Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to Mt. Diablo

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Mt. Diablo as seen from the Marin Headlands. It's the tallest peak behind the hills.

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The first 10k, up, up, up.


I've raced there exactly three times and two of those times didn't go so well. Both included warm to hot temperatures and getting lost. I think that damn devil mountain has it in for me:) My first time in Mt. Diablo I was participating in only my second ultra event. Feeling super from finishing my first ultra I signed up...then got beat down. This is why to this day, despite all the triathlons and all the ultras I've done there is a small part of me that cringes when I think about racing there.

It got hot on that first race. It was in the 90s, no shade, no wind at the upper parts of the mountain. I knew so little about ultras and I wasn't prepared for the heat but thankfully I had the presence of mind to do as the other runners did when they dipped their boiled potatoes in salt and kept up on the drinking and eating. Things were so-so until the second trip up to the summit where I got so delirious from the heat I lost my way and didn't even know it. I got turned around and had started going the wrong way. It never occurred to me for one moment that I was running downhill trying to summit a mountain. Hahaha, seven years later I'm still laughing at that memory. Fortunately another runner set me straight but not before I tried to convince him that he was the one going the wrong way. The trip back up was painful and I ran out of water since I only had one bottle with me. I barely had enough before I got lost. It was a painful experience and my first introduction to PCTR, a love affair that continues to this day. That sucker took me 8 hours to finish and I was laid out for awhile:)

It would be another four years before I returned. Now I'm a believer in Jesus Christ but every time someone said "Diablo", I didn't think of the devil described in my bible. Instead I thought of a mountain shimmering with heat, of dusty single track, long uphills and tight downhill switch backs filled with loose rock.

The run in 06 went well, it was my last training run before heading out for Western States. It was taken at training pace and it wasn't even hot. We had a long winter that year that gave us cool temps all the way to May. Even the Ohlone 50k, which can also be quite hot, had fog and rain that year. So with my irrational fear of Mt. Diablo conquered, I stepped up and signed up for the 50-miler last year. Like the 50k you summit twice but you also spend a lot of time running in the surrounding area, up and down, up and down. The mountain is only 3,849 feet (1,173 m) according to Wikipedia but the race itself boasts 13,300 feet of total climb. It's a great race to help you prepare for a 100-miler in the summer, especially a hilly one.

Well like that first year, things got very warm out there and not far from the spot I got lost the first time I got lost again, also on the second summit. I was following Jon Burg out of Rock City, it was about 3PM. We were ascending a dusty singletrack, the sun was bright, not a cloud in the sky and no breeze. He was 11th and not too far in front of him was Scott Dunlap at 10th. I was chasing but not gaining on Jon while we both gained on Scott. When Jon catches up to Scott he says to him "some asian guy is looking for you". Jon didn't know me then, we met at the finish. They both put in the extra effort and I lose sight of them. They turned left at an intersection to head to an aid station before the final ascent up to the summit for the last time. I went straight and up to the summit, missing the aid station. It was only at the top did I fully realize my mistake. To make things right I had to go back down to the aid station then back up to the summit. My race was pretty much over by then, from that point it was just a training run. There is no aid the last 8-miles and I ran out of water because like the first time I only carried one water bottle. Another tough day on Mt. Diablo. Never too experienced for a whuppin:)

So Sunday is round 4, ting, ting. I'm ready for you baby. I'm well rested now and feeling pretty good. I also got in some time in the sauna for some heat training. Supposed to be warm this weekend so I'm glad I put in the time. I have a minor plantar fasciitis thing going on with my right foot but it's minor. I'm car pooling with Jon Gunderson and he's dealing with shin splints right now so I'm not even going to complain. I don't know why he's still running but he is the best judge of his own body. We both are headed for San Diego 100. From there he continues on to Badwater while I plan my races for the second half of the year.

Miss Diablo I'm looking forward to another great time. Don't be gentle, we like it rough!
It feels great to be racing again.

23 comments:

  1. Rick, best wishes to you with your Round 4 on Mt. Diablo! I think you are in for a great race, given your dedication to your training. Much success to you, and I look forward to your report!

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  2. You did absolutely NOTHING to ease my anxiety about Sunday, Ricky Boy!

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  3. Rick,
    I can't wait to hear how you do! I know you've come a long way, baby! Best wishes for a great race! Peace!
    Mark

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  4. Jo-Lynn I swear I didn't see your post before writing mine's! Hahaha sorry to add to the anxiety. I think you will be just fine in the marathon. It will be a good day; trail, friends and food.

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  5. Oh, a sprinkled cake donut will do just fine. ;)
    You know the one.

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  6. You Californians....I'm so jealous of the places you run. I plan on coming out next year for Twin Peaks. So, maybe I'll stop ranting then.

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  7. Thanks for another great writeup Rick. I went back and read all 3 of them from 08, and they were so informative and helpful. Still dreading it though (confronting my own unawesomeness as a runner!), but friends and a beautiful place to run is all we could ask for, right?

    Good luck!
    Cynthia

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  8. What ever happened to loving the flatland? LOL You're going to kick some butt Rick! I know it!

    BTW did you put in that second to last sentence just for me or what? :P

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  9. Best of luck buddy !!!!!

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  10. So, I am looking at top 5, no less. ya kno, boy, expectations are rising...:) Kill it!

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  11. I am so excited for you and Jonathon! I so wish I was in good enough shape to run even the 50K there. Someday. I'll be rooting for both of you. I'm just going to run the Zippy 5K in GG Park... but I'll send good vibes your way.

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  12. Fourth time's a charm. Go out there and destroy that course - it's got nothing on you. Dominate it.

    Excited to hear how you boys do.

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  13. Hope you are carrying two bottles this year! Good luck Rick, I look forward to reading your race report. :-)

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  14. AWESOME Diablo photo- I love it. Captures so much about trail running that is cool- is that really the summit in the photo? It almost looks like the cameraman is looking down on the runners...

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  15. oh and ps have a great race!

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  16. Top 20 is more like it. I saw the list of entrants last night, whoa! Yes Marcy, yes, I did think of you when I wrote that sentence.

    Nope not the top of the mountain. In fact I think we are only halfway up at this point.

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  17. Of course I remember that I met you at SttS-- but I know you better because of blogging, I think.

    Anyway, I will see you out there on Sunday. I'm not running, but I will be at check-in, Juniper and then at the finish, so you'll see more of me than you would if I was running, I'm sure!

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  18. Oh oh few more days to go! Jitters, jitters.

    Good luck my friend

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  19. I'll be praying for you on that day, and believe me, with Jesus in our hearts, we can always conquer the "Diablo" within.

    I love this post of yours, I learned a lot...

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  20. You are a much better runner now than you were when you first encroached upon "the Devil"...now send Diablo fleeing with your righteous heart.

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  21. Pace and hydrate...it's in the bag el diablo is you beatch!

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  22. God be with you at Mt. Diablo Rick! It should be sweeter conquering it, what, the 4th time around? Can't wait to hear your report.

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  23. Good luck this time. I'm sure you'll carry two large bottles this time and a map? I'm sure this will be good training for Diego. Leave some for the second summit. See ya at MiWok...it will probably rain!

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