The race actually started the night before, with a pasta party at my house. We were 23 to celebrate the visit of Leo in the Bay Area this weekend. Leo has moved to Eugene, OR, last year. We were used to do tempo runs on Saturday morning at the Los Gatos High School track with Derrick, Bob and Tony (see Bob and Tony in my Boston Marathon race report). In 2005-2006, we extended the workouts with two speedwork sessions at Homestead on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:50 (am!). We still hold these sessions when we are not traveling, with Bob, and everybody's welcome. I named our group LEATHER for LEo Athletic Track Homestead Early Runs, so LEATHER we celebrated that night. I had also invited other running buddies from my club, the Stevens Creek Striders, as well as Tim and Amir (see Human Race). Perfect company to enjoy Agnès' pastas and deserts. Just passed on the wine and beer, not part of my pre-race diet. Leo and Bob in the hot tub:
Here are a few running buddies from our Saturday morning Mid-Penninsula runs, also called the "Pierre Tardif" group: Mike, Greg, Chris, Jean, Craig, Denise, Charles.
Agnès took control of the camera for the start. Among some great pictures, I particularly like this one, as we are taking off and all focusing on starting our clocks. No false start and, despite taking off for several hours on the trail, every second counts!
After the first "PG&E" (1,550ft), we had a nice recovery down hill through some Alpine meadows. Cows on the side of the trail were wondering why we were rushing climbing to Mission Peak. A bull, right in the midle of the trail, started getting upset and nervous with the traffic, not sure how he behave with the rest of the pack. This reminded me of some runs in the French Alps, great memories. Very different from the woods we run in, on the other side of the Bay.
I passed Will after the meadows, getting in Kevin Sawchuck's footsteps, not far from Mark Lantz. Alterning power walk and jogging like us, Graham had already a few hundred-yard lead. Right before the sumit: Mark (Lantz), I, Try, Kevin, chasing Graham (photo credit:
Jeremy Graham, a student photographer, shot from the Mission Peak summit, courtesy of his friend Will Gotthardt):
Troy Howard passed me right after Mission Peak, in a section a bit too technical for the road shoes I had picked for the day, betting the cushioning will help on the downhill fire roads (Brooks brand, like Graham, but the Trance model for me). A bet which proved good quickly as we were flying down to the Laurel Loop aid station on a nice fire trail. Seems like I was the only one stopping to the aid station, albeit shortly, so I had to sprint to catch-up with the others. My marathon training gave me quite some speed in this first downhill and I caught up with Graham just before Sunol. Grabbed a peanut butter/jelly sandwich and got off as he just stopped for fluids.
Graham was kind enough to respond to my interview questions, I learnt a lot on such an accomplished and cool athlete. Will work on the transcript shortly, although maybe only after next weekend WS training camp. Although meant to be published in this French magazine, some of you have asked to see it in English, so stay tuned...
A big thank you to the RDs, Rob and Larry for keeping this Ohlone Wilderness 20 year tradition so enjoyable, the outstanding support of the volunteers at every 5 miles, despite very remote locations, and the friendly ambiance among this 150-runner field.
Overall, it was hard on the legs, as expected. Wonderful Alpine landscapes. Good mental training, accumulating the "PG&Es". Good fluid and food management experience. Thrilling experience to run strong when asthma is not kicking in like at Miwok or Way (not) too cool. And with all that, I'm still amazed at how yesterday's Silver State must have been so much more brutal with 20,000ft elevation over 50 miles. If you look back to the above elevation charts, seems like there is no easy correlation between elevation and time. 4:20 last November at Quad Dipsea (a way more technical trail with hundreds of stairs), 4:30 in a 4xPG&E training run last month, 4:40 at Ohlone. A good potential "business intelligence" problem for mathematicians and physiologists. No matter what, there is alway farther and faster achievements in ultra. And back to the title, countless challenges to find your inner self.
Ready for more miles at training camp, then tapering in June!