Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Angel returns what the Devil took from me

My last race on Mt. Diablo was not on my original plan, but I still had hoped for a better race than I had. However, the struggle was, as usual, its own reward. The steepness, the heat and blood left on the course left me feeling that I had made my sacrafice to the devil. With my wife still in Costa Rica and my son down at basketball camp in LA, a hole opened in my schedule. So, when I noticed that the PCTR Angel Island Run was the same weekend, I knew my redemption was at hand.

Even on paper, the run on Angel Island is the opposite of the one on Devil's Mountain. It has less than half the overall elevation change. While they both make two trips to a summit, Mt. Diablo is a straight climb and followed by a direct plunge down repeated twice. Angel Island takes 6 halo-like loops around the island of gradual climbing and dipping to complete the two trips up. Diablo was devilishly hot, angel island was cool and breezy, a runners heaven even though the views were obscured behind clouds. Diablo was a slow trudge, Angel Island was a fast run with plenty of opportunity to push both up and down.

All and all, I enjoyed Angel Island. I'm not a fan of loops ad so this was also a mental test to see if I could keep my spirits up after each return trip back to the start. In truth the loops here aren't bad since there are three different routes around the island which only share common trail at the start (stairs) and the final descent. The perimeter loop (1st and 4th) is mostly paved and has the no big climbs, but some up and down. The middle loop (2nd and 5th) is mostly trail and has the a couple bigger climbs with some up and down variation, but the least overall elevation change. The summit loop (3rd and final) has the most overall elevation change, but is almost all straight up followed by nearly all down.

The 4th loop was definitely the toughest from me. I have been doing too much road running as it is lately and my feet, left hip and even my left knee had problems at times. I wasn't looking forward to repeating all that asphalt, but once I finished it, I knew the rest of the race would go better. Since it was cool the whole time, I was going with just one water bottle through the 4th loop and wasn't taking electrolytes. The 5th lap was also still a bit tough as I felt the pain from the 4th and my hip and feet were especially giving me trouble. I also realized that I needed to catch up a little on hydration so I ran it with a second water bottle and took an S!Cap before heading out. I felt like I was playing catch up a bit on this lap even though I only saw one other runner (someone who had passed me earlier and then gotten lost). I couple Advil for the pain (and my mental state) helped prep me for the final lap. I also knew that the all up/all down summit run would suit me. After the stairs, I went into heads down climbing mode trying to keep a hard, but maintainable pace. Once I hit the peak, I told myself the Advil would keep my feet from hurting and pushed a fast pace all the way down.

I touched summit at exactly 4 hours 50 minutes. I decided to shoot for getting down in a very aggressive 20 minutes. It probably wasn't doable especially with all the hikers around, but I ran hard the whole way (while still being polite to all other trail users). As I hit the final downhill to the finish, I knew 5:10 was out, but I also knew a new 50K PR was eminent. I pushed it to the finish and came in at 5:11:47. This was faster than my flat 50K with which I started the year. A very satisfying result and one that let me know that a sub-5 hour 50K is a possibility should I ever wish to go for it. Right now, I need to figure out my hip mainly and make sure I am in better fitness for TRT50 moving into HH100. It's getting closer than I think.


Sarah (PCTR) said...

Great job on AI, Steve! Thanks so much for coming out - and for hanging out with us for the rest of the day! We sure appreciated your help, and all three of us really enjoyed spending time with you.

See you up at TRT...and anxiously awaiting seeing your first hundred finish next month!


Eudemus said...

It was totally my pleasure, Sarah. I really enjoyed hanging around and am always glad to help. I've always wanted to help out as a volunteer, but my other commitments don't normally allow for that (without feeling guilty for even more time away from family).

I am definitely getting syched for HH100, though I can't say that I actually feel ready for it :-)

miki said...

Congrats again on your PR Steve. You 50k'ers amaze me. :)