2015 September 20

Ohlone 50K: Hot Mess Edition

Today was my third time running the Ohlone Wilderness 50K. It was rescheduled from its usual May start to Mid-September. Normally this would mean a cooler race, but today (and today only!) was crazy hot. Today it reached 102F in Livermore. A fellow racer had a temperature sensor on his shoe that registered over 110F in the last two thirds of the race!

I started strong, getting my 2nd best time ever to the top of Mission Peak along the longer Ohlone 50K route (mile 4.3, 2450ft, 57:03). I took a photo of the Laurel Loop aid station volunteers and kept on running without stopping. Some friends cheering me on in Sunol (mile 9.5, 400ft) said I looked good at that point and I felt great too. A quick pit stop at the restrooms and aid station to pocket a couple PB&Js and refill water, and I started the 10 mile climb up Rose Peak. There is an aid station at mile 12.5 at the base of the Backpack Area, which marks a seriously steep climb up. I powered up this section, starting to feel the heat but nothing too bad. Around Mile 14, two younger guys with numbers were jogging the wrong way on the course, headed back to Sunol. Ends up they were two young hotshoes who went all out in the beginning of the course (seriously fast!) but things started to unravel for them around mile 15. I gave them a high five as they passed and continued to chug on. Goat Rock aid station was up ahead, and I used that opportunity to top off my water, grab some fresh strawberries, and take a PB&J for the road.

It was really starting to get out out there. At mile 17, I was cooked. Done. I spent a few minutes sitting on a log in the shade with a couple other racers talking about how we were thinking of turning around and going back to Sunol and calling it quits.

But I didn't work this hard to call it quits, so I got my butt off that log, wished my new friends the best, and plugged along.

I motored up the ridiculous incline 2 miles from Rose Peak, then again for the last half mile to the peak (3850ft). At the Maggie's Half Acre aid station at mile 20, they had ice. It was cold. It came with me in my water and in my Cool Off bandana. Oh yes. Ice. Cold. Life. Their water was absolutely delicious too. Maggie's was my favorite station last year, with their ice cold cantaloupe. They still rank at the top of the list. Go Maggie's Half Acre Aid Station People!

The refreshing cold ice, combined with the fact that at this point I knew that dropping was not a possibility (the finish was closer than the bail-point at Sunol) gave me new enthusiasm. Rolling hills followed, exposed in the sun. There is a bit of shade around the Stewart's Camp stop, which is just a spigot sticking out of the ground. There was another racer there who remarked "I basically just took a bath under that" and he looked really happy. This sounded like a marvelous idea -- so on went the water and in went me. It was ice cold and flowing at super high pressure. I wet my whole self down. AHHHHHH! Awesome. I let out several joyful yelps under that spigot. Then with a squish-squash in my shoes I continued down the trail.

The rest of the course is exposed from there on out, and there are two brutal climbs until mile 29-ish, where the final aid station was.

The last two miles or so are a super steep downhill. My knees and quads were absolutely finished by this part. I did my best shuffle down the hill without hurting worse, and managed to run like a wild man for the last 400 yards or so, inspired by the cheering sounds and cowbells at the finish.

I crossed the line after a long 7:47:20. This was more than an hour slower than last year, but felt like a bigger accomplishment given the heat and the fact that I ran about 1/4 the number of big training runs as I planned.

The grass at the finish was cool and in the shade. So I spent the next hour and a half or so eating, drinking, napping, and stretching. Ahhhh.

Special thanks to Jerry and Catra for offering to drive me to the start and from the finish, and to Dave and Sherry Scott (Ohlone royalty!) for actually driving me from the finish back to Fremont. That was a fun car ride! Also thanks to all the volunteers that make this race possible, and to Larry England for basically doing twice the amount of race organizer work this year.

Strava data is here: www.strava.com/activities/396796398
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