Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ruth Anderson 2013: a rookie race, yet a PR!

Ruth Anderson, a rookie race for me? Not quite, but read on...

I ran this race every year since 2007:
  1. March 31, 2007 - 50-mile - 6:52:03 (that year, the race was directed by our QuickSilver teammates, John and Amy Burton, Amy winning this year's 50K! It is also in 2007 that I did beat Dean Karnaze by a few minutes although, to his credit, he had ran from home to the start, and back home after the finish... ;-)
  2. April 19, 2008 - 50K 3:44:58 (a windy edition)
  3. April 18, 2009 - 50K - 3:54:18 
  4. April 17, 2010 - 50M - 6:07:34
  5. April 23, 2011 - 100K - 10:13:26 (technically I ran the distance in 8:05:36 but, after missing a flight connection in Phoenix the night before, I was still in the air at the time the race started and I started 2:07:50 late...)
  6. April 21, 2012 - 50M - 5:49:59 (new Age Group Course Record)
As you can see, there are 3 distances you can pick up from at this event, and you can do so as you reach the specific course mark. Which makes it more challenging to go for the whole 100K as you always have good excuses for dropping to a shorter distance...

This year, I really wanted to run the 100K and set a PR (Personal Record) after what happened in 2011. The other 100K races I've run have been exclusively Miwok, 6 times, whose course profile isn't appropriate for a good PR. Conversely, Ruth Anderson is a 4.5 mile loop all on asphalt and relatively flat (the cumulative elevation for the 100K is still 3,560 feet according to the event the website maintained by Stan Jensen on his resourceful

Maybe because it's on asphalt, although you can also run on the dirt shoulder of the bike path, or because it's in the middle of the busiest part of our Grand Prix season (American River, Miwok, QuickSilver, Ohlone) or other races (e.g. Lake Sonoma last week), and despite a perfect organization by race directors Rajeev Patel and Anil Rao, a darn cheap entry fee and a very convenient location in San Francisco, the event is low key and the number of participants rarely exceed 100.

We were all sent off at 6:30 am, a few minutes before sun rise, by a gorgeous day: some breeze, no cloud, a big change from what we experienced a few years ago with cold rain and/or fog. I didn't run with my camera nor did I have a crew today, so I only got pictures after I finished my race. (Photo credit: Chihping Fu - On my way to the start line)
I started upfront with Enrique Henriquez who was aiming at the 50K. We ran the first 2 miles together at about 6:50 min/mile pace and I had no problem letting him go when he picked up the pace, quickly losing sight of him. I maintained the pace for the entire lap then slightly increased the pace without really noticing the effort. Like at American River 2 weeks ago, I settled on a very stable average pace of 6:47 which I maintained for the first 50K. I passed the marathon mark in 2 hour 58, then the 50K mark in 3:32, just five minutes behind Enrique who won that distance in 3:27:23. (Photo credit: Chihping Fu)
Back to the title, I knew the pace was too fast for 100K, especially after the exhausting 2 weeks I've been traveling in Europe, stopping in 4 countries (UK, France, Slovenia, Greece) and taking 8 flights plus one train ride (I was in Athens on Friday morning, that is yesterday, but didn't run there as I was tapering). In addition to the fatigue, I tend to gain weight during these business meetings and I was indeed a 4-5 pounds over my optimal race weight. At least this brings some good body fat to draw energy from thanks to Vespa! ;-)

Back to the race format, the course is a 4.475-mile loop so it's 7 laps for the 50K, 11 for the 50-mile and 14 for the 100K.

I was able to keep the pace for another lap after the 50K but, in the next one, started having some doubts that I would be able to keep it up. With 2 laps to go in the 50-mile, I realized I wouldn't be able to improve the Age Group Course Record I set last year, record which gives an additional 20 points in the Grand Prix. To make the thing worse, after I did stop for a few minutes to strategize with the team about which distance to run to get team points, Eduardo Vasquez, in my age group, passed me in my 11th lap, so I thought he would take both the 50-mile and age group wins. To my surprise, I didn't see him coming back from the 50-mile turnaround, so I stopped there for a minute to reassess the situation, decide if I was dropping to the 50-mile, getting 64 points, or taking the risk to go on for the full 100K for 80 points. It would have been a 6:02 50-mile for me, but I decided to go on since that's what I had told Amy (I had missed that I had lapped Eduardo before, he would win the 50-mile in 6:30:16). Additionally, we were supposed to optimize the team markings by having 5 runners go 100K, but we ended up being only 2 today, Jim and I (you need 3 runners to score as a team...), and 2 runners in the 50-mile, the rest of the team dropping to 50K. So 0 out of 2 for the longer distances...

Anyway, back to the title, as I started too fast, being on a 7-hour pace for 100K and keping changing my goals, I was getting pretty tired and beaten up and my average pace kept falling down. Right before the 50-mile mark, I got passed by 30-year old Karl Schnaitter who was admitted he never thought he'd catch-up with me after this furious start. My pace was now down to 7:05 min/mile and kept going down to 7:32 at the finish, with my GPS indicating 62:54 miles. I crossed the finish line in 7:51:08, disappointed with my rookie pace strategy, or I should say mistakes, but happy to be done especially with a solid PR at the distance finally, feeling I can do even better if only I don't start that fast... The course record for M50-59 is 8:30:37 so that's a good goal for next year. If the conditions are good.
My laps were respectively: 30:48, 30:34, 30:15, 30:33, 30:54, 31:00, 30:57, 32:26, 32:34, 39:58, 38:06, 37:57, 40:18, 34:54.

From a calorie intake standpoint, for those interested in the Vespa effect: 3 bottles of GU2O (300), 1/2 banana (100), 3 GUs (300), 7 S!Caps, 4 small cups of Coca-Cola (~100), 3 Vespa CV 25 (~60), total of a 860-calorie intake for 6,300 calories consumed.

I stayed for 3 hours at the finish line, first to regain some energy and body heat (in the San Francisco breeze, I got really cold as soon as I stopped running) before driving back, but also to take pictures of the following 50-mile and 100K finishers. See 75 pictures in my Picasa photo album. A few runners were pretty ecstatic to cross the final line. While I missed the not so gracious jump of Chihping, followed by a fall ;-), what about Seth Kramer's jump?
A special mention for the amazing Miguel Vivaldo who, at 13 years (sic!), finished his first 50-miler in 9:41:57! I had passed him several times on the course and had not realized he was even a race participant. He was always very nice and providing encouragements, even when he was too tired to run. Equally amazing, he finished his last mile with a furious sprint, beating Gretchen Wood by 2 seconds.
Miguel is coached by a very experienced ultra runner, Kermit Cuff, and shows an amazing talent and potential which are going to be very interesting to watch these coming years.
And Miguel has even his groupies, Maria and Janet! ;-)
Despite a limited contingent due to other races this month, our QuickSilver Ultra Running Team took a few top spots. In the 50K, Amy took 3rd overall and won the female division (4:09).Shir placed 6th in 4:18 followed by Marc Klemencic a minute later. Marco placed 24th in 5:21, Loren 31st (5:34), Kat 45th (6:48). For her first 50-mile, Jill won the 50-mile. Keith had a long day but did complete the 50-mile distance too in around 10 hours. I left while he was in his 13th lap but I'm sure that Jim did manage to finish the 100K, slowly but surely, and with a smile, masking his leg pain...
A big thank you for the volunteers at both aid stations who kept pouring coke and water for us, or feeding us, not to forget the special Chef at the finish line, Anil:
Emeritus Race Director, Steve Jaber, and the irreplaceable ultra volunteer pair, Dave Combs and Stan Jensen, were successful at not losing their heads in keeping track of all our laps and times. There were also helped by Janet.
For our security, and despite the limited budget, Rajeev was successful to secure a Red Cross team on site, all day. Thank you for that too, Rajeev!

A perfect day for an ultra, a great opportunity to test or push our limits again


Scott Dunlap said...

That's still a pretty fast 100k! Nice work!

I got a good pic of Miguel at the Woodside 50k...he's a monster!

Jean Pommier said...

Thank you, Scott! And see you in 2 weeks for a few hills this time! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Merci pour le récit.
Je ne pensais pas que l'on pouvait participer aussi jeune.

Eduardo Vazquez said...

Jean, Thanks so much for sharing the recap of your race. I have never have the "courage" to go and tell you how much I admire you and what you do. Among the pack that I'm always around, you are very admired. It is always nice to see you on the races and while I have ZERO chances "against" you on the PA Prix, it is very cool just trying to hang as close as I can. About Saturday, yep, you had overlaped me around marathon mark. I was trying not to be overlaped by you before the 50K mark, actually on my book, you would overlapded me by the old 50M finish, which you did, just one lap earlier! I thought you saw me returning to the finish line for the 50 mile and actually you told me something, but I couldn't get it (my brain wasn't at it best) And true, the 50K/M options make us to change plans as we go. I was going to go for the 100K to better my PR (9:15), but changed my mind when I realized that I actually could -officially-sub 6:45 and win my first race beyond 10K, I thought that I could sub 9 for the longer race some other year. Anyway, Thanks for the inspiration that you bring to the ultras! I'll see you at start line in less than 2 weeks!...About this 13 years old kid: AMAZING! (Eduardo)

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for leaving a note, Eduardo, you were having a blast on Saturday, glad you locked this win! See you at Miwok then!