We reached the start area just after 6:00 a.m. Got our bib numbers and spent the next 20 minutes socializing with Chihping Fu, Yuki Negoro, his wife Miho, Alan Geraldi and Ron Duncan.
More about them later.
We all walked to the start which was about half a mile away from the parking lot. John Burton, the co-RD with Amy Burton, gave us last minute instructions. The course was laps of a 4.45 mile loop around Lake Merced.
We were off!
After about 2 miles or so, just before the only aid station (other than the one at the Start/Finish), I sped up ahead of the others. Leanne, battling ITB the past few months, had come into the race with the intention of doing her first 100K. Anil Rao was also determined to achieve the same.
I reached the Start/Finish area after the first loop in 36 minutes. I sped through that aid station and reached the place where we had started the race from. That lap was 41 minutes. The second lap was pretty much similar to the first one - 41 minutes (82 minutes, 8.9 miles).
Then disaster struck! A mile and a half into the 3rd lap, I felt my right calf, just behind and below the knee, seize up. I had never ever had trouble with calf muscles during races and this was an unusual spot for me. The tightness was such that even walking was painful. I somehow managed to hobble along until the pain lessened a bit. I came to the mid-way aid station and asked them for a muscle relaxant. No luck. I decided to suck it up and reach the Start/Finish hoping that a relaxant would be available there.
They did not have any either. What they did have were Succeed Caps (salt tablets). I promptly ingested one, wondering if the tightness was caused partly by salt deficiency. This lap was slow (44 minutes; 126 minutes, 13.35 miles).
A mile into the 4th lap the pain had almost gone. It came back now and then but was pretty much off the horizon all the way to the end. I had decided by now to limit the race to a 50K. I did not want to jeopardize the American River 50M two weeks from now (April 14). Lap 4 was done in 41 minutes again (167 minutes, 17.80 miles)
Every 2 laps I was chugging down a bottle of Ensure. The first bottle went down easy and stayed down well. The 2nd one (after Lap 4) sloshed around in my stomach and caused problems. By now the sun was heating up the course and my breathing problems reared their ugly head. Lap 5 was the slowest - 47 minutes. 214 minutes for 22.25 miles if you are keeping count.
Lap 6 was much better. Mentally I knew that there was only one more lap to go. It was faster than the previous one, in 44 minutes again (258 minutes, 26.70 miles).
The last lap was bliss. I found renewed energy and the pace picked up. With about 0.5 miles to go, I realized that I had a slim chance of breaking 5 hours. I sped up. I flew past the aid station (the 50K finish was a quarter mile further up) and willed my body to a 4:59:53 finish! Mission accomplished!!! The timer at the finish called out my bib number (202) and my finish time - 4:59:53. I showed him my watch - it had the same time!
I hung around for another 45 minutes waiting for Anil. In the meantime I took pictures of the aid station and various runners coming through. Alan Geraldi finished 2nd (I believe) in 3:53 (!) while Ron Duncan ran a 4:08. Wow!!
Yuki, not yet fully recovered from last week's 4:57 in a hilly Pirates Cove 50K, ran 50 miles. Chihping went on to complete 100K as did Anil in 12:50!
Leanne was looking strong when I left and I hope she realized her dream of the 100K.