Saturday, February 02, 2008
(Wendell starting us off. Photo courtesy of Scott Dunlap)
Date: February 02, 2008
Race: PCTR Woodside 50K
Location: Woodside, CA
It was only a few days before this race that I really studied the course map. That's when I realized that the course was truly a known one!
It was during the few months leading up to my third marathon (CIM, Dec 2000) that I had come to know the 2 wonderful parks in Woodside - Huddart and Wunderlich. A few friends of mine from Oracle had invited me for a few runs there, including something they called The Loop where they would ascend Wunderlich, run over to Huddart along the 6 mile long Skyline Ridge Trail and then descend Huddart to come back to the Woodside Elementary School.
It was during one of these runs that I had gotten lost (I was carrying a small cheatsheet and the last few directions had me confused). I wound up running 22-23 miles instead of the 17-18 that the friends ran.
Knowing what the course looked like was a big comfort. I think it was then that the seeds of the idea that I would attempt to run the entire course were planted.
The day dawned cold and wet. A few showers accompanied me up King Mountain Road to the entrance to Huddart park and then down to the Werder Shelter parking lot.
The first lot was full by the time I rolled down into it and I went past it to the next one. Along the way I talked to Julian, a wonderful runner I had first met in the 2006 Miwok 100K. I got into my tights, my shoes and jammed 3 gels and one small bag of Perpetuem+Heed into my thin rain jacket pocket. I was wearing a thickish long-sleeved running top and thin black gloves.
I had decided to carry 2 hand bottles. The stretch from AS#2 back to AS#2 was a long 10 miles and I did not want to be caught unprepared. I met the usual wonderful people - Scott Dunlap, looking even thinner than usual (if that's possible), Christine Miller, Chuck Wilson, Harry Walther, Carol Cuminale and a few others.
Wendell started us off at 8:30 a.m. The first miles were a blessed downhill and I loved the feeling of my body getting warmed up. Julian and I talked about the races we had planned for the rest of the year.
Pretty soon Julian and his friend, Tiffany who was doing her first ultra, disappeared from sight. I settled into a conmfortable pace. I caught up with Chuck Wilson a couple of miles into the race and we ran for a bit together. I soon passed him and continued the climb up Huddart Park. My memories of this park had made it seem steeper than it actually felt. My breathing was fine and I was regularly sipping from my hand bottles.
The climb up Huddart went by in a flash and I was soon upon the slight descent down into AS#1 (9.7K or 6 miles). I reached it in 75 minutes (12:30 min/mile pace). I emptied my left shoe of gravel, had a few boiled potatoes and took off for the 6 mile jaunt across the Skyline Ridge trail to AS#2.
This trail was narrow with a few trees blocking the path, forcing the runners to stop and ford them gingerly. The first mile marked I saw was the 2 mile one. 23 minutes to cover those 2 miles or11:30 min/mile pace. Not bad I thought. The next one I saw was the 5 mile one. No idea how I missed 3 & 4! In the interim the first 2 35K runners had gone by me like the proverbial hares.
AS#2 soon came into sight. I had the hardy volunteers, braving the cold and the rain, top up my bottles with water and off I went with a few boiled potatoes in my hand.
The 2 50K leaders went by me in the opposite direction. Not far behind them was Scott Dunlap, looking smooth and relaxed. He finished 3rd bettering his Woodside 50K PR by 10 minutes!
Bev Anderson-Abbs was just behind him looking great too. Harry Walther too looked good as did Keith Blom behind him.
It was on this descent that a runner named Bettie White caught up with me. She and I talked briefly before she took off ahead of me. She is running WS later this year.
I soon came upon Julian and Tiffany. We ran together for a bit before Julian took off after Tiffany who was setting a pretty torrid pace. I had by now caught up with Bettie since the climb back up to the top had started. We played tag all race long. I would pass her on climbs. She would catch up on the descents!
I was approaching AS#2/3 when I saw what looked like an Indian, in a bright yellow vest and a helmet, waving to me. It was only when I was 20 feet or so from the AS that I realized it was Vinod Herur, out on a bike ride. The wonderful friend that he is, he had waited for me for the better part of an hour. I was so happy to see him! he really made my day!! Thank you, Vinod.
It was here that I realized that my dream of running the entire race, something I had not really doubted would happen, was about to come true. All I had were the 6 miles over to Huddart and the last 5 miles down to the Finish.
Bettie caught up with me again 4 miles or so after AS#3. My breathing had come apart just after AS#3 and my breath was rasping in my throat. I decided to suck it up and pick up my pace. I ket Bettie company until just before AS#4. I passed her a half mile or so before we reached it.
I did not stop at that AS. I had enough fluids in my bottle and I was eager to get to the final descent. I flew down the next couple of miles.
There was a small climb before we finally made a right onto the Richards Fire road. This last part, on asphalt, was a bit of a shock to the legs after almot 48K of soft trails.
Bettie caught up with me here again and she and I finished together in 6:16:06.
I had run an entire 50K. Every step of it!!! I was so proud of myself.
Wendell and Sarah's races are always fun. They are amazing people and their volunteers are no less. Thank you all for braving the cold and the rain and making it possible for me to run the Woodside 50K.