Crystal Springs 50K, by Coastal Trail Runs is set in some of my favorite trails in Huddart & Wunderlich Parks. I’d run a very similar course at the Woodside Ramble two years ago and finished 5:17. However, it’s been a while since I’ve run the 50K distance, let alone trails. California International Marathon was a bust and over the break I’d put on some extra pounds with Mom’s amazing cooking (no complaints there!) followed by work picking up at a serious pace. I haven’t started out the year with a 50K before, but given the Quicksilver 100K and the other 50 milers coming up, figured I’ll kick start wth some long runs. So as usual the race jitters set in the night before as I tossed and turned. Here’s my Strava activity from the run.
Crystal Springs 50K
Given how much money I’ve been saving with my $30 PR shoes, I went to Fleet Feet the day before and splurged on the new Nike Impossibly Light Running Jacket. Overall verdict? Pretty amazingly light, and breathable as long as it’s just drizzling or you are running through redwood rain. When it’s a downpour, it becomes quickly apparent that these are water repellent, not water proof. Kept me warm for most of the run though.
I was on these trails a few months ago when it was dry and barren and it was refreshing to hear the springs flowing and water gurgling all around. Everything was in high contrast and brimming with moisture. It’s funny how initially I was resisting the urge to step into puddles. At some point early in the run, it stopped mattering and it was easier to splash right through them. And less slippery too!
I made it to Kings Mountain aid station (6 miles) about 8 minutes faster than last time and my next few splits put me 12 minutes ahead by mile 20. But lost most of it in the last two segments as it was super muddy and I couldn’t bomb down the downhills with reckless abandon. The 5.6 miles from Kings Mountain to Bear Gulch was just blissful. I caught myself singing parts of Ed Sheeran more to the rhythm than the words. “Loving can hurt“…splish, splash … “So you can keep me“, more splishing and splashing “Wait for me to come home“. Weird what comes through my head when I’m running.
Just a few days earlier, I’d finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the umpteenth time. During the climb back up to Bear Gulch (kinda slow with all the mud on the trail and the rain that had started in earnest now) one phrase kept coming to me. “The Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the zen you bring up with you“. True that. I get that Quality is metaphysical while Flow State described by Csikszentmihalyi’s is neurochemical, but I can’t help feel that there’s a dotted line connecting the two. My best (high Quality) runs almost always had some Flow in them. Anyways, I suppose all the solitude was making me think stuff.
That’s Kevin, by the way – apparently from Florida. We came across a pretty big downed tree that covered the entire trail and figured it was a great place to take some pictures. On the way back up to Bear Gulch, there was a crew chain-sawing it down. Kinda how I knew too from the sound, that I’d made it back to the aid-station after the long steady climb.
Approaching Kings Mountain on the way back (mile 25ish) it was coming down pretty hard. During the entire run, I had 16oz of water with me, but never needed it. Just a couple of cups of electrolytes at the aid station + gels along the way kept me going. Had a brief cramp with 3 miles to go, but somehow it worked itself out. Saw Monica Maze just ahead of me running to the finish and I was glad to make it back in one piece. Other than two places where I slightly felt my feet slip, no major falls or injuries.
Apparently I’d placed 15th overall, 5th in age group with a 5:27 finish. Can’t complain and looks like 2016 is off to a great start! I’d also say, this was by far the muddiest, rainiest, wettest 50K so far. Took a great amount of warm soup at the finish and an IPA to kill the chill. Well, warm change of clothes helped too. Up next is Run for Amma 50K in February and then Marin Ultra Challenge 50M in March. Gotta get back to the hills soon!
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