As I continued to train for the upcoming marathon coming up in mid-March (and "train" is very loosely used in my case) I wanted to do so without compromising my time in the mountains. If I just run the man-made stuff week in and week out, I'd go nuts and get bored real quick. So I've been doing some back-to-backs lately, getting in a longish (and necessary) road run one day, a more fun mountain run the next day.
Just a couple of weekends ago, I got together with my buddy Dave and did some necessary albeit too flat longish run along the coast. It was nice to have company for a change which definitely made the time go by a little quicker. The next morning on the bright, we along with some of our closest trail friends made a pilgrimage to Mount Wilson. We were blessed with some snow which is always fun and it was a blast pushing up Winter Creek and then bombing down icy Strudevant Trail.
|Me + Dave up Mt. Wilson. Photo: Colin Cooley|
|The boys minus our gal Sally (behind the camera). Photo: Sally McRae|
Early morning on Sunday, I met up with Josh and Elan in West LA to drive together up to the Simi Valley area. I did the 50K race last year and knew it was a tough course but more importantly, I wanted to get the bad taste of the DNF out of my mouth. We got there in plenty of time to do the necessary stuff and at 7am, I watched the 50K group line up and cheer them on as they took off. My buddy Chris ended up winning the thing again and both Josh and Elan did well too finishing in the top 12.
|50K racers starting.|
After climbing for a while and hitting our first aid station, the most fun part of the course began when we began the steep, narrow and rocky descent for about 3 miles. Me and a train of about 4-5 guys bombed down together hopping, jumping and sidestepping along while trying to not eat it or take out a slower 50Ker. Relieved not to fall after nearing the bottom, I found myself passing the group on the flats and ran down the residential area solo before hitting the next aid station around mile 9. I refilled my bottle, ate a boiled potato and grabbed a gel trying to mentally prepare myself for the next part of the course which I knew from last year to be a bit of a mindfuck.
We broke from the 50K group and started an ever so gradual climb up a wide dirt road. There is very little to keep you stimulated so I resorted to my go to move of trying to take the best lines and tangents as it snaked up. I ran this section solo only passing a single runner early on but never really seeing another ahead or behind me. Finally when the next real climb began, I caught sight of the next guy up ahead. I put my hands on my legs and grunted up while mixing in some light running when I passed by Pedro and Erin who were out on the course doing a long run.
|Powering up. Photo: Pedro|
Shortly thereafter I felt my legs getting tighter and tighter and that all-too-familiar cramping sensation on my right hamstring and calf started up. I started running a bit scared knowing the young dude I'd passed wasn't too far behind and that I'd be reduced to a walk if I didn't try to control it. So I shortened up the stride a bit and mixed in more walking than I was comfortable with. On the downhills I opened it up a bit and when I finally hit the final descent down to the park, I was definitely comfortable knowing I wouldn't get passed at this point.
|Favorite part of the day.|