Wednesday, February 28, 2007

070217 Sequoia 50K - Barely Finish with a Screaming Ankle

(Thanks Will taking a picture for me)

Date: Feb 17, 2007
Race: Sequoia 50K
Location: Joaquin Miller Park
Distance: 49.6K
Profile: 5,030ft gain/loss

Result: 6:04:34, total - 17/54, age group - 7/15, Complete Results

Start (Joaquin Miller) - Moon Gate4.5
Moon Gate - Canyon Meadow11.8



Canyon Meadow - Moon Gate11.1



Moon Gate - Joaquin Miller2.7
Joaquin Miller - Moon Gate4.5
Moon Gate - Moon Gate12.3



Moon Gate - Finish (Joaquin Miller)2.7

Sequoia is held at the local Joaquin Miller Park. The course starts at Joaquin Miller Park and reaches Redwood Park. It has 10K, 20K, 30K, and 50K distances. Both 50K and 30K runners start at the same time. When they come back to Joaquin Miller Park and finish the 30K, 50K runners need to go out and continue a 20K course.

The park might not be as famous as nearby East Bay Regional Parks such as Redwood Park and Anthony Chabot Park. I have not walked around the park either (I ran). However, I can make sure it's a very nice park with wonderful trails after I ran it last year (the race was called Redwood Park).

This year is my second time to do Sequoia 50K. When I did it last year for the first time, I missed a turn at the second loop of 20K and ran to the 10K course. I quickly returned to the Moon Gate aid station and knew I had missed a turn and had to do extra miles and restart the 20K loop to finish. I decide that I need to be careful about the turn this year and hopefully won't make the same mistake.

Initially, I did not plan to run this race because my family wanted me to stay home after I finished Woodside 50K two weeks ago. I promised but then decided to persuade my family. This is because my next race is Ruth Anderson, which is over one month away. Having an ultra event like Sequoia 50K will help me train better for coming intensive ones. Also my family will be away while I am doing Ruth Anderson and American River, so they won't feel my "absence" until the end of April when I run Diablo 50M. Therefore, I should try to do Sequoia 50K and they agree. I signed up by Thursday 5pm cutoff.

By the way, I am also excited to bring my camera Canon SD600, which I just bought a week ago. I expect to carry it in my future running. I will get my blog more vivid. I will be able to tell stories about my run for 100 milers, some remote wilderness, etc. Today is my test and see how I feel using camera during a run.

Start (Joaquin Miller) Meeting Friends

Call me Tanaka. I am intrigued with the starting sentence in Moby Dick. Mark Tanaka is now in Scott Dunlap's recent interview - Mark Tanaka. This is actually second time. First time was in Firetrail 2005 and I did not know who the fast Tanaka is since I just started to run trails. I am proud to be mistakened as my friend Mark Tanaka, but I am afraid that people may think Tanaka is running for fun since I am much slower.

Been there done that. I do not get to the race start that early. Approaching to Joaquin Miller Park, I can see cars fully parking along the street, but I know there are park areas very close to the park. I still keep my finger crossed because these areas seem to be very full. Luckily, I just spot an slot near the entrance, where there is a pickup truck. He kindly lets me park next to his truck. He checks me by calling "Mr. Fu?"

I am surprised and he introduces himself as Will. Now I know him. He is a super fast runner from my town Fremont! I knew him first from Scott Dunlap's Pacifica 50K report - The Pacifica 50k - Oceans, Cliffs, and Smiles. I usually noticed Catra or Kirk from Fremont in ultra's events. In recent months, Will seemed to come out of nowhere (well, in Fremont) but stunned everyone in local races. In particular, I just read his aim to break 5 hr in Ohlone 50K from Scott Dunlap's interview with Mark Tanaka.

I am very excited to bump into him right here. We eagerly start our conversation on training and racing in Fremont. I am amazed when he says that he can run from Fremont to Sunol at 15min faster than my best. And we both enjoy running the whole way without walking. I am impressed with his training to Rose Peak, which I have not done and plan to do in March. His claim to break 5hr is found to be feasible according to his training on Ohlone course. I'm looking forward to a Fremont runner winning Ohlone 50K (since Dave Scott in 90's) this year.

I have only a few minutes left, so I have to be quick to check in and get my number. At the tent, I meet Brian Wyatt, a.k.a. the Hippie runner. He has been darn fast for the past year. He used to run along with me, but now he leaves me in dust and gets to another level of racing. He can do 50K easily under 5 hr. I tells him he could break the course record of 5:10 without a problem, although we both know Andy Jones-Wilkins, the 2005 Western States runner-up, is also in the lineup. (Brian later impressively finishes 5:02:24, 5th place overall.) Marissa is also around. We all in the Woodside two weeks ago, so it seems that we are all doing races after races. These races are great, we just can not help keeping doing everyone. Sending my best wish to them on today's run, I walk around to chat with friends.

I'm also looking for Peter Lubbers. Although we worked in a large company before, we knew each other after I started to run ultra's. To me, Peter seems to be the king of Lake Tahoe. He has been doing Lake Tahoe running events year after year and keeps making a lot of progress every time. In 2006, he even won the unbelievable Lake Tahoe Super Triple race, running two marathons and a 72 mile around Lake Tahoe all in three days! See his Run Lake Tahoe Blog for details. He will no doubt do the same this year (to defend his championship). Plus, both of us will do Tahoe Rim Trail 100M, his first 100 miler. Without seeing him for months, he is now even more fit than ever!

What a great day! It was freezing last year. Now we can feel the warming sunshine. I love this although the concern of "global warming" is still lingering in my mind. I pick up my camera and practice a little "sports photography", while Wendell is briefing the course as usual. In addition to Andy Jones-Wilkins, there is Jon Olsen, who just won Pacifica 50K this year after a couple of great winning last year. What a lineup for today's run!

Start (Joaquin Miller) - Moon Gate: 4.5K, 26:35, 9.27 pace Take Easy on Some Technical Hills

Off we go, our big crowd soon lead into a narrow technical steep and loose footing uphill. The expected winner Jon Olsen easily sets up his pace. He is smart and seems to take time and enjoy. He does not to race right in the beginning because we are mixed with 30K runners and some will run their best in only 30K.

Within the deep and dense woods, we can see great sunshine outside the top of the canopy. On the trails, it's fully shaded. This can be proved by the 3M reflective strips shining on every runners when I take a shot using flash. I also enjoy the run and start to set up my pace. Peter (in red short) catches up with me. I happily let him go ahead and I take picture of him and other others.

Near the first aid station, Moon Gate, there is a short and steep uphill, most of us can run as the legs are still fresh. I spot Maura, who has a very distinct running style. She ran Woodside two weeks ago and passed me while I was chatting with Taylor in the Wunderlich loop uphill. She was amazing that she ran the uphill. Now she did it again. I forget when I will pass her later, but near the end of today's run, she passes me when I am struggling. I find her still running every hills.

Moon Gate - Canyon Meadow: 11.8K, 1:12:26, 9:49 pace
Badly trip my ankle

The Moon Gate aid station is kind of famous as many local races always has this aid station. I was told by Will that Catra will be here, so I immediately pull my camera. Surprisingly, I also see Jerry. I take a picture for Catra and Jerry at the aid station. I jokingly say this is a proof for their service requirement. No doubt, Catra will do a lot of 100 milers this year.

I soon leave the AS. We lead to a steep and loose footing technical downhill. I had a slight trip earlier in the first section, which is fine. Although I am very careful, my Inov8 Roclite 315 still gives me a hardest trip ever on my ankle. I can hear a cracking sound from the joint. It sounds like I am having a fracture. I feel scared at getting such a bad injury at the very start of the race, mile 4, and the very beginning of the racing season. I think about going back and drop, but I decide to give it a try. I slow down in hope of relieving the pain as time goes by.

We start to go up on a steep hill when we get to the gulch, crossing a small creek. We are covered with woods. It's almost 10 o'clock, but still shady here. This is yet another nice area on the course. It's a single track uphill. No one wants to push hard as we have many miles to go. We walk in a single profile. It begins getting some lights as we move out of the gulch.

While we are moving slowing on the rolling hills, some fast runners catching up. They are doing 20K and has made up the 15 min difference between our start times. I can see Will passing me fast on the nearly single track trail. He seems to be very focused so I don;t want to distract him. He aims to win the 20K.

The trail is narrow, but we somehow have a group of runners in the opposite direction. They seem doing a fast training run. While they are passing us, I hear someone calling me "Chihping". I look over my shoulder and guess it probably Oliver Chan. I don't know why he comes here since he is in San Francisco. Or maybe the real Mark Tanaka since he lives close by, but he seldom does group run due to his schedule. Or whatever. Keep working on my legs!

After leaving the steep gulch, we run on the rolling hill until we get to the ridge trail at a steep climb, where I catch up Cheryl and Chris. Based on my last year experience, once we get to the ridge trail, the climb is over and we'll go all the way down to the Canyon Meadow aid station in Redwood Park. When I know they are doing 30K, I feel lucky for them because I need to do this climb again at the 20K loop after this 30K.

We finally get to the ridge. It is wide like a fire road so I can easily move around and take a picture for them. Chris is kind enough take a picture for me.

There is a trick part. The trail is wide enough so we find a runner can not see a turn at the right side into a narrow trail. Well, we almost miss it, too! I should check map. Maybe it's a shortcut!

When we move on the narrow trail. It's actually switch back steep down a canyon leading to Redwood Park. I take the lead while chatting with Chris and Cheryl. They are from Modesto and they know Jon Olsen. In particular, Chris is going to run Boston this year, so I believe he is a fast runner. This looks like his first trail running. Hopefully he will love it although he has a light trip somewhere. This part is a little technical. Running downhills requires a lot of attention. I'm trying to ignore the growing pain from my ankle.

Less than two miles to the turnaround at Canyon Meadow aid station, I figure that it's time to pull my camera to capture some fast runners running back. I catch a lead runner coming back, but I don't know him. He must run 30K only. After seeing a few others, I spot Jon Olsen. He is nice and smiling perhaps seeing my camera. My bad, I screw up and are not able to hit the shuttle right away. Sorry Jon. I'll do better next time. Fast Brian coming afar with a red shirt. Now I am able to take a picture for him. I guess I am about 1.5 mile behind him right now since the aid station is well under one mile away.

Following immediately is Peter. He said he will try something minimalistic. I can see him running without a water bottle! I want to take a picture for the proof, but later I check and find it's a bad picture . My bad again. OK I'll do it better next time. Perhaps I can see Jon or Peter later in the race.

The last quarter mile to the Canyon Meadow aid station is a paved road, the main street of Redwood Park. Along the road sides, there are playground, big pasture field, tall redwood trees, and winding stream. For runners exclusively on dirt, there is always a dirt path. At the end, we lead to the aid station.

Canyon Meadow - Moon Gate: 11.1K, 1:12:09, 10:24 pace Face the Heat with Worse Ankle Condition

It's a populated area at the turnaround. I meet a lot of runners - faster or slower than me. Leaving the aid station, there is about one mile flat surface. This is a popular section, so I try to recall other races I have run here and some turns along the trail.

The climb comes after this in order to get out of the canyon to the ridge. It is gentle in the beginning and grows steeper later. Some parts are switch back and rooted. I still have my camera as I want to take pictures for other firends. Here I spot Marissa. She is smiling and look easy. Perhaps it's her downhill part, but she is always strong at the finish. Although she is about 3 miles behind me at the point, I expect she might catch up with me later before finish. I don't think my ankle will get better.

We are still on the climb, but now the area gets open once we get higher. It's near noon time, so I can feel the heat right now. Climbing plus heat is not a good condition for running, in particular when you are tired. It's no comparison, but I try to imagine what will be like in the Devil's Thumb climb in the heat. I now feel a little dizzy.

Finishing the climb, we get back to the fireroad-like ridge trail. We'll run all the way to the Moon Gate aid station. I try to stay in shade if there is any. I'm saving my water, but thinking how Peter can survive this 11.1 K long section - climb and heat. Hope he is OK. If not and I meet him later, I'd like to share my water.

We pass the turn that we climbed to the ridge earlier. We need to go straight in order to get to Moon Gate. We are still at the ridge, but the trail becomes shadier with more trees along the sides. Sometimes we can look through the trees and enjoy the views of East Bay. I don't know what the city is, but it's a nice treat to be higher.

I pretty much run with a group of 5 runners. We pass each other through the time, but mostly I am behind. Some of them are doing 30K and ready to finish, but I'm on 50K have more to go. At one point, one of us is found screaming on his legs. He stop and cripple. I don't have salt tablets, but I suggest him to take a break to easy the cramp.

I pass the Roberts Recreation Area. It is a nice picnic area with towering redwood trees covering the sky. I have passed it almost every time in East Bay races. I always wonder I can get here from driving because the area seems to be outside of our cities.

I am struggling but able to move. I finally get to Moon Gate aid station. Jerry is gone. Catra is sitting in chair. I have to take care by myself. Catra says I was slow today and I have to explain my ankle problem.

Moon Gate - Joaquin Miller: 2.7K, 18:53, 11:11 pace Crippling at Downhills

Leaving the aid station, I unexpectedly meet Jon Olsen coming on his 20K loop. I am 7K behind him! I have no camera handy, so I lose a chance to take a picture for him. Hope I can see him in another race soon. At least, I'll have some talk with him.

The downhill to the start/finish for the 30K is welcome. However, I need to be very careful so as not to trip my fragile ankle and it's been hurting. I follow a runner and get to the "finish". He is lucky and that's all for him. I have to keep going for the 20K loop. Hey I'm also lucky too as I'll enjoy more. What a nice course! Wish I had no ankle issue!

Joaquin Miller - Moon Gate: 4.5K, 35:40, 12:41 pace Better with a Company

Compared with other 11~12 K sections, it's a short distance from Moon Gate to here and back to Moon Gate. It's only 4.5 + 2.7 = 7.2K. I decide not to stop at the aid station. I continue to run the 4.5K back to Moon Gate.

I meet Peter here and we start together. He looks very fresh after a few minute break at this aid station. Given the bad picture I made earlier, I run ahead of him and take a picture.

He explains the earlier tough 11.1K section back to Moon Gate without a water bottle. I'm impressive how he went though it with minimals. Only by this can we get a glimpse of our limits. We can then make full use of our potentials.

I used to be able to run without drinking for over two hours. Carrying a water bottle makes me feel better in a race, while lets me losing the capability to explore myself. I think I should do something similar in future races as a test on myself.

Peter mention a struggle in his last 72 mile leg in Tahoe Triple and this definitely helps him go through any hardships. We talk about everything from running, training, and nutrition. Peter is kind to slow down for me. This 4.5K climbing section goes by fast although it takes me longer to get to Moon Gate.

Moon Gate - Moon Gate: 12.3K, 1:54:11, 14:51 pace Follow Mile Beeps and Crawl Out of Energy

It was a busy aid station, but there is not that crowded now. It's now near the end of the run and it's probably only 50K runners still on the course. I somehow can not find my favorite potato and no gel at all. Feeling Peter waiting for me ahead, I have to quickly grab a few something that I don't know but look like some energy.

Here comes the same technical downhill that badly tripped my ankle earlier. I'm very careful, but it's more hurting now. I trip my ankle again. It's now on my the other foot. The trip is more gentle before before, but I feel like screaming and need to slow down.

We continue on the same pretty trails. It's rolling hills, but mostly we climb up toward the ridge. The conversation between Peter and me eases the pain a lot. The beep from Peter's 205 at every mile motivates me to keep moving. I'm counting the miles!

We get to the ridge. This section is a loop. We'll go back to Moon Gate. Having taken any carbo (potatos or gel), I start to feel hungry. Somehow I could not get any gel like other PCTR races. I regret not carrying some gel with me. I pick up the things I grabbed at the aid station, but find they are only chocolate chips. I eat all of them, but feel like nothing. Also chocolate is mostly slow burning fat. This does not help much on my hunger. When I become starved, Peter generously offers a gel. It tastes so good, but I still feel our of energy.

Half way on the ridge fire road, I am not able to keep up with Peter. Peter saves enough energy by running slow with me. He now flies away for the final sprints. Later at the finish, a few other runners mention that they are stunned at his speed near the end.

I move slowly and try to enjoy the view. It's been a while with no one around. It's great to be on trails without competition. Later, I found Maura approaching from behind with her distinct running style, strong enough to overcome any hills. Near the end of 50K, she is still able to run all the hills. I cheer for her and get a little motivated to move faster. Spending nearly 2 hours, I finally get to Moon Gate. It's slow, but what an endurance test for me!

Moon Gate - Finish (Joaquin Miller): 2.7K, 24:22, 17:43 pace Ankle Hit by Every Gravity Pull

Catra is not there and she has to go for her work. There is only one volunteer left. I now find potatoes. I don't remember if I eat it or not. It's only 2.7 K to go and mostly downhill, so I pick up some delicious chocolates to enjoy.

Two runners (Trudy and Lester) pass me at this time. Trudy has a wound at her knee. She says it was caused by passing with another runner. I bid them farewell, let them go ahead, and become ready for the finish. Still I meet runners coming toward. I guess they are 50K runners and starting to do the 20K loop.

Facing the same technical downhill, my ankles is hurting more. I try my best to take it easy and I don't want to get very injured. Every step hurts. This reminds me of the second painful 50 miles in my first 100 miler - Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile in 2006. Now it's only 2.7K! I'll be fine and I am enjoying seeing people taking stroll in the nice park.

Quarter mile before the finish, I decide to be like a runner. I forget my pain for a moment and pick up my pace. I finish it at 6 hr 4 min 35sec. Not better than last year, I determine that I'll come back next year.


Peter Lubbers said...

Thanks for the great race report. It was great to catch up with you again and I look forward to running with you later this year. Good luck at the Ruth Anderson 100K!

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...


Thanks for the comments. It was nice to see you there and run with you. Thank you for keeping me up while I was struggling.

While I'm running Ruth Anderson, I know you're running Pony Express at the same time. I'll have you in my mind to push myself to 100K in Ruth Anderson, no matter how bad I look.


Tiny Seal said...

Hope ankle recovers well! Didnt you have trouble with it sometime ago too? Speedy Recovery to you!

Nice report, as always :-)

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks "Tiny Seal" for comments. I had ankle issues when I wore Inov8 315. I love the shoes very much, but I felt upset for getting hurt like this. I should check the Inov8 liaison Scott Dunlap about it.

I still do gentle run daily and it's getting better little by little.

Wish best on your knee as well.


willgotthardt said...


Well that was a thorough report...nice title too! ;-)

Thanks for all the kind words, excellent meeting you. Sorry to read of your injury, that was a tough course on the feet/ankles...pretty much every descent was of a technical nature w/roots, rocks, drop-offs, and rolling/eroded terrain. I felt beat up after finishing the 20K.

Just got back from the King's Mountain Half-Marathon in Woodside, great course, great weather, great day.

Cheers, Will G.

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks Will for stopping by my report. When I was writing the report, I thought that I was too shy (or too excited) to take a picture of you as the first use of my camera in a run.

Looking forward to your great result on King's Mountain Half.

See you soon in a race or may meet you in Fremont somewhere :-)


willgotthardt said...


I should add I have no delusions about winning the Ohlone 50K...NONE.

My aim to break 5 hours (as a 40+ year old) will be difficult, but I think it's a realistic goal based on where I am at with the course specific training. With that said, the 2007 men's field is the strongest in history, and I believe there will be a minimum of ten (10) sub-5hr finishes, and 100% certain a new course record set, in fact I think it will be destroyed, and I have a good idea of who I think will do it.

Will G.

willgotthardt said...

"Looking forward to your great result on King's Mountain Half".

They mistaked my bib# 2479 for bib# 2478, and had me listed in the results as a 27yo female named 'Christina'.


It's now been corrected.

Will G.