Sunday, 9 May 2010

Last big training weekend - Quicksilver and Redwood 50ks

San Jose sunrise

Always worth getting out of bed for

This aid station is passed three times as a crossover point

San Jose

The tower is about the highest point and can be seen from my apartment window...but it wasn't part of the course unfortunately

Quicksilver Lake

Mud in Redwood Park, after the rain had stopped

I thought I'd not have to deal with mud as much over took one week of living in California

Misty Redwoods

Rare sun in between the rain

Although Miwok can still be felt in my legs, I purposefully planned another weekend of trail runs to help me get ready for Western States. Conveniently, there are two 50ks over the weekend of 8th-9th May in or around San Jose - the Quicksilver 50k in Quicksilver Park with 5,500ft of climb on Saturday and the Redwood Park 50k (near Oakland) with 4,500ft of climb on Sunday. So, it was similar to last weekend with another 100k and another 10,000ft to force my body up...and down.

The races were complete contrasts - beautiful sun for Quicksilver, then torrential rain starting a couple of minutes before the gun at Redwood. Foolishly I only opted for trail shoes on Saturday so ended up sliding all over the place on Sunday.

Both races were organised excellently and had feasts at the aid stations. Quicksilver also had a huge bbq at the end and that was a great chance for runners to mingle, especially as there were multiple distances, and hence finishers spread out over more time, both days.

I really enjoyed Quicksilver and had my camera out again to capture the great views of the hills around San Jose. As expected, there was a great atmosphere and runners passing in the opposite direction made for an extra level of support for all. I managed to keep up a reasonable pace without having to raise my effort level high and finished in a respectable 7th in 4h19m, feeling fine to keep going for much longer. Leor Pantilat won in an impressive 3h30m and I met him the next day as he was directing the Redwood race.

At Redwood, it was interesting to have a few people come up to me and who knew who I was from Miwok. Not sure how they recognised me, but it was good to be getting into the local scene and meeting people so soon after moving down from Oregon. It promised to be stunning too, with Californian Redwoods everywhere. But the heavy rain meant visibility was down and even the initial 500ft climb at the start had me losing my footing and sliding around.

Redwood had an interesting concept for a course. It also offered a 10k, 20k and 30k race, and each option was built of combinations of a 10k loop and 20k loop. So the 50k involved the 20k, 10k then 20k again. I kind of liked this, especially as it gave me a chance to see the 20k loop in the sun as well as the rain. The second time round was certainly easier as the rain clouds had temporarily gone and much of the course had drained to make it more solid. I still didn't appreciate the sections with my two least favourite things in races - mud and sand. At least these were short, even if the long, narrow, muddy downhill miles were more like a luge track and almost made me fly off the course.

I was glad to finish Redwood and had hips as tight as a Scotsman. Some stretching and the good, old (new) recovery tights will hopefully fix me right up. And it was a nice bonus that I won with my 4h31m time, something I'd not expected. The next guy was 29 minutes back and third was another half hour. Clearly the slippery conditions and lack of prize money had led to slow times. But a win's a win, so it rounded off another confidence booster for the race to Squaw Valley. Three weeks 'til Comrades so I hope I can have a good taper and not lose anything. Then we'll just have to see how much I can recover from that in the four weeks 'til Western States. It's come around so soon, but I'm about as ready as I could be this year.


  1. Great weekend of running, Ian! And why the heck are you surprised people recognized you from Miwok? The folks remember the top-10; especially those top-10ers who start out in the back taking pictures then eventually pass alomst everyone during the race.

  2. Ian, not sure how you do it buddy! I love my running and I love getting the events in but I expect to kick back and just accept the placing as part of training... you kick back and win !!! Really hope I get to Comrades to meet up. It's looking unlikely, however, my partner will be along for her 12th go.... all the very best. Ian