- Marathon: 3:51:48.55 (8:55 min/mile)
- 50K: 4:42:06.04 (9.04 min/mile)
- 40M: 6:09:44.24 (9:15 min/mile)
- 50M: 7:58:05.79 (9:34 min/mile)
- 100K: 10:22:05.03 (9:57 min/mile)
This time I decide to complete 100K without quitting at 50K like last year. Doing 100K equivalent to nearly 14 laps around Lake Merced becomes a lot of pressure.
I have been thinking about the strategy at my spare time these days. It's all about drinking and eating. In training runs, I usually start to drink at mile 10 and eat at mile 14. In the race, I'll over hydrate myself before start and try to extend the first unstopped section of run. I also need to consider the intervals among the two aid stations.
- start to eat and drink after three laps
- eat only gels
- eat one gel around an aid station, i.e. two gels each lap
- drink at least one 20 oz bottle of salted sports drink each lap
- take three salt tablets at every other lap
- eat, drink, and fill my bottle only at the finish aid station
- skip the other aid station
Get to the Race
As usual, I felt reluctant to get up that early with pressure. I got up at 4am and left home at 5am, hoping to get everything ready. I had two banana and one can of V8 done at home before I left for the race. Since I had cold and have been headache for some time, I take one Contact tablet and carry one. I plan to take that one when I get to 50K.
On my way, I was thinking that I can take BART and walk another 3 miles instead of driving, but it need planning and it's too late. Maybe I can do it this way next time.
Last year, I drove around the lake to look for the start. I was luckier this year as I only missed a turn and had to drive half of the lake.
It's darker than last year because the race is 3 weeks earlier. However, the large parking area looks like nearly full. I was lucky to find a parking near the course. I can see there is a long line in front of the only one bathroom.
I met a couple of Ultraholics friends there - Rajeev Patel, Yuki Negoro with Miho, Alan Geraldi, and Anil. Ron Duncan is there. He is training for Boston and Comrades.
It is cold, but gets better after a half mile walk to the start. The RD John Burton briefs for minutes, relaxing a little the atmosphere. Off we start.
Lap 1 (mile 0 ~ 3.98): 3.98 miles/33:55:04, pace: 8.31 min/mile
Lap 2 (mile 3.98 ~ 8.48): 4.50 miles/39:04.86, pace: 8.41 min/mile
Lap 3 (mile 8.48 ~ 12.99): 4.51 miles/39:46.93, pace: 8.50 min/mile
The first three laps I ran with Yuki and Ron at an easy pace with our fresh legs. I am able to run fast and take a picture for runners behind - Yuki, Ron (in red), and 15 years old Michael Kanning (front).
We also run with Eric Barkenkotter. He recognizes me. He is the one who was one minute ahead of me in the Ohlone 50K last year and got the age group award. He says he wants to try 100K and hope to run a 100 miler in near future. He is definitely faster than I, so he pulls away later and finishes a fast 50K at 4 hr 33 min.
Both Yuki and I wear a Forerunner 305 GPS watch. While we are running at sub-9 min pace, we are joking that we also race with the watch. I was told that the battery can last only 10 hours. Since I plan to run this 100K at 10 hours (Yuki has 9 hours in mind), we would like to see either we finish first or the watch dies first. I also think we probably need to collect three watches for a 100 milers - one in a drop bag every 33 miles.
Ron is a fast guy but he is enjoying the run and prepare to speed up later. He kindly takes a picture for us when we just finish a lap.
As planned, I do not drink or eat, and skip every aid station. I do stop at bathroom once and then catch up Yuki later. I feel amused at the porn drawings in the bathroom.
So far so good. I am ready to get resupply once I finish the three warmup laps.
Lap 4 (mile 12.99 ~ 17.50): 4.51 miles/39:44.98, pace: 8.49 min/mile
Lap 5 (mile 17.50 ~ 22.03): 4.53 miles/40:59.17, pace: 9:03 min/mile
Lap 6 (mile 22.03 ~ 26.20): 4.17 miles/38:17.62, pace: 9:11 min/mile
Marathon: 3:51:48.55, 8:51 min/mile
Now I feel like racing - I start to eat and drink regularly according to my plan. I eat one Gel around every aid station pass. I stop only at the finish aid station to refill my bottle. I drink every half mile. These pretty much follow what I did in my training and it worked well.
Regarding electrolyte, I have to add some salt into my water bottle because I found I need more salt than usual. I have a small bottle of affordable kitchen salt, so I drop a little at every bottle refill. To add some flavors, I mixed the salt with Gu2O powder and GreenToGo. It tastes great! Besides, I remind myself to take three salt tablets every other lap.
We ran from the pre-dawn darkness. Now we can see daylight coming up. The lake is beautiful at different shades of lights. Look how happy Yuki is at the sunrise!
At mile 20, I am passed by Alan, so I wish him well. Then I catch up John Mintz, who is the 50 mile winner last year. He normally shows up (and wins) in many PCTR events. He seems to have some issues. We run together to the other aid station. He stays there, but I wish him good luck and keep running. Then I am passed by Mark Tanaka. He is flying by. Within minutes I can see him catch up Alan far ahead. I look at my watch and figure out they are running at 3hr marathon pace! This is Alan comfortable pace, but I can not imagine Mark will run this pace for his 100K. Anyway, such a fast pace is usually out of my comprehension :-)
At the marathon distance, I carefully press the lap button. And I finish it at 3 hr 51 min 48 sec - 7 minutes faster than my training run. I am satisfied about it because I feel better and this course has some small hills, compared with the flat Alameda Creek Trail.
Lap 7 (mile 26.20 ~ 31.35): 5.15 miles/50:17.49, pace: 9:46 min/mile
50+K: 4:42:06.04, 9:04 min/mile
Once I pass the marathon distance, I know the 50K is not far - less than 8K to go. But somehow my 50K lap is at mile 31.35, a little over 50K. Perhaps I press the button at the 50K finish line and my 50K from the GPS watch comes before the 50K line. I felt much better than last year when I struggled a bit to finish only 50K. I guess I have trained better so far thanks to those 30-40 miles training runs in previous weeks.
At the half-way aid station I meet Anil. He seems very comfortable, but I am thinking where Rajeev is. They both plan to run 50 miles today. It turns out Anil finishes 100K. What a strong determination in Anil!
I made this 50+K 6 minutes faster than the 50K in my training run. It's even improved by over 10 minutes from last year.
Lap 8 (mile 31.35 ~ 35.35): 4.25 miles/42:31.12, pace: 10:00 min/mile
Lap 9 (mile 35.35 ~ 40.00): 4.40 miles/45:07.08, pace: 10:15 min/mile
40 Miles: 6:09:44.24 9:15 min/mile
Now I set my target to 40 miles since I have done a 40 mile training run. Because I caught cold early this week, I take one Contact tablet, which can last 6 hours, in case I have headache.
I see Rajeev happily at the finish area. He turns out to have leg pain. He has to stop at 50K and save for the American River 50M two weeks later. He kindly takes a picture of me.
I catch up Michael Kanning. He now runs without shirt.
We talk a while. Like Yuki, who made an unbelievable 50K PR in Prirate Cove 50K a week earlier, he did it as well under 6 hours. His photo is on the Ultrarunning magazine Jan/Feb issue for the report of Helen Klein 50 miles, when he ran it at the age of 14. He plans to run Rio Del Lago 100 miles this year as his first 100 miler at the age of 15. He said the current record of the youngest 100 mile finisher is age 16. If he finishes it, he'll be the youngest 100 mile finisher. I wish the nice young man good luck and pull away.
At one moment, I suddenly start to feel thigh cramp. I don't know why because I have taken salt tablets regularly. Perhaps it's noon time and I'm sweating more and losing more salt. I swallow two salt tablets right away. The symptom goes away after 10 minutes. I'm glad to carry some salt tablets with me.
When I reach mile 40, it is 6 hr 9 min, well faster than my 40 mile training run of 6 hr 40 min. I start to feel tired but much better than in the 40 mile training run. At least I can keep moving at 10 minutes pace.
Lap 10 (mile 40.00 ~ 44.65): 4.65 miles/49:01.15, pace: 10:32 min/mile
Lap 11 (mile 4.00 ~ 8.50): 4.50 miles/40:00.00, pace: 11:06 min/mile
50 Miles: 7:58:05.79 9:34 min/mile
Now my target is 50 miles. I have run races of longer distances. However, if I see today's run as a training run, this is an unheard territory for me. I start to struggle, but I feel great mentally. Since my training is up to 40 miles, anything beyond that becomes the test of my mental strength.
Near the end of the lap, I see Ron Duncan. He has finished 50K with 4hr 8min, third place overall. He comes to run with me. We talk along the way, but I am too tired to say much. After finishing one lap, he has to go and head home. Thanks Ron help me pass one lap.
When Ron leaves, I see my friends Alex and 崝萍 at the finish aid station. We knew each other back in Taiwan long ago. They just live in Daly City near Lake Merced. They told me they'll come around between 9 and 10 in the morning, but I did not see them. Now they show up and I am really excited. They quickly join me for the lap. I am still too tired to say much with them. They follow me behind.
Mark Tanaka passes me again. I thought he was doing the shorter 50K since he ran so fast when he passed me for the first time. Now I'm sure that he's running for 100K. He is slower than earlier, but still much faster than my pace. I am thinking that if he can call me out before passing me, I can turn around and take a picture for him since I have carried a camera all the way. I don't want to interrupt him and I have no way to catch him to tell him about this.
When I finish 50 miles, it's about 100 yards before the official finish. My time is 7 hr 58 min. This will be my record. I am happy about it, but I'm also worry at the same time. Two weeks from now, I'll run American River 50M and my goal is 8 hours. I think I need to run harder to make it because American River 50M has more hills and can be warmer. Anyway, I'll try my best. Perhaps today's run is really a training run that helps me run better in American River 50M.
Lap 12 (mile 50.00 ~ 53.65): 3.65 miles/39:59.57, pace: 10:57 min/mile
Lap 13 (mile 53.65 ~ 58.13): 4.48 miles/40:00.00, pace: 11:47 min/mile
Lap 14 (mile 58.13 ~ 62.50): 4.37 miles/51:32.32, pace: 11:48 min/mile
100K: 7:58:05.79 9:34 min/mile
After 50 miles, I actually solely rely on my mental strength. I keep counting down the laps whenever I pass the finish area. I see Yuki at the finish area ready to leave. Yuki just finished a speeding 50K a week ago. He has some leg pain and have to stop at 50 miles. I think it's only me to run 100K (without knowing Anil is working hard at 100K as well). There are much fewer runners on the course right now.
With one last lap to go, I am standing in front of the table. I look blank for a while and can not move until Mark Tanaka calls me to go. He already finishes the 100K at 7 hr 57 min, 46 min faster than last year. He is 2nd place overall.
I appreciate he urges me to keep going. Once I move forward, I am able to pick up the slow but good 11-ish min pace. At this last lap, I say goodbye to the volunteer at 50 miles and at the other aid station. I feel great to get to the finish area. About 100 yards before the finish, I press the lap button at 62.5 miles, i.e. 100K. I get to the finish, but decide to keep running. The RD John Burton catches up and I explain that I want to run to the start to make it exactly 14 laps.
Lap 15 (mile 62.50 ~ 63.16): 0.66 miles/7:28.82, pace: 11:18 min/mile
I now run at comfortable pace and it's downhill. This half mile feels like a mile! When I get the to start, I can not run back. I'm totally done. Walking back is slow and it's uphill.
It's over 10 hr and I find the Forerunner 305 indicates 2 levels out of 4 of battery power. It seeems that it can last over 12 hours. I think I'll use it in Miwok 100K as well.
When I get to the finish, it's nice to see my friends there. I don't know why, but I was set to lie down on a chair. It seems my cold symptom comes out since I am no longer running and the medicine is gone after 6 hours. With the chilly wind and wet clothes, I have a little hypothermia and start to shiver even with some blankets. I had a cup of hot chicken soup to warm myself, but it helps only a little. I chat with Charles Blakney, who volunteers the finish area.
My friends generously invite me to their place to take a shower and chat. We have great time chatting and I get to know their gentle cat. My kids must love her.
I recall I really like this loop course. I never like a loop course, but this one is in the city. Although the course is the same, the surroundings keep changing all the time - people, cars, streets, etc. The lake is beautiful. The 4.5 mile length of the loop is appropriate for every resupply. I would like to do it every year in future. I think I will shoot for faster 100K time such as 9 hours target or plan to run 100 miles instead - starting midnight and complete 22+ laps. Let me call it Ruth Anderson Midnight 100 Miles. I'm looking forward to this wonderful run in future! Thanks John and Amy Burton and all the volunteers.