Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Good Times at Monta de Oro

This past Labor Day weekend, the family and I headed down to Avila Beach for a little vacation at the beach. Along with lounging around the beach and pool in Avila, I was scheduled to run the Montana de Oro 25k (PC Trail Run 8k, 12k, & 50k also). I had been looking forward to this vacation and especially this run for a long time. 3 1/2 months had passed since the last race (Ohlone 50k) way back in May. After spending Friday and Saturday on the beach with the boys and wife, it was time for some fun early Sunday morning.

Normally, I like to make sure I have plenty of time in the morning so I don't have to rush before the race and can be sure that everything is good to go come race time. It was an 8:30 race (check-in by 8:15), so I set my alarm for 5:00 AM so I could get up and eat a bagel w cream cheese and a banana. After that, I set my alarm for 6:30 and went back to sleep. However, this time I went auto-pilot and didn't wake up. Somehow, I woke up at 7:05, freaked out and then jumped out of my bed straight into the shower. Thanks to my wife, the whole clan was out of the door at 7:30 heading for Montana de Oro. In the end, I was able to easily make it there by 8:00 and could stop worrying. Got signed up and started getting my stuff ready.

My plan originally was to bring my camera for some sweet pictures - only problem was the fog was thick and you couldn't see anything from the trails. Camera stays back, Ipod goes with me. This was the first race I'd taken my Ipod and it worked out.

Weather at the start was perfect for running - overcast, foggy and a little cool, but not cold. With all the running I had been doing in the heat, I was super excited for this weather. Had two 20-oz bottles of water, my ipod & a couple of gels as we started out at 8:30. We ran cliffside along the ocean for a couple miles before heading left up Valencia Peak. I was running with a guy from Alaska who was mentioning that he had just run a 100-miler a few weeks back. Turns out, that was the eventual 50k winner, Evan Hone. Heading up the first peak, I wanted to see how much climbing I could do without going into a power walk. Surprisingly, I was able to get up a couple miles before I needed to shift down into a fast walk. Legs still felt good but I knew I needed to make it to the top before I went all out. Good thing because it got pretty steep towards the final half mile or so. Getting close to the top, we start seeing the front-runners coming back down the hill. I shout "good job" to everyone that goes by. I only recognize Adam Blum from his blog. Once I got to the top of the peak, I took a couple of breaths and then headed back down for the funnest part of the whole race. I was flying down the hill and caught about 4 people before running up behind Molly Friel, who ended up pacing us down to the last 1/4 mile before we cruised into the aid station (12k) together at 1:16. At this point, I was already happy about my time but wasn't sure what I would have left for the next 13k+. Filled up the bottles, had a quick drink of coke, and walked out with a Payday bar.

Started up the next trail and noticed that Molly and some other runner were headed backwards up the trail, so I signaled them over to the right trail (I'll correct them again in about 2 miles). We headed right to start our run to the Hazard Peak and I'm cursing the ground - it's basically sand. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of energy trying to run on this stuff. I do my best to find the firmest ground and start running as much of the hills as possible. At this point, I'm needing to take more frequent power-walking breaks. Molly and the other runner are up ahead and my goal is to keep them in range and run as much as possible (100% of the flats and downhills, and intervals on the up-hills). After finally making it to the peak, we start heading down. At this point, I'm feeling good. Legs are tired of going up, but I feel great running down. I end up passing Molly and the other guy and we hit the fire road with about 3 1/2 miles to go. After another mile on the rolling fire trail, Molly catches up and she is looking good. I ask her our distance and she says we're at mile 14, so about 1 1/2 miles to go (we ended up running 16.1 by her calculations so we really had 2+ miles to). She's ready to pick up a gear I don't have right now so I tell her to get movin'. My only goal at this point is to not let anyone catch me and keep moving at a decent pace. I notice one lady up ahead of me, about 1/4 mile away. It looks like I'm reeling her in but I just don't know if I have enough time and/or another gear to bring her in. Finally, I see the cars and trees near the beach and know I'm close. As I head into the parking lot, the lady in front of me reaches the finish line 11 seconds ahead (thanks for the pace). I finish in 2:48:48 (last 13k in 1:32), good for 14th overall (of 48) and 3rd in age group (of 8). Best of all, my knee felt great!

Ate some soup and drank a coke and a Gatorade and then headed back to Avila Beach with the family. Had a nice big Roast Beef sandwich and a giant Anchor Steam Porter to celebrate the good race and then headed back to the beach for more vacation time.

I'll take it pretty easy this week on the run paces, but I'm already looking forward to a couple more weeks of training before ramping down for the Skyline to the Sea 50k.

Good times.


Victoria September 3, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

Yay for no knee pain!

I personally HATE running on sand. It makes me bitter.

See you at SttS...

F. Lee September 4, 2008 at 3:00 PM  

Nice work there Mike! Glad to hear that your knee is doing better, and BTW...GB will smoke me...I just want to be able to support her at least through 20 miles.

rick September 5, 2008 at 12:57 PM  

Nice job Mike. That Anchor Porter sounds good too. Well seems like your past your knee problems, that's good man, I can relate. I've got a few races planned for the Fall. Definitely going to be at Firetrails and Quad Dipsea. I'll probably sign up for some PCTR 50ks for training.

GB September 6, 2008 at 3:15 PM  

Yaaay, Mike! Good job. I"m jealous. I'm so glad you're feeling good and were able to run this race. Awesome!

evan September 7, 2008 at 1:50 PM  

Nice write up and pictures. You had a good solid run.

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