I ran my first 50K today – the Chabot 50K Trail Run. The volunteers at Inside Trail Racing impressed me with their professionalism, friendliness and genuine concern for my well-being. Inside Trails Racing put on one of the best trail runs I’ve been a part of. As an example, a volunteer at the Two Rocks aid station (~mile 23) gave me one of her personal water bottles when she saw I wasn’t carrying one (since I forgot it at home).
The weather couldn’t have been better too. At race start (8:30am PST), the temperature was 45F and was soon in the mid-50s, sunny with mild, cool breezes. Perfect.
I spent all week debating whether I should run the race at all. Last weekend, I had the flu with 102F fever, chills, aches and involuntary “core exercise” that left my lower back sore. I also developed a respiratory infection that took antibiotics to clear up. It wasn’t until a few days before the race that my lungs stopped rattling. I’m glad I decided to run the race.
My strategy was to run as fast as I could on the downhill sections (since I trusted my legs) but fast hike (instead of run) uphill to save my lungs. I feel like that approach worked well. The course had 4,200 feet of elevation gain.
Running without a water bottle cost me about 30 minutes of time during the race (looking at the difference between the “Moving Time” and “Elapsed Time”). Since I couldn’t drink water between aid stations, I had to stop and drink my fill at each station before leaving. I also regretted not bringing my gators; I had a number of pebbles that harassed my feet over the run. Lessons learned.
The loneliest but most moving part of the race was miles 19 to 23. At the 30K (18.6 mile) finish, there were lots of people celebrating and cheering their friends. The excitement helped to lift my spirits temporarily but I still had 12.2 miles to run. As I left on the final loop, the cheering faded and I was alone on the trails again. Not a single runner around. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline but I felt like I could hear things more clearly – every bird song, every creaking eucalyptus, every twig snap seemed to ring in my ears.
My favorite part of the race was definitely miles 25 to 31. I got my first taste of running competitively against someone else. From 25 to 30, I was trailed by something in a red shirt (later I learned it was John M.) and I decided I was not going to let them him pass me. I had heard that a good way to put distance between someone behind you is to find a windy part of the trail and kick it in the turns. All the blind corners keep them from seeing you and they’ll assume you left them behind. For miles we did this ‘cat and mouse’ but I was never able to get far enough ahead he couldn’t see me. Running from John helped me catch a runner (Bik A.) who passed me around mile 23. By mile 30, the three of us bunched together pushing each other to the finish.
At the finish, John told me he had fun chasing me the last five miles (I’ll bet he had even more fun passing me at the end). He told me a few times he just about gave up chasing me but would catch a glimpse of me and redouble his efforts. This was the first race where I got a small taste of the ‘predator’/‘prey’ game. It was fun.
It was so nice to see my family at the finish line. They’re the best crew team a guy could ask for.
Here’s the details of the race. Unfortunately, my watch battery died a mile 30 so the part of the race is missing: