Mission Peak still closed, I drove down to New Almaden for the second week.
Today's plan was to run from the Hacienda entrance of the Quicksilver park to
Priest Rock at the Sierra Azul Preserve, part of the QS100 route. Instead of the
two 33oz bottles, I filled up the 1.5L water bladder in the hydration pack to
see the difference. I would need fuel and slipped into the bag a can of sardines.
One additional goal, besides finishing and the same as that of my first marathon
in 2015, was to not to walk. On trails, that goal has been hard to achieve until
I found I could run all the way up to Mission Peak a few weeks ago. I discovered
that I could shorten the steps even further when ascending steep hills. How much
shorter? Enough to maintain breathing at four steps in and five steps out. Many
ultra-runners use a heart-rate monitor to keep pace down. I rely on my breathing.
After the first climb on the English Camp Trail, the sun was out, and my mood
was lifted. Crossing Hicks Road, I wasted no time at the Sierrra Azul entrance on
the other side and followed the Woods trail westward. This was new territory for
me. It was a nice shady leg and I enjoyed the fragrance of California laurel (bay
tree) leaves while trying to avoid hard acorns on the ground. I was also thankful
that the flies were not out today.
A few miles later, the trail became rockier and more exposed. The second climb
came just as the morning started to heat up. My hydropack gave me no problem,
though I tried to conserve water, fully aware that I would need it more in the
last five miles. I ran all the way to the top where the three trails (Limekiln,
Kennedy, and Woods) meet. The first half took me two hours and 35 minutes. I
finished the sardines and began my descent.
My core was strong but feet started to get tender and feel the rocks from
downhill pounding. I tried again to shorten the steps to lessen the pain. A
blissful meditation it was no more. I was so happy seeing Hicks Road again
after what felt like endless meat-grinding.
I had sweated so much that salt crystallized on my tanktop and backpack.
Fatigue set in. I was paying for the poor sleep last night. The water was soon
gone. It took everything out of me to run the last 3.8 miles and arrive at the
car at 12:50pm. Compared with a run of a similar distance six months ago, my
time has improved by 30 minutes.
The adductor muscles got a good workout. The hydration pack worked well and 1.5L
would have been great had I started one hour earlier. The sardines didn't feel like a
great idea. I needed the salt but the oily fish took more energy to digest than say
white flour. Last, my right foot, though much improved, still hurt more at the end.