Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quicksilver Half Marathon

I really did not know what to expect with this one. I've done trail running with a 10k and with the 50k, but both are completely different races from a half marathon trail race, so I came into this one a little cautious. I figured I would shoot for a 2:10 finish, and I almost did it.

Quicksilver Half Marathon - 2:15:29 (10:20 pace; 51/99) Stats

This was yet another race that I was looking forward to because it was not only a local race but it was also a trail run, which I am trying to get more of. I slept in and woke up a half hour before I had to leave and had some toast with peanut butter and a banana with some water. So I was ready to go. I cruised over to the Quicksilver County Park, which is only 11 miles from my house, and arrived with plenty of time. I was amazed. I had been back there before, to New Almaden, but didn't remember it at all. It is such an old, historic town that is seemingly preserving this feel with its houses directly on the main street, a very small post office and seemingly only one restaurant in the whole town. You would never have thought that such a quaint, old town would be nestled in the foothills of the bustling Bay Area.

A bit of history. Apparently the Quicksilver mines were owned by a private family but the mines themselves were on public property. So in 1863 Abraham Lincoln was informed of the seemingly fraudulent and dubious claim of the private family to the mines ownership so he issued a writ that ordered the army general in San Francisco to take over the mines in the name of the United States. The family, of course, believed they legitimately owned the mines and staked a protest and refused to turn over them. As the army readied to apprehend by force other mine owners in Nevada began staging a protest and feared that the US government was setting a precedence of confiscating private property on public property. This, of course, was going on during the Civil War, so Lincoln re-thought his position in fear of secession and revoked his writ. Interesting the history you find in such a quaint out of the way town.

Back to the race. The race itself was a very small and quaint race. There was no starting line except "over there". The RD gave a quick speech and then with no further notice said go on my mark and quickly counted down. At first we all scrambled and then eventually took off once we realized the RD actually started the race. We all crammed into a small road to the fire road and it felt like a herd of cattle charging down the chute to their new pens. Soon enough, though, we spread out and started up the hill. Huh? A hill at the very beginning? Yep, and when asked the RD said he thought it would be easier to have the fresh legs on the uphill rather than have a hill at the end. What kind of hill, you might ask? Take a look at the elevation profile from my Garmin.

We had close to a 1,000 foot elevation gain in the first four miles with next to no downhill or flat sections. Unbelievable. As I kept going up, most of which I was walking at this point, I couldn't help but begin wondering if the hill would ever end.

Oh, and when it did I had a ton of fun. The ground I lost on the uphill was quickly made up on the down hill. I went flying down so fast I was amazed. I mean I was like a banshee wailing down the hill passing people up. And I couldn't help but wonder, why was everyone going so slow on the downhill? I mean you could tell they could go faster, and yet they were running with guarded steps, almost as though they were afraid of falling. Which, of course, is a real concern, but why worry? Thus is the nature of trail running. Have fun with it.

So I had fun with it. But the hills did return, albeit not as steep except for a short section around mile 9.5. But this also meant more downhill. By this point I had started to feel a dull ache in my left knee. The same place I felt the dull ache at mile 16 of the 50k when I ran the steep, steep downhill when I should have walked it. So this bothered me a little as I did not want to aggravate it any more than it already was. But, how could I deny my legs to utilize gravity and throw themselves down the last descent and try and make up lost time and pass people? Ultimately, I had to give it a go and I am sure glad that I did. I passed about 5 people in the last mile, although one guy came out of nowhere that I hadn't seen at all during the race and flew down so fast I was amazed that he hadn't passed me earlier. Anyway, I ended up running my fastest for the whole race during that last mile and it sure felt good to let the boys off their leash and see what they could do. I hit a speed of close to 11 mph at one point and maintained it for a while. It sure felt good.

Coming into the finish felt great. The weather was warming up and it felt like I had truly exerted myself on this trail. When I crossed the finish line I was greeted by two volunteers offering water and a medal. As I walked away I heard one of them say, "Geez, he's barely even breathing hard". Haha, I guess I should have pushed it a little harder.

In the end I was very pleased with this result. A half marathon trail run that gave me a little more practice with steep elevations, which, by the way, had a total gain of 1,603 feet, so not bad for a half marathon. I came in 5 minutes over my projected finish, so not too bad again. And, here is the kicker, this halfer was run on much of the course that I will be running for the 50k next year (or, dare I say it with a smile, the 50 mile if I am ready) so it was good practice.

This race day turned out to be a great one, one that I was very pleased to have run and to have taken part in. But the day soon turned sour when I began daydreaming of my favorite Mexican food, Super Taqueria, and went to my car. Put the key in the ignition and... nothing. I would spend the next 6 hours getting things straightened out and arranging transportation for tomorrow. What a pain. But that is another story...


Nancy said...

Great report, sounds like a fantastic day. I love the comment about now breathing hard. I was left wondering the same thing. Maybe I could be pushing harder??

Anyway, so sorry about your car. I hope things are better.

Running Ragged said...

That is some serious elevation!!!

I am envious of people that are not breathing hard at the end of a race. ;)

None the less, congratulations to a good run! :)

Katie Johnson said...

I'd love to include your picture and marathon stats on my blog--“This Is What A Marathoner Looks Like”, along with a link to your blog, if you're willing. You can take a look and see if you'd like to be included in the Marathoner's pics--the info I’d need is in the header.

Katie from Seattle