Fremont-Livermore (Del Valle Reservoir)
Good Things about today:
1) I finished.
2) The course is beautiful.
3) People came to see me at the end!
I can't say that I actually spent that much time thinking about #2, because I spent a lot more time being very hot and wanting the run to be over. However, when I *did* get a chance to look up, the Ohlone wilderness is stunning. Hot, harsh and steep, but stunning nevertheless.
I'm not going to go into a long description of the whole race (it felt long enough as it was!) but here's a quick high/low light summary.
Going up to Mission Peak (picture to the right) I held back more than last year, where I ended up running with Rena Schumann, who has run oh, a TON of ultras and is a) really experienced and b) fast. This should have been a clue for me last year, but I ignored it. This year, I was trying to hold back more at the beginning, thinking that I would have more power for the climb to Rose if I didn't leave it all on Mission Peak. (Click here for an elevation profile of the course. It's a little insane.)
I felt absolutely great going into Sunol from Mission Peak. There are some amazing views as the trail descends, and I felt relaxed and loving the race. When I stopped at the Sunol aid station though, my legs seemed suddenly much more tired than I thought they were, which was my first inclination that I might not breeze up the hills to Rose Peak.
I will say this: I think the training run we did a couple of weeks ago really helped, because it felt like I got to the Backpack aid station and the Goat Rock aid stations much faster than I expected. (Having the Garmin helped, too.) The really long and painful slog came after the Goat Rock station up to Rose Peak. It felt like the trail went on and on and up and up. And it was hot. Did I mention that yet? Very, very hot. (There were actually two people who needed major medical attention (helicoptered out) due to heat exhaustion, and more than usual who did not finish because of the heat.) I did a lot of walking on this section.
One of my favorite moments in the whole race came at the top of Rose Peak (picture at the start), where I had just picked up my "no-cheating" plastic bracelet and snapped the above picture. The man passing me (probably just a couple of years younger than my dad) asked if I wanted him to take a picture of me, and I said no, that I wasn't really looking my cutest. He stopped and said, "Well, I think you're looking pretty good right now!" Thank you, sir, for making me smile at the top of a hot and grueling climb!
After that? Well, let's just say that I spent a lot of time a) being mad that I had forgotten how much uphill was still left after Rose Peak and b) wanting the race to be finished. 'Nuff said.
The other great part of my day was being met at the finish line by a support team! I think the last time I had people come out to see me finish a race was in 1996-- and it made such a difference! Thanks to Chelsea, Louis, Ella, Kyle (who brought the pups), Jenn, and Alex, who biked from El Cerrito to Livermore yesterday, for coming out to see me finish. Eating great food in the shade and hanging out with you guys was the best ending to a race I've ever had!
And from a trail perspective--this area is definitely worth more exploration. I've said before I would love to come back and run more of Sunol, but Del Valle Reservoir is full of stuff to do after a run, like swimming, kayaking or barbecuing next to the lake. I think it would be fun to come out, do a run before it got too hot, then spend the rest of the day lounging around in and out of the water.
Not sure how many new trails I'll be doing this week....