Sunday, November 06, 2005

Helen Klein 50 (Nov 5, 2005)

Date : Nov 5, 2005
Location : Roseville, CA
Race : Helen Klein 50M Endurance Run
Finish Time : 10:12

So they came all to distant Roseville
One for the 50K, the rest for eighty.
Eager to tackle every turn, every hill.
Distances so long as to be weighty.
Anu suffered debilitating diarrhea,
To go with her intense foot pain
Cutoffs Padma made. How? No idea.
Her spirit and body never did wane.
Anil, the true friend, doubled back,
As did Kiran in a show of amour.
For kindliness they did not lack.
Pradeep and Ganesh - can I say more
Than to say that they are exceptional athletes,
Attempting and achieving unbelievable feats?

Firstly - congratulations to the heroes of the day: Anu, Anil, Kiran, Padma, Pradeep and Ganesh. A huge thanks to Rashmi, Selvi, Kavya, Rambabu and Uday. They were the best cheering section ever.

Friday, Nov 4
I woke up at 5 am in order to pick up Anu and Pallavi from their respective homes to drive to Stanford, Palo Alto for the Dalai Lama talk. That talk ended at 11:30 am. By the time we parked in downtown Palo Alto for food (in Jing Jing), it was 12:15 pm. Dropped off Pallavi to the office, picked up my bags andshoes from home and hit the road at 2 pm. We made good time on 680N until about 4 miles from the toll plaza in Benicia. The traffic thinned appreciably all the way to Sacramento and Roseville after that. Reached the motel we were staying in around 6 pm.

We checked in to our rooms and decided not to got for the carbo dinner with Anil, Padma and Kiran.

We picked up a few things (milk, peanut butter etc.) from a Trader Joe's across the road and some pasta from an Italian diner next to it. Helped Anu with her shoelaces (Easylaces) and showed her how to use the timer on the Timex she was going to use in the race. Went to bed by 9:00 pm.

Saturday, Nov 5
Woke up at 4:45 am. Woke up Anu too. Showered and then headed over to Anu's room for coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. We hit the road at 6:10 am to drive 6 miles to Cavitt Middle School, the start and the end for the race. Walked in just as the race director started giving instructions to the runners. He used to be the race director of the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run. His wife, Helen Klein, for whom the race is named, has run 73 marathons and 143 ultras, with 28 100+ mile races.

Anu, Padma, Kiran, Anil and I were doing our stuff when we realized that the rest of the people were headed off to the levee, about 0.6 miles from the school gym. We hurried after them. That's where Ganesh and Pradeep caught up with us. Anu was amazed that they were running the 50-miler. There is only one word that truly describes what Pradeep and Ganesh have - chutzpah.

The race had already started and we had not even reached the start point on top of the levee. We were thus 6-7 minutes late.

The first 2 miles or so were on the levee. The surface soon changed to asphalt with a shoulder on both sides. This was more or less true for almost the entire 25 miles to the turnaround point. We were forced to run on asphalt in places where the shoulder was narrow or non-existent. A picture of Anu arriving at the first water stop of the day. Selvi talking to Padma (hidden behind Anu) in the background.

My new Garmin Forerunner 301 worked like a charm. I had programmed it for an 8-minute run and a 2-minute walk. I maintained this rhythm for about 30 miles. The turnaround point was at mile 25.5. This was the first cutoff i.e. 5 hours and 30 minutes. You would be pulled from the race if you failed to meet the time. My run to this point was almost uneventful. I ran with a person I had met in the Marin Headlands 50K in August for about 4 miles between 15 and 20. The phone rang a bunch of times asking me for updates. The sweetest part of this first part were the faces of Kavya, Rashmi and Selvi. I met them at the first water stop (2.3 miles) and then the 10 mile water stop and the 15.5 mile one. Their cheerful demeanor and constant encouragement were fantastic.

I made the cutoff in 4:50. I turned around and was pleasantly surprised to find Anil approaching the turnaround point, about 0.75 miles behind me. he was followed by Kiran (100 yds behind) and then Pradeep and Ganesh, a further 100 yds behind Kiran. Pradeep and Ganesh were very happy when I gave them a gel from my fanny pack.

I soon changed my 8+2 to a 7+3. This continued until mile 37 or so. These miles were moderately hard. Not mentally but physically. Right after the second cutoff, at mile 36.8, I changed to a 6+4 (6 min run, 4 min walk). This proved to be the best thing I could have done. The 4 min walk helped my legs flush the lactates and they felt great everytime I started running. At the 34.5 mile water stop, I met Rashmi, Selvi and Kavya. The young one was running a temperature that day but was out there cheering the runners. I took a gel from her. That one helped me a lot :)

40-50 were my strongest miles. Around mile 42 the phone rang. It was Rambabu. He was at the finish and had called me to find out how I was doing. My first question was whether Anu had finished. I was hoping that her neuroma and asthma had not caused major problems. He said that she had finished in 8:06 and had gone for a shower. Why she was showering I only found out later. I pushed the final 2 miles to finish in 10:12:19.

Anu later told me that using the wrong gel had caused diarrhea, to the extent that she was bleeding badly from the rectal area. In addition to the diarrhea, the gels caused her to vomit 3 times. Her neuroma and asthma did not bother her as much as pain on top of her foot from the newish shoes. What a trooper. Hats off to her.

A picture of Anu at (I believe) the 15 mile aid station.

I found out soon that Anil and Kiran had turned back at mile 24 to run BACK with Padma to help her make the first cutoff. What love from Kiran. What friendship from Anil. You two rock. Kiran and Padma eventually finished together in 12:25. Anil, in the meantime, forged ahead and I guess he was running with Pradeep and Ganesh. With about 6 miles to go, they decided that they had 67 minutes to make it to under 11:00 hrs. Pradeep and Ganesh took off at 10:00 min/mile pace. Unknown to them, the race ended IN the gymnasium, NOT on the levee where we had started in the morning. In the dark, they missed seeing the sign directing runner to the left. They must have run an extra 20-25 minutes (2 miles or so) until they realized that they were lost and turned back to eventually find the finish. Their eventual time was 11:20. Anil finished a little earlier in 11:11.

We partied after that - beer and Chinese food.

Anu - you are crazy. that's all. Blood down the back of your legs, pain in your foot and down one leg and yet you manage to finish an ultra. We should learn pain management from you.

Ganesh - you ROCK!! You are an amazing athlete. To go from 13 mile race to 50-miles is phenomenal.

Pradeep - 2 marathons in 3 weeks (Maui & Chicago, both under 4:00) AND a 50-miler with pain in your foot. Dude - you are simply unbelievable.

Anil - you are The ROCK. That's been my name for you since you and I ran my first ultra in Quicksilver. You and Kiran ran 52 miles on Saturday.

Kiran - you are such a loving soul. You paced Padma step for step to help her achieve her dream.

Padma - You ran at 10 minutes a mile pace from mile 23-25.5 in order to make the cutoff. Whew! That would have been the end of most people not used to running faster than their usual pace. In spite of that, you were strong in the last 10 miles. Hats off to you.

Thank you all for a wonderful day.