Steep Ravine 50K
I opened the new year with a 50K warmup in mind for April’s American River 50, so I signed up to run Steep Ravine, which was a nice romp through Stinson Beach up to the top of Mt. Tam. Justin, Nate, and Pete joined.
Well seven miles in, up over Cardiac Hill on the descent, I hit a patch of rocky decline where I descended a little too recklessly and twisted my ankle. Ouch. Well that was the end of that, but at least I got to chill out on Cardiac Hill with some good buddies.
After that, I switched shoes to train in Hokas, which are a completely different beast of a shoe. Maybe I’ll write more on that another time…
I had an awesome string of Saturdays training alongside these Oakland youth. Samuel, a kid I ran with, finished the half with no problems. Sometimes I forget what a freakin’ awesome achievement that is. The kids inspire me.
This being my first 50, I took the training pretty seriously once I was back on my feet. I ran everywhere I could, and that meant a lot of time in the Oakland Hills and Marin County.
If you ask me, this stuff is priceless.
Nate ran a couple of 100 milers this year like they were no big deal. A big highlight was being able to pace him for a leg or two at those races. Here’s him at Western States:
And again in September, at the Wasatch Front 100:
American River 50
April came and it was time to run the AR50. Known as one of the more forgiving 50 milers, it takes runners from Sacramento down to Auburn.
I drove up to Sacramento with Annie, Justin and Nate for the first leg. Here, pre-race donut nutrition is to be had:
Took it easy from the start – the saying goes that you start an ultra slow, then you get slower.
We started at 5AM, and I reigned myself in a lot. I knew I had Nate and Justin waiting for me at the marathon point, so I had that to keep my spirits up. We ran mostly along the banks of the American River for the first half, where I kept pretty consistent 10:00/mi marks up to the halfway point.
…where I was joined by Nate as my pacer.
Super beautiful out there. The course at this point got much narrower and scenic as we ran the singletrack around Folsom Lake:
Right around mile 40, where Justin met me, I started feeling it a little. The race had been good; no big spasms or cramps or anything, but I started feeling the fatigue set in. Justin was a big help in talking to me and keeping my spirits up.
Finally it was the dreaded two mile climb to the finish.. around 1400 feet in 2 miles. Strangely enough I felt strong enough to push it hard and go hard. The thought that it was such a beautiful day and there were so many good things about this race made something bubble a bit inside of me.
I finished strong, at 8:43, good enough to put me 100th overall.
Afterwards, I felt a little tired. Just a little fried. Speaking of fries, we drove home happy, grabbed some Chik-Fil-A in Folsom, and I took a good, long nap.
Let’s do this again.
Golden Gate Triathlon
On the heels of last year’s triathlon, I decided to give it a once-more, since last year the swim was cancelled. So training for the tri dovetailed nicely with the tapering of trail running – I got back into the pool, and jumped back onto the bike for swims and rides.
Well come race day, all I can say is this: I was less prepared than I thought I was, but heck, I think I was about as prepared as I was prepared to give. My goal was to just enjoy the race, have a good time, and hope that my run fitness was enough to carry me through the Olympic-distance course.
Well this was the biggest X-factor, since I’d never actually successfully completed a Olympic distance open water swim. I was just mostly afraid of last year’s scenario again, and had images of waves pulling me out to sea (freaky, to say the least). Fortunately, this didn’t happen. I swam slowly but surely, the course was changed to be closer to shore and more forgiving, and I came out fine.
Next was the bike, which was like a punch in the gut. I had forgotten how demanding this course was, with fourteen climbs on Lincoln Ave for 4000’ of gain… this was gonna be no walk in the park.
So with thighs and hamstrings burning, I pulled into T2 with just enough gas to limp out slowly and get slowwwwly adjusted into run mode.
To my surprise, I had very little left in the tank – much less than I felt I had last year to put up a good run over the bridge. My quads felt like dead weights and my hamstrings protested the whole time.
And so it was – I had completed the sucker (in 3:31) with zero style at an unimpressive pace. It wasn’t exactly the kind of race I was hoping for, but hey, I had finally finished the real thing, the whole thing. And that was gonna be good enough.
Another one of my goals this year was to finish a century ride, of which I had trained for last year but never got to see to completion due to a schedule conflict. So I enrolled myself and figured this would be my running offseason – and I got to go on some pretty badass rides.
Anyways, the race was beautiful. I ended up riding it alone, which was nice because I got some good time in to myself, but I caught myself wishing I had a riding buddy to talk to.
Zomg. It was gorgeous at the top of Mt. Tam. However, the ride down through Muir Woods to the coast was freezing.
At around mile 60 or so, I was gassing. I’ve never been much of a cyclist, but I was surprised I was so fatigued – maybe it was riding along the coast and getting buffeted by the winds and being a terrible climber…
It got so much better when I hit Point Reyes. I didn’t care, cuz I had a chocolate croissant (ok, more like two). I was happy.
The last 15 miles or so were pretty flat, so I cruised on down to the finish line. Bells rung. The aroma of pizza and burritos filled the air. I sat down to another biker who swapped stories with me, told me he was waiting for his girlfriend to finish the Mt. Tam climb, and told me, with a grin, to find him on Strava.
I never did, but I’ll be back riding soon.
Ramping up (and down) for TNF 50
Autumn came, and Eric, Allie, myself, Nate and Yusef had begun running all sorts of bandit runs in the woods, up in the hills, at weird, odd hours in the morning and night. We did see some pretty beautiful stuff:
However, something happened to Allie, Eric and myself: we, all sometime in the same week or so, managed to get hurt in our own ways. Maybe it was the intensity of training we ramped up with. In any case, it was a bummer – my specific case was a bout with patellar tendinitis that, come December, I had to admit defeat and not run the North Face race.
We did manage, however, to volunteer and pace Yusef at the TNF 50 race, and it was a beautiful, chilly December race day.
That just about does it. Happy trails to come in 2014!