Sunday, August 22, 2010

Notes from a Slothlike Ultrarunner - Part 2 of 4

PCTR Montana de Oro 50K--Aug 15, 2010

The first trip to Valencia was crowded. The plan was to stay in the back of the pack to try to avoid the quick pace of the 8K and the 12K. The first bridge on Bluff's Trail bottlenecked with runners. I felt a tad disappointed for the slow movement, but I reminded myself that this was good. This forced me to slow down. I ran with my pal, Claudia. She is, what we coined together, a "TV", yes a trail virgin. She's a 4:05 marathoner (PR from San Francisco), and she wanted to experience what trail running is all about. We couldn't have picked a finer course than Montana de Oro. I maybe biased, because I live here. We took pictures early on along the way, while we're still relatively unsoiled. The plan was to power walk the steep hills and run the flats and downhills, to conserve energy.

After Valencia, we got back to the aid station to refill our water, grab a bite to eat and go. I was prepared this time, I brought Ziplocs to fill with food so that we can eat on the uphills to save time. When we got to the aid station however, my TV friend, Claudia, was just tickled pink about the selection of the trail food that lay before her. The way she was hovering over the goodies, you'd think she was picking dishes from the Rio Seafood Buffet in Las Vegas. After stuffing my Ziploc bag with 2 potato chips, 2 gel blocks, 2 russet potatoes, 2 animal crackers, 2 salted pretzels, 2 peanut M&M's and 2 ginger candies, then I asked Claudia, "Ready?" She snapped back, "Hold on!" I thought, "Oh-oh, a hungry runner is not a good company, let her pick her food." Then we were off to Hazard's Peak Trail. She asked, "What do we do with this?"---meaning how do we run with the bag. I said, "Hold it in your hands just like that until we get to the switchbacks at Barranca Trail, then we eat. Silence. Then she asked, "Can we eat it now?" I laughed, "Of course you can." I didn't mean to dictate the time we could eat, I was in the mindset that it might be easier to eat when walking rather than running. She ate and was happy, meanwhile I was slowing down. I realized I hadn't had the gel that I picked from the aid station. I was elated to see freebies so I grabbed 2 packets. It was Cappucino+Espresso, 2x the caffeine. I was in heaven, like a kid in a candy shop, "Yeah baby!" I sucked that bitter gel like there was no tomorrow. After a mile or two, on Islay CreekTrail, the long ugly winding fire trail that seemed endless, I felt my stomach cramped. Oh-oh. I hadn't tried this brand of gel in training. What did they say? Nothing new on race day? I never learn. Lucky for me the cramps disappeared. I have an iron stomach, throw anything at me, I can tolerate it. But no, I wouldn't risk this again next race.

Near the end of the 25K, at one point Claudia almost took a tumble but caught herself in time. The sound of her shoes hitting rocks made me jump. I didn't know if she was going to take me down with her so my natural instinct was to stop, look, or get out of the way. When you are running downhill, at a fast clip, to stop suddenly is not a bright idea. You think you've stopped, but the brain and the body is still in forward motion, so when I heard her almost took a tumble, so I thought, the quick turn to check made me lose my balance and almost fall in the bushes. I was glad she pulled me by my pack in time to stop me from really getting in the bushes. I didn't look to further examine just where I would have fallen, but from the corner of my eyes, it seemed like it was a ravine. Well okay, it makes for a better story, sounds better than falling in the bushes. The funny thing was she apologized for grabbing my pack. Are you kidding me? I was glad both of us were okay. Ahhh, the perils of running. She kept me company for the first 25K and then I was left alone to do the rest.

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