Monday, April 07, 2008

2008 AR50M

Sore throat. Runny nose. Drat this pesky cold.
A fool if you run they said. Want to die?
My big question - how will the race unfold?

Bit worried I was and that's not a lie.

The sore throat went away Friday evening.

The nose emptied out in the early miles.

Finally! Time to put in some racing!!

The future looks good! I'm all grins and smiles!

Wait! It's been a while since the last milepost

That shows my progress on the narrow trail!

Did I miss it? Have I been so engrossed?

There it is! My pace is that of a snail???

Is it not the jacket that enticed me?

Then have fun! From time goals set yourself free!!!!!!!

Date: April 05, 2008
Race: American River 50M
Location: Auburn, CA
Time: 11:22

So I gave myself the greatest gift. I liberated myself from the anxiety of finishing in or under a particular time. A wonderful gift indeed. It gave me time to appreciate my body and my mind and how they worked in unison to propel me forward.

Friday, April 4
I picked up Alan Geraldi from his place and we hit the road sometime around 12:30 p.m. We made it to the Fleet Feet store in Fair Oaks around 3 p.m. to pick up our bib numbers. We did a bit of shopping there since they were having a sale of mighty proportions.

After a stop in Target to pick up a few last minute things, we made our way to Norm and Helen Klein's home in Rancho Cordova. They are the most amazing individuals. They insisted that we stay for supper. Helen rustled up some amazing salad and pasta in a red sauce. We left their beautiful home just after 6 p.m. and checked into the Comfort Inn in Auburn (a few miles from the AR50 finish). After making our drop bags etc., we were asleep by 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 5
I got a good 4 hours of sleep and was up with the sound of the alarm. Alan hit the bathroom first while I shaved and brewed some coffee.

We left the hotel around 3:30 a.m. and were one of the first cars to park in the Finish area. The buses arrive just around 4 a.m. and we were soon on our way around 4:20 a.m. Alan and I were sitting in the back of the bus and most of the journey was spent huddling in order to avoid this very cold draft that was coming in from some opening that I could not see.

It's only after the bus stopped near the Start that we were able to move up to the front where it was toasty! The bus drive lady was kind enough to let us stay in the warm confines almost until the start of the race.

(Nice and warm in the bus, just before the start of the race)

The race started soon after. I spent the early miles socializing with a bunch of friends. I had set my watch timer to allow me to do a 10 min run followed by a 2 min walk. Since most of the first 31 miles were "flat" I could afford to do so.

The first 3rd of the race went by uneventfully. I reached 15 miles or so in a decent time. I had a plan of sorts for the race. The plan was to put some time in the "bank" before the course hit the single track after mile 31. It was in the last few miles leading up to the Hazel Bluff AS (mile 19) that I met up with and ran with a fellow ultraholic Martin Casado. He picked up pace just before that AS and went on to finish in a sub 9:45!

(Running up the slope to Hazel Bluff, mile 19)

I reached Beals Point (mile 27 or so) in 5:27. The 50K point (mile 31.5) came in 6:31. About 35 minutes slower than my 2007 race. Maybe I could pick up speed in the last 18 miles!

My blood sugar had dropped a lot around mile 24-25 and did not come back up until (a) I had started drinking Coke, and (b) ingested a few more gels. This happened around the Buzzard's Cove AS (mile 33). After that the race went by phenomenally well.

Just after that AS I fell in behind a runner named Diane and her pacer Marissa. It was around here that I met lovely Nancy Warren who was pacing Diane Vlach.

Our train went on for the next 7 miles together (until Rattlesnake Bar, mile 40.3). We parted ways after this until about a mile after that AS when Diane passed me with her next pacer in tow. I ran alone from that point on out except for a few mile before the next AS (mile 43.5), i.e. Manhattan Bar, with Roger Jensen.

Roger stopped in the Manhattan Bar AS to take something out of his waist pack and I continued on alone. I eventually reached the first of the final climbs. Amazingly the climb seemed even less steep this year than it had seemed last year and the year before. Before I knew it I was at the Last Gasp AS (mile 47.6). I only had 2.4 miles to go. I ran all the way to the Finish, hills and all, to end up doing the race in 11:22. The jacket was well earned!!!

I learned later that Alan had been on a blazing pace (50K in 4:15!) until he came down with stomach issues. He still finished in a superb 8:50. Chihping and Yuki too managed good race times.

I met Todd Anderson after the race. He is running WS later this year and is always an inspiration for me. So is Catra who finished 30 minutes or so before I did.

Greg and his superb team of volunteers put up a fantastic show as usual. Thank you all for volunteering and making it possible for us to run. The trail conditions were perfect as was the weather. Norm Klein had lost his voice earlier in the day so I had the honor and privilege of having my name announced by Dave Combs!