Every race ought to have a special something and the special something at the Quicksilver is the finish line spread. They even haul a full-size refrigerator freezer in to keep the ice cream and popsicles and other goodies cold. I wasn't much for eating when I finished so someone else can spell out the full menu for you, but the popsicles and strawberry shortcake (with whipping cream!) sure were tasty and the menu ran several pages.
My daughter came down with me (we had been at my dad's home in San Diego and drove to Sacramento Friday, unloaded a bunch of dad's old furniture at my other daughter's second floor apartment, then drove 2.5 hours to SJ) and we slept in the Almaden Neighborhood Church (same denomination as I belong to) Friday night. Tried to sleep anyway. We got in late and folks started moving about and making noise around 4.
We showed up at the start at 5:30, and Mikaela helped out with the start-finish area. I realized I hadn't really prepared much for this race; guess I sort of took it for granted after HURT and Diablo. I'd only been averaging about 25 miles a week since April 1 (plus Diablo) and didn't know anything about the course (I was thinking it was something like 6000' elevation gain, actually 8500). The prior years' finish times looked fairly fast (though a higher than average dnf rate) so it can't be too bad, right?
I talked to Suzanna Bon (who would win the women's race in about 7:45) and Jim Winne and Rick Gaston (who would finish 10th) and a few others as we awaited the moment.
I was going to start out at an 11mpm pace, but it felt a little fast and I wanted to be sure I could finish so I dropped back to 12. On the one single-track section I caught my foot on a root while running fast downhill and could have ended my race (and maybe my face!) right there but caught myself barely. As I continued I noticed that the temp was pleasant (but it was early) and the poison oak was lush and thick- I'll find out in a couple days if it got me.
The first half of the course felt easy enough, the climbs weren't that tough and most of the course was on well-maintained fire roads and the views were consistently panoramic. I didn't start to feel any tiredness or stiffness until a little on the big climb at the middle of the race, noted I was on pace for a 9:44 finish, a little slower than I hoped but probably as good as I could expect on my meager training. But since I was at the top of the course, meaning more downhill than uphill ahead, and based on my thinking that there was only 6000' climbing I figured the second half must be pretty easy, so I thought I'd see if I could pick it up and go for a sub 9. Not much chance in my current shape, but there's only one way to find out.
The "downhill" run to the start-finish at mile 31.5 was tougher than expected, steeper than what we'd seen previously, and with some very steep uphill sections thrown in for variety, but at the bottom I told my daughter I was feeling good, and I was. That lasted about a half mile further.
Climbing back up I found myself slowing way down and by the time I got to the Wood Road section I was barely functional. This is an 8 mile out and back, 4 each way, the flattest segment of the course, and going out all I could do was 15 minute miles. Though the uphill sections were only a very slight grade, my leg muscles had seemingly reached the point of muscle failure and my overall energy was near-zilch. Too little training, not enough sleep for a couple days, and I seemed to have outrun my ability for the day. A section that should have taken 45 minutes took a full hour. I'd been going slow, now I was glacial. At this rate even a sub-10 was now a pipe dream.
And it was getting hot. One of the veteran aid station captains said this was the first year she'd been hot, rather than chilly. As the old song says, "Summertime... and the stomach gets queasy". I hear there were a lot of drops. At the Wood Road turnaround I let myself fly down the hill (I can do downhills with no energy and both legs tied behind my back) and to my surprise the downhill kept going and going and going.
And when I got to the uphills and flats I found my energy was back. I did the last 8.5 miles (about 6 downhill and 2.5 uphill) in 85 minutes. I know about highs and lows that comes and goes, but this was probably my best resurrection ever in a race. I finished in 9:33 and even took third in my age group ("geezers"), an achievement that only occurs quadrennially or so. In fact, I think this was only the second race I've been in where everyone who finished faster than me was younger than I am (is that good or bad?)
A most excellent event, I wish it wasn't so far away!
Chihping Fu took a bunch of pics, here's one of them: