Tuesday, September 25, 2007



The race day started early. Chihping and I were sharing a hotel room. We got our race gear together and met the rest of the Ultraholics in the parking lot. At about 5:30 we all headed off to the Cavitt School starting area. There, we gathered around while Norm gave his briefing for those running in the concurrent 53 mile Sierra Nevada Run.

I joined Rajeev, Anil and others for some race photos - as they were being taken, we noticed the crowd was moving. The race had started! So off we went.

I started up the trail from the school, following the runners ahead of me. Slowly, I started passing people here and there. Soon I saw a green shirt ahead - it was Chihping. He and I had a similar race plan, so I joined him and we ran together for awhile snapping photos of each other. After a bit, I noticed I was pulling away from him. I ended up catching a couple other runners. We ran together and soon exited a trail. I was in the lead but I reached a fork in the path and didn't know which way to go. A runner beind me said "Left", so I went left and followed him. He was doing the Sierra Nevada 53 miler (his 5th one) so I figured he knew which way to go.

Pretty soon we got to the first aid station. I filled up my water bottles and headed up the trail. The trail was soft dirt among the trees. Soon, off to the right, the lake came into view (actually, it was in plain view earlier, but it was too dark to see). Then this runner passed me who looked familiar. I said "Is your name Ray?" He told me it was. The runner was Ray Sanchez - he and I suffered miles 50 through 56 together at Tahoe Rim Trail. I joined his pace and we ran together for awhile. Ray is very interesting - a multiple Golden Gloves winner in boxing, he is a former Olympic trialist. Ray was running strong but I stayed with him. At one point, we went through fields that had these plants with bristles scrapping our legs.

Cuts and Scratches from the Thorns

As we approached the 10 mile point, I noticed that my joints were hurting. My ankles, my knees, my elbows and shoulders. My small of my back was hurting. Worse yet, I was feeling really sleepy. This was not only worrisome, it was so strange. I have never felt this way before in any race. And here it was only 10% into my 100 miler.

Despite the way I was feeling, I kept pushing forward. After awhile, I let Ray pass me by and disappear. Soon I approached 15 miles shortly after the power station. My stomach was feeling uneasy. Then, at one point I was forced to turn to the edge of the trail and throw up. This was really bad. At Quicksilver 50 I had stomach issues, but I was running while fighting a cold/flu bug then. Here, I just couldn't explain it. In addition to throwing up, I was getting more drowsy, my joints were throbbing and I had a slight headache. Fun times!

I kept running and soon came to the base of Cardiac Hill. This was a tough climb. A lot of rocky single track with many switchbacks. I was really hurting here and figured that my 5 hour marathon goal would be missed by an hour as I was being passed by runner after runner (I later found out many of these were in the 53 miler). At the top of the hill, I was wiped out. But we ran next to an aquaduct and the scenery was very pretty so that helped (plus, I wasn't struggling up Cardiac Hill anymore). At the half way point, there was another aid station. There I fueled up and continue don along the trail. Soon, this exited the trail and entered a paved road in Auburn. My body just said "Enough". I walked most of the road to the next aid station.

This aid station was the Auburn Dam Overlook and I was weighed in. My weight was 1 pound lighter than my start weight. Then I started running again and dropped down in a heavily wooded area. The path kept dropping down and I started to feel a little better. I passed a sign and noticed that it read "WS Trail". I was on the Western States Trail! Ever since first hearing of the WS 100 race, I had wanted to run it - now here I was on the WS trail. I thought that was pretty cool.

The trail continued down and was dropping down some steep declines. Soon, near a waterfall, the leader of the 53 miler came back at me. We exchanged "hellos" and I kept running. I had to hop across a small stream (about the 3rd stream crossing, each so shallow my feet were staying dry). I was getting a bit of a second wind now and continued picking up my pace. As I rounded a corner, Peter Lubbers (my TRT100 co-finisher) came towards me in a strong 2nd place in the 53 miler. We high fived and he kept going.

Now, the trail was leveling out a bit and I was running along a river. It was beautiful. I saw two bridges in the distance. I noticed more runners coming back and realized that the nearer bridge must be No Hands. Again, this is a WS 100 fixture so it was kind of a thrill to run on it. I got to the aid station at the end of No Hands. My time was 4:45. This was slightly over a marathon and my goal was 5 hours. Wow! I was surprised. Considering how horrible I was feeling, I couldn't believe I made my target time.

Another runner joined me and she and I started up the trail. Now, when I say up, that is a bit of an understatement. This was K2 and it was a hell of a climb with about 7 false summits. Luckily it was relatively short (about 1.5 miles gaining over 1000 feet). At the top, I started running again. I was feeling a bit better, but my stomach was acting up again. I tried to take a gu and ended up barfing it along the trail. Gross.

But, I kept going along a trail that went through fields and meadows. At the point where the trail turned sharply right towards Cool Fire Station, the leader (John Olson) came running at me. He gave me some words of encouragement. I told him he looked strong - he was flying and showed little effort. Soon, the path exited the field and woods and climbed a bit towards the Cool Fire Station. As I approached I heard my name. Rashmi was there handing me a sandwich (which I turned down knowing that there was no way it would stay in my stomach). I tried an Ensure and that seemed to work. I was weighed in and was at my start weight.

I then started running on a nice country trail through pastures and meadows called the Olmstead Loop. After about 1 mile though, my stomach was turning again and I almost lost my Ensure. I was forced to walk and jog a bit. But after about 1/2 mile, I was feeling better and started running. I was actually feeling about as strong as I ever felt and began to pick up the pace. I dropped down the trail and crossed a wide stream crossing - again keeping my feet dry. Then it was up to the next aid station. After that station, it was a little over a mile back to the Fire Station. I got back and thought that I should change my shirt as I was getting cold from the constant drizzle. Unfortunately, I didn't have any dry shirts in my bag. I did pull off my bandanna and my sunglasses as I realized that I would not need those due to the weather. I decided to try some solid food and took 2 slices of cheese pizza without the cheese. This was around 37 miles into the race.

I then started running back. I got back on the path and was jogging a steady pace. So far the pizza crust had managed to stay in my stomach. I was heading up the trail and saw Anil coming towards me. I quickly snapped his photo. Behind him was Rajeev and another runner. I mentioned how bad I was feeling. Rajeev offered me some ginger, but I declined. He mentioned I should back off my pace and we wished each other luck and continued. One high part of 100 milers is seeing your friends and crew. So much of the race is mental, it takes these mental boosts to help one run.

I then reached the point in the trail where I had seen Jon Olsen earlier in the day. Here, instead of heading back to K2, the trail dropped down. It was a fun and very beautiful descent down to No Hands bridge. There it was the 40.5 mile aid station. Then it was back across the bridge and up the trail again. I only made it about a mile up the trail when I began to feel bad again. Once again, I was running out of steam - my legs were heavy and my stomach and head hurting. Soon I was slowed to a walk and jog. Heading back up this trail was tough. After what seemed like forever, I made it up the last miles of the WS 100 trail and entered the Dam Overlook station. Here Anu rushed out to help me. I told her how horrible I was feeling and she looked really concerned. I weighed in (about 1 pound light) and sat down. I put my head in my hands. I could not believe how plain horrible I was feeling. I decided to change shirts into my sleeveless race top. I took off my fuel belt and put it down. I decided to put on my Oakley Thumps to listen to some music and hoped it would help.

After awhile I grabbed some aspirin and started running again. I made it up to the aquaduct and was actually feeling a bit better. I managed to run the first section of the aquaduct and thinking how pretty it was. I went to take a photo and then realized that I never put my fuel belt back on - I had left it at the Overlook station! So I made it to mile 46 at Maidu aid station. I told them about my belt and they called back to the Auburn Dam Overllok station to make sure that Anu got my bag. I was really disappointed as now not only did I loose my 3rd bottle (Behind the back - I still had my 2 hand carry ones),my salt tablets and my gu packs, also I didn't have my camera any more.

After Maidu I finished running along the aquaduct and started down Cardiac Hill. There were portions too steep for me to run, so I had to walk down it. At the bottom I was feeling a bit better again and kept running. Soon I was back on the trail with the thorns. At one point I looked down and saw a HUGE tarantula walking down the path. I saw a runner getting close behind me and expected him to catch me. But after awhile I entered the power station water stop. My time was 10 hours 12 minutes. This was 52.89 miles - WOW!! I had blasted away my 10 hour 50 mile goal. The runner behind me caught up and we started running together. Soon, I passed him and headed towards the next aid station at mile 55 at Rattlesnake Bar. I checked in - the people there were very friendly. I was weighed in (down about 1 pound) and refueled. I grabbed more aspirin and headed out on the trail again. I turned my music up and enjoyed the run along the trail. I saw some deer running to my right (definitely a hell of a lot faster than me).

I was really feeling the best I had felt all day. The time at the Power Station had given me a boost, the aspirin was kicking in, and I hadn't thrown up for a few hours. My ankles, small of my back and head still hurt a bit though.

I entered the last aid station before the school. This was Twin Rocks at 63 miles. I was told I was around 10th place overall in the 100! Holy smokes! I couldn't believe this. I started running the last 4 miles towards the school. Now, however, the lows started creeping in. I was starting to get a bit cold. Then, my Thump died when the charge was exhausted. It was also getting dark and I didn't have my lights yet (they were at the school). About half way to the school the fatigue and general bad physical feelings had returned.

Finally, I saw the school and entered the playground. I was directed to the weigh in station. My time: 13 hours 45 minutes (I had wanted to do 14 hours). Still on pace, but I was already drained. I was offered my half a Subway sandwich (vegi delite - no cheese) which I decided to try. I changed shirts and grabbed my night time lights. I also applied some icy-hot to my feet. Rajeev Char was there and offered me words of support. Soon a runner came in and I looked - it was Ray Sanchez! I could not believe that I was ahead of him. Poor Ray had a crappy day - he had been lost a few times and this time was off the trail for over an hour and half!

After about 15 minutes, I decided that I better hit the trail. I had 10 hours to go 33 miles - a brisk walk and I had my sub 24 hour goal! Or did I?

I headed out of the school and back to the trail. Then it was a sharp right towards the lake. Norm was out there and slapped me on the back and wished me luck. I got to a levee and then headed out. It was dark now and I had my headlamp on and a flashlight in my hand. After a bit, the path dropped down into a forested path. I tried to jog, but often found myself walking. After awhile, I passed by some camping sights - the campers watching me go by probably wondering why all these crazy people were out running at night. Soon, the trail rose and ended onto a paved road. I followed this road as it curved around and entered the next aid station. It was around mile 70. I checked my watch and was disappointed at how long it took for me to get there. So, off I went again.

This time I followed the road (it was actually a very wide and divided lane bike path). Soon, our signs took us off the path and down a trail. It was pretty dark and I had a little trouble finding the signs/flags and glow sticks but eventually was running. Soon I saw lights coming at me and Jon Olson and his pacer came running towards me. I shouted "Congrats. Great Run." and said some nice words of encouragement and off again I went.

After a short time, Ray came up behind me and we chatted a bit. Then he took off. He was running, I was walking/jogging. Soon we entered the 75 mile aid station. I was disgusted. It took me 2 hours to go 5 miles. My sub-24 was in major danger. I had 8 hours to do a marathon - seems like the easiest thing in the world. But at that moment I had my doubts.

The path then went up into a rocky forested area. The paths were hard on the feet with constant uneven and unsteady footing. Then it dropped down. After about an hour or so, I saw another runner coming towards me. It was Mark Tanaka - one of the Ultraholics! He was in a strong second place and I shouted good luck to him. Then I continued on down the path.

Soon it exited and I was on a paved road. I knew that I would be coming up on Hazel Bluff. I was really thankful as I was shivering - my mesh running top was soaked with rain and sweat. My feet also were hurting and I was looking forward to switching shoes to see if that would help my feet. I was also looking forward to seeing the crew - I needed that mental boost. I kept following the path. As we approached a power station I saw flags on the fence around the bend, so I rounded the bend and followed the flags up under an overpass and then up to a bridge. I kept expecting to see Hazel Bluff. But I never did. I followed the markings across the bridge and dropped down towards this marina type area.

Still, no Hazel Bluff. I was getting frustrated as I really wanted to get warm and get to that aid station. After the marina I rounded a parking lot and entered another trail. As we rounded a bend I was sure that Hazel Bluff had to be there. It wasn't. "Where the F is it?!" I almost shouted out loud. I kept going on a path. I checked my watch and realized that if I still wasn't at Hazel Bluff then I was going almost 40 minute miles. I knew I was hurting and had dropped almost to a pure walk. But 40 minutes! That was so disheartening. I simply sat down on the side of the path and dropped my head into my hands. I was so cold, I was shivering, my feet throbbing and I was exhausted. My pace was non-existent and I was forced to sit there and watch runners pass me by.

After about 10 minutes I stood up and continued walking up the path again. The path kept going, driving my spirits even lower. Finally, after an eternity I saw Hazel Bluff in the distance. I got there and the aid station worker said "Welcome to Willow Creek".!! I just stared at him. "What?" He repeated it and I asked "What happened to Hazel Bluff?" The worker laughed and said that was 4 miles back - and that I was joking. I think he saw the look in my eyes and realized that I was not joking.

I just collapsed on the ground. Sitting there shaking my head. Somehow, I had walked right past the aid station. I kept repeating "How could I have missed it?" I followed the signs, the flags and the lights. I never got lost, there was never a break in the flags and chalk marks.

I was so f'n cold. But if I went back to Hazel Bluff and then came back - that would add 8 more miles to my race. I had no choice - I had to continue. The aid station workers at Willow Creek were awesome. They tried to cheer me up. One called Hazel Bluff and told them that I had passed through Hazel Bluff without checking in - they OK'd it (at least I wasn't DQ'ed). I didn't know it at the time, but my crew was very worried as they had no idea where I was and I hadn't checked into Hazel Bluff. I tried some coke to see if it would help me get some energy and almost instantly threw it up.

I left Willow Creek and slowly headed up the path. I was struggling. My spirits were never so low. Although I now knew I wasn't doing 40 minute miles, my pace had deteriorated so bad I knew my sub 24 was impossible. But at that point I couldn't care. My teeth was chattering, I had my arms crossed across my chest trying to stay warm. I was going too slow to generate enough body heat.

After awhile, I saw lights coming down and it was Ray. He asked me how much further to the aid station and I said it was less than a mile. He continued on. I later learned that he later got lost yet again - probably the 4th time and at Hazel Bluff decided to call it a day.

A lot of the trail towards to turn around at Mountain Lion Knoll (83.63 miles) went on and off of paved roads. Finally, it dropped down to a path along the water. I heard voices ahead and climbed a bit to the turn around. Here, I just collapsed into a chair. I knew I had to keep going - I just lost all drive. I was too f'n cold, hurting too much and less than zero energy levels. The aid station volunteers lept into motion - they were unbelievably awesome. I found myself with one blanket wrapped around me, then a sleeping bag. Another worker pulled out a space heater and directed it at my feet. He then took off a thin running jacket and told me to wear it back. I was so overcome with gratitude (and exhaustion) tears clouded my eyes. They offered me food, but I couldn't take any. My stomach was still dry heaving.

I headed back to Willow Creek. My left foot was really beginning to hurt and I was limping a bit. But I was warmer and eventually made it into Willow Creek. There I was re-weighed (down 2 pounds). I sat down and massaged my legs. I looked at my watch - In theory I had 3 hours to do a half marathon. But I knew I couldn't do it. There was just too much climbing back to the school. So, I got up and began my death march shuffle back down the hill. Near the marina area, I saw Chihping approaching. We exchanged hellos. He had a day very similar to mine and was walking much of the course too. I told him my 24 hour was gone, but maybe I could get 26 hours. So we said good bye and headed in opposite directions.

I got to the base of the bridge and someone said "Alan?" It was Rajeev Char. He was pacing Gary and they were relieved to see me. They told me that the otehrs were worried that I hadn't checked into Hazel Bluff. He used his cell phone and we called in to tell them where I was. I told them how bad I was feeling and what my day had been like. Raj offered to pace me back. But I declined - he was there to help Gary and I wasn't going to take him away. I was very appreciative but headed off. In about 15 minutes I came across Anil and Rajeev Patel. We also discussed how we were doing and then wished each other luck and headed off.

I climbed up the path near the bridge and down the other side. Then I saw the trail that I missed heading up a hill. I climbed it and got to the top. I collapsed in a chair. Finally, I changed my clothes and shoes. I tried to eat, but only downed some pretzels. I teamed up with my pacer and off we went.

So together we headed down the bluff and back to the trails. There, it was a constant stop and go. I kept having to stop. At least 4 times, I leaned against a rock or tree and dozed off for a few minutes. My pacer waited for me and gently prompted me to move forward.

As we approached the long climb up the hill, a runner came up behind us. It was Gordy! Running shirtless he wished us well and headed up the trail. We continued up the trail and soon the path started dropping down to the Negro Bar aid station at mile 95. Again, I dropped into a chair. I got a cup of cola to drink. As I sat there, I dozed off and the cup fell from my hand and splashed all over my legs. After a bit, we went off again. We headed out the bike path and headed to the last aid station. My left foot was really hurting and I kept having to stretch out my leg and adjust my shoe to see if I could relieve the pain.

Eventually, we came into the final aid station at Folsom Dam Park (97.18 miles). We struggled out of the station and headed out to the bike path. Soon, we dropped back down in the path and headed towards the levee. By now, 26 hours was also history. So we decided to see if I could get a new Personal Best. My TRT 100 was 27 hours 50 minutes 45 seconds. That was my next target.

We slowly headed the last 2 miles towards the school. It was a very slow pace (due solely to me). But finally we reached the final trail head leading to the school. At this point, I had about 6 minutes left to break my 100 mile P.R.. We started to jog and we got to the school fence. We round around the two corners and I headed down the finishing shoot - at a very slow shuffle/jog. Finally I crossed the finish line. Time was 27 hours 46 minutes and some change. (40th place overall out of 100 starters).

In hindsight, I am very happy with the race. Through 70 miles, I was dead on my goals. I know for certain I can break 24 hours using my target times in a future race. RDL just wasn't meant to be for me - it wasn't my weekend. My body was never in the race - breaking down 10 miles into a 100 miler is a bad way to start :) I am so thankful for my friends who ran and offered support. We Ultraholics have an unbelievable group of supporters who come out and give us the BEST crew support ever. My pacer's company and support was and is something I am so thankful for - I don't know if I could have done those last 9 miles without such support.

About one minute after I crossed the finish line, Michael Kanning crossed. Michael was the 15 year old Ultraholic who finished one place ahead of me at Stevens Creek 50k. He ran RDL 100 to raise funds for cancer research and finished his first 100 miler in a great time. Chihping, Anil, Gary and Rajeev all also finished the race under the official cut-off. What a day! We each got our finishers trophy - an eagle landing on a tree limb. And I got an extra finishers' gift: a new blood blister on my right heel:

Sunday, September 23, 2007


We, the Ultraholics were there in force and we all met at the starting line (Cavitt School in Roseville). Anil had volunterred to help with set-up and registeration, so we all figured we'd land a hand. Next thing we know, we were unloading boxes after boxes from 5-6 vehicles, laying out shirts and other materials, and helping set up the start/finish line.

There I had an opportunity to meet Norm Klein for the first time. Norm is the RDL race director. Also, I met his wife Helen, also a race director and an ultrarunning legend. Helen has set and still holds a HUGE number of running World Records. In addition to this patriach and matriach of ultrarunning putting on some of the best ultras in the country, they are plain and simple purely nice people.

After setting things up, we met for the briefing. Norm kept it short and it was informational. It was fun hearing his "war stories" of various ultras and past RDL's.

Also there were Gordy Ainsleigh. Gordy is not just an U.S. ultramarathoning, he is U.S. ultramarathoning. Gordy was the creator of the Western States 100 Endurance Run. For his full story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordy_Ainsleigh

Norm and Gordy at the pre-race briefing

So, the pre-race briefing was done and it was off to a Pasta dinner. Then, back to hotel rooms for our last opportunity to sleep for at least 30 hours.

Race report and photos to follow.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Anil, Chihping, Rashmi and I are in the car heading to RDL. Traffic is nice - we are relaxing while Rashmi drives.....if only she would agree to run for all of us tomorrow too! Weather report has improved a bit - it looks like it will be an awesome day for running with maybe a small rain shower here and there Saturday to keep us cool.

On my flight coming home from Texas the other night, I was playing with some numbers and possible race strategies. I was going to try to just beat my TRT100 time of 27:50 but hold off on my sub-24 effort until San Diego 100. But now I have a conflict that weekend, so won’t be able to do the SD100 (children’s school event). So, although I question my fitness level, I want to re-examine RDL as a sub-24 hour try. Here is what I came up with:

From the start to No-Hands Bridge , it is basically a marathon (26.68 miles). If I run at 11 minute mile pace, that gives me a little under 5 hours.

From there to around the base of Cardiac Hill on the return trip is about the 50 mile mark. If I slow down a bit due to the climbing in that section and average 13 minute miles for that section, it will take me about 4 hours 45 minutes (call it 5). So that is a 10 hour 50 miler. I realize that is a little aggressive (it is 45 minutes faster than my first 50 at TRT), but around what I did at Quicksilver 50 and I believe it is about the same terrain, maybe a little easier (and I was sick at QS).

Now if I slow down further and average 13 minute 15 second miles for the next 17 miles back to the school (and 67 mile mark) – that adds 3 hours 45 minutes more. This gets me back to the start at 8:00pm. A 14 hour 67 mile run for a cumulative average of around 12 and half minute miles.

Now, for the next 33 miles, I decided that despite it being much easier terrain, I would dramatically slow down my pace due to the fatigue. So if I average 14 and half minute miles for the final 33 miles, that gives me 8 hours exactly.

Total would be 22 hours. This gives me a 2 hour cushion. I can realistically see me eating some of that cushion, maybe 30-45 minutes worth in the 50 mile to 67 mile portion. That would leave 1 hour 15 minutes cushion in the last 33 miles. On the other hand, I may be able to save a bit of time in the initial marathon as I believe I will probably run it a bit faster (not too much though….maybe 30 minutes faster).

I honestly do not know if I can do this – but if I want to go at a sub-24 hour at RDL, I think this plan may be my most realistic approach. Chihping and I may try running this strategy together.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Per weather.com, this weekend's forecast is calling for:

Sep 21 Friday
Showers ending by midday. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s.
Sep 22 Saturday
Showers. Highs in the upper 50s and lows in the mid 50s.
Sep 23 Sunday
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 50s.

mmmm...100 miles in possible rain.
Overall, so long as the rain isn't too heavy and the trails not too muddy, this could be real nice running weather.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Map of the course (courtesy of the Stevens Creek 50km website)

I ran this 50km race a few days ago in the Santa Cruz mountains. I didn't know what to expect as I wasn't feeling 100% and only touched down at SFO from NYC the evening before.

I arrived at the start and paid my entry fee....a $25 donation to the Audubon Society. The race limit was 70 people, but there were some withdrawls prior to the start and I believe around 60 people started the race.

Check-in at the race start

I put together my water and fuel bottles. It looked like it could get warm, so I decided to carry two bottles and slipped a third into my behind-the-back carrier. I also slipped into the pack some Gu's and a small baggie of electrolyte tablets. In my carrier belt's case, I slipped my camera. I went to put on my sunglasses but realized I had left my strap at home. The glasses seemed to stay put whil I jogged, so I decided to wear them without the strap.

Steve, the race director, gave a good info meeting and we were handed maps. I was looking around for familar faces. Anil was running the race too (he confirmed it the night before at the party). But, I didn't see him. Soon the runners crossed the road to the official start line. At the last minute, I saw Vinod (who had paced Raj and Anil at TRT100). Eventually I did see Anil out on the course - he had missed the start by about a minute.

The race started with a decline into the valley. I started conservatively but was passing a few people here and there. At the base, we crossed the stream (it was almost dry) and then started up a short climb. By now I was sweating and my glasses were sliding down. Finally I took them off and shoved them into my pocket - next time I won't forget the strap (I ended up giving them to the race photographer who delivered them to me at the finish line. Thanks Jim).
The climb up from the creek valley.

As we continued to climb, I continued to pass a few runners. Soon, it was a downhill section and I caught up with the lead woman. We started chatting and I found out her name was Beth. Pretty soon, the two of us came up on another runner named Adam. The three of us ran together for a while chatting and enjoying the race.

Soon though we began to climb....and climb...and climb. It was here I decided to back off the pace a bit. I was worried that I was pushing my pace a bit too hard as I still had the RDL 100 mile race to run in 2 weeks. So I slowed down and let Beth and Adam disappear. Soon, 2 other runners passed me - one was the eventual race winner Jun.

The view after Beth and Adam went ahead.

After awhile I finally reached the top of the climb and then started running down some switchbacks. It was really pretty in the forest. I was picking up my pace some more. Eventually, I exited the trail and crossed over to a new trail. Here, I started passing the early start runners (runners who predicted a slower time were allowed to start one hour earlier). I came across Padma and asked her if the aid station was ahed. She confirmed that it was and I continued on. Here I started passing a couple other runners too. Finally, I entered the aid station.

The volunteers were great - they grabbed all 3 bottles and filled them. It was starting to warm up so I filled my bandana with ice. Then I was off running again.

I started after this runner Mike. He and I were changing places back and forth. As he moved ahead of me, he saw some friends approaching and went to wave at them. Then his toe hit a rock and down he went - I tried to reach for him but no good. We all stopped and helped him up - he was fine and took off again. I decided to let him go and soon a runner in a bright green top Jim caught me. He and I were also changing places - me passing him on the downhills, he passing me on the uphills.

Eventually I exited the trail a little ahead of Jim - but there were two trail options. I started down the wrong one, but Jim corrected me. So off again on the correct trail. He and I went off up the new trail and exited the forest area into the hills. The trail widened quite a bit and the views opened up.
The view from the hills.

After climbing the open hills awhile, a new trail emerged and down it plunged into another forested area. As I ran down I passed a runner who told me that I was in 7th place! Wow! That surprised me as I had assumed I was somewhere in the top 20 (closer to 20). I took the downhill at a real fast pace and as I got to the bottom, I saw two runners in the distance. One was Mike (who had fallen in front of me) and ahead of him was Adam.

I started off after them and within a mile caught them both on a downhill. I flew past them as we neared a lake and kept going. They shouted at me...I had missed the turn! So, I went back and soon caught up with them again. The three of us entered the aid station together. Again, the great volunteers grabbed my bottles and filled them up. I stuffed down some Gu and some boiled potatoes with salt. I also re-filled my bandana with ice. I didn't realize it at the time, but this aid station was actually the same check-in table from that morning (top photo). I was just approaching it from the opposite side.

Then Mike took off and then Adam. I grabbed one more drink and followed them. Soon, I passed Adam. I caught Mike and he commented that I looked fresh as a daisy...I replied that he was correct, except the daisy was 10 days old, dried and pressed inside the covers of a book :)

We ended up running together for awhile. Once again, he was faster on the uphills, I was faster on the downhills. I thought the aid station had been around mile 17 - but he told me that it was actually 19.5 miles. As we ran higher, the views became more fantastic and the trail crossed this fenced overlook. I stopped to snap a quick photo.

View from the Scenic Overlook.

As we descended to a small lake, I left Mike about 30 seconds behind me. Then it was through a parking lot and up this wide, soft, dusty, open trail that went up. I continued to climb and could see the valley to my right:

At the top of the climb, the scenery changed. It was black due to a recent grass fire. In the distance I saw a runner. I started picking up my pace to see if I could catch him. Soon I did - his name was Michael and I recalled him as the early race leader. He mentioned that he had bonked - I commented that I was probably only a few minutes away from doing the same. Then I passed him and saw 2 more runners in the distance. I started off to see if I could catch them.

The trail went down into a short forested area and emerged at a cross road. I could see no race markings and had no idea where to run. I called out but there was no one around. I had no choice, I turned around and began running back to see if I had missed a turn. Soon Mike approached. He had run this race before and told me where to go - so I followed him.

The trail started dropping down as we headed towards the 25 mile aid station. Two other runners were heading back - not sure if they were on the right trail. Mike corrected them and they all headed off. Soon, Jun came running towards us. Then Beth in second place overall. Since we were about 1 mile from the turn-around, the 2 of them had put up a 2 mile lead on us.

We all entered the aid station together. Again, the great volunteers filled my bottles. I was really getting hot and my legs were beginning to tire. Mike took off running. Michael then entered the aid station - he had bounced back. He left before me. I headed after him.

The trail then started back up the long climb. Wow! It was getting very hot and my legs were getting very tired. Soon Michael faded ahead into the distance as I entered the grass fire area (it was a slightly different path on the way back).

Old grass fire area.

I kept running but I was really hot. I was pouring water over my head to stay cool. I passed the marathon point around 4 hours 30 minutes. Soon, I could see the aid station in the distance. I ran down past a small lake. I was certain that I was going to be passed at this point but could only see one runner behind me quite a distance off.

I started running up the path to the aid station. I don't know why, but I thought this was around mile 29 or 30. But I got to the aid station and Jun and Michael congratulated me. "Is this the end?" I asked. They laughed and told me it was. Thank God!

My finish time was 5 hours 40 minutes 1 second. I was 5th overall, 4th male ...of course, awards only went 3 deep :)

I decided to hang around and watch Anil finish. He came across with a nice smile:

Results: http://www.stevenscreek.com/stevenscreek50k/stevenscreek50kresults.html#2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I just developed a roll of film from the camera I carried with me during the Inferno mountain races in Switzerland. Here they are (note: I encourage you to click the photos for full size images - you can really appreciate the magnitude of the climbs and beauty of the Swiss scenery):

Race Start:

Early view of the valley.

Runners going up the trail.

View from the trail heading out of Murren.

This is the top of the final face before heading up the Schilthorn peak.

You turn the corner past the crest, and this is your view....the finish line straight up.

Climbing the final few kilometers, this is the view to your left...it is a steep drop straight down.

Yes...it really is straight up.

The view at lunch - that is the Eiger to the left.

Post-Race Celebration and Pre-Stevens Creek 50km Party

The night before the SC 50km, a group of us got together at Raj's house (no, not either of those 2 Raj's, but a 3rd one!) down in the Saratoga. It was a great get together with Raj, Raj and Renuka, Anil and Rasmi, Vinod, Raj and Anu, and many others! We got to meet the friends and family of our e-mail co-conspirators. Fun, great food and friendship. We celebrated the recent victories (Raj, Anil, Chihping's and my TRT 100 finish and Raj and Vinod Ironman Canada finish). Unfortunately Chihping wasn't able to attend as he was competing at Utah's Wasatch Face 100 miler. However, that left more cake for every one else :)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Stevens Creek 50 Coming Up Tomorrow

Got my official Bib # for the Stevens Creek 50K trail race tomorrow: 11.

I am not too optimistic about a great finish. Travel has (as usual) been killing my training - I touch down from a few days on the east coast this evening.

Plus, I am fighting a bit of a headcold. There, I have laid down my excuse platform early this time :)

Anyway, I'll use this race as a base building training run for the RDL 100 mile race in a couple weeks and, hopefully, just have fun.