Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ruth Anderson 50K

Date : March 31, 2007
Location : Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA
Race : Ruth Anderson 50K
Time : 4:59:53

What an eventful day it turned out to be!

All week long my tight hamstrings had bothered me and I had flirted with the idea of running the 50K instead of 50 miles depending on how the race transpired.

Self-fulfilling prophecy!!

4:00 am
The alarm went off and I got out of bed. I had to be ready to leave my place by 5:00 a.m., at the latest, to pick up Anil from his place and then head to the race start. I reached his place at 5:10 a.m. We loaded my car with his stuff and a cooler that contained bottles of Ensure and Clip2 (he had made them the night before). We stopped on the way to the freeway to fill the cooler with ice.

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.

6:30 a.m.
We were off!

I got into a bunch of speedy runners right off the bat! Leanne McCulloch, Carol Cuminale and a couple of others who set a fast pace in the early miles.

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.


Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Great job for a sub-5hr 50K even with muscle pain! Hope you recover soon.

See you between Sacramento and Auburn ;-)


Rajeev said...


I hope you are doing well. You did fantastic on your 100K! See you between Sactramento and Auburn!!

anil said...

Hurray!!! Awesome run Rajeev, you made sub 5 inspite of the injury!

Wayto go. we will be seeing more PR's coming your way this year.

Smart decision to stop at right moment.

Rajeev said...


Thank you! I was very impressed with your tenacity in that race. You ran the last 20+ miles with discomfort. Good for you.


Tiny Seal said...

Congratulations on the awesome time! Sure requires mental strength to do lap after lap for that much distance! Good luck with the cramp recovery, hope you are feeling better already.

wkolegal said...


Great job - especially pushing through the pain. It was really fun to see you again. Looking forward to our next race together.


Rajeev Char said...

50K run on Saturday - 45 mile bike ride on Sunday!! Crazy kia re!
Congrats on the fast finish...get some well earned rest.


Rajeev said...

Alan & Rajeev,

Thank you!! You folks are kickass athletes and I wish you luck in your respective races.