Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Quickening

My plan was to recover from C2M and then build my training up through April towards a big mileage month of May. April didn't go quite as I'd hoped. I had wanted to be at consistent 60-mile weeks, but, then, I can't even claim these plans to have been best-laid. Now that May is here things actually seem to be coming together--coming to life as it were.

The month started off with a much needed solo run of 29 miles a week after a 50K race. Then, my schedule opened up and allowed me to run a 50 miler last weekend. That topped the week of at over 73 miles and a 7-day (Sun-Sat) total of 102. My goal for this month has always been to put a big load on my legs before the June taper.

I didn't want to let up too much this week, tired though my legs were. I ended up missing Tuesday due to a busy work schedule, but then managed a rare mid-week 12-1/2 mile run that included a jaunt part-way up the peak. I had descent mileage coming into this weekend when my schedule opened up again. I made a last minute decision to sign up for the Big Basin 50K on Sunday. If I could get at least 14 miles in on Saturday, I could get another 70+ mile week in. With the Western States training weekend to come, I could target 3 in a row which would definitely be a record for me.

We're having a heat wave. My 15-1/2 along the Ohlone trail today was done at an easy pace. However, with temps in the 90's nothing felt easy at the end of 3-1/2 hours. Temps aren't expected to drop much and that 50K is going to hurt tomorrow. It's all good heat training to me. It may be too early to start acclimating, but not for the mental adjustments of paying attention to how the body is responding to the temperature. If I can execute on these next few weeks, I'll be feeling pretty good about June. My only risk is injury. But, pushing that envelope is what it's about.


Speaking of quick, I mentioned a 50 miler above. It was the Quicksilver 50. I have too much going on to write a full race report, but I'll try to say a few words here. Quicksilver is one of the Bay Area classics, but it has been too close to Miwok for me to consider the past two years. Some people didn't think so this year including Jean Pomiier who took 2nd and Victor Ballesteros who took 3rd (after finishing 2nd at Miwok). The real story of the day was Chikara Omine who crushed the course record finishing in 6 hours 15 minutes on a course with 8500ft of climbing!

I didn't know too much about this race heading into it. In fact, I'd never even been in the park before. It's been compared to Firetrails 50. It claims quite a bit more elevation gain/loss than Firetrails, but you'd never know it from the early miles. This race seemed totally runnable. In fact, I figured I was going to pay for my morning exhuberance. Quicksilver offers many smaller ups and downs to Firetrails bigger climbs and descents. That is, until you come into the 50K mark. The ups and downs continue, but suddenly they've become sharp. It's the same heading back out.

I'd had a good race to that point. I hit the 31.5 mile mark right around 5:45. As I headed back out I was thinking about how good I was feeling and that I hadn't really had any lows. The afternoon was going to be warm so I grabbed a second water bottle which I would use mainly to spray myself with icy water. I knew from experience that keeping the legs cool really helps. Once I was over the steep hills and through the aid station, I felt good and decided to push it.

If I made it to the Sierra Azul feeling good, it was less than 9 miles left and most of it downhill. I shuffled on the gradual hills leading to this aid station and caught up with Cecil Baumgartner, a 3-time Western States finisher. We chatted and headed into the turnaround together. We stuck together on the way back until the descents steepened up a bit. As I've said before, gravity sets my pace and I picked it up. It is also around this point that I realized I could break 9:30. I didn't really have a goal coming in and would have been happy with 10 hours. However, late in a race...

I pushed pretty much all the final miles and made quick time through the aid stations. I caught and dropped a couple of people and just kept on pusing. I knew there was some good downhill followed by a few of those steep rollers at the end. I was going to shuffle everything, but the steepest hills and power those downs no matter how steep they were. If I trashed my legs, all the better. You gotta feel the burn to get the results.

I was just about on the final downhill when a couple of runners were standing still on the trial. As I started to accelerate, the woman stepped out and said "Stop! There's a huge rattlesnake on the trail!" I had some familiarity with these locals. I slowed down as I approached. When I saw it stretched out on the far side of the trail, I just gave it a nice wide berth yelling back "they can't strick when they're not coiled, just give it space."

I pounded the final downs and came in at 9:22. Pretty happy with that.


Nick said...

That was a gripping report Steve. Glad you finally recovered from the C2M lurgy. Hope to see you at WS?

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy with that too! Great race. Looking forward to hearing about WS. Good luck!

-John R

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Nice job Steve! The course got tougher as the day went on, what with the roller coaster toward the end of the 50K and the temps heating up. I was happy to stop at 50K. Sounds like you have progressed a long way in a short time since your injury last winter.