Sunday, April 20, 2008

Death From 3 Causes: Work, Bullets, & Wind (But I Still Managed to Come in 1st)

Butt of Chihping Fu, registering even later than I did, after everyone left for the start, more than a half mile away. Hey, we need to move our butts!

Saturday, April 19, 2008, 0630 PDT: Debut race director Rajeev Patel counts down from 3 and starts the 21st annual Ruth Anderson ultras. (For those unfamiliar with the format of this race, the first paragraph from (among several) Steve Ansell's blog race report provides a good summary.) I had arrived with just enough time to see a few familiar faces, almost shivering in the cold.

photo by Kevin Kanning

So as I welcome the chance to start running and warm up, I also feel the apprehension of starting a race with my body and mind anything but rested and prepared.

Often pre- and early race talk includes the ritual of self-lamenting excuses for a suboptimal race-- "I've been sick with bronchitis." "I barely slept 2 hours." "I haven't been training at all due to my ankle." I could do this, legitimately, but it seems too whiny and gratuitous, so I decide that I can always, uh, blog about it later.

Before we round the reach the first aid station, Jean Pommier zooms ahead, with Alan Geraldi close behind him. I have no intention of chasing them. If Jean runs well and can run 100km in 7:15 today, more power to him, and he'll deserve all 80 of his PAUSATF Grand Prix points and maybe a spot on the national team except that I think he's still a French national. I step in line with 16-year-old Michael Kanning and John Burton, last year's co-RD doing his first race since his new baby. So long he's raced that even up close I don't recognize him from the back, and he thinks I'm joking when I stupidly ask him his name a lap later.

Love Your Mother

First time at the half-way aid station of the 4.5 mile loop (a little under 14 times equals 100km), I feel guilty drinking from a styrofoam cup and then tossing it. The 2nd lap I give a volunteer some stickers with my name and ask her to use that for each time I come around, but at lap 3 she tells me it's too windy and so the cups blow away. So I grab one of the water bottles I left in a bag by the start/finish aid station and deliver it during lap 4. This works great, eventually it's filled when I arrive each lap, and assuaged is my guilt at adding to the floating Great Pacific Garbage Patch by more blown-away styrofoam cups. I set up another bottle system for the start/finish aid station also.

Enviro-guilt doesn't help in an already brutal multi-lapped 100k run, especially a few days before Earth Day. Love your mother--reduce, reusue, recycle (in that order). Answer #1 to the latest tag, tagged serially by Catherine, Scott and Jon. (Actually I have other answers, but for a later post.)

After 3 laps, John B. tells me he's going to drop back to do some 8-minute miles, but proceeds to stay ahead of me until I pass him maybe at the half-point aid station. Michael K. stays with me until he drops back during lap 4. I catch Alan G. half-way through lap 5, he tell me he's surprised it took this long for me to catch up. I finally dump my jacket at lap 5--the wind keeps things chilly.

photo by Kevin Kanning

What Alan and everyone does not know is how crappy I feel and why.

1. Death from work

After AR50 on the 5th, we went to a toddler birthday party, then I basically worked 10 straight days. Ten straight days of any job is hard, but 10 straight days as an ER doc is hard up the butt, with a long pointed object. (Maybe this is why I love ultrarunning. Compared to these hard stretches, running and even sometimes puking all day is EASY and FUN!) Thursday and Friday I was off, but due to various things such as my wife's nail appointment, observation and conference at my toddler's preschool, and social events with work friends, I had little opportunity to rest and recover.

2. Death from paintballs

Thursday morning (April 17), leaving the call room after 4 hours of sleep, I'm still wondering if I'm going to go for paintball. I had missed the first time a bunch of us from work went to vent out our frustrations and rage on each other. So I had thought I should go this time. However, I was a little apprehensive about the reports that the balls actually hurt and often caused bruising even through a few layers of clothes. Plus, it was scheduled for 7-9 at night. And now here I was exhausted and short of sleep and with a 100k to run the day after tomorrow.

So Jen, with whom I'd left a message to ask if she wanted to carpool, calls me back. In a classic instance of BAD RUNNING JUDGEMENT, I'm like, okay, sounds fun, I might as be social, I'm in, let's do it.

So, in a couple of hours, I'm sweating under borrowed sweatshirts with this scratched up goggle mask thing, toting this semiautomatic contraption.

Let me waste U! photo by Leif Canfield

It's a lot of sitting around waiting for everyone to arrive in rush hour traffic. We finally get out onto the court at 7:50, dividing into two teams. Initially I find the balls don't hurt that much. Only 40 minutes into it do I realize my gun isn't firing correctly, which is why I'm getting knocked off before everyone else. After they replace my firearm, I get more aggressive, sprinting between the bunkers and toward the other team. Once I do this badass headfirst dive over a horizontal barrier. All part of the planned taper for my race. At 9:45ish, we're all getting sore and exhausted, a few of us have to work at 6am, so they suggest we play with modified rules to get rid of our purchased paintballs since they close at 10. Instead of having to sit out of the round when shot, you have to turn and head back to the home base and then you can stay in the game until your balls run out. Thing is, even when you put your hands up and say "I'm shot" and turn around, it's so chaotic and everyone is so trigger happy that you get pegged with 6-8 more shots as you turn around and make your way back to the base. So we all end up getting pegged more times in the last 7-10 minutes than we did the rest of the 2 hours.

paint, not hair gel

As we leave, our driver suggests we go out to eat, but luckily another friend offers to give me a ride back. He's got these nasty looking bruised all over (maybe he has a mild platelet/clotting disorder, I'm thinking). My thighs have small bruises on them, but what is really hurting is my left shin, from a ball fired close range, which feels like I strained it bad. So bad that I defer going to bed (2 nights before a 6:30 race, it's usually prudent to go to bed early), and stay up past 11:45 massaging and icing it, worried that this would really start to hurt say 35 miles in the race starting in 31 hours.

3. Death from wind

So from the start I was sore, sleepy, and feeling sort of stupid. Paintball was fun, but was it fun enough to run the risk of a really painful, bad race?

After 5 laps, I notice that my Garmin is beeping multiple times at the start/finish aid station. Apparently I have it set so it automatically records a lap at any place I pressed the lap button. So now it is recording too many laps. I spend much of lap 6 clicking through the Garmin trying to fix this, until my shoulders start to hurt from the position and so I give up.

pressing my lap button earlier in the race, photo by Kevin Kanning

After I finish lap 7, I decide I need to know where I am. I ask how far ahead Pommier is, and am surprised to hear that he has decided to call it quits at 50k (but given the wind, a very fast 50k.) Congrats Jean! I am relieved that I definitely won't be chasing him during the 2nd half of the race. Nonetheless, I'm sore and tired, and wondering if my body is going to keep up. The wind is actually getting worse and at times whipping sand into our faces (at times I was trying to work sand out from between my teeth, as if were pieces of meat...) or gusting us to a standstill as we head west from the half-point aid station towards the ocean. The wind seems to be the reason the majority of the 100 kilometer and 50 mile starters end up dropping at 50k.

By the start/finish after the race-- I was useful only as an obstacle for this tarp that blew away.

During the 2nd half, gels keep falling out of my back pockets for me to find and retrieve the next time around. During lap 8, I avoid 2 bicyclists going the other way, side by side, and my right leg hits a metal barrier marking a detour from the sidewalk. I almost land on my face. Lap 10 a large Harley gang storms by over several minutes. Not only is the noise rattling, I start gagging from the smog. (I tell my wife about this later, who tells me that Harleys are no different from other motorcycles in the amount of smog they produce, which makes me suspect she is nostalgic about her ex-boyfriend, a Harley-riding, Lamberghini-esque sportscar-driving vegan boyfriend, even though she claims to have rarely rode on his Harley and hated his sports car).

I had planned on pulling out my iPod for the last 4-5 laps, but it's so windy that I'm thinking the wind will keep blowing the earpieces out and I won't be able to hear anything above the wind anyways. A few times Bob Seger's "Against the Wind" pops into my head, but luckily the wind is so noisy that it even drowns out songs that pop into my head.

Peter Lubbers and Hao Liu (neither of whom I recognize all bundled up) are timing 50k splits and finishers. They tell me I'm clocking steady laps. However, around lap 11, I majorly start to decelerate. Where lap 2 took me 33 minutes, and even lap 10 less than 40 minutes, lap 12 takes 43, lap 13 takes 45 and my last lap takes 48 minutes. Last year I slowed down at the end, but not nearly as much, and even picked it up the last lap, perhaps goaded by the prospect of finishing under 8 hours, which I made by 3 minutes.

Joe and I. Joe is on the left, and I am on the right. Just making sure you don't confuse us.

A clue that I was slowing way too much was that I was never able to lap Joe Swenson. Last year I was chagrined to mind myself lapping him twice. Since my wife was waiting for me to get home and expecting me by 4ish, I got antsy. So this year, I was relieved but a little freaked that I never caught up with him. As a matter of fact, he was gaining on me, cutting a 37 minute lead at lap 11 to about 22 minutes at the finish. Excellent performance by Joe (his age-graded performance, and as he always points out, his weight-graded performance, creams mine)!

Joe Swenson finishing before I could call my wife.

Which was great with me. Baldwyn Chieh, doing his first 50 mile run, finishes his race only 3 minutes later and then comes back to the start. (He debut-blogged a very funny race report, which also describes, among other things, our drive up.)

Baldwyn Chieh, after finishing his first 50-mile run, under tough conditions

Rajeev hands me my award plaque, with a running guy sticking out from it. 8:45:06 is slower even slower than my time 2 years ago by 2 minutes, and far from the 7:57 I ran last year. But I don't think I'm in much worse shape than last year, and couldn't have run too much faster. I figure 15-25 minutes from the lack of sleep, 15-20 from the wind, and 5-10 from the paintball. But as far as coming in 1st rather than 2nd again, I think it was just a function of who else wasn't running this year.

I call my wife, and she's headed toward the Hayward Regional Shoreline for a walk with the kids. So I ask Joe if he can get a ride back to my house with Baldwyn, whose wife drove up later with his daughter, and take off. (This was in fact the plan if I found I'd lapped Joe twice again this year, that way I wouldn't have to wait for him to finish.) I get there just in time, but obviously it's too windy for everyone for any hiking. Uh--I guess I could've told her that...(duh!)

Too windy outside, we hung a little while in the nature center until it closed.

The volunteers were more than awesome and indispensable. 14 times such. Rajeev did a superb job in his first race as director.

Dave Combs and Stan Jensen (the master of, recording the numbers. Thanks for the detailed results & splits!

Steve Ansell (50-mile finisher), longtime ex-RD Steve Jaber (thanks Dave Combs for the tipoff), RD Rajeev, & (formerly unknown) volunteer Nicole Whiting

Carilyn Johnson and son from El Paso, 1st woman to finish the 50-mile run (was planning only only doing 50k, a reversal of the day's trend)

all smiles before the race

Here are links for other blogged reports (alphabetic by last name, links to specific Ruth Anderson 2008 posting):

Please let me know if I'm missing anyone.

1st published Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:22pm (sorry, been working too many shifts again! -- 1st of 4 100k finishers of 15 starters, last of all bloggers)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Digging Deep Before & During the Deep American River 50 Mile

Okay, so this is supposed to be about my American River 50-Mile Endurance Run, but you'll have to read about our family time first, and look at some family photos. At the very least, I figure this way I can get my parents to read this blog, so they come to grips with my running and stop hoping that I'll become a concert pianist some day.

So, in keeping with Rucky Chucky Roundabout 50k 2 weeks earlier, I thought I'd combine the nonlocal AR50 with a family outing. First we were thinking of hitting the snowy slopes on Friday, so I had reservations for lodging in Sacramento on Thursday night. But Sugarbowl ended their special deal on the all-day Sugarbears (for toddlers) they had in March (only half-day), so we decided it wasn't worth it and changed our plans to hiking. Besides, I thought after Rucky Chucky that snowboarding was too risky before a competitive 50-mile race.

Thursday, April 3rd, THE SWING

After pulling our older child out of his daycare-school early and starting out in our loaded Rav, I suddenly realized that there was no point paying for the inconvenience of a hotel that night, so after some quick decisions, we canceled our reservation and headed to the awesome Emerald Glen Park playground in Dublin, where we decided to have our 7-month old try the swing for the first time.

The first time, he wasn't happy at all.

But later, out of ear shot of my wife, who is too hardassed about stupid things like cleaning up toys, not screaming in public places, and going to bed on time, but way too soft on important things like athletic pursuits, I gave my kid a pep talk similar to those I sometime give myself during races ("DON'T BE SUCH A WUSSY-BABY! YOU WILL GET ON THAT SWING AND YOU WILL ENJOY YOURSELF!!!").

Having set him straight, we went back, and he seemed okay, and as far as I could tell, enjoyed himself.

Okay, so you're right, this is fun, but how do I get this into my mouth?

So okay, in fact, that after putting on a warmer jacket, and going for a 3rd session, he fell asleep, giving my older one more time to play.

BTW, I hope it's obvious I'm just kidding about the pep talk. I just have to keep with the title "digging deep... " When he turns 8 months, though, different story--no mercy.

Friday, April 4th, THE HIKE

For our hike the next day, I picked a hike on Salmon Falls/Darrington Trail off the road with the same first name in El Dorado Hills to see the South Fork of the American River. (The trail goes 9.4 miles to a campground and boat ramp on Folsom Lake at the end of Rattlesnake Bar Road--obviously we weren't going to do much of it.) With gas and diaper stops, we didn't make it to the trailhead right past the bridge until 12:15, then had to wait another half hour for my toddler to wake up. He was in his usual cranky post-carnap bad mood, which involves a screaming fit for about 10-15 minutes and then general uncooperativeness. We started on the single-track trail with a great view overlooking the river, but marred by his whining about wanting to go home. I was carrying a cheap frame backpack/child-carrier with the water, food, and other baby supplies, and was worried that I'd have to add another 27 or so pounds, which wouldn't bode well for my race. Peter decided then that he was too hot and wanted us to take his pants off. I blew it by not photographing him in his underwear on the trail (to show at his future wedding). Then he changed his mind and wanted his pants back on. Mommy was getting irritated, and I increasingly got more worried.

looking back at the bridge

Fortunately, we came across a sections littered with lots of small shiny rocks, either quartz or feldspar, though I'm no geologist. My son got into collecting them (supposedly for show and tell Fridays at school). We limited the number and size (3, small), but were relieved that he'd stopped whining and was finally into the hike.

About a mile (and a long hour) in, Peter's baby brother, Lucas, started crying, so it was time for a feed (Mommy still's 100% in charge of this one).

photo taken by my 3-year old at our rest stop. He actually took some perfectly framed shots, but this one has the backpack I was carrying.

I was a little worried that this would be our turnaround spot, but my wife acted surprised I was even thinking of turning back now. After another switchback, I decided we would go as far as a stream crossing and turnaround or we'd be too late getting to the hotel. Actually, it worked out well because my wife didn't bring hiking shoes and it was fairly deep. It was 1 hour 50 minutes since we left the parking lot. Of course, Peter wanted to throw rocks into the water, so he had a few minutes.

Juicy trail at our turnaround point. Don't this make you want to get those shoes on and start running?

We started back. This was now the longest my son's hiked without being carried. Would he, er, peeter out?

wildflowers. not as exciting to my son as the lizard, butterflies or rocks.

On the contrary, Peter dug down deep and gunned it, doing a lot of running on the way back. We often had the bridge at the start in the distance as a constant approaching goal. He admitted at times to being tired, but we could actually motivate him by telling him he would be able to say he did it all by himself. As as the bridge loomed closer, he got more pumped. Luckily in all our excitement, we didn't run over this guy right below and next to the trail.

unless someone can ID this one, maybe a rattlesnake or a copperhead. didn't want to get a better look up close.

Mommy spotted this-- a great reminder to always keep our kids close in the wilderness. I believe its head was triangular in shape. I decided a closer look or photo wasn't worth it.

We got back to the trailhead in 70 minutes. Even accounting for the feed and the clothes changing and the initial whining, we did a negative split! Mommy and Daddy were so damn proud.

We tried Elephant Bar (first time, not bad) near the hotel that night, which actually worked out great although maybe I shouldn't've tried Mommy's spicy jambalaya. As Peter's reward for hiking 3.75 kind of hilly miles without getting carried, he got a comped ice cream sundae!

Saturday, April 5th, THE RACE

I had felt a little guilty about leaving my carpool buddy Joe Swenson in the lurch by going up early with my family. However, since he'd need a ride from Auburn to Sacamento post-race (last year Joe and I went around begging for a lift in the cold rain), I could ask him to pick me up at my hotel and avoid having to jog 3 miles (not good) to the start or more importantly having my wife and both my kids wake up before 5 and then drop me off with seconds to spare, and then have all of them be sleep deprived (really very not good).

carpool buddy Joe Swenson, post-race, didn't PR, but sub-8'd and came 2nd in the 50-59 male division

Joe arrives promptly at 5:15, uses the hotel bathroom and we drive to the start, with plenty of time to spare, although not enough time for a pedicure.

the race winner's painted toenails. I might try this sometime, though doubt it will make me that fast.

It's dark and there are so many people. But I still manage to run into some friends. I keep my Sportiva jacket on until the last moment, cause it's cold, then stick it in the finish line drop bag (and my only drop bag--this is a fast 50-miler, after all).

with Clement Choy. Clem was the last (of only 4 finishers) at my inaugural 50 mile run, the inaugural 2003 PCTR Diablo 50 Mile Endurance Run being held again this next Saturday, April 12th. Probably not the best choice for a first-50, and that year it was held in September and hit the upper 90's. Not knowing what I was doing, I was pulled from the course at about mile 41 and spent the night in the emergency department (as a patient, not working). I still think Clem's the man. Whoa, what a digression, sorry...

Alan Geraldi and Rajeev Patel, geared up and ready to go

Joe McCladdie, one of those who photographed us throughout the race, here at the start.

I get my number. Since I finished 6th overall last year, I was curious to see if I'd get a seeded single digit number. 7--cool!--maybe the last first and last time to get a number so low, realizing how deep the elite field was this year--I knew already at least 10 guys who would definitely beat me, plus another 10 that might, not to mention the fast runners I'd never heard of.

can't remember his name (someone help). helping with race numbers at the early morning start.

Last year I ran in road, rather than trail shoes and felt it was worth it. Given the drier conditions this year, there was no question I'd go road. However, the soles of my Mizuno Wave Riders were pretty worn down. I had a pair of unworn Wave Rider 10's, but decided I didn't want to trash them on a trail and cover them with urashiol, the toxic allergen in poison oak.

Michael and his father Kevin, after the finish

I run with Michael Kanning from the onset. At Firetrails last year I hinted to him he probably shouldn't try to stick with me very long (to quote my blog entry, "I talked the most during the first 2 miles with 15-year-old Michael Kanning, who mentions a few times that he is probably going too fast since he is keeping up with me") but after his Jed Smith 50 mile sub-7 hour time 2 months ago, and his sub-5 minute mile last month, I think he'll be okay. I mean, unlike all us old farts, he's this growing kid who can only get faster--I even tell him that he'll probably beat me in one of these races before he graduates from high school.

I was hoping to use my Garmin to pace myself, but because it's dark, I can't see anything for the first few miles, and if there is a button for the light, I don't know where it is. Once the sun rises enough that I can see, I notice we are at times doing a 6:30-6:40 pace , which is faster than my best marathon pace. I tell Michael to slow down (if not for him, for me). First aid station I hit the start/stop button instead of the lap button, which I notice only after a few minutes. Something about my timing race--last year I lost all my splits at the finish.

on the bike path, not necessarily the first aid station, photo by Kevin Kanning

Several times during the almost 3 hours we run together on the mostly flat bike path, sometime I, but mostly Michael accelerates to below 6:45 minutes per mile and I have to command us both to slow down. Second issue is that I increasingly I feel like I might have to pit stop and do the number 2 (that damn spicy jambalaya!). I mention this to Michael, who thinks I should get it done with at one of the many outhouses along the trail, but then I'd lose his welcome company on the flat trail. I'm thinking that it might be something I can run through and let fix itself. Luckily, the discomfort never progresses to cramping or re-production of what I had in the hotel right before Joe picked me up which I won't describe here since it was yucky and I have to stop being scatologically nasty into these blog posts.

During this part of the run, I keep thinking about how in 6 months I can probably put my younger son in our new bike trailer, and either before or after a race bike the path as a family for the first time. I'm really psyched about this--our first outing will be blogged for sure. It's okay running but face it, it's a bike path, so better suited for family bicycling. This will help improve the chances of my getting wifey permission to do AR50 and Helen Klein in future years.

After maybe the 2nd aid station, we either catch up with or get caught up by Thierry Asselin, an emergency veterinarian from Ottawa, Canada. His fiancee is an ER doc like me, and attending some emergency medicine conference in San Francisco that I don't even know about because, well, I have other priorities. So now it's 3 of us running together.

with Thierry Asselin

He says his marathon PR is in the low 2:40's, which is more than 10 minutes faster than mine, so I am hoping he might be able to keep us company longer, but 50 miles is still 50 miles and we lose him at an aid station before the hill overlooking Nimbus Dam overlook at mile 19. Thierry would actually do well for only his 2nd 50-mile run, finishing in 7:15:33, 26th place overall. After that aid station, we are surprised to see Jean Pommier in his red Brooks outfit, who had sped past us early and whom I assumed would come way ahead of me. We overtake him without making a conscious effort to pass him, so figure he is hurting. I tell him in passing Western States top 5 finisher in 2011 is coming by, referring to Michael. Never a quitter, Jean would stick it out to the end, despite what he would explain in his blog as his asthma flaring.

On the ridge going to Negro Bar, we catch up with several runners and Michael actually takes the initiative to start picking them off. At the Negro Bar aid station (mile 23.5), Michael asks his dad for his trail shoes. I go on ahead and don't see him afterwards. Michael falls off my pace, but would come in a still impressive 7:47:18 and 40th place. I realize soon that the next split is all road, and so regret not realizing this sooner and counseling Michael to change the shoes later at Beal's Point.

near Beal's Point maybe or some other aid station, taken by my then fiancee at the 2004 race

After Beal's Point (27.4), which I think I reach in about 3:10, 4 minutes ahead of last year, the course goes along the levees, past the turnoff to Cavitt Middle School, the start and end of Norm Klein's races, and heads along trails leading to Auburn. This is the more interesting, scenic and difficult half of the course. I'd be exulted, and more willing to push my pace, but I'm finding that I'm abdominal wall muscles are giving me some trouble. At times I have to bend forward a little on the downhills to ease the pain, making the challenges of running technical rocky single track that much more challenging. I'm not urinating as much as I'd like, but it almost feels like drinking too much at a time makes it worse. I know I'm slowing down more than a should, and expect to be passed, and indeed I am by 2-3 runners. And then, no surprise, my old road Mizunos with thinned tread, aren't feeling very protective as I start hitting the rocky technical stretches, which I feel is exacerbating the abdominal wall issue. In addition, my hamstrings, which I failed to stretch after yesterday's hike, are feeling tight. I decide that I need to play it conservative, so I limit my pace, and hope these rate limiting problems will resolve.

They do go away, although it takes about 10 miles. I catch up and pass 2-3 runners and then notice that I'm finally able to push it enough to breathe hard again--and damn does this feel good. Still, I'm tired, and manage to trip once (fortunately on an uphill) and almost lose it twice on some downhills, once while avoiding a big shoot of poison oak jutting into the trail--priorities, right?

A guy walking the other way on the course says--"Oh, the guy in the yellow jacket! You're wife is waiting for you up ahead on the road."

Say what? She's supposed to be at the Folsom Outlets shopping with the kids. This is too weird. Why all of the sudden is she cheering me on the course? I come to the road, and there's this babe, who smiles and says "great job!" Pretty, but not my wife. I'm actually relieved, because the only good reason I can think for her to show up is if she spent way too much shopping.

As the rushing of the American River becomes audible about 7 or 8 miles from the finish, I'm invigorated and uplifted, but I tell myself not to admire the rapids below too much, lest I wipe out completely.

During the final ascent, which fortunately I've done enough times to anticipate, I catch up with a runner. "Good job," I say. "Same to you" or something like that. "So, how's your kick?" "Not good at all," he admits. Okay, time to be age-division-competitive-- this is the time to know. I feel confident Jorge Pacheco and Mark Lantz are ahead of me, and know Jean Pommier is behind me.

Mark Lantz, 2nd in our 40-49 male division, PR'd better than I did with a 6:23:55. I never saw him until the end.

"Uh, how old are you?" This sort of takes him aback, since it's direct, but there is not enough race left to chat first. "45." "Wow," I say, impressed, then kick my pace a little more. I don't answer "I'm 41" since it would be like I'm sneering at him. I look back 2-3 minutes later and I've lost him. Aren't I a competitive jerk? But I guess he didn't have a kick left anyway. I see 2 more ahead of me a couple hundred yards, but make no ground on them.

Mark Murray, whom I passed on the finally ascent to the finish, stealing what would have been his 3rd place men's 40-49 division award patch.

Of course, after I cross the finish line, I press the wrong button on my Garmin again, but I guess there is the official time. PR, but given the almost perfect weather (versus the freezing temperatures and rain last year), it should've been by more than 9 minutes. We're doing our crunches and leg raises from now on! I later find out I'm in 15th, down from 6th last year, and 12th the year before, but I'm very pleased since the field was so deep, and a PR is a PR.

photo by Kevin Kanning

I keep my initially chatting to a minimum, because I know where I need to go. First the bathroom to lather my legs with liquid soap and wipe it off with paper towels. Then the soak.

the little canal past the parking lot in which I dipped my legs as long as I could take it (above my knees only 30 seconds at a time). Highly recommended. Rio del Lago 100 mile and Sierra Nevada Double Marathon go along a different section of this about 3-4 miles total.

Time to schmoozie, but only until Joe gets in, which he does within an hour of me.

me and former Sportiva teammate and overrall winner, Anton Krupicka (finished a whole hour ahead of me). He's now in States and although new to that course, my bet to win if I had to pick one.

Erik Skaden, (last year's winner, 2-time 2nd place in Western States last 2 years, sub 6-houred for first time, 2nd place in a deep field), taking a well-deserved rest.

Norm Klein, too hoarse to call out the names of finishers this year, & Dave Combs (thanks Rajeev for the ID)

I want to congratulate the women's winner, Jenn Shelton, but I guess I am too shy around fast young girls I don't know.

After a great massage by VeLoyce of Monsters of Massage, I get around to getting my award sewed on.

Connie Vicarro (sorry if I screwed the spelling up), sewing on my age group award patch to the red fleece jacket all finishers received

Crap, forgot to repeat the digging down deep theme.

Other race reports. These link to the AR50 reports themselves, not just to the general blog site. Reverse alphabetical by last name.
Paul Charteris (spectated, great account of the elites' race)

This race is so large, that I'm sure tons of bloggers I've never heard of ran it. If you know of more, please contact me by commenting or otherwise.

race results

Thanks 50 times to all you volunteers who might be reading this!

Some Random Numbers and Factoids
official time: 6:42:17
average pace per mile: 8:03
overall place: 15th
male 40-49 division place: 3rd
special Too Skinny Crazy Asian Guy division place: 1st!!!
number chicked: not!
previous times and overall places:
(2004) 9:30:48, 146th, 2nd attempt and 1st successful completion of a 50 mile run, 2nd
(2006) 7:17:30, 12th
(2007) 6:51:28, 6th
Falls: 1
Ankle twists: 0
Number-1 pit stops: 0 -- mark the trail!
Amount of urine produced: I forgot to bring my other bottle
Number-2 pit stops: 0
Gu gels consumed: probably about one per aid station, so 10?
Items I gave during the race to Kevin Kanning, Michael's dad, to hold for me: keys (whoops!), shoes
Items I though of giving to him but didn't: arm warmers
Reason why: they were covered with the snot I kept blowing on them the first 1-2 chilly hours
Song that kept repeating in my head for over half an hour when I couldn't stay in the zone during the 4th quintile until I decided to keep changing songs in my head every 3-5 minutes, until I finally got back into the zone: "Over My Head (Cable Car)" by The Fray
Hours worked since the race until I finished this damn post: 37.5
Minutes ago that I should've gone to bed instead of trying to finish this damn post: 50

first posted on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 2:12 a.m.