Thursday, October 23, 2008

Carmel Valley 50K

Fall '08 has been very busy! Having completed 3 races (Santa Cruz 50k, Dick Collins 50m, and Carmel Valley 50k), fall racing is in full swing.

Pacific Coast Trail Run's Carmel Valley 50k took place on Sunday October 19th, but my wife Heidi, dog Gordy, and I had many adventures before the run. Wanting to hang out in Carmel Saturday, but avoid the steep prices for hotels, we opted to bring the airmattress and sleep in the back of our Kia Sportage at Garland Ranch park, the location of the race. We settled in to sleep by 9:00pm., and were soon rudely awoken by a State Trooper pounding on our window and shining his flashlight in the car. The dog was going crazy, I didn't know where I was, and the officer was yelling "police, open up!" I stumbled out of the car; I was wearing my running clothes so I wouldn't have to change in the morning.

"You know that the park closes at dark and you can't sleep here?" The officer implored.

Playing dumb and trying to get sympathy points, I responded, "No I didn't know that, I was just getting a headstart for the race I am doing here tomorrow."

Long story short, he took my license and told me that I can't camp there...BUMMER!
So we drove down the rode and parked in the Safeway parking lot. Not as nice as the Garland Ranch parking lot with all of the lights and everything, but we weren't bothered during the night.

After the eventful night, I met many familiar runners at the starting line; fellow Ultraholic Adam Blum, Ray (I have ran 32 ultras this year) Sanchez, and Jason Reed (who also ran the Firetrails 50 the week before). Once Wendell set us off, I tried to keep up with Adam as long as possible, but eventually took a wrong turn and went 8 minutes off course, into a residential area. Jason, who also went off course, informed the group of us that we were off course and we had to return back uphill.
(Quad Dipsea Training)

The 50k course is two 25k loops, with 8500ft. of elevation gain. There were some painfully steep uphill sections, but I felt good as my hiking has improved since the Cascade Crest. I passed a few runners and finished the first 25k loop in 2:35. I asked Adam how far ahead Ray was, and he said probably 10 minutes. The aid station worker told me I was in 4th place, but I felt good and ready to "hunt" the runners ahead of me.

I caught up to Matt Osborne of Pismo Beach, as he was suffering from cramps pretty badly. I gave him some of my salt tablets and wished him the best. I continued to push hard through the Saddle Loop, which has some Mt. Diablo and Cascade Crest style ascents! Entering into the Ball Fields aid station, I saw Ray Sanchez who was probably 2 minutes ahead of me. No sign of Whit Rambach who was winning at that point.

(I also ran into Heidi and Gordy on the trail)

I quickly refueled at the aid station and set out to catch Ray. I caught Ray near Maple Canyon (4m from the finish), and tried to create as much of a cushion as possible. Climbing up Lupine Loop I saw Whit and caught him at the crest of the hill. From here it was mostly downhill and I tried to turn my legs over as fast as possible. The battery on my Garmin ran out, so I had no idea what my time was, but I was feeling good running at a fast pace. I crossed the finish line in 5:17:05, which was 23 seconds behind Brian Robinson's 2007 course record. Brian is a very accomplished ultrarunner who holds the Barkely 100 course record, as well as being the only person to do all three transcontinental trails (PCT, CD, and AT) in a calender year. Brian joked with me afterwords that he was anxiously counting down the seconds for his course record as he could hear my feet coming down the trail. I must have been pretty loud!

After the run we headed back to the beach to enjoy Carmel's white sand, and gentle waves.