Friday was an intense day at work and I didn’t really get to think much about the Stevens Creek Striders 50K until after dinner. The Stevens Creek Striders 50K is a fantastic course with two loops and a little out-and-back on each side. The first 20-mile loop takes you down the canyon, a big climb on Table Mountain Trail to Saratoga Gap and returning back along Long Ridge Open Preserve back to the starting line. The second 10-mile loop is on the Russian Ridge up to Rapley Ranch and back. My Strava activity for this course reads an elevation gain of ~5,500ft.
Stevens Creek Striders 50K
Showed up at the starting line on a wonderfully misty morning on the ridge. Was good to see familiar faces – Jose Cruz, Peter Chan and Kent Dozier. While I had the SJ ultra vest with me loaded with gels, the mist was just too delicious to run with a pack. The weather report had overcast until around 11am and I figured if I can make the 19 mile round trip in about 3 hours, I should be ok without having to carry anything. It was a little risky, but it made the run so delicious. I ran the whole course with my shirt wrapped around my wrist, my iPhone and a couple of gels in my pocket, refueling at the aid stations. The aid/water stations were located just at the right places, I never got thirsty.
Highlights from the 1st loop: Running half naked through the mist and the soft canyon trails, grinning the whole way. Checking out wild mushrooms on the lonely ascent up on Table Mountain trail. Wondering at mile 9 if it was a good idea to run without water just in time to be pleasantly surprised by the volunteers on top of Table Mountain. Watching Jose Cruz sprinting back down from AS #1 (he would finish at a blistering 4:38!). Loading up on gels and heading back along Long Ridge. Evading fast bikers with loud music on the single track trails. Saying hello to the mile 16 volunteers. Deer sighting. The short ascent and sounds of the bell entering the aid station at mile 19 in 3:20. Super happy with the pace so far, hoping to finish the run in sub 5:15, maybe.
And then I kinda fizzled out. The hardest part of the race was over, but I was tired. Was getting too comfortable at the aid station when Steve Patt kicked me out. Peter Darrah (3rd place finisher) caught up with me on the ascent out and I mostly walked all the hills. I was a little tired, still relishing the mist and the cool air, but tired. Drank out of the fountain at David C. Daniels Nature Center. Took my time to get to the mile 25 aid station at 4th place. Left after chatting for a little bit. Mark Weinberg and Kent Dozier passed me and I held on to the 6th place the whole way back. I was definitely checking my Garmin 220 a lot more as the miles slowly ticked away. One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other. The blue skies were out now and one last half-lap around Horse Shoe lake, I finished 6th overall in 5:46. It had taken me over 2:20 to get through the last 10 miles. I’m definitely going back there (after I recover!) to see why I sucked wind in that loop.
Maybe I can put my 20 mile pace to good use at the Golden Hills Marathon in two weeks time. Huge kudos to the volunteers, the fantastic course marking and a deliciously misty Stevens Creek Striders 50K. I’m going back there next year, for sure. Best part? I cross the finish line and Peter comes up to me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and says, ‘Kowsik, Jose left a message for you. You are not gonna like it. He said you were so slow that he couldn’t wait for you to finish’. Nice one Peter.
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