I ran this race every year since 2007:
- 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... ;-)
- April 19, 2008 - 50K 3:44:58 (a windy edition)
- April 18, 2009 - 50K - 3:54:18
- April 17, 2010 - 50M - 6:07:34
- 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...)
- April 21, 2012 - 50M - 5:49:59 (new Age Group Course Record)
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 run100s.com).
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)
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.
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?
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 perfect day for an ultra, a great opportunity to test or push our limits again