Time to play catch up with my posts!
Finally! After two disappointing results at the Ohlone Wilderness 50K I finally have a result I can be satisfied with. Not happy with, just satisfied. The first year I ran this race I was an ultra virgin. My goal was to win the Zombie Runner Rookie Award given to the fastest male and female runner making their ultra debut. I under trained for the gnarly hills, mismanaged my resources, ran out of water, and ended up finishing in 62nd place in 6:45:44. That was about an hour and twenty minutes off the rookie award. In 2012 I didn’t fare any better. I once again ran out of water and puked my guts out on the course. My time got worse and I finished in 72nd place in 7:01:32 This year I took my vengeance.
Earlier this year I had a bout of piriformis syndrome that hampered my training for Way Too Cool. It stayed in check for much of my lead up to American River but that race seemed to have set it back off. I was once again slowed down leading up to this race and I was hoping my fitness gains from the American River training would more or less hold.
This race starts out with a climb to Mission Peak. It is roughly 4.4 miles to the top and you gain 2,130 feet with an average grade of 9.2%. The smart thing to do here is go easy on this climb. Even though I thought I was taking it easy I ended up running my fastest time on this section by 1:22! That will come back and bite me.
For the most part I was able to keep the decent in check and reeled in a few runners who were paying the price from putting too much effort into Mission. I gave a quick hello to the Laurel Loop aid station crew and continued on my way without stopping. I continued to try to run at a controlled pace for the continued decent into Sunol and for the most part I accomplished my task. I made my first quick stop at the Sunol aid station feeling much better at this point than I did last year.
Last year I more or less blew up after Sunol. This year I kept my pace slow and was able to run large sections of the course, only walking on the steepest of hills in order to conserve energy. I hit the Backpack and Goat Rock aid stations uneventfully which nice for a change. During last year’s race I ran out of water between Got Rock and the summit of Rose Peak. This year was a major upgrade from last year and I was able to reach the top with little difficulty. I received my Zombie Runner bracelet to signify that I reached the top and cruised down and over to the Magie’s Half Acre aid station. Last year I lost time here by having to sit to rest. This year I filled my water bottles and headed right out.
Shortly after Magie’s I started to hit the wall. I figured it would happen sooner or later on this course and I was happy that it was much later this go round. I ended up getting passed a couple times before I rolled into the Schlieper Rock aid station. I think this marks the the start of the most difficult section of the course. A steep, switch backing decent followed by a mile climb that gains 550 ft and averages a 11.5% grade. I ended up getting passed a few more times here but at this point I could care less and was cursing the course and vowing to never return.
After you reach the top of that dreaded climb it flattens out for a little before the final decent into Del Valle Regional Park. Hoping to break six hours I picked up the pace and pushed to the finish. I ended up crossing the finish line in 5:57:18. Good for 15th place and a 48 minute personal course record. I missed the coveted big wood trophy given out to age group winners by one spot or six minutes and change. Even though I vowed never to return I can’t imagine missing out on this Bay Area Classic next year.