Wednesday, April 14, 2010
2010 American River 50 Mile Run, April 10, Sacramento to Auburn, CA
It seemed as if all the stars aligned for a near perfect race! I finished in 6 hrs and 44 mins, just 4 minutes off my goal time. This was a 14 minute PR for me at this race and a 40 minute improvement from last year at this race. I finished 17th overall out of about 650 starters.
The morning started at 4:15 am to a couple of noisy alarm clocks. My wife and I usually set at least one extra backup alarm each night in case the first one does not go off, but this morning I made sure I had at least three set. I snuck around the house as quiet as possible so as to not disturb my wife’s sleep. The night before I like to set everything out in the living room so it is all ready to go. I put on my jersey, filled my Camelbak bottles with my Clif Shot electrolyte drink mix, and scrambled about five eggs with a lot of pepper jack cheese. I scarfed down the eggs, loaded the car, and drove by my friend Lamont’s house to pick him up. This was his first ultra and he was very excited to venture into the land of the unknown pushing himself further than a marathon for the first time.
We arrived at the start line in Sacramento across the river from Sac State at just about the right time with 20 minutes to spare. I was excited to make it to the start on time this year as the last two years I arrived after everyone had already left the starting area. I worked my way up towards the front and found myself pretty close when the race started. I quickly fell into my pre-determined pace of about 7:10 miles so as to average about 7:30 at Beal’s Point (mile 26.7) given the brief stops at the aid stations along the way.
From the start to Beal’s Point is mainly on the paved bike trail. After about 7-8 miles I could tell that my joints were not as accustomed to running on the pavement, so I ran on the dirt alongside the pavement for much of this section. I felt very comfortable sticking to the 7:10 sometimes dipping to 6:40 mile pace. There was not much movement as far as places go for this section. I caught up to a few people, but I had been running with several of the runners around me since nearly the start. For nutrition I decided to go pretty basic again just using one Camelbak handheld bottle, eating the Clif Shot gels, and taking an occasional salt tab.
I arrived at Beal’s Point in 20th place overall. I refilled my water bottle, and found my wife Holly at a bench near the aid station. Holly is the best wife ever, always showing love and support, having things laid out for me at aid stations, keeping track of what place I am in, and taking photos. She also gives me gentle encouragement telling me that I am going too slow :). I am not sure how she does it all, but I’m very grateful! While Holly briefed me on my current place, etc, I switched from my road running shoes to my trail shoes. One of my other runner friends Jan, who helped crew at my WS 100 mile race, was also at Beal’s to offer encouragement. I tied my shoes, stuffed my mouth with some Clif Shot Bloks, and headed on my way down the trail. My average pace to Beal’s was about 7:20/mile so I was a little ahead of pace for what I wanted. I was feeling very good and ready to hit the trails. From prior experience, many runners start to fade and get tired on the trail section, but I had some solid training in this year on the trail so I was very confident to run the trail section well.
I took off and quickly caught up to and passed some people that passed me while I was changing shoes. I kept on trukin to the Granite Bay aid station (mile 32), where Holly and my friend from work Kendall Church was waiting to pace me the rest of the way. I re-fueled and we took off. The first 4-5 miles after Granite Bay proves to be a challenge with many rocks, logs, poison oak, small creeks, etc to jump over and dodge. It is also constant up and down terrain so it is a section that will quickly drain the unprepared of their energy. Fortunately this section is close to where we live so I had some solid training on this terrain and was ready to conquer it. Kendall and I flew through that section with no problems.
After that the trail still has rolling hills, but is much smoother, not as much to jump over or dodge. At this moment we were really able to pick up the pace at times running 6:45/mile or so. We started to catch and pass other runners. We made our stops at the aid stations quick, just enough time to refill my bottle and down a gel. We kept the fast pace up to the last 3.5 miles where we climb over a thousand feet from the American River up to the Overlook in Auburn. We started the climb out of the canyon and pushed ourselves as hard as we could. For the most part we were able to keep close to a 9:00/mile pace up the hill. As much as I was hurting at this point, I was able to harness what I had left.
We pushed hard all the way to the top and sprinted in to the finish. My goal was to run this in 6 hrs and 40 mins. I was 4 mins slower than my goal, but very happy and satisfied as this was my new personal record by 14 mins. Waiting at the finish to celebrate with me was Holly and her family.
I received my finisher’s jacket, hosed off and cleaned up a bit, then got a hamburger and hot dog to eat. I also had a quick deep tissue massage by Veloyce at Monsters of Massage which hurt so good and enjoyed talking with some other runner friends. Kendall took off on his road bike down to the office to do a little work, and Holly and I watched Lamont come in. He did very well for his first 50 mile run and had a fun time. Overall this was a perfect day. The weather was even overcast with cool temperatures and I accomplished all of my goals. As always, a big thank you to my wonderful wife Holly, and my sponsors Camelbak and Clif Bar, all of the volunteers, and Kendall the awesome pacer! Kendall will be running his first ultra this coming Saturday, the Skyline to the Sea 50k. I know he will do great!