Double Dipper: East Bay Race Weekend – 2/23 and 2/24/13

Yes, that title is correct.  It has come to this point where I am crazy enough to race a 50k trail run on Saturday, then a half marathon on Sunday.  To normal people this sounds crazy.  To ultra runners, this is normal (then again, they must all be crazy).  Running a race as part of my long training run is the best because it forces me to complete the required mileage while receiving support (food, water, and awesome volunteers helping me out!) during my run.

On Saturday, I ran the Lake Chabot 50k, organized by the Inside Trail Racing group.  They had several distances from a 10k to the 50k.  Did I mention they have awesome volunteers, too?  I completed this race with my new 50k PR of 7:27!  I was also second place in my age group (well, there were only two in my age group so I’m not sure that really counts for anything).  Finally, I finished under 8 hours!  There was a total of approximately 4200 elevation gain.  The trails were mostly in un-shaded area, although there were some nice tall trees in other areas.  There were a few challenging climbs, but nothing like the elevation at Marin Headlands (those were crazy rocky climbs!).  Nonetheless, this was still a course that challenges one’s abilities.  During the run, at the aid stations, I ate the boiled potatoes dipped in salt, some salty potato chips, pretzels, and some coke.  In between aid stations, I had my honey stinger chomps and beef jerky around mile 20.  I put some chips from the aid stations in my hydration pack’s pocket, and had some of those while running by myself.  For most of the run, I was running alone, but taking in the beauty of the lake, the tall trees, and the nice weather.

During the run, as I mentioned, I was running alone for most of the ways.  In the beginning, after the first aid station, I asked these two ladies if I can join them while they run.  I joined them anyway, I can’t remember if they said yes or no.  I was trying to make conversation, asking questions since I am still a bit new to this ultra running thing, and run a lot more road races than trails.  As I was talking to the younger lady, who was running ahead of me, she tripped over some branches.  She was in a bit of a shock after the fall, checking to see if she was bleeding.  I asked if she was fine or need anything.  She had scraped her knee but was not bleeding, just a little dirty.  They were both joking around that it is  expected to fall at some point.  As we were walking up the hill, the older lady was walking with me as the younger one was recovering from her shock; I was trying to make small talk with the older lady.  Then the lady who fell finally found some blood, on her hip, it looked like she had a small scrape a little bit by her shorts.  After 5 minutes of walking uphill, she was still saying she is just recovering from the shock of the fall.  I fell down one time at Black Mountain and Claudia just picked me up then we continued running.  I ran for 8 more miles with 2 bloody knees and a scraped elbow.  Anyway, the short  time that I was running with those ladies, it was silent.  I tried to make small talk, but I felt like a  third leg.  I felt like they wanted to lose me anyway, like they do not want me to run with them, so I went ahead.  It was either I ran slower or I run ahead, so I chose the latter.  It was probably not the best idea.  I felt like the older lady wanted to ask the younger one if I pushed her to the ground, but I didn’t, I was just trying to make conversation.  Then again, it would be her word against mine.  There were two of them against me, I was the third leg whom they just met and do not even know where I came from.  Oh well, I know in my heart, I apologized for talking to her while running, and showed concern for her fall.  I was ahead of them for a while, I didn’t see them until mile 20, when I was fading, then they passed me.  They said hi so I thought, maybe she’s not blaming me for her fall.

At mile 20, my cell phone, where I had the Nike+ App that was recording my run and providing me with some music, was running low on battery, so I had to end the run on the Nike+ App.  Since I had no more music I started singing in my head, some praise and worship music.  The one song, which was always playing in my head as I was climbing, was the one by Jason Castro, Only A Mountain, with the lyrics repeating:

This is only a mountain
You don’t have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall

It was perfect for the struggle I was going through at that time, climbing uphill.  Today is also the second Sunday of Lent (I will link these two stories in a minute).  The Gospel was about the Transfiguration.  Jesus and his disciples went up the mountain, and Jesus was in a radiant white garment and bright rays of light.  Then Moses and Elijah appeared before him.  It is so relevant to be climbing that mountain on Saturday, singing Only a Mountain in my head.  This is my Lenten journey, getting over my obstacles, my mountains.

I met a few new friends, saw some old friends, finished a long training run with support, and had some good leg massage from Andy in the evening.  It was a good long day of running.  That evening, I was starting to get ready for my race the next day, the Norcal Half Marathon.

On Sunday, I ran the Norcal Half Marathon in Fremont, CA (the route was located in this neat little town called Niles).  I was surprisingly feeling good when I woke up, so I thought it would be another good day of running!  I already told myself, I will take it easy at this run, maybe maintaining a 10:30 pace.  When I got to the start line area, I saw Amalia and Rhonda; we started together, with the 2-hour pace group.  I thought, this might be too fast for me, but also thought it would be fine, it’s only 13 miles (ha!).  After 4 miles, I left the 2 hour pace team and pulled back.  I maintained a good 9:30 to 10 min pace; I also pulled back from Rhonda, and told her to go ahead since she looked strong.  I had to stop a couple of times at the water station, to catch my breath and to rest for a bit.  I had my second wind, and started running again.  I met a couple of people along the way:  a law student who was running her first half marathon, an old man who was trying to finish 2:05 (a PR for him), and a Marine who was running after that old man.  I slowed down quite a bit after 9 miles, so I met and started talking to these people.  I was fine with my breathing, it was very relaxing, but even if I wanted to keep running, my legs just felt like they didn’t want to move any faster.  At around mile 11, I was already jogging at a 13 minute pace, per my Nike+ app on my phone.  I figured, I just want to get to the finish line, no matter what time.  If I really think about it, at that point, I’m at about mile 41 since yesterday.  I finished the race in 2:10 and some seconds, maybe almost 2:11.

After the run, I saw my speedy friends: Loren, Jill (who placed 2nd in her age group), Chad (who paced the 1:55, so not really his fastest pace), Amalia and Rhonda (who beat me at this race, and claims she is slow).  The finish line area had some expo-like vendors, food, and music.  There were bananas, oranges, and a burrito for food!  For a small race, it was really very organized.

I’m happy with my performance this weekend, and I still feel good even after these runs, so it has been a great East Bay weekend of running!