March 12, 2011
My 10th consecutive year of Way Too Cool.
I think I have been extremely lucky in that I have been able to run this race. The first year, I got in by mail, and each year after that, the window to get in the race was smaller and smaller (2 hours, 1 hour, 15 minutes, 90 seconds…) until they finally instituted a lottery. I worked my way in off the waiting list!
They’ve changed the course this year somewhat. Gone is my “favorite” – Ball Bearing Hill. There is also a longer loop at the beginning and some different water crossings and we cross Highway 49 and two different spots.
I guess also different this year is that I am not staying in Davis. For years, I have either stayed with Jessica and Erik or once with another friend. Jessica and Erik are getting a divorce, so staying with them… not really an option. So, instead I stay with my good friend, Cynthia, who lives in Stockton (a bit further drive from Davis). Cynthia and I were in the same Honors dorm together Freshman year. It is nice to reminisce, and actually, a few years ago, she drove up and watched me finish (a really nice friend to do that).
At the start of the race, my left knee is bugging me a little bit, but as I go about the run, I feel better and better.
The first section is similar and also quite different. As before, the run starts out down the paved road by the fire station into the wilderness area, but we take the road a lot further before connecting to the trails. Also, there are a few substantial water crossings – substantial in that you are unable to just jump across and NOT get wet.
This section is also notable in that it is much longer than before. The original course was about 4.7 miles to the first aid station, but here it is around 8 miles. I get through this in 96 minutes (about 12:00/mile). We have basically run a big loop and are very close to where we started.
This next section is mostly unfamiliar. We are heading to a different Highway 49 crossing than before. I guess I have been told that the advantage is that there will not be any two-way traffic on this course. It is only about a 5K to the next aid station, and I continue to run slightly faster than 12:00/mile.
After crossing Highway 49, we are immediately on the Middle Fork of the American River. Usually, we hit this point about 3 miles after the OTHER Highway 49 crossing. I strike up a conversation with a 50K newbie. Her name is Sabine Gillert. She’s tall, grew up in South Africa, but is of Germany descent. We converse in German a bit, and I tell her that we are in the same boat, because I don’t recognize the course (well, not all of it), either. This section is 3.6 miles and I do it in 45:37, or about 12:40/mile.
The next section will start to look familiar again as it is basically the old out-and-back section of the previous 9 (plus) years. This is the endless single-track section and lots of little stream crossings. This is the longest section without aid – 6.1 miles and I finish this in about 97 minutes (nearly 16:00/mile).
Now we continue on this same section, but use the same heading back as in previous years, which means we head up to Goat Hill, which is essentially the marathon point (about 26.4 miles) and it is at the end of a long uphill (with Burma Shave style signs encouraging me up). I reduce my pace to just under 14:00/mile.
From Goat Hill, we head to the Highway 49 crossing and one of my favorite sections, which is sort of like skiing on mud downhill and tromping through a stream (not deep, but no choice). When I get to the Highway 49 crossing, there is only about 1.4 miles to go, so I don’t even stop, because I have a chance to finish in under 7 hours (for the first time in a few years). The last section took me about 15:00/mile, and I will need to do about the same to achieve the sub-7:00 finishing time.
I am super proud of myself in the last section because I averaged 12:11/mile… the fastest on any section except the first section, and I finished in 6:55!
Afterwards, I enjoy some pizza and a frog cupcake and then drive down 2-1/2 hours to the Bay Area for the Piedmont Choirs Gala and Auction in Oakland. What a long long day!