Alison Bryant-San Francisco 50 Mile

Thursday, December 15, 2011

San Francisco 50 Mile Race Report

By Alison Bryant

 

Last weekend I headed to California for what has quickly become one of the most competitive ultra races in the world.  I was on my own for this trip as Jason spent his weekend at the USATF annual meeting.

Upon my arrival in San Francisco, I boarded the Marin Airporter for the ride to Sausalito.  There I hiked into town to purchase some food and then hiked back out of town, up and over the mountain to the Marin Hostel.  It is a very nice hostel, located right at the race start/finish site.  I enjoyed getting an extra $2 off my first night stay for hiking in. 

Coming from the East Coast, I was ready for an early supper and fell asleep before 7:00 pm.  That was perfect though since I had to get up at 3:30 am for the race.  It was so convenient to use the bathroom at the hostel and then walk out the door to the race start.

The starting line was like a running reunion, with everyone wishing the others a good race.  The race started quickly and I knew better than to try to stay with the lead women.  As it was, my split to the first aide station was under 8:00 pace and that included a long climb with an equal descent.  I caught Helen Cospolich up the next climb and we talked about how fast the race had gone out and picking up the carnage later in the race.  Helen and I traded places for a few miles, with me leading on the climbs and her passing on the descents.  After she had passed me on a technical descent, she said “I know you will be back on the next climb.”  Unfortunately not long after that I took a hard fall.  Why, I do not know.  The trail was smooth and clear.  Whatever the cause of the fall, it resulted in a scraped right knee, bruised left knee, and sore right hand.  It took me a few minutes to get back in the rhythm of running, but the damage was superficial and I quickly forgot about it until I got to the next aide station and knelt down to retie my shoe.  Then I could see that the blood had dripped down my leg.  The aide station workers volunteered to clean it for me, but I told them that I didn’t have time and took off running again.  Since the fall occurred about an hour and a half into the race, I had plenty of time to show off my blood.  The early fall kept me from admiring the views more; I think the Marin Headlands has to be one of the prettiest places in the country.  I managed to stay on my feet for most of the rest of the race, only sliding off the trail one time in an out and back portion when trying to avoid oncoming traffic.

With the dark start and competitive field, it was impossible to tell what place I was in until I passed Bryon Powell at the 18 mile aide station and he said that I was in eighth.  This was reconfirmed on the out and back section.  From then on I only passed one woman to my knowledge and was passed by two women, however I ran past a couple of women while they were stopped at aide stations and another dropped from the race, so I ended up in sixth place with a time of 8:03:45. 

Some thoughts I had during the race:

-        Next time I need to do more stair training before I return to the Marin Headlands.

-        Why don’t we run more 40 mile races instead of 50 mile races?

-        I would really like a Popsicle. 

-        The second to last climb was VERY steep, much more than I expected.  Or was it actually steep or did it just seem that way since I had already run 42 miles?

I wore my favorite La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0’s again for therace.  This is my fourth pair of these shoes already.  They arrived at my house over Thanksgiving so I only had a chance to put 15 miles on the shoes prior to the race.  Still, I got NO blisters in the race, which is something that I could not have said with previous shoes.   It was nice to end 2011 on a high note; I am now looking forward to a few easy weeks before starting training for 2012.


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