Saturday, October 15, 2016

Overlook 30k - the race that almost wasn't

The course had been re-routed due to the expected storm, so once again my Overlook experience was a one-off. I don’t know if they’ll ever do this exact course again, but brief race report is below.

Start from Overlook Park, down the slippery mud to the canyon bottom. I wish I’d lined up closer to the start as I got caught behind more cautious people than me. Over flooded No Hands Bridge. Along the American River, coasting along the ups & downs of the fire road. The 50K’ers had started two hours before us, so I started seeing them come back. I tried to stay as zen as possible - I had no idea really where the course went, as it had been rerouted so close to race day. The authorities were nervous about the American River water crossing, so had changed the point-to-point to avoid a water crossing. I saw Ann Trason at the start, and she said she was happy she’d made the change - she wouldn’t have wanted to imperil the runners, and especially the volunteers given the bad weather. Luckily, the rain held off while I ran. The course was muddy and slick, I saw one muddy butt from someone who'd fell but nothing terrible like NFEC or MUC or Rodeo Valley or Bear 2014. For almost all of it, I really had no idea how much time we had left, as the aid stations had misleading signs or reports. One guy said 7 miles, another said 4 miles. Finally, right as we were close to 4 hours, there was the finish. I lay on the ground, happy I’d successfully raced for the first time in 6 months. I’d finished 2nd women at Overlook 50 mile two years ago & laid on the ground right there. Both races I’m equally proud of. 

This was my semi-comeback race. After the rain/mud fest of Lake Sonoma 50 mile in April, I decided that my fun hobby had become a slog & no longer was fun. Ultraunning was taking too much time & energy, time that I wanted to spend on my company & with friends. Energy I wanted to spend on my company. 50 miles isn’t 100 miles, but it’s still a serious training commitment. If someone said “Do you want to
  1. take a Friday afternoon & Saturday off work 
  2. to drive 6 hours round trip
  3. spend 13 hours in the cold rain and slippery mud
  4. miss your good friends birthday 
  5. miss a biz networking party
  6. pay hundreds for race fee, hotel & car for all of the above?"
 I would probably say no right then. So I decided to stop doing ultras. I didn’t write a race report from Lake Sonoma 50 mile as I was so burnt out, so this is the quick summary ;)

Stopping training for ultras was oddly liberating. I no longer had the pressure of “must put in miles”. I didn’t run much for April or May. Over the summer I started doing more runs, but runs I liked doing. I like going up to Marin & running to Pelican Inn. I like running after work to unwind. I like starting my day before work by running  SCA-Rodeo Valley loop. I liked being able to not run if a friend asked me to happy hour or I had a work function and not feel stressed or cramming in late night runs. Without the pressure of HAVING to run, it became something I wanted to do and made time for. I’d get up at dawn to run as the sun rose over the Golden Gate because I enjoyed it, not because I had the pressure of a BIG-RACE. Once again, running became my escape & joy.

So when I registered for Overlook 30K, I debated between the 50K or 30K. The 50K seemed more “bang for the buck” - it was only ~$20 more. But did I WANT to run 12 more miles? No. Not really. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I finished Western States 100. I finished Bear 100. If I did the 30K, I could drive with Misha & not make her go up early or wait around all day.

I made the right decision. I woke up at 6 AM to my phone buzzing with Misha asking what time I was arriving at MacArthur BART to drive up together to Auburn for Overlook 30K race start at 10 AM. We had a flurry of texts about whether or not we should make the two hour drive given the expected 40 mph rain storm. I'm glad I talked her into it. We even had time to get that post-race cheeseburger at Auburn Ale House I always wanted to get, but was always too tired after longer races like Canyons 50K, WesternStates Training Camp or Overlook 50 mile to get. 

Things I did well:
  1. Packed bag before with dry clothes, rain jacket, hat, backup iPod, battery pack, nutrition, hydration pack, snack for ride up & back. I ended up not needing the rain jacket, hat, battery pack or backup iPod, but it made me reassured that I had them.
  2. Left plenty of time to get to the start - we stopped for gas & Starbucks and still arrived at 9:20 AM. It was nice to not be stressed, as well as to catch up with Ann & Tony. 
  3. Downloaded the race course from RunGo so I was never concerned about course. That said, the course was exceptionally well marked & I never used RunGo, but good to have a backup.
  4. Said thank you to volunteers, especially great to see Bruce Labelle!
  5. Stayed zen on course despite never not knowing where exactly I was. 
  6. Tried to not go out too fast, but push in middle.
  7. Tried to be respectful of other runners & yield trail when overtaken by faster 50Kers. 
Things to improve on:
  1. Didn’t BodyGlide (didn’t chafe anywhere, but should get back in habit)
  2. Only had leftover salt tablets as didn’t check when packing
  3. Didn't have a disposable cup - I thought they would give them out, but I didn't get one.