Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dick Collins FIRETRAILS 50 MILER Race Review

On October 13, 2012 I ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler (I fell off the blogging wagon for a bit so I'm writing this at a later date)... "Firetrails" is an awesome ultramarathon that is run on an out and back course through the East Bay Hills in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I live in San Francisco so I woke up at about 5am and sped out to the East Bay to check in and make the 6:30am start. It was totally dark out so the starting/parking area was a bit messy... I decided to go without a flashlight because dawn was breaking around that time and didn't want to carry the extra weight.  I didn't realize that this would limit my toilet options to one bathroom... the park has other port-o-potty style bathrooms but no lights. There was a huge line for restroom and luckily I got in and out just in time. A few unlucky runners started a bit late.

As I made my toward the start, I heard the count down and as I reached the start we were off! Oops... i forgot to tie my shoelaces :) ...ok now we were off. The first few miles are alongside the Lake Chabot bike trail before the course climbs up into the hills for a few rolling miles before dropping into the valley. "Firetrails" is one of those legendary races that attracts true ultrarunners; it is an ultra marathoners ultramarathon. Many seasoned runners made for a great day on the trails. People were friendly, competitive, respectful and working hard.

We pressed on through magnificent redwood groves in Redwood Regional Park and started back into the hills. The aid stations are great at this race. They are well stocked, manned by great volunteers and nice distances from each other. I ran w two 12 oz Amphipod handheld water bottles. One for h2o and one for GU sports drink. I also carried my own GU's and Picky Bars. I started fueling early and felt good through the first half of the race. I definitely felt like I had energy to burn. My race strategy was to pace myself through the first half, hit the turnaround somewhere between 4:30 and 5hrs and then go back hard for a negative split. I was hoping to finish as close to 9hrs30min as possible. I hit the turn around at 4:55 and started back up the long climb to Grizzly Peak. I felt very strong through the climb but once I got to the top indigestion hit (this was about mile 30 or so).... i need a port-o-potty something fierce! This slowed my roll for about 5 minutes coming into the aid station which had a restroom. Spent a few more minutes in there and then got back out on the trail but not feeling much better. I think I over did it with the Picky Bars early in the first half. They are solid food and have about 200 cal per bar. I pushed on at a slow pace trying to get my system right. Finally after another 8 miles or so I started to come back to life. I grabbed my headphones from my crew and started the descent into Redwood Regional Park. All of a sudden I was back! With about 12 miles to go I kicked into gear running about a 9 min/mile pace. I was feeling great. I motored on through the last 10 miles, rocking out and enjoying my comeback. I crossed the finish line in 10:03. I was pretty spent, a little bummed about the indigestion but feeling good about the comeback in the end.

Overall Dick Collins Firetrails 50 was an awesome race! Julie Fingar (race director) does a great job putting this one together. Thanks Julie and to everyone who volunteered their time.