my season, a great opportunity to meet other runners, get reacquainted with old friends, a beautiful yet brutal course and free food and drinks at the finish. And because it's 4 times across the course, you get to see everyone - from the lead runner to the last multiple times. The Dipsea trail is about 7 miles / 11.2k and very hilly, Quad runners cross it 4 times. As always by the time this race comes around I'm heavier, hardly training and looking forward to the "off-season", which starts promptly after I cross the finish line. Actually it's less of a race and more of a social fun run for me.

Well like last year I didn't have a ride to the race. I forgot what happened last year but this year I came late to the car rental place the day before. No car, no ride. My back up plans fell through as well so at 6AM Saturday morning I was on a street corner waiting for a bus which ended up dropping me off 4.5 miles / 7.2k from where I needed to be. So I ran, maybe not the smartest thing to do but I didn't have much time.

The first year I did this I came in at 5:40 the next year I came in at 5:45 but it had rained the night and morning before, so I was definitely faster the second year. The Dipsea course is gnarly enough in good weather, add in puddles, mud, slippery roots and rocks and it's a killer. Both years I also started in the back. This year I thought I could improve my time by starting closer to the front. The first crossing, the first 7miles, went well but I went faster than I wanted. Second crossing went even better but on the start of the third crossing, a mile into it, I hit a wall. I felt sluggish and I was hungry. Huh...hungry? I've been drinking and eating, how's that possible and only 3 hours into a race? I ate more, drank more and took in some salt as well. I'm a veteran of 100 mile ultras and here I am bonking at mile 15 of a 28 mile race. What the F?. By the time I got to Stinson beach, the end of the third leg, I had recovered a bit but not by much, plus my legs already felt trashed. Right knee was acting up and overall I felt like crap. On the last and final leg back to Mill Valley I hit another low and stayed there. My legs hurt so much I couldn't run down the technical downhills and I LOVE running technical downhills. I think I had what they called "blown-out" quads. It hurt to run downhill, especially the rooty, rocky parts. The final set of 700+ stairs back to Mill Valley and the finish was agony. I had to walk ,gingerly, the quads just wouldn't have any of it. I prayed on that final crossing. My final time was 6:12. That was pretty bad but not as bad as I felt physically.

Nevertheless I fully enjoyed myself. The weather was awesome and the views amazing. The volunteers were great as always and there were lots of people on hand to cheer us on. The other runners were great and there were even several cute girls running the race. Awesome, awesome weather. My friend J.P. Sulpizio had an amazing race. This was his first ever official ultra-marathon and he came in 7th at 4:36:57. I chowed on the free food afterwards; a hotdog, soup and soda. Got my free shirt and schwag. Met a couple of cool folks, Chikara Omine and Hector. Chikara is a fast runner, came in 8th and Hector was waiting for his sister and brother who were still out on the course. Also got to catch up with Brian who I met at this race 3 years earlier. He had a bad day, he was on his way to a personal best, passing me in the process when an old injury flared up. Anyway Brian had just finished his first 100 mile ultra back in September and he and his wife is expecting their second child. Nice. I ended up getting a ride back to the city with Chikara. Legs stiffened up badly on the way to the car..bad sign.

Back at the apartment I filled the bathtub with freezing cold water and sat in it. Heck I was already in pain anyway, what's another 20 more minutes of it. Besides the cold was going to make everything better in the long run. Damn I felt like shit, not even after the Cascade Crest 100-Miler back in August did I feel this bad and that was a tough race. That was the worst performance yet but I finished, I survived and I enjoyed myself. I've never not finished a race I started but had this race been longer it would have been the first. Next year...will better, hopefully.

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