March 13, 2010
My 9th consecutive Way Too Cool 50K. I have been very lucky to get into this race year after year, but I know that one of these days my luck will run out and I will just not be able to run. I hope that doesn’t happen until at least after next year.
I drove up to Sacramento on Friday and it was overcast and nasty… which does not bode well for tomorrow’s race… though I have run a Way Too Cool in the mud before.
Once again I am staying with my friends Jessica and Erik at their home in Davis, California. They have a nice two bedroom house near the UC Davis campus, and an office that can convert to an additional bedroom in a pinch. I have stayed in here before, and sometimes I sleep in a sort of recliner chair.
It is so great to come back to Davis several times a year… hard to believe that I moved away more than 10 years ago and graduated nearly 16 years ago.
I had the usual early morning drive up to Cool along I-80 and I-49… and the usual not getting to park very close by… though it isn’t worth it to me to arrive hours before the race just to park 200 yards closer.
The giveaway this year is a pair of White Moeben sleeves (or as people call them “Arm Warmers”) and a nice light green Patagonia long-sleeved technical shirt.
I set off along the course (as usual towards the back) and enjoy the mile or so of paved course before entering into the very muddy course. The pavement doesn’t feel very good on my knee; but the mud makes for slow going as well. It is best for me to be at the back end (also because I am slower) because the people at the front are going willy-nilly down the hills and some people are falling. I CAN’T fall, because it will hurt and also ruin my race! I ski the best I can down the hills and stay in the weeds to get up the hills. Finishing the first 6.8M loop at a 12:00/mile pace confirms that this will be a LO-ONG day.
The second section, the unending traversing of hillsides which seemingly last forever, goes at about the same slow speed (now 14:00/mile). Several lead runners (about 30) are already on their way back by the time I get to Mile 15 (they are at Mile 21!). The stream crossing is delightful because it gets the excess mud off my shoes.
The third section is the best and worst of the whole course… in other words, my favorite section. There is a long ascent out of the aid station, then a steep descent to another water crossing. Then the piece-de-resistance… Ball Bearing Hill. My pace slowed even further (17:00/mile) in this section, but at least I am not too worried about going over the 9 hour time limit (I have gotten slower each year, but I am only around 75 minutes slower since 2002 when I ran 6:24).
The fourth section is mostly the reverse of unending undulating terrace traverses (say THAT 5 times fast!), except a long climb up Goat Hill to the marathon point. I accelerate a bit to 15:00/mile pace and finish the marathon in 6:21. This is somewhat sad for me, given that 8 years ago I ran 6:24 total. I am guessing that I will not be doing the last 5-odd miles in under 3 minutes (not even in a car!).
From Goat Hill, I descend back down to the Highway 49 crossing, with my other favorite section (REALLY muddy this year) where the path goes about 6 inches underwater in between stickers on blackberry bushes. People often try and avoid getting their shoes wet, in some cases taking their shoes off and holding them in their hands. Here, hmm… I don’t think anyone would be interested in slogging through the mud to avoid getting one’s shoes wet… because your feet would be dirtier than your shoes could be.
Once I cross Highway 49, it’s just a little over a mile to the finish. No need to waste any time at the final aid station, but just rush on in to the finish line… or in today’s case… slip, slide and slosh to the finish. I’m not really thrilled with my time of 7:31:09… but it is a finish, and a great bloody muddy adventure.
On Sunday, on my way back home, I stopped by Stockton and had lunch with Cynthia, one of my best college friends. A nice weekend.