Thursday, June 3, 2010

Not Quite Listening to What My Parents Told Me at the Mount Diablo 25 Kilometer Trail Run

When I first came out of the closet to my parents, my mother reacted with disbelief. My father skipped a few stages of grief (click for Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross' 7 Stages of Grief) by bargaining. "Why....why" he stammered "do you have to run 50 miles or a 100k? Why can't you be satisfied just running 5 or 10k?"

My dad eventually came to accept my long-distance orientation.

So maybe it made sense I had never in my life signed up for a trail race shorter than a marathon in my life

Until the first weekend of June 2009.

PCTR's Mount Diablo 50k was on my "maybe" list all spring, and even 6 days after Ohlone 50k was definitely a possibility, but with Mohican 100 mile in 2 weeks, I thought I should hold off and taper better. Plus, my kids were going to a birthday party at one of those places with the jumpy houses at noon, which I couldn't make if I did the 50k. My younger son was still not old/big/bold enough to take advantage of the big slides and bouncy houses without me helping him.

My work schedule allowed almost no running the 5 days after Ohlone, so eager to get a good workout and not overtaper too early, I decided to sign up for the 25 kilometer race, which is basically just one trip up and down Mount Diablo instead of two. Also it was the last race in La Sportiva's Mountain Cup, so even though I wasn't going to win anything, it would be good form to add to a larger Sportiva Mountain Running Team presence.

Okay, not quite a 5 or 10k, but 25k is basically 15 1/2 miles, which compared to that long crazy stuff sounded reasonable.

Because I had to drive straight to Livermore for the birthday party, I couldn't carpool. The race and park had the green rule of no parking in the Mitchell Canyon lot unless you carpooled. I pulled over to the side of Pine Hollow Road about 1.6 miles away and as soon as I got out this guy in an old Volkswagon bus pulls up and asks if I wanted a ride. He's wearing cut-off jeans, doesn't look like your typical ultrarunner, and just seems a little too eager to give me a ride. I hesitate, "Uh, where to?"
"The start."
From the inside recesses of my brain I hear my parents:

Don't accept rides or candy from strangers! Don't accept rides or candy from strangers!

"Uh, okay" I tell him still suspecting he might be a homicidal maniac who will give me the last ride of my life.

the strange, very friendly man

Just then, Marissa Walker got out of her car.  "Hi George.....Oh, can I get a ride too?"
Relief.  I could get in, and unless there was something I didn't know about Marissa, I wouldn't get hacked up into many little pieces. Sorry George for not trusting you at first.  Just trying to be a good, obedient kid....  Three in the VW, we could park in the lot.

After we got out, Marissa told me how when she first met George Hall (who would finish the 25k in 3:33:00), he was wearing cut off jeans and carrying a bottle with string tied to it for the handle at her first trail race ever, the Diablo 25k a few years ago.

Marissa Walker, 50k finisher in 8:04:47

More than 30 minutes to kill before the start went fast. I managed to get my half-naked shot of Will, who pretended he was very embarrassed about this, even though most guys ripped like him don't mind being photographed. Since this photo he has not let me take snap any more images of him, so this is it-- enjoy!

Mr. Gotthardt (2:13:38, 5th place)

The race started, and as expected, there were lots of fast people running ahead of me. I enjoyed the sight I rarely see in a race, more than 20 or so (too many to count!) people, including all the yellow Sportiva jerseys. I was soon completely out of breath, but figured that since this was "only 15 miles" didn't hold back too much.  Besides, everyone else was breathing really fast and noisily too. I found myself running up long stretches of uphill I would never think of running at that pace. Despite this a few more people passed me. At one point I noticed Jason Reed ahead of me was walking faster than I am running, so I start power walking.

Troy Howard sneaked up behind me and suggested I just pace him to rest of the way up, until he too passed me. I wouldn't mind, since this year (2009) he had consistently beat me, but he is doing the 50k.

Troy Howard halfway through the 50k, which he won in 5:01:47, on his way to clocking a 2nd place finish and the 3rd fastest time in the history of Hardrock (100 mile) last July.

The route was less steep as it approached Juniper campground, the only aid station besides the start, which runners hit twice each 25k loop.  Maybe more frantically than at my longer races, I quickly stashed gels, a lyte cap, 2 blocks into my pockets, while a volunteer filled my bottle.  If my mother were watching, she might admonish me:  "Slow down, don't rush!"  My father would tell me not to run with my mouth full.  I trailed Troy Howard and Jason Reed almost all the way to the summit, but could not catch up to either of them comfortably. The leaders started flying back down from the summit, which was sort of treacherous on the single track.

It sure was nice to see this!

Diablo summit photo lifted from the web

Running downhill sure felt fun. Surprisingly I found myself overtaking people, including this woman (who would shortly after wipe out)...

Rachel Cieslewicz of Utah, in good spirits despite her spill, and who would place 3rd woman overall in the Sportiva Cup, and 3rd woman in this race & 21st overall in 2:26:22.

...and then Troy and Jason, and a few others. I had considered wearing my Crosslites for this race, thinking they are lighter and faster, but decided to go with my Wildcats, which, without being heavy have superior cushioning. It was the right choice, as I hammered down the whole hill with little abandon. I pass a few others,

but Jason Reed did catch up with me. Even as the trail leveled out, I was feeling pretty good, and passed about 3-4 people in the last mile.  I even almost completely unchicked myself.  The exception was of course Caitlin  who was SO not into the race when she started.

Caitlin Smith, with whom I couldn't even start a short conversation-- would be the female winner, 7th overall in 2:16:46, and finish 2nd place overall in the 2009 Sportiva Mountain Cup.

Some finish line pics:

Klas Eklof (2:24:31, 19th place), Jon Kroll (2:23:48, 18th), Chikara Omine (2:09:46, 4th), Jason Reed (2:20:00, 12th)

Part of the La Sportiva contingent:  Thomas Borschel (from Idaho, 2:18:02, 8th overall-- and 51 years old!), Keri Nelson (from Colorado, 2:22:26, 2nd female & 17th overall, YouTube video of her being the first woman to win (including beating the guys) the Leadville Trail Marathon in 2008), me (2:21:49, 15th overall), Leor Pantilat (ran up and down earlier that morning for fun-- I wonder if his fun pace was faster than my race pace.  report on his run with great pics )

If you ever want to kill me in your car, look like Phyllis, whom I trusted completely, and who gave me the official race shuttle ride back to my Prius.

friendly driver of the Phyllis Lum-osine

Despite spending too much time post-race taking photos of people I would not be able to identify a year later, I left Mitchell Canyon early enough that I was able to intercept my wife in Pleasanton, and we drove together with both kids asleep to the birthday party in Livermore.

Despite how hard I hammered that race, the shorter distance felt great-- minimal pain carrying my younger son while pulling myself up the narrow, flimsy stairs with a rope.

No, I had NO time to change, though I did clean my legs with Tecnu.  My parents never told me this, but my embarrassed wife sure would forever after--NO SHORT SHORTS AT JUMPY HOUSE PARTIES !!!

PCTR Diablo Trail Runs website (summer)
(no link to results-- appears to have disappeared from the website and cyberspace)
On-line pre-registration for this year's summer Diablo Trail Races to be held this Saturday, June 5, 2010, ends today, at 5pm or when it fills.


kate said...

nice report, and yes, George is so nice

trailturtle said...

Nice catch-up posts recently. Congrats on another great job at SD 100 also.
BTW, to get previous PCTR results, click on the "results and entrants" link near where the "old" links used to be...this will take you to the now used "Ultra Signup" page with results for the most current on the distance you want for that event to get other distances besides 50k--then, if you want previous yrs, click on the Month/year link in the box at the TOP RIGHT and it will bring that up. (note that every time you change the distance viewed you have to re-click the previous yr link after that--it defaults to current yr). You can also get all of your previous completed races and times by clicking on the link associated with your name (or others) on the results list. Hope that helps. Happy running and sorry that I missed meeting you at last yr's Dec Woodside event. Ann