Saturday, June 14, 2008

Auburn Trails 50K

The Auburn Trails 50K, with it’s somewhat misleading title, was held last week in Cool, California. As with a handful of other ultra races in the area, it began and ended at the Cool fire station. When I first signed up for the race, I was envisioning the shady river canyons that I always run in Auburn. I guess I ignored the part on the website that said “Olmstead Loop.”

Nonetheless, it was a pleasant race, and many of the usual suspects were present. It felt like a small turn out, but while on the course, I rarely found myself running alone.

I began with a very comfortable pace. The air was still pleasantly cool at the 7:00 am start, and I carried only one bottle. I didn’t know anything about how many aid stations there were, or how far apart they were. I just ran.

After we were about 1/3 of the way through, we began a steep climb. I felt great, and when I realized I was passing people, I decided maybe I should continue this trend and run a little faster. At this point, I think I switched from “running” to “racing.”

It occurred to me that 50K would be over with fairly quickly, and the earlier I finished, the less heat I would have to endure. With these thoughts, I sailed on across the dry golden grasses and past massive spreading oaks.

The aid stations were well stocked, but I noticed that I was less interested in eating than usual. I stuck mostly to GU’s and a few potatoes, washed down with ice water.

By the time I was on the last lap of the OImstead Loop, the day had warmed considerably. I was beginning to wish that I’d stashed a second water bottle, since clearly just one would be stretching it between aid stations at this point. It was too late now though, and I just tried to drink as much as possible at the aid stations before heading out. I was almost done, and knew I would just have to tough it out.

When I crossed the line I felt good about my race. My time of 5:37 was nothing special (some runners said the course was long, but who knows) but, as I said to my husband later, I was on the tail end of the fast people’s lunch. In other words, folks like Bev and Alan Abbs, Ray Sanchez, and Peter Lubbers were still at the finish area eating their home cooked lunch. (Grilled burgers and Linda’s potato salad!) Frequently these folks are long gone before I get to the finish line, so it felt like a bit of a treat to hang out with them.

Although it was warmer than I would have liked, it was ultimately a beautiful day, and my coolest (no pun intended!) race of the year. Thanks as always, to Robert, Linda, Norm, Helen and the rest of the volunteers. Another great race!


  1. Nice job on the race :) Getting there while the really fast people are still hanging out is definitely an accomplishment. I think the only time I achieved that was when I came in less than 10 minutes before Bev Abbs at Diablo, when she did the 50 miler and I did the marathon :D

    Congrats on a well run 50k!

  2. Hey Gretchen, I just realized that I met you at the start of the race. I was talking to Peter. Nice blog. I hope to see you out on the trails again this year.

  3. Congratulations on hammering it for an awesome time close to the leaders. I'm impressed, and you should be very pleased with yourself. I tend to stick to gels and potatoes for my 50k races, since they're relative sprints...
    You look like you're in great shape for Tahoe.

    I agree it's probably a misnomer, although I guess Auburn is not THAT far from Cool. Is Norm Klein's September "Sierra Nevada Endurance Run & Relay," technically in the Sierra Nevada?

  4. Actually, just noticed that (I think) that Cool area it technically part of the "Auburn State Recreation Area."

  5. Congratulations! It's the little victories that are important, like getting there in time to sit at the cool kids' lunch table. Congratulations!

    Now that I'm all into ultras after my one, single 50K finish and looking at race calendars, I'm thinking about you a lot. You're so lucky living out there in California, you seem to have a race in your back yard every weekend, and it's sooooooo pretty out there! But the part I'm really jealous of: you get to hang out in places with names like "Cool". There's no Badass, Mass, or Devilishly Cruel, New York. Thanks for sharing your stories and letting me live vicariously though you!