Monday, April 27, 2009

Skyline 2 Sea 50k - Simply A "Must Do" Race

Well, you read the title already. That's not just a suggestion, but a strong recommendation. Let's start at the beginning.

My first job of the morning actually started the night before. Mark Tanaka had left for the coast on Saturday to get in a little vacation time with his family and forgotten his shorts. So, I brought all of my clean running shorts not knowing what would really fit him. Mark showed up in Hawaiian type board shorts and generally looked ridiculous. Here's proof:



We had actually never met in person and used the 75 minute bus ride to the start to catch up on everything from running to chess to the swine flu. (Btw, the man is just as funny in person as his blog writing suggests). In general, this race was a great re-union of the ultra-community. I was able to meet so many people I have met in the blogosphere in person (Caitlin, Addy, Mark, etc.), reconnect with acquaintances (Will G.) and get to know new people (Rick, Nathan, etc.). I'm sure, I'm leaving people out here and I'm sorry. The point is that the community aspect of ultra-running was especially pronounced during this race. And I really enjoyed that. On to the race.

Having run my best season so far and facing a course playing to my strength (lots of downhill), my hopes were high for this one. I felt confident that my PR (5:24 - Sequoia) would fall and really hoped to make a run at at a sub-5.

Right after the start

However, the race didn't start well. As at Rucky Chucky, I couldn't get my breath under control on the initial downhills and generally did not feel good. My legs were heavy, and I just felt out of it. Soon I would pay for my lack of focus, missed a turn and kept going up and up instead of down and down. Lost about 12 mins here.

However, this wasn't all that bad, since I snapped back to reality and focused on downhill running. I flew through Aid 2 and arrived at Aid 3 in fairly good shape (about 2:11), but I could also feel the effects of probably going a little too fast in an effort to catch up on my lost time. Time to climb, eat and relax. I took my time at Aid 4, because the next section would be long and I was tired.

Before the slump

Soon after that aid, I missed a turn again and lost another eight minutes. Not happy...and I'm starting to get into a funk, as a sub-five seemed nearly impossible now. About ten minutes later...THUMP!...I run into a tree. Completely dizzy, I was forced to walk for a bit with my head pounding. It just wasn't my day. Severe foot pain just compounded things and the pity party was on. I was limping, cussing and generally not in a good mood. A shame really, because Big Basin is absolutely breath taking. You couldn't really ask for better scenery.
One of the many giant tree formations

Eventually I got over myself, focused on just finishing and picked it up (mile 27ish). Ultra-running is also about getting through the lows. And I did. In the end the effort was enough for a 5:12 finish, probably below my potential but good enough for another PR. And I'm happy with that. Once I got to the finish, my mood picked up even more. It was fun to hang around and talk to people. Smiles were everywhere. No wonder after such a beautiful run!

My thanks to Sarah and Wendell, all the volunteers, and all fellow runners for making this a great day. There is no question that I will be back next year.

(Also, thanks to Addy, Mark and Cal for all the pictures!)


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Congrats on the distance PR, dude! And you blog so damn fast too! I think I'm 5 reports behind now.

I was thinking of asking if you could bring a surfboard, and then I would look gnarly-cool, but I wasn't sure you had one and thought Wendell wouldn't allow it on the bus. So thanks for lending me the silky smooth shorts-- I felt so caressed the whole run. Hope the Missus doesn't get jealous.....

Gretchen said...

Hee hee, yeah, love the 'before' pic of Mark. But even in the 'after' one, those shorts are looking a little big for him. He needs to find smaller friends. ;)
Nice job on getting over the lows to enjoy the day. Nothing helps that like a beautiful course packed with cool and friendly runners.

Peter Lubbers said...

Great job, Dave. It must be a really nice run if you're still excited about it after the two wrong turns and the meeting with the tree ;-)

David Ray said...

Ran into a tree. That's classic.

Congrats on a good run anyway. Looks like that west coast life is agreeing with you.

Sunshine Girl said...

At least you remember running into the tree. Nice improvement, you are getting faster and faster!

Rick Gaston said...

The man is a tasmanian devil (cartoon version) at the start of races. Glad you could hook him up with some nicer shorts to wear. Oh how I wish you had some real short ones though. Mark needs to show more leg. Well Dave I'm glad you were still able to appreciate the trail despite the adversities you battled out there. I'm embarrased to say that I laughed on the part about hitting a tree - sorry. This is a really great 50k. I am in total agreement with you, I just wish it didn't happen in Spring. I did it last year when it was in September but couldn't do this year because of the racing schedule. I will probably be back again next year as a volunteer.

Great to meet you.