Crystal Springs 50k

Boy, how I hate Blogger... I lost this post... twice! It's now the third time I'll be writing it and...... seriously. Blogger; you so let me down.

Sunday's long night run did two things to me: made me super tired and caused blisters on my right foot. After taking Monday off I went for a casual jog on Tuesday but it only made the blister situation worse so no more running during the week.

And then on Saturday I was supposed to do Crystal Springs 50k with Coastal Trail runs and the big question was whether it was a good idea or not. Not running during the week could work in my favor, serving as a force taper of sorts. On the other hand the blister was not completely healed. As I was already registered I decided to give it a shot.

Preparations for the race went very smoothly. I woke up early, drove to the start, picking up a breakfast sandwich on the way. I arrived with plenty of time to spare so had peaceful breakfast, picked up my number and was taking my time to get ready.

And then we took off! Shortly after the start I saw a chick with really hot legs and tried to keep up with her. It was a good exercise as she was going at a pretty good pace (as it turned out later she was 4th overall and the 1st female in the marathon). Motivation-wise it also worked much better than just following a random opponent :D.

Some time later I started feeling a strong urge for a pit stop break. At the first aid station they told me that the there may be restrooms at the second checkpoint... but I didn't make it that far. I'll spare you the details but it wasn't pretty :D. Incidentally it was the first time during a race when I had to take a break for, ekhm, that.

A while later I was getting clos to the half-way point of the race which involved a loop. When I was approaching the fork I was slightly confused as to which way to go but I made a quick decision and thought I was good... until few minutes later I saw first runner going towards me. Oh well. So I ended up doing the loop in the opposite direction which was weird as I saw all those runners going the other way.

After the loop I was more than halfway through the race and I still felt great. Which was somewhat surprising as usually by that point I'd at least have an onset of a first crisis. But I wasn't one to complain.

A bit later my GPS stopped working, which was annoying as I'm so used to "navigating" races by glancing all the time at my watch. But I suspect in the end it might have worked in my favor. When looking at my watch I'm guessing I would start feeling tired simply because it was "due". Or perhaps I'm just over analyzing it and I simply had a good day? One way or another I was doing great and ended up overtaking 6 runners (I think) in the second half of the race.

At some point I was even thinking that I may have a shot at improving my personal best! It was hard to verify as I didn't know exactly how far away I was from the finish. But this thought was giving me strength and helped me pushing hard through the last kilometers.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 4:50:30 so... 38 seconds slower than my best! However, I set this record last year in Big Basin, which is a much easier race with less climbing and a negative elevation difference (starting in the hills, finishing by the ocean). So I was super happy with this time, especially that I finished on a high note and managed to pretty much keep steady pace throughout the race with the first half in 2:20 and the second one in 2:30 (both halves had almost the same elevation profile).

The first thing I did after crossing the finish line was to talk with Wendell (race director) about my loop mix-up. Thankfully he said that as long as I the loop, it's all good.

Slightly disappointing was the fact that in spite of my good time I was only 8th overall and 5th in my age group, so not many points for Blazer awards. Oh well.

Another good thing was that the blister was not giving me much trouble. Before the start I was taking it pretty much for granted that it'd bother me and thought it was only the question of whether it'd be bad enough to prevent me from finishing or not. But it held up just fine. On the other hand, for a change, I had a backpack in this race (it was a warm day and having some water was a good thing) and it caused some chaffing and burns. Not a big deal for such a short race but a worrying sign before Chimera, as in a 100 miler such small things can easily escalate to problems big enough to cause the dreaded DNF. It almost happened to me last year, except in the end I DNFed for other reasons :)

What next? Probably Mount Diablo on 7th of September. It's a really tough race with almost double the amount of elevation as Crystal Springs (2,400m VS 1,400m); should be fun :D. Other than that I also hope to finally start doing decent weekly mileage, as the beast is lurking around the corner; as usual I'll keep you posted!

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