Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mount Diablo Marathon

Mount Diablo marathon…

Mount Diablo… this is the mountain that started it all for me. It was here where I did my first trail run not knowing what I was getting myself into. I remember, I had run marathons before and I thought I was ready… Well I was not really. At the end of the day I had cried, had cursed the mountain and myself for having signed up for this race.. It was indeed the hardest thing I had ever done…..

Last year I did the 50 miler, it was awesome but coming from Moab 100 I was not sure if I was up for the 50 Miler. I entertained the idea, but the closer I got the race day, the more I thought about just doing the marathon and nothing else.

Just about to get started.. yay!!

Race started at 7 am, so I got up pretty early and drove to SF to pick up Janet and Kim. It is great when you do things like this with friends. Time goes by rather quickly and most importantly it is much more fun, really. It is. I picked them up around 5am and with my earl grey tea steaming and a big smile we took the bay bridge to cross into the East Bay and find our way to Concord where Mount Diablo is located. Now if you never heard of Mount Diablo it is a great place. The view from the top of Mt, Diablo is second only to Africa’s Mt Kilimanjaro it total visible land area. On a clear day, you can see the up to 90 miles in any direction. The view is spectacular… simply amazing..

Look at the runners.. this moutain is amazing.. woohoo!!

Had to go to the summit twice.. second time around was harder, but once we got there things went all right..

This is one of the few “elite” endurance sports put together by Sara Wendell and Aaron, the first family of ultrarunning. Along the marathon there is also a 50 miler taken place at the same time. Last year we did it and it was just as amazing. This year, however, decided not to do it since I figure I am still bitten from Moab 100 miler and too close to Miwok 100K. So I took it as a training run (well, that is what I like to think).

But in any event, Janet, Kim and I got to the starting line got registered and went back to the car to get ready. I decided to go to the bathroom and I had an unpleasant surprise, there was a line to get to the man’s bathroom. What the hell, I had to go so I had to wait. When I finally was done there it was time to get to the starting line. I rushed to the car and finish getting my stuff… as I was running back to the car I was forming this mental picture in my head of the things I needed to take with me. Salt pills, water bottles, power gels, cliff bars, iboprufin, and sun screen. The sun was already out and I knew it was going to get hot… as hot as last year…. Then, we were off.. I love to see the start of these races, a bunch of crazies running for hours.. I love it.

The three amigos at the summit... yay!! Beautiful sights.. amazing... Go there I promise you won't be disappointed.

Kim, Janet and Myself stayed together for most of the race. We walked when we had to and ran when we could Now you have to consider that Mount Diablo is one of the hardest races in the west coast. The elevation gain is insane and the trails are technical, specially coming down the mountain. The race starts with a constant climb all the way to the summit.. and when I say a climb it is really a climb. Janet, Kim and I made to the summit and of course it was already hot. I was drenched in sweat and as soon as I got to the aid station at the summit I went for the coke… and… the ice. I put some Ice in my hat to cool me down, and ate a ton of food. I knew I was burning more energy than usual because of the hot conditions so I needed to get more nutrition in. A bunch of cookies, watermelon, peanut butter sandwiches and of course cliff blocks did the trick.. oh yea, and some pretzels and potatoes too.

Then the descent started and this descent is as painful as the ascent simply because it is straight down, it can be really cruel on your quads and your toes if you are not wearing the right shoes. You should have seen my toes last year, I lost my 10 toenails after Mount Diablo last year. This year, it was just as hot and brutal. In our way down we saw the leaders cruising in the way up to the summit once again, and holy COW, they were cruising. It always amazes me how easy these runners make the course look. I am going to start running 150 miles a week, maybe I’ll get faster.. (ha ha… in my dreams I will).

We were running so fast that not even the camera could keep up with us..

I guess we slowed down a lot here.. :)

We reached the summit a second time and we knew it was going to be a long way back to the finish line. At this time the three of us were still together, and the last stretch home started. Janet took off and I tried to stay on her heels, she just left us in the dust. I tried to keep up, but all day long my IT band was giving me trouble so I just could not keep up, and NO I am NOT making excuses. I caught about 5 people in the last stretch of the run and when I got to the finish line I was just two minutes behind Janet. As I crossed the finish line I found a table and lie down for a little while. Janet came to ask me if I was OK and I was, I was just tired hot, dehydrated and mighty hungry. Sara had some strawberries that tasted like heaven, so I went at them and satisfied my hunger. We saw Kim finish and then we were done… Ah!! Great run, loved it.

After the run I had to sit down and just take my breath. It was sooooooo damn hot..

Mount Diablo is beautiful, I love that mountain and I know that whenever I am going there to run I am going to have a great time despite the fact that it will be miserable too. At the end of the day what matters to me the most is the fact that I am doing what I love to do. My life has been a blessing and I love the fact that I can do these things. It is one of those things that really make me soooo freaking happy. Running with friends in these beautiful California mountains is something that I am really thankful for.

What is next… Miwok 100K. on May second. Stay tuned..


Celeste said...

Thank you Luis! This is beautiful.

I think I will go to Mt. Diablo on my trip in May. WALKING tho. :)

John said...

Very nice take. I did the marathon as well. It was my first ever marathon--road or trail. I ran the PCTR Diablo 25Km run last June (hot). It was an amazing experience and to me harder than any triathlon I had previously done. So I told myself that my first marathon would be on that mountain. You are far more experienced than I, but could totally relate to your report. Thank you.

Oh yeah, I missed the marathon marking for the Rock City out and back (DUH!). So, blissfully ignorant and not worried about being off course, I hopped along to the Juniper Aid station. Wendell just happened to be there (thankfully) and he set me straight. When I realized what I had done, it was like a shot to the gut. He told me I'm just about 1.4 miles or so off course, and encouraged me along. Once I made peace with the fact I would actually run closer to 29 miles that day thanks to my misstep, I hopped back on Juniper trail to the marathon turn off and back on course. Coming out of Rock City was not fun after that ; )

This mountain did it for me too--brilliant, but miserable, and I'm only more excited to try the 50 once I'm prepared.

Peace and thanks again!

wcaitlin said...

Looking forward to seeing you at Miwok. Yup I recommend that everyone have a lucky pair of underwear :).

wcaitlin said...

It was so great seeing you yesterday. You're smile and cheerfulness carried me into Bolinis aid station smiling, so thanks :). Hope you're race went well and look forward to reading all about it!

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