March 10, 2007
My 6th time doing this race.
In the few weeks leading up to the race, I stubbed one of my middle toes really hard. This happens on occasion when I am walking around barefoot in my kitchen and I slide on the floor into the fridge or the wall… or kick the legs of a chair. This is something totally accidental. I am not making a habit of kicking chairs or sliding on the floor… I just slip and perform the action.
And… in the process of the toe stub, it is possible that I broke my toe. The deal with breaking a toe is that there is nothing you can do about it. It hurts like a… it hurts a lot! You can buddy-tape your toe and that gives it a bit more support, but pretty much you have to wait it out or just deal with it. I take it easy after I do this, but I am always concerned that it seems to happen to me when I am preparing for an ultramarathon.
I didn’t rest as much as I should leading up to the race; in fact, I walked at least a mile from my house to the 111 bus stop to ride to the airport (at least I didn’t walk the 4 miles to the airport). It is my usual birthday weekend (March 7) where I stay with my friends Jessica and Erik in Davis, run Cool and then hang with them (exhausted) on Sunday after the race is over.
Another part of my usual experience is to try and meet with my old Early Music Ensemble buddy, Jacki Amos, for lunch on Friday before the race.
Not your typical birthday weekend, I know, but I like the trail running and I like to visit my friends (especially now that it has been almost 13 years since I graduated college).
Saturday morning is a lot warmer and drier than in any past year. Usually, you can see your breath and struggle to stay warm as you await the start of the race. Not a problem, but could become a problem later if the day warms up much more.
With each passing year, I notice that those around me have more and more of the technologically advanced materials – GPS, fancy watches, I-Pods, etc. I don’t wear headphones, and I am still rocking the Casio watch that I got for my 9th birthday (I am planning to retire it in a few years… let it celebrate its 30th birthday and then put it to sleep). Usually, I try and memorize splits on my watch, because I can only record ONE split. The good news is that Timex/Ironman got AREC to sample some watches… and then they let us keep them (the watches can record 30 splits!!!). I wear the watch specifically for this race so that I can have an idea about how I do in certain sections and if I can improve.
The first section is a 5-6 mile loop near to Cool that ends just before the Highway 49 crossing. I finish it at a 10:08 pace.
The next section crosses Hwy. 49 and then winds around the wilderness for about 8 miles. This section usually has about 45 stream crossings, but due to the dryness of the course, there are probably only 15-20. Since I have to manage a further distance without food or water refills, I finish this section at a 11:48/mile pace.
The third section (which is my favorite, strangely), starts from the other side of a major creek crossing (but practically jump acrossable) and winds uphill for a couple of miles, down the Dead Truck Trail (VERY steep downhill – grapenuts-sized gravel), a re-cross of the stream and a climb up Ball Bearing Hill (18-20% grade UP). I get through this section in a 11:57/mile pace.
The fourth section retraces some of the steps from the 2nd/3rd aid station, past the 15-20 (not 45) stream crossings and then back around to another section… the ALWAYS wet section… even in a droughty, arid, dry year. My favorite part of this section is a downhill section that you almost ski down (mud) and then are surrounded by prickly blackberry bushes and the trail is 6″ under water… though maybe this year, it was just a scant 3 inches under water. Still wet and refreshing.
Unfortunately, it is near this section where I begin my cramping of the day – I’ve never yet figured out a way to not get cramps. Maybe I should ask for advice… but I’m a guy – I don’t ask for advice.
This section ends at the top of Goat Hill at approximately the marathon point (26.2M). Because of the cramping, I’ve slowed down to 13:44/mile.
From Goat Hill, it’s a 3-odd mile descent down to Highway 49. At this point, it’s painful and painstaking with the cramps and I maintain my 13:44 pace.
The last section is just around 1.5 miles and rolling hills (with an uphill bent) to the end. Usually, this section is a big mud pit, but it’s actually pretty dry and rocky. I can’t manage any faster than I have been going, but still under 14 minutes per mile.
I finished in my slowest Way Too Cool time yet (slower nearly every year) with a time of 7:13:09… but you know, given my wonky toe and getting older (wink, wink), I am totally happy with my time.