I barely got up in time to get ready before Baldwyn Chieh picked me up in his pickup, his dog Cub panting with excitement in the back.
I had trouble framing the shot on his iPhone while running
I actually wasn't that ready, as I brought two packs (with the bladder taken out) but forgot my bottle and my East Bay Regional Parks parking pass. Thanks, Baldwyn, for lending me your bottle. I put on my Ultimate Direction Wasp pack, which I usually wear on my long runs. Comfortable, with lots of great pockets.
pre-start photo by Everitt Chock
Bigger turnout than I'd remembered the last time I ran this FFA50k three years ago, plus we soon caught up with throngs of runners who had started earlier. The course starts in Quarry Lakes (an East Bay Regional Park), goes east to the end of the Alameda Creek Trail, goes back the other way to the west end of the trail, winds around Coyote Hills (another East Bay Regional Park), then returns back along the trail, through Quarry Lakes to the finish, co-fat-ass-director Mike Palmer's pick-up truck.
We started ten minutes late, at 8:40, not bad for a fat-ass run. I had printed out a map, and somehow ended up being the navigator for the front runners, since the route through the park was a little tricky. A pack of about 10-12 of us headed out to the first turnaround and water fountain at the Niles staging area, after which things thinned out a little, and then we headed back on the Alameda Creek Trail to run past Quarry Lakes to towards the bay.
by Catra Corbett
I chatted mostly with Andy Kumeda, Ron Duncan and Pierre Couteau. Rather than hang with his woman, Catra, Andy wanted to run this fast, in preparation for his Boston Marathon in April, where he PR'd (I think) the distance in 3:15. Congrats, Andy!
By the time we got to Chihping Fu's aid station, I think we were about seven. Chihping was very cool and generous to be out there. Xie xie, again, Chihping! I downed a couple slices of chocolate muffin and filled my bottle with sports drink from powder.
by Chihping Fu
Upon entering Coyote Hills Regional Park, we mixed in with runners in a 5k, 10k and half-marathon event put on by the same people who took over the Diablo Trails 50k Challenge I won two years ago (when it was actually 56 km). The sun was partly out from behind the clouds, and I was sweating profusely with my jacket, which I stashed in my pack. The Chinese runner wearing a Silicon Valley Marathon shirt (later ID'd as Haiming Yu) was, to my chagrin, pushing the pace a bit. Here we finally caught up with co-Fat-Ass-Director Catra and Linda McFadden, who started early at Catra's house to run 42 miles. I would catch up with them at my next 100-miler in Utah in March (report coming).
the two finishing later
A few or us gave moral support to the racers, many of them probably pushing their limits, as we flew by, doing our casual, informal run 2 1/2 to 10 times as long. When runners or volunteers told us we were doing great, we'd casually reply we are Someone I hadn't met before, Haiming Yu, was pushing the pace a bit, balancing the beautiful scenery along the water.
by Everitt Chock, from the hill we were supposed to climb
Ron Duncan assumed navigating duties, having this more recently than I, and managed to direct us onto the Brazen Racing course routes, but off our own course route, and almost to the toll plaza for the Dumbarton Bridge on Route 84. Even after we realized we were off, I decided to head to the turnaround, since there was one of their aid stations there, which I admit to having used.
Andy and I, shot by Ron Duncan
More pretty scenery in the marsh, then back onto the trail and Chihping's aid station. From here, my Garmin told me it was a little more than 7 miles to the finish, except that our course diversion probably added bonus mileage-- unfortunately I wasn't sure how much.
by Chihping Fu
Ron, Pierre and I first lost Haiming and Andy. Ron kept accelerating slowly. He really wanted to finish under 4:30. I wasn't too happy about working so hard, having enjoyed our more relaxed pace and the conversation so far, but as long as I didn't cramp up or puke, figured this was good for me, especially as I wasn't running Jed Smith 50k next weekend because I have to cover sick call for my group.
by Catra Corbett
Ron and I then lost Pierre before turning into Quarry Lakes. I guess we were up to 7:10 minute miles, which doesn't sound too fast, except I'd just finished one of the toughest hundred milers around two weeks ago, and I was carrying a pack with food and a jacket. Basically I was pretty close to 100% effort staying with Ron, right up to Mike Palmer's truck.
My watch said 4:24:46, but I had stood by the truck waiting for Ron to slap it, which he never did, and he decided our official arrival was 4:24:40. Apparently, for it's worth, this being a fat-ass run, the new course record! (If this were a more formal race, we could maybe disqualify ourselves for running a modified (though longer) course, but being a fat-ass run (without any course markings), we figured this was legal.
probably breaking some rule about drinking beer in the parking lot
Pierre came soon after, then Andy, Haiming, and Everitt, though a few ran a slightly shorter course.
Ron opened his trunk, and I had a soda and beer. I could have gotten a ride to the San Jose Children's Museum, but my wife didn't text me back in time, and I didn't want to cross paths and get stuck there. Thanks again, Roger Jensen, from Rancho Cordova, who ran less distance so was there at the finish and gave me a ride home.
Here's my Garmin Forerunner recording of my run.
co-RD Catra's Fremont Fat-Ass 50k website