Skyline 50K Trail Run

I had just completed the Tahoe Rim 50K two weeks ago and my Transrockies teammate and I had planned to do a final training run at altitude the day before Skyline by doing a 5-hr. run at Yosemite.  But the day before that, I spent the afternoon in the emergency room with chest pains, only to be diagnosed with a case of costrochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage in the chest wall).  By the time I was cleared by several doctors to run, Kevin and I had decided to bag the trek to Yosemite.  Now what do I do?  I ran 15 miles of trails the next day with Kevin but this was supposed to be our peak weekend of back-to-back-to-back long runs before tapering for Transrockies.  I felt like I needed a challenge, so I drove an hour north on Sunday morning to the Lake Chabot Marina in Oakland, CA.

Lake Chabot startThe Skyline 50K is the oldest 50K trail race in the country.  You would think that dubious distinction belongs to a bigger event.  According to co-race director Jennifer Ray, “…only one other trail 50K is that old – the Quicksilver run in San Jose.  But they stopped having the 50K for a few years, so Skyline is the longest running 50K.”  Quicksilver is a regular training ground for me but I’ve never run the 50K (and not sure I want to with its sawtooth profile).   On average, Skyline draws less than 150 runners; this year there were 126.  But I can see why it’s been around so long.  It’s a fast course, very runnable, and extremely well organized. 

Sjyline 50K Start LineLike most trail runs, the start (and the finish, for that matter) was casual and inauspicious.  Runners gathered behind a piece of duct tape while we half listened to final instructions.  I can never remember what color ribbons to follow.  Red going out, blue coming back?  Or was it the other way around?  What’s the white ribbon for?  And then we were off.

The current course, established in 2003, is described on the web site as  having generous amounts of singletrack, ridge running, and no quad-busting finish.  That translates into lots of running.  There is a total of three miles of paved bike path along Lake Chabot, 11+ miles of shady single track, and the rest is on dirt fire roads.  I took the first hour or more at a leisurely pace, walking some of the steeper hills even if I could have run them.  Everyone seemed to be in a hurry.  No lolly-gagging at the first few aid stations.  This event is a championship event in the 2009 Pacific Association/USATF Ultra Grand Prix Series, and it seemed like everyone was racing for points.

I’ve spent a lot of time learning my nutrition and hydration needs through trial and error…with plenty of errors.  I’ve learned to drink early and drink a lot, even when I’m not really thirsty.  Hyponatremia is not likely to catch up to me with my nearly excessive hydration requirements.  I grabbed a fistful of PB&Js at every aid station, and that seemed to take care of my nutrition requirements.

What saved me and probably many others on this day was the weather.  It was overcast and in the 60s almost the entire race.  The sun came out and started warming things up with just a few miles to go.  I finished in 5:36, my fastest 50K ever and my 9th PR of the year.  It was a refreshing change to receive a goodie bag with something in it this year.  Among a smattering of giveaways was a very nice tech T-shirt accompanied by an aluminum drinking bottle which took its place on top of my trophy case next to the Rim Trail Ale I received at the Tahoe Rim 50K a couple weeks earlier.  The post race BBQ was simply awesome, and included vegetarian items.  I filled my plate with a massive burger, vegetables and a big bowl of vegetable bean soup.  There are generally no medals for trail runs but the food is usually excellent.

Skyline 50K ViewIt’s a great feeling to be in good enough shape to decide to run 31 miles the day before a race, especially after running 15 miles of trails.   I have managed to stay injury free while running up to 100 miles a week and I feel like I have really put the work in for the Transrockies Run.  I’m not sure there is anything else I could have done to prepare.  Now I can go and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.

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3 Responses

  1. You are definitely ready for TRR. I’ll be the one at the back of the pack smelling the flowers and enjoying the view.

    • Hi Judy! Thanks for the note! I’m enjoying your TRR comments on FB and looking forward to meeting you and many others. My teammate Kevin and I are probably somewhere in the middle of the pack but we’re all about enjoying the views, too. We made sure we put the work in so we can enjoy the experience and hopefully not suffer too much. It will be spectacular! See you soon.

  2. Just read your post–sounds like a great race to run!!

    I’m glad all of us were there today to wish you and Kevin well. I will be watching for Facebook posts. And I will be praying for both of you.

    You guys are crazy!!! ;>}

    Have an AWESOME time at Transrockies!!

    Jody :>}

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