|One of many water crossings at the 2016 Way Too Cool 50k. Photo by Mario Fraioli|
|Nutella: the stuff trails are made of|
|Race start. Photo by Chris Blagg|
This race was a "D" race. A supported training run. My goal time was 7 hours. I stood in the corral with Twirly with just minutes to go when I realized I had forgotten to put on my heart rate monitor. I have worn that thing for a thousand runs, forgetting it maybe twice. Geez, I'm out of practice racing. I thought. We had stayed with friends in Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) the night before. Access to the gated community meant Twirly could see me at the ALT aid station at mile 21 in addition to resupplying me at the firehouse around mile 8.
Without my watch continually reminding me to take it easy, I took it easier than I thought I should. My mantra was "100 mile pace, 100 mile pace." Focusing on foot placement was paramount as we left the pavement and descended to Knickerbocker Creek. Climbing out of the creek bed, a reader/runner recognized me and we chatted on the climb. It happens so rarely I forget that people might recognize me from Wanderplace. It is always nice to meet readers. Des, a New Zealander living in Davis, was hoping to improve on his previous time of ~6:30 by breaking 6 hours. I warned him that the conditions were not conducive to a PR, and that he better stay in front of me. He went on to finish in 5:59! Nice work Des, and great to meet you.
The first 8 miles, aka the Olmsted Loop, went smoothly. I stayed on my feet, listened for the iconic frogs and took regular walk breaks on the edge of the trail. About a mile from the end of the loop a deer bolted through the pack, eliciting cheers and whoops from runners. "He's gonna win if he keeps that pace up!" someone behind me exclaimed. I came through the Fire Station (~mile 7.5) in ~1:40 - about 25 minutes off my best. Twirly and Victor helped me get squared away for the remainder of the race while I told them I felt "meh". I admit, I was looking forward to the descent to Quarry Road. I hadn't run that stretch since States, and I love finding my groove on the technical stretch of trail.
|Quarry Road looking down river. PC unknown|
On the climb up American Canyon I began to feel spent. My back continued to ache, and my hips and glutes were screaming. Frequent strength work has my hip girdle in a constant state of fatigue. I knew that if I finished the race my training for the following week would suffer. I began to have that old internal dialogue:
"I want to drop."
"Why? You aren't injured or fighting cut-offs, and you're still having fun, right?"
"This slippery shit is NOT fun. And if I continue I MIGHT hurt myself. If I get to ALT aid station that will make 21 miles. 32 for the week. I ran 26 miles the week before. It will end up being the perfect length for this point in the training cycle."
"And you won't screw up your ultrasignup score!"
Just like that, I had come to peace with dropping. Twirly was only 2.5 miles away. As I turned the idea of my first DNF over in my head, I heard Gordy Ainsleigh coming up the hill behind me. We crested the hill and I stepped aside to let the legend go. I power-hiked the last couple miles, trying to let runners go by without holding them up. Erika came up behind me around Barb's bench, and we chatted about race schedules and injuries for a few minutes.
I glissaded into the aid station at ALT and asked for the station captain. He thought I was an injured runner he had been hearing about, but I assured him I was okay, just done. He asked if I needed a ride out, and I told him I should have one waiting... But no Twirly. It all worked out though - I only waited a few minutes before I had a ride. I got back to the Fire Station around 1 pm.
|In the VSD tent. Photo by Karen Gerasimovich|
Ann likes to have her athletes break down races into threes: name three things you did right, did wrong, etc. I thought a lot about that during my internal dialogue, and here is what I came up with:
Things I did right:
- I listened to my body and when it spoke up I came to the right decision. Those last ten miles would have been junk miles.
- I stayed on my feet in very difficult conditions. Also, I wore gaiters to keep the silt in the water crossings out of my shoes.
- I executed my race plan: nutrition was on track and my pace kept easy.
|Finishers chute. Photo by Amy Melcher Ownes|
Things I did wrong:
- I wasn't organized in my usual fashion and that resulted in forgetting my heart rate monitor.
- My shoes, Altra Lone Peak 1.5s, lacked sufficient traction in the slippery conditions. I need to buy some shoes with beefier lugs on them for rainy, sloppy days.
- I should have made it clear to Twirly that I might drop at ALT. That would have ensured she met me there. Not a big deal in the end, but I could have ended up waiting at the aid station for a lot longer than I did and it was getting cold.
Huge thanks to all the volunteers (especially Leah, who gave me ride back to the Fire station) and NorCal Ultras. Thanks to Victory Sportdesign for keeping my shit together and providing shelter from the storm for the afternoon: get in, get out, get moving! And thanks to all you who read Wanderplace. From this side of the blog, it is difficult to discern if I am connecting with anyone. That makes it nice to meet people who have benefited from these pages.