For my money, there are only a handful of "can't miss" races per calendar year. Whenever the PCTR crew rolls into So Cal to put on 1 of their 4 races (for now), I make it a point to participate either as a volunteer or racer because their events embody everything I love about a race environment: beautiful courses, helpful volunteers and a chance to reconnect with my friends while making new ones. Last Sunday was certainly no exception. In fact after my 3+ hours on the trails, I probably spent even longer hanging out post-race at the finishers area.
With some great running friends at the start.
As far as the race itself, it went pretty well for me. While it had threatened to rain on race day all week long, when it came time to line up the runners were treated to mostly clear skies and cool ocean breezes. The race for the 30/50Kers started at 8:30am and my intentions going in were to stick with my friend Lori for the entire 30K. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of starting towards the mid-rear of the pack as the trail narrowed quickly and for the first 2-3 miles, we were caught in a frustratingly slow pace without much room to maneuver around the runners ahead.
4,400+ feet of elevation gain/loss.
We finally hit our first real ascent a couple of miles in and Lori tells me to just run ahead as she's not feeling it. Reluctant to leave but anxious to get my legs going, I wished her luck and started moving ahead. While I felt very strong early on (aided by the slow start), I wanted to stay grounded and temper thoughts of racing too hard after my cramping fiasco from last weekend's Catalina Eco-Marathon. Still I was able to steadily pass several runners as the beautiful course swept along the ridge overlooking miles and miles of beautiful Pacific Ocean before taking us into the grassy valley inland. Aesthetically speaking, just as magnificent as a course can get.
Single tracks + Coastal views = perfection (photo by Stuart)
La Jolla Valley (photo by Stuart)
I happily gabbed with fellow runners as I came upon them but I did keep making a few more passes here and there. Around mile 14 my fear started to come to light when my right hamstring started tightening up and I felt cramps coming on. Still I did my best to ignore it and whatever doubt crept in and kept shuffling along. When it came time for my final descent down Ray Miller, I decided to push the pace a bit more until I heard the whooping and hollering from friends and others at the finish.
Getting ready to finish.
I crossed the line with a big smile on my face with a final official time of 3:07:27 which was good for 12th overall and 3rd in my age group. After treating myself to a couple of post-race cokes, I changed into some warmer clothes and spent the next few hours hanging out, taking pics and cheering other runners in.
My idea of a perfect day. Congrats to all those that ran!