It did not go anywhere near as well as I had hoped it would. I had overly high expectations based on ultrasignup predicted finish times. That probably led to me pushing harder than I should have which in turn almost certainly led to the falling apart which occurred.
I spent the night before with Sara & Graham, Whitney's sister & brother in law. They live less than twenty five minutes from the race start. That allowed me to 'sleep in' until 0321. I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth and was out the door by 0345. The drive down was uneventful except for the fact that I was unable to change the audio source in the car from radio to compact disc. Fortunately it was a Metallica song, eventually I pulled to the side of the road and turned the car off. When I started it back up I was able to listen to TOOL
for the final few miles of the drive.
After getting checked in and placing my drop bags in the appropriate spots I went to use the restroom. The race director had announced that the start would be delayed fifteen minutes so that they could get everyone checked in. At the start line I was able to say hello to Scott Dunlap
, I follow him on Strava and check out his blog. I look forward to his post about this race. Just before the race started someone commented that I must really trust the aid stations. All I had was my handheld bottle, no vest or pockets to carry anything. Maybe that was a mistake.
We got underway at 0445, they required everyone to have a light source. I wore my headlamp but only used it twice, I was able to see well enough via other peoples' lights. The course
claims 12000+ feet of elevation gain, my Strava activity shows 13126. We started off going uphill immediately, about 900 feet in the first 1.7 miles with a dip and then another 300 feet over the next mile. I was climbing really well and early on found myself in a group of four with Mark Tanaka
, Ray Sanchez
& David Leeke
. David was a new guy to me but running that close to Mark & Ray (again, because it happened at Rio Del Lago 100 a few years back) should have clued me in that I was moving too fast. I stayed with them until just before the four mile mark, they all started to move ahead a bit on some downhill but I kept them within sight for a while.
I came into the first aid station at 6.1 miles just as Mark was leaving. I ate some fruit, topped off my bottle with electrolyte drink, took a package of Gu watermelon chews
to enjoy on the trail. Not too far out of the aid station we entered the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. There was a pit toilet there and I made a rather quick stop. I hoped to not get caught up in the fact that people had passed me while I was in there but within a mile I had passed four already. At about 7.5 miles we began another long, predominantly uphill section. I was hiking really well and continued to pass people. Went by one guy that was running and he said "I wish I could walk that fast" and I replied "It's a skill and I have to practice it".
Made it to Wood Road aid station at 12.5 miles, had some more fruit, topped off my bottle with water and got out of there rather quickly. From here the course dropped about 2000 feet over five miles with a minor climb up to the next aid station at 17.9 miles into the race. A few people passed me on the downhill but by the aid station or shortly after I had passed them all back. Lexington aid station was another rather quick stop and I was happy with the way things were going. From Lexington we began a long grind of about 1800 feet in around 3.5 miles. This includes a 1.5 mile section known as Dogmeat where the average grade is 12% but includes parts up to 28%. At some point during the climb (prior to Dogmeat) I caught back up to David. We were moving along together when we came upon Scott changing his socks. I commented that it seemed an odd spot for a change over. He replied that it was nice and shady & he was going to use that while he had it. I couldn't argue with that logic. When I felt we were out of earshot I commented that I had "momentarily moved up a spot in my age group". After topping out on the climb we had a descent of about 1800 feet over four miles. Again I was passed by a number of people. This was an out and back section where I could see the leaders & I began to count people on my way down. Near the bottom Scott went by me and set up to take a couple of photos.
At Kennedy Rd aid station (25.8 miles) I believe I was in 39th place, might have missed a person or two. This was the longest stretch between aid at 7.9 miles with quite a bit of climbing where I had put out a considerable effort. That might have been when I really started to dig the hole. I was in the aid station a bit longer than had been the case earlier, I believe a number of people came and left before I finally got out of there.
This was when I began to lose it. We had a five mile, 2000 foot grind to the next aid station. My mind began to go south, I just didn't care very much when people passed me. I still figured finishing wouldn't be a problem and that I was very likely to finish in under 16 hours to get a Western States qualifier but the fight was gone. Back at the Wood Rd aid station one of the guys asked "Do you work in west Berkeley?" and I said that I did. He said his name was Jake and that he worked at Pacific E-Bike
which also happens to be in west Berkeley. About a mile down the trail it dawned on me that at Western States there was a guy named Jake from Berkeley that helped me at Duncan Canyon aid station. Now I need to figure out if it was the same guy. In the rather small world of ultra running I wouldn't be surprised to find that to be the case.
Struggled my way back to Hicks Rd aid station (37.8 miles) and saw a box of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a kiddie pool. Unfortunately the pool had no ice or even cold water in it, neither did the box. I grabbed a can anyway. Sat down to change my shoes and swap my watch since the battery was running out. I was there a long time and again was not concerned with people passing through. I had been sticking mainly with fruit but they had avocado here and I ate a few pieces of that along with a few other items. This was definitely my longest aid station stop, had one that came close to rivaling it later.
On my way to Hacienda aid station (41.4 miles) I stopped at a picnic table to stretch. Not sure if it did me any good but it did give me an excuse to stop moving for a minute or two while in the shade. As far as the weather was concerned it did get warm but never really hot and most of the day there was a nice breeze that helped a lot. When I arrived at Hacienda there was a Rolling Stones song on. For those that aren't aware, I hate the freaking Rolling Stones. I took so long in the aid station that I got to hear the end of that song, a full second and the beginning of a third. I would have to guess it was an entire album of theirs. More people came and went as I enjoyed my stay. I was able to get in a few items here including more avocado. I took a mini brownie with me but after one bite I had to toss it, just wasn't palatable for me.
From this aid station there was more climbing to do. I managed to catch up to a couple of guys during this section and I know I kept one behind me to the finish line not sure about the other. I was also keeping an eye on my watch. I had changed over at about the eight hour mark, just a bit before. So I knew that if I kept the average pace under twenty minutes per mile I would go sub 16 but I still hoped to do better than that. By this time though running downhill was getting painful both in my feet and to a lesser degree my quads. I had managed to bruise my right heel stepping on rocks and my toes were pissed. I cruised into Mockingbird aid station (mile 44.5) which would be the finish line after a loop of 17.5 miles. I was able to eat a number of things here including a piece of string cheese & more fruit. At one point I hear "Hey Oakland Track Club!" I went to acknowledge the cheer and realized it was Chris Denucci
He took a photo which wound up on the club instagram page
. There was a woman asking if people wanted a cold water sponge treatment. I took off my hat and she poured some cold water over my head. She said she liked my hairdo, both on my head and under my chin.
When I left this aid station I was feeling pretty good again and actually started moving rather well. But within a couple of miles that wore off. I did pass a woman that had gone by me a long time back and I said "What the hell, you were moving so well I didn't think I'd see you until the finish line". She said that the heat had gotten to her. I learned later her name is Joy.
I made it up to Bull Run (mile 48.4) and was feeling like crap. I sat down and couldn't think of a thing I wanted to eat. A guy was asking if anyone wanted a popsicle and that sounded good enough. So I was eating that and asked for a can of Mt. Dew which I drank. I began to shiver and decided it was time to get out of there. This was the stop that rivaled the longest one.
From here to the next aid station it was mostly downhill. When it wasn't too steep I was able to shuffle along but when the trail pitched down I typically went to walking.
I do recall at one point in here I came around a corner and there were a couple of quail on the trail. I think those birds are so damned cute that it did help to lift my spirits at least momentarily. Too bad they couldn't stay in front of me the rest of the race.
When I got to McAbee aid (54.1 miles) I noted that I was at about the time I had hoped to finish in. I drank about half a can of ginger ale hoping it would help my stomach but it didn't do anything while I was there and I was unable to eat. So now I had eight miles to cover and this would be over. Joy had come into the aid station and left before I could get going. She had a different pacer than she had when I passed her earlier. They were hiking rather well and I kept hoping to catch up to them. It took me a couple of miles to do so but as we went along the Guadalupe Reservoir I put them behind me for good. Some time later on a steep climb I caught up to another woman that had passed me on the way down to McAbee but shortly after going by her I just stopped for a few moments. I did catch back up to her and passed her but she got into and out of Bull Run aid station (59 miles) faster than I did. I tried to eat some cantaloupe but after a bite or two I had to toss what they had given me. I just couldn't put anything in. So I began the final three mile push which they said was "all downhill after about three quarters of a mile of flat trail". Well the flat trail was a slight incline but no worries on that. It was the two or three decent little climbs that ticked me off.
Never, NEVER believe that it is "all downhill" no matter what they say.
A lot of the downhill was rather steep and I knew I was going sub 16 easily so I did lots of walking in that last three miles. Within the final half mile Wes
from East Bay Beer Runners went by me but I was so out of it I didn't recognize him at first. I do give myself a minor break because he had shaved his beard off. He had finished third at the beer mile when I was second. I did run the final little bit into the finish chute. I noticed the clock had 14:54 on it & found out later my time was 14:54:41. It didn't take me long to find my bag, place it on the ground, put my head on it and bent my knees to keep the blood from all running to my feet since I was lying downhill. I wasn't there long when Wes' wife offered me a beer.
That seemed to help my stomach and I made my way over to get some food. Came back over and we sat talking for a while, a friend of theirs who was also racing happens to be the race director of Cuyamaca 100K which I had used as my first Western States qualifier. I thought that coincidence was rather cool.
I think I could have done better, there were a number of mistakes. I just have to be okay with how it went.
EDIT: I finished 83rd out of 166, 12th male 50-59 out of 27.