This weekend, my friend L flew to Arizona for the Javelina 100-Mile race. He was
addicted to the ecstasy running through darkness to greet the sunrise and cross
the finish line. This year, in spite of the pandemic which led to many events being
cancelled or put off, the 60-year-old has finished two 100Km and four 100Mi
races. What an inspiration!
I could imagine the thrill and euphoria at the end of a long dark adventure but
argued that one needed no race for such an experience. Over time, the industry
developed around ultra-running has hoisted the obscure sport to an elite game.
One out-of-state race easily costs over 500 bucks, offensive to the Chinese
farmer genes in me. And of course, I cannot finish races that long, which might
be where the real rub is.
Sunday morning, two glasses of cantaloupe juice saw me off for Mission Peak.
After recovering from overtraining two weeks ago, last Sunday, I ran up the
summit, back down to the middle, up again, and down to the car, all in good
form. Today, however, I felt lack of energy. I might need more rest, or should
have had more fluid on Sat. Regardless, from the Ohlone side, I started the
ascent around 7:40am.
My instinct was correct and the run felt sluggish. Coming down from the peak, I
trotted to the Standford Ave trailhead to take a break where I met a guy in a
red cap and yellow shirt. He was slightly taller and looked in his late 30s or early
40s and Mexican.
"I have a question." He came to me. "How long does it take you to run up to the
"About an hour or so." I greeted him with a smile. "Not very fast."
"Same here." he said. "But six years ago, I ran up in 34 minutes."
"That was very impressive. Great job!" I said sincerely. "I could never dream of
running up that fast. For me, downhill is more painful, though."
"How do those sandals feel?" he was studying my Z-Treks.
"Well. After six years, they have started to feel a little better." I smiled.
"Great talking with you."
I turned back toward the hills and at the fork took the Horse Heaven Trail. Somehow,
the weaker I felt, the more I wanted to test myself. The traffic was light as the
climb was harder on this route. Halfway, I gave up running at the bottom of the
slope where I fell last week and fast-hiked to the top. My feet hurt so much
that I had to take another break. Downhill jogging tortured the feet and hips
for another 40 min and I reached the car at 12:10pm. Well. Today's run would
look ugly to any decent ultra-runner but I found comfort in surviving four and a
half hours on my feet, 30 min longer than my last marathon time.
Monday morning, my left jaw swelled up again. Only this time it was at the lower
back. I took the day off and drank a lot of fluid including coffee, water, lemon
water, and cantaloupe juice. It felt much better toward the evening.