In Quicksilver, on a long day,
With the Sun having his hot say,
I finished the 50 mile race
With a smile on my sweaty face.
Success in my second foray!
It unfolded like a screenplay:
A steady start on the raceway,
Then fast mid-miles in open space
The villainous Heat post noonday
Yielding to Shade along Woods way.
With me was my pacer, my ace,
Allowed in this dusty footrace,
Who came along with me to play
Race: Quicksilver 50 mile run
Date: May 10, 2008
I finally discovered what the last 19 miles of this race were like. I am now an official fan of the Quicksilver 50 mile race.
This was, as I have mentioned in the race reports from prior years for this race, my first ultra 3 years ago. I ran the 50K last year in 5:57, a satisfying race for me on all fronts. The only slight blemish, if that, was the fact that I had not finished the 2006 50 mile race, having opted to stop at 31 miles. My legs had given up after 3 weekends of back to back races - the Big Sur marathon followed by the Miwok 100k followed by Quicksilver.
I decided to bite the bullet this year and conquer the 50 mile demon that had bugged me since 2006. In retrospect, as I sit here typing, the Demon was, instead, an ally. Not an enemy to fear but someone to befriend.
My Posterior Tibialis tightness, first encountered in the Lean Horse 100m in August, 2007, threatened to resurface as it had done during the middle miles of the American River 50M a month ago. I quickly contacted Royal Jacobs, a friend and a superb massage therapist, who worked on me for a hour on Friday and released all the tightness in my glutes and the surrounding areas.
Race morning dawned a bit cold. I was out on the road at 5:00 a.m. and reached the Mockingbird Hill Lane entrance parking at 5:18. The lot was full! Ultra running has indeed become more popular. The past 3 years I had reached at about the same time and the lot had been, at best, half full. Next year I had better leave home at 4:30 a.m.!!
I wound up parking on the first side street just down the hill from the main parking lot. Mark Tanaka and I walked back up to the registration tent to pick up our bib numbers and hand in our drop bags. Chihping Fu and I met for the first of 3 times and exchanged a smile and wished each other good luck. He is one person who always has a smile on his face along with words of encouragement for the other. What a friend.
I greeted Scott Dunlap when he came in a few minutes later. He is almost a fixture in this race!
Just before the race started I bumped into Marissa Licon. I had first met her during the 2006 Rio Del Lago 100 mile run. She was one of 4 teens who was attempting to finish that race. She got hyponatremic and had to call it a day about 24 miles into that race. I had met her again in the American River 50M a month ago.
The race started soon enough and I found myself keeping pace with Rick Gaston who remembered my name. We talked for a few minutes before he took off running like a hare up ahead of me. He went on to finish the 50M in 8:02!
The run along the New Almaden Trail was great. That trail has no steep parts and is almost the only part of the race that can be deemed "flat".
Marissa Licon and I kept within 50 yards of each other. We finally started running together about 9 miles into the race. I had mentioned the fact that I drink Ensure during my races and I gave her one of my bottles from my Dam Overlook AS drop bag. Chuck Wilson and Christine Miller were volunteering in this AS and it is always great seeing them in races.
Before this I had run briefly with Robert Fosselman and Tom Crull. Tom talked about a couple of races that he loved to go back to every year - the Old Pueblo 50M and the Avalon 50M on Catalina Island. I will look up those races one of these years.
Marissa and I then ran the loop from mile 9 to mile 19 (through the Capehorn Pass AS) and then back to the Dam Overlook AS at 23.7. We had teamed up with a runner named David MacVittie around 20 miles into the race. He was doing his first ultra and he went on to finish the 50K in 7:26.
We were together from there on out almost to the end of the 50K. It was about 24 miles into the race, going up the long climb from the Dam Overlook AS, that Marissa began to feel the effects of the heat. I gave her my visor to help cool her down but she got progressively slower. Even the breeze on the descent down to the Englishtown AS did not seem to help her.
We reached that aid station and I promptly had the volunteers, who were superb everywhere in the race, fill up my Cool Off bandana with lots of ice so that Marissa could put it around her neck to bring her core temperature down a bit. Even that did not seem to help her much. There was another mile or so of descending after the AS followed by some climbing until the final 4-5 short but steep hills on the way down to 31 miles.
(With Marissa around mile 28 or 29. David MacVittie and
Dan Marinsik behind. Photo courtesy Chihping Fu)
It was around the second of these short climbs that she asked me to go ahead. She was planning to see how she felt once she reached 31 miles before continuing (she eventually missed the cutoff and had to drop). One tough 20 year old!
I took off up and down the hills and reached the Start/Finish area at 1:00 p.m. (7 hours into the race). Raj, Anu's husband and my pacer, was waiting there patiently for me to show up. I quickly had one of the volunteers fill one of my bottles with Coke, to which I added a tablet of Salt Stick, and the other one with cold water and we hit the trail at 1:05 p.m. The next 4 miles were right out of Hell!! It was very hot with nary a breeze and the slopes were steep here and there. To make matters worse, my breathing had started to unravel.
Having Raj by my side was a great comfort and we talked about many things including how he was interested in doing more trail races. He had done only 1 run, one of 2 miles, 2 days ago and not a single run between that day and his first marathon, the Napa Valley one, 2 months ago. He had been training for a 100 mile bike race which he duly completed in just over 7 hours in the last weekend of April. He is one amazing athlete!
We met Lee and Wini Jebian and Dave Combs, all on their way to the 50K finish. Diane Vlach also went past. Dave Combs went on to finish an hour faster than last year!
We got back to the Englishtown AS around 8:00 into the race. The next part of the course was an unknown to me. It came as a revelation! The climbs were not steep at all! Just gentle ones that I could negotiate by running as and when I felt like it. I fell in love with this section.
(With Raj, my pacer, in the Sierra Azul section of the course. Photo courtesy of Chihping Fu)
The views were wonderful and the shade very welcome. Raj and I took our train all the way to the turnaround (mile 41.5). We reached it at 3:45 p.m. Raj had his Camelbak filled up while I did the same for my bottles. After some blister work on my pinkie toes, we started back. After 10 minutes or so, I decided that I was going to run all the way back to the Finish. The cutoff we were keeping an eye on was the 5:25 p.m. one at mile 45.5.
Off I went with Raj in tow. He was doing a superb job of running the climbs with me in spite of not having run for 2 months! I was in admiration for his fitness and determination. We made it back to the 45.5 miles Aid Station (Hicks Road) at 4:45 p.m. and were out a few minutes later. It is there that we met a runner named Daniel Taub. He had fallen and hurt his right arm very badly. The tough runner that he was, he joined up with us on the way back to the Finish. The last 2.5 miles, from the Englishtown AS (mile 47.5), were 90% downhill and it was fun flying down the slopes knowing that this was the last time I would have to do it in the race.
I crossed the Finish line in 11:35:31. Daniel finished 2 minutes behind me. Raj too came in a few minutes later having wisely decided to save his legs by walking down some of the steeper slopes.
Paul Fick, the RD, took over from Janice and Tom (RDs for the last 9 years) and did as fantastic a job of running this race as they had. The volunteers in this race, mostly from the Quicksilver Running Club, are simply amazing. They brave the hot sun and go out of their way to help the runners achieve their race goals. Thank you one and all from the bottom of my heart.
Until next year. The 50K is no longer an option. I will always run the 50M!!!