15 October 2009

Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler Race Report

I initially read about the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler in Trail Runner magazine, and it sounded awesome -- good footing, good views, good foods, good people. I fantasized about running it, but didn't register until just a month before the race. I'm so glad I did - it was my favorite ultra ever, probably even my favorite race.

I went to bed early the night before (East Coast time helped me out!) and slept 8 hours, waking up periodically to make sure I hadn't overslept. I arrived at the start, chatted with some really friendly runners, stretched, shivered. The race was fairly chilly at the start -- I started the run with just a tank top and running skirt on, and throwaway gloves (which I wore until mile 20).

With a view like this, how could I not be inspired to run fast?

We started in the dark at 6:30, but as most of it was on pavement in the very beginning, headlamps weren't really necessary. There were some hills, but I pushed on, excited to finally be running a race I heard about months ago and constantly thought about -- especially one that was run by the legendary Ann Trason! Wooohooo! (I don't crush on celebrities, but on ultrarunners like Ann Trason.) I ran the first twenty or so miles with a really lovely woman named Laura; we discussed our desires (and my fears!) to get into the Western States 100 Miler lottery. I lost her when I stopped to pee, and I was happy to see that she finished quite strong (and made the qualifying time for Western States lottery).

Focusing and running hard

The course was hilly -- lots of ups and downs -- and is an out and back. This means that while mile 20-25 you are running downhill, you hate it because you know on the way back you will be walking and suffering. Most of the hills weren't the heavy-breathing-painful-walking-type-hills, but the kind where you could drink some water while power walking or even do a slow run up them. There weren't too many technical portions (yay, because I suck at technical running), but there were some really lovely views, including a bunch of switchback portions which made it difficult to sometimes see how far ahead you had to go.

Smiling big around mile 16

The aid stations -- they were THE BEST of any ultra. Most aid stations tend to run out if you aren't in the top 10% of the race, but this ultra was great. Each aid station had water, heed, S-caps, homemade cookies, homemade brownies, potato chips, pretzels, potatoes with salt, m&ms, watermelon, oranges. I ate brownies, potato chips and watermelon. Yum!
eating a brownie while running=heaven!

I met so many amazing people -- super-friendly runners, aid station volunteers. I was wearing all pink - pink visor, pink tank, pink running skirt, pink gaiters -- so whenever I arrived in an aid station, I got the "Pink lady!" or "Pink!" shouts. It felt pretty good.

I was SO happy to finish. I was pushing as hard as I could, running the hills, and when I saw the finish line, I almost started crying. I ran with my hands high up in the air, pumping them with a massive smile!

Post-race, finishers got a wine glass, jacket, t-shirt, tote bag, and the most amazing post-race BBQ (veggie burgers, grilled meat (if you're into that), homemade soups, pasta salads, corn, amazing dessert, yum) -- I chatted with a newbie and his family, and had the biggest smile!

I had PR'd by an hour and twenty minutes -- I finished in 9:47! I had hoped to break 11 hours, and to break 10 was awesome. I came in the top 100, and this was pretty fantastic in my opinion (out of 234 starters).

Strangely enough, that night I went to a party, had swollen feet but was mostly fine; the next day, the aches were so minimal I barely noticed; I went to San Francisco Burning Man Decompression and danced and walked around for nearly twelve hours. Only my big toenail complained (and looks like we're getting rid of that toenail anyway!), but I felt remarkably recovered from having run a hilly 50 miler!
Finish line rewards!


KBGee said...

Congratulations on your awesome PR...great job! I also enjoyed reading your race report. It almost makes me want to do an ultra event, almost.

Ultra Steve said...

Great run Cherie! Sounds like a great day!

Ultra Steve said...

Great run Cherie! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Nice job Cherie! Keep up the amazing work! Looks like an awesome course too.

Paige said...

Wow, breaking 10 hours for a hilly 50?! That's awesome! Congrats, Cherie!!!