a few minutes in, before any of the hills
the start of the short course
Dave & Ben (respectively) just before the turn
coming back, less than 2 miles from the end of the series
Dave & I conned (I mean, persuaded) Ben to come with us for this one. He'd actually been to this park before, but hadn't raced with us since September in New York. This was a good one...it ended up just a hair under 50 degrees and sunny, with a light wind. After the weather we've been having, it couldn't have been much better.
We drove over to Roseville Saturday night. I'd booked a Hyatt (that turned out to only be three weeks old) for $70 on Hotwire.com, which has the distinction of not letting you see your hotel 'til you book it. However, being that (as of now) there is only one 3 1/2 star hotel listed in the Rocklin/Roseville/Licoln area, this would be it. When we arrived, I requested a room with two beds (since Hotwire also does not allow you to specify the # of beds you'd like). Not an upgrade, just two beds. What we got (for $70 after tax) was a two-room suite with two queens in one room, & a sectional couch, computer table, fridge, etc, in the other. Did I mention that it was only a $70 room? By the time we got settled in (after another great meal [and a mojito] at the Elephant Bar on Sunrise) it was 9:45...15 minutes 'til the hot tub closed. We really needed a soak, though, as my knee decided to wait 'til Saturday to get angry this week, which meant no recovery time if I wanted to run. So - we went down to the pool, tried the room key. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Dave & I figured they had closed down the pool early since it was empty (which isn't ok) & I told myself that as I hopped the fence & let Dave in. We had a nice soak for 15 minutes, & went back to the room for the night.
The FWTRS races start between 9-9:30, depending on distance, so we had plenty of time to relax in the morning. I figured I'd get in another quick soak in the tub, but again, the key didn't work. When I inquired about room keys gaining access to the pool, I was told that they wouldn't work, because the hotel was so new, and the pools hadn't been certified yet, and as such, were still closed. Oops. Now that soak the night before seemed even better. We had a little coffee & bagels instead and headed to Beals Point State Park for race #8 in the series. I really didn't know this time around wether or not I'd be able to run 'til I started the warm-up. The first steps were very tentative, & turning &/or climbing (even over a curb) was kind of a joke, but things got better as I ran. I did most of the short course (muddy in a few fun spots but not too bad) and headed back for the 9:15 start. Dave & Ben would do the short course 15 minutes after I took off.
I felt good enough at the start, and went out relaxed. I didn't want to be too aggressive at first, especially if it wasn't necessary. I resisted the urge to check over my shoulder, but had a comfy lead by the short course turn. Of course, things hadn't gotten interesting yet. We'd gone up and over one decent size hill at mile 1, & a steep, short, muddy hill at the turn, but the real fun was the water tower hill. I was running the flats and downhills agressively now, and ran controlled hard up the hills. Footing was pretty good for the most part, & I only tried to run off the course twice. By the time I was back on the short course, I was feeling good, like I hadn't come close to overextending myself, which is always nice, & (after catching Ben right before the last little hill) came across the line in between 46:16-46:19. About 40 seconds better than when we ran here in the storm. I had my trail shoes on & was off on my cool-down before the watch read 50:00 (& before my knee told me to skip it) and got to see lots of others out there on all three courses. Bryan Hacker was the next guy in my race, & ended up 6:05 back. Kirk Ferris was winning the long course comfortably (he also won by 6:05-weird!) and in doing so, locked up 2nd overall in the men's points race. Dave was 35th on the short course with a time of 30:52 & earned 68.25 points. Ben came in shortly after, placing 43rd with a time of 32:47 (64.26 points).
Of course it wouldn't be a trip worth taking without the obligatory brewery visit. We went to Rubicon in downtown Sac for the second time this season, this time for the "beers of California" to mark the end of Sacramento Beer Week. Several goodies, but the standouts were North Coast Old Stock, Rubicon Hop Sauce, & Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. Abby met us there (and drove us home) & I'm hoping she was thoroughly entertained before we all fell asleep in the car.
It looks like the series results are in, and for me, one of my season goals has been met. I've actually been trying to go through a series undefeated for a few years now. In the Gold Country Grand Prix's first year (2006) I'd been cruising, 'til injuries got the best of me, and I failed to win any of the final three races of the year. In early 2007, I was still getting back in shape after a long time off, but had surprised my self with a couple wins. That ended in May, when future relay teammate Brandon Neid beat the crap out of me on a tough 5k course. I got him back at the end of the year Turkey Trot but the Van-dammage was done. 7 first place finishes, one second. 2008 held promise. I'd been racing well since the previous fall & (almost) made it through the year without any of the chronic injuries becoming unmanageable. But...after what was possibly my best race of the year (a 34 minute "Colors" 10k, I made my hip angry, & eventually piched my sciatic nerve during a TRT run the following weekend. In survival mode now, I once again was beat by Brandon, this time in the series finale again preventing the undefeated season. I only ran two of the GCGP races in '09, & only started the Folsom Trail series because Bizz Johnson directors never got back to me to let me know if the half was sold out. So instead, Dave & I drove to Folsom that weekend, & were instantly sold on the series. That first race ended up being my toughest test, as one of the previous series winners caught up to me right at the top of the final descent. Luckily, as I'd been slacking for a mile or so, I had enough of a kick to win by 12 seconds. The gap was bigger in the others, but as the season went on, I was once again beggining to exist in survival mode...dropping from the long to the short course 5 weeks ago due to illness, and not knowing 'til last minute the last two races if I'd even be able to run. I'm hoping to be able to continue on with some physical therapy, as there are super fun events coming in March, April, & May that I reheheally don't want to miss.
For the series, I ended up running 5 short courses, 2 intermediate courses, & 1 long course. Two scores were dropped, & two were worth double so in the end I earned 800/800. Dave ran 7 of the 8 races, all on the short course, & had his best effort during a double points race. He ended up with 508.72 points, placing 35th overall (out of 615 individual runners), was the 13th male (of 278) & was 5th in the 40-49 age group, which ended up being the deepest in the men's field. Congrats to all the others who completed the series, and a big GIANT thank you to Diane & everyone else at Breakoutracing, who have been great through the whole season. It was a pleasure doing this series in large part because of the great staff & volunteers that made it so enjoyable. I know it's a lot of work, but you guys make it worth it for everyone. THANKS!
Hopefully, next weekend I'll be in Chico on Saturday trying not to get smoked in the Bidwell Classic 5k, & the awards party for this series is the following day. Should be a fun weekend...may have to fit a beer or two in there somewhere...
Here's a link to the series results-