Coastal 50K

Another race that I did 7 weeks ago. I did not even make notes after the race, as I often do, so I'm writing this from memory... and as it is very faulty, well...

This was a race that I probably should not have been running. Only two weeks after Mount Diablo, I was still tired from that tough race and my feet were still recovering (blisters). But, I felt like racing, Yohann easily agreed to join me, so there it was.

With 1,770m of total elevation gain, I was hoping it'd be easier than Diablo and its 2,435m. I was hoping for a 5h finish.

This was an unusual run for Coastal Trails, as 50k was the only distance. Normally the bulk of people is doing shorter distances with only a handful of brave souls going for 50k :D. But in this race that was the only distance and that meant that the 100 people that lined at the start all meant business.

Also it was point to point, which is great (much more fun than going in loops), except we had to get up really early to drive to Rodeo Beach in time to catch the 6:30am bus that drove us to the start.

I honestly don't remember much from the race except for one aspect: my rivalry with Yohann ;). This time I took the lead and kept it for most of the race. When we got for the first time to the Rodeo Valley aid station (see map) my lead was fairly small; I had less than one minute on him and saw Yohann on the way in when I was running out of the station. But right after the station we had a big climb waiting for us. I dug deep and could see that I was gaining distance over him.

The next station was at the bottom of Golden Gate. There was a long descent to the bottom that we had to backtrack on the way up after the station. There once again I saw Yohann but he was much further behind and looked tired. We exchanged few words and frankly I was convinced that this was the last time I saw him before the finish. (If only I knew...). At this point I was some 5 minutes ahead.

From there on it was a struggle for me. I was very tired but was trying to keep the pace. One last climb, which was a serious test for my strong will. But grinding my teeth I was trudging along. I even managed to pass few people, who seemed even more tired than I was. Finally I reached the top and knew that from there it was only 5k or so till the finish line. I could do that!

Every now and then I was turning back, worried that one of the runners that I passed would make some last effort to catch up with me. But the coast was clear... until I turned around and... no way... I did a double take but there was no mistaking it, Yohann was some 100 meters behind me. My first thought was cool, let me wait for him. But that lasted less than a second and was replaced by a much saner thought: no way I'm going to let him catch me! :).

I knew that we were pretty close to the finish, not much more than a kilometer, I thought. So tired as I was I shifted into the second gear. I was hoping that Yohann was tired from his pursuit and that I'll shake him loose. I was cruising at 4:30min/km, which at this stage of the race, truly felt like sprinting. And yet Yohann was bridging the gap between us and eventually caught up.

We ran together for 10 seconds or so and I tried the last ditch effort: I knew that the finish must be really close so I kicked up the pace another notch, hoping that Yohann surely must be exhausted from this pursuit and that maybe this time I'll loose him. But he was having none of this. He, seemingly easily, matched my pace at which point I was done for and gave up the fight. He sprinted towards the finish which turned out to be only 100 meters away and I followed behind.

This is the first time in such a long race when I race with someone until the last meters and finish within seconds of each other. There is only one thing I can say: Yohann, you bloody #!%*&!#, how could you have done this to me, hat off to you, awesome pursuit, awesome job, congrats! :). My face in the photo above reflects how I felt about this finish ;). And the new, neat Strava features nicely tells this story in a visual way.

Summary? I finished in 5:03, so close enough to my initial goal. I was also 8th out of 100 finishers, so overall I'm very happy with my performance ...although I could have been 7th if it wasn't for #!&$%... What next? Well, Chimera. 15th of November. No more racing until then!


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