American River 50

Rattlesnake Aid Station

Rattle Snake Aid Station

Every year I’m tricked into running this race the wrong way. And did I learn from previous years? Apparently not! This was not an A Race for me as RAAM is quickly approaching and Cool was just a few weeks ago. But I ran with the same strategy, or lack of one, that puts me in a world of hurt around mile 30. I start too fast. Maybe I’m too accustomed to pacing the marathon and I only know one speed/pace. And so this year the picture was I’m throwing up just after leaving the Granite Bay Aid Station. I’m bent over, other racers pass by, and it’s all coming back up. I had gone into the aid station feeling very low on energy so I tried to load up with some soup, gels, Sprite and water. The image that comes to my mind is when I think it was Natascha Badmann in the Ironman Championship leaves the bike and starts the marathon and just can’t run. It’s Kona. It’s hot. She swam 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles. She finally pulls over to the side of the road, empties her stomach and then goes on to win the race. I had no images of winning, but the determination of continuing on emerged. My stomach empty but my legs tightening, I’m feeling better. Nicole and Dylan greet me at Twin Rocks and it lifts my spirits. Less than 20 miles to go.

The race can be broken into two sections: the first 27 miles are mainly paved miles with a few sections of trails. These miles can click off pretty fast (6:40, 6:50, 6:25) and this year I did not even chase the lead group. I think I ran at about a 3:07 marathon the first 26 miles. Then you reach the Pioneer Express Trail and can enjoy the trails for the next 23 miles. This section is what trail running is all about. A beautiful Saturday morning, the sun is shinning, the river is flowing, the butterflies are flying and the trail leads you on. I ran mostly alone for the next 20 miles but two runners passed me before reaching mile 40. The sounds of the flowing river enticed me the last hour. Around mile 43, I walked down, dipped my feet in one of the streams and poured some cool water on my head. I caught one runner on the climb out of the canyon to the finish. This can be a grueling 3 mile climb of about 1000′. The last mile is a section I often run with Dylan, pushing him in the Chariot, and those were the thoughts that I ran with until the finish. Not my fastest time, but 7 hours 12 minutes proved to be my finishing time. I see Nicole and Dylan at the finish – so good to be done. Bob and Amanda are already enjoying the post run activities. I hadn’t seen Bob since the start and he finished in 7 hours. Too fast and I’m not getting any younger.

Here’s the GPS from my Garmin Watch.

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