I tried to organize a car pool plan with some of my Quicksilver teammates, but ended up car pooling with 2 members of my other running club, the Stevens Creek Striders, John (and his wife who came to drive us back, first class service!), and Alison. We got in just as the 50-mile race had started, at 7:30. The sky was incredibly pure and clear, with temperature on the cool side as the sun had just rose.
6th Jed Smith and 43rd 50K race in 8 years (I ran twice as many 50Ks and 10Ks as I ran marathons, these two distances are my sweet spots). I love this race which marks the start of our ultra running season and North California Grand Prix in particular. Low key but always attracting a few very fast runners who are after national records or qualifiers for national teams (Todd Braje ran the 50-mile in 5:30 a few years ago!). Race Director, John Blue, and his running club, the Buffalo Chips, put up a very professional event on a flat and fast course. Furthermore, I have to love the event mantra too which I swear I didn't know when I picked the title of my blog: "Jed Smith Ultras - I ran far, I ran fast!"
My plan for today was to use the run as a test of how long I could hold a 6:15 or 6:20 min/mile pace. I've been training a lot at sub 7 and even sub 6 min/mile and did manage to complete my 10-mile (more exactly 40 track laps) under one hour, my marathon training long tempo run, last Sunday, the day after flying back from Stockholm. With that, running at 6:10-6:15 min/mile seems effortless and that's the pace I set for the beginning of the race. Rich stayed in my foot steps and we were following the lead bikes for the first lap (the course is a 4.86-mile loop which we cover 6 times plus a short 1.92-mile out and back at the start to make it 31.1 miles).
Rich took the lead at the beginning of the third lap (mile 12). A mile or so later, I'm not sure what happened, I didn't feel an acceleration but I caught-up with him and almost passed him. That was enough to give Rich a kick and he quickly pulled away. I still had him in sight at the end of loop 3 but I was definitely losing ground although my Garmin was still indicating a 6:14 min/mile pace. I couldn't really understand what happened as Rich had told me that he was aiming at running at a 6:25 average pace and, as I found out in the results afterwards, he had run lap 3 and 4 at a blazing 6:04 pace and lap 5 at 6:07, wow!
Back to my tune-up test, I was slowing down in the 4th loop finally but did manage to pass the 20-mile mark with an average pace of 6:20 but without much pride as I had started slightly too fast so I kept slowing down afterwards. With the excitement of the fast pace, I also didn't drink as much as I should have (less than one Gu2O bottle for 31 miles, versus 1 every 15 miles usually, and not even one bottle of water) and felt some cramps coming in my legs in the last 5 miles which led me to "cruise" the last lap at a 7:17 min/mile pace. Here is a cool shot from Mark Gilligan (founder and owner of UltraSignup.com) around mile 24:
From a team standpoint, we had 3 no-shows so that did work very well. Yet, Lisa won the women race in 3:59, kudos. Here we are, from right to left: Melanie, Lisa, Harris and I:
Clare, from our Quicksilver Running Club, took 2ndoverall (pictured with one more lap to go).
A few additional pictures (Joe McCladdie Photography, and Mark Gilligan from UltraSignup.com were also covering the event at various spots on the course).
John and Bev: