Sunday, July 28, 2013

White River 50 Mile - FINISH!

White River 50 Mile -12:57

One of my favorite races of all time. I trained hard, I ran a smart race, and I enjoyed the beautiful terrain, helpful volunteers, and the joy of being outside.

Getting to the start:
Usual drama - cut it too tight for flight, then got flagged for secondary screening. Made a dash for my flight, with no time to buy food / water. On the plane I realized I hadn't brought a jacket - unclear whether I left at home or lost in dash for flight. Ate Jimmy John's, bought new jacket from REI, and hydration supplies from Freddie Meyers (Kern's for pre-race, Coca-cola for race-morning, Gatorade for race, Mike's for post-race).

Made it to Alpine Inn at 5:50, just in time to pick up my packet & pasta supper. Pasta supper was hard to eat - dunno if I was too nervous or just not appetizing. I was nervous about fueling enough. Sat next to lady from my hometown (Stefanie from Arlington, VA) and nice local couple (Lars & Erin).

Stayed at the Alpine Inn for $50 (including tax)/ night, a total bargain. The walls were paper-thin - I woke up at 4:50 AM to the people above me getting ready for the race. I got ready too, but it was 5:20 when I got to my car - and realized I'd forgotten my parking pass. Quick ride down to the start, but ended up on the wrong side of the airstrip - start parking not really labeled at all.

Quickly pulled on my pack, my headphones, my snacks -- all systems go, but no time for the bathroom. Then the race director announced that he would wait for everyone in line…so I got in line!

So excited to start - quick jaunt around Air-strip, a brief detour down a side trail, then oh-so-quickly at Camp Shephard. Still plenty of water in my pack, so no stop. Looking now at my split, perhaps way too quick. 

The climb started in earnest. I had a conga-line behind me, so rather than feel the pressure to go faster, I'd step off the trail. Rob, the aid station from Cascade Crest, caught up to me - I was delighted to see him. After a few minutes of chit-chat, he ascended quickly into the distance. Run my own race, I told myself. Ranger Creek was a campfire in the wilderness with water. 
More climbing to pop out at a scary cliff-edge, then ascend and descend along a ridge line. The front-runners were coming back, and I cheered "San FRANCISCO" when I saw a guy wearing a San Francisco Running Company outfit. I'd checked him in at an ITR run - he looked in fine fiddle. Then the fun / stress of trying to keep a decent pace while darting off the trail for the pack coming back in my direction. I overtook a few people on the climb, but mainly tried to stay out of the way of the charging pack coming my way - probably detoured for ~60 people. INCREDIBLE VIEWS - truly breathtaking. My phone was out of battery, but I really regret not getting some snaps here. 
At Corral Pass I reloaded my pack with hydration, then set out. 
WOWSERS. Some beautiful views. A quick pit stop in the woods, then I started passing more and more runners. I was worried I'd lost the way, but I was just in dense forest.

to AID STATION #5: BUCK CREEK (MILE 27.2)A descent through the trees, listening to Gabriel & Dresden '2006 from WMC, where I felt like I could truly run forever. I wiped out and face planted twice, but I just go up and kept running. The soil was soft and cushiony and all I had to do was brush myself off and keep going in time to the beats.I was in a trance as I passed people. I cranked the tunes and let myself run so fast through the endless pine needles, trying to avoid the roots and sticks and rocks and enjoy the surge of gravity and wilderness carrying me forward.
At the Aid Station I re-filled my pack and quickly left, in a band of other runners. 

I'd left the aid station with a lady who bystanders called "Karen", Lars & Erin from the night before, and a couple I'd passed on the descent. We overlapped and then fell into pace on the climb uphill. I look on climbs as a chance to recover, so I let them go off ahead as I pondered 
-wtf was I doing in the woods
-I'm hot
- why am I doing this
- no really, why am I doing this.
Long grind uphill. I pass a hurting Texan from near Galveston, on his first 50 mile race. He was doing a Coach Ken like shuffle where he would try to run uphill, when I was walking faster than he was running.
I LOVE the Fawn Ridge aid station - super volunteers, sponges, ice.

to AID STATION #7: SUN TOP (MILE 37.0) More up. A delightful down, then up to the top. I was excited about using the bathroom, but no lock and disastrous, lost 6 minutes here.
put in the headphones, cranked to G & D Sirius. Legs felt strong, no pain, just clicking out the ~9 minute miles, passing people where I could.
to the Finish.
At the aid station, a runner said to her boyfriend "I made the cut-off, I'm walking to the finish". This has been me at other races, but today? HELL NO. Even if I was moving at 16 minute / miles, I could pass people walking at 20 minute miles. A slow-speed chase through the darkening woods. I had hopes of finishing at 12:30, but I felt increasingly sleepy and tired. Had I gotten enough rest? Or was I just tired from running 12+ hours?? Finally, I popped out on the gravel road at the finish. I strided into finish at 12:57

The finish: I hung out and cheered on the runners after me. It was great to see Erin (from the pasta supper) the married couple (the guy was doing the Grand Slam and had run Vermont the prior weekend), the Texas guy finishing, and then Barry, a guy I'd run with at the very beginning. I decided to wait for the last finisher, as the last finisher usually gets no food & no glory. Cutoff was at 8 pm…the last finisher finished at… ~9"30. But it was great to see him come in - way to gut it out!
What I did well:
Scouted out race location before-hand. On a work trip to Seattle, I'd driven out to Buck's Creek and tried to run a loop. I realized - the trails were hard to find. There's NO services in the area. And it's BEAUTIFUL. So I stocked up on everything I needed in Seattle. And looked for ribbon.
Tried to run a smart 1st half. If there was someone faster behind me, instead of speeding up, I'd step off the trail and let them pass.
Kept pack filled - never ran out of water
Applied copious Body Glide
Tried to say thanks to volunteers, hikers, bikers, and a hearty "Great Job" to other runners.
Cheesecake on Friday night to celebrate birthday.
Even when felt low (mile 29, miles 46-48), kept moving forward. 
Fell, brushed self off, kept running.
Hard training - many weekends of Willow Fire Road to strengthen quads paid off. Even the day after, quads still okay, feel better than some 50Ks
Things to improve on:
I wish I had more energy for the last 6.6 miles of rolling trail. Very runnable, but I was just "blah". 
Overall pace management - I was afraid of missing cut-offs so was assertive. Now, looking at splits, I wish I'd cooled it for the Corral Pass section and blasted it on Skookum Flats.
Getting off the trail for the front runners - it was a scary single track. Not a ton of room to get off.
I should have left 25 minutes sooner for the race (5 AM vs 5:25 AM) to avoid stress.
More sleep on Thursday - IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY! and I was out til 1 AM. OK,  no regrets on that one. 

My sister says she'll crew me in a 100…DARE I???

Monday, July 15, 2013

Inside Trail Reservoir Dogs 35K

Resevoir Dogs 35K
smart fast race

I was excited about a brand new race in a brand new location. San Pablo Resevoir usually requires a permit, and the race avoided the permit and had the trail nicely marked in pink ribbon. My plan was to run a smart race, unlike Big Basin 50K where I went off frantically, trying to stay ahead of Karen, and ended up crashing and burning. . Start off slow, run my own race, kick it into high gear at the end. 

Start to Briones AS (3.0): Race start at reservoir, so plentiful, ample, bathrooms (score). Said hi to Sabine, pinned on bib, then started up a hill. Most people quickly were in front of me. I was tempted to chase them but refrained. We passed a "One Mile" sign and I realized I was at a glacial 13:06. This section was nicely shaded as we wound around to the San Pablo Dam. A short steep climb up to the Dam and the Aid station, manned by Tawnya in a cute white miniskirt. 

Me to Tawnya: You look great! 
Tawnya to me: (very long pause). You look  --- like you've been running.

Ok, I was sweaty. 

Briones to Bear Creek AS (3.7): More climbing, on a pleasant single track under nicely shaded trees, as we climbed high above the reservoir up to the power lines. The course was very well marked, no way to miss the route. The half marathoners who'd started 30 minutes after started to pass me. Then, a long unshaded stretch on a road into the aid station.

Bear Creek to Hampton AS (5.8): A fire road, as we seemed to gain the same 150 feet and lose the same 150 feet, circumnavigating the reservoir. Very little shade. Walk the ups, run the downs. Finally, about a .5 descent down to the aid station, which I tried to run as quickly as possible to make up time. 

At the aid station, I felt great. I refilled my pack, chatted with Alvin (working the aid station), and Laura who was lingering. I left before her. 

Hamptons to Briones (5) : Now I was in the hunt. On the walk out of the aid station I passed two runners. Then, on a high ridge access road, and I could see runners ahead of me. I cranked my tunes, and started moving quicker. Down all the way to the dam road, I tried to close the gap.

At the aid station, and three runners chatting. No time to take off my pack if I wanted to break 4:30. I slammed coke, and took off. Behind me I heard the runners say "she looks strong! Where'd she come from?" Music to my ears. 

Briones to Finish (3): Three miles back, and I tried to move if not at a sprint, at a deliberate pace. When I opened a gate, I looked back and a runner I'd passed at the aid station was there to take it from my hand. I did NOT want to get passed back. On a downhill I shot ahead. 36 minutes later, I ran through the finish line.

At the end, I hung out and chatted with Laura, Sam, Alvin. Unfortunately, even though I'd pre-ordered a shirt, they were out of my size. Hope I get one eventually. 

What I did well:
Stayed hydrated
Ate steadily
said thank you to volunteers, other hikers

To improve on:
Didn't double-check pack, and my salt tabs had fallen out. Luckily, the aid stations had S-caps.

skirt is a pain for long distances -- too much tugging and chafing. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Point Reyes to Mount Tam

Running from Presidio to Mt Tam

Day 1: 
I wanted to catch the 2:17 pm bus to connect with the 3:30 West Marin Stagecoach from San Rafael to Point Reyes Station. Got out of work too late to catch the 2:30 bus, jumped in an UberX in the hope that I'd catch the 101 on the way and transfer. The 101 bus was swifter, and I ended up UberXing all the way to San Rafael Transit Center ($60). The West Marin Stagecoach ($2) was a bone-rattling, 1:12 ride to Point Reyes station, just in time to visit Bovine Bakery before it closed at 5 pm. I bought a quiche and cookie, as the croissant I wanted was sold out.

A nice supper at Osteria Stellina's bar. The bartender asked "did you drive today?" and when I said no, poured me a nice glass of dessert wine. 

After supper I walked out to Sir Francis Drake Road, then walked up Drakes Summit Road to Limantour, then ran the Laguna Trail to the Point Reyes Hostel. Google Maps was adamant about Drakes Summit not connecting, and I feared an impassable fence. No, it was an easy uphill climb on the road, then an easy descent on a fir covered trail through the dusk to the hostel, 4.5 miles.

I felt so good, and the sun was up, so I did another 5 mile loop on Muddy Hollow Road down to the beach, then back up Limantour. At an easy trot in the purple dusk, I felt like I could move forever. 

Day 2: I set off from the Point Reyes Hostel at 7:45 AM, with the goal of running through Point Reyes, and the Coast Trail hopefully all the way to Sausalito. The day was hot, with a projected high of 90, and I was concerned about water supply. And I could feel in my legs the 10 miles I'd done Wedneday, as well as my 5 miles on Tuesday.

An easy jaunt to stretch out down Coastal Trail to Coast Camp, where I re-filled with water. Then, luckily, a thick fog bank as I rolled around and started climbing to Glen Camp. Glen Camp was a 1.4 mile backtrack, but I needed water. In hindsight, I should have taken Bear Valley Trail to Glen Camp and shaved ~3 miles.

Then, the heat & overgrowth began. I love Point Reyes, but I was happy I'd worn knee high socks as I waded through over-growth. Up and over FirTop, then down Bolema Trail to Olema Valley. It was getting quite warm, probably in the mid 80s. And my pace was slower than I hoped, as I had to consult my map at frequent intersections.

Finally I was back on home turf, Randall Trail, after ~5 hours of running.

Randall Trail was cool in the redwoods, and I started to get a second wind. Just make it to Pan Toll…

Bolinas Ridge was prettier than I remember -- I hadn't been on this stretch since Miwok 2011. However, stretches were exposed, and I had been nursing the same 1.5 Liters for the past 4 hours. I was hot. And thirsty. I kept fantasizing about a Margarita at Stinson Beach. Now, sitting in the air-conditioned cool, I realize I was fantasizing about the salt, as I have NO current desire for a margarita. 

As I came to Bolinas-Ridgecrest Ridge, I saw 4 picnickers, drinking water and wine. I swallowed my pride and asked if I could have some water. Not only did they give me some water, they filled my pack, saying they had another bottle in the car (as well as wine). PHEW. I had another 6.4 miles to Mt Tam, and even with slow, cautious sips, I was out again. 

Coastal Trail get's in better condition the closer you get to Pan Toll…which means at Ridgecrest Blvd it's in bad shape. I tried to keep a cadence as heat waves rose out of the golden grass, without twisting my ankle. I was so hot. When I crossed a small stream, I splashed water on my face. The next stream I splashed more. Finally, out of drinking water, I face-planted myself into the stream and soaked my front.

But still I kept moving, and I was at Pan Toll, 9:13 after leaving the Hostel (continuos time). Just enough time to drink 3 liters of water while waiting for the bus back to Marin City. 

What I would have done differently:
Brought an extra water bottle. If I hadn't gotten water from the good graces of the picnickers, I would have bailed down to Stinson Beach…it was too hot (90s) to go that far without hydrating.

Taken a different route through Point Reyes…next time I'll take a more direct route.

What I did well:
Relentless forward motion.

Calling it a day at Mt Tam. I thought about pressing on to Mill Valley, but this was a training run, not a death march.