December 4, 2011
Laura and I decided that we would do Ridgecrest. I last ran the course back in 2004 and at that time, I set my personal best for any 50K of 5:47:09. The course is runnable, and it’s a great beginner course… and we are always encouraging others to try this event particularly.
It was pretty cold when we got out there and we registered the night before. Yes, I signed up for an ultra the day before… but my training has been running a long race every month for about 2 years, so I think I will be OK.
We opted against eating the meal at the check-in/registration – it didn’t look all that good, but we looked up various places on Laura’s I-Phone trying to find some kind of food that we all would want. We decided on a local Pizza joint, which had a buffet offering for about $10 plus good beers at reasonable prices (like $3.50 for a glass of Newcastle). It seemed like THE joint as we saw Mitzi and Hwa-Ja there, too. The buffet was acceptable, and I did try their Peanut Butter pizza. (Odd.)
We stayed at the Heritage Inn (the host hotel) and recognized a number of regulars there. In the morning, basically everyone heading out before dawn was a racer. I mean, what else was going on in Ridgecrest at 7am on Sunday?
The race started out on time, though there were a handful of the older folk who started an hour early to give themselves the opportunity to finish under the time limit. I immediately began walking all of the hills and jogging the rest of the course. I felt pretty good and finished the first 5.5 miles at a 9:10/mile pace (like a 10K pace!).
I think the cooler temperatures helped me quite a bit, as heat is not my friend.
The second section contains a few hills, has practically no paved surfaces and a bunch of single-track. I only slowed down to a 10 minute pace.
I don’t have a lot of notes about this race. I guess you could refer back to a previous posting about this course… it hasn’t changed… except for the fact that we are both 7 years older.
Later into the race, I would look down at my watch and think… maybe I can finish under 6 hours (of 20-plus 50Ks, only 2 have been under 6 hours, and both were at Ridgecrest).
Most of the final miles of the course are downhill. However, I find the end of the course CRUEL, because you can spot the finish line location (not quite see it) for 3 miles and still not get any closer.
At 29.4 miles, I was at 5 hours and 44 minutes. In any other race, 1.7 miles in 16 minutes is not a particularly tall order… but it IS when you are coming to the end of 31 miles. I really just got to the point where I thought, “Hmm… I think I am going to miss breaking 6 hours by a few minutes, so WHY overdo it?” and I slowed down.
I ended up finishing in 6:02:51… which is my best time in 7 years. I’m totally happy with that.
Consider also that marathon-plus-wise, in 2011:
I ran 2 marathons.
I ran 4 50Ks.
I ran 2 50Ms.
I ran 3 100Ks.
I completed a 100M race.
So… to finish my final ultra in one of my best times, that makes for a pretty good finish to the ultra year.
I’ve decided to continue my streak, but run 12 ultras in 12 months for 2012.