No, it is not yet another test to get through before College (SAT, PSAT, SAT2, ACT, CBEST, GMAT, TOEFL, NMSQT, CLEP, GMAT, ...). No, QD test it is not a medical one either. QD stands for Quad Dipsea, the shortest but one of the toughest and most grueling ultra in the PA USATF series (Pacific Association USA Track & Field). 28 miles of technical trails, 9,200 feet of cumulative elevation, 2,680 stairs! The race is held each year on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, and this will be the 26th edition this year. "Tropical" John Medinger is the current race director (John is also the Publisher of UltraRunning magazine, "the voice of ultra running since 1981").
The Dipsea trail is well known of runners and hikers in the San Francisco area. Between Mill Valley and Stinson Beach, and around the summit of Mount Tamalpais, it is the course of 3 popular races which all fill in very quickly:
- Dipsea (the single),
- Double Dipsea (one out and back, the same weekend as Western States so, between being the captain at Last Chance and running WS, it has been a while since I didn't run it),
- and Quad Dipsea (2 out and backs, starting from Mill Valley).
Anyway, Saturday had perfect conditions for testing my fitness before Quad Dipsea, hence the name of QD Test: agenda open until 5 pm, bright blue sky, temperature on the cool side but a warm sun and light breeze, trail in perfect conditions with just enough moisture to eliminate the dust. I used one of my long and reasonably hard routes, climbing up to Black Mountain along the Stevens Creek Reservoir and Monte Bello Road, then down on Old Ranch, Bella Vista and Canyon trails, followed by the long and steep 1.5-mile climb up to the campground and summit, on Indian Creek trail. A nice tour through the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve (see map).
From Black Mountain, I switched to the nearby Preserve and got on the Rancho San Antonio side (map), going down on Black Mountain trail to the Duveneck Windmill Pasture, then to the farm on Chamise and back home via McClelan Ranch Road. That's about 50% road, 30% dirt fire road and 20% non technical single trail, so very far from the Dipsea conditions (meaning, much easier). Furthermore, for 29.6 miles, the cumulative elevation is 3,450 feet versus more than 9,200 for QD, as indicated on Stan's run100s website, for "only" 28+ miles.I was so happy to get on for a long run, my first since the pathetic Helen Klein, that I got quite excited on the way up to Black Mountain (2,800 ft). Not overly but enough to PR by 2 minutes at 1:34 for the first 11.5 miles. However I hit the wall at mile 17.5, 1 mile into the 1.5-mile climb back to the summit. I was doing great, imagining and visualizing Erik Skaggs going light in steep uphills (I never saw him or met in person, but I can only guess from his performances). Erik is the main favorite for Quad Dipsea this year (Erik won last year with the 2nd fastest time ever, 1 minute behing the record Carl set in 1992). Well, I might have pushed the engine too far because the last 12 miles were less pleasant than the first ones, albeit the negative elevation going through Rancho San Antonio and the flat section in Cupertino. I had lost 5 pounds, taking only 3 gels (actually doing an experiment with a mix of Cliff Shot, Hammer Gel and GU (I need to write a comparative review on them, there certainly are differences between these brands). It took me three hours and a good dinner to recover.
Nonetheless, it was a good QD test. I had set a new PR on this loop, by 4 minutes, just getting under 4 hours. And I know that my legs are back but I'm still not super fit after this 2-week break in my training and the end of a long season. Now, looking forward to the weather we will get next Saturday...
Birthday trail party
After the hard work on Saturday, a very different format for my run this Sunday. Chris had organized a "trail party" to celebrate Chuck Wilson's 60th birthday. Like yesterday, the weather was perfect and 20 of us were off on the trails to celebrate Chuck's milestone.
More friends joined us for the following pot-luck, hosted by Joe in his house with wonderful views over South Bay. We all shared stories about Chuck, how we met, funny anecdotes, crazy runs, personal connections. With more than 25 years of ultra experience, and races all over the World, Chuck has a lot of stories to share himself and is also an "ultra encyclopedia." Like one runner told me a few weeks ago about Chuck, "insert a coin, and he will not stop talking about ultra for hours!" You could not miss the birthday boy today in his bright Ohlone shirt (a nice way to think of Rob Byrne, Ohlone RD, who could not make it from his exile in the Netherlands):Congratulations, Chuck, and long life on the trails. See you at Quad Dipsea next weekend, and good luck at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile in Marin County on December 6th. Your real birth date, what better way to celebrate your 60 years than that!
PS: I posted 90 pictures of our nice run in my Picasa album: check them out!