Date of Run: May 10, 2009
I’m a little late on getting this report done, but I have not slowed down since I ran this race. Geez! Barely have had time to breath let alone write a race report.
Okay, let’s get the important stuff outta the way first:
Fashion Report: Dirty olive green trail shoes, hot pink and white (colors swirled together) Dirty Girl gaiters, black shorts, short sleeve white tech shirt w/pink piping around arms and up shoulders, hot pink sports bra (my “racin’ “ bra), white Zombie Runner hat, and blue Coolmax bandana.
I arrived in Berkeley on Saturday and did recon by driving from my hotel to the site. Google directions sucked and not only sent me down the bumper-to-bumper 405, but also indicated the park entrance was on the right side of the road as opposed to the left. However, once I got there and there was no other entrance within two or three miles, I knew it had to be it. And luckily, I had enough map information to find a much easier route back to my hotel and to follow the next morning.
The race was to start at 8:30 sharp and I like to be early, so I was on the road by 6:30 for the short 20-30 minute drive. Not far from the site sitting at a red light, a young woman in the car next me caught my attention and asked if I knew where the park was. I asked her if she was running the race, which she was, so we caravanned there, where I ended up shuttling a couple of people to and from the entrance so that I and they could pay the parking fee once the booth opened up.
The day was looking to be beautiful, and at the last minute I remembered my Coolmax bandana in the car, and not long into the run I would be very thankful I had. I ended up wearing it most of the race.
There were four distances available, 10k, 20k, 30k and 50k, and approximately 350 runners in attendance, with a large portion of those running the 10k. I was running the 30k, so I would be running the 20k loop first, then coming back to the start area to complete the 10k loop.
Now PCTR is known for their tough, technical runs, and this run would not disappoint in that arena. Thankfully, my coach sent me some pre-race info (I suck at reading the elevation charts) and pointed out the big climbs at the start of the race. That being forefront in my mind, once we got started, I walked the entire first half mile or so as it was just a big ole long hill and I didn’t see any sense in killing myself to get up it. A couple of ladies behind me were chattering about this and that, then ended up talking about their respective 100 milers and whether or not they were going to do another one this year. I still shake my head in wonderment at those folks who can run that distance.
I have problems keeping up with nutrition and hydration, so for this run I opted for a large bottle so that I could actually see how much I was drinking. My goal was to drink at least half of my bottle of fluids ever six miles, but a good portion of the 20k loop was exposed to the direct sun and it didn’t take me long to get hot. By the time I reached the first aid station, I’d drained about 2/3 of it. The fantastic folks at the station filled me back up, drenched my bandana in water, I filled my baggie with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears, and set off again, forcing myself to walk and eat. I underestimated the distance from the second aid station to the start area, and ended up not taking enough food with me; however, I did determine that greasy potato chips do not sit well with my stomach, and from now on I will be sticking with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears. That, in combination with my new fluid (Ultra) and half a Phenergan before the start of the race, kept my usual nausea at a minimum. What a blessing!
I had a blast on the 20k loop. Most of the difficulty was that it had rained the week before, and with the mountain bikers having come through, the mud had dried in various forms and you really had to watch your foot. But it was a good combination of climbing, descending, flat, and technical. I finished the first loop in a little over 2 hours, and was hopeful that I could finish the entire run in 4 hours or less. However, that was before I began my encounter with the 10k loop.
Wendell and Sarah are the great folks who own PCTR, and they have a mischievous (aka sadistical) side when it comes to setting up their runs. My legs were getting tired by the end of the 20k, and I believe this was due in part to not eating enough between the second and third aid stations and getting behind on my salt intake. In starting the second loop, I began thinking, hm, this isn’t too bad yet. A young woman in front of me kept varying walking and running, and my goal was to keep her in sight . . . that is until I encountered the first of three (4?) monstrous climbs. It wasn’t so much that they were long, but those suckers steep, and the first one had a lot of rocks and roots imbedded in the ground. I wasn’t the only one who thinking, “You have got to be kidding me!” A couple of others around me were grumbling and cursing, and one guy (we’ll call him Red Shorts) slogging past me on a climb and commented, “Yeah, French Trail is notorious.” You got that right! At one turn up a hill, I looked down at some tree roots to watch my footing, and I swear to you, the formation of the roots looked like the front of a skull that had been buried in the dirt up to its nose. You could clearly see the eyes and nose sockets, and I thought, how appropriate for this section!
Although the climbing was tough, I had a blast with the downhill sections and was able to make up quite a bit of time there. I ended up passing Red Shorts and made it my goal to keep him behind me. That incentive pushed me a number of times on this loop, and I’m happy to say I finished a decent distance ahead of him. Also, with about a mile to go, I ended up passing on a downhill a couple of women who had overtaken me on one of the climbs, and stayed well in front of them to the end. One of them found me after the race and commented that she wished she could run downhill as well as I did, which made me feel really good.
In the end, I finished in 4:15:04 and am very, very happy with that time. The official results on the web site are wrong, indicating a finish of 4:16:38 and behind one of the women I passed on the downhill section and stayed in front of the rest of the run. I know I finished in 4:15:04, because not only did I have my Garmin for time tracking, but I specifically zeroed in on the timer so I’d know my exact finishing time.
Although at the finish of this race I couldn’t comprehend doing another 30k, I recovered fairly quickly (thanks to handfuls of peanut butter filled pretzel bites!) and would definitely like to tackle the 50k on this course.