As for the race it was really interesting to me. Certainly the largest I've ever been a part of with nearly 600 runners toeing the line. I wandered my way near the front, but making sure I wasn't on the heels of the big boys but rather near the likes of the top ladies. All of a sudden the entire field was sprinting down the road like the start of a local 5K and all I could think was, "holy shit this is stupid." Mile one is pavement and gradually downhill and the split came... 6:12... uh oh, I can't remember the last time I ran a low 6 minute mile (perhaps something to work on) and I'm a good 60 runners off the lead. So many WTF's in my mind, certainly all these guys (there weren't any ladies up there yet) were going to fade later on and I'd catch them.
So we're cruising onto the dirt now, sort of twisty turny, then the first stream crossing and I'm soaked from head to toe (should have done more homework on the race I guess). This first 8-9 mile section was pretty wet and muddy and I came close to going down more than a few times with my worn down Saucony Kinvaras. The pace was retarded still at 4 miles so I stop to take a leak and let some folks pass, look back down at my watch and I'm starting to split something a bit more palletable, like 7 flat, so I get back to it. We did some fun cross country style running through muddy bogs and more water then smooth single track and a short climb back to the start area. Waved to my Dad, Sis, and friends who were out at the race, made some noise and started cruising down to the river. The descent was fun, but would have been a lot more fun if I had chosen a better shoe for the race as I kept slipping in the mud.
(descending to the river)The miles 12-17ish are the most boring of the race, but you can make good time and take in the canyon a bit because it's a gravel road along the river. Here we hit the 15 mile mark and I told myself to just keep the effort steady and solid all the way back in. That was the plan, though I was a good 15-30 minutes ahead of my scheduled arrival. All day so far the legs were holding up, tired, sort of sputtering, but strong, and I knew they would hold well through the latter half. I made it up a tough 1/4 mile grunter which I thought was the start of the climb back out of the river, but it was a false start and then the climb was over. I thought it was supposed to be a tough climb out of the river, but I pretty well made it through without notice and I just kept chugging along and eating a gel every 20 minutes. I was a bit crampy for the miles between 20-29 but I forgot to bring my salt and it was hotter than I expected, but it wasn't a game changer, I was just a bit uncomfy. I kept cruising for the most part but goat hill really kicked my ass. I was rather cocky coming up to it given the climb out of the river being not much to talk about but I had to walk it, and it was a nasty bee-yatch. Luckily it was short and we got to run some nice rolling singletrack for a while coming out.
The miles leading into the Hwy 49 crossing were tough on me because they wanted to be hammered, just like the first mile, but I couldn't turn the gear. I just didn't have the speed to push it, so I took in the views and some company with Hozumi Nakai who'd been playing leapfrog with me the last few miles. Got to see the crew again at mile 29!
(Hozumi and I mile 29.5)
We crossed Hwy 49 and Hozumi made a move but I couldn't respond, just didn't have the get up to get after it. But I grunted my way up to the finish line and crossed in 4:08:41 (full results).
In the end it was quite a bit faster than I had intended on going, but I don't feel all that different than after a standard long run. I have big expectations for myself this year and I think this effort was right in line with what I'm looking for. I knew myself going in, and pretty well did what I came to do, I ran hard but never overdid it. I think I have come along way, proof of that is the fact that this was a 50K PR by an hour and ten minutes. I don't think I'll ever be able to say that again!
Post race I met and chatted with Jacob Rydman (yet again another impressive run in his 2nd ultra) and Joelle Vaught (yet another win, both over all the women and me!). After downing a couple cokes I had to hit the road and start our trek back down to Spreckels, not before hitting up In-N-Out though... I'm ready to keep it going, both body and mind are back in the grind!