Friday, March 25, 2011

First 50k for 2011

One of my first images of trail running was an LL Bean ad that showed a runner in a zipped up hoodie running through a forest in a light drizzle. When I saw that I thought to myself "yeah I want to do that one day". Well I feel like I've been living that ad over and over again this year. Except for those three weeks in January where we had summer like temperatures we have had a lot of rain, rain and more rain. We may finally catch a break this coming Sunday.

Last weekend I was signed up to run the 30k race at PCTR's Pirates Cove. The plan then was to run those 18+ miles at race pace then running another 20+ miles on Sunday at a slower pace. However I decided a couple of days before the event that because the weather was going to be bad I would just do the bulk of my mileage on Saturday so I had less to run on Sunday. This was the main reason why I moved up to the 50k distance on race day.

The weather was as predicted and the trail conditions quite sloppy but I felt great. I mean from the first mile I felt really good and this lasted all the way to the finish. Pirates Cove is an uphill start and those that know me know I suck at those but I was just fine. I was running so well I pulled back on the throttle fearing that I was going out too fast. About an hour into the race, as it usually happens, I switched into my "endurance gear", that state of being where I feel I can run strong for a very long time. This was where it got really fun, we were on a very muddy and slippery fire road going downhill and I just bombed the heck out of it I was feeling so good. There were a couple of times where I slid around the corners with arms pinwheeling in the air but thankfully I never went down. At about 16 miles into the race I stopped getting passed and I just tried to hold on and chase after as many runners as I could on the way to the finish line. At the top of the last climb, about mile 25, I looked back and saw a runner charging hard. He had made great time up the hill, I know because I had looked back halfway up and didn't see him, now all of a sudden there he was. He was tall, wore all black except for a white cap which made him easy to spot. Seeing him close on me put extra energy on my legs. I already knew he was faster on the uphills so I ran hard hoping to keep him away on the rolling terrain of the ridge. Well I did manage to keep him from closing the gap but he was still there, white cap just visible on some of the turns. On the last downhill I poured it on confident that I was faster on the downhill, nope no dice there either. At the bottom I spotted him on the switchback just above me. The last flat 2 miles to the finish was just an all out haul, whatever was left. I really thought I was going to get caught. I didn't relax until I was 400 yards from the finish. I crossed the finish line at 4:48:35 for 5th place. The guy right behind came in only a couple of minutes after I did. I thanked him for my great finish time and we spent a few minutes talking about the race.

I was 11 minutes off my PR for the course but considering the conditions I was happy. I was also more than satisfied with the way I managed the last 6 miles. Not this weekend but the next I am running the Lake Sonoma 50-Mile and I am less apprehensive about my chances of having a good race there now. The track workouts, the return to spin, the gym workouts and all the base building miles has gotten me in great shape. The other thing that really worked out for me was my nutrition plan which allowed me to run as well as I did. I ran pretty much on gels and water and I brought enough knowing there wouldn't be any at the aid stations.

Really good race, took an hour to warm up afterwards but all worth it! Sorry but no pictures this time, it was too wet!


  1. Nice job with the race AND fueling; it's amazing how many people fail at the nutrition thing.
    I did, no, survived the Diablo Trails Challenge which was MUD MUD MUD and streams up to ankles and knees both in and across the trails. Hard to keep your footing on the downhills. I'll have a report up for that one I hope by the weekend. Kinda wish I had done that Pirates Cove race--trails wouldn't have been so bad...and I would have gotten to see you :))). What a contrast to the previous Sat where the weather was gorgeous for the Redwood Park event I did with CTR.
    Glad you are doing some cross training this year as you planned. Run well, Ann

  2. Nice. Have fun at Lake Sonoma and give Suzanna a hug for me.

    You are in fine shape and will do awesome.

  3. I heard of that day's condition, way to go!

  4. nice post, rick. reading that makes me feel more inclined to join those two short trail runs scheduled in april and may. :)

  5. Wow, congratulations! Awesome effort. I know and understand how it feels to maintain one's lead during a race. Your story reminds me again of my recent race.How much mileage per week leading to this race? Any particular brand for your gels? Please share your track workouts. Thanks.

    Good luck on Lake Sonoma! Cheers.

  6. I love that Pirate's Cove climb - I'm sure you could probably do it blindfolded by now! Great job to PR in such sloppy conditions.

  7. Trailturtle: funny thing about the weather, it was worse this week. Awful to the point of being great. Saturday we were at some trails closer to Mt. Tam that were completely flooded, running through ankle deep water.

    Evan: I will pass it on.

    Olga: I've been channeling my inner Pacific Northwest runner. Even though you no longer live in Oregon you probably would still be much more comfortable in this kind of weather than I am.

    CaloyB: Kumusta Caloy. You should do those races, a good change from your normal diet of road. It will be fun to mix it up. Plus you are no stranger to trails.

    Donald: Never fails to make me walk that climb. Always a good one.

  8. Jon: Hey man, you finally recovered from your first 160k race? Mileage per week around 70-75. The brand of gels that work best are the ones that you can stomach for a long time. I used to be a GU person but I switched to Powergels because they are not as thick. The thickness of GU makes me want to gag these days, the feeling gets worse the longer I go.
    Track workouts, hmmm those are given by our track coach. A lot of 800's, 12's, 16's 2400's for those training for a marathon and ultras.