First, putting our Thule bicycle rack into the hitch of my Rav4 last weekend, I tweaked my left mid to left back. It was bad enough that during the bike ride I couldn't straighten my back, and I was in a fair amount of pain for the next 3 days. It was still pretty sore Saturday morning, though no more wincing when I bent or twisted.
|starting our bike ride at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, with huge inflatable dog in background|
Second, during the night before the race, sometime around 2 am, I managed to cramp my right calf. Random charlie horse, I woke up with a scream, managed to get it relaxed in about half a minute and then fell asleep. (My wife however, was wide awake and went downstairs to answer emails for half an hour, poor thing.) I knew then it would be sore and tight in the morning (and it was).
Later reflecting on why and how it happened then (this happens to me while in bed probably 2-3 times a year), I came up with the following possibilities (mostly boring, so feel free to skip this section):
- I didn't run at all the last 3 days (an unintended complete taper), which I think makes me tighten up.
- There was a running exception of sprinting down our street chasing my younger son, who really wanted to get on his scoot bike after we got home from a haircut. I suggested he was more than ready to do a real bike, and he went for it, but I wasn't convinced he knew how to stop or control himself. A big milestone for him! (He's the one on the left the photo above-- for long bike rides, I think we'll keep him on the Trailabike.)
- Friday evening we were at friends, I swam some sprints in the pool. No stretching afterwards.
- Then I sliced artisan cheeses while standing for more than 15 minutes.
I arrived earlier than I had to, so Mike Weston could give me a HURT 100 license plate holder that he wasn't going to use. I got one last January from the race, but I have two cars. Thanks, Mike!
|Mike giving me his license plate holder|
|Sean Blanton deboarding right before me, photo by Jonathan Fong|
Beryl Anderson of Save Mount Diablo (far left below) asked me to talk about the race and what Mount Diablo means to me. I blabbered something incomprehensible for several minutes. She told me what I said was great, but I suspect she was just being polite, and that if I ever see myself on YouTube, I will be embarrassed.
(If pressed for time, just read the last section of the race)
Start to Morgan Territory Road crossing (mile 8.2) Distances are per the website, but per my measurements not fully accurate.
Different route than the first year, and no mud. In 2009 I took the lead from the start and never gave it up. This time, Sean sprinted ahead of everyone, hollering for intentional goofball effect before dropping back.
|photos by Jonathan Fong for Brazen Racing|
|Tim Long in orange Inside Trail shirt|
|Lauri Abrahamsen and winner Tim Long of ITR|
|photo by Jonathan Fong|
The guy in 4th was about 1-2 minutes behind us when we looked back early in the ascent. Before the next summit (and highest elevation of the course at 2303 feet), Mike started to pull away and I couldn't keep up. He hammered the successive downhills. In this section, there were great views of the twin peaks of Mount Diablo and North Peak to the right; he running gracefully in his bright blue jersey in the foreground added to the aesthetics.
I saw Tim Long coming back from the Finley aid station on the one out of back section of the course. He had about at 10 minute lead and was looking strong and relaxed. I caught up with Mike at the aid station; he had to spend extra time there to duct tape close his hydration pack bladder. His girlfriend Pauline who was crewing for him was supposed to be there to switch him out a bottle, but as I explained, you can't park even at the trailhead, so probably 2 miles to the aid station, explaining why she didn't make it.
|Mike and Pauline at the finish|
Mike caught up with me quickly, so I figured he would get back in 2nd again, but he ended up following me. After the place where I helped clear a tree and reroute the trail 3 years ago, we entered the single track where Kirk Boiseree and I hacked and lopped branches as part two of the trail work. This 1.5+ mile section was completely overgrown with poison oak, jutting into the trail at all levels. Had this section been downhill, avoidance would have been more than futile. Since we were running uphill, it was only futile. I was pretty focused on trying to keep the urashiol allergen off my legs and arms and face. On the bus, Sean revealed his pro-single track anti-fire road trail philosophy; I realized for reasons such as Bay Area poison oak, I'm not so dogmatic. After this section, the trail got wider, and I slowly started to pull away from Mike, despite the heat and the realization I was behind on my fluids.
I was carrying a 24 ounce bottle and drinking a couple of extra cups of liquids at the aid stations, but soon figured out that I was under-hydrating. I tried to pee to help assess my hydration and only got minimal output. I started feeling a little weak, and realized I wasn't eating enough, but as my bottle emptied halfway through the split couldn't just down a another gel.
Approaching the aid station at Horseshoe Gate, Mike's girlfriend Pauline offered me some water, which I accepted while not recognizing her but then got paranoid this was cheating. There was the loud whirring of a medical evacuation helicopter, which was both annoying and exciting (even as an ER doc, seeing emergencies in the field is still an unusual enough occurrence for me.) The story later was it was a bicyclist that crashed and not a runner passing out from heat stroke.
Horseshoe South Gate to Burma Road North Gate (mile 28.1)
Mostly downhill on the rocky fire roads. I no longer saw anyone behind me. Not only my calves but my shins started to tighten up probably because I wasn't plantar-flexing my ankles to save my calved, so I had to hold back my pace on a good section on which I would normally try to hammer out some really fast splits. Then a short uphill before the single track Buckeye Trail, where I was feeling wafts of heat rising from the ground. Amazingly, no ticks jumped on me here in the tall grass.
|by Jonathan Fong|
This split was supposed to be 5.1 miles, but it was 5.7 on my Garmin Forerunner.
Burma Road to finish
Downhill in the beginning, where and when I saw Kirk Boiseree (with whom I did trail work for the course three years earlier), who was running in the opposite direction to pace his buddy Errol "the Rocket" Jones.
|"Rocket" Errol and Cap'n Kirk post-race|
A mile from the finish, as I bounded up from what turned out to the last stream crossing, my left hamstring suddenly cramped. I hadn't been feeling much in my hamstrings, but I immediately knew it was from my efforts all race to spare my calves on the uphills. I tried to breathe and relax as I staggered and hobbled for about a minute, aware that more likely than not, someone was a few minutes behind me. Ugh-- if this got worse, it could take me half an hour and several places to get to the finish.
Fortunately there were more significant uphills, even short ones, and I was able to relax my spasming hamstring and other muscle groups, and ease back to a slow but non-catastrophic 9 minute per mile pace.
|approaching the finish, photo by Allen Lucas|
Great food spread.
Free medal engraving (text to your liking) for 50k finishers (I barely found out about this). Pretty cool.
|Christin typing in Kevin Otoole from Roseville's info to custom engrave his medal|
|the back of mine, medal front at right. slick.|
Honestly, though, I would rather have more people run this race. It's a fantastic, epic course, with amazing views, and superbly managed and volunteer supported. I would rather have more people, front packers included, run this race to increase support for Save Mount Diablo, even if it results in my finishing out of the top 10.
Thank you volunteers-- you were all great!
This was my first run ever put on by Brazen Racing-- quite impressed.
my GPS recording (course still long-- at least a 51k. though long is okay)
race website (Brazen Racing)
Save Mount Diablo -- thanks for protecting these trails over the past four decades. Ultra / trail runners (among others) all owe your organization.
prior blog posts regarding this year's Diablo Trails 50k race:
reasons for running it
Okay, this is it. Two 50k races, 1 50k fat-ass and 1 marathon I wasn't racing. Not exactly the optimal build-up to my year's first 100 miler three weeks from this race. Time to train is going to be dismal for the next several weeks. But what to do? Let's see if I'm ready.....