Monday, May 12, 2008

Quicksilver 50k Trail Run Race Report

After feeling pretty good after a weeks rest following Ironman Arizona I signed up for the Quicksilver 50k trail run on the other side of the Santa Cruz mountains near San Jose, CA. I was feeling fit and wanted to cash in on my endurance one more time this season before concentrating on the shorter stuff. The coach side of me wasn't completely comfortable with racing long that close to Ironman but the athlete in me was feeling great and wasn't listening.

I nearly missed the race altogether. I set my alarm for 4.15am on my phone for the 6am race start at Almaden Quicksilver Park over the other side of the hill. I turned over in the night and checked my phone - 5.05am. The alarm I'd set was for Mon - Fri. Don't you love those nifty functions? I packed the night before and Kristen and I were in the car by 5.10am. Google Maps had given us 50 mins but we there in 40 and the parking attendant acted like he couldn't understand my fluster, "It's OK, you still have 10 minutes." I sure wasn't at a triathlon. By 5:55am I had my number, dropped my plastic bag for the drop bag zone and was standing around with nothing to do. Who's gonna warm up for a 50k, right?

The first few miles were some very steep up and downs. Fair bit of walking right from the get go. So it took a while to get warm and I think I was still half asleep. The night before I had scribbled some times down on what I'd have to be splitting at the aid stations to go under 5 hours. At the first one at 6.4 miles we were on single track and I started to feel normal and catch a rythym and I hit my split right on. I started running with some others. There was a Chatty Cathy called Scott in the group who was training for the Western States 100 miler and who had done a road marathon the weekend before and was doing the 50 miler "for training". It kind of sucked having a 50 miler on at the same time. It felt like going on a run for 50k that you should be the most hardcore out there, but no, there were half the field out there doing 50% more. Anyway, Scott turned out to be full of it because he stopped at 50k. Soft.

At about this time I realised I had forgotten an important preparation in the rush to get to the start. I asked Scott, who had done the race before, if he remembered if there were any toilets at the next aid station. He didn't and there wasn't. After fuelling up at 9 miles I let my merry band go and looked for a spot an appropriate distance for the trail to lighten my load before the first major climb.

Had a great time for the next 10 miles getting ahead of my time schedule before things started feeling a little rough at 19 miles. I had started chaffing (which I never do, but I guess I never run this long either) and my calves were feeling real tight and sore and it was heating up. I ran a distracted next 5 miles to the 23 mile aid station where I picked up some vaseline, which helped tremendously, and prepared for the next major climb. I had slowed down but was still running mostly, felt well fuelled and was back concentrating on my effort. I was surprised by the 27 mile mark, which meant only 4.5 miles to go and the clock was at 4.05. Everything was hurting but I knew the finish line was below me somewhere. I kept jogging down a gentle slope for about 1.5 miles before the real hell of the day began. Those steep hills were back. It wasn't the two ascents which were almost hand and knees affairs but the other side of them which were, to me, unrunable with the state of my legs. Each foot plant was a whack to the legs and the knees and I'd have the occasional foot slide on the loose gravel as well as being passed by a few competitors right at the end which was frustrating. But I somehow kept upright and ran (of sorts) through the finish under 5 hours in 4:55 and 10 th overall very pleased to hit both my goals in my first ultra!

Thanks to my professional photographers, Becky and Al, for the pics, Adam from Central Coast Running for sponsoring and Kristen for just about everything else including some gnarly driving over the 17 to get me there on time.
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