Friday, May 25, 2007

Fhat the wuck!

So, a glance at my race calendar will show that I have finally taken the plunge and signed up for the Headlands Hundred race in August (I also singed up for Firetrails 50 in October). As fate would have it, the very afternoon I signed up, I started feeling ill. It is way too early for pre-race hypochondria. Besides, I am actually more worried right now about running the TRT50 than about HH100. I have never run a race at altitude and have no idea how I will adapt. At first I just passed off the "illness" as my being tired from four days in a row of not getting enough sleep. It was a bit of a mystery, though, as I had run a little over 8 miles at lunch and while it was warm out, it was nothing that felt taxing; in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the run and felt great afterwards. I tried to get to bed early that night, but waking up the next morning it was clear that this was neither just residual tiredness nor was it simply in my head. I was sick. I tried going to work, but ended up leaving early to spend the afternoon back in bed. The only thing I could figure was that I must have contracted something over the weekend while working at my son's basketball tournament. See, that's what I get for spending the entire weekend indoors with no running! It was a little odd in terms of illness as there was no head or nasal congestion, my chest felt fine and while I felt warm I didn't really have a fever. It was simply total fatigue and some muscle aches. At any rate, an indication that my body was fighting something off.

I stayed home the next day both to get some extra rest and because I had to pick a car up in Hayward for my older son. I drove to BART in Fremont, took the train to Hayward and then walked the 1.5 miles to the car place. I felt pretty good walking which made me happy. When I got home, I forced myself back to bed for more rest. I felt much better after another nap. I ate and felt strong. I was originally planning to ride my bike the 8+ miles back to BART, but I felt so good I decided I could actually run it...

Yes, I know.
What was I thinking?
How many times does one person need to learn the same lesson.

Repeat after me:
"Running when you aren't feeling well is dumb"
I've done this before....and, apparently, need reminding again...

Running with bronchitis does not simulate running at altitude with reduced oxygen!

Running with a fever does not equate to heat training!

Running when your body is fatigued does not give you the experience of pushing yourself late in a race when you are tired. It does give you the experience of having your body revolt against the effort as it slows down of its own accord and increases its production of stomach acid.

I started feeling bad after about 4 miles. I made it to Lake Elizabeth in central Fremont, about 7 miles, before the contents of my belly decided that they needed to be deposited into the dirt next to the sidewalk. The next 1.2 miles to the BART station was a long and slow walk. I called my wife at work to remind her that she is married to an idiot. I stopped and sat down on some steps and watched as the muscles in my calves involuntarily twitched off and on. Fascinating stuff. The funny thing is that, as I walked, I didn't feel too bad. I could tell that my body just wasn't ready to be pushed.

Went to bed early last night and slept well. Feel really good this morning. I'll probably try another run this afternoon. I was planning to do Mission Peak today, but I'm thinking that maybe (just maybe) something a bit less strenuous and less committing might be in order.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Key Thing

With my son's AAU Basketball Team hosting a tournament all weekend, I knew that I was not going to have any time for running. So, I decided to get a good run in on Friday afternoon before helping to set up for the tourney. I decided I would run up Mission Peak doing the first part of the Ohlone 50K race that would be held on Sunday. I had a couple of hours so I was going to run up to the peak via the race route then follow it along the Eagle Trail around back and then head back to Horse Heaven and return down the same way I came up. It would be around 9-10 miles in total.

I arrived at the Standford Ave parking lot and figured I would just use a single UD Quickdraw handheld and a single Clif Shot as this wasn't too long a run and I could re-fill on the backside of the peak. I put the gel in the handheld's pocket and then put my key in there. I usually don't like to do this. I don't like putting stashing my key in any pocket that I may have to open during a run. I told myself I would just be careful when I took the gel out. The mental state before a run and during a run have very little to do with one another.

The run itself was great. Apparently, the fireroad has been recently graded so there were not many "hoof holes" on the cut-over to Horse Heaven and even the cow patties were pretty sparse. With this, no mud and moderate temperatures, the Ohlone runners were getting a much easier than usual start. Of course, easy is relative. I don't usually run Horse Heaven even though it is a really nice single track because I almost always get off course. The trail was pretty well groomed so I felt more confident this time. When I got to a split in the trail I thought that going left was the cut-over to the Grove Trail so I went right. After about a 1/2 mile of downhill, it was clear that I had once again made a wrong turn on Horse Heaven. Oh well, I guess some extra miles are always good. I made it to the top in pretty good time (1:08) and headed down without pause.

Somewhere on the way down, along Eagle Trail (I think), I took out the gel and ate it and then put the empty wrapper back in the zipper pocket. I didn't even think about it. I filled the bottle with water and headed back down enjoying the rest of my run. Enjoying it until I returned to my Jeep and went unzipped the pocket to pull out my key. The stream of expletives that spewed forth from my mouth are not fit to print (nor were they suitable language for the families in my vicinity). Not key. My wallet and phone were also locked in the car. No way to call anyone. Someone offered me a phone, but I thought about it and realized that the only people who I could call had phone numbers that are only remembered by little tiny computers that obviously have better memories than I do.

Luckily, I only live about 4 miles from the trailhead so I ran home. What was that I said earlier about extra miles being good? These weren't good miles. Anyway, I made it home, called AAA for a locksmith and found someone to drive (and wait) with me back in the parking lot. By the time I got it all taken care it was after 9pm and I had missed the meeting to setup for the tournament. I guess I had an excuse for not helping out. However, I still had to go to Kinkos and pick up banners which ended up taking until 11:30pm (another story).

I have learned my lesson. Never put your keys any place that you will be accessing on the run. Also, I plan to buy one of these as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Three goals

In just most of my major races I set three separate time goals. Don't get me wrong, in all of my ultras my most important goals are simply to finish and have a good time. However, these are races and if I didn't set some sort of goal for myself in terms of finishing time, I would likely find myself just strolling around at a slow walk between aid stations, especially late in a race.

First, I like to have a "stretch" goal. This is a goal that I really don't expect to hit, but just might be able to approach if my body holds up, the weather cooperates and the stars are all perfectly aligned. While I have only once hit my stretch goal, this is generally the time I keep set in my mind for most of the race. If I set any splits they are based on hitting this time even though an expert could probably look at the splits and know that I would not reach the end goal based on them. However, they are formulated (if that's even the correct word since I am not that scientific about my running) based on the idea of making the stretch goal possible not on assuring that it is accomplished. The stretch goal is the one that generally keeps me motivated during the early miles and first half or so. It is easily modified and dispensed with later in the race as its infeasibility becomes evident.

At the other end from the stretch goal is my "satisfied" goal. This is sort of the "outside" goal that I would still consider a fairly major accomplishment even if things don't go great. I generally look at the race and assume this to be a time that I should be able to hit unless things go horribly wrong. In my first ultra, I'm not sure if I really set this goal separate from "just finishing", but in all my other races it was there. This is the time that keeps me most motivated throughout the race. I generally want to be well under this time and seeing it "looming out there" keeps me moving. This worked especially well at both AR50 and Miwok where others mentioned that I could still make it under-X where X was basically my "satisfied goal" target, I was convinced that I could hit something much lower than that.

My main goal generally falls between the other two, though not necessarily right in the middle. This goal is also the most fluid and least specific. If my stretch goal is a sub-7 hour run and under 8 is my satisfied goal, then the main goal might be to finish in the low-to-mid 7s. I may get to the half-way or turnaround point in a race and realize that, say, 7 hours just isn't going to happen. At this point I may decide, that 7:30 is still quite do-able (especially if someone tells me to shoot for sub-8). As I approach the finish I may adjust this up or down based on how I am doing. Sometimes I'll set it low and adjust it up, "OK 7:15 can't happen ... now how about 7:20 ... 7:25 ...". Other times I will set it more conservatively and it goes down as I have a good second half "Fine, I'll make 7:30 ... I might be able to hit 7:20 ... can I make 7:15 ..." This motivation that keeps me moving during the latter part of the race and is definitely what gets me to the finish. I generally hit my main goal, but then, it does get solidified to just about match where I am going to finish.

- Stretch: 7 hr, Satisfied: sub-8(?), Main: 7:xx, Actual: 7:05
Santa Cruz
- Stretch: 6hr, Satisfied: sub-7, Main: 6:xx, Actual: 5:55
Big Basin
- Stretch: 6hr, Satisfied: 6:30, Main: 6:15, Actual: 6:23
- Stretch: 10hr, Satisfied: sub-11, Main: 10:30, Actual: 10:30
Pirates Cove
- Stretch: 5:30, Satisfied: 6hr, Main: sub-6, Actual: 5:35
- Stretch: 9hr, Satisfied: sub-10, Main: 9:30, Actual: 9:15
- Stretch: 12hr, Satisfied: Sub-13, Main: 12:30, Actual: 12:26

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ohlone - out, Mt. Diablo - in

Family time is busy the next few weeks. My son's AAU team has three basketball tournaments in a row including one that we are hosting next weekend. Since I'll be helping out all weekend to support our team, I had to bail out of the Ohlone 50K. It's not an important run training wise and I only signed up to close the loop on my first year of running (and try for a sub-7). The race director was kind enough to let me transfer my bib to another runner so I am happy that someone who wasn't able to get in will now have a chance to run the race.

In the place of Ohlone, I have decided to run the Mt. Diablo 50K on June 2. I have always wanted to run a race on Diablo as I will forever consider it "my mountain". I grew up on the back side of the mountain, went to school in Clayton and have hiked, biked and done training runs all over. However, I have never participated in an organized race there. My sister lives about 2 miles from the trailhead so it is pretty much a no-brainer. I also really like the fact that the course is pretty much all-up, followed by all-down. It kinda suits my running style. The only thing I don't like is the multiple loops, but we'll see if I can keep from blowing up after the first. I want to shoot for a sub-7 hour which is a pretty good goal for this race with almost 9,000ft of gain over the 50K distance. Should be a great time!

As for my training, things are going to be a bit thin here for a few weeks as I will pretty much have no time on the weekends to get in any long runs. Last week, I did about half my normal training mileage which was just fine for me after Miwok. The next two weeks I am just going to run when I can and try to get in some good workouts at the gym to focus on my core and some of my muscle imbalances.

Finally, I haven't yet signed up for the 100, but I'm getting there. I am also considering running the Tahoe Rim Trail 50M in July. I was looking for a longer race to do in July before my 100 and its timing just 3-weeks back seems perfect. However, it is a very tough race and is all above 6500ft elevation (tops out close to 9000ft). It is also only one day before we leave for a trip to Las Vegas so I would need to head right back to the Bay Area to get up early the next day and get on a plane. I'll have to think about it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Recipe for success

"Don't push, don't push. Keep a maintainable pace, don't push..."

I'm repeating this mantra in my head as I begin chugging up the climb from the Randall Trail turnaround. I'm finally starting to feel better and have my mind set on the next aid station at Bolinas Ridge during this, the longest leg between stations. I've just managed to get myself out of hydration-debt and I want to be careful to not go there again. I know after the next aid station is a long run along the exposed ridge and then Pan Toll Station at which point, I've been telling myself, I will know that I can finish. However, that's still a ways off with plenty of struggle ahead and I should probably start this report with the tale of how my race almost ended before it even began.


I'd taken off early from work on Friday in order to get all my things together and assure myself some rest that afternoon. I told Chihping that I would pick him up at 4am so I was planning to wake just a little after 3. I'd packed my drop bag including my trail shoes (though I intended to stay in my road shoes), a change of socks, a change of shirt if needed and a few other items that wouldn't be included in my waist pack where the important stuff went. I didn't want to make the mistake I had at Firetrails last year where I had left some items in my drop bag that I should have taken with me such as advil and extra electrolyte tablets. I had both my water bottles setup, a larger 26oz bottle in a UD FastrDraw Plus holder and a 20oz bottle that would go into my Nathan G-Trek waist pack. The bigger bottle would hold NUUN and the smaller, plain water. I had found and cleaned out my old gel flask (don't ask how long the it had been sitting at the bottom of my gear drawer) since I lost my new one at AR50. I carefully filled it with my combo of Clif Shot flavors (chocolate, mocha and double espresso) and clipped it to the front of my waist pack where it would be less likely to fall out than if it was in the integrated holder in the back. I then loaded up the front pocket with three baggies, one holding 12 NUUN tablets, another holding about 10 S!Caps and a final one with a few Advil. I then picked out my clothes for the race (especially my signature fluorescent green gloves) along with some warm things to wear before and a few things to change into after including the all important nubby sandals. Everything either into the bag or next to it depending on whether it needed to be worn or brought to the race. Alarm set, coffee setup, time to rest.

It's 3am and I'm awake. I don't wait the extra 5 minutes for my alarm, I just get up and put on my headlamp to tool around the room without waking my wife. I actually got some sleep combined with a short nap the previous afternoon and so I feel fine. Shower. Breakfast. Coffee. Drink some water and see if I can "take care of business" before heading out, but the body says that's gonna have to wait until Rodeo Beach. OK, 3:45. Time to go. Grab my gear bag. Kiss Zane on the forehead. Review the directions to Chihping's house and I am off.

Chihping and I have a good chat on the way up (as best we can over the sound of my noisy Jeep Wrangler). We arrive at Rodeo Beach in good time. He heads to the check-in, I head to the john. My body cooperates and I am very happy. My biggest pre-race fear now seems to be out of the way. The line of guys waiting when I come out all look very fast. Especially one particularly recognizable Western States record holder standing in front. "Guess I won't see him until after he hits the turnaround", I think. I go check in and get my picture taken by Chihping before heading back to the car to get the rest of my gear.

That smile was soon to disappear. I got back to my jeep and opened the back. I took out my water bottles and then reached for my waist pack inside my bag. It wasn't there. I looked around for a while, but I knew immediately that I'd left it. I just stopped and stared down at my bag, frozen in disbelief. I could feel the fear starting to creep into my head as my vision for this race crumbled into dust. There was left than 10 minutes until race start. Runners were beginning to gather. There was really not time to do anything about this situation and certainly no time to let that fear seep in any further. I'd tried running with two water bottles in training and found it very awkward. I like swapping my single bottle between hands. Furthermore, the fact that one bottle didn't have a hand-strap was something I wasn't prepared to deal with right now. I put the extra bottle in my drop bag and decided I would run with just one until Pan Toll (mile 21.7). I would have to drink whatever they had on course. I had a few S!Caps and some gels in my drop bag which I stuffed in the small pockets of my shorts. I then tied the bag up, walked to the pile of dropped bags and tried not to think about it. Finally, I went through the important mental exercise of throwing out all expectations. My "stretch" goal of low-12s. Ha! My sub-12:30? Out. Sub-13? Unlikely. Just finish. I imagined myself spending lots of time at aid stations, struggling to get from one to the next especially late in the race.

The runners were starting to move. We walked towards the beach in one big group. I put everything negative out of my mind. Told myself to just make it to Pan Toll and reassess. I told myself that running sans waist pack would make me feel light. I told myself a single bottle would make me efficient. I looked down at my bright green gloves and I smiled.

It was cold on the beach before the start. We all sort of huddled together like emperor penguins. Then we went. The mass moved across the beach. The front runners did what front runners do. The rest of us made it to the first hill and, abruptly, came to a halt. This bottleneck is famous and if you want to avoid it, you better be in front. I had pretty much adopted a "whatever" attitude at this point and just rolled with it. I normally like to get running and warmed up immediately in races, but I knew I would be forced to walk for a while here. We eventually got through the bottleneck and to the road. I don't remember a lot about this part. I think I walked some, ran slow some. Basically, just looked around a lot and waited to get through to the trails and then the first downhill. The whole first part of the race basically just "went by" in my mind. I wanted the time to pass. I wanted to focus on hours not minutes. I remember running some great, fairly technical downhill and passing lots of people (many of whom would pass me on the next uphill). I remember hitting the aid stations and focusing on salted potatoes especially after I realized I had dropped all but one of the few S!Caps I had stored in my pocket (and most of the my Clif Shots as well). The Gu2O they had on course was not bad, but even between these early aid stations, I was pretty much draining my bottle. I remember the climb up to Pan Toll through the woods. I'd been on these trails before both at the Double Dipsea and the Muir Woods Marathon. It was beautiful, but it was also beginning to warming up. However, I had managed to find the groove of my patent-pending SHLOG (SLow SHuffle jOG) and was moving pretty well. I felt OK.

Pan Toll. Even before I get in, an aid station volunteer is taking my water bottle, asking my number to go and get my drop bag, asking what I want from it. Wow! I feel almost embarassed by this level of support (which would go on throughout the day...these guys ROCKED!) I take just my extra water bottle from the bag as I am feeling a bit behind in drinking and the ridge is going to be warm up ahead. Hydration is on my mind. I try to drink as much as I can at the station. I ask around for electrolytes. No dice, so I eat as much salted stuff as I can take and I can feel it in my stomach a bit. I don't like to stay too long at aid stations for fear that I will never leave so I head out towards Bolinas Ridge.

Things go downhill. The trail is actually uphill a bit and the ridge is rolling, but my state was going in a singular direction. I was really having trouble with these two bottles. I normally keep my FastDraw in my left hand and only swap to my right on occasion. I was having a lot of difficulty holding that other bottle in my right hand. It was frustrating me. Frustration and ultras don't mix. I tried holding both bottles with one hand. Not happening. I even tried putting a bottle under my arm. Lame! I finally switched my FastDraw to my right hand and the plain bottle to my left. This felt OK. I went with this, occasionally switching hands for variety. The ridge was beautiful, but I wasn't enjoying it as much as I should have. I was focused on making sure to drink during this 6.7 mile section. Part of the trail is really slanted and the idea of a twisted ankle added further stress to my fragile-growing mental state. Finally, we got off the exposed part of the ridge and into the woods. The trail headed downhill and I took off running in my typical "no brakes" style until I ran smack dab into a downed tree. This was just a small one and I managed to slow enough to not go flying over it. At another point, there was actually a VERY large downed tree which I had fun climbing over (but I heard others complain).

I made it to Bolinas Ridge aid station and once again the awesome volunteers took care of me taking both my bottles and filling to my directions. I ate and drank some more knowing that this next section was over 7 miles. I still wasn't feeling great. I pulled over shortly after to give my hydration level a check. Hmm...too little, too yellow. Yep, I've been in hydration-debt for some time. The next section was totally new to me so I focused on just looking around for a while. We were still technically on the ridge, but we were in the woods for a little bit. Then we came out and had a couple more rolling hills in the sun. I took my one electrolyte tablet. Cresting one of the hills, I noticed someone up ahead pushing through the bushes to get around a rather large mud puddle. He immediately took off running. I thought, "he can't be in the race running like that this far in". Then I noticed he had a race number on and my only thought was "that's the front-runner, holy sh*t he's flying". I had just been passed by the (now) legendary Lon Freeman. There would be more runners coming behind him, but not for a while, about 5 minutes or more. I distracted myself watching and cheering on these speedsters. A guy behind me caught up and I decided to run with him. I had been abnormally unsocial for most of this race and really needed all the distraction I could get in order to make it to the turnaround. The guy's name was Harris. He's from Pleasanton and seemed to be having a little difficult time as well. After talking to him and discovering that he ran 8:13 at AR50, I realized how far off pace he was. We ran and talked watching the fast people go by the other way. I think the most impressive sight was seeing Kami and Nikki come running by, stride-for-stride. They looked as if they were just cruising along and chatting on a nice spring day. Well, except for the fact that their pace was incredible and they were somewhere around mile 40 in a 62 mile race!

Harris told me that we were approaching the left turn that would lead us down the Randall Trail to the turnaround. This section reminded me of Firetrails except we were in the shade and on softer trail. I left Harris and decided to just let my legs go for the mile and a half of downhill knowing that the climb (or crawl) back up would be long and slow. I saw lots of people coming up here including many I either recognized or knew ("hey, Chihping!"). As I started recognizing people I had been running near earlier in the race. It made me feel good knowing that I hadn't fallen too far back. I got to the aid station, handed over my bottles and started drinking and eating fresh fruit. I started dipping food into salt at will. Potatoes, fresh fruit and even a peanut butter sandwich at one point...not bad. The 7.2 miles back behind me was going to be the longest section of the whole race, but I was already over half way and feeling happy. I don't remember exactly, but I hit the half-way point somewhere around 6 hours or so. Harris arrived at the aid station and we headed back out together.

About 5 minutes of walking uphill and I felt the need to pull over for a pit stop. Finally, I was re-hydrated! I walked with Harris a little while longer and then told him that I wanted to let my legs move a bit. Time to shuffle. That was the last I saw of him. Ahead was a woman whom I had seen a few times earlier in the race. We'd swapped places a few times as she was pretty good at the power-hike thing (my weakness) and close to or faster than me on the flats. I stuck behind her for a little bit, but eventually shuffled on past. She seemed to have an amazing amount of energy as I could hear her behind me cheering on the runners heading down with incredible exuberance. I tried to do my part, but usually just managed a simple "good job", "keep it up" or "way to work". I saw more people I knew and had fun encouraging everyone. I realized that cheering people on usually does as much for my own spirits as it is for theirs. It also usually helps my mood to be reminded that there are plenty of people behind me working hard. Just keep moving.

This is the part where things get better ("they never, always get worse"). I was mostly running in my shuffling sort of way. I sometimes walked and the woman with lots of energy caught up and we continued exchanging places and pleasantries up until the Bolinas Ridge Station. Here I learned that they had run out of Gu2O. I drank some coke and ate some more salted potatoes. I also grabbed some "Espresso Love" Gu which I had been taking occasionally. I wasn't too happy about the prospect of running on the exposed ridge in the early afternoon sun with only water and no electrolytes approaching the 50 mile point. However, I had earlier told myself that all I had to do was make it back to Pan Toll and finishing was assured. I headed out. The woman with whom I'd been playing yo-yo went as well. We talked for a while and I learned that her name was Meridith. She's from Texas and is running States this year. She ran Miwok last year and said that she "fell apart" out here on the ridge. We stuck together and encouraged each other. After expressing my concern over my water-only, no electrolyte situation she offered me some of her S!Caps. This was a life saver as far as I was concerned. I told her I'd get her through the ridge and we both committed to dipping our legs in the ocean back at Rodeo Beach. Together, we made it to Pan Toll.

Things were looking good. 12.5 miles left. Fresh socks on the feet. Rub my legs down with some ibuprofen cream. I still didn't have any Advil, but all I had to do was mention it and two different volunteers hunted some down for me! I drank and ate some more and filled both bottles which should be more than enough for the next 5.2 miles. I stuck with Meridith for this part as she ran last year and I knew there was a tricky turn somewhere up on this section. We also ran with a guy and his pacer who also appeared to know the course. We left Pan Toll station with under 10 hours on the clock and Meridith commented that as long as we take no more than 3 hours to finish, a sub-13 was in the bag. I said that I thought a sub-12:30 was still possible. She agreed, but said we would need to run a good pace from here on out and push it up the last couple of hills. They were supposedly real killers. It didn't matter, my mind was set.

The next couple of miles had some nice downhill and then some flats through thick overgrowth. Then the first climb started up switchbacks to climb towards Hwy-1. It was time for me to just go heads down, low gear. I left Meridith and the other couple behind. I was pushing, but still at a maintainable pace. The switchbacks went on for a while, but I was focused. I finally got to the top and crossed the road. I focussed on efficiency at the aid station asking for my water to be filled only part way and Gu2O a little below the top (only had to last 3.7 miles). I grabbed a couple bites and a Gu and was off. The next hill was a grind and I recognized it as the part I had run fast down early that same morning. This, then went on to a firetrail that continued to climb further. I could see others up ahead and even though the climb was pretty relentless it didn't seem as bad. There was some shade and it was a pretty good grade as far as I was concerned. I seemed to be the only one without a pacer, but I prefer to run within myself near the end of a race anyway.

I made the last aid station and got through in similar fashion as the previous. Only 3.8 miles left and one last climb, but it looked steep. I was determined to just "get it done" at this point. I used my "granny gear" as best I could only walking briefly on one hill where I started slipping. I could see where the trail started to level and go around the hill. I hit this section and put it in cruising gear. I passed one last person and asked if the hills were done, they confirmed that there was a last little uphill and then it was pretty much down from the road. I realized that 12:15 wasn't possible, but thought maybe 12:20. I got to the road and had a moment of panic. There were pink ribbons both to the left and the right and the finish was directly below me. However, the left went slightly uphill so I started right. I saw some hikers and asked if it was the right direction and they confirmed. Time to go. Well, that is, except for the road. I wanted to let it fly, but running downhill on the road was not my idea of the good late-race terrain. In fact, I almost slipped at one point trying to run on the grass shoulder and had this great image of myself face-flat on the ground less than a mile from the finish. At this point I realized that 12:20 wasn't gonna happen and 12:25 was a stretch. However, I was pretty sure 12:30 was in the bag so I made up my mind to just take it easy and enjoy the last bit of this race. I made it to the dirt and cruised on down, beelining the corners.

The great thing about the end of Miwok is that people can see you coming a ways off as you wind down the last hill. You can also see the parking lot and finish line getting closer and closer as you descend.

Off the dirt, down a little grass hill and into the parking lot. I toss my watter bottles to the side so I can run in with style. I'm still wearing my green gloves. Even though it was much too warm to need them, at some point they became my good luck charm and they weren't bothering me so I left them on the whole run including up on the ridge. I cross the finish line with green gloves raised.


Amazingly, I still felt good. However, I was very glad to have it done. Unlike after my first ultra at Ohlone or my first 50M at Firetrails, I did not immediately think that I could come back and run this better next year. Just finishing Miwok in whatever time I could is such an accomplishment that coming back and doing it again would just be icing. This race was tough. Really tough. But, the best part of ultras is the retrospect. Sitting here typing this I can't recall the really tough spots; only the glow of accomplishment, having conquered a challenge I set for myself.

There was one thought I did have at the end. After finishing and getting my metal. I turned and looked back up at the trail. I asked myself, "Could I head back out there and somehow do another 38 miles of these same trails?" I was as surprised as anyone to discover that the answer was an unequivocal "YES". So, I guess that's it. I have to sign up for the Headlands Hundred.

Oh yeah...
One more thing, the real recipe for success. To guarantee yourself a successful race, make sure to have your emotional low point right there at the start of the race. Things can only look up from there :-).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Coming soon...

I should have my Miwok race report up by the end of the day. Return later to learn how my race was almost over before it started.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Miwok (me, walk?) countdown

I mentioned before that my taper for the race this weekend has been to do lots of walking. I have been dropping the boys at school early (6:30am) for basketball and have spent an hour before work walking. I try to walk at a brisk pace to help convince myself that it is still a sort of training (even though it is totally flat near my work). It has allowed me to explore the Guadalupe River Trail which is near our new office. It is a little longer than the map indicates as you can continue north of 880 right alongside the airport. There are lots of runners out there in the morning which has made it VERY difficult to just walk. I have had to hold myself back on numerous occasions. Last night I decided to hit the gym while Freddy was at (yet another) basketball practice. I wanted to test my walking pace at various inclines on the treadmill. I started at 15% doing 3.5 mi/hr then I dropped it to 12% and upped the speed a bit and then to 10% and upped the speed a bit more. It was hard to keep it as just a walk at 4 mi/hr so I decided to see what speed I could run at these inclines without working too hard. I upped it to 4.5 @10% and then 4.2@12% and then tried to keep it at 4.0@15%, but that was work. I then tried to make myself walk a little more, but once I hit the 2 mile mark, I just couldn't take it any longer. I dropped the treadmill down to a 2% incline and ran the last mile at an 8min pace. It felt good. I needed it. I made myself walk at the end to assure all was good with the legs. So, I sorta ran 3 miles yesterday. I only have 2 days left and plan near total rest. However, I think I will do my countdown runs like I did before my first 50K last year. Today I will run a very easy 2 miles just to stretch the legs and then I will do 1 mile tomorrow of simple strides to keep things loose.