With all my travels (Anchorage, Alaska a week ago, Seattle this week and now in the Middle East for two weeks), the only positive thing I did going into this race was tapering. Seattle, and Issaquah in particular, are actually great trail running places, if you don't mind the rain, but I refrain from running any mile this past week. Yet, I was stressed out by the lack of sleep and felt compelled to add to Tim Long's pre-race comments that I had the same excuses as Mark not to perform well (overworked and sleep deprivation in particular). Furthermore, I was stunned when I saw that Dave Mackey had decided to run the race and enter at the last minute. Certainly, having won the past two editions and set a course record last year in 6:19.
Skyline 50K this August, from start to finish. Chris lives in Monterey and will join our Quick Silver Ultra Running Team for the 2012 season. Speaking of QSURT, we had an amazing participation this weekend with 15 entrants, almost the whole team!
After the first aid station at which we didn't stop, we were joined for a few miles by Sean Curry whom I had met at a Quick Silver training run in San Jose this Spring. It was Sean's first 50-miler and he was therefore running for the Dick Collins Rookie award, although not so hopeful as he had seen in the registrants list many fast runners being rookies at this distance too. Sean was running in Five Fingers and without any bottle which was quite aggressive on a trail 50-mile. Sean ended up running in 8 hours and 8 minutes for 22nd.
We passed Jonathan shortly after Bort Meadow, the 2nd aid station. Going up and down to Big Bear with Chris brought up the good memories of Skyline 50K as this section is common to both races. We passed a few of the early started, some of them calling my name as we were flying in the steep downhill. We then caught up with the tall and bold runner after the Big Bear aid station and chatted before he stopped at the restrooms we pass by when going through the redwoods, one of my favorite sections. Michael Garrison was coming from Honolulu, just for the race, having flown on Friday evening and leaving on Sunday. Arriving into Big Bear Gate aid station, photo credit to Gary Saxton:
We did a good stop at the turn around to refuel before the long climb up to Steam Train. Before leaving I told Graham (Cooper, who was supposed to run but had to attend his kids' soccer game later that morning) that I believed Dave was not going to make the record but he thought otherwise. I also saw Garry (Gellin) who is recovering from his great 100-mile debut at the Bear 100 two weeks ago. We then crossed all the other 50-mile runners, jogging most of the uphill with me walking from time to time to catch my breath, to make up for the 18-year gap between Chris and I... Another short stop at Steam Train and down we were, keeping crossing runners. Shortly after the aid station, Chris was ahead and asked me if I wanted to pass; a fraction of a second of inattention on my end in this technical section and, yikes, I felt flat on the ground, sliding on my left arm and leg. It went so fast but I could see my head approaching a rock and I was fortunate to stop just before hitting it, phew! My knee was bleeding and I had other bruises on the shoulder and thigh, but no big shock. The most damage was scratches on the glass of my GPS. This is my second real fall in 27,000 miles I ran over the past 13 years, the first one being at Quad Dipsea a couple of years ago, with no other damage than scratches on another GPS... (Quad Dipsea 2009: chasing too many turkeys...)
We crossed Chuck Wilson who was sweeping on the 50-miler, less than a mile from the Sibley Park aid station. Another short stop and I took the lead on the way down into the canyon with Chris leading on the way up to Skyline Gate. We reached the aid station in 5:08 with about 14 miles to go. We stayed for a minute or so (I took some chicken noodle soup which was great at this point of the race) and we rushed down, picking up the pace, getting our average pace down from bout 8:50 to 8:35 in the next 5 miles, back through the redwoods.
With 2.2 miles to Big Bear, we didn't stop at the small aid station. At this point we were passing quite a few of the marathoners. After a short stop at Big Bear, we went on the last big and serious uphill of the day, the hill which we ran all the way at Skyline 50K. Today though, I had to stop several times to catch my breath but Chris shuffled to wait for me. We crossed Baldwyn who took this picture of me during one of these power walking moments.
results were promptly posted online:
Vespa worked very well again. I took 5 GUs, a few pieces of banana and brownies, and some chips, but not much overall, plus one small cup of soup. I stayed right on target on the GU2) with one bottle every 15 miles. I could (read: should) have drunk more water to avoid a few cramps. Took a bit more S!Caps to be on the safe side after my crash at Rio Del Lago, although the temperature was just perfect this Saturday.
As for the shoes, I had not heard about the rain which washed the trails out last week while I was in Seattle and took a big risk running in the brand new light and flat PureConnect but it worked perfectly too (see my review of this model). Jonathan was wearing the PureGrit which are ideally designed for the trails with more grip.
Although I didn't run with my camera like I did last year (the ultra digithon), you can find a few pictures from the finish in my Picasa album.
I wrote this post on a 15-hour flight, talk to you next time from somewhere in the Middle East, hoping to get some runs in, and some heat training at least which I'll save for next year (just kidding...)!
PS: ran 9 miles on Sunday morning before my flight, and a half marathon at midnight upon getting into Dubai (86F/30C and 66% humidity...): the ultra season goes on!