My 50K therapy: is that even healthy? - As we often say about ultra running: this is a big experiment of... one! There are so many parameters involved when running distances beyond the marathon, ...
Monday, April 21, 2008
RUTH ANDERSON 2008
I entered this year's Ruth Anderson race with the goal of doing the 100km. I thought that after the American River 50 miler 2 weeks earlier, a 62 mile finish would be a nice stepping stone to the Keys 100 next month. Well, my plans were not to be this year - but with Rajeev Patel as Race Director, the event was still fantastic!
I got to the race start a bit later than I would have liked. I was rushing around, still putting on my shoes when the racers starting walking to the start line. It was cold, so I had my tights on plus gloves, head cover and three layers of shirts (those 3 layers stayed on my entire race). But I didn't have time to grab my water bottle or camera. I knew the water bottle would be OK as I could get it at a later lap and there were aid stations every 2.5 miles or so (one good thing about a loop course). I never did get my camera so all images here were politely "borrowed" from the works of Peter Lubbers and Chihping Fu.
Chihping all happy at the start:
At the start, Rajeev said a few words and everybody shouted thanks to the wonderful volunteers who braved the cold and very windy morning. I saw a lot of Ultraholics such as Chihping, Yuki, Dr. Mark, Steve, Michael, etc. I tried to do some last minute adjustment on my shoes as they weren't feeling right.
We lined up and we were off. From the get go, it was Mark, Michael, a very established ultra runner named Jean Pommier, and me. Before the first aid station, Jean opened up a lead. I decided to see if I could follow him. So I slowly started catching up and we entered the second aid station together.
The windy Ruth Anderson Base Camp with RD Raj (far left in Red):
Jean stopped for something and I kept going. I had the lead all to myself, but with runners such as Michael, Jean and Mark "the Machine" Tanaka running, I knew that would be a short lived fantasy.
I kept running right at or slightly under 7 minute miles. That is what I ran the first 4 1/2 laps in last year, but this year it felt much harder. As I was coming up the west side of Lake Merced, the gusts were so strong they literally would stop me in place or push me to the side. And I am not a light runner.
As I approached the "base aid station" I was the front runner. But Jean was merely seconds behind me. I stopped to drop off some gear and grab my iPod, Jean didn't stop. Soon he had 10 seconds on me, then 30 seconds. By the time I reached the south end of Lake Merced, Jean was on the other side approaching the south aid station. It was as we both had rockets on our feet - but his was pushing him forward while mine were facing backwards :)
Eventual 50km winner Jean Pommier (photo by Chihping):
Anyway, I kept running. My legs were feeling heavy and sore. I think it was in part due to the 50 mile race 2 weeks earlier, but what really bothered me I believe were my shoes. I noticed it at the American River 50 but put it down to the shoes being too new. However, here again my legs were fatiguing way too early. Later I was discussing this with Peter Lubbers and he suggested that it may be the inserts I have in my shoes as he experienced similar things when he tried them. So I will try pulling the inserts and just using the shoe-issued insoles. Soon I came up along Yuki and said hello. He looked strong and gave me a smile and words of encouragement.
Yuki (photo by Chihping):
Anyway, I continued fighting the wind and doing my laps. I came through the marathon at 3:30 flat. Not bad, but a tad slower than I would have liked. On the 5th lap as I stopped at the south aid station, Mark Tanaka passed me. I was surprised it took 5 laps - assuming he would have passed me earlier. But he was running a very smart race and went on to win the 100km in a great time. I wished him well and off he went.
Base Aid Station Raj and Volunteers (photo by Peter):
South Aid Station and Volunteers:
I begin to reconsider the 100km. I was feeling fine, but my legs were just plain tired. The wind and cold were not making my day too enjoyable, but everyone had to deal with that.
I came into the "base aid station" to finish lap 5. There I saw Peter Lubbers. Peter and I ran the final 30 miles of TRT100 together where we both completed our first ever 100 miler. Peter is training to try and break the run-through time record for the entire Tahoe Rim Trail this August. He snapped some photos and decided to run with me a lap.
Approaching the Base Aid Station at the end of lap 5 (photos by Peter Lubbers):
We ran together a bit. Twice I decided to walk awhile and we chatted about various things. I learned that Peter had volunteered to be the 50km timer. After a bit we entered the South Aid Station (photo by Peter):
Then we started running again. Soon we came up on Chihping. Chihping was in his 5th lap but had decided that he would stop there due to a possible injury. Since he has the Grand Slam coming up, I know he made a smart decision. Chihping snapped some photos too.
Me and Peter Lubbers running lap 6 (photos by Chihping):
Me, Peter and Steve (photo by Chihping):
As I entered the base station Rajeev asked how I was doing. I told him that I had decided to stop at the 50km mark. It wasn't anything major such as my dehydration at AR50 or the piriformis at RR100, I just didn't have a longer run in me that day. So I opted to enter my last lap and promised myself that I would go out and do one final 50 to 62 mile training run between now and the Keys Ultra.
I sat down and changed my shoes for the final lap to see if that helped. Sure enough, the shoes (even though they were an old pair I had with worn out soles) felt much better. I even toyed with the idea of running 50 miles, but decided I would be risking injury doing that in the old shoes. So I pushed the last lap.
I came up on the 50km timing point. There was Peter and Hao doing the timing. I crossed it in 4 hours 14 minutes 27 seconds. I found out that I had taken 3rd in the 50km.
My 50km Finish (photo by Peter Lubbers):
Jean Pommier had decided to stop at 50km too - with an awesome 3:44 time. As I was changing shoes, another runner Ron Duncan passed me to take second.
Eventual 50km Second place runner Ron Duncan (photo by Chihping):
All in all, I was pleased. I would have liked to have done the full 100km, but some days just aren't to be. Still, managed a 3:30 marathon, a 50km slightly above 4 hours despite less than stellar conditions, 3rd place overall and 2nd in my age group. I'll take it :)
Rajeev did an awesome job race directing. The volunteers were unbelievable - suffering through horrible wind and cold. The wind was so strong, it ripped out the tent stakes from the base aid station tent and almost blew the tent into the lake, knocking over one of the great volunteers too. The south aid station had to give up on their tent - the winds made it impossible to stake it down and even with 5 people holding it, they had trouble even trying to set it up. Looking it up, it appears thatgusts reach nearly 40mph, while sustained winds averaged between 26mph and 30mph. The temps barely cracked 60 F. Source: Weather.
At the finish I saw Rajeev Char who had come down to help with timing the 50 mile event. He is training hard for two Ironman events this year. Our friend and co-Ultraholic Anil was in India at the time, so he did his own self-supported Ruth Anderson 50km run! He ran in Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore with his wife Rashmi serving as sole crew and aid station. See his story: India RA
All in all, this was a great event!