Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FOURmidable 50k and some Hoka One One action!

The Way Too Cool 50k and LA Marathon are quickly approaching.  Naturally, I've been experiencing moments of doubt and fear about whether or not I'm actually prepared to run a 50k in Cool, CA and a marathon in Los Angeles on the next day.  Has my training been appropriate?  Am I strong enough?  Have I been running enough?  Am I crazy?  Will I injure myself and ruin my chances at qualifying for Western States at the Miwok 100k or set myself up for failure at the Comrades Marathon?
I think I do a fairly good job at suppressing such thoughts.  Maybe the best way to get rid of them is to perform some physical act that makes the thoughts seem silly.

I was signed up to run a 22 mile Western States training run on February 15th and decided that if I was able to run it at an easy pace, without feeling too beat up afterwards, that would suggest that I'm in good enough shape to run the FOURmidable 50k on Feb. 22.  So... I ran the ~22 miles at an easy pace and enjoyed ~15 miles or so running/chatting with my trail friend Kara.  I felt great afterwards and had no ill lingering effects.  I took off to spend the rest of the long weekend in San Francisco and on Tuesday, signed up for the Fourmidable 50k.

FOURmidable 50k (have you noticed the "four" in the name) starts at the Cool, CA fire-station lot and heads out on parts of the Way Too Cool 50k, Western States, and other popular trails.  Along the way, it covers the four major climbs in the area.  No Hands Bridge to Auburn Damn Overlook (ADO), Cardiac, K2/Training-Hill, and Knickerbocker.  Each of these climbs covers 600 to 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  The 50k sends runners climbing/descending roughly 6,000 feet in total.

The forecast called for a warm day, approaching 70 degrees, but it was a brisk 39 at the start.  I was chilly in my Mountain Hardware Way2Cool tank and 3" split shorts, but I warmed up nicely by mile 4 or so.  My plan was to treat this as a long training run and take it easy.  If I felt good after K2 (the third big hill), I'd pick up the pace.

Without getting into much detail, things went nearly perfectly.  I ran easy on the flats and downhills.  I ran some, but mostly hiked the uphills.  I was enjoying the day, the scenery, and the feeling of cushion-y bliss, beneath my feet.  Oh, I almost forgot, I was wearing a brand new pair of Hoka Stinson Trails and this was my first time ever running in them!  Going into the race, you wouldn't be surprised to know that I was a little freaked out at the idea of breaking in a pair of crazy marshmallow shoes with a ~32 mile run

Marshmallow shoes
Lo and behold, the marshmallows seemed to be doing wonders for me.  15.5 miles in and I felt like I just crawled out of bed after a good night's sleep.  After a couple of big climbs, I cruised through ADO for the second time, through Robie Pt., and made my way down to cross No Hands Bridge for the second time, before crawling up K2 (the toughest climb of the course, IMO) at mile 17/18.

Mile 15.5 selfie

Bouncing across No Hands Bridge

Helen and I, about to "motor" up K2

One mile and ~1,000 feet of climbing later, as I embarked upon my 20th mile of the day, I was still feeling grand and decided to start pushing the pace a bit.  A half mile later, I rolled my left ankle fairly hard, while making a sharp right turn off of a fire-road onto some single-track.  I let out a yelp, maybe an f-bomb or two, and limped over to a rock, where I sat for a bit, trying to figure out if I was going to lose a leg or not.  It hurt pretty bad, but after a couple of minutes, I started walking (with a limp), then jogging (with a limp), and finally running (with a bit of pain, but no limp).  Seems I dodged a bullet and suffered only a mild sprain (it's back to ~85%-90% as I type this).

My awesome, local Folsom Trail Runners were manning most of the aid stations and I bumped into another pile of them at ~mile 21, where I took down a few handfuls of potato chips and a few cups of Shasta Cola before heading out for the last 10 miles.  I ran my fastest split (an incredible 8:17 mile) on my way back down to the American River, during a 1-2 mile stretch of high 7:00 to low 8:00 min/mile running.  The Hokas were feeling awesome on the downhills.  I pushed a comfortably hard pace up Knickerbocker, passing 4-5 runners during the climb.

When I reached the top of the 4th big climb, I knew I "had it in the bag" and continued pushing an honest effort over the last 5 or 6 miles, which roll gently, trending uphill back to the finish area at the Cool Fire-station.

I had expected to complete this difficult course in roughly 7 hours and to feel like absolute hell after having done so.  As it turned out, I finished in 6:35 and felt absolutely fantastic at the end.  I was literally shocked at how fresh my legs/body felt at the end of the run.  I'm blaming months of consistently running ~35-70 miles per week, 2 days/week of intense strength and core training (thanks Diane! Breakout Fitness), and... my new Hokas.  I joked with Paulo (friend and RD), asking if he could get me a States qualifier if I ran another lap.  Awesome day and a great confidence builder for my back to back Way Too Cool 50k and LA Marathon coming up on March 8/9!

FOURmidable elevation profile

Finisher's medal

Weekly Totals: 39.5 miles; +6,616 ft.

Cruising down the Western States trail on Feb. 15

I didn't see any "don't kiss the giraffes" signs.

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