Going Gel-Less At The 2017 Quicksilver 50K

I ran the Quicksilver 100K last year and had a fantastic time. With NUT 100K scheduled for the next month (but eventually got rescheduled to August), I decided to sign up for the Quicksilver 50K instead. It was absolutely delish weather with the high’s in the mid-60’s. Other than a very short stretch on the climb out of Enriquita, I don’t think I felt too warm at all. Also given the aid station distances (and the weather), I decided to only carry a 20oz handheld of water in one hand and a GoPro (new toy!) on the other. I was planning to live off the aid stations completely. Here’s my Strava activity.

Quicksilver 50K – The Training

Here’s the part where I write about the million lunges I did, slept 9 hours every day and averaged 70 miles/week. NOT. What actually happened was this. I ran the American River 50M and then…

Week-1: Rest week, didn’t run (that’s a euphemism for being lazy)
Week-2: Spring break for the kids. After a 5 straight days of hard skiing I busted my knee with a nasty twist. Luckily nothing popped or broke
Week-3: I could neither fully extend my left knee nor fully fold it. Lots of icing, sitting around with generous amounts of Arnica to the rescue. Slow jogging at 15% grade on the treadmill for an hour was manageable since knee was always bent at an angle with no pain. However, no flats or downhills
Week-4: Finally a 30-mile week, but off to Orlando for a conference
Week-5: Oh crap, Quicksilver 50K in a week. Better climb up PG&E a couple of times to get ready

And so, yeah. I was super well trained for this. 🙂

Quicksilver 50K – Race Day

I had this grand vision of shooting a video on the GoPro throughout the run and stitching it all together. Big FAIL. The handheld GoPro was so jerky I was getting motion sickness watching my own videos. So all I managed was pulling out some specific freeze frames for this blog. My 15yo advised me to wear the chest strap instead. Maybe next time.

It was great to Ethan Salter and Jackie Torres (second 50K!) at the start line.

Reached Hicks Rd aid station in about 1:06 after the short loop around the cemetery. The weather was just absolutely gorgeous and as much as I like my Salomon vest, it felt so liberating to be running with just a handheld. Left there quickly and headed back to Hacienda through the treacherous Deep Gulch Trail. When I got there, saw one of the runners with a bloody hand. The aid station volunteer simply said, “it’s bad”.

Last time around, I remember how long the 3 miles from Hacienda to Mockingbird felt. I was moving at a good clip and absolutely smiling the whole time. Wild flowers galore. Halfway through this stretch, noticed the green ribbons and made a mental note that I’ll be going through this steep downhill to the finish for the second time.

At the Mockingbird aid station, ~12 miles done in about 2 hours. The sweet potatoes with salt is the bomb! And PB&J. No gels so far. A steady 4-mile climb up to Bull-run aid station now.

Made it to Bull Run in 3:04 and the two hard climbs were done.Was great to see Michelle Sun at the aid station and the other awesome volunteers. I was mostly by myself through this stretch and the next one leading up to Tina’s Den. Maybe a runner or two here and there. More sweet potatoes and PB&J. I stashed away a couple of gels just in case, but never needed it. Headed out on the rolling downhill to Tina’s Den through the beautiful Prospect #3 Trail & then New Almaden trail.

Arrived Tina’s Den, ~22 miles, in about 4:03. Was starting to get a little warm now, but still very cool in the shade. Saw a sign that said 3.5 miles to McAbee. That was puzzling. I thought the next aid was Enriquita? Something didn’t add up. Ice water dousing and then off again.

Wait a minute, this was Enriquita with a half a mile out and back on another treacherous, technical trail. That meant another couple of miles to Bull Run aid station and then downhill to the finish! Yeah! I can almost smell the BBQ and the beer. I think I’ve earned that.

Back at Enriquita in 5:14, there was a small taste of a sub-6:00 in the air. But this was a steep climb up to Bull Run. Of all the 31 miles, this felt the slowest even though I was moving pretty well. Along the way saw Jean Pommier, bounding down Mine Hill trail heading out to the Tina’s Den. He was so in the zone and looking determined. I probably spent a bit too much time at the Bull Run aid station, but only 3 more miles to go and it was 5:38 now.

Pushed hard on the downhill and passed a few runners to roll into the finish line at 6:07, 7th in AG and 27th overall. But this was an epic day with some amazing runners doing amazing things:

  • Jean Pommier would place 3rd in the 100K after having run Miwok 100K the week before. His quote when someone asked him what happened: “Can I just be old now?” Dude, like, no?
  • Larry Neumann, always a man with a plan, would place 5th with an awesome sub-11:00 finish
  • Mandie Holmes, who only seems to be getting faster by the month, would win the 1st female overall. I can only imagine what a fantastic run she’s going to have at the Western States 100M.

Also folks that I saw going through the Mockingbird aid station, Tim Thompson with his 100K debut, Kent Dozier and William Dai. What a day! The Quicksilver Running Club volunteers were super with over 130 volunteers helping out with the course and the aid stations. As for what’s next for me, weather permits, I absolutely love the freedom of living off the aid stations and not having to carry anything but water. Next up is Double Dipsea, followed by San Francisco Double Marathon.

BTW, if you own a GoPro, what accessory do you use to record your runs so it doesn’t look like the Blair Witch Project?

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