Sunday, April 10, 2011

Race Report: American River 50 Miler

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the best of times it was the ... well, the best of times.

The super short version: Todd and I had a complete and utter blast. It was an epic, fun weekend - one which I will remember for a very long time. Sidenote: it always helps to run these long ones with a buddy. Don't think I ever will - or ever would want to - run 50 miles solo.

The weekend started on Friday night with a pasta dinner and talk by a group of area ultrarunners. I was skeptical, but it was actually very interesting. Payro would have loved it. The race director from Western States had a few words to say and there were a few legendary runners in attendance.

Race morning started on a bit of a scary note. We left my car at the hotel and walked the half mile or so to the race start. Only problem is that we left at 5:30 am - it was pitch dark - and we had no idea where we were going. After a bit of a scare, we got to the start literally with one minute to spare. No exaggeration, either.

The first 27 miles of the race were flat as a pancake; it was a towpath that ran alongside the American River. The terrain and topography was magnificent. Our biggest challenge was reigning in the pace. We had a real hard time running quite that slow on a flat course. With some effort we kept a pretty steady 9:45-ish pace, hitting the marathon mark in 4:28.

We ran into my family - our crew - at mile 27 and that was just awesome. The Wife and kids were rock stars all day - I'm not sure what we would have done without them. After a rather long aid station break, we hit the trails at mile 27, which is where the race really began. There were a lot of rollers - nothing too bad, though the singletrack (no fireroads at all) were more than a little technical at times.

For the next 23 miles, we held nice and steady. We power walked the hills, and ran virtually everything else. I felt a little wobbly around mile 44 or so but it passed pretty quickly. I guess youre expected to feel wobbly after 44 freaking miles. Same with Todd; he felt good all day and was super strong. No major (or even minor) issues on his end either.

Once you hit mile 47 on this course, it's all uphill. Literally. The course profile is ridiculous. In fact, it looks like this. At that point in the game, there was really no option but to walk. Even if we were fresh - which we weren't - there wasn't much chance of running this portion. We power walked at around 14-15 minute pace, which was pretty solid all things considered.

Another highlight was Last Gasp, the mile 47.5 aid station. It was manned by top ultra runners, including Anton Krupicka, who's one super cool dude. Those guys really stoked me the way they were supporting us middle-of-the-packers.

So anyway, we finished in a better-than-expected time of 10:07. We probably could have gone sub 10, too, if we pushed it a bit harder and/or took shorter aid station breaks. But whatever. I think I speak for Todd in saying we accomplished our main goals): finishing in one piece, feeling good in the process and having one hell of a good time all day long.

Once again, much love to Wife, Little Boy and Little Girl. They were awesome in every respect and again, we could not have done it without them.

And much respect to my main man Todd for crossing the country for this race. We've shared a ton of great memories and experiences, having been best friends for more than 20 years. With this one in the books, we certainly added an epic one to the mix.


foodmomiac said...

Amazing! I'm proud of you guys.

Crazymamaof6 said...

Totally awesome! Sounds like an epic adventure!

Anonymous said...

so impressive i can't think of anything funny to

Anonymous said...

I want to thank the entire Solomon family for being such outstanding hosts this past weekend. Running with Howard was amazing and the scenery along the American River was beautiful. Howard and I ran our race, our way and had a blast doing it. But I must say that I enjoyed the time I spent with "the Wife", "the Boy" and "the Girl" just as much. Seeing their faces at the aid stations gave me the motivation to keep going. They were an amazing crew and we couldn't have done it without them. Other, non-race-related highlights included several outstanding meals, a few beers with coach Phil, swimming and a rollicking good time bouncing on a trampoline with the kids. The Solomons rock!


gailaj said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all. The fact that you felt good shows that your hard work (training) paid off. You rock, Howard! (and Todd!)

Anonymous said...

good race, good report. I am proud and jealous.