I've had a good training and racing year in 2016. I've been mostly injury free, and I've finished two 100s (San Diego and Tahoe Rim Trail), a 50 miler (Marin Ultra Challenge), and a few 50ks. TRT was about 5 weeks prior to Run-de-Vous, so plenty of time to recover, get some training in, and have a nice taper.
The race is held down at Harvey Bear Ranch Park in San Martin, about 35 minutes south of my house. It's a 2.01 mile asphalt loop that you do 50 times in the 100 miler. You could say I am familiar with this course. I've done four 50ks on this course, a six hour race, and the RdV 100m back in 2014. To boot, I did 40 miles out here for my 40th birthday run earlier this year. So, by my math, I've run this 2.01 mile loop about 145 times prior to race day. It's basically flat with a few minor ups and downs thrown in to keep things interesting. Here's a view of the backdrop you get to see on half the loop.
I arrived about 45 minutes before start, setup my gear, and got registered. Given the layout of the course, getting lost, getting aid, etc. are not issues. I setup a couple of chairs near race central (the single aid station and timing booth) alongside the two bags and mini-cooler I brought.
Any minor pre-race jitters were quieted by milling around the start area and catching up with folks. I saw Vinod and Lynnard, both of whom I'd run with before. I had in mind to some day run a sub-24 hour 100, but I didn't figure today would be the day (I was shooting for 26-27 hours). But, Lynnard noted that 24 hour pace was a 14:24/mile, and I squirreled away that tidbit of information for later.
I had a rough plan to stay consistent with a mix of walking and running from the start. When I did this race in 2014, I mostly ran for the first 60 miles, and my last 40 were a death march. I was determined to not repeat that outcome. The map below shows the rough sketch of my walk/run plan (walk in red, run in green) - the best I can recall the running part was about 1.45 miles with the walking .55 mile. The plan was to run slowly/comfortably during the run sections, and 'power walk' during the walk sections. Rinse and repeat, with the knowledge I'd slow down throughout the day (possibly to a point where I was walking full time or at least more than planned.
Miles 20-40 were a little tougher as things warmed up. Nowhere close to as hot as last year (100+), I think the temp on race day this year peaked around 85. I made a wise decision to get some ice in my bandana sometime in the afternoon, and that really helped me cool down. I made it through 40 miles at a bit over 8 hours, which is what I did my birthday run in in January. That's basically 20 hour pace, which I knew I couldn't keep, but it did give me some confidence. I started calculating the miles I had left and what kind of pace I'd need to maintain to make 24 hour pace (the possibility was starting to enter my thoughts, though I didn't talk about it on the course).
The laps kept coming and going, and I was having a good time chatting with other runners and volunteers. As always, the support was excellent, and it seemed like the volunteers were even more friendly and helpful than previous years. I decided to change socks and shoes at 50 miles as a little bit of a reward. I made it through 50 miles at around 10:30 (itself a PR for that distance), put on the new socks and shoes with a bit more lube, and got ready to run through the night.
I wasn't having any issues, and it felt easier running miles 50-70 than some of the previous. I kept ticking off laps. As the moon rose around 10pm, I started doing a lot of the loop with my light turned off. It was a near full moon and very orange, and it was pretty awesome to run under.
Around midnight, my stomach went a bit south (couldn't eat solid food). This has happened before, and I can almost always down gels, so I stuck with those for the rest of the race. By midnight, I think I'd made it 85 miles or so (18 hours in, leaving me 6 hours to go 15 miles or so). I felt confident I could do sub-24, but anything can happen in an ultra. I did chat with Lynnard somewhere during this time, and he encouraged me to go for it.
I finally started to feel noticeably worse in the last 10 miles. Nothing severe, but the miles were catching up. I continued with the run/walk strategy, I was just moving slower. Finally, it was time for the last lap. I hustled over the line and somehow finished in 22:23:10 - almost a 6 hour PR (Personal Record)! I was beyond thrilled, except that it was only just past 4 in the morning and I didn't want to wake up Ana to come get me.
Here is the Strava for data geeks. I texted Ana on my 10 mile splits just after the aid station (first walking section). Those times were roughly:
- 0-10 miles - 1:59
- 10-20 miles - 1:56
- 20-30 miles - 2:06
- 30-40 miles - 2:13
- 40-50 miles - 2:25 (counting time to change shoes/socks)
- 50-60 miles - 2:19
- 60-70 miles - 2:17
- 70-80 miles - 2:20
- 80-90 miles - 2:20
- 90-100 miles - 2:28
I'll take it - my first silver buckle (some races give a silver buckle for sub-24, with a different color for over-24)!
Gear and Grub
The gear I used included:
- Patagonia shorts
- Patagonia shirt (from last years San Diego 100)
- Ogio hat (swag from Netflix)
- Buff around my wrist for sweat & snots
- Julbo Aero sunglasses with Zebra Light photochromic lenses
- Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch
- 2 pairs Injinji toe socks
- Pearl Izumi N3s (first 50 miles)
- Hoka Challenger ATRs (second 50 miles)
- Petzl Tikka headlight
Grub I ate/drank:
- ~35-40 gels (mostly Gu 'Tastefully Nude')
- 2 cans Coke I had brought, plus numerous other cups at the aid stations
- 2 bottles Gatorade I'd brought
- 4-8 quarters of PBJ
- 10-15 pieces of watermelon (small)
- Half a small can of Pringles that I'd brought
- 2 bags of Swedish Fish candy that I'd brought
- 2 slices of cheese pizza
- Couple segments of banana
- Lots of water!
This is my fourth RdV - 2 100m and 2 50k. It's a great group of folks that put the race on - headed by Rajeev Patel and Anil Rao. Lots of great volunteers, and an awesome group of returning runners. I imagine I'll be one of them again next year.