Monday, March 19, 2012

Canyon Meadow 30K

I love 30Ks.  They are long enough I feel like a get a good workout, but not long enough I hit a real slough of despair or take the whole day.  3:58 for 30K in Oakland, wash the mud off me, and back to San Francisco in time for brunch at Luna Park.  

I ran Redwood Park 50K last February, and I remembered the parking situation being tight.  I left extra time to arrive by 7:30.  Still, after checking in, pinning my number on, and walking to the bathroom, it was already 7:54.  As I walked back to the start, I could hear Wendell (Race Director) counting down the seconds.  I dropped my jacket and started DFL at the back of the pack, about 30 seconds late.

Ugh.  Steep, slippery, muddy climb for the first 2 miles.  Rain had dumped on the Bay Area all week (~4-5 inches) and the mud was slippery, and at times I could feel my heel being sucked into a puddle.  Even when it leveled out, it was too slippery to really get a rhythm going.  I decided I would be lucky if I only fell once.  

After 3 miles I passed Carol & Melissa, walking together.  I slip-slid them with a "hi" and no other talk.  Then finally, the smooth buffed trail I remembered from last year.  I passed Coach Ken & Karen right before the first aid station.  I was surprised to see them as I'd assumed they'd be running Rodeo Valley on Sunday, an Inside Trail Event.

This weekend was not only "the perfect storm" of rain accumulation, but also of racing.  Inside Trail had Rodeo Valley 50K on Sunday, running my favorite Marin trails.  I'd intended to run RV, but then my favorite musician, Gabriel & Dresden, announced a St Patricks night show at Ruby Skye.  No Sunday race for me after a big night out!  Also, PCTR had their (twice rescheduled) Pacifica race on Saturday.  Three trail races in one weekend!  I'd thought Coastal would sell out (they usually do), but I suppose the combination of weather and other events made it well-attended, but not a sell-out.

From the first aid station (1:07) there was a pop up to Lake Chabot then a gradual, rolling descent back to Redwood Park.  I steadily picked off runners, but I never felt awesome.  I'd had two teeth pulled on Tuesday, and my dentist warned me that if I ate acidic food, my stitches would dissolve early.  I pictured my expensive (in pain and money) bone grafts crumbling in my mouth, and couldn't eat my acidic Scoobies like I usually did.  

A surprise aid station at mile 11.  The course last year had been altered "because of the mud".  Honestly, this course seemed much muddier than last year.  Larry at the aid station said I had 2.3 (!) miles to go.  Shoot, I thought I had a mile at most!  

Got to 30K right at 2:47.  All the half marathoners were back-slapping and celebrating, while I switched from my long sleeve (too hot) to a short sleeve and trudged back out.  The five miles went quickly, though besides one guy I flip flopped with, I saw no one else on trail.  A 50Ker, he passed me on the uphill walk.  As I looked at him in the distance, I slid and landed on my hip, covering my leg in mud.  Maybe everyone had called it quits at the 1/2 for a good reason?  Right as I was pounding down the last mile, one guy passed me, then another.  It was the fast marathoners.

Things I did right
Packed my bag the night before with everything I needed (change of clothes, salt tablets, snacks, water bottle, Gatorade)
Left enough time to get to the race, even with traffic on the Bay Bridge
Relentless Forward motion even when I wasn't feeling it
working iPod kept me going
Tried to thank all aid station volunteers
Said "Great race" to Wendell
Picked up the pace at the end to squeak in under four hours

Not so great
Wished I'd actually talked to Ken, Karen, Melissa and Carol
Filled cup from water pitcher to clean thick mud layer off my leg.  Grabbed pitcher with muddy hand, muddying handle for others.  Later discovered water faucet which I should have used in the first place.
Got low cal due to teeth pain making it hard to take in enough cals.  Usually I eat pretzels but mouth not up for it today.
Finished 5th in my age group at Golden Gate in February.  I wanted to improve into the top 3.  Finished 5th in my age group again!  At least I'm consistent.  Actually, given my half marathon time (2:46) I'd be solidly mid-pack for that distance.  Not many people did the 30K option.  

All in all, I'm not that thrilled by the course.  Wendell & the Coastal folks put on a top notch race, but I think the course is kinda "bleh". I actually enjoyed Lake Chabot more.  Of course, this could be due to the thick mud and clouds which kept me from ever enjoying a view.  At least it never rained.  

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