Let’s first get on the same page. There are two Skyline 50K races in our area. This is the one that takes place on Lake Chabot in the Castro Valley. It is the first Sunday of August every year.
Here’s what happened.
I had in my head “Ultra Season” and “Marathon Season”. Ultra Season would last January – May and would include Sequoia 50K, American River 50M, and Ohlone 50K. Then I would transition to marathon training. I proudly finished the first two ultras, but then went to Bangalore, and then went on vacation.
But you see, in my head, Ultra Season included three races, not two. Once I make a decision, I rarely look back. I still needed race #3.
However, I had already entered Marathon Season. I had been training for six weeks. What to do, what to do, what to do.
So I did what lots of us ultra-freaks (as my ultra-running friend Craig has labeled us) would do. I signed up for another ultra, on a whim, three weeks ago.
Funny thing happened, I ran arguably the best race of my life! Go figure! I beat my previous 50K PR by 34 minutes, on a course of similar difficulty.
There are three reasons.
1) The Course: It’s a great course! The 4750′ ascent climbs rolling hills. There is only one hard climb, and it’s not really that hard. The course is at least 95% runable. It begins and ends in the Lake Chabot Marina and carries on through the nearby Redwood Trails.
2) The Partners: My friends Lynn and Carrie came with me. All three of us signed up last minute. Lynn decided the day before! Luckily he is running 100 miles a week for Transrockies. This was a cake walk for him. Lynn and I stuck together the whole time. We have trained together for five years, but rarely race together, so this day was a real treat. Carrie stayed with us for much of the first half, but it’s hard to keep her down. She is an excellent runner. She won her first 50-miler…yes, won! We were left in her dust around mile 14. However, Lynn and I paced extremely well and we had something left at the end. We ran consistently strong the last 10 miles, and kicked it the last three. Our final mile, which wasn’t flat, was an astounding 8:21! And, with a half mile to go, we caught Carrie! She heard me laughing; I am loud, and stopped to wait for us! We all crossed together at 5:36:16. Probably my favorite finish of all time.
3) The Training: I haven’t stopped my back-to-back long runs even though I am marathon training. Granted, they aren’t as long as when I was training for AR, but long enough for a 50K. Last weekend was typical. I did an 18M on Saturday, including two 4-5 mile tempo runs at marathon pace. On Sunday I did a very easy stroll across the hills for 12 miles. And I am averaging 50 miles a week. This clearly has kept me in shape for the ultra.
I highly recommend this race and want to commend the race directors, Jennifer and Adam Ray.
The course was gorgeous, clear and very well marked. It was the first ultra I have done wherein trail safety officers directed us at all the hairy turns. These very gracious individuals gave up their Sunday to make sure we didn’t get lost.
The post-race BBQ was fantastic, even for a vegetarian. I almost never stay to eat, but this time I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t want to leave. The soup was the highlight.
And goodie bags! I am so used to getting nothing on trail runs that to get a bag with a great shirt and water bottle was a little shocking. I liked that you didn’t get the goods until you finished the race. Felt like a finishers medal.
I was not familiar with the location, but I have since learned that Lake Chabot was the primary East Bay water reservoir for over 100 years. It is still an emergency source so you can’t touch it because you would contaminate it. A bummer for us. We wanted to jump in. You can however boat and fish. It is a 315-acre lake stuffed with bass and trout. You can even rent canoes. Wait, you can’t touch it, but you can boat on it. Hmmmm…. seems weird to me, but OK. Smarter people than I make these rules.
It was a great day and a great race. I recommend it to anyone.
Thank you once again to my husband, Robert, and my boys, Connor, Morgan and Reece. My husband works six days a week and is gracious enough to recognize my need to get out and run. When I came home at 3:00 p.m., all four were still relaxing in their pajamas watching “Ghost Hunters International”. A perfect father and sons day 🙂