Tuesday, April 9, 2013

American River 50 (April 6, 2013)

American River 50 Mile Endurance Run
April 6, 2013

My first AR50. . . my second 50 miler. . .they told me this should be "easy" as compared to my first 50 miler, the Dick Collins Firetrails 50. . . 

The Race

Guy West Bridge to the Hatchery

Tweet 5:45 a.m.: at guy west bridge. . .ready to start this run! 

It is still dark out standing out at Guy West Bridge.  I am nervous.  I already went under the bridge a little bit ago and I feel like I need to pee again.  I am standing at the starting line with Scott Engquist and Clint Welch.

The gun goes off and everyone starts running.  The first half of the race is mostly on the bike trail.  Scott, Clint, and I run together ready for a long day ahead of us.  As we approach the turn around, we can see the lead runners.  We talk about how our friend Paulo Medina should be up towards the front.  And, in the dark, we can see a little Peruvian in a red singlet running in the front pack.  Clint says "I think that's Paulo!"  We peer into the darkness and see that it is indeed our friend Paulo.  I yell out to Paulo "GOOO Paulo!" 

After a bit, we reach the turn around and start running towards Auburn now.  As the three of us run along, we see a few other friends running along.  Then, we see many spectator friends along the side of the bike trail cheering us all on.  It is nice seeing so many friends in the wee hours of the morning. 

As we run along, Clint disappears to make a pit stop.  He rejoins Scott and I.  But, then Scott decides he needs to make one too and disappears.  For me, I run a little further until I find a good side trail with enough cover for me to go.  

After relieving myself, I feel much better and continue running along.  By myself now. 

As I run along, I pull out a Honey Stinger gel pack.  I went to the store last night and they did not have any of the usual gels I like taking so I bought the Honey Stinger gels they had.  I eat one of the gels now and oh man, it tastes awful.  I wash my mouth of the horrid taste.  I will have to grab some of the GU gels at the next aid station as I can't eat these gels I bought.  

As I near Watt, I see my friend Susan and Trish ahead of me.  I hope to catch up to them.  I see Trish run towards the bathroom.  As I pass Watt Avenue, I see my friend John standing there cheering.  I wave as I go by.  Then, I hear Trish call out to me and she comes up and joins me.  We run together and catch up to Susan.  The three of us girls run along chit chatting as we continue up the bike trail.  

We pass through William Pond and I stop to fill up my bottle and grab some GUs.  I separate from Susan and Trish in the process but I find Scott and we are able to run together again.  We run together for a bit.  It is a bit overcast right now.  It is nice.  I worry about it getting too hot later.  

Scott and I later get separated again, both having to relieve ourselves in different locations.  I fortunately pass a park bathroom so do not need to go out in nature this time.  

Tweet 8:17 a.m.: at sunrise.  14 miles in! 

I continue running along the bike trail.  It is kind of tiring to run on the bike trail with heavy trail shoes and a pack.  I don't have any water in my pack right now so it isn't heavy but there is still some weight in running with it on.  

As I pass through sunrise aid station, I see some more friends out there cheering!   A few friends I have seen a few times now as they are moving up the course to cheer people on!  This is fun seeing lots of friendly faces out along the course as I go. 
I arrive at the Hatchery and stop at mile marker 22.5.  This is a special spot for me and my fellow Java Joggers.  I stop to snap a quick picture just for my Java Jogger friends....they understand why ;-)

Hatchery to Beals Point

I run from the hatchery up and over the Hazel Bridge.  Then, we head up onto some dirt trails up onto the bluffs.  I hike up the hill then go running down the other side.   

I stop at the aid station, drink some coke, eat a couple orange slices, grab some GU and then continue on.   I am enjoying getting to run on some dirt trails now.  I was getting a bit tired of the bike trail, though I know there is still some more bike trail left. 

I run along with some friendly runners around me.  I chit chat with a couple fellows as we run along.  I love how in trail running, you can easily befriend the runners around you.  We head up onto the bluffs.  I know I am getting close to Negro Bar.  I look forward to getting there as that's the aid station run by the Folsom Trail Runners (FTR) and I know it will be the best aid station of the day.  :) 

I happily descend down the trails from the bluffs and get back onto the bike trail.  I see Matt standing there cheering on runners and taking pictures.  I wave to him as I run into the aid station.  I stop at the aid station and get my usual items.  I see many of my running friends here volunteering at this aid station.  It is really nice to see them all there.    

As I head out of the aid station, I see my friend Susan sitting on the ground as others assist her in taking off her shoes.  She kind of looked like a race car driver with the pitt crew all around her tending to her.  

I continue running along, back on the bike trail.  I can hardly wait to get to Beals Point and be done with the bike trail.  I pass Rainbow Bridge and start running uphill towards Beals Point.  It is still overcast over and the weather not so hot so that's nice.  I am getting tired though.  Running the first half mostly on the bike trail may be faster than running on hilly trails but it is a lot more wearisome.  I think about the people that said to me AR50 should be a lot easier than Dick Collins.  I don't know about that.  50 miles is still 50 miles and I do not think this is much easier than my last 50.  It is different experience but still challenging.  

Tweet 10:13 a.m. - 25 miles. halfway there. in folsom. I'm tired

I run along the bike trail pass Folsom Bike.  I think about Craig here so send him a quick text letting him know where I am.  He messages me back shortly later encouraging me along.  

I reach the last hill to Beals Point.  I can feel the energy of Beals Point.  There will be a big crowd up there and lots of friends will be there including my friend Theresa, who will pace me for a little bit from Beals Point.   With that, I pick up my pace a bit, just excited to be near Beals Point.  I pass a girl on my way up who didn't like getting passed so she rushes past me, racing me as she sprints across the timing mat at Beals Point.  There is no need to tear my legs off at this early into the race.  If she wants to be ahead, she can be ahead of me.  

As I run into Beals Point, I see many friends yell out to me, cheering me on.  This makes me happy. :) 

Beals Point to Granite Bay

I reach Beals Point aid station and refill my water and eat some food.  I am hungry so eat a little more than before.  I see Mary and Tyler who ask me how things are going.  I ask them if they have seen Theresa.  She's supposed to be here to pace me but I haven't seen her.  I send her a text asking her where she is and that I am running out of Beals Point.  

And just as I am running out of Beals Point, I see Theresa and Paul around the last bend.  Theresa joins me and we run together.  Theresa had volunteered with our Up and Running Again group earlier in the morning so I ask her how things went this morning.  We talk about that for a bit and how they had encountered an AR50 runner who had gotten lost.  The Up and Running Again group runs the bike trail from the downtown area so if an AR50 runner was all the way down there, she had really gone far in the wrong direction.  Good grief!  

I can tell my legs are tired but it is helpful having Theresa here to keep me company.  We run along through Cavitt talking and laughing about various things.  

As we run through Cavitt, we see a couple runners in a triathlon out of Granite Bay.  The triathlon overlaps the same part of AR50 for just a short bit though the triathlon runners have to run up the water tower hill.  I am thankful to not go up that hill today.  I will have more than enough hills later.  A girl in the triathlon runs with me and Theresa for a short bit before she disappears up the water tower hill.  

Theresa and I run along and a little later, we see that same girl coming down the other side of the hill.  She comes down and runs nears us again and says "wow, you guys are going slow!"  What?  Did she really just say that?!  I continue running along not sure what to say to that comment.  After some awkward silence, she asks how far into the race am I.  I tell her 30 miles.  I have done the triathlon she is doing now.  I know that her run is only going to be 4 miles. 

A little while later, we pass the gate and the AR50 runners and the triathletes go in different directions.  I am now into the 30s.  I am tired but running along okay.  Theresa talks to me about this and that as we continue into Granite Bay.  
Granite Bay to Rattlesnake Bar

At Granite Bay, Theresa ends her pacing duties and her husband Paul now starts to pace me.  I thank Theresa and grab some food at the aid station.  Paul is just full of energy ready to get me to the finish line.   

Paul and I now run together.  Running with Paul is like running with a kid.  He is excited about everything around him and is just full of energy.  His energy is nice as I feel my energy levels are starting to drop.  The miles seem to be longer than earlier. 

We are also approaching the "meat grinder" of the race.  A rocky, hilly section.  Though the terrain has some challenging spots, it is a nice day out and pretty views with the lake to the right of us.   I tell Paul how the next aid station will have ice cream.  I look forward to having ice cream even though today is not as hot as it was last year.

We reach Buzzard's Cove and I stop to get my ice cream cone.  Yum!!  

The miles are dragging for me.  The "meat grinder" is really grinding on me.  I continue trudging along.  Paul doing his best to encourage me along.  I get tired of drinking my electrolyte drink in my hand held bottle.  I tell Paul I really want water right now.  Paul pulls out one of his water bottles and gives it to me.  The water is refreshing.  

We reach Horseshoe Bar shortly later and I tell Paul to dump my electrolyte drink out and fill it with water.  He fills it with nice icy cold water for me.   I grab some food at the aid station and then we continue on.  I see some chicken noodle soup and drink a cup.  I like the chicken broth.  

We continue running and hiking along.  Paul starts admiring the random flowers we pass by.  He picks one and runs with it for a bit.   My stomach starts feeling a little queasy.  Then, I kind of throw up, cough up, the chicken noodle soup I had eaten earlier.  It is just one cough and all that came out was the chicken soup. . .nothing else.  I guess my body did not want me to eat chicken noodle soup today.  I run along and my stomach seems to be doing okay now.

After what seems like a long time for me, we finally reach Rattlesnake Bar.  As I descend down into the aid station, I notice a retired judge I know (from work) sitting on a rock.  I am not sure if he recognized me but I say "hi Judge!"  He says good job, looking strong!  

I go into the aid station and refuel on some coke, oranges and chips.  I avoid any sort of soup.  

Rattlesnake Bar to Bottom of Cardiac

From Rattlesnake Bar, Paul and I continue towards Auburn.  I am feeling sluggish.  I let a bunch of people pass me.  It is starting to warm up now and the sun is starting to shine.  It was pretty nice having the day overcast as long as it was.  It is not too hot but it is feeling warmer as the clouds have passed. 

Paul has picked another flower.  A while flower but it is kind of droopy looking as we fun.  He eventually has to rid himself of it.  He comments on how he is going to find a cooler flower next time.  We pass other flowers which are the same as the ones from earlier.  He wants to find a different one now.  

Tweet 2:00p.m. - 42.5 miles. in Newcastle.

We stop at the Newcastle Powerhouse for me to use the porta-potty.  I send a quick tweet and a text to Craig to let him know where I am.  He sends me a funny message and that he'll be seeing me soon!  Paul and I continue along.  At every little stream crossing, I stop to dip my handkerchief into the water so I can wash my face, neck, and head with cool water.  

Paul asks me how I am feeling.  I say "I am tired."  He laughs at me and says that's a given but wants to know more specifics.  
We run through a nice pretty meadow area with pretty purple flowers along the way and the view of the river on the right.  This is a nice area and I am able to run some of it.  Paul tries to encourage me to run a little more than walk.  Paul is really enjoying this part of the trail as he has not gone this far up the trail before and had not seen this section.  

It is pretty nice out here as I run along.  

We hit the Dowdin's Post aid station and refuel up some more.  

As we trudge along, my friends Kevin and Tyler come up on us.  They pass me and we kind of run together for a little bit.  I am tired so I let them get ahead further.  A mile or so later, I start to feel that Auburn is close.  I am dreading the last three miles up the big hill.  

Then, I do not know what happens exactly but I start to run.  Really run.  Not this kind of shuffle along and then walk some more.  I get into a good running zone.  Paul is really excited now and really encouraging me along.  I am not saying much to him.  I just feel good about running now.  I had been lagging for awhile now and something has kicked into gear so I am going to try to ride this as long as I can.  Paul is behind me cheering me on as I run along.  

I run pretty strongly for a few miles.  I reach the bottom of Cardiac and get tired again.  I start hiking up the bypass.  Paul runs ahead of me to snap a couple pictures of me.  I trudge my way up the hill.  Scott and Mary come up behind me to my surprise.  I thought Scott was ahead of me this whole time and am surprised to see him come up behind me.  We hike together for some of the hill.  

I slow down a little to keep my breathing in check.  I take a huff from in inhaler.  I do not want an asthma attack now.  I continue on up the hill.  Oh, this hill is wearing me down fast.  

As I near last gasp, there are volunteers running down the hill a little.  Guys in crazy patterned tights.  One guy comes up to me and I give him my water bottle to take and refill.  He runs up the hill as I drag my way to the aid station.  

At the aid station, I get my water bottle back full of cold water.  I drink some coke and continue on my way.  Next stop, the finish.  

Scott and Mary are a little bit ahead of me and they start running up the hill.  Paul tries to urge me to run too. We start running slowly up the hill and I can feel my quads immediately tighten and the beginnings of a cramp.  I stop running.  My legs do not want me to run on this hill so I power hike up it.  

Paul and I pass some poppies.  Paul gets excited and picks a poppy.  He runs a little bit ahead of me and holds out the poppy out towards me like it is a carrot and I am a horse.  He holds out the poppy towards me the whole time I am dragging my way up this hill.  

I don't feel I can run now but I am trying to power hike as fast I can.  Up and up and up we go.  

About a mile from the finish, I start running some, hiking some.  Shuffling a little more to get myself there.  Paul is praising me and also encouraging me along with his poppy.  We head up the last part of the hill and I can see the street to ADO.  

I shuffle my way up there.  We turn and as soon as I hit the grass, I start my kick to the finish.  I start sprinting and Paul has gone from next to me to the parking lot.  I am not sure where he is but I can hear him encouraging me onto the finish.  I try to increase my kick but the finish is a bit farther than expected so.  I then see the finish and sprint my way to it.  



Tweet: finished 50 miles under 10 hours...over an hour faster than my last 50. also got a WS qualifier!

Post-Race Thoughts

50 miles is 50 miles.  While AR50 was faster than Dick Collins, I don't know if I would say it was "easier."  Having the bike trail half was hard on my body.  I think harder on my body than Dick Collins was.  I think AR50 beat up my body moreso than Dick Collins.  The two 50 milers I did had different challenges but 50 miles is 50 miles.  There is nothing "easy" about it.   I am happy I finished the race and I finished within my time goal.  And, I get to put my hat into the WS lottery again this year.  I also got a pretty cool finisher's jacket too.  

If you recall, I mentioned my fast friend Paulo at the start of the race.  He ended up finishing 3rd overall.  I have been saying he used to be a fast guy.  Now, he is just ridiculous.  But, I am proud of how amazing he did in the race!  Really AMAZING!! 

As for my other friends out at the race, they all did great!!  Some finished their first 50 miler and I was proud to see that they had finished. 


Thank you to all those involved in putting on the race and/or volunteering!   It was a very fun race experience!   The support out there was great and all the aid stations were great though the FTR aid station is still THE best in mind!  Thanks to all of those that were at the aid stations!  

Thank you to all the FTRs and Java Joggers I saw out there today and to all of those that I trained with prior to today.  All those runs we have done together have really gotten me to where I am today.  It was just a little over three years ago that I was first running with Java Joggers.  Look at what a crazy person you have all made me.  I thank you all for it and love sharing in all the adventures with you all!!  And, it was great seeing many of you today, either on the course running or at the aid stations volunteering or just out there cheering!  Thank you!!  

Thank you friends who were out there spectating!  It is always a pleasure to see friendly faces in a race, especially a long one like this one!  :) 

Thanks Scott and Mary for the ride to the start of the race!  I am glad I got to run some of the race with you Scott.  Bummer we got separated but happy you finished so strong!    

Thank you Theresa and Paul for pacing me today!!  it really makes a world of difference having a pacer with me!  Theresa, you were a comforting to have as company and keeping me going.  Paul, you were a constant source of amusement.  Every time I run on trails now and see flowers on the side, I think of you.  Thank you for being out there for me!   

And as always, thank you Craig!  Thanks for the sweet and funny messages to me throughout the day!  They always help keep me going.  And, thanks for making sure I had everything I needed before the race and taking care of me after the race. :) 

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