Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mount Diablo 50k race

Where: Mount Diablo State Park,
Clayton, CA

June 10th, 2006

Time: 10 hr 44 mins
This was one of the unplanned 50k's. I had run nisene marks marathon a week back and was planning for a Mt Whitney climb via mountaineer's route with Pavan and Girish, my Climbing buddies ;). But this climb didnt materialize.

After few email exchanges with Rajeev decided to signup for this hilly 50k, also thought this would be a great training run for the upcoming Tahoe 50 miler in july.

Race Day:
Rajeev had just landed from New Zealand on friday evening and he decided to run inspite of his jet lag. I was supposed to him up but due to his jet lag he got up early and picked me instead.

We reached the start at 7:30, and after small chat with Sarah, Wendell/Sarah(Race directors) decided to start early at 8:00am(being a optimist had thought of driving to Santa Barbara after the race)

Total Elevation Gain: 8900 ft

Elevation profile:

Pretty much we run/walk course to Mt diablo summit twice. We started with a easy pace,
first couple of miles were runnable, soon we start 2 mile steep climb on a narrow trail, the first view of valley:

After the initial steep section we have a downhill section, which allowed us to catch some breath,
1 hr 20 mins into race, lead runners catch up(we started early) with us. 50 k was lead by Garret and Rod.

Followed by Ultramarathon man Dean Karnazes
, 4 miles into the race he seemed pretty strong and I was hopeful of him completing this tough 50k. Incidentally after a brief chat with him realized he was again doing the double Ultra this year (Western states followed by Badwater Ultra).

We soon hit another steep section, and my favorite steep, as it opens up the view of entire east bay region:

1 hour 45 mins into race, we hit Juniper campground aid-station, manned by 3 friendly volunteers:

After about a mile of shaded flat section, we again start the last climb to summit, by this point mid-pack runners catch up with us. The steep section wasnt as tough as it seemed and soon we were at the summit, which offered great views of the east bay region, we could see Silicon Valley from the summit:

After a short break at the summit, we start our 7.5 mile downhill. Interestingly we follow different trail way back which is lot gentler on the knees, and the last few sections are covered trail besides a creek, making this section lot pleasant and easier on qauds.

First loop was all about enjoying the course, taking pictures and just appreciating the Nature's beauty. On the way to start point, did my usual quad, calf, hamstring check and all sounded in pretty good shape.

4 hrs 40 mins into race, we were back to start line, we quickly re-fueled with ensure, potatoes, PBJ,chips and succeed. Both of us were feeling good, Wendell convinced us to take steeper section going up as our way back would be lot easier.

2nd Loop turned out to be lot tougher than I thought mainly because of following mistakes:
- re-fueling between start and juniper aid station.
- carrying less water for 5 mile uphill on a hot day was very naive.

After 8hrs 10 mins into race we reached for the 2nd time summit, Rajeev was in great shape, he was waiting for me at the top, Micheal (aid station volunteer) handed me a much needed enegry bar. I was on a all time low on sugar at this point, Rajeev handed out another gel, but I kept thinking I am doing fine with refueling. About 5 mins break at summit gave me a break and we started our run to base.

One of the best pictures of this run was taken by Michael:

Running with Rajeev was a big support, he kept my mindset upbeat and we followed a steady run/walk routine to the finish point. I cannot comprehend how Rajeev managed this run after his 12+hr flight and jet lagged state, he is one tough Athlete, extremely strong physically and mentally.

Thanks Rajeev you made this finish poissible, I owe you one.

After a good break at the finish, Rajeev and myself headed to Anu's place for sumptuous saru/anna and sabjeee. I was never so tired, my legs were cramping every moment due to extreme fatigue, I was just waiting to go home and sleep for few hours, before my drive to SB, which turned out to be next day morning.

In the book "A Step Beyond" one of the article mentions, each ultra is different, every ultra teaches a lesson and if you dont remember then the lesson is repeated untill you remember.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Quicksilver 50 mile race

Almaden Quicksilver Park,
San Jose, CA

May 13th 2006
Time: 12 hr 20mins

After HK 50 last year, I had wished to do American River 50 but due to some family emergency I was out of town fighting a different kind of race. In that race I was mainly the crew member, my brother was the racer and Dr Thompson was the race director. After a 30 mile long run with the big-sur gang, I decided to do miwok 100k, but race registration closed early so the next choice was local race Quicksilver 50.


Muir beach 50k and Woodlands 50k were very good training runs, mainly because of the tough weather conditions, which proved to be a good training ground for my attitude during the race.

Since most of march/april I was in Detroit with my brother, I couldnt run much, but
managed to do couple of 20-30 mile runs, and did some back to back runs whenever my little nephew permitted.

Pre-race dinner:
Arun and Soumya jee hosted a sumptuous pasta dinner for me and Rajeev. Arun was ready to do his first ultra.

Race day story:
Got a good night sleep, I was ready to go to race at 4am. In 2005, myself and Rajeev had done a 50k here and we got a 6hour overcast weather so we had very pleasant memories of the race. But May 13th didn’t seem that way.

(carol, myself, arun, rajeev)

Met some of our ultra-running friends: wini, carol, yuki and chiphing at the start, the race started
promptly at 6am and myself, Rajeev and Arun settled into a steady pace, walking ALL the hills, after about 3 miles, I went ahead and followed my steady pace keeping in mind the first cut-off of 7 hr 50 mins at 50k, which I thought should be easy. My goal for this race was to do in 12 hrs.

Miles 6.6-9
This stretch was through the covered trails on new almaden trail, very pleasant running through and spent most of the time talking to fellow runner Jim Yee who was attempting for this first WS 100 mile race. Reached mile 9 aid station in 2:05 hr, Stevens creek striders
managed Dam overlook aid station and were very supportive of runner needs, soon saw Rajeev running towards the aid station.

Miles 9-19
From this point we followed Randall trail to mine hill trail and back to dam overlook. Soon started feeling the heat of the day, which was hitting about 80's. Towards the end of this section we had a long downhill, most scenic part of the course.

(winding mine hill trail)

(Dam overlook)

Miles 19-23
We pass through Dam overlook for the 2nd time and follow gaudulupe trail for another 4.5 mile loop, ran with Wini for sometime, she is a amazing runner, going steady and smooth all the time. No one would tell she had done miwok 100k a week back. so had Rajeev, he was doing his 3rd long distance race in 3 consecutive saturdays.

(Wini Jebian: maintaining a steady pace)
Mile 23.3: 27
I continued ahead of Rajeev, was feeling great at this point, met Roger at this point who had done 25 k. He mentioned. “just a marathon more to go” I wasn’t sure if it was good news. Run towards Englishtown was unevent full, but the aid-station volunteers were very cheerful and pepped me up for next 4 mile tough section.

(With yuki at Dam Overlook , he was trainging for WS)

Mile 27- mile 31.3
Toughest part of the course, rolling hills, uncovered trails and peak time of the day made this a tough run, reached the finish point and saw Anu cheering and she was all set to run with me, but asked her to wait for Rajeev, who seemed to have some quad pain.
I took 5 mins off and had my ensure, clif bloks, and cap filled with ice to cool my body(excellent idea by famida and aid station volunteer) that kept me going for next few miles. At this point I was well ahead of cutoff
by 30 mins.

Mile 31.3-35.3
This section started out with a constant climb I was doing ok, still fresh from the aid-station re-fueling
but was not aware of the heat ahead and how I will feel later, met arun on one of the climbs, unfortunately he had twisted his ankle early and walked the last 12 miles in the race. That’s the spirit which pulls you across any ultra.

(Arun: Proud first ultra finisher)

(Friends and family patiently waiting)

Soon I came across the rolling section of hacienda and my ensure had not kicked-in, I was out of gas in this section, so ended up walking even the downhills and eventually lost all my buffer.

Miles 35.3- 37.3
From this point the race to beat the clock started, its not fun to run when you are trying to make cutoffs, as you don’t get to enjoy the course but just are conscious of time. But that’s the part of being a back of the pack runner and sometimes that makes Ultra's interesting because finish is not granted .

I Re-fueled, filled my cap with ice and set out for a 2 mile run within 30 mins, that wasn’t too bad, until sweeper Steve Jensen who manages Ultra repository joined me, that’s the time I realized I was last place and I had to keep moving and was close to missing the cut-off

Steve said, "give your best shot"

I picked up my pace and met the next cutoff with 5 mins to spare. At the aid station there were 3 others fighting the cutoffs, myself, Allison cook and wini jebian.

As we passed the aid station RD Janice said, we have 2 hr 5 mins to cover next 8 miles, and we are just on the bubble.

Miles 37.3 – 41
That meant next 4 miles uphill had to be covered in 1 hr 5 mins, At this point I wasn’t sure if I will make the cutoff but was sure, will run till 45 mile point and I may have to drop. This was predominantly a uphill section. Saw a rattle snake basking in the sun. After abt 1 hr I was expecting turnaround, soon saw Carol followed by Wini who encouraged me and said

"you can make the cutoff, keep moving".

It is humbling to see her so strong 40 miles into the race. I made to top in 1:10 mins and had about 55 mins for next 4 miles of downhill. my pessimistic side prepared me for drop out, various thoughts consoling myself came in. but I was feeling good and was ready to run the next 4 miles as hard as I can.

Miles 41- mile 45.2
With the goal infront of me clear I was set into a steady pace, listening to some peppy hindi music, miles flew by fast and I reached aid station right in time, at this point

Janice said ” sorry we have to take you out”, what… I think the cutoff is 11:30hr and I still have 90 seconds, Janice confirmed and said yes I can continue and I was most thrilled, As if I set a new world record J, inspite of being the last runner :). It reminded me of Lance's book Every Second counts, which was the case , from the past 12 miles I pushed and saved 90 secs to make the cutoff. I tried to call rush but signal was weak.

Miles 45.2 - Finish
Next 4.5 miles were the most blissful, knowing the fact that I didn’t have anymore cutoffs and I was sure to complete this race. Later I found out lady behind me missed the cutoff by a min, that’s very unfortunate, but
Race officials have to draw a line somewhere.

Last mile I met Wini again, by this time Pradeep and Rush had hiked the last mile to run with me. I was thrilled to see them and could sense the finish running down the virl Norton trail, soon I could see the parking lot and entered the last 100 meters of dirt section and I crossed the finish line dead LAST in 12 hour 20 mins. At finish Anurag and Aparna were waiting for me, thanks friends it means a lot to me.

I couldn’t make the 12 hr goal I had set, but I was fortunate and pleased enough to make all the cutoffs and enjoy this 50 mile journey. All the time my brother's struggle with his health kept me motivated, he is my hero and I am thankful to my body and health which supported me in such distances.

my hero of the day:
Wini Jebian she did miwok 100k and Quicksilver 50 miler back to back and won her age group at quicksilver at age 62.

All pictures courtesy