Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quicksilver 1/2 Marathon

Running with Family and Friends at the Quicksilver 1/2 Marathon




On September 29th, I participated in the Quicksilver 1/2 Marathon. The Quicksilver 1/2 Marathon was hosted by the Quicksilver Running Club, and is located in the hills of New Almaden (a old quicksilver mining town), south of San Jose. This race was a fun change of pace from the ultras I am used to running, and a good chance to recover from the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run. My wife Heidi, sister in law Kati, friends Tom, Takeshi, and Kim all were participating in the 1/2 marathon, and it was Heidi, Kati, Takeshi, and Kim's first trail race!! The plan was to run the race, and then return to our apartment to drink beer and eat pizza poolside!


(Earlier picture of Heidi and me at Quicksilver)

Pulling into the Hacienda parking lot coincidentally I parked next to Dave Long who is an SJSU Judo Alumni (1975 World Team Member, and 1992 Olympic Team Manager). Dave was crewing for his wife Valerie, who had was running this race for the 10th consecutive year! There was a large turnout for the race, over 100 runners for the 1/2 Marathon, and a surprisingly large number of young runners (under 29 age group). With so many people at the race and a large group of people in my age category this was bound to be an exciting and competitive race.

At 8:00am the race started and I sprinted up Hacienda trail with a group of 5 racers. Tom and I stayed together until mile 1, where I picked up the speed and tried to pull in the lead. At mile 4, I was in second place and the first place runner was no where in sight. I turned down mine hill trying to gain as much speed as possible to hold on to second place. I finished Mine Hill and turned on to the Randoll trail still in second place, and continued to push my pace.



(View of Mt. Umunpaum)



I was able to continue in 2nd place until mile 10, where I got passed by a couple of runners. At this point I was in 4th place, and had one last hill to go (Mine Hill again). At this point my hip flexor started acting up and it was a struggle to get up the hill. After topping Mine Hill, it was again downhill to the finish. Looking back I saw Tom and a group of 3 runners close on my heels. This is the fun part of a short run, a fast sprint to the finish!! In the end I got edged out by 1 sec. to finish 5th place, 2nd in 20-29 age group (1:40 finishing time). Tom finished 7th at 1:41, Kati took 2nd in the 20-29 age category, Kim took 3rd in the 20-29, and Heidi and Takeshi both had strong finishes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SIERRA NEVADA ENDURANCE RUN

On Saturday September 22nd I participated in the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run. Like the start of most runs, I was rushing to register and make sure that I had all of my equipment ready for a long day of running. Regretfully I forgot the batteries for the camera (oops, no pictures..). Furthermore, I recently lost my watch so I had no way of keeping track of time during the run (an interesting experiment). I made it to the starting line just as the race started, and I fell into line following those with headlamps and flashlights. From the start I felt good, my legs felt quick, and my breathing was deep and regular. The trail followed Lake Folsom, and then the North Fork of the American River. During this section the running felt light and easy, and my breathing felt under control and comfortable. Some of the sections felt like there was some ribbons missing, but for most of this part I with other runners. After climbing into Auburn I was told that I was in 5th place for the 50 mile race, this surprised me as I felt like I wasn't running my fastest. After being "motivated" by my position, I picked up the pace and continued passing people on my way to No Hands Bridge. For a period of time I ran with Suzie Lister, we got lost together, luckily she knew the trail and helped me go the correct direction. Suzie told me that she had run Western States 100 6 times, but because all her previous experience of the trail had been at night, and after 90+ miles she was less than familiar with the trail during the daylight. It was nice talking to her about previous WS100 experience, but I was feeling good so I took off running on my own. I reached No Hands Bridge in 2nd place, and left in first, at the time I had no idea of how this happened? Took a wrong turn and ran a faster trail? I heard that the famous blogger Scott Dunlap would be running this weekend where was he? I will explain all of these events later.
Leaving No Hands Bridge I had no idea that I was in first place, my estimate was that I was in third place. Returning from No Hands Bridge I received many congratulations. A couple of people said that I was in first place, this weirded me out. Since I began trail running I have only been in first place for a period of time once (Pirates Cove 30k) and that ended terribly. Yet mentally I pictured finishing first at a race for the first time in my running career, so I picked it up and decided I was going to push harder for the next 26 miles. Being new to running and ultra running, I have had little experience "leading the pack." In hindsight, turning up the speed 1/2 way from finishing a 53 mile run may have been a rookie mistake. I tried to block out my mind and just focus on running my race, but the occasional montage of finishing first place to the cheers of my wife and friends continued to flash through my mind. I managed to maintain my lead until mile 35-40 where I hit a wall. First to pass me was Peter Lubbers, I could hear him coming behind me for awhile and he looked really strong as he passed me. Second to pass me was Suzie Lister, whom I had gotten briefly lost with earlier. I ran with Suzie and her pacer for awhile, we got lost again, and eventually she passed me. This was the low point of the race, and I was beginning to have my inner demons question my entrance into this race.
"Sean, you had the race won and now you can't even run!" My mind nagged me with negative thoughts. It was during this dark period that I tripped on a rock and fell head first in a pile of horse dung. The choice was to either bash my head on a rock or horse crap, I choose the horse crap. My shirt, water bottles, and arms were covered in horse poop. I took stock of my water bottles, decided that I could no longer drink my water, muttered a few deities and unmentionable sexual references, and decided to walk. During this walk I calmed down and realized that my situation was so desperate I had to laugh at the folly of running to exhaustion and falling in horse poop. Being able to laugh at my self lifted me out of my doldrums and I was able to run to the next aid station, where the volunteers washed my water bottles and informed me I was 8 minutes behind Peter, and had 6 miles to go. After a few cups of coke and various sweets, I was able to rally and finish in 9 hrs and 5 minutes. My wife Heidi, sister in law Kati, and friends Tom and Takeshi were at the finish line cheering for me. Peter Lubbers won the race, and Suzie Lister was the first women and second overall. I finished 3rd overall, and 1st in the 18-29 age category. For placing in the top 3 I received a bald eagle statue, and for winning my age group I got a Sierra Nevada Endurance Run framed picture.