Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mud, Mud and Mud - the Sequoia 30K Trail Race

I am behind in my posting - been a busy last couple of weeks with the baby and work.  But, I have been able to get my runs in.  Last week I ran 15 miles at the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.  I left my iphone in the car so I was unable to get pictures.

This weekend, Saturday, was the Sequoia 30K race.  There was a storm in the area so I was quite unsure how the conditions would be.  It rained a lot in the south bay on Friday so I was thinking of backing out.  But, I have the Oakland Marathon coming up at the end of March and needed a good training run in.

I woke up early and make the drive across the bay.  I arrived at the same time as my running friends.  One was coming off an injury, another was recovering from a very long flu and another was running the 50K.  I knew they would be there, but it was great to see your running friends from the get go. I overheard someone introduce herself to someone (I was just standing near my friends waiting to start).  I knew aron was running the race and this person sort of looked like her (from what I could recall) and it sounded like she said her name was aron.  I was maybe 60% sure it was her so I introduced myself and she confirmed that it was her.  It was great to see another person that I knew on my first trail race!

The race started and I felt good.  Though, I was very conflicted.  Two of my running friends can generally go faster than me (but one was injured and one had been sick so they were taking it slower).  I was not sure if I should wait for them or keep going on.  I promised my wife I would try to be back about 1:30/2pm so I wanted to maintain a solid pace.  I ended up going ahead (still feel a little bad).  :(   I enjoy running with people and talking with people, so it can also be very fun to run with your friends.  But, I needed a good training run.

Well if I knew what was going to be a head of me, I might have waited for them.  The conditions were . . . well . . . muddy.  I hate the mud now!  There were a lot of rolling hills.  Which means a lot of downhills.  Which means many muddy downhills.  Oh, I was also running in running shoes, not trail shoes (due to my prior knee problems I only feel comfortable in 1 type of shoe and it is not a trail shoe).  The downhills were a nightmare for me.  I could not stop my speed or, frankly, my direction.  It was very frustrating.  I would try to go slow and then I would build up speed and I could not slow down.  The mud gave me horrible footing.  I felt horrible because I almost ran into a couple of runners at various times (including aron . . .sorry).  I decided (it was early in the race maybe mile 4 or so) that I would have to walk downhill if it looked muddy.  I did not want to hurt myself or, worse, someone else.

I battled the frustration of running in the mud for a while.  I actually was not having that much fun.  And, running a race is suppose to be fun.  Luckily, I ran into this:

The trail is now a little river.

It was great.  I ran through the middle.  My shoes got very wet, but already were anyway.  The good thing is it made me laugh.  I told myself that I just need to enjoy the rest of the race.  If it was muddy and I had to walk, then so be it.  If the trail was full of water, so be it.  That is the beauty of running. You can go out there and do it even when the conditions are not optimal.

So I told myself that every time I feel that I am losing my balance or I have to run through water, I will just laugh and enjoy the experience.  Soon I started feeling good out there.  Enjoying the race.  I ran into someone who was running a 50K and we talked for a little while (it was her 3rd ultra).  I than ran into one of my running friends (the injured one) - he turned around after a while because he did not want to push his recovery.  I talked to him for a while.

The next thing I knew is that I was at the aid station.  I filled up my water.  He told me it was 2.7 to the finish.  I looked at my watch and thought there is no way I can make under 4 hours.  I went ahead and tried to run a little faster to see if maybe I could get close to 4 hours.  I did not have a goal time for the race, but under 4 would be nice.  I kept checking my Garmin and it did not look good.  But, then, out of now where the finish was in site.  I thought is this correct (I had to have a least a mile more)?  This has to be the 50K finish.  Nope, it was the 30K. I finished in about 3:51.  I found out that the aid station was 2.7k away.  I just assumed I had 2.7 miles to get to the finish.  It felt great to finish.

I also came away very impressed with the ultra runners.  To run 31plus miles in those conditions . . . is very impressive!

To show that I was not kidding about the mud, here is some proof:

My pictures of the race came out horrible.  I would check out Aron's blog as she has some good pictures.  Here are some of my pictures:

And, the best part of my day was coming home to Brooklyn:


Julie said...

Hi Tim,
Awesome job on the Sequoia 30K Trail Race!! Way to tough it out and finish strong! I am glad that you had a good attitude and enjoyed yourself! Yes, it sure does look like it was muddy and full of puddles:) It is fun to meet other blogger runners...I love that!! Brooklyn looks so peacful and angelic:) Thanks for sharing!

Ewa said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun. Weather in Bay Area has been quite interesting. I love it but it does make running trails challenging.
Enjoy Brooklyn. Kids grow up way too fast. I know it's a cliche but it is true. They are still fun even as teenagers but it is not the same. Of course when they are teens they make for good trail companions. Well, most of the time.
Have a great Sunday.

Anonymous said...

What a lot of mud! Very cool to meet someone on a race day too. If I'd remembered you were racing, I would've sent my good luck vibes...but it looks like you didn't need them- you finished and you had fun- which in my opinion are 2 of the most important goals for any race! Brooklyn is an angel! Congrats!

aron said...

NICE job out there saturday!!! it was wet and muddy and that is a LONG way to go on the trails. you did great :) so nice to meet you and run with you for a while!