Sunday, April 20, 2008

PR at the windy Ruth Anderson 50k

Things don't always go as planned. I had signed up for the Ruth Anderson 50m and was primed and ready. Granted I hadn't trained as well as I should have since running the Napa Valley Marathon in March and the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon 2 weeks ago, but I thought I could persevere. I never once thought that the wind would come in and have such a devastating effect, not only for myself but for a lot of other runners.

Ruth Anderson 50k - 5:46:10 (11:10 pace; 14/31)

The day didn't start out too well when I was lost in San Francisco. The exit was a tiny little exit with a small little sign. I drove right past it. A few wrong turns later, and then I was back on track. So I reversed the directions and instead of turning left, I turned right in order to get back on track since I was now coming from the opposite direction. Long story short, I didn't get to the start line for close to an hour after it started. The race directors were very accommodating though. I had already figured that I would have a start time an hour longer than my actual run but they pulled out another stop watch and gave me my actual time! I was blown away and I must give a huge thanks to Rajeev and all the other volunteers.

Back to the beginning. Stepped out of the car and I was frozen immediately. I had assumed the day previously, without checking the weather, that it would be great conditions. Luckily my grandmother warned me that it would be cold as a big cold front was coming in. So at the last minute I grabbed some gloves and a long sleeve shirt just in case. These were the first things that I put on when I stepped out of the car and I was still cold!

So as I started everyone else had already finished one lap around the lake, which is 4.475 miles. I soon started and was playing catch up to some of the slower runners, passing many. This was not a good sign. I had told myself that I needed to maintain a 10:30-11 minute pace in order to not burn out. The first mile came around in 8:15! By the time I finished the first lap I had maintained an 8:37 pace, and this was after I tried to slow down some!

The second lap was better as I slowed it down to an 9:15 pace, which was still too fast. But I was feeling great. The wind was playing a huge role in how myself and everyone else was running. The west side of the course, which is less than a half mile away from the ocean (seriously, I've never been to Lake Merced and was surprised to find a fresh water lake so close to the ocean), had strong winds that slowed you down a lot, but it still wasn't too bad yet.

Lap 3 was a little better for me as I was finally able to slow myself down to the manageable pace I was shooting for in order to finish the 50 miles. I still felt very strong and wasn't considering dropping to the 50k at all. I was in it for the long haul.

Lap 4 was the first inkling of a problem on the horizon. The wind was picking up quite a bit and was forcing me to walk through it instead of blow a lot of much needed energy in pushing through it. Even at times the wind would gust in so fast and hard that my walk would almost be put to a stand still! My calves too were tightening up, but this was nothing new so I didn't worry about it. My pace now was where I wanted it, but that was more from the wind slowing me down than me actually making a conscious effort to run that slow. To this point I had ran 17.4 miles.

Lap 5 was where I ultimately decided that there was no way I could keep on trying for the 50 miles. My pace had dropped to 12 minutes and I was walking a ton more, and not just on the windy side. I had started resorting to running for a while and then taking short walk breaks. This happened throughout the whole 5th lap. Oh, and the wind was only just getting started. It had actually spread down the whole west side of the course, whereas it was only on the northwest side earlier.

Lap 6 was a killer for me. That was my slowest lap by far and my calves were playing games with me now. Kind of funny, though, because I would be running along and have to walk in order for them to not cramp. Then a little bit later I could run on it without any problems (a surge of adrenaline? maybe a surge in endorphins that helped mask the discomfort of the calves? who knows, but it was strange). The wind was in the 30-35 mph range now and I was ready to be done and out of the wind and cold. But I still had one more lap to go. Incidentally, I hit the marathon mark here at about 4:42:22, which was the fourth fastest time I have ever ran that distance. Who knows how fast I could have ran it because of two factors: I started slower than I normally would for a marathon and, of course, the wind.

Lap 7 was a good effort. I sped it up some and tried to not walk as much. Ultimately I came in only a little better than the previous lap, but I will take any better, no matter how small it is. I was glad to be done, though, even though I was a bit disappointed that I didn't give the 50 mile distance a try.

But there is always good that comes out of everything, and in this case I ran a PR for this distance. Granted, the other 50ks had big elevation gains, but a PR is still a PR. And I knew coming into this that I hadn't trained well enough for the 50 miles, nor, for that matter, the 50k, so any result was a positive for me. Coming so close off the heels of the Headlands Marathon two weeks ago I am happy with this result. I was going to try for the Quicksilver 50m in three weeks, but will probably have to drop that one back down to the 50k. A 50m is in my future, but I will bide my time and make sure that I am properly trained before I attempt the next one. Another positive, this is the third longest distance I have ever ran (behind 33.5 and 31.2), which is always a step forward.

Here's to happy running and good health! Again, cheers to the volunteers at the RA Endurance Runs. We couldn't do this without you.


Brad said...

You did a really great job considering those winds. By the way, the got worse...a lot worse!
Nice meeting you and perhaps I'll see you at Quicksilver (still up in the air on that one.)

Jill said... are an animal. You should have seen the relay runners on Foothill today. It definitely got me jazzed to do it next year. We should start recruiting a team immediately.

Bill Carter said...

Hi Brian

That sounds like a great learning experience. I guess every time we do a long run whether it is a race or just a training run we learn a little more about ourself. I give you a lot of credit for making the decision to just take what your body was willing to give for that day. BTW, I think your time was very good considering the conditions.

Best of luck.