Monday, October 12, 2009

Awwww Really?!

Around mile 35 or so I passed a group with kids on narrow single track. Everyone stepped to the side and the kids yelled "runner!" Right after passing them there was a tiny hill, totally runnable but I needed a breather and walked. As I stopped running I heard one of the kids yell behind me "awww really?!" Haha you brat, thanks for the push. You have a future as a crew and pacer. She pretty much summed up the first 33-miles of my race.

I came to beat my personal record from last year - 7:55:42. I was ready. All psyched up and with lots of juice in the legs. In the first 8-miles I had to restrain myself from going out too fast. My heart rate monitor was registering high numbers but I felt fantastic, nevertheless I pulled it back. I had my times at the different aid stations from last year clipped to my bottle and I was sure I was going to come in faster but by the second AS I was surprised to see that I was behind by 10 minutes. When I opened the throttle all the way I was dismayed to find out that I couldn't catch up. By the marathon mark I was still 10 minutes down and by the 33-mile mark I was at 15. I called the PR quest at that point and just focused on finishing strong. It was a spectacular day for racing. Cold and foggy at the start and even when the sun came out it never got hot and there were cool breezes throughout. The volunteers were great and many friends came out to cheer, crew and pace. It was not a day to be wasted brooding on what should have been. Despite being slower I had a great run. Two days later I'm still smiling every time I think of it.

Such a strange thing to feel like I was going faster and harder when I was actually going slower. If there was no watch to tell me the time and no splits to compare to I could have sworn that I was running faster than last year. In my head I was flying! No major problems, no cramping and fatigue levels were at a reasonable level. I ran hard the whole time, I was just missing a couple of gears. At the finish line I felt great. I'm pretty sure it was the lack of quality training weeks leading up to the race due to the longer than expected recovery from the Headlands Hundred. I trained while I continued to recover and there were definitely some lack luster miles. What quality days I did manage allowed me to finish well. It wasn't the race I wanted but it was a good and solid run. I felt I made the right decisions from start to finish. I went out with a big goal. I worked hard and fought for it and when it became clear it wasn't going to happen I wisely let go and focused on a strong finish. I worked hard the entire race and had the presence of mind not to let my disappointment of not achieving my main goal affect my appreciation for the race, the volunteers, the great weather and the wonderful company of friends. Just doing my best to develop the mental side of my running. I left Firetrails thinking, "that was a really good day of running!" I love this beautiful, wonderful race and I hope it continues for many years to come.

And after all those wonderful volunteers, all the food and drink that we used up in our journey of 50-miles, after being treated to a lakeside bbq complete with picnic tables and large areas of grass for lounging, they sent us home with another bag full of great schwag. I'm wearing the jacket right now. They also gave us a running shirt, a copy of Trailrunner and UltraRunning magazine and a wine glass with the logo. Like all the ultras I've run, what I got was more than the money I spent and it's always given with a smile, a pat on the back and a lot of aloha. You know if I'm a volunteer at your race, consider your money already well spent right there! Har, har, I kid on that part.

To the female runner who told me around mile 40+ that I had nice legs, more so because they were covered in dust, thank you. I pulled away not from embarrassment but because you made me laugh and shot new energy into my legs. I hope you heard the "thank you" I said between breaths as we hauled up that hill. They were thinking of you when they made this shirt. A big shout out to my good friend and training partner, Jon Gunderson, who rocked his race with a 7:25 and 5th place. You can read his report on his blog. He was one of the runners who was supposed to run Angeles Crest 100 before the fire cancelled the race. He will be running Javelina Jundred in three weeks instead and entered this race as his last long run before the hundred.

Thanks to RD's Ann Trason and Carl Andersen and all the volunteers for another great time at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-Mile. I hope my fellow runners felt the same way, seemed like everyone had a great time. I hope the marathoners enjoyed their race as well. There is a marathon held in conjunction with the race. The "Golden Hills Marathon" start at our 26-mile turnaround at Lone Oak and we share most of the same aid stations on the way back to Lake Chabot with the marathoners going on a separate 2.2 mile loop to get their full 26.2 miles before rejoining us for the same finish. They start just as the first runners of our race are making their way down to Lone Oak. Leor Pantilat was once again leading the marathon charge, a flash of yellow in his La Sportiva mountain running team shirt.

Well as California's Governator said, "I'll be back". If I am able I would run this race again. It was my first 50 back in 2002 and I've run it the last 3 years.

Dick Collins Firetrails 50-Mile
8:29:28 28th out of 231 starters
Unofficial Results

Way too excited on race morning. Calm down Rick, calm down. Photo courtesy of Lisa Klinkefus.

Lining up for the start. Game face on? Check. Water bottle and gels? Check. Sunglasses and visor? Check. The right shoes? Uh..what now? Photo courtesy of Lisa Klinkefus.

Fellow GGTCer Daniel Scarberry, on his first 50-mile race, coming into Skyline Gate mile 15. Gives you an idea of the weather we had and the type of trails we were running in. I believe he is much faster than his 7:56 suggests and if he sticks around and continues to learn and gain experience he could really do well. Photo courtesy of Lisa Klinkefus.

My finish. A pretty solid day of running. Photo courtesy of Daniel Scarberry.

Suzanne Carrier, Jasper Halekas, Mark Gilligan and Kevin Swisher. These guys were out cheering and spectating for the day. I think Mark and Kevin paced friends.

Post race bbq and picnic area.

Looking out from the bbq area towards the green and the finish chute. Off to the right is Karl Hoagland who had a terrific sub-8 finish.

For the photoset click here.


  1. It was nice to see you Rick. See you again in a couple of weeks. ;)

  2. Great job Rick.
    Are you still running Javelina?
    I'm getting really nervous.

  3. There will be another race and the fact that you enjoyed the race is what mattered most. Nice post-race BBQ treat. It reminds me of fiesta here.

  4. Well even if you weren't really flying you certainly shot round that course! Great job!

    If you see Nick at JJ tell him to breath!

  5. I kind of already told you this before, but after reading your entry, it's worth saying again! Your attitude is so refreshing and great and is really representative of why trail running is so great! Some people would have been so upset about their times and not finished the race. Thanks for sharing your experience. Too funny about the kids!

  6. Great report! It's interesting to see where the motivation comes from.

  7. Awww ... no PR? That's OK. Strange how you can sometimes feel so fast, but be moving slower. I'm finding that happen quite a bit with my barefoot running - an easy 8-minute-mile effort somehow comes out to 10 or 11 minutes every time.

    Looks like a perfect ultra day out there - sorry I couldn't be there to share it. Firetrails is still one of the best races going. Maybe next year.

  8. Love the title of this post. And that woman at mile 40 was totally right. ;-)
    I can really appreciate your attitude on this one, Rick, and it's got me thinking. You are so right about things like "It was not a day to be wasted brooding on what should have been." I'm getting kind of nervous for an upcoming 50, with some high expectations, but lately my running feels like crap. It shouldn't, but it just does. I love that you can keep it all in perspective and know that it just wasn't a day for a PR but it can still be an awesome day. That can be a hard thing to remember sometimes. So I would say, for that alone, you have done something pretty awesome. Nice job! And I am definitely taking this attitude as inspiration for my future endeavors.

  9. Story bout the kids and the "AWWWWWWWWWWW Really?" made me laugh. Good run....wish I "felt" how you looked.

  10. Way to go, Rick! Even though you didn't get your time goal, it sounds like you ran well and had a fantastic experience. Well done! And, or course, you will always have the story of the kid saying, "awww really?!" That is worth its weight in gold! :)

    Wonderful job! Recover well.

  11. And this is why you are a fun person to be around. You're right-- the day was still great, even if you didn't PR, but people tend to lose sight of that. You had a fabulous year of running and it was great to see you out there.

    I'm now starting to fast for Intramuros.

  12. rick, your finish time is still impressive and you are really fast! sometimes in my road races, i felt that i am too fast but in reality i am running slower and the reverse happens, too. in last sunday's MILO Marathon Finals, i thought i was running at a conservative pace but i found out that i was running faster based from my watch. congrats & nice job! nice "buff"! good luck on your next race.

  13. Hey hey Jo-Lynn, thanks for volunteering you dessert bandit you. See you at SF One Day, we shall pilfer, I mean watch the baked goods together.

    Nick I am going to be at Javelina but as a crew and pacer. Originally I had planned to run it. Glad that I'm not now seeing where my shape is at.

    Jon that's exactly right, there will be other races and hopefully more opportunities to run Firetrails.

    Thanks Stuart. There will be many opportunities to remind Nick to breathe, at least until I leaver for pacer duty.

    What up TH! I've had my share of feeling bummed and disappointed at races. I much prefer the opposite and strive for that as much as possible.

    Thanks René. Good luck on your first trail marathon.

    Hey Bid D. We missed you out there but good to see that you are enjoying your time off from ultras. Ran into another friend who is doing the same since WS.

    I'm hoping for the best for your upcoming 50 Gretchen. I know we gave you some pressure on your blog about your PR time:) Haha that's what we are here for you know. I know you'll give it your best shot and hopefully the body is ready and you have the race you want. If it's just not your day you know we would totally understand.

    Dave, it definitely made me run a whole lot harder after that. Good luck on Palo Duro and enjoy an extended rest after that.

    A good story indeed Jean. Many more miles to go and many more stories to collect and tell.

    You were cranking out there Victoria. When I saw you not too far behind Steve Ansell I was like "whoa she's flying" cause Steve is pretty quick too, incredible on downhills. I'm glad you worked through the knee issue and got that finish. As I was telling my friend Daniel who ran his first 50 and pulled through his first big low point on a run, we are both the car and the mechanic. We breakdown and we diagnose and fix it. Not always do we have the luxury of help from fellow runners and volunteers.

    Hey Bald Runner, thank you for the support. I would like to experience the opposite sometime soon to balance this recent experience:) Congrats on the marathon finals, I'll be sure to head over and read about it on your blog. The Buff did a great job of keeping the salt off my face. I hate looking like a boiled potato dipped in salt, a look I usually sport in the second half of a long race.

  14. Nice one, Rick! Great attitude and glad you were able to have a good, solid run despite having to downgrade your goal. I still want to do this one someday...right in my old backyard!

  15. Great job Rick! Nice to see you and all the other 50 milers passing in the other direction. See you at future events!

  16. Hi Rick,
    You have had a very long and hard racing year...the disparity between your results and your expectations is not surprising, especially given your relatively high HR's out there....any idea what your resting HR's were running in the days leading up to the race? You did the right thing by making it up and HAVE FUN.
    PS--Love your enthusiasm and upbeat attitude. FYI, if I tell someone that I try to celebrate life through running and other outdoor activities just doing the best with what I have, and they respond with "huh???" I tell them to read your blog...and then they'll get it :)

  17. glad you had fun. Awesome performance!