A couple weeks ago Elissa mentioned that she was planning to run the Mokelumne 50k this year. Our niece's birthday party was that afternoon up in Stockton, which we could attend after the race. I crewed her at the 50 mile distance of this race last year and it was an enjoyable event then. So a couple days before the event I signed up. We'd get to hang out with family and it'd be a good training run for my upcoming 50 miler.
|Elissa, birthday girl & I|
Besides a couple flatter runs the week leading into this race, I hadn't really done anything to prepare for a fast 50k with relatively little climbing (4k'). My training lately has mostly consisted of a steep uphill running/hiking, then running back down.
I find it kind of funny, but it isn't ironic... I don't think, that this race was kind of cherry picking for me in preparation for Jemez, a race that Tony Krupicka was pick'n cherries at. The point I am struggling to make is this: there are a couple different fitting definitions of "cherry picking" that are suitable in my choosing to run this race. Rather than looking at this race as an easy way to finish with a good looking result, I saw it as the best race for me to run right now. A great pick of the bunch.
Explanation: I have a 50 miler coming up in a little over a month. I had not raced for awhile and my mind could use a refresher on what it feels like to chase/be chased, strategize over calories and water in relation to weather, time and aid station locations. This would be a good test of my current fitness. It is a scenic course, running in the shade of pines and oaks among blooming wildflowers. Race Director, Paulo Medina, and volunteers/crew put on a smooth event.
We were off at 0637. Ben Johnson and I ran together out front for the first couple miles. After a little chatting I realized that he won the 50 mile distance here last year. After burning off some excitement, I realized that our pace was a little faster than I wanted to run. I had a couple goals today. I wanted to finish around 3:50 and I wanted to run a negative split.
I let Ben gap me a bit. Coming over the final climb before descending into Campo Seco Aid Station at mile 11, I heard a loud bellow and clanking cowbell. Right on, I thought. The aid station peeps see Ben ahead of me and are cheering him on. A couple minutes later I heard the bellowing voice again, "mmmmmMMMMMMMOOOOOOOooooo." Oh, ding ding... hi cow.
Approaching the 50k turn around Ben had a couple minutes on me. I excitedly turned it on. A couple miles later I realized that I wasn't gaining on him, WTF. Finally, I passed him at mile 18 and entered a state of mind that I used to be more familiar with, and am always fond of: Shit, I'm being chased! After a couple miles of focus along the Mokelumne River, I glanced back at opportune times and didn't see anyone behind me. Whew, just gotta maintain solid effort now. Miles clipped off and I finished in 3:39. Then I watched Elissa win the woman's field and finish with a PR of 5:01.
We jumped in the car and made it back in time for Maliyah's 13th birthday party where we gorged on pizza and spent hours laughing with family.
Hoka has come out with so many great shoes in the last year that I almost forgot about the Huaka's. I wore them again on a mountain run recently and re-remembered how awesome they are. Responsive, light, stable, perfect for this fast course. My Julbo BLAST sunglasses with their light photochromic lenses worked well in both the blazing sun and under the dark shade of trees. I had no blisters in my Drymax socks as per usual. I gulped down a bottle of FLUID Recovery immediately post race to feed my hungry muscles.
I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a well run, mellow, fast 1/2 marathon, 50k or 50M race.