11 March 2012

Way Too Cool 50k Race Report - Go For It or Go Back To Bed

Janeth Siva, Tim Stahler, and me, along with a giant dog (Hoover).  Photo Chris Jones

Stressful week.  Some business marketing with Active.com was a huge flop (and cost a lot of money - don't use them for marketing), had a couple weeks of dismal motivation, and I got sick as hell three days before WTC.  I was on the verge of bagging the race and just refocus my daily life and training for Miwok and the 100s coming up.  At the very least I had to readjust my goals for the race.  Initially, I wanted to go sub 4 hours and top 20.  That seemed like a stretch now.

I drove up to stay in Roseville with Patrick (thanks for the hotel, P!) on Friday, had a big dinner and giant beer and headed back to the hotel for a stuffed up, coughing, sniffling, sporadic night's sleep.
Looks like a drunk driving advertisement - hotel was across the street.
The weather was nearly perfect on race morning with temps in the 40s and dry with no wind.  I lined up about two rows back from the line in the crowd of 800+ runners and suddenly we were off and running 6 minute pace down the road.  I clicked off the first mile in about 6:15 and was in probably 30-40th place - it was going to be a long day if I tried to keep this up much longer.

The course starts with the Olmstead loop of 8 miles, which loops back through the start/finish with aid station.  During this loop I tried to relax and get into a groove but my energy was low and I felt like stopping after mile 4.  I caught and passed Jean Pommier, then Scott Dunlap, who also wasn't feeling well.  ITR's other half, Tim Stahler came up for the race to take [great] photos and offer support for everyone.  He was situated just after the aid station at mile 8.  I reached him in 56 mins, dropped my gloves and grabbed a filled bottle from him (thanks Tim!).
On Olmstead section.  Photo Peter Beck

Scott Dunlap…and camera.  Photo Tim Stahler

Photo Tim Stahler
Finish.  Photo Simon Gatrall
Shortly afterwards, Erik Skaden caught back up to me and we ran together for the next 10 miles.  He's a workhorse and was setting the pace strong along the river.  I just latched onto the Skaden Train and held on.  Unfortunately, I hit my first real bad patch at mile 18, which happens to be a substantial climb, so I sadly watched Erik and a couple other guys pull away.  The bad patch lasted until around mile 20.  I took in 300 cals of gels, two salt tabs and drank a bunch, trying to regain what little energy I could.  I was probably passed by five guys in that stretch.  Once recovered, I pushed hard and caught everyone except Erik (3:52) and Wes (3:53).

Grinding up Goat Hill (mile 25).  Photo NorCal Ultras

It came down to a race with the clock.  I kept wavering between believing I had a chance at sub 4 and feeling like it was impossible.  When I hit the last aid station at 3:53, I figured there was no chance but I shot through the aid station without even looking up and poured it on to the final stretch.

Tim S. was on the final 400 meters and snapped some photos.  Trust me, I was a lot more uncomfortable than the photos indicate.  As I sprinted towards the line, the clock clicked over 4:00:00, so I thought I missed it.  As in most cases, the clock wasn't synced with the race timing and I actually crossed the line in… 3:59:59.03 and 19th place overall.  For once, I was on the good side of a goal time.  I certainly am thankful under the conditions leading up to and during the race.  Full results.

Gary Gellin in the final stretch!  Photo Tim Stahler
Congratulations to Gary Gellin for executing one of the best races I've witnessed.  Running precise splits, making his decisive move running up Goat Hill, he broke Mike Wolfe's course record, reaching the finish in 3:27.  Julie Fingar and ALL the volunteers put on a clinic of how to produce a race.  I'm very grateful to them and enjoyed the day tremendously.

Thanks to Udo's Oil, Rudy Project, and La Sportiva.  Great companies and superb gear.


  1. Nice work Tim! One of those retarded Ironman triathletes won the women's race :)

  2. Thanks Tim! She didn't win the women's race, she DOMINATED it.

  3. Great effort after a tough week. I expect to see that skinny beer glass in your handheld some time soon.

  4. A sub 7 min final mile, up that rocky hill? That is f*cking heroic.

  5. Thanks. it's not quite a mile from the last aid to the finish, though.

  6. There was a swim in this race? How did an IMer win it?

    Nice work man. Particularly after putting down the yard.

  7. Nice work, Tim!!! Congratulations on meeting your goals for the race!

    All Day!

  8. For future reference, it's called the Olmstead Loop.

  9. Congrats Tim! Way to execute while feeling like garbage - all the training pays off! Good to know Pippit still has a dad, too ;-)

  10. Darn,was hoping for that green shirt,i mean,good race,someday you'll have the Holy Grail of a race,no issues,perfect training,everything clicking perfectly,if such a thing exists!

  11. Yeah, randy, perfect races are rare. Handling the obstacles is what's makes them interesting.

  12. I thought seconds weren't supposed to matter in ultras! Geez. Great job -- and kudos too on getting a report out so fast.

  13. Way to go, Tim. And that was with a cold?

    IM - ugh. I swam 'fly in high school and every race I was like a dying fish.

    I like the race photos, including the ones on the Facebook page. I tried at Golden Gate last year and it's tough to do well.

  14. Great performance, Tim. And the shirts look awesome too. you make me want to be a better ultramarathoner. See you at Woodside this weekend!

    Shir Kochavi