Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Way Too Cool 50K

Friday's drive up north to the Way Too Cool 50K was pretty uneventful...until Stockton...
The dark clouds that seemed very far away were suddenly overhead and pouring rain.  Traffic stopped and any hope to reach Auburn by 5pm was gone.  And I was a little worried about what the race would be like Saturday.
But Saturday dawned with clear blue skies and awesome cool temps, perfect for running a 50K.
Driving down the road to Cool, the sun just starting to come up behind the fog was just beautiful.  I wish I'd stopped to take a few pictures, but since I'd missed the packet pickup on Friday, and I was sure others did also, I wanted to get to check in early pick up my stuff and have time to fine tune the "outfit".  I'd packed an entire duffle bag of clothes...goretex shell, windpants, fleece etc not knowing what to expect for race day.
Turns out, tights, short sleeve top and sleeves would be all I would need to run in.
Here's a pic of the check in table with Catra Corbett.  Soon after this was taken she took off to the Hwy 49 aid station, where I had a chance to say "HI".
The start of the race was amazing!  Over 400 trail runners-and we are a colorful bunch-all shapes and sizes anxiously waiting for the "Go".  There were 128 first time Cool runners, including myself, and I had a chance to talk to a few of them before we got going.  We chatted about gear, "ball bearing"(when they name a hill you know it's got to be a good one), and our race resumes.  Before long we were off running down a stretch of fireroad looking forward to the actual trails and the beauty of what this race is all about.
 Soon after we left the fireroad and started on the trail, I saw this little tree...was the rest of the race going to be this quirky?
The first few miles were rolling hills, open and green.  The ground was wet and pretty muddy in spots but not too bad considering the deluge the night before.
A few more miles then the American River came into sight.
We climbed a bit then dropped down into the canyon and crossed what would be the first of "too many to count" creek crossing.  I wore my Montrail Mountain Masochists because of the rain...boy, was that a smart choice. The first creek crossing was no problem.  The water wasn't too deep or fast, plenty of stepping stones and just a few quick steps and I was over.  But the trail was getting pretty sloppy.  The mud holes stretched across the entire width of the singletrack, so there was no getting thru cleanly. 
I was making pretty good time, by the half marathon point I was at 2:35, and thinking I may break 7 hours.  Mile 16, still under 7 hours but I was losing time...
I was not doing well with the creek/stream crossings.  They were getting deeper and wider.  And the choices on how to get across were either just plow thru the middle or try to tip toe across over some very precarious rocks.  After losing alot of time trying to navigate around, I took the easiest way across-right thru the middle.  Plus it helped wash off the mud.  
Pretty much the remainder of the run was run thru mud, run thru water, run thru more mud and run thru more water. By mile 20 my legs were feeling the weight of my heavy shoes.  The montrails were built for this abuse, they drained the water pretty quickly after every crossing and didn't hold the mud in the treads, but still they weighed tons compared to when they are dry.  After one creek crossing where the water was up to my thighs, I resigned myself to a less than stellar finish time.  Enjoyed the scenery and took a few more pictures.
                                                           One of the few dry spots!!

Miles of beautiful tree lined trail                                                    

Soon after this picture was taken, as we approached the last few miles, there was another mudhole.  Now, by this time I wasn't walking around the mud anymore, I was just slogging thru the middle...taking the shortest route since I was already covered in dirt and soaking wet.  Well, that last mudhole almost did me in.  With that first step, my right leg sunk down to my knee.  I was stuck!!!!  And still sinking!!!!  There were two runners trying to pick their way around the mud when they saw me being eaten by the goo, they each had to grab an arm and hoist me out!!! My gloved hands were muddy, my water bottles were muddy...my shoes now were weighing about 50 lbs each..  It was time to have a good laugh and get-er done. Oh, one last little bit about that man-eating mudbog.  I'd passed two gentlemen about a mile earlier.  Now by the time I'd been pulled out of the slime, they were getting pretty close, I could hear them laughing and talking. They were just out of sight.  Soon I hear a bunch of whooping and loud laughing...seems they took the same path I did, right thru the middle!
I walked the last bit and saved enough to run across the finish line.  
There were some amazing runners on this course, a 75 year old who beat me by 20 minutes...I saw him on the trails, I think he was wearing a pair of shoes that were at least 30 years old!  A pair of young ladies who were so upbeat and happy to be there.  A man and a women, they looked like tri's, she was struggling a bit and he was helping her along.  She found what worked for her and they took off somewhere after mile 20 and I didn't see them again until the finish.  The two gentlemen who's family met them at the end and ran with them across the finish line.  
There was a time where I was letting the "long run demons" get into my head.  Even considered dropping at the 26 mile AS.  But there was a volunteer there, who must have seen my darkness-after filling up my bottles handed them to me, looked me in the eyes and said just 5 miles left.  He escorted me to the trail head and waved me on.  And on I went.

Way too cool shoes!! This is AFTER I hosed them off at the finish!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ultra Season Begins!!

Woo Hoo!! So the fun begins!!
As with last year the SJT 50K was my first ultra of the year.  It also was my first ultra trail run ever.  To kick off the ultra season, I went back to Baz and ran his 50K in the Santa Ana mountains.  It was more fun this year than last because the pressure was off.  The fear of the unknown mileage was gone.  The fear of the DNF or DFL was gone.  In fact, because this race fell into the catagory of "training run" I was planning to take it slow, keep my self healthy enough to make it thru the Way too Cool 50K the next weekend.   We were in the running for the DFL, but we couldn't help ourselves and ran hard the last 2.5 miles to the campground and passed a few racers. 
Next up, Way too Cool in Auburn.  I'm getting pretty excited, the course sounds like it's challenging and very beautiful, I'm definitely bringing a camera along.
Read the course description last week, we will run past an area where a woman trail runner was killed by a mountain lion years ago....