Friday, May 9, 2008

Racing the Salmon Run 11K

The Sierra Friends Center, Salmon Run 10K Race HQ

Today, I joined about a hundred+ runners and walkers to run the 9th annual Salmon Run 10K. The run is actually an 11K run and is definitely the toughest race in the Gold Country Grand Prix Series. Traditionally this run was held on Mother's Day, but this year it was, by popular demand, held the day before, which was certainly appreciated!
Some Grand Prix runners chose to sit this one out, because it has a reputation for causing injuries that can ruin the rest of the running season, but this is actually my favorite run of the series, because it is one of just a few local trail runs. The Salmon Run is sometimes referred to as the "ECO Challenge" of the Grand Prix. Take a look at the elevation profile and you'll understand:
Salmon Run Elevation Profile
There's only one way to do well in this race (I think) and that is to go super hard in the beginning to build up a good lead, hold on to the lead on the flat part, and then crawl back up the hill hoping the rest of the pack won't be able to pass you, because it is simply too tough to speed up on the final steep uphill section.
Knowing that Reno's Chris Badolato was running, this was going to be a fight for second place, unless something unexpected happened. My main goal was to break 50 minutes, and I wanted to at least break last year's 2nd place time of 50:42. I felt ready and even tapered by taking a day off (including a rolfing treatment at Rolfing in the Sierras in Nevada City).
Rocky had an earache and did not run, but Sean and Hayes were ready to go. I warmed up by running from the Sierra Friends Center to the race start (approximately a mile) with Chris, who told me that he had been feeling a little under the weather this past week. Either he was going to be extremely well tapered or I might find him somewhere on the side of the trail -- we would soon find out.
I had looked at last year's splits for the first 5 miles (5:15, 5:30, 10:02, 7:05, and7:05) and figured that the easiest place for shaving off time might be the downhill section a the beginning. My downhill running has greatly improved by all the recent hill training and I felt ready to go even harder than last year. Chris's plan was to shave off a few minutes on the flat part between mile 3 and 5.
The race started promptly at 9 a.m. without too much fanfare and I immediately tucked in behind Chris and after about a half mile of road, we took a right turn onto the steep 2+mile downhill section. We flew down the hill and the sound of the footsteps I heard right behind me was slowly becoming more and more faint. Miles 1 and 2 flew by in 5:01 and 5:13 -- on track for the sub-50 if I could run the same exact pace as last year on the rest of the trail.
The cliff-like steep part called the Salmon Ladder forced everyone to walk, but that only lasted for about a third of a mile. After that, a couple of miles of flat flume trail took us back on the rocky road that we descended in the beginning. Chris had been out of sight since the Salmon Ladder. I looked back a few times, but could not see anybody behind me. When I finally reached the top, it looked like sub-50 was in the bag. I crossed the finish line in 49:16, good for second overall.
Chris Badolato + Daughter After the Race

In the meantime, Chris had demolished the old (47+ minute) course record by running sub-44! The downside for him in setting course records left and right: you get stiff while you wait (ages) for your friends to show up for your cool-down run!

Austin After the Race

Austin Violette came in in exactly 50:00 (he'll need to shave off at least one second next year) and he was followed by Greg Ngo and V Neelakantan. Zach Stoll finished in 7th place.

Hayes came in third in his AG in 1:13, about 4 minutes faster than last year and Sean finished strong in 1:18 -- a whopping 15 minutes faster than his time last year.

Sean and Hayes Relax After the Race

The race was followed by a nice vegetarian curry lunch and they had some great awards. For example, I picked out a $100 gift certificate for a stay in Nevada City's Outside Inn, which will be a nice addition to tomorrow's Mother's Day gifts ;-)
Many thanks to the Sierra Friends Center and all the volunteers that made this race a success.
Next up: The Silver State 50-Miler next Saturday! Austin Violette is also running it and so is fellow Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing team-mate Scott Mason. It should be a blast.


Anonymous said...

BTW-Peter's time also ranks as the 5th or 6th fastest in the history of the 8-year-old race! Keep runnin' those hills.

Rajeev said...


Congratulations on a super fast second place finish!

You are more than ready for the race this Saturday. Good luck there.


Will said...

A 5 minute pace? Dude, you have some turnover in those legs. I guess I'll have to look over my shoulder a few more times at next years Helen Klein 50 miler!

saschasdad said...

5:01 & 5:13 for your first 2 miles...dude, I don't care how much downhill there was - that's fast! You're looking primed for SS tomorrow. Just remember to wear white!

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