Sunday, May 11, 2008

PCT50 Race Report

We drove out from Monrovia at 2:00 am on race morning to make the two and a half hour freeway trek down to San Diego. My carpool mate was Andy Kumeda, we talked almost the whole way down, so the time passed quickly. The starting line was just off the 8 freeway, it was the most convenient ultra race start location I have ever been to. You just get off the freeway, park, and there it was. What more can you ask for! I was filled with anticipation as I looked forward to meeting some new friends in person from the SoCal Trail Headz.

It was still dark when we checked in. The registration table was set up on the shoulder of the highway, and a bunch of cars were already there. It was as if crazed ultra runners just took over the highway; I love it. I saw Jerry Armstrong's trailer and parked next to it; I was looking forward to the prime rib and the post-race party he would host for the tHeadz. Thanks, Jerry; it was great.

After a short nap we got up and got ready for the start. The mountain air was crisp and invigorating. The temperature was in the mid 30's; but I knew it would warm up very quickly. The forecast said partly cloudy skies; but there was not a cloud in sight. The day would turn out to be very warm. I braved the cold and went without arm warmers and gloves. The course was an out-and-back on entirely technical rocky single tracks. Some of the tHeadz recognized me and introduced themselves; thank you very much, Chaz and Eric. Sorry, if I forgot to mention some of your names as there were so many new friends to meet.

Somebody shouted "go", then we were off. After about a mile or so, Akos came charging up to the front; passing everybody. He had started late. I guess better late than never. I settled into a nice pace, a few faster people passed me, including iMichelle, who had also started late. After a few miles, I looked back and I was pulling a pack of 5 runners. I kept a comfortable pace, so I was happy to oblige. We kept going and soon caught up to Keira; then I slowed down, thinking that I might be pushing too hard. The pack behind me noticed that I had slowed and passed me; but I was content to let them go. I wanted to save some energy as I planned to negative split this course. The pack I was pulling included some very good runners.

For some reason, I kept tripping on the rocks as I ran. I have trained on my share of rocky single tracks, and tripping is usually not a problem. I guess I was just not concentrating and mentally unfocused.

At one point I was running with Eric and caught up to Krik, I introduced myself. Kirk looked good! Then, Eric went ahead; and when I saw him as I approached the turn-around, he looked good! I had no idea what was happening to him. I was just one place behind Eric at the turn-around.

At the turn-around (25 miles), I was feeling really good. My legs felt strong and I had no issues. I thought to myself, "now the chase begins." My time at the turn-around was about four and a half hours; so I was on sub 9 hour pace. I kept a very nice running pace back to Penny Pines, about 2 miles. There, I saw Eric, I didn't know he had issues; so I made a very quick stop and went ahead.

I kept running through the undulating course by myself; then, I just didn't feel like pushing anymore. This has never happened to me during a race. I had no reasons to not push, at least not physically; but mentally I just didn't want to. May be racing my fourth ultra, including three 50 milers, in five weeks was catching up to me. Or, may be being alone had something to do with it. I thought to myself, "so what if I caught a few runners going back." I felt that it wasn't worth it to push to get a better time or place higher. This is very uncharacteristic of me, normally I fight until I have no more to give. But, that day, I had no fight.

I needed something or someone to inspire me; but I found none. Running uninspired and alone, I slowed down and walked a lot of the sections I knew I could run. My mind wandered, and I kept tripping on the rocks. This kept going until about 10 miles to go; when I tripped and fell and cut up my right hand. Then I realized I needed to concentrate more. When I started concentrating, I felt better mentally and the miles seemed to go by faster. One positive note, I kept moving and never thought about quitting.

This race was tough, as I learned that mental preparation was just as important as physical. My thanks go out to many of the tHeadz at the aid stations who introduced themselves to me. Beiyi served me food at the finish, thanks. Oh, almost forgot, I saw a huge rattle snake right on the course and almost stepped on it but stopped short.

Next weekend is the Bishop/High Sierra 50 miler. I will use what I learned.

Until the next adventure, happy trails!

2 comments:

Charlie Nickell said...

Anything sub 10 is a good time on that course in that heat with snakes. Next time, hang with me, I'll puke on your shoes and motivate you to run faster.

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