Wednesday, 26 August 2009
With two weeks between races some people may have suspected that I was rested and fresh for the last race of my American Campaign the Bulldog 50KM Ultra at Malibu Creek State Park.
That was the theory but the fact was since Mt Disappointment i'd spent 9 days in Montreal, now I was told to expect cold weather and that i'd need to wear layers (rather difficult as i'd mailed a lot of clothes back home by now), what I come upon was a heat wave, whilst temperatures were only in the low 90's (30's ?), incredible humidity meant it felt way over 100 and pollens in the air gave me more problems than i've ever had before. Starting with a sore throat and escalating to sneezing coughing and seemingly a full blown cold. Not to say I didn't have fun in Montreal, went as far as Ottawa and the ski resort of Mount Morin (blessedly cooler on my last full day) as well as exploring the Old City and Olympic stadium as well as other trips shown around by Anna Maria (who i'd shown my sort of local place the Californian Central Coast to).
What it did mean though was I landed back in LA on the Wednesday, with a very sore throat and nose and sinuses blocked something shocking, it may not have been an actual cold but I was washed out so much that a 50K run 3 days later sounded like very wishful thinking.
At least back in LA (actually Calabasas only 3 miles from the race and 30 odd miles from LA City along the Ventura Freeway), it was consistently a dry heat, so maybe I could get my act back together in time. Wednesday was essentially a write off as I was jet lagged (getting out of bed at 3AM Canadian time – Midnight LA time) didn't help and by the time I got to my motel all I could do was sleep (and sneeze and cough).
Come Thursday I was freshened up and did the tourist thing going to Beverly Hills and Hollywood (and misplacing the car – all the backstreets of Hollywood look the same !), and exposure to sun and heat seemed to be doing the trick.
Friday I decided the best way to work out where I was running was to actually run to where the race would be, so I did and then ran a couple of easy nearby trails before heading back home, a good solid 2.5 Hour hitout and after a quick dip in the pool I was feeling reading for the next day.
I'd woken at 4:30 so that as usual I'd have breakfast (not my usual cereal but by now i'd grown begrudgingly used to American Cereals), but originally the plan had been to drive to the start, however a very mild morning made me decide that a better option would be to run there as the 3 mile run would be a perfect warm up as the first half loop seemed to be mainly uphill.
Arrived with a good half hour to spare, certainly the mild morning had potential to become a very hot day, just thankful we were only talking 50K's.
Large number of starters, the race itself was sold out but I assumed with a 25K (one loop as opposed to our 2 loops) our field would be noticeably smaller but with our race starting an hour earlier we appeared to have pretty impressive numbers (I was t find later that there were 185 Competitors Huge by Australian Standards).
With warmer weather it was time to retire the Buff Bandanna and go back to my old faithful red headband, so it was AURA singlet and my Nike shorts to complete my genuine summer ensemble as well as my Handheld with a couple of GU's and some S Caps.
Obviously I'd been here too long as I was starting to see the odd familiar face, including Deb the lady who had sorted me out in First Aid last time (was happy to see her at the start just did'nt want to see her post race again :-) ).
Soon we were off, local Guillermo was leading the way (race director Nancy had said early on that he was the man to follow as he did all his training here), and despite it initially being flat I could see quite decent hills ahead.
I'd settled in to a good comfortable pace but once we got into the hills I decided walking was the way to go as runners around me were not getting much further away and if I read the race notes correctly the first half was uphill the second half mainly downhill. First drink station soon appeared and all I really needed was a couple of cups of Gatorade was feeling good, from then on it was becoming hard work, clouds or smog were trying to hide incredible views but eventually I worked out I was looking at the Pacific Ocean and towards Catalina Island. After many ups finally some downhill and I cut lose for a while was chased by one fellow and we were having our own little war as we passed numerous runners, wasn't really sure whether this was good for me, but testosterone got the best of me.
Finally after a Brindabella like downhill section I felt the sciatic nerve giving problems, this could be interesting, after all I hadn't come all this way for a dud performance in one of my shorter runs, the next section was flatter and did my back more harm than good particularly on a creek crossing where I was desperate to keep my shoes dry (with a flight back in only two days), finally we finished our loop and if I heard correctly I think I was 18th.
Wasn't really looking forward to this second loop and I now new what was ahead of me and with the sciatica (or back or whatever) on bit of a razors edge I knew i'd have to run (and walk) a little smart.
By now I was in a pretty \familiar group and we'd been chatting for a while which at least took my mind of my pain, but I was also starting to get into my S Caps and handheld of Accelerade, so before the big climb filled the bottle and also had a biscuit and a hammer gel.
Walking wasn't losing me ground but it was tiring me as it seems to take more out than free flowing running on the flat so I was just making sure I had something left for the downhill by this point.
From the ego's point of view I was starting to enjoy the race as I was beginning to overtake the slower 25K runners and passing quantities of runners is always good. Next Aid Station I saw Deb helping out, we had a quick chat and I was off, didn't want her to see me looking pained again.
Finally i'd made it to the top and after a few hard rocky sections the beautiful downhill trails, now the question was whether I could hold my body together. Ultimately all was good and I chased down a number of the runners i'd been bunched with at the start of the second loop, but just in the distance was a fellow in a red singlet, just teasingly always the same distance ahead.
We were now back to the flat, thankfully the creek crossing seemed easier than previously, and I was soon at the last aid station, I knew I wasn't carrying much liquid but decided that instead of wasting time filling the bottle i'd just have a couple of cups of Gatorade as well as a couple of orange slices.
Really i'm not sure whether that was the correct strategy as towards the end I had my one gulp of remaining drink and then had a very hot uncovered section, seemingly going forever as we looped the carpark to the finish line. Ultimately I finished 17th in 4:58, to be second in my age group (sure enough the fellow in the red singlet just out of reach was also in my age group !!).
Now it was time to rehydrate and have pizza, as thankfully this was supplied.
After eating and drinking and receiving my trophy an hour or so had passed and it hit me I still had to get home, just thankful that I was offered a lift at that point I was still very flat (not as flat as the next day when I accidentally did a 8 hour hike through the Santa Monica Mountains but that's another story !).
By the time this tale is up on my blog i'll be back in Australia, i've typed this whilst recharging the laptop at LAX but with no internet access can't put online till i'm back home.