My first trail race longer than a half marathon, the Chabot Trail Run 30K is also a stepping stone before I tackle the Big Basin 50K this June. Over the next few months, I’m slowly increasing my distances learning to pace myself and figuring out the fuel that works for me to get past the finish line. Maybe it was the race jitters, but I was wide awake at 3am thinking through the elevation gain and the locations of the aid station. I don’t really know if I fell back asleep, but I was up at 6am and drove out to Lake Chabot at 6:45am.
While I’ve run hill repeats with elevation gain bigger than 2,800′, the distance was something for me to reckon with. But this time my strategy was to memorize the locations of the aid stations and focus solely on getting from one to the other without thinking too much about the finish line.
Chabot Trail Run
The starting line was at the east end of the lake and the day turned out to be just perfect. 61°F, clear skies, a slight cool breeze as we ran through eucalyptus trees; couldn’t have asked for a better weather for a great run. We got to the starting line a little before 8:30am and the halves, the 30K’s and the 50K’s were all scheduled for a simultaneous start. I knew this was an elite group of runners when Tim the race director asked if there were any first-timers running the 50K and no hands went up! Leor Pantilat, the course record holder for the Summit Rock Half Marathon was there as well as Rinaldo Cis who won the ZombieRunner Bay Trail Half Marathon.
We started prompt at 8:30am and after a mile or so, approached a foot bridge across the lake and crossed it single file. The first short hill started around mile 2.5 and all I was thinking was getting to the first aid station. Kept a relaxed pace with my heart rate hovering between 160 and 175bpm. I knew I should’ve slowed down, but the adrenaline kept pushing me to keep the pace. Right around mile 3 someone ran past me and gave me a high five. Turns out to be Teddy running on Xero Shoes! I haven’t seen a fellow barefoot runner since I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon! I got to the first aid station (5.6 miles) at 47 minutes. Decent pace. Big lesson learned from hitting the wall last week was to take the aid stations seriously. I ate a Cliff Shot gel, dunked some electrolytes and kept going.
The next hill took us through some spectacular eucalyptus groves and I was feeling super comfortable on the downhills. Approached mile 10 aid station at 1:30 and loaded up on another gel before some beautiful single tracks and the big climb. Had to power walk quite a few of the switch backs and was winded when I got to the top. From there it was a nice gradual downhill to the last aid station at 14.3 miles. One last gel and it was going to be the home run. We were now running along the south west part of the lake heading towards the finish line. My right ankle was getting a little sore by now though I was keeping my pace and the heart rate in check. Teddy, the barefoot runner was up ahead cramping up. Wished him well and soon saw the last mile sign. I wanted to increase the pace but didn’t have much juice left. Ended up at the finish line at 2:58 minutes putting me 20th overall and 5th in my age group. And the only injury was some chaffing in my inner thighs. Something to watch out for in the next run. The most impressive though was the overall finisher did this run in less than 2 hours!