|Avg Pace:||9:23 min/mile|
I'm getting to love running alone and afar at the Alameda Creek Trail. However, as usual, I feel really reluctant to get up early on Sunday morning. In particular, after spending the whole Saturday with family, I have a temptation to stay in warm bed and talk with family.
On the other hand, I keep reminding myself that I need solid training for the intensive races this year. Somehow, with this lingering in mind, I was able to wake up before the 3:30am alarm.
Since Ruth Anderson 100K is a week from now, I need to taper my training run. I thought about doing either 20 mile mountain run between Fremont and Sunol, or a 50K on the Alameda Creek Trail. I decided to do the flat Alameda Creek Trail since the coming Ruth Anderson 100K is nearly flat in the city. The following American River 50M two weeks after also relies on the first 27 mile paved path before switching to my favorite trail running. Then I can to save my ankle, which was injured last month. I think I can start to do hill runs after Ruth Anderson 100K.
This will be a shorter run, so I carry less. I have a 20oz water bottle, one can of V8, 5 various Gels, 2 packets of GreenToGo Fruit/Vege powder, and a bottle of GU2O powder.
Lap 1 (mile 0 ~ 2.32): 2.32 miles/20:01.35, pace: 8.39 min/mile - Prepared to face the Darkness
I thought I have everything ready, so I left home and started to run at 4:36am. It turned out I forgot to bring a flashlight after 5 minutes in the streets. To save the weight and hassles, I don't not carry the key. I did not want to ring the bell and wake up everyone. I decided to try my gut to run in dark without a flashlight.
Since I have completed a 40 miles last week, I suppose this 50K to be easier. This might be a chance for me to run faster and test my limit.
Lap 2 (2.32 ~ 10.36): 8.04 mile/1:12:07.70, pace: 8:58 min/mile, Accrued: 1:32:09.05 - Running like a Blind Man
As usual, I hide a V8 near the sign post of mile 8/4. I go out in the direction of the Bay. It's 4 miles to the Bay. Within half mile or so, the city lights can no loner reach the trail ahead. What about star light? Nothing! It's heavy dark cloud over the entire sky. The cloud even covers most of the city light across the Bay - Melo Park and Redwood City. To make it worse, the cloud seems ready to pour down by starting with drizzles. I'm actually not sure if my glasses are fogged or wet. I have to wipe my glasses once in a while.
Not able to see anything, I slow down and carefully listen to the sounds from my footsteps on different terrain - sand, rocks, gravel, marsh land. They all give different sounds. I run away from the trail and into the marsh a few times.
Finally, I can see Bay water ahead. It looks like a mirror even in the dark so that there is enough light reflected in my sight. I am happy to get close to the turnaround, but the problem is I have no idea where the trail ends. I keep running until I step on something soft feeling like a beach. I stop for fear of stepping into the Bay water. Again, I feel like being at the center of the big circle universe.
I turn around and expect to have better sight on the trail. It turns out the trail is even darker because the city lights from Fremont and Union City are now blocked by the hills. The hills are small but good enough to block the lights coming from horizontal. I have to keep listening to the sounds from my footsteps. Perhaps I'm now experienced. I no longer run into the marsh. Once I pass the hill, the trail becomes twice wider and recognizable. I have no problem finishing this lap at the sign post of mile 8/4.
Lap 3 (10.36 ~ 18.26): 7.90 mile/1:12:36.59, pace: 9.12 min/mile, Accrued: 2:44:45.64 - Run faster and Test my Thirsty Limit
I quickly drink the cached V8. Today I don't turn around and run to the Bay again. I just keep running to the other end. It is daybreak and I can see a few people walking by.
Like last week, I start to one Gel after 4 miles and one every 4 miles. With the V8, I skip the first water fountain near Quarry Lakes, but stop at the second water fountain to take two salt tablets. I am wondering if I want to go into the park on my way back, but I will be tired then. When I get to the end of the trail, i.e. sign post of mile 0/12, I take one Gel and turn around.
Lap 4 (18.26 ~ 31.02): 12.76 mile/2:01:37.62, pace: 9:32 min/mile, Accrued: 4:46:23.22 - Struggling for Marathon and 50K Targets
I start to feel tired. When I see a runner 100 yard behind me, I somehow motivate to pick up my pace.
I decide to enter Quarry Lakes and do a big loop. I figure I need to do this loop to make today's route enough for 50K. I thought the loop is no more than 3 miles, but it turns out to be 4 miles. The minor difference predicts my struggling later.
The trail in the park is a little rolling compared with the Alameda Creek Trail. I feel tired and frustrated when I can not open a power bar with my sticky sore hands and my teeth tied to my tired body. It takes me a few minutes and I finally finish the power bar. I think it can last 2 miles until the next I take a Gel at the sign post of mile 4/8.
I finally complete the loop and go back to the Alameda Creek Trail. I figure that I will be very close to the Marathon distance at the last water fountain. Therefore, I run back and forth there, try to get to the Marathon before the final supply of water.
Last week, I reached the marathon distance at 4 hr 15 min. I push myself a bit thinking if I can do a sub-4hr marathon. Finally, I am able to do it and have 3hr 58min 59sec for the marathon - 16 minutes faster than last week. Then I am happy to drink enough water and ready to go for my next target - 50K under 5 hours.
Sun already comes out, but it's not that bad. I'm struggling and, as usual, I sometimes close my eyes to let the time and distance go faster. You may say it's a way to enjoy the pain. I figure I should be able to run a sub-5hr 50K if I can keep this slow pace. Therefore I have faith and keep moving my arms and legs forward. I pass the gravel path, paved path, gravel path, and a few underpasses that the Alameda Creek Trail goes under the streets. I regularly drink electrolyte drink and take Gel as I count the half mile sign posts. I finally get to the end of this lap - sign post of mile 8/4. However, it's still about 100 yards short of 50K, so I do not stop and head toward the bridge.
Lap 5 (31.02 ~ 33.32): 2.31 mile/26:19.23, pace: 11:23 min/mile, Accrued: 5:12:42.45 - Take Easy and Go Home
When I run on the bridge across the Alameda Creek, I just make up the 100 yards for the 50K. I make it under 5 hours - 4 hr 47 min 25 sec, 18 minutes faster than last week. I feel totally exhausted. I walk for a few seconds as a reward, but then pick up my slow pace in order to feel better for the last two miles. As I run closer to my home, my energy level goes up little by little. I'm happy to finish this "shorter" run and get ready for Ruth Anderson 100K on the coming Saturday.