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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mt. Diablo 50K - 2013

1 hour, 3 minutes was our time around the Crockett Loop.  Not bad for Matt and I cycling into a headwind for the entire loop.  Wait, how is that possible?

I felt a lot better than I supposed I would, only 4 days into recovering from racing the Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge 50k.  We rolled back into Martinez just before dark with our headlights beginning to reflect off the street signs.  My cycling legs were managing fine in spite of the punishment I had delivered to my running legs last Saturday.  Dinner always looks and tastes spectacular when you're starved, and the grill had barely browned the turkey breasts before I was nibbling off corners.  But I guess I'm not as well recovered as I had supposed, for shortly after the table was cleared I was found propped against the wall asleep on the hallway floor waiting for the toothbrush brigade to clear the bathroom so I could take my shower.  I was in bed by 9:30 and asleep in 30 seconds.

Mt. Diablo out the window of the car on the way to start the race.
My race will finish on the far side of the mountain.
The Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge 50k was the highlight of my running season.  Though I considered not running it at all this year, I basically trained all year for this one event; the one punishing challenge that either awes my friends or convinces them that their suspicions about my sanity are confirmed.  Then, I was sent this link by Matt earlier in the week, and was awed myself by the caliber of one of my competitors who used this same race as a filler between his more important events.  Ian Sharman who took first place, was written up in Running times relatively recently.  I realized quickly that in spite of taking 40 minutes off my time from last year, finishing the race in 5 hours 50 minutes, I am far from being mistaken for elite.  I finished 19th out of 157 finishers.

But elite or not - I am inspired.  Ever since I started reviewing the results of the race and realized that simply cutting another 20 minutes off my time would have put me in the top 10, I've been inspired.  I read the bio on Ian and am doubly inspired.

I never saw Ian at the start, and frankly I don't think I saw him all day.  By the time I cleared the first hills, the guys out front were far and away.  I started about 1/4 of the way back and slowly worked my way up to the group of runners that I would eventually finish behind.  I never could fully bridge to their group, though I managed to run with Marty Reed of Save Mt. Diablo most of the day before he bridged up to them, and I owe him a huge "thank you" for the pacing and comradery.

I have a lot of things to work on before I run this again next year:
First - I have to learn to run down hill.  The gal, Justine, pictured below could run downhill.  I have no idea how she did it, but with seemingly no effort at all, she would pull away from me down every hill.  For an hour or so we ran "together" as she would float down hill ahead of me, and then I would catch up on the ascents.  Without much effort however, she slowly began to pull away.  Justine is simply a very strong runner, and by the end of the race, she had distanced me by a quarter of an hour.

Second, I need to beat the cramps.  The 2 - 3 mile downhill leg immediately following the 3rd aid station started my legs cramping.  I need to be putting in longer, faster miles more frequently to get my legs accustomed to that level of fatigue, or better yet, strong enough to not get fatigued in that amount of time.  I was hydrated and fueled, so I have some research to do, but I suspect that the majority of the solution will be found in more hours on the trails.  I'm truly looking forward to this solution.

Third, I need to run more.

Fourth, I need to run more...

I have realized a passion for trail running.  Ian said it well in his interview with Running Times  "But one of the biggest advantages of running on trails is the ability to visit places which are spectacular and really out of the way. So the longer the race, the more scenery you can fit in and the more remote a location can be reached."  So I'm looking forward to another year of training and chasing horizons.  See you on the trail.