Skyline 50K – 2003

August 3, 2003

Even though I have previously said that there are few marathons I have run more than once (CIM – my first and third marathons; PV 2002, 2003), I am finding that if I like an ultra-course or if I like how it is managed (aid stations, post-race, clothing giveaways, etc.), I don’t have any problem with returning again.  Already I have run Way Too Cool 2 years in a row, and now I am doing Skyline 50K for a second consecutive year.

There is one major difference to the course this year and that has much to do with the steeply downhill, debilitating dirt trail at Mile 28.  The RD decided that they should re-route and not do that section.  As a matter of course, we will still be covering the same elevation drop, but just at a different grade (more gradually).

As I am preparing my stuff at my car and heading down to the start, I end up striking up a conversation with another runner – it turns out that we both went to the same high school (but he graduated the year before I started).  We have a similar running history – that is to say that neither of us ran for any teams while we were in high school – and we were both involved with music in high school.  He now has some kids that sing with the Piedmont Choirs (which was founded by my mother in 1982 to provide a singing group in the East Bay (for me and others)), so there is a sorta of weird ‘coming full circle’ vibe here (music in high school, didn’t run in high school, now run ultras).

Jukka and I started out together, but pretty quickly, it is apparent that he is a much better runner than I am (but I am able to stay with him through the initial (paved) run around the lake to the dam.

I follow my same pattern as in the past, which is keeping a steady pace on the flats and downhills, and walking all of the uphills.

My day goes pretty well – a sign of a good day, for me, at least, is if I don’t have too many cramping issues… or if the onset of cramps comes towards the very end of the race.  In fact, the only cramps I have during the event is when I walk a bit too hard on some of the uphill sections.

I am also very happy with the removal of the steep downhill.  Last year, I was sore for quite some time after the run, because of the pressure it put on my quads.  The original course popped out  near the lake, then we continued uphill to the steep drop.  This year, we don’t continue up the hill when we see the lake; we immediately drop down.  Naturally, there still is a bit of steep downhill, but it is not long and sustained.

From the end of the downhill, we find ourselves essentially along the coastline of the lake and follow it around to the suspension bridge and then the paved road to the end.  This change adds about a half mile to the course, but the more comfortable feeling in my legs is worth a half-mile of extra time on my feet.

My time is 6:07:39, a little over a minute slower than last year’s run (but remember, 1/2 mile further!).  I am very pleased with my time, and relish coming back to run this race in future years, if possible.

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