Monday, May 22, 2006

Quicksilver 50K (May 13, 2006)

Date : May 13, 2006
Location : Almaden Quicksilver Park, San Jose
Race : Quicksilver 50K/50M
Finish Time : 7:29:33 (50K)

And so they came to the start that morning,
Some for 50K, some for 50 miles.
A hot day it was; they were uncaring,
For there stood Tom and Janice, all big smiles.
A yearly pilgrimage for all that day.
Up steep hills and down even steeper ones,
As directed by race crew on the way,
They went, led by their nimble speed barons.
Among them were Wini, Gillian and Don,
And a host of others: some old, some new.
From the start to the finish, on and on,
As now and then a gentle, cool breeze blew.
An event it was that all will treasure
And remember fondly with much pleasure.

Got up with the alarm. All through my early morning activities, I had this faint feeling of “something not good is going to happen today”. Maybe my mind was listening to my body, an entity I had alternately ignored or coerced into action for the week since Miwok.

I left home at about 4:30 am and reached the Start area at 4:45 am. Got my things ready in the car while waiting for Anil and Arun Simha to show up. The two of them went off to drop their drop bags while I chatted with Yuki, Shige and Chihping.

Met a whole lot of runners from previous races, including Carol Cuminale (RD, Forest of Nisene Marks marathon in Aptos, CA). Got the first picture of the day with Carol, Anil and Arun Simha who was doing his first ultra, in hilly Quicksilver no less!

Janice gave us last minute instructions about trail markings for the 50K and the 50 miler. We were soon off. An initial downhill was followed by the first climb of the day. Anil and I had both told Arun that we would be walking the hills. I believe he understood that we (him, Anil and I) would be the ONLY ones doing so. J He was thus pleasantly surprised to see all the people around us doing the same.

Anil parted ways with us about 1.5 miles into the run. Arun and I kept exchanging places with a couple of tail enders for the next couple of miles. I too took off at about 5.5 miles (just before the first aid station at Webb Canyon at mile 6.4). Initially I felt guilty but I had to make the cutoff for the 50-mile race (50K in 7:50 or 1:50 pm). I wished him good luck mentally and took off after Wini Jebian. She had run Miwok with me the weekend before (she finished a few seconds after me) and she was going at an amazingly steady and fast pace. We ran together to the next aid station (mile 9.7, Dam Overlook). Here I caught up with Anil. I ate the usual stuff I do and took off with Anil. We ran/walked for the next many miles. Walked all the climbs. Anil was looking strong all through. For once he received more phone calls than I did!

We soon reached the Capehorn aid station at mile 14.5 where I schmoozed with Doug, Doug and Kelly (she remembered me from last year). I jokingly called her the “Sugoi” lady (she was wearing a Sugoi top).

We were soon off climbing again. We passed a bunch of interesting structures along this section - an old, ramshackle structure and a building called the “Powder House”. Guess they stored gunpowder there during those long gone mining days.

We crested at about mile 17 and then made our way back down to the Dam Overlook station, this time at mile 19.0. We met Chihping Fu here. This man ran the 50-miler in 8:54! A PR for him over that distance.

The views from here were some of the greatest ever. The pictures below do scant justice.

We met Yuki here (mile 23.7 for him). He was looking good at this stage and would go on to finish the 50-mile race in 9:34.

This is where I got separated from Anil for the next 4 miles. I wound up running/walking with Wini and we had a great time talking about her friends and fellow 60+ year olds. I finally espied Anil when I neared the Dam Overlook aid station (mile 23.7 this time around). He asked me if he should wait for me. Knowing that I was slowing down and knowing that he wanted to go under 12 hours for the race, I asked him to continue.

I started the trudge back up to the top (just over 2 miles). That walk soon had me convinced that doing a 50-miler in my rapidly deteriorating condition (no aches or pains, just general lassitude) would indeed be foolish and it would be prudent to stop at 50K. I called Anil and left him a message to this effect. I called Anu, who was hoping to pace me for the first few miles of the 50-miler from the Start/Finish area, and told her about my decision and asked her to get me a cold beer J

Having made the decision, all I had to do was move my legs towards the much awaited finish. I soon found myself at the Englishtown aid station where I met Kelly and Doug again. Schmoozed some more and had them in splits with my jokes. Janice, the Race Director, was there too and I informed her about my decision. She encouraged me to reconsider after finishing the 50K but I knew that I did not want to continue.

A couple of miles from the finish, on a descent, I ran into Pres (he and Anil had run the Woodside 50K earlier in the year) who was limping because of ITB. I had him lie down and gave him a painful massage. That seemed to help him right away. Showed him how to place his ITB affected leg when landing and took off.

Soon after my legs gave up on me on the climbs. I would stop, bent over for them to recover and then proceed.

The final brutal descent certainly did not help.

I was relieved to finish in 7:29. Anu was there with the cold beer and the warmest of hugs to cheer for me!

Sowmya showed up with Vibhas as did Sarah and we sat there for another hour for Arun to roll in. He looked good and was the happiest man there.

I went home to rest for a bit before heading out in the evening for a party, all the while worried about Anil and hoping for his safety.

I finally managed to talk to him, right after he finished. I’m so proud of this young man. He has a core of steel. He finished in 12:20, just making the 45 mile cutoff!

This race is a fantastic one. The RDs are wonderful as are all the aid station volunteers. It’s not an easy course but the views are terrific and it’s in my backyard.

Happy running all of you.

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