Saturday, March 10, 2007

Way Too Cool 50K

Such is the hubris of the human mind:
I've done 160, what's a 50K?
On those trails the hubris was left behind
As the steep climbs and the heat had their say!
The first few miles went by in tearing speed,
As though this mind had to be somewhere soon!
Slow was the call to which it paid not heed.
'Twas like it was playing a different tune.
Half done but the speed was slowly fading;
Came the time to dig deep and summon grit.
And so it went those last miles of running:
Tired legs the mind having to outwit!
Every race has something to offer
That goes right into the knowledge coffer.

Date : March 10, 2007
Location : Cool, CA
Race : Way Too Cool 50K
Finish Time : 6:00:40.8

Friday, March 9
Anil and I decided to start from the Bay area at 7:15 p.m. in order to avoid getting stuck in traffic out of the Bay area and around Sacramento. It proved to be a good choice. We were in the hotel in Auburn by 9:45 p.m. We laid out all our stuff, filled our bottles with Clip2+Succeed and hit the sack. I was asleep by 10:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 10
We got up at 6 a.m. and hit the road by 7:05 a.m. after our usual breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and coffee. We found parking almost half a mile away from the start! It was chilly and I was shivering as we made our way to the Start area to pick up our bib numbers. We met Yuki, Nicole Whiting, Chuck Wilson and a bunch of other folks there.

(With Anil and Yuki before the start)

By the time we got back to the Start after walking to the car to put away our plastic bags, it was 7:50 a.m. The race started on the dot at 8:00 a.m.

Way Too Cool is one of the few trail races that uses chip timing.

The early miles flew by. Literally! I was running at anything between 7:45-9:00 mins/mile pace. It felt great to be 13 lbs. lighter and be able to fly up and down hills with gay abandon.

I would pay later but who cared at that moment?

(Approaching the Hwy 49 aid station the first time, 6.5 miles into the race)

I had decided to lay it all out on the line in this race. I would crash and burn later but so be it.

Mile 10 went by in 100 minutes. The halfway point came by in 2:40. At mile 14.5, my blood sugar was starting to drop so I switched to Coke from there on out.

Then the debt collectors came a calling!! The early fast pace had to be paid for with interest. My breathing turned ragged and my legs started to tire. I would ride the sugar highs when they happened and the pace picked up to an echo of the early miles. I felt great then, in groove. Then the sugar would drop and I would slow, hanging on until the next high. And so the miles passed by. There were a few good climbs (10-12%+ gradient) that rested some muscles while working others.

I rolled into the final aid station 5:45 into the race. A 50K is 31.8 miles. My mind, doing the math, had come up with a 6:15-6:20 finish. Imagine my surprise when we were told that the finish was only 1.7 miles away! I had failed to notice, in the mileage chart on the Web, that the race was a mile shorter i.e. 30.89 miles. I was spurred into action.

I ran the first 0.25 miles, power walked the short climb that followed and then started running as fast as I could at the top and did not stop until I had burst past the finish in 6:00:40.8. Failed by 41 seconds to go under 6:00 but I had no regrets.

This race reinforced so many things. There are no "small" races. A race is as hard as one chooses to make it. There are times when a race will make one dig down deep and face up to one's demons. This one did not throw up any demons for me but it sure made me dig! All races feel great in the finish area. The harder the race the sweeter the finish!

Anil had a semi-tough race. He had stomach problems mid-way through the race but gutted it out to yet another sub-7 finish (6:55). What a strong runner he is. I've never ever heard him complain or whine. He is always cheerful, even after a hard race.

Yuki ran this race too since the course is part of the Western States 100 miler that he will be running later this year in June. He had a nasty fall, injuring his elbow and knee. he somehow picked himself up and continued to finish in 5:16. Superman is a good nickname for this man! He had run the Tokyo marathon two weeks earlier in 3:05!!

This race was John Martin's, Nicole's husband, first ultramarathon. He ran it in 5:13!! Wow!!!

Anil and I then chatted with Don and Gillian in their Zombierunner booth. They are a fantastic couple. I thank them for their friendship.

The race was wonderfully managed thanks to Greg Soderlund and his amazing crew of volunteers. You all make trail running so much fun for all of us.

Good luck to all of you out there in your future races and endeavors.

(Photos courtesy of Yuki Negoro and Leanne McCulloch)


anil said...

Congrats Rajeev!!!!!!!! I am very very thrilled to see you did a 6 hr 50k.

Always knew your calibre and I am sure faster times will follow this year. you are in great shape buddy.

Have a injury free races ahead.

Indeed it was very very well organized and perfect day to run.

Just blessed to have gotten chance to do this.

Nicole said...

Rajeev, congratulations on pulling through a tough race, I had the same hubris that day! Thanks for mentioning John's accomplishment. It was such a pleasure to hang out with you after the finish. You really drove the point home about the point where negative thoughts come into the mind.

And your tales of the Spartathlon were entrancing!

I think we might see you at the Quicksilver...

Rajeev said...

Anil - thanks buddy.

Nicole - it was fun hanging out with the 3 of you after the race. Quicksilver promises to be fun.

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Rajeev, thanks for sharing your story so that I did not run but still felt the fun. I really miss that part of the WS100 trail!

Wondering how you lost 13 lb but that should get you next level of running without sacrificing fun. Congrats on your PR!

Chihping (eager to run on technical trails but stuck with ankle recovery)

Rajeev said...


I hope your ankle heals soon. The trails are missing you!

Tiny Seal said...

Congratulations on the awesome finish time! 6 hours sounds really good!

Yuki should start blogging too. i only come to know of his accomplishments from others' blogs :-) 5:14 finish. wow!

Rajeev said...

Yup. Yuki is an awesome runner!