Saturday, 04 June 2011

Forest Park 50k Race Report- 2011

Forest Park 50k Race Report- 2011

The 2011 edition of "Ultramarathon Sunday" (seen on signs intermittently throughout the park's race course) went down in my backyard training grounds and it was really nice to see so many familiar locals and friends.  The weekend started off with a 25-mile run in the gorge that included the summit of Larch Mountain on Saturday, and then a pre-race-mountain-of-a-meal with Glenn Tachiyama at one of my favorite vegan restaurants called Blossoming Lotus.

It was fun and kind of strange to be in my living room less than an hour before race time on Sunday morning. I was a little nervous how it would all go down with this last back-to-back big weekend before San Diego 100, but I assured myself that it was just a training run race, as I tried to alleviate some of the pressure.  I rode my bike over to the start about a mile away and met with some friends before the start at Lower Macleay Park.  The weather was perfect and I knew the course well so I felt really comfortable in that regard.  Just before "go time" I looked over to see Erica and Farah and that made the smile that was already on my face a little bigger!

The 20k and 50k runners started together up the Macleay Trail to Stone house (Wildwood) and I found myself behind about ten runners who were mostly 20k runners. Todd Braje and I ran together for a bit but then he pulled away about ten seconds ahead. I knew that he was the man to beat in this race and he and I have run many miles of trails together in the park. 

(At the junction of Wildwood and Macleay Trail sits a landmark called "Stone House")

Strangely after about three or four miles I started feeling supercharged with energy. As we climbed a little I started clipping off 20k runners one by one, and then I passed Todd. A little voice in my head said, "what are you doing Yassine?", but I decided to just go with the feeling. The endorphins were in full effect and I eventually came across my buddy Rob who was just behind the two 20k leaders, brothers Martin and Joel Dieterich. I was feeling so good that I passed them as well and really didn't say much more than, "good job guys".  I think we were all pretty surprised at that move...especially when I surged on out of sight!

I was the first one to come into aid station 1 at Firelane 1 and was greeted by Rick and my friend Joe Kleffner who were volunteering....thanks guys! and good to see you out there. I continued to just push the pace on the familiar muddy trails of Forest Park and the Wildwood Trail. Wearing my Inov-8 X-Talon 190's also gave me some confidence in the sloppy conditions and I just decided to see how much ground I could cover while I was still feeling strong.

Finally I made it down Oil Line Rd. which I knew was going to be a potential butt-slide all the way down to Leif Ericson fire road.  Of course Glenn picked that spot to photograph all the runners but I managed to wipe out just before I came into his view. He got some great shots of people....CLICK HERE to view all the excellent photos Glenn Tachiyama captured last weekend, and the Oil Line slip-and-slide photos are definitely comical!

Miles 21-24ish I really started fading and I was very surprised that I hadn't been caught yet. I just kept plodding on and welcomed any climbs as my hamstrings were kind of hurting from hammering for so long.  This was only my second 50k that I've ever run that had less than 5,000 feet of climbing in it so I knew there was potential for a PR (3:52). Just before the last aid station I got past the rough patch and started running really well again. I ate some food, downed some drink quickly, and headed for the finish. A few minutes after I left I see buddy and new neighbor Jason Hill coming toward the aid station at this out-and-back section! I give him a high five and start hammering home knowing that the last 10k is pretty fast being mostly downhill.
The 50k Elevation Profile...about 3,200 feet of climbing

I also knew that I was going to go sub 4-hour, unless something drastic happened, but was wondering if I could get that PR. Just like early in the race I seized the opportunity and went for it! "On your left!!!!" I yelled at hikers and other runners and hopefully I didn't come off as too obsessive or rude!  Eventually I made the last turn at Stone House and I see my friend Todd Janssen walking his dogs. He tries saying something to me but I just blew past him maybe giving him a high five. About a minute later I realized that I wasn't going to make it, but still ran strong to the finish in 3:54....First place overall. 

See full results HERE

It was a fun day and I was happy to run so well on my home turf.  I met some really nice people and I was satisfied with how I ended my training leading up to San Diego.  Thanks to the race directors and volunteers and to the Forest Park Conservancy. 

Congratulations to all that raced on "Ultramarathon Sunday" in one of my favorite places to run....Forest Park!

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