Monday, September 24, 2007

Big Basin 50k Report

Link to photo album from the race here

I'm going to try to make this short(ish) since I do have 2 real papers to write for school, but I did still want to write about my great 50k last weekend in Big Basin :)

What made this race so special was that it fell 5 days before my 22nd birthday, and so it became a birthday race of sorts. My mom and dad flew up to be there for the weekend, and both participated in their first trail races ever! My mom, who is in great shape but can't run due to foot issues hiked the super challenging 10k (her first race, 10k, and trail 'run' ever!) and my dad did the 25k, his longest race ever. Also, some of the OCTR came up for the race, and Saturday night Tracie, Skip, and Eric (EKP) came out for a pre-race/birthday dinner, which was lots of fun :) I still don't have my dad's pictures (hint hint dad...!) so I don't have any family shots, but I'll hopefully add those later :)

There were lots of now familiar faces at the start of this race, which is why, in part, it was such a special one. Rick was there, and graciously took a family pre-race photo before we got one of the two of us together. Apparently, he chatted with my parents after his race while they were waiting for me to come in, which was really nice. My parents are definitely coming to understand what i've been meaning when I say this community is full of such friendly and enjoyable people. I also got to finally introduce my parents to Sarah (of PCTR) which was really nice since they had heard so much about her :)

The OCTR runners all congregated pre-race, which was a fun touch to this northern california event. Rob, on the left, was one I hadn't met before, but had read some of his race reports through OCTR. He is an amazing runner and won this event!!! Next to him is Skip, who was initially planning to do the 50k, but ended up doing the 25k due to a variety of reasons. Even the 25k on this course was pretty brutal though, and it seemed like he enjoyed that challenge. Eric, or EKP, is also a speedy runner, who ended up doing this run almost entirely on a twisted ankle that got injured just a few miles into the race! It looked pretty sad when I saw it at the end, and I was amazed that he finished. Last, but certainly not least, is my Dad, who completed his first 25k, and who I couldn't be prouder of!

The race had a great start, slightly uphill, but, with the crowded, it was barely noticable. Soon enough we hit a fabulous downhill singletrack with cushy ground. I decided to keep with my Dad until the falls, and it was so much fun to run the beginning of his first trail race ever with him :) I ended up being incredibly glad we stuck together as, just before we came to the falls, a man was standing on the side of the trail. "There are yellow jackets ahead" he said. As we moved along, we started hearing screams from in front of us. We could see a woman standing and swatting in a swarm. Now I've always been frightened of bees, so this was pretty intimidating. In a sense, it reminded me of when I was little, and was going to do something that was fun but potentially intially unpleasant, like running through a cold stream of water. My dad starting running, but in my fright I was still on the other side. The woman was still yelling and moving slowly, as a man tried to get her to run while simultaneously trying to get some of the insects off her.

I took a deep breath and ran through the swarm. Buzzing filled my ears, and adrenaline pumped in my veins. The woman in front of me was slowing down, yelling about the bees in her hair and all over. I started screaming at her then, "Run! Run! If there was ever a time, Run!!!" As I wanted to get as far away from the swarm as possible. We got through most of them, and suddenly a couple sharp pains went into my side. Suddenly, I was five years old again. "Daddy! Daddy! It hurts!!! Get them off!!!! Get them off!!!" My dad rushed over and hit the yellow jackets off my side :) We made our way over to the falls, to assess damages. We both had been stung twice. However, compared to the woman in front of us, we felt lucky. She followed soon after, with a few still in her hair, that we helped get out. I had some get to put on bee stings, so I shared that, and used some myself (note-it didn't really work). As people continued through, it seemed everyone had gotten stung multiple times. The 50k course was scheduled to go through here again, but I was already thinking about asking if I could just do the 10k loop a bunch instead. I felt weak, but I didn't want to do that again!

Despite the stings, my Dad and I got a good picture together with the falls. I had initially planned to leave him at this point and speed up, but I was still scared about the bees, so I decided to stick with him :) However, after another mile or so, I decided to be a grown up again and enjoy a bit more speed! With the stings, this was hard, as their location on my side made breathing difficult, but my legs felt great, so I did my best trying to feel normal. The rest of the 15k loop was uneventful, and soon I was at the aid station, ready to go out on the next part.

We heard at the aid station that there was a possibility that the 15k would be rerouted, which was exciting news. And, even better, there were rumored to be no yellow jackets on this loop :). While it had plenty of brutal uphill, it also had fabulous singletrack downhill that I greatly enjoyed

After this section, it was confirmed that instead of doing the same 15k loop, we'd do an out and back, turning around before the wasp nest. The fun thing about this was that I got to see lots of friendly faces in this section, which I really enjoyed.

Relatively soon into this section, I saw Rick, Steve, and one of their friends heading back up the trail, leagues ahead of me :) They'd go on to finish in less than (or around) 6 hours!!!

I also finally got a picture with Norbert, who I first met at Diablo back in April, and have seen muliple times since, but hadn't yet photographically documented it :) We snapped a quick picture while passing, and wished each other luck before continuing on our ways!
I quickly hit what I *hope* was the right turn around section (i'm still not 100% sure!) and before I knew it was off onto my last loop. The second time around the 10k didn't seem nearly as hard, and there were lots more downhills than I remembered. A little ways into that section, and about 25 miles into the course I thought to myself, "could I do all this again?" Answer, yes :) I was really feeling great! I was really enjoying myself and actually did better on the hills the second time around.

Before I new it, I had reached the fireroad and it was less than 5k home :) There were more rolling hills in this section than I had remembered, but eventually I reached the official downhill part, 1.2 miles to the end. Once the downhill was here, I started pushing as much as I could. I flew by two runners who commented "young legs" as I smiled ear to ear. I got to the singletrack and just flew through it, having an absolute blast (confession, I had also taken a double shot espresso gu...that stuff is rocket fuel!) When I got to the fireroad, I new I was almost there and really started giving it my all. I was getting tired, and worried that I had started pushing too soon, but then, I saw the glint of light off cars, and then the bridge. I shifted up gears again and started sprinting, going as fast as it felt I had ever gone in my life. I really seemed to just be flying. I ran up to the finish to the cheers of my parents and friends and under the banner, with a new lovely PR :)

(look, I'm airborne!! Photo courtesy of Tracie, I think :) )

After the race I felt great, and just so happy to be alive and doing such wonderful beautiful things. And to have such great friends and family to enjoy it with. Definitely the perfect birthday run!


Norbert said...

Cool report! And thanks for the (overdue) picture with you! ;-)
Congratulations again - look how strong you look flying through the finish!

Backofpack said...

That looks like a beautiful course. I don't know about those yellowjackets though - that took a lot of guts to keep going forward knowing they were ahead. And continuing to run after being stung. How fun that your parents were there! Congratulations!

Jessica Deline said...

great report and great job!! If I heard "yellow jackets ahead" accompanied by even one scream. I would have DNFd right there. Wow.

mtnrunR said...

great report and sounds like you had a lot of fun. nice to spend time with family also. super duper on the pr!

rick said...

Great report! I'm still recovering from that day:( Legs tired. They're better this week though. Awesome on the PR. See you at Firetrails!

Addy said...

Norbert- I am in grad school you know ;). I didn't get a chance to ask, how was the rest of your race?

Michelle- it really was. I think it helped to be with my dad, and the unknown of not having ever run through a swarm of bees before :)

Jessica- Thanks! Yeah, somehow it made sense to keep going, but there was no way I was doing it again!

Tom- Thanks :)

Rick- My legs are sooo tired now, after doing Diablo this past weekend. I'm so ready to taper. Glad your legs are starting to feel normal again!

Jean said...

Sounds like that was one fantastic day, Addy. You got to share it with family and friends, and you finished with style and a smile on your face!

Excellent report. Way to go!

Donald said...

Great report, Addy. Those yellow jackets must have been awful - my friend got stung a couple of times also.

hao said...

hi addy,

great recap. loved the pictures, especially the one with your dad in front of the fall. :) hope you started your taper already. rest well.



Norbert said...

Hi Addy,
I know, I know your're a busy grad student. With "overdue" I meant the image acquisition, not the image publication ;-)
The rest of my run was great - it was a nice contemplative run. I had to leave early because Harry Waltehr was waiting for me for hours already... We carpooled...

AP said...

Hey Addy! It's me - Amanda, from the end of your first 25K at Big Basin. You're my idol, I'm so impressed that you had the strength for that last half! Great job, and it looks like you finished in top form!! Good luck on your upcoming big race!

Bob Gentile said...

Awesome report Addy, way better then any school report--haha

And love the pics--- ouchie on the bee stings BUT That FINISH line pic is one of the BEST Finish line pics I have seen on blogland, great action shot!!


Dave said...

Great report. Great pictures. Great story.

It's amazing how far you've come. Just a couple of months ago you ran your first ultra, now you seem to do them all the time. I look forward to hearing about all your (successful) adventures at the 50 miler.

Dave said...

Btw, I ran across a video that I'm sure you will enjoy.

(it's got lots of Tahoe Rim footage)

Journey to a Centum said...


Did you try just asking the yellowjackets to settle down, remain calm, we will be by in just a few seconds?

I wonder if you can squeeze some extra speed out when you need it by using visualization. Go back to the buzzing bee moment and imagine they are chasing you...

Did I see Jessica admit that she is a yellowjacket wimp? OMG!

Back to reality, great job on your PR! It's nice that you were able to make it a family affair. Seems the yellowjackets had a bumper crop of nests this year. Part of the trail running territory I'm afraid.

I'd say young legs may have had something to do with your discovered speed but I think it had more to do with well a trained runner that is getting more comfortable with the 50K distance.

Congratulations to both your Mom and Dad too!

Watch out for those Orange County boys, they're trouble;-)

Last but not least, Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday, glad you survived the yellow jacket gauntlet, and congrats on the PR despite!

Addy said...

jean- Thanks so much

Donald- They were evil little buggers. A lot of them got stuck to other people and would sting them 10 or 15 minutes later, after they thought they'd made it through. They're sneaky!

Hao- Taper is definitely in full force. Perhaps a bit too much, as my calf muscle on my left leg started really really bothering me after Diablo, so I've done next to no running this week to try to reset it. Hopefully that'll be okay!

Norbert- Ah....yet, then it was definitely overdue in that sense! Glad you had a nice rest of the race :)

Amanda- Glad you found the blog!!! If you go to the link for the pictures at the top of the post, the one I took of you is in there :) You're so sweet! Hope that your next race goes super well

Bob- Thanks. I love that finish photo too. I actually look like I'm moving for once :D

Dave- Thanks so much. It is pretty cool that 50k doesn't seem like that big of a deal, even though I just started doing them a little bit ago. This sport definitely messes with perception :) And thanks for the link! Its fabulous :D

Eric- Definitely the sound (imagined or otherwise) of buzzing will get me moving!! I had a couple bursts of speed during the race when it sounded like perhaps bees were around. They are evil little suckers!

Mark- Thanks so much for stopping by and reading along! I hope to maybe see you at firtrails :)

Phil said...

Fabulouse set of pictures Addy. I really like the one of you flying across the finish line. Be sure to keep those pictures of you and your dad. These are pictures he'll cherish as both of you get older.

Sorry about the bee stings.

JohnF said...

Way to hang in and continue after the Yellow Jacket attack. That really is one of the best finisher pictures I have seen.

Sarah said...

Those yellow jackets are brutal!