Monday, June 8, 2009
Auburn Trail 50K and Fitness in the Foothills
On Saturday (D-Day!), we decided to use a divide-and-conquer race strategy, Vicky was taking our youngest son Rocky to the first annual Fitness in the Foothills triathlon, our oldest son Sean, was studying his brains out in an effort to become valedictorian of his eighth grade class (we'll know the results of that on Wednesday), and I would run the 5th straight ultrarunner.net series race--the Auburn Trail 50K.
Let's start with the least impressive result of the day: mine. I had not been feeling too well all week and if it was not for my insatiable appetite for grand prix points and the fact that I had already preregistered, I probably would have stayed home. When I stopped at Starbucks at 6 a.m. for a much-needed extra jolt of caffeine and it felt like an effort to just walk 50 feet from my car to the store, I knew this was going to be a long day...
I had run the Auburn Trail 50K race last year, but the course had been changed significantly. This year, the race would start at Overlook Park in Auburn (Not at the Cool fire station), bomb down the hill for 4 miles to No Hands Bridge, then do a double loop of the dreaded "K2" climb and the Olmstead Loop, and finally head back up the steep hill to the finish at Overlook Park. This course change also made the race quite a bit longer than 50K. In the end I measured the course to be 33.62 miles. Maybe this supposed to be payback for the very short Jenkinson Lake 50K course--ouch!
Before the start, I caught up with lots of running friends. Thomas Reiss and his friend (and ultimately the 50K winner) Van McCarty, Gretchen Brugman, Lainie Callahan-Matoon, Matt Thau, Jethro Smith, Austin Violette (crewing his friend), Joe Palubeski, Greg Bomhoff, and many others. Many runners were doing a last training run before Western States (some sections of the course run on the WS course) and others were simply taking advantage of the unseasonably cool weather to go for a nice long run.
In an effort not to completely kill myself, I settled in at about 15th place and just kept a steady easy pace. To save some weight, and because it was so cool, I decided to run without any water bottles. This strategy would have been foolish on a normal day in June, but it worked out pretty well this time. I just stopped a little longer at the aid stations, but enjoyed running blue-tooth style. If this weather stays like this for another three weeks, we could see a new course record at Western States!
I ran a few miles with Gretchen and even the downhill miles felt like work; I was just not feeling it. Yet, I did get the sense that breathing the fresh air and being outside was actually doing me some good and I felt re-energized and quite a bit better the next day.
After about seven miles I caught up with Lainie, the women's leader in the ultrarunner.net series. Lainie is now running for Team Inov-8 and I am sure she will make a great addition to their team. We pretty much paced together for the rest of the race and finished together, which was fun and it made the miles go by quite a bit faster.
That's the great thing of the ultrarunning community: you go out and enjoy the day, and meet interesting people like Lainie, a mother of four, who had some excellent stories to share and even gave me tips on how to save a bundle of money on my favorite Starbucks drink (Iced Venti Mocha)--yes, the one I have been buying for the last ten years!
The course was extremely well marked and the aid stations were close enough together for my bottle-less approach. In the final miles, we passed another five runners. As expected, the last 4.2 miles were tough and it was a long grind up the hill from No Hands Bridge. Lainie and I finished the race together in tenth place overall in 5:55, with Lainie finishing second female just ten minutes behind Gretchen who won the women's race.
As far as the ultrarunner points go, I picked up another handful of points, further increasing my overall lead in the series. Matt Thau started the race, but unfortunately had to stop halfway through the race and Jethro Smith, who finished strong despite having some stomach issues during the middle miles, moved from third to second in the overall points division. Note, however, that a new race (The Jenkinson Fall 50K--this time a real 50K) has been added to the 2009 series, so it ain't over till it's over!
After lounging around for a while, enjoying Linda's great barbecue, I headed home (stopping at Starbucks on the way) and called home to see how Rocky had done in his age group in the triathlon. Great news: he had won! Using a smart race strategy, Rocky had paced himself on the bike, coming in second place after the bike leg. He then floated by the bike leg winner who was throwing up from going out too fast, and went on to finish the obstacle course in first place.
Due to a lack of clean swimming water, the swim leg of this race had been replaced with an obstacle course. After that, the kids had to run a mile and Rocky ran pretty much all the way and completely blew away the competition in his age group, winning by about a half mile! Next year, we'll come with the whole family!
And Sean? Well, he studied for his finals the entire weekend, so let's hope he can keep up that 4.0 GPA for a few more days!
Next Up: The Tahoe Relay with the Sean, Rocky, Hayes, Chris, and Turi this weekend. I'm already looking forward to it.
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