Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quicksilver 50K 2010: ultra racing

Phew, I just posted my belated Miwok race report, one week after this tough hilly 100K, and it is time to blog about another ultra race again, which I ran yesterday. American River 50-mile early April, then Ruth Anderson 50-mile mid-April, followed by Miwok 100K two weeks later, Quicksilver a week after, then Ohlone in two weeks... The ultra Grand Prix season is in full swing!

Actually, at this frequency, races represent a great way to work hard in my weekly long runs. Furthermore, it is not easy to figure out what is harder and more tiring between this "fun hard work" and my first job which is quite intense these days. As a recurring pattern, I did not sleep much the past nights, spending the week in Las Vegas for our annual user conference, Impact, with 6,000 participants, dozens of meetings with clients and colleagues on the side of a conference rich of 500 sessions. Phew!

I came back home at 7 PM on Friday evening, got a pasta dinner with Greg before going to bed at 9 for about 6 hours (kind of a recovery sleep for me...). Greg and Agnès were volunteering from 6 to 10 AM at the Dam Overlook aid station with the Stevens Creek Striders and they dropped me at the start at 5:30 AM (for the 6 AM start).
Last year I had a great 50-mile run on this course after a poor performance at Miwok (12:12 and hypothermia), but I felt too tired to switch to this distance today and preferred keeping the safer option of the "shorter" 50K distance. Many familiar faces at the start for this local race organized by my other running club, the Quicksilver Running Club of San Jose on our local turf. Also a strong representation from our ultra racing team (RhoQuick) on both ultra distances (there was also a 25K race which our teammate Gary Gellin won while improving the previous course record set by Leor Pantilat last year).

This year, Leor was part of the fast guys lining up on the 50K along with Victor Ballesteros. They actually took the lead immediately and I was not going to see them again during the race. My other teammate, Toshi, followed them along with the lead runner of the 50-miler. Although on the 50-miler too, RhoQuick member Sean stayed on my heels for the first 16 miles, along with Dylan Bowman who was visiting from Aspen, Colorado. The below 8 mile/minute pace was certainly reasonable for the 50K, but quite aggressive for the 50-miles.
Although I was really focused and pushing the pace given my current form and fatigue, it felt great to pass through the Dam Overlook aid station three times and see Agnès, Greg and so many familiar faces from the Striders. It was also nice to see so many runners on the trail as we were doing our respective loops on this convoluted course and wide fire trails.
I kept a good pace until mile 24 then walked some of the uphill sections afterward. My new Garmin 205 GPS seemed to be off by a mile compared to the mileage advertised for each aid stations. The discrepancy actually occurred in the first 7 miles of the course during which we mostly run under the trees with quite a few switchbacks around the creeks (New Almaden trail). In the last 7 miles, I kept thinking of the current 4:04 M40-49 age group course record. I thought I had passed the 50K mark last year in 4:06 or 4:08 but re-reading my 2009 race report, it was actually 4:03, even faster than the the 50K course record! So, as I wrote last year, I knew the 4:04 record was at reach. Yet, I could not run all the uphills in the final "roller coaster" this Saturday morning and had to really sprint in the down hills to make up for the lost time. Passing 25K runners, I rushed to the finish to cross the line in 3:58:58, barely breaking 4 hours.
Leor Pantilat had set a new overall course record in an amazing 3:30 and change. Victor finished second in 3:45. According to Agnès' pictures, he had a 7 minutes lead at our 3rd passage through Dam Overlook, which grew by 6 minutes in the final 7 miles as I was struggling. He told me at the finish that he had never started as hard as today while following Leor as far and long as possible. Victor will run SilverState 50 next week while I will see Leor and Gary at the start of Ohlone (and not much longer after the start!). Gary (Gellin) won the 25K today and even improved Leor's overall course record. Man, the competition is getting tougher and tougher!
Our teammate Miki won the 50K, clocking 4:45:
I had to leave early and before the barbecue to attend a synchronized swimming show in San Jose so I could only see the 50-mile runners going through the 50K aid station but not wait to seem them finish. I helped out at the aid station and we left around 11:45 AM. As of this Sunday night, the results are not yet published on the Ultra Signup site but Sean sent me this update with regard to the 50-mile race: Zachary Landman (23, of San Francisco) won in 6:50 followed by Rob Evans in 6:53. Pierre-Yves took 5th followed by Sean in 7:15.

Here is Rob at the first passage through Dam Overlook:
Pierre-Yves at mile 9.8:
And Sean at the 50K mark while he was still in third:

A special thank to Paul Fink for organizing this event, to Pierre-Yves for co-directing it, and to the many volunteers working prior, during and after the race for making this race series a success. And a special mention to my fellow Striders for manning the busiest aid station of Dam Overlook (more than 1,000 runners passing through the aid station between 7 AM and 2 PM!).

See more pictures taken by Agnès and Greg in my Picasa album.


Scott Dunlap said...

Nice job. That's a lot of racing!

Pierre-Yves said...

Congrats Jean! Another age group record just a week after an impressive Miwok... How do you do that??

Toshi Moshi said...

My fiancee Judy told me that you zoomed past her going down Hacienda. She said she has never ran so fast in her life (she thought she would miss my finish), but you came out of nowhere and smoked her - she didn't even hear you coming!

Toshi H.