Mileage was low this week, with zeroes on Monday, Friday, and Saturday. I would like to have two of those three back, but far more importantly, I ran my first race of the year on Sunday: Coastal Trail Runs' Golden Gate 50K. As I previously mentioned, I was hoping to break 5 hours. 30K and 50K runners started together, so I made sure to be close to the front because I didn't want to be part of a traffic jam on the single file staircase about a mile in. Unfortunately I was a little bit thrown off by my Garmin not booting correctly. Most times that I charge it, the first time I use it after that, it takes 10 minutes or so to boot correctly and even start looking for the satellites. Having run into this before, I turned the watch on a solid half-hour before the race started, and to my surprise, everything seemed fine. So I turned it off to save batteries, and then five minutes before the start when I turned it on again, it decided not to like me. It kicked in 6 minutes into the race, so I just had to remember that offset (it doesn't show time of day very well at all, just elapsed stop-watch time).
Anyway, I felt great almost the whole race. I ran most of the first hill (except for the steps) and down to the first aid station at Tennessee Valley. The hill out of TV (mile 5) is steep and not runnable, which I was fine with. There are also some stairs coming out of Pirate's cove (mile 7) that are steep as well. Back through TV and up a different hill (mile 10), which isn't quite as steep, and I ran every step of it, which I knew I had to do to break 5 hours. Everything was fine through the next aid station and also at the pass-through aid station at the start/finish, which I reached in exactly three hours, and after 30K. I grabbed a couple gels and a hat from my drop bag and was quickly on my way. The last 20K were the same as the first 30, with the steep TV loop in the middle removed, so I ran the same hill as at the start, probably a little slower this time since there weren't (m)any other runners around me now. I ran the long gradual hill out of the TV aid station again, and was still feeling pretty good, but when I got to the top of it, I was definitely starting to feel it.
Did I mention the course has 6,320 feet of climbing? With hills this big, it's impossible to be running even 9:40's. Sometimes I should be proud of myself for a 12-minute mile, and sometimes I should be disappointed with a sub-7. I really only have a chance of tracking my time well because (a) the course is a modified loop and (b) I've run the race 4 times before. I certainly hadn't gained any time over the previous loop, but I didn't think I'd lost any either, so I had a chance. The last little blip of a hill (mile 28) was killer, but I dropped a couple sub-7's at the very end and was passing people (from an assortment of race distances) the whole time. Maybe my finishing kick wasn't as crazy as it normally is, but that's probably because I actually ran hard the whole race.
In the end I crossed the finish line in 5:02:15. I was fourth place overall, third in my age group. That's my personal best in the 50K, and also the best placing. I'm happy with it, but I'd be happier with 4:59:38, or something like that. Oh well. A different company is putting on 95% the same race March 16, when it just so happens I will be in California again for Spring Break. We'll see. For now, I'm looking forward to the Febapple Frozen 50 in just 12 days. The course description doesn't have an elevation profile that I can find, but last year's median time was 10:20 or so. My 50-mile PR is 9:35, so I think I'll go out trying to break that and see what happens. It's 5 laps around a 10-mile course, so I'll need to do 1:55 laps, or 11:30 miles. Apparently I can definitely do that over 31 miles, we'll just have to see about the last 20. Or maybe I'll just go for sub-9 hours? That would be 10:48's. I wish I had some idea of the amount of climbing.
Regardless, back to training.