Check links on left for AR50 images
What a blast! Most of the race experience without actually running the race. I was however a little jealous after seeing all the happy contented faces at the finish, I know how that feels.
Posted a link to the photos on the last, last entry but here it is again.
Alarm clock(s) go off at 2:15AM, snoozed them all until 2:35AM. Got up feeling very tired, "why the hell am I doing this? how did I get roped into this?". A long hot shower later I'm back to almost normal. Went through my checklist and I was out the door. It felt like race day but not my race.
Brrr...it was cold outside but like clockwork there was Olga at the appointed time, soon we were at Jason's and we were on the Bay Bridge headed South by 3:30AM. On the way down it starts to rain, so not good. It was gloomy and depressing. We get to Sacramento by 5AM, following the race guidelines, we stop off at a Gas Station for our potty break and an opportunity to get some coffee. I love coffee and at 5AM, it's manna from Heaven. Start looked bleak. People were checking in and going back to their cars or going to the bathroom, no one was really hanging out. Still drizzling and still cold. Rain finally stops before the start, and the 477 runners out of 550 that signed up start the race promptly at 6AM. By then it was light and the mood a bit more jovial. Jason and I stayed until the runners looped back under the bridge where they started, taking pictures and drinking our coffee. Olga passes by finally and we take off for the next aid station.
Olga's system is solid. 4 handheld bottles with pockets for energy gels. Two goes with her and two stays with us to fill with water and Carbo Pro drink. At the designated aid stations she gives us her empties we furnish her with new ones along with energy gel. Also in the car is a bag of additional supplies, extra insoles and an extra pair of shoes that she can access at the aid stations. Everything went smoothly for the most part except when we forgot to communicate to her that we would get breakfast and thus miss her at one aid station. There was also the coffee incident. She requested some coffee at mile 27.5 and we forgot. I should have remembered, I'm the coffee drinker and Jason isn't. Luckily there was caffeine in the form of coffee flavored caffeinated gels, ain't the same thing but it was available. I started pacing Olga at this aid station. The weather continued to hold up, no rain but still cool.
By about mile 30 or so we enter some real trails and Olga started to pick up her pace, imperceptibly at first but she got faster and faster. The trails energized her. Feet started to dance around rocks, puddles, mud and roots. She was quick and nimble on the downhills, smooth and strong on the flats and uphills; hop, skip, shift, skip, pivot, jump, shift.... We were passing people and I was counting; 10, 11, 12, 13....another woman, 14, 15.... One woman we passed picked up her pace and started following us, after a couple of miles of this Olga takes a bathroom break and let's her pass. She explained that by trying to stay ahead of the pursuing runner she was running her race, her pace and not her own, better to let her go on her way and not let her draw energy from us. So back to the game plan, to her pace and her game. Mile 37 or so she complains of butt pain...I see...well...huh...what do you do when your runner complains of butt pain? Since I wasn' t going to massage it for her I just laughed and waited until we got moving again. Call me insensitive, no butt massages not even cute butts:) More mud and standing water, some of this mud smelled nasty too, like it was mixed in with manure or something....mmmmm....manure. We were careful where it got really thick, it already sucked out her shoe once and it was a pain to get it back on again. May favorite part, about a 100 yards before the Rattlesnake Aid Station, mile 40, there was a section of trail that was just flooded. There was no way around the water, left or right, you just wade in the ankle deep water and curse silently. Fun, heck ya! At this point it doesn't really matter. There were sections of the course where I sank in ankle deep mud. I would purposely run through water just to wash off the mud. At the aid station I handed off to Jason. Frankly I didn't want to stop. The 12.5 miles that I traveled with Olga seemed like 20 but I loved it. My endurance engine was online, hot and ready and now I had to stop. At the aid station Jason was waiting with fresh new bottles for Olga and car keys for me.
I felt super and I was muddier than hell. Chatted a bit with some of the folks at the aid station and promptly drove back to the finish. Did I wash off the mud? heck no, it's manly being dirty. However I gave some folks the wrong impression that I was a racer, a racer who came in fast and dirty and is now hanging out at the finish line. I felt a little bad about that. Ran into a friend, Mark Tanaka, this dude was fast when I met him about 3 years ago. But back then he always had the wrong equipment and he kept getting lost on the races. Now he's even faster now that he's got the whole equipment, nutrition thing figured out and he doesn't get lost anymore. He finished AR50 in 7:17, definitely not in my league but oh so humble and friendly, like most ultra-runners. I also introduced myself to race director Greg Soderlund, also the rd for Western States 100. After some soup and more talking I headed down the course to meet Olga and Jason. After about 2 miles I see them, thank God, I thought I would have to keep going downhill to the aid station. You see AR50 has a nasty finish, the last 3 miles or so is uphill and on a concrete road....mmm...(everyone say it with me)....concrete! Just what a sore body and aching legs need. Ran back up with them to the finish. It was slow going at times because someone would crack a joke and we'd laugh and be reduced to walking again. At the final turn to the finish the volunteer informs Olga she's in the top 10. Fifty yards from the finish Olga walks so she can compose herself then breaks out into a nice run within sight of the finish line. Her final time is 8:58:28, 10th woman overall and 4th in her age group. Oh and she does succeed in catching, passing and dropping that woman racer who was chasing us earlier. Hehehe, I've had that happen to me before; hunted down a runner, pass and dropped them, only to have them catch me before the finish. If you're competitive it ain't a pleasant feeling. If you're me you get pissed for a second then you go about enjoying your day, but I digress...
We go back to the car so Olga can change into less smelly, less dirty clothes and then we head back to the finish line. Regrettably I had to wash off my precious mud, it was time. Jason runs into some friends, this dude has friends all over the place. We mingle with some folks. I run into more friends, take some pictures, eat more food. I forgot to pack and extra pair of shoes so I walked around barefooted. I lived in Honolulu for 10 years, walking barefoot ain't no big thing, although my feet are not as tough as they used to be. I just hated the feeling of wet shoes. After half an hour we take off, ended up in a Denny's and grubbed. The ride home was long, I nodded off for a part of it. The sight of San Francisco from the Bay Bridge was breathtaking, I leave so I can come back. I love this city!