Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Back. Sorta. I Guess.

I received a lot of hate mail after my last post, "Running John is Dead. Long Live Cycling Johnny", mostly from my family and running buddies who missed Running John. It probably didn't help that Cycling Johnny didn't really endear himself to anyone with his phony European accent and his tendency to openly mock recreational cyclists riding stock assembly line bicycles, genetically inferior to his ├╝ber expensive hand-made, custom, carbon fiber racing machine. Ah, but I digress.

So I'm happy to report that after 8 weeks of calf-related injury and rehab, Running John returned to the trails today, finishing his first 50k race since August. It was a perfect day for racing in Woodside, California with cool temperatures and sunny skies. I, Running John (Ed: switching over to first person narrative now?) resisted the urge to go out hard with the race leaders which included a stacked field of ultra marathon rockstar Phil Shaw, local speedster Will Gotthardt, and several other accomplished runners, opting for a more conservative pace.

I ended up finishing 6th with a time of 4 hours and 32 minutes, which is about 10 minutes slower than the 4:22:08 personal record I ran on this same course last year. But after I got over the initial disappointment of of finishing outside the top 5 and being 10 minutes slower than last year, I realized in retrospect that today was actually my 2nd fastest trail 50K of all time! Not too shabby I guess.

I must say, I felt that I ran pretty smart. I stayed on top of my calories (forcing myself to eat an energy gel every 30 minutes). I carried two water bottles to avoid ever running out of fluids. And, perhaps most importantly, after careful consideration I abandoned the pre-race strategy I momentarily considered of throwing in a 6 minute mile at the start of the race to try and "psyche out" the race favorites. That would have ended very badly (for me).

Anyway, it was a great day out on the trails. The weather was perfect. And I was in great company with lots of familiar faces including Will Gotthardt, Lisa Donchak (a fellow "ninja" of sorts), and Quicksilver racing teammates Adona Ramos, Larry Liu and Keith Lubliner.

As shown in the above elevation profile, it was a relatively hilly course, though all very runnable (I managed to run the whole thing without doing any hiking). Overall a great way to spend a Saturday morning enjoying some beautiful singletracks in the Santa Cruz mountains.