season finale doubleheader: PCTR Muir Beach and Rodeo Beach
I got to Muir Beach on the morning of the 13th and ran the mile into the park that non carpoolers had to do. I chatted with both Will Gotthardt and Ryan Commons as they prepared for what I thought would be an epic battle for the PCTR ultra series overall championship. Ryan had a few points on Will but doesn't like back to back races. So I thought Will had a shot. I also saw Ralph Lewis at the starting line. He was doing the 10K so I had one less speedster to fight in the 17K.
I took off hard up the first steep hill of the Pirates Cove Coastal Road. But Tom Knauer, Ryan, Caitlin Smith, and Alex Street passed me regardless early on. On the single track climb to the ridge a couple other guys passed me, but I repassed them as we descended to the Tennessee Valley trail and aid station. After this aid, Nathan Yanko passed me moving very quickly up the Marincello Trail, passing Ryan and Caitlin (who I could still see close up ahead) as well. We made the turn off of Marincello onto the Bobcat trail to connect to the Miwok trail. As we got back onto the Old Springs Trail single track I saw Tom Knauer up ahead. I passed him bombing down to the Tennessee Valley aid station. From there I lost a little time confused on where to go from there (why I am confused after so many years doing this race I'll never know). Finally I figured it was back the Tennessee Valley trail to the Fox Trail. On this climb, I saw Tom Knauer catching up at the apex, and sped up on the bomb down this trai to try to lose him. Once I did I slowed down to save my legs for next week. But Wayne Chan flew by me in the last half mile at quite a clip. I tried giving chase but realized I was guaranteed to injure myself doing that. As it was my Garmin 405 said I was doing sub 5 minute miles in the last stretch - too dangerous on that steep decline and I definitely felt the pain of it afterwards. I ended up finishing seven seconds behind him in 1:26:14, good for fifth and first master. Five points more to the PCTR series or 71 overall. Ryan would get a few more points with another top ten finish and Will would drop with back problems. So the ultra series goes to Ryan. Frequent middle distance competitor Jason Reed, duels chronicled in previous blog posts, would win the 50K today. Way to go Jason!
My calf was indeed again sore this year, but not really injured seriously. I got a couple electrical stimulation treatments from my chiropractor, Elite Chiropractic, and a couple massages. And I continued to run (probably too much). By Saturday I felt I could gut out one last race for the year. A first or second place with a noshow by Jeff Emery would win the overall PCTR trail series for the year. But any points (top ten) whatsoever would give me second place, since my friend Gary Gellin was taking a week off after a hard race in the masters national cross country championship last week. I took off hard at the start, and I hung on the shoulder of the leader (the amazingly fast 52 year old Brian Pilcher). We went through one tunnel and crossed a field back onto the Coastal Road switchback.
But as we came up the road, a group of several runners came out ahead of us from the right. This included Jeff Emery and Caitlin Smith. "Where did you guys come from?" I asked. "You guys went the wrong way", Jeff said. Brian sprinted out ahead of them and I tried to just tuck in behind.
"OK, Jeff's here after all. Now the important thing is to just finish top ten. Take it easy and don't get injured" I said to myself. As I mused on this, Paul Taylor flew by me as fast as I've ever seen him run. As we came down the singletrack Old Springs Trail to the aid station, Alistair Adams came alongside. We both came into the aid station at the same time. I tried to keep going on what was the 50K course but Alistair shouted at me to doubleback and follow them (thanks Alistair!). It turns out that Brian Pilcher had made the same mistake and he came out onto the Marincello Trail as we were climbing it as well.
Brian flew past us up the hill and I tried to give chase, leaving Alistair and Paul behind (but probably not too far behind). A couple minutes later Alexander Gaber passed me as well. But I kept him in sight on the climb. As we approached the turnoff for the single track Alta Trail I caught up to him. Alexander kept going and missed the turnoff but I shouted at him to come back and follow. He realized his mistake and turned back. At this point I turned on the jets as I hate being passed more than halfway into the race. He stayed about a minute back for most of the rest of the race. I finished in 1:33 even, good for sixth overall. I was very pleased to run 7:34 miles in those hills (2200 feet of climbing in 12 miles) and just glad I wasn't injured. Alex came in shortly afterwards followed closely Paul Taylor and Alistair Adams.
A fun season overall. Very happy to come in second overall in the trail series and first master. I can't wait for a break from running: snowboarding and snowshoeing (wait is that running?) for the next week at Squaw (Tahoe) and Crystal Mountain (Seattle). Congratulations to Jeff Emery on his overall win! And a big congratulations to other PCTR series winners, including Ryan Commons who won the ultra division overall.