“It's fine.” Those were the words spoken to me by an unknown runner not long after the gun went off at the 2012 Lake Sonoma 50 Miler. The sun had just started to rise on what would be a gorgeous, sunny California day. We were within the first few miles of the 2.4 mile road section at the start, allowing the field to spread out before we hit the single track. A group of 15 or so had formed a pack at the front and created a gap between them and the rest of field. I was deliberately hanging back, attempting to execute my race strategy to maintain the same pace from start to finish. While my pace was conservative, it was fast enough to put me at the front of the group behind the peloton. I was intimidated by the 500 meter gap that separated me from a gaggle of talented runners I had no business chasing including such ultrarunning royalty as Nick Clark, Dave Mackey, Dakota Jones, and Hal Koerner. Upon rounding a turn that allowed me to see clearly who was in the group ahead, I commented to the unknown runner next to me, “Sure is an intimidating gap,” intending to express my anxiety about how little separated us from running with the Big Guns. The stranger calmly said, “It's fine, we are not running with them. We have our own pace. Two, maybe three, runners in the group ahead are setting that pace and the rest are going to pay for it and fall off. We have our own pace. It's fine.” He sounded like Tom Cruise. He looked like Tom Cruise. And he was right. I had my pace, it was a fine pace and I was determined to keep it that way. Moreover, I decided to make his wise words my mantra for the race. When I was initially passed by the leading female runner, for example, I told myself, “It's fine, keep my steady pace and I'll finished strong.” When I passed her later, “It's fine – I'm not pushing too hard, just keeping it steady.” Whenever I felt hungry, “It's fine, just eat something.” Whenever I felt really good, “It's fine, don't get too ahead of myself. Keep it steady.” When passed by the leading female runner again, “It's fine, no need to chase, just maintain the easy pace.” And it worked. I felt good all day. Never had any big highs or big lows just felt steady the whole time. No matter what came at me – hunger, heat, climbs, energy surges, descents, fatigue I approached it all with the same mental attitude of keeping everything Even Steven. It was all fine.
|"Tom Cruise", The Sage|
Photo Glenn Tachiyama
It was a gorgeous day and the course was beautiful. An out and back in the shape of a horseshoe around scenic lake Sonoma in the heart of California wine country. The race is described as, “One rugged run,” but it's safe to assume this is tongue-in-cheek, as the course description also accurately informs, “Trail quality is generally good; there are very few rocks and almost no roots. However, much of the trail is seldom used and so you can expect a lot of leaves and sticks on the trail.” Coming from the Northwest, I did not mind some sticks and leaves on the trail and I'm sure the welcome solar shot of vitamin D gave me an added boost of energy. In addition, the advertised 10,500 of climbing was clocked at 9,500 on my altimiter and given the nature of the climbs, mostly soft and rolling, it was a great course to keep the motor running throughout the entirety of the race. Joelle Vaught and I shared the trail for much of the first 35 miles together before she slowed to battle some heat issues. She was great company as the miles clicked by, discussing the pretty course and the usual long run banter There were 12 so-called creek crossings, many of which were at least calf deep. I hit the turnaround in 18th place or so, about half an hour earlier than anticipated, in three hours and thirty minutes, still feeling fresh. I managed to get through the middle climbs during the hottest part of the day without any issues; then was able to pick up the pace the last 7 miles or so to I catch up to some Big Guns to put the hammer down. I finished in 7:29, good enough for a fifty mile PR and 12th place in a stacked field.
|Enjoying the rugged terrain|
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
Thanks to Tropical John Medinger of Ultrarunning Magazine and all the hardworking, energetic volunteers for putting on a terrific event. It was well organized with fantastically stocked aid stations, a well marked course, yummy food at the finish line for runners and crew, and wine tasting the day after!