Well, that worked out well

A week ago today I completed the Rodeo Beach 50K, which was my third 50K in as many Saturdays, which seemed like a questionable plan to some, but frankly that just made me want to prove them wrong. At the first one (Woodside), my goal was to finish under the shorter than usual cutoff times, which pushed me to run harder and set a PR (6:14:14). At the second one (Muir Beach), the weather and the hills threatened (rain and 7130′ of climbing, respectively), but the weather almost completely held off, the hills weren’t as bad as I feared (well, maybe one was), and I managed to push at the very end to squeak in under 7 hours. This time I wanted to finish faster than Muir Beach, and if possible faster than Skyline to the Sea (6:42:16) so that this would be my second fastest 50K. 6:30 was my dream goal, and given the climbing (5980′) and the conventional wisdom that the previous two 50Ks would have taken their toll, that seemed like the best I could hope for.

I guess I need to keep setting more aggressive goals, because despite some minor knee pain through the last 20K loop, I got to the last aid station in time to be pretty sure I was going to make the 6:30 goal. And then I slowed down, even walking a fair amount on the final flat sections. If I had kept up the effort a little longer, I might have managed another PR, but I was still extremely happy with the 6:16:01 time. To put it into perspective, though, that put me 45th out of 75 finishers and 14th out of 20 in my age group, so there’s still pretty of room for improvement.

Actually, the Woodside course is listed as 49.6K vs. 50.0K for this one, and therefore the official results show that my pace was slightly faster for this one (12:09 vs. 12:05 per mile). So in that sense this was a PR. My 150bpm average heart rate was also the highest I’ve sustained for an ultra, so despite the slacking off at the end, I did push pretty hard.

The course, starting at Rodeo Beach and covering quite a bit of the Marin Headlands, was great. There was rain the day before and the day after, but everything was gorgeous that day. One view of downtown San Francisco practically took my breath away (and reminds me once again that I need to start carrying a camera). I’m not sure how Pacific Coast Trail Runs manages to keep picking the good days, but I’m not complaining.

I would like to thank Harald Walther, who drove me up to the race, won our age group, waited around patiently for the almost 90 minutes after that before I finished, and wouldn’t accept anything more than bridge toll for his driving. I also talked to Tom Harry, who remembered me from the Headlands 50 miler, Kate Morejohn, who was also at Headlands among other PCTR events, and Chuck Wilson, who seems to be at all of these events.

Lastly, I would really like to thank everyone who donated to Second Harvest Food Bank through the link I set up for this series of runs. It gave the runs a little more meaning, and it will do a great deal of good this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and all the rest!

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