Friday, April 5, 2013

Badger Mountain 50K Race Report

I met up with my friend Rich at the 56 mile aid station on Friday, to watch some 100 mile runners come through. Watching people tackle a 100 mile event is quite inspiring, and humbling, for Saturday's pending race.  It's funny how most of society struggles with wrapping ones' mind around running 31 miles, yet when around the like minded ultra community, the phrase 'just the 50K' is commonplace in Friday conversations.

Rich and I gorge on pre-race pasta with meat sauce, while reminiscing on past races (Rich has recently beaten cancer, and is back on the racing scene after a brief time away, ready to compete with runners half his age). I sleep like crap Friday night. The bed is lopsided and the pillows uncomfortable.  I regret not camping, as if I'm going to sleep poorly, I might as well do it in better surroundings for much less money.

The forecast is perfect. Temperatures starting in the upper 40's and getting into the low 70's. I slather on sunscreen and decide to run shirtless (skin - the most breathable layer one's got). A bottle of water, a waist-pack with essentials (extra contacts, wipes, 5oz flask of honey), shorts, and my Saucony Peregrine 2's.

The race start is at the base of Badger Mountain, and the RD gives a speech basically over-viewing some important aspects of the course, and sends us up a brief section of road before we hop onto the gravel trail that leads up and over Badger. The backside of the mountain passes by a bunch of orchards and vineyards, and I swear I pass at least a handful of water-only aid stations, manned by what looks to be a local cross country team, most likely there for 15K runners that start an hour after the 50K.

I begin the second climb of the day, up Candy Mountain and ahead I see a couple of people in the distance. I slowly begin to gain ground on them, with the intent of having some running company for awhile. Jesse and Buzz are both from East of the Cascades, and make great running company.

After a descent of Candy Mountain, the trail is a mix of wide jeep road, rocky sections that are waiting to sprain or break my ankle, and include a brief steep section that Jesse refers to as 'moon dust' (basically sand that is deep and soft, and running down it could be best described as running on clouds).

We pass a small lake, where remnants of last nights campfires are still smoldering.  Shotgun shells litter the ground in areas as well, as locals obviously use some of these parts for target practice. The three of us come around a bend and see a big truck with some guys laughing and yelling around the back of the truck bed.  I think about stopping to grab some water, assuming this is an aid station, only to realize the guys are just some locals who are just screwing around.

As we approach Red Mountain, Jesse and I separate from Buzz and tackle the climb together. I was extremely fortunate to run with Jesse, as he is from the area and knows the course and terrain well. We steadily climb Red, and towards the top see the leader zoom past us. As we reach the halfway point, the second place runner is coming back up the mountain and tells us to make sure to turn left just ahead, and the aid station in down at the bottom of the mountain (I later found out that a group of runners went right at the top, and descended down to just find porta-potties, and then climbed back up). Jesse and I get to the aid station, I pop about four Oreos, and then head back up the mountain. The wind on the ridges cools my skin, and with the cloudless sky, take in the remaining miles to come.

Jesse is now starting to put gaps of 20-40 seconds on me, to which I then slowly reel him in, run with him a bit, and then he sprints ahead and puts another gap on me. This goes on for 10+ miles. I feel fine, but I can't separate and take a lead. I feel like I can hold my pace, and I find contentment in that. Enjoy the sun, enjoy the trail, just relax and let everything calmly flow.

I get to the final aid station and throw down two cups of Coke, and a helpful volunteer fills my bottle halfway with water. I catch Jesse soon thereafter, and he's walking the climb. I tell him I plan on steadily running the final climb, and he should come along, and he agrees as long as I lead. I run steadily up the entire final climb, and as we get close to the top, Jesse starts to get ahead of me. We then take a number of switchbacks around the backside of the mountain, and I find myself dodging a ton of locals out for a mid-day walk on the trails.  I get to intersections and if I'm unsure of where to go, I simply ask someone on the trail if 'the guy in the grey shirt' went a certain way, and they point me in Jesse's direction.  

I exit the trail into the community park, to be greeted with a clock that reads 4:28:14. Consumption of chili, cheese quesadillas, gummy worms, swedish fish, and Coke, commences.


I had a PR by about 32 minutes, and it was good enough for fourth place. Rich finished his first 50K in awhile, as well, with a time just over 5 hours. Badger ended up being a great course, with good post race food, and near perfect weather for a run. Now, for another month of training leading up to Miwok 100k.

Pre-Race Dinner: Pasta w/meat sauce
Pre-Race BFast: Bagel and PB
Pre-Race Tunes: Mr. Bob Marley

Rich finishing under a giant inflatable blue thing 

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