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.