Sunday’s OTHTC 50k in Ridgecrest marked my last official race of 2006. Whew! It was also the 3rd 50k (well, the second was really 35 miles) I did in 3 consecutive weekends — started with the new SM50k two weekends ago, and the SB9T last weekend. I also did my annual Thanksgiving Day Dana Point Turkey Trot — my 10th year in a row. Needless to say, I’m pretty tired now, but looking forward to some rest for a couple weeks before starting up again for 2007 — HURT 100 in January. Even though these are races, I try and use them as training for the longer 100 mile ones, although I am guilty of getting caught up in the competitive environment and running a little harder than I probably should.
Brief summary of the races:
Santa Monica 50k — November 19th. The course ran along the Ray Miller Trail, Sycamore Cyn, and through La Jolla Valley. Very hilly (5k’ elevation gain), and extremely hot (80’s). This was Wendell and Sarah’s first race in SoCal, and attracted about 300 runners, of which there was about 50 doing the 50k (the rest did the shorter options — 9k, 18k, or 30k). Because everyone (except the 9k runners) started at the same time, there was a huge traffic jam at the very start of the single track, but I managed to get ahead of most people — that was the good news, but the bad news was that it pushed me a lot harder than I wanted to run for the first section. I also chose to run with two handheld bottles, which seemed adequate for the most part, but was cutting it close during the long hot loop around La Jolla Valley — I may use a hydration pack next time. The course consisted of ascending Ray Miller to the Backbone, down Fireline to Sycamore, out to the trailhead for aid, then back up Overlook and down to the start/finish. The next section consisted of a 12k clockwise loop up La Jolla Cyn, to Mugu Peak and Chumash, then around La Jolla Valley and back — we did this twice. The final section was the 9k up Ray Miller again to the top, and back down to the finish.
Many people did not follow directions and ended up creating their own route — I saw how they could’ve done that during the first out-and-back, but there were quite a few who did the La Jolla Valley loop the other way, even though it was very clear which way to go (or not go).
Overall, I had a very difficult time at this race for some reason — I think it was primarily the heat, and possibly going out a little too fast. It took me 6:40 to finish, which was good enough for 8th overall out of 25 finishers, which means that about half did not complete the entire course. Jorge won in 5:03, and his wife Maria took the women’s in 6:12 — obviously slow times for a 50k. Full results here.
After the race, I was destroyed — I sat in my camping chair behind my car for several minutes before driving home. I was also very sore right up until the start of the Thanksgiving 10K 4 days later — I’m usually not that sore even after 100-milers.
SB9T — November 25th. This is a 35 mile course in Santa Barbara, advertised as having over 10,500′ of elevation gain (my Suunto calculated 11,100′)! It was my first time doing it too — last year, I had done the Quad Dipsea, and actually wanted to do it again, but decided to stay local instead. I’m so glad I did the 9Trails instead, because it is an awesome race. I think what I enjoyed most was the unbelievably difficult and hilly course — definitely not for sissies.
For some reason, I managed to run a lot of the race with some company — usually, because of differing paces, I run most races by myself. On the way out, after the Gibraltar aid station, I hooked up with Sarah Claus, a triathlete from Newbury Park. We ran together right up until a couple miles out of the turn around, where I went ahead on the steep downhills. She was third overall female up until then — behind Krissy Moehl and Ashley Nordell. I thought she would eventually catch me on the return, but didn’t see her for the rest of the race, and according to the results, it looks as if she dropped out at some point. I do recall her mentioning that she wasn’t planning on running the entire 35, so I think it was a planned drop for her (I hope).
On the return, I ended up running between San Ysidro to Gibraltar with Bill Ramsey — experienced ultrarunner and 10X AC100 finisher. Gabor caught me just before Gibraltar, as did the 3rd female. Also, this was when I saw George and Leigh on their way out, and learned that she had badly hurt her ankle while attempting to dodge a reckless driver while heading down into Gibraltar — they chose to continue on injured, but was pulled later on due to the cutoff.
At Tunnel, I was 7:50 into the race, and wondered if I could finish under 9 hours — it took me about an hour to cover that section on the way out, so knew I would be cutting it close. I still felt good at that point, but my legs were starting to feel the affects from last weekend, and wondered if I would have enough left. I hoped to have someone in front to pull me, but ended up covering the last 5 miles alone — I finished in 8:55, good for 42nd out of 83 finishers (130 or so started). Full results here.
Krissy ended up breaking the course record in a time of 6:43 — she ran a negative split, and finished 4th overall! Ashley also had an impressive run, finishing in 7:34, which is the 10th fastest time in history for women.
OTHTC 50K — December 3rd. This is a long-time ultra event that’s a favorite of locals that I ran for the first time last year, and again this year. It starts at the college in Ridgecrest, and makes a big clockwise loop around the desert — it’s very flat and fast, which accounts for both my PR and making it extremely difficult for me (I enjoy hillier courses so that I can do more walking). This year though, I wasn’t counting on doing well because of the two previous races, especially SB9T the weekend before, but was hoping to get as close to 5 hours as possible.
The morning was COLD — 28 degrees when we left the hotel, and 32 at the start/finish. Even still, I think it was warmer than it was the year before — at least it felt that way. This time, I wore two layers — a sleeveless jersey to keep my core warm plus another short sleeve shirt on top, arm warmers, and gloves. Turns out I didn’t really need gloves, since I took them off well before I reached the first aid station.
I started out much slower this year, but still went out too fast — I believe we got to the Wagon Wheel Crossing (16.9 miles) in about 2 hours if I recall. We got to Brian’s (22.5 miles) at around 3 hours, and Gracie’s (25.7 miles) at about 4. Just before the last aid station on the long descent, Gabor passed me, and we saw Maura Priest (who I recognized from the SM run) up ahead. He passed her easily, and I also eventually caught up to her. As I approached, I mentioned to her that we still had a good chance to finish under 5 hours, and to stay with me. I continued on, occasionally looking back to make sure she was there, and waited a couple times when I lost sight of her. We got to the last aid at about 4:30, so knew that we co
uld make it. After running through it without stopping, Maria Lemus caught up to me, and we ran together up until we were behind the school at which point I told her to go on without me because it was obvious she was running at my pace and not hers. I looked back and made sure Maura was still there, and continued running the short asphalt downhill into the parking lot, finishing just behind Maria in 4:51, which was a little faster than last year’s time. Full results here.
Michelle had an awesome race, finishing in 4:21:53, only 42 seconds behind the winning female Amy Grafius.