Friday, December 03, 2010

Muddy Wonderful

Picture 1
I may buy this photograph. Don't I look fast in this picture? Look at that concentration. After seeing many race photos of myself I've learned to look better for the camera; suck in gut, check form, make it look effortless and wipe stupid smile off face. If I buy this photograph it will be the first time. I'll think about it.

So after all that heehawing about minimal training, feeling tired, just hoping for a decent time and finishing gracefully at the Quad Dipsea, I had myself a great race under wet and muddy conditions. So many things went right Saturday. Oh it was all of that leading into the race, I wasn't sandbagging. I did train a lot less but I must say those short races weeks prior to the event did put some oomph back into my running. I didn't expect a PR effort but was pleasantly surprised with the time I did run and how great I felt. I mean I really felt good, even on the last crossing when I was on my last legs.

If I could only run one trail it would be the Dipsea and if I could only participate in one ultra it would be the Quad Dipsea. As ultras go it's short at 28.4 miles but what it lacks in distance it makes up for with it's hills (9200 ft of climb / 9200 ft. of descent) and in the those last miles, uphill or downhill it's all hard and painful. Great variety of terrain on the trail too; steps, wooden bridges, firetrail, single track, exposed sections with great views, covered sections under trees, rocky trails and soft leaf covered paths.

I felt kind of blah at the start and as it turns out I was just dehydrated. I'm a coffee drinker and caffeine is a diuretic. I urinated three times before the start and not wanting to urinate another three times I didn't replenish my fluids right away. When I did start drinking again, draining my 20 ounce bottle within the fist three miles, I felt right as rain. Speaking of which it had rained the night before and the morning off the race so the trails were muddy and slippery. Thankfully it stopped raining just before the start and it only rained intermittently during the race but those trails were a challenge especially the downhills. So much fun though. I took it to my limit on those muddy descents, like a rally car sliding around corners. Like a forest animal bounding here and there, hurdling rocks and roots - my mother would say a wild pig but that's because of the way I raid her fridge, not a commentary on how I actually run. Man, it felt good to dig deep and have a body that responded. I didn't expect much but I got a lot.

My splits were 77, 75, 76 minutes for the first three crossings and I blew it on the last with an 81. At the end of the triple crossing my legs started to feel like jelly and the uphills on the last crossing were way tough. In the end the lack of longer long runs and low weekly mileage did catch up to me but not till late in the game. On that last crossing I knew I was losing time on the uphills so I pushed even harder on the downhills where I could still run at a decent pace. My hill climbing has vastly improved this year but I'm still a downhiller. Downhills is where my heart is at; hop, hop, skip, cut left, cut right, jump, bounce right, bounce left, gas on the apex, keep running like a thief with nowhere to hide.

I knew beating my PR of 4:59 was out of the question halfway through the race when I clocked a 2:31 but I wondered if I could beat 5:10, my second fastest time set last year. On the last set of stairs leading back to Old Mill Park and the start/finish I did something I had never done before - I skipped steps. With one hand on the hand rails I ran/jumped skipping every other step. It was loud and ungraceful, barely any rhythm, just a mad dash down some steps. Sounded like a horse cloppity-clopping down the wooden steps. Ok that's not fair to the horse. Once I hit the edge of a step and thought I was going to go down, thank God for the hand rails. After the last set of steps I sprinted the last 30 yards or so with everything I had left. I clocked a 5:09:17 for 18th overall. I remember keeping it cool on the outside that last 10 feet, sucking in the gut and trying to look as smooth as possible. On the inside however I was grinning like an idiot and it was only moments later when that inside grin made it to the outside.

So that's how my final race of the season turned out. A good ending to a so-so year. I could've done a lot worse. Despite the condition of the trail and the weather, Caren Spore broke the Womens record by a minute and Leor Pantilat came close to breaking the Mens - he missed it by 2 minutes with a 3:54. Under dry conditions he would have broken it. Nevertheless he is now one of only three runners to break 4 hours. Gary Gellin would take 2nd with a 4:02, in better conditions he too would have gone under 4 hours. The Boggs Mountain 50k race directors go 1 and 2 at Quad Dipsea! Shout out to all the Tamalpa runners, the club did great with a lot of runners participating. Special shout out goes to fellow Tamalpa club mate Erika Lindland who pulled off a Thanksgiving miracle with her finish. She had a hip injury after finishing the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-mile in the beginning of October. She limped along for most of October and part of November. She's a physical therapis and at one point she feared it might have been a stress fracture. It finally started to get better after she quit running, the final weeks leading up to the Quad she was able to train very little. She started knowing she could always drop but she finished the darn thing in 6:19. Kind of amazing I think.

My season is done but I can't put my feet up just yet. This weekend is the Northface Trail races. Tomorrow I'm helping with the marking of the course for the 50k and 50-mile event. Quite a competitive field for the 50-mile, probably the best so far. It's gonna be a battle Saturday. I'm pacing my friend Larissa at the 50-mile race. After Saturday then I am totally done with this damn running thing for the year:) Looking forward to short runs (4 miles and less), guilt free couch time and a lot of gym work to repair and re-strengthen the old bod. Oh alright and a lot of stretching too.

If you can laugh about it in the end, it can't be that bad. I'm sure Jochen Horn wasn't laughing when he spilled however. Mud and a little blood looks good on him. I still laugh when I see this picture but only because I know he's okay.

Always down to rub elbows with speed, that and they are truly nice guys and good friends. Under the blue tarp with Leor Pantilat and Gary Gellin, 1st and 2nd place.

As you can see, it was nothing a little food and dry clothes couldn't fix. Jochen with Melissa Ownby and Nick Kaiser who was visiting from Hawaii.

Tamalpan Hans Schmid is 70 years old and he clocked a 6:23! Managed to catch Gary Gellin in the background too.

Amy with the girls after her finish.

With the best looking of the race directors, Lisa Henson:) She is also the general manager of UltraRunning Magazine.

Free beers and a fire.

Jen finishing.

Erika Lindland with some members of her run crew. I snuck into the picture.

Another pic with Erika.

A hardworking Dave Combs. It's party time for the runners and friends but not for Dave. Thank you Dave for all the work that you do at these races.


  1. You look AND ARE fast! I mean, I certainly didn't remember your PR on that course, but when I checked the results and saw your placing, I was rather thrilled for you. Watch you grow! May be I should check out Dipsea one year...although with the lotteries CA seems to be forebidden place for most, sadly. Lucky bustard, living in such awesome place with so much to choose from:) You did awesome, season's over, hit a pillow, and back at it again!

  2. Pictures don't make you look fast - you are fast!!
    Right as rain? Love it. ;)

  3. Nice pic Rick - I think u should def pull the trigger and buy it.

    Oh, and nice race too. Amazing time on such limited mileage. Way to close out an impressive 2010!

  4. looks like a great time....even if you were a bit undertrained...although I may debate that.

  5. Anonymous2:38 PM

    That is a great photo, Rick! Here's how I see it - you'll forget about whatever it cost in a few weeks, but you'll have the photo forever!

    And congrats on the race. Pulling a solid performance despite a so-so training season always feels good.. (:

  6. i agree! that is the best picture in action you have so far! buy it! it's priceless. congrats on your awesome finish. how i wished i could be younger! i'll be waiting for your story on the TNF Championship. $10K as prize money for the winner and you have the best ultrarunners in the world in your backyard! post some pictures of these super elite athletes! congrats on your participation to the 2011 WS 100!

  7. Nice report. Very engaging and of course, congratulations! I'd prefer that weather anytime than what we had during GNW100.

    Hesitate no more. Buy that picture. You look fast and mean! Cheers.

  8. Man that photo is awesome!

    Good tips for a top photo!

  9. buy the picture - you are a total stud!

  10. totally agree with what you say in paragraph 2- the QD is my fave and the Dipsea trail, too- it has everything. Good to see you there, speedster