Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I won't be writing a very long race report about the Dick Collins Firetrails 50M as, mentally, I am already on to "The Next Big Thing" with Javelina looming ominously in the very near future. Overall, the race went well. Really well in fact as I ended up taking nearly an hour off my time from last year coming in at exactly 9:33. I probably could have pushed the final few miles and broken 9:30, but then I am pretty sure I would have hurt myself in the effort. As it is I am sitting here, stretching, massaging, icing and generally trying to make my right heel feel better. It seems that plantar fascitiis is a reoccurring theme for the end the year as my foot pains last year nearly ruined the second half of this same race. At any rate, I know all the treatments that work for me and will be doing my thing to get it under control and allow me to finish Javelina.

I arrived pretty early on race morning and found Harry Walther immediately. Hanging out at the start I also saw many other familiar faces including Rick Gaston, Brian Wyatt, Norbert Leinfellner and others. I started the race at what felt like a pretty conservative pace running along with Rick. Rick is a notorious slow starter so I figured I was doing OK. Of course, I also knew he was going for a good time at this race so I should have taken heed when he told me he was actually going out faster than usual. We also hooked up with Chris Marolf whom I know from the Runner's World forums. Chris is an avid photographer and proceeded to snap numerous shots as we trudged up the initial hills (they are steeper than they look in the picture). The third guy in the picture below was named Tony Huff and was doing his first 50.

As usual, I spent my time speeding forward in the downhills and being caught on the ups. I got to see "gimpy" Will Gotthardt manning the Big Bear aid station with his nice ankle brace on and then had fun on the wonderfully twisty Golden Spike trail. I believe it was on the flat section of the Spring Trail where Rick decided it was time to push ahead. I'm not a fan of the flats, but it was very beautiful in the deep redwoods before the climb up to Skyline Gate. At Skyline there were more familiar faces, but I was trying to work on my aid station efficiency. This is a great race for that as there are so many aid stations. I was able to go the whole way with just a single water bottle. A testament to the race organization and the awesome volunteers.

After leaving Redwood the course gets interesting as you head towards Sibley. This was also where we would start to see the people doing the Marathon course which takes a single path along nearly the same course. I knew of a few people doing the marathon especially perennial race directors of the PCTR Sarah and Wendell. Wendell was moving fast near the front of the field while Sarah seemed to be just enjoying herself as she said hi to almost every single person in the 50 miler. I imagine the number of people running who have done at least one PCTR event is in the 90% range. I also was once again surprised to see Meredith Terranova whom I ran with at Miwok and have seen going the opposite direction as me at TRT, Headlands and now Dick Collins. She seemed to be moving pretty well and having a blast. She lives in Texas, but I think she does more races out here in the Bay Area.

As I was at the Steam Train station the leaders of the 50 came through going the other direction. The two leaders were definitely moving. I was starting to hit my bad spell. For some reason 4 hours always seems to be a mark for me. I'll have to spend some time thinking about it, but maybe it is a trend. The climb out of Steam Trains is my least favorite part of the course as it is on road. However, it eventually brings you up and over to the Seaview Trail which has some of the best views ...oh... ON THE PLANET! OK, I exaggerate, but any place where you can see both Mount Diablo and San Francisco from the same spot is high in my book. This then led to the big downhill into the turnaround which would normally be a great place to pick up some time before trudging back up. However, the mud here was pretty thick and stick and I swear it felt like wearing ankle weights. At any rate, I made it into and out of the turnaround somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:45; about 15 minutes faster than I arrived last year. I also decided not to change socks or even dip into any of my gear other than sunscreen. The mission was about to begin.

I met a woman named Stephanie on the way up and we hung together for a while. I sort of just trailed her hoping to kick my low energy at least by the time we reached the top. I knew the return trip was more my style as it has a lot more downhill. Once you finish the big climb there is really only one more major ascent the rest is mostly down with some reasonable sized hills and one stretch of flat. About halfway to the top, my body said it was ready to move. I don't know if it was the view again or something internal, but when I am in the second half of a race (at least one less than 100), if my body decides it can go, I go. I started my shuffle and left Stephanie behind. I passed a few more folks going up the hill. I know, rare, but occasionally I pass on the ups. Once we returned to the road, I was ready to move, but the blasted pavement brought my right foot into my mind. Upon arriving back at the Steam Trains aid station I succumbed to the need for ibuprofen. It was earlier in the race than I wanted to be taking it, but I didn't want my foot to stop my running.

I met up with a guy named Jerome who was another downhiller like myself. We stayed mostly together for a while until after the big downhill into Redwood. Once we hit the flats he went on. I was really not liking the flat stuff, but was determined to keep moving at a running pace. I an most of that with a guy is a teacher down in Santa Barbara. We both were looking forward to getting through this section and onto some uphill so we could walk. It seemed like forever, but eventually the Golden Spike arrived and I was happy to walk it up. I was trying to recover here a bit as I knew the last big hill was ahead after coming down off this trail. Once I made the top I bombed it down only to find that someone behind was desperately trying to catch me. It was Fred Ecks. He came in and ran along with me into the aid station, but showed that he was really ready to go after that so I didn't try to stay with him.

The section from there until the end, I am very familiar with. I knew the big hill and where I needed to walk and where I could push a shuffle. I did what my body would let me and waited the downhill. I also remembered how painful the downhill was last year as I hadn't remembered to take any vitamin-I until after Bort Meadows. On this day, I was taking probably more than I should. I hit the meadows and kept going. I could see that a 9:30 was still in sites. I could also feel that my body was pretty tired, my legs a bit tight and my right foot not good. I decided I would just keep it on cruise control until the final aid station 3 miles from the finish. I knew the trail here and they are beautiful and very runnable. It was here that I was now passing some of the last people in the marathon. It sort of helped distract me as I could offer encouragement and course advice. There were some last hills coming up that, while not long, can definitely get you if you aren't mentally prepared.

I came to the last AS right around 9 hours. Running 10 min/mi would be no problem under normal situations (and in fact, I ran much faster than that last year from this point). However, I had been pushing longer and harder than I had planned. All I really had as a goal was a sub-10 and that was assured so long as I didn't crawl to the finish. I let up, but not so much that I wouldn't break 9:35. I always like to have some goal at the end to keep me moving forward. The final miles were uneventful other than the one woman jogger who seemed to be trying to race me up the hill on the paved path. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already run nearly 49 miles. I came to the finish and could see that it was going to be right around 9:33 so I just cruised it in. The finish line at Firetrails is always great. People tend to hand out for a while as the food is incredible and the venue pleasant.

I stuck around and talked to others about their race and watched still others finish theirs. Harry Walther was there and had a great race coming in under 8:30. Fred died a bit after burning past me and also failed to break 9:30 by just over a minute. Brian Wyatt finished just up from him, obviously injured as he is generally much further up in the pack. 15 year-old phenom Michael Kanning proved that he is a kid to keep a serious eye on finishing in 8:16 just ahead of 3rd woman Michele Barton. Mark Tanaka came back from 7th when I saw him struggling up from the turnaround to finish in 3rd overall after a battle to hold his place against a rookie 50 miler. Another rookie at the distance, but no rookie runner, Victor Ballesteros won the race in a close battle, setting a new rookie record in the process. The woman's race was also a close one as Caren Spore defended her title by holding off 2004 winner Diana Fitzpatrick. It sounds like the race was as exciting up front as it was purely enjoyable for those of us further back in the pack. Congrats go to all!'s on to The Next Big Thing!


angie's pink fuzzy said...

nice job!

and can't wait for jj100! are you going to the pre-race dinner?

rick said...

Good job Steve. It was great to see you at the race. Good luck at Javelina and I hope the heel feels better, in good shape in time for Javelina. I still need to take a look at Chris' photos. He dropped me a link the other day.

Sarah (PCTR) said...

Great job at the race - congrats on running so well! That's fabulous!!

It was so good to see you out there, as always, and really neat to see you running so strong!!

Thanks for writing it up, Steve - and very much looking forward to seeing you at your Next Big Thing!!


miki said...

Kicking an hour off last years time is fantastic! Congratulations. I have a picture to send you of you and Mark Tanaka. Will try to get that to you asap.

willgotthardt said...

~1hr improvement is great Steve...well done.

I wish I could just post a picture [sigh].

Will G.

Eudemus said...

Angie, Thanks and will see you at JJ. I've gone back and forth on the dinner, but said I would go as I can always back out if I just need to chill out by myself.

Eudemus said...

Thanks Rick. The heel is beginning to heal :-). I had a deep tissue massage on Tuesday which hurt like heck, but always leaves me able to pinpoint where the really bad areas are in my body. The outside of my right calf is definitely a problem and I have been icing, massaging and stretching it along with the foot itself. It is feeling pretty good today. Definitely check out Chris' photos. There is another one of us in there.

Eudemus said...

Thanks Sarah. I'm starting to really get excited about Javelina now. Lots of resting is required though before I really feel ready.

Eudemus said...

Send those pics Miki! Oh, and thanks for the congrats. Keep healing!

Eudemus said...

Thanks Will and thanks for working the Aid Station. It is always good to see a familiar face out there.

Addy said...

congrats on the hour course pr improvement :) Have such a good time at JJ!!

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Way to hack an hour, and good luck at Javelina! I pasted a link to your report. Remind me to send the post-race photo if I haven't in a few days.

Donald said...

One hour improvement?! I was happy with 10 minutes. Excellent job.

Happy tapering this week! Good luck at Javelina