Sunday, October 28, 2012

Run d'Amore recon: San Martin race track

I had registered to Wiskheytown 50K which I ran only once, my first year in ultra, in October 2007 (I enjoyed re-reading my race report on the "F as in..." theme). The past years, I didn't even register because I had already secured the Grand Prix and one more 50K wasn't going to make a difference so late in the season. This year, I still wanted to race as I missed a 100-mile race because of the broken shoulder this summer and was excited to come back 5 years later to see if I'd enjoy the 20 or so creek crossings more than the first time. However, after I signed up, Max made plans to visit from Yale for a long weekend and I didn't want to miss two days out of the four he was in town (a 5-hour drive each way plus a hotel night). So, after getting the permission from our team Captain, Greg, I opted for a DNS (Did Not Start) or rather a DNG (Did Not Go).
Instead, I drove South, down to San Martin on 101, just before Gilroy. More exactly to Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park, the place of Rajeev's Run Des Vous 100-mile in August and the upcoming  Run D'Amore in two weeks. Run D'Amore will have 4 ultra distances: 50K, 100K, 100 miles and 201K. The latest, 125 miles, is meant to provide an opportunity to qualify for the grueling Spartathlon in Greece (qualifiers include 100K under 10.5 hours or a non-stop 200K race regardless of time). While my last Miwok already qualifies me, I'm not sure I'm ready to enlist myself for this remote race. My goal is more to cover a distance which I never ran so far, and maybe go even farther, as many miles I can cover in 24 hours (the event is 36 hours). By the way the race is co-directed by Rajeev Patel and Alan Geraldi and, while being a low-key event capped at 100 participants, there are still about 50 spots available, you just have to pick your distance and signup on! Alan and Rajeev put a lot of efforts in organizing this event which, if the weather remains as good as it was this week, promise to be a great and pro ultra celebration. Come and join us to set a new PR at any of these distances!

The website clearly advertise the fact that the course isn't flat. It consists of a 2.01-mile USATF-certified loop with about 100-feet cumulative elevation. While 100 feet don't represent much, it will make 5,000 feet for the 100-miler. Less than many mountain trail ultras, yet not flat either. I wanted to have a taste or feel of that "undulating" elevation and ran 16 loops this Friday afternoon (about 52 km). The course is actually a bike path whose asphalt has been redone a few days ago so is in perfect condition. It looks like a racing track, I mean one for go-kart or Formula 1, so much that I couldn't resist the urge to "speed up" and ran all the way between 6:50 and 7:10 min/mile pace. It was windy, the sky was so clear, the air so pure and the temperature in the 70s, it felt strange to think we were almost in November. If only the weather could be the same in 2 weeks... Look at the salt I lost in this warm conditions (I think the salt got fixed by the dry air and wind):
Besides the few bikers, horse riders, dog walkers and hikers I met during these almost 4 hours on the course and helped breaking the otherwise monotony on such a lap format, here are three anecdotes:
  1. While my right shoulder isn't bothering me much now during the runs, I still avoid carrying a water bottle in my right hand. I then left a bottle at the start of the loop, on the side of the bike path and, to my surprise, it had disappeared at the end of my 6th lap. I chased a lady who was walking pretty fast toward the parking lot, with her dog, and saw her hiding the bottle. She had emptied the content (Gu2O), removed the handle (large Ultimate Direction bottle), assuredly ready to take it home. I couldn't believe it when she said that she had found in on the trail and was just going to leave it at the trail head... Thankfully, I had taken my Gu2O box with me so I could refill the bottle with a new mix. Wow, better be careful on race day and watch out for our belongings...
  2. A few laps later (approaching the marathon mark in 3:05), a horse rider tells me to be careful because she saw a mountain lion near the bike path, at the base of the hill. Here again, I had hard time believing it as I had passed through this area already 12 times. At the end of my run, the Sheriff was on the parking lot and I asked him if it was possible, especially in the middle of the afternoon. I was astonished when he replied "Oh, yes, all the time, let me check this out!" I'm now wondering what can happen as we run all night in this area...
  3. In my last lap, a walker whom I was crossing for the 3rd time stopped me an asked what I was training for. This time, it was him who had hard time believing we'll be running for 24 or 36 hours on this course in 2 weeks... ;-)
Here is a quick synopsis of the course. The start area:
The first straight section of the "hill" (we turn left before the real hill in the background!):
The end of the uphill section (bench on the right):
The downhill facing West:
The parking lot (horse trailers):
Harvey Bear Ranch:
And the history behind this place (click on the image to read):


Anne Desbrières said...

Ça faisait un moment que je n'avais pas traîné mes guêtres sur ton blog (ce que je fais plutôt discrètement usuellement) mais au terme du livre de Guillaume Millet je suis tombée sur ton article sur les 100K aux US.
Ça c'est pour la petite histoire.

En tout cas j'irai refaire un tour pour voir le compte rendu de ces 24h. Je reste toujours un peu dubitative sur le fait de tourner en rond pendant 24h... J'ai comme l'impression que ça demande une force mentale au-delà des ultras en une seule boucle. J'ai du mal à croire que cela puisse être aussi excitant qu'un parcours unique. Il faudra que j'essaie quand même pour me rendre compte. On en a un en Septembre à Grenoble.
Anne Desbrières (amie grenobloise de Sylvie L.)

Anonymous said...

Assez d'accord avec ce que dit Anne D.
...mais, moi, je n'essaierai pas!
surprise par l'histoire de la bouteille (cela ne m'aurait pas étonnée en France, évidemment)
Bonne poursuite de 'l'entrainement