Saturday, July 5, 2008

Angel Island 25K race report

Today, the Girl and I ran the Angel Island trail races. I ran the 25K while she ran the 50.

You start by taking the ferry from Tiburon, which is a little cumbersome. We were staying in downtown San Francisco and would have preferred to take the ferry from there straight to the island but the packet pick-up was in Tiburon, some 20 miles away from where we stayed.

Lining up, I was trying to spot the competition. Lo and behold, one of my favorite blog authors, the famous Scott Dunlap, was there. As usual, the trail types look so fit and rugged that I wasn't sure what to make of them. Warming up, I felt absolutely great. I am in really good shape right now. I knew this was going to be a fun race.

The start went; I had planned not to take the lead and just feel out the other runners. But, man, these trail runners do not like running fast. I am not exaggerating when I say that despite every ounce of patience in me, I had a 10-yard lead when we got to the first hill, maybe a quarter mile into the race. I had kind of a goofy plan before this race. I would walk every hill and then run my usual road race pace the rest of the time. I am not very good at running uphill but am okay at power-walking, I guess.

Despite walking the entire first staircase, no one felt like coming around to take the lead. At this point, we got to a long road section and I figured I might as well just run away from the pack.

I felt great. The legs were smooth and nothing hurt or held me back. I probably ran 5:50s most of that first loop but always walking up the steep hills. I looked back several times and never saw anyone back there.

The first two laps went by quickly. I had a huge lead and the legs were golden. I got lost twice but got back on course almost immediately.

On the third lap, the steep one, I ran most of the hills. Coming down from the top, I missed a crucial turn and got way off course. A few other runners from the 16K had done the same and knew a way back to the trail. I was panicking as time seemed to pass by quickly as we were standing there debating what to do. I finally found the trail and, to my disappointment, passed a guy I had already passed, maybe 10 minutes earlier. He was running quite slowly (probably doing the 8K) and passing him like that, I estimated that I had lost about 5 minutes. This could easily mean the someone had passed me, of course.

The last couple of miles, I basically sprinted all out. It turned out I won by a few minutes anyway. I had had an eye on the course record but that was obviously not to be and, honestly, would not have happened even without the detour.

The Girl's race was even more exciting. She lead the race when I first saw her at 25K. She told me that she felt great. The next time around, at 33K, she looked a little more tired and another woman was just a few minutes behind her. Waiting for her at 42K, I saw how all the men she had been running with and that one woman were coming through but not the Girl. She had bonked spectacularly, a la myself at Chippewa earlier this year. She tried to eat as much as she could at 42K and actually had a decent last loop. She passed a few men but got passed by one more woman. Still, third was great. She has the speed to win these races; now she needs to learn to eat better and maybe pace herself a little.

There for a while, it looked like two wins for the famimly. The Lorax was along in the stroller with mother-in-law watching him. He was a good baby all day. Everyone still is in awe when they learn that such a little baby has a mom who runs ultra-marathons, competitively no less.

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