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Firetrails 50M

Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 36
California, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 04:36 am GMT   topTop
The Facts

Firetrails is a 50 mile loop trail in the East Bay Hills southeast of San Francisco, connecting a series of regional parks from Lake Chabot in the South to Berkeley in the north. The elevation gain is7820 feet, and the course is predominately fire trails, but there are about 3 miles of pavement and about 3 miles of single track. Details are at www.firetrails50.net

The Report

This was my first 50 m run, although I already had done Miwok in spring and another 100k last year.

My personal goal for this run was to see if I could finish in 11 hours, just because it is the qualifying time for �you know what.� I had promised myself a while ago that I wasn�t going to attempt �you know what,� because it would take too much time out of my life, but on the other hand I must admit that I can never quite shake the temptation.

12 hours would have been a fine finishing time as well, but just in case I had prepared a little table showing when I had to hit the various aid stations in order to finish in 11 hours.

I ran this race with an old friend of mine, and since we only see each other for these trail races there was a lot of catching up to do. The first couple of hours flew by as we had a grand time telling stories and cracking jokes. The course was beautiful; in the west a full harvest moon was setting as the sun was coming up in the east and warming up the ridges and still cool valleys. I remember being surprised that it felt like we were always running downhill, even though the elevation chart had indicated some significant climbs during this part of the course. We were flying and feeling great!

The first half of the run was completely uneventful and I was starting to worry what I would write in my race report. After about thee hours I started popping some Vitamin I as my ITB�s started acting up, but that is pretty standard. Otherwise we just kept eating, drinking, and running. And also feeling pretty smug about the time reserve we had built over the 11 hour pace. By the time we reached the halfway mark of the race we were 40 minutes ahead of my schedule.

For some reason trail runs always seem to feature a long, hot climb in the mid-day sun, and this one was no different. But all of the sudden people who had been running in our vicinity started to pull away from us. Effortlessly! At this point I realized that we were in trouble. I had fallen into the same old trap, once again. Why do I always realize this mistake too late? Why do I never learn to start out slowly?

By the time we made it back to the Steam Train aid station I felt bushed. We had lost 20 minutes of our cushion during the last 2.8 miles. Up until now I had done a good job of stuffing my face with baked potatoes and pretzels, but suddenly I had a hard time getting food down. This race was getting away from me quickly.

We soldiered on to Sibley Park and Skyline Park, continuously getting passed by people who knew how to pace themselves. I was pretty subdued as our time reserve shrunk to 15 minutes, then to 7 minutes. At Skyline Park (35 miles) I couldn�t eat anything and came really close to throwing up. The only thing that kept me from doing so was the big crowd of people and the friendly volunteers. The fact that we had another 15 miles to go was now more on my mind than the 11 hour mark. 12 hours was looking much more realistic.

By the time we got to Fern Dell (39.5 miles) our time reserve was down to zero and the trend was obvious. I chatted with an aid station volunteer I knew from Miwok. While he filled my water bottle he asked me if we would finish in 11 hours. �Unlikely�, I replied, but as I consulted my pacing sheet I suddenly realized that I had an extra spare 8 minutes at the end of the run that I had forgotten all about (a rounding error).

At this point everything changed in my mind. I figured I had a fighting chance to make 11 hours, and as I pulled out of the aid station I knew deep down that I would make it. I knew I just found a great second wind and I wasn�t going to ask questions. My friend didn�t want to tag along, so I took off on my own.

There were still about 2.5 hours to go, but it felt like a new race. Sure, my legs hurt, my ITB�s were acting up, and I was having a hard time eating. But mentally everything had changed. I hit the remaining aid stations exactly on time and finally pulled into Lake Chabot at 5:19 PM, 10 hours and 49 minutes after we left there in the morning.

In hindsight I have mixed feelings about this run. Obviously it was great to beat my goal, to finally meet some forum people, and to experience that second wind. I also didn�t have any blisters or black toenails, and I feel decent today. On the other hand I think I could have run this race a lot smarter and with less suffering. And then there is this nagging question about what to do about �you know what�, now that I�ve reached the qualifying time �
Joined: 15 Sep 2006
Posts: 11
California, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 04:51 am GMT   topTop
I do not know if it's ITB's or what. I am going to seek a doctor for my knees. After Firetrails I am in quite some pain. My right knee is pretty much okay but at Firetrails was horrendous. Now my left knee hurts really bad and makes some really nasty sounds. I liked Firetrails. Just how the course was laid out and the spacing of aid stations. I plan on doing it again next year. Congrats once again on your time. So far in my short career Firetrails is my favorite and funny it's my longest run too.
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 16
California, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 05:50 pm GMT   topTop
Congrats on Firetrails, you guys! Love that race. :-)

You're right to see a doc about your knee, OC. I know a great otrtho surgeon in Emeryville, but he's not covered by HMO insurance. Still, it was worth the $300 consult, for me, because he identified the root of my problem... Like him a lot, but I hope to not have to go back for a LONG time!
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 194
Utah, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 08:39 pm GMT   topTop
Great report - I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for posting! Congratulations on the qualifying time. Your "second wind" was interesting ... basically a mental second wind. I've had that happen a lot, although on shorter runs than yours. Sometimes the mental change has actually reduced or stopped aches and pains. Anyway ... have fun figuring out what to do about �you know what�.
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 22
California, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 09:34 pm GMT   topTop
Great run. Hope you make it into States. I ran Firetrails a couple of years ago and found it to be a tough course for me. Made it to the turn around but they didn't let me go on as they said I was about 6 minuets past the cut off. Oh well. Now I might try the trail marathon, should be able to finish it.
Again congrats on a fine run.
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 36
California, United States
Posted: Thu 12 Oct 2006 10:53 pm GMT   topTop
Thanks for the comments! I should also have added that we had great moral support at the aid stations from CougarSnack and LightinAugust.

OwenChase, it was nice seeing you on the trail too. If the knees are making sounds it's probably not ITB. I would have it looked at before you do any more damage. It sounds like you are beyond the ice and rest stage!!! Let us know what you find out, and good luck!
Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 5
California, United States
Posted: Mon 23 Oct 2006 06:19 pm GMT   topTop
Great report and great run. Good job!!!!