Sunday, 1 August 2010

Skyline 50k Trail Run

You know it's time to cut back when you stop loving running. The last week or so I've just been so tired and lethargic that I haven't enjoyed my training runs or had the energy to do much at all during the day.

I skipped my run yesterday and had no desire to get up this morning when the alarm went off at 5am. Mind you, that's not too unusual. But when there's a local, historic (29th year!) 50k trail run with just under 5,000ft of climbing to get up for, I'd generally feel at least a bit excited even in my sleepiness. I very nearly decided to not go.

Even when I started at 7am, I just wanted it to be over so that I'd have my long run in for the week and the last longer one for a month. That's not the way to think about it and defeats the point of running if there's no enjoyment. There was a pack of six guys, including me, who started pretty fast along the easy trail along the edge of Lake Chabot. Faster than I felt like going, but I knew that some fast times had been run on the course, with a CR under three hour marathon pace on trails and with a fair amount of ascent. I let myself sit behind the five guys who kept up the effort and gradually pulled away over a few miles until they were all strung out.

Each steep climb of a few hundred feet made my legs feel useless, but at least I had some energy for the flats and downhills. But it took about 10 miles to feel any sense of fun in the race and I was tempted to just stop earlier and give my body a rest as I didn't feel normal. Not ill, just not apathetic and wanting to call it a day.

Luckily there was some great single track and the course had great views through Redwood Regional Park. It overlapped the trail I'd seen at the Redwood 50k and was a joy to run. I was soon glad I'd got up early and felt better, although I still couldn't take the steep hills and walked a few small sections. So by around halfway I'd run a while near Chikara Omine and went past him on a downhill. I'd met him at the San Francisco marathon a week earlier, plus he'd been at Western States. In fact, four of the top five finishers had run Western States five weeks earlier, so it shows there's a great ultra pedigree in this part of the world.

From that point I ran completely alone with nobody visible ahead or behind. I ran hard and picked up the pace to see if I could improve on the third place I was in, but had no luck. So the race finished with last year's top four making up four of the top five and me squeezed in at third. Joe Binder improved on his second place in 2009 to win in 3h37m, then Jean Pommier in 3h43m, me in 3h46m, Chikara in 3h51m and Victor Ballesteros in 3h59m.

The post-race bbq gave me a chance to meet these guys plus a few more locals. It had been a lot of effort and I'm very happy I got a chance to do such a cool, fun race. However, it took a while to get into and I need a break from racing so I can feel that excitement again. Am really happy with the time I got too, but I'm glad it wasn't a road marathon as I wouldn't have had much pace and it wouldn't have gone as well as last weekend.

Luckily I get a forced break anyway with my wedding in a week, then honeymoon. So that's something to really enjoy and take my mind off racing for a few weeks. Then I can come back refreshed and with a passion to run again, just as it should be. Every ultrarunner I speak to absolutely loves getting out on the trails and I want to feel like I did at Miwok again, where I was running along, taking in the view and grinning from ear to ear.

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