My pastor once told us, "everyone has a kingdom where you are the ruler". He explained that it's a sphere or space, no matter how small, where everything you say goes. As a single guy, my kingdom is at least the size of my apartment and as Grand Puba of this humble abode I declare Steak and Movie night because I am celebrating a great race. Oh and some carbs to go with that protein too.
ANGEL ISLAND 50k • 4200 ft. (+) • 4200 ft. (-) • 4:46 Unofficial Time
The course consisted of 3 loops. The first was a perimeter loop which was mostly asphalt road, the second got you in hills but not to the top and the third followed parts of the second loop but this one took you all they way to the summit. 50k runners had to do it twice. The sun never really broke through the fog, in fact for most of the race the temps were nice and cool. After the difficult, technical trail at BH100 this race was a welcome experience.
I thought it would be boring but I actually loved it. First of all the trail is very runnable. I didn't like the asphalt so much but the trails were nice, except for some stairs, everything was runnable. The total elevation gain, compared to the many races I've survived, was a measely 4200 ft. and it comes in small doses. In fact it was so tempting to just run all the hills but at my level that would have only slowed me down overall. The temperatures were cool. I didn't sweat much and drank less than I usually did.
I started in the back as usual. 25 and 50k folks got their own start. As we passed the bathrooms I even had to make a stop so I was really the last of the last as we started the first climb. This happens more often than you think with me. My heart rate was higher than normal for the effort which I took as a sign that I was still shy of being 100%. Met up with old friends, made new ones. Chased friends as usual. After the first loop I went hard and on the downhill of the first summit I turned it on and left it on. From that point on my heart rate was pegged at the threshold for pretty much the rest of the run. My legs felt fine so I just kept going. I came with the goal of giving 110% and see how my body felt. I wanted to know that the speed and fitness that served me well before BH100 was still there. Into the 4th loop, back on the asphalt, I caught up to Vladimir but started to feel a little light headed and fell back, a little worn and fuzzy. We ran together for a bit. I popped a caffeinated gel, was revived and I was off but not before promising Vladimir that I would introduce him to the other crazy Russian runner that I knew. Halfway through the 5th loop my right hamstring felt like it was going to cramp which got me running scared. I knew I was doing well and I didn't want a cramp to ruin it for me as it did in last year's Stinson Beach 50k. I shifted most of the work on my left and continued on. I had to consciously relax the right leg as well as putting in more walk breaks. I was taking precautions to avoid a full blown cramp. My hydration was good and so was my salt, the hamstring was just worn from the distance and fast pace. I also started to feel weak on the uphills. I was definitely reaching my limits but I reassured myself that whatever happened I could most likely suffer through it and finish anyway. I did my best Rocky Balboa impression and sucked it up. Fight! Fight! Fight! I thought to myself. Once I summitted for the last time I just let it all go. The leg stopped bothering me and I finished with a great time. I can say that I gave it 110% out there today. Could I have gone harder? Maybe, I always think I could have after the fact. I was in super serious mode. No picture taking and I even tanked up based on need and not just filling a water bottle cause it's there, got the idea from Nascar - only put in what you need. I didn't want the extra weight. I ate my gels before I hit the stations and only stopped long enough to put some energy drink into the bottle - Olga you would have been proud. I didn't even bring my carbo pro powder, takes too long. I hustled, hustled and hustled, like waiting tables on a Friday lunch shift at the financial district - a lifetime ago.
I even picked up a pacer for the last 3 miles. A freshman college student who got accepted to an Iowa school on a running scholarship. Matt and family were visiting from Chicago. He decided to do his own exploring and ended up following part of the race. When I first ran past him he was taking pictures. As I was making my way down the last downhill I saw and heard him up on a switchback coming fast. Initially I thought I was caught by a faster runner but a second glance revealed the jeans tucked under his arm. He had running shorts on the ready just in case, of course he did. He stayed right behind me and the sound of his feet got me going even faster to stay ahead. We talked and as the last mile of the trail widened into a fire road he pulled alongside and I kicked it another notch to stay with him. That young runner probably helped me shave a couple of minutes. Thank you Matt.
A bunch of us boys hung out afterwards and introduced ourselves. Great guys some with big plans for the future. One in particular, Jonathan, is headed back to Badwater for his second time. Another was Blake who was a little over a minute in front of me. He smiled as he greeted me and told me he gunned it down the hill knowing I wasn't far behind. Good folk. Chikara Omine was there as well but he ran the 16k and stayed the entire day to hangout and cheer people on. His friend Jason took the top finishing time of 4:16. None of us bothered to go up to Wendell and inquire about our standings, well Jason didn't need to. Unfortunately my friend Lem who was attempting his first 50k settled for 34k instead. He just started running in August, he's got time.