Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Last Race of the Season, The Woodside 50k

My last race for 2005 was the Phleger Estate/Woodside 50k this last Saturday, a hilly 50k through the Santa Cruz Mountains near my home. When I say "near", I do mean "near" - the first aid station is set up on my driveway at mile 6. Today, however, I would get to share my local haunts with 200 or so lucky runners trying 11k/19k/37k/50k distances.

(Heading up the climb at Huddart Park)

Old man winter must have been one of the entrants, bringing sub-40 degree weather and storm-beaten trails (I know, us Californians are wimps but around here that's cold!). The sun was doing its best to burn off the frost and shed a few rays of light through the redwood canopies. Wendell and Sarah, the RD's of Pacific Coast Trail Runs, had made some last minute changes to the course to avoid the rampant poison oak of the Phleger Estate, and instead criss-crossing up Huddart Park to start. Total vert = ~4,800 ft, with most of it before the first aid station.

As runners arrived for registration, most of the conversation was around the Western States 100 lottery that was taking place that same morning. I had my application in too, so I was eager to check the web site after the race. I also spoke with a 12-year-old Devon Errington and her mom, who both awaited Devons first 11k to test out the cross-country skills she had been building this Fall with the Woodside Priory Cross Country Team. But us long-distance folks got to go first, and about 30 runners lined up for the 50k start, with roughly 1/3 of them being first-time ultra runners. The PC Trails races are awesome for first-timers, so this was no surprise. At 8:30am, we were off!

Within the first two miles, the field had quickly spread out. Christophe Jole went right off the front like a banshee, as Mike Duncan and I ran together in 2nd/3rd, trying to remember if Christophe was one of the people who had raised his hand when Wendell asked for first-time ultra runners. We shrugged out shoulders and paced along Richards Road Trail. Mike Duncan has been a cross-country regular in this area for nearly 30 years, and at age 56, still regularly kicks my ass. As we ran, he shared stories of running with the San Mateo high school cross country team through the Phleger Estate (before it was known as the Phleger Estate) in 1968, pointing out an old gate buried in the redwoods that marked the original entrance. In four years of running this trail, I had never noticed that gate. When we hit the hills, Mike was all business, launching up the mountain with the grace and sure-footed stride of a mountain goat that knew every step by heart. I kept him in sight as we climbed up to the first aid station, and as I looked down the hill, and I could see it was just the two of us for quite a ways back.

(Ron and volunteers set up the first aid station near our driveway)

The first aid station was set up in my driveway at the 9k mark (I TOLD you I was a local!), and a handful of friends and family awaited their runners. The sun didn't seem to be helping much, and it felt colder here than it was at the race start. I decided to keep my gloves on, refilled my water bottles, and had some banana and Pop Tart pieces. Mike was already out of sight. I turned on my iPod (Audioslave, Zero 7, and a new hip hop album from Le Peuple de Herbe) and headed down the familiar route to Wunderlich Park as I had dozens of times - alone with my tunes, letting my body dictate the pace.

The trail evidenced the stormy week we had before the race, with a few fallen trees to jump over and around, and most of the topsoil and pine needles pushed to the sides of the trail by rain water. Mike and I ran the trail in a similar way - in the firm center for good foot traction on the way up, and on the thick trail edges for a more cushy downhill. About an hour down the Skyline Trail, I hit the second aid station (mile 12), watching Mike leave as I arrived. This aid station was also chilly (a volunteer's two dogs burrowed into a sleeping bag had the right idea), and we joked about the frost on my goatee. They also mentioned that Christophe was about 8 minutes ahead of us, so he clearly had a good pace going.

I headed down into Wunderlich Park, trying to focus on a fast turnover and keeping my weight forward. My Inov-8 Flyrocs were sticking well, making it easy to get through the single track at the bottom. As I popped out of the very bottom our traverse through Wunderlich, I noticed the turn up the Meadow Trail wasn't marked (the only missing mark on an otherwise perfectly marked course - bandits, perhaps?). I knew to go back up (and suspected that Mike knew that too), but wasn't sure about the 50k runners behind us. I tried to assemble a few sticks to make an arrow and debated leaving a glove (pointing the right way, natch), but felt I was borderline freezing as is and needed to keep the glove . About 100 yards up there was another trail marking, so I figured most would see it.

As the trail linked back up with the fire road we came down, I got to see the happy faces of the other 50k runners coming down. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and they were all dressed warm. A couple of them told me Mike was about 6 minutes ahead, so I knew he was making ground on the uphills. As I hit the peak at Wunderlich, I was surprised I felt so good. On race morning, I could still feel the burn in my quads from the Santa Barbara 9 Trails race the previous weekend, so this would be the first ultra I would do without a full recovery. But so far, so good. I foraged through the aid station (m&m's, goldfish crackers, flat Coke), refilled the water, and headed back towards Huddart Park.

At the 26 mile aid station (back at my driveway), the volunteer said, "oh, good...we thought you were lost." I asked what he meant, and he said that Mike Duncan was in first place for the 50k but thought there was one guy ahead of him. I concurred, but said that I wasn't the lost guy and had been third. Clearly, Christophe had taken a wrong turn somewhere or had dropped out. But now the volunteers knew who to look for.

(Heading back into Huddart Park for the final descent)

I felt strong in the 1,800 foot descent to the finish line, much better than last year (my first ultra, where I had finished in 4:53). Before I knew it, I crossed the finish line in 4:39, good enough for second place behind Mike Duncan (who finished in 4:29). Christophe came in third about 5 minutes later, saying he had missed the turn at Meadow Trail. He was NOT pleased (remember - always, always carry a map!), but understood that's part of the trail running experience. Caren Spore from Davis, CA, came in just under 5 hours to win first female, and Devon Errington smoked her first 11k in 59:53, placing 8th overall in a field of over 100 runners. We all helped ourselves to hot soup and chili and cheered the other runners in.

When I came home, I found out that I didn't get a slot for Western States. Alas. That's okay, though - I'm sure 2006 will have plenty of adventure in store. Just looking back on the 15+ great races I had in 2005 (Deadwood, Boston, Aspen, Tahoe, Dipsea, my first 50-miler, etc.), I am already excited for what may lie ahead. At the Woodside 50k, my backyard trails felt new again. I guess as long as you are trail running, every step feels new and exciting no matter where they might lead.

Happy holidays, everyone!

- SD


  1. My apologies to those of you who got the "Draft Version" sent to you....not sure what happened there. Anyway, here's the final version.



  2. Nice work, Devon!!

  3. [notes from the RD's]

    Throughout Thursday’s amazingly powerful storm, we kept thinking about the trails and the runners. Would Saturday turn out to be a nice day? Would people come out to run? And would the trails be in decent shape? Well, as it turned out, both Friday and Saturday were beautiful days, cool and sunny, perfect running weather. And lots of people came out to run – many of our running friends, lots of friends of friends, and a big group of first time trail runners and people who hoped to be first time ultra runners by the end of the day. And decent shape? Not exactly – the trails were in perfect shape! No mud, no puddles, and just enough trees and branches down to keep things interesting.

    Thank you so much for joining us Saturday in wonderful Huddart Park. We had a blast all day long, watching people come flying across the field and push it up the final hill to the finish. And we were honored by the sheer number of you who came out to run your first trail run or first ultramarathon with us. It should be noted, too, that every single person who started their first 50 Km on those fun, rolling trails accomplished his or her ultra goal, and in fine form!! Congratulations to all the first timers and to all the other finishers, too.

    As many of you know, we give away coupons for Vasque trail shoes at each event. Saturday’s first pair of shoes went to Christophe, who was flying around the course in the lead of the 50 Km when he was the first person to reach the vandalized and, therefore, unmarked turn onto the Meadow Trail. After quite a bit of looking and running around in Wunderlich Park, Christophe made his way back to the finish…but his time searching for the correct course or at least some ribbons to guide him cost him the first place finish. The other pair went to Madhuri, also in the 50 Km. She ran her first trail run in February of this year with us – the 11 Km in Huddart Park. She either ran in or helped out at several of our runs over the spring, summer, and fall – and came out Saturday and became an ultrarunner! We typically don’t give away both pairs of Vasque shoes to runners in the same distance event, but we thought both of these recipients most worthy.

    Our next event is the Muir Beach Trail Run, where we’ll have 11 Km, 17 Km, 33 Km, and 50 Km events from which you may choose. This is a wonderful venue, with the start/finish not far from the beach and incredible views from above Pirates Cove. Please note that this event has sold out every year, and it will probably do the same in the next week or so. If you plan to run, we advise you to get your entry in soon.

    Thanks again for coming out on Saturday to run with us, and hope we see you out on the trails again soon.

    Wendell & Sarah


  4. Sorry to hear about your Western States lottery. I won't be there either. Here's hoping for 2007.

    Do you run the regular Dipsea, or the double or quad? I do the regular Dipsea every year. You and I would probably be in the same start group.

  5. Tommybigs -

    That's awesome that you're going to pace your pal! It's a very important role. I don't know much about pacing myself, so I'll point you to a few places:

    1) The most successful pacer/racer combo's seems to be from people who know each other well. So first thing's first, KNOW THY PARTNER!

    2) Ask around...Western States training runs, other ultras in your area, etc. - I bet it won't be hard to find some pacing gurus.

    3) Here's a great article:


    Hope that helps...good luck!


  6. Scott,

    Congrats on a great run and nice finish. I was there running the 19K and saw you at the start (it was FREEZING). You look like you got there late (so much for living so close!) and you were busy getting all of your gear in order so I didn't want to bother you. We actually exchanged pleasantries at the start of the this year's Double Dipsea.

    Interesting about the gate to Phleger, I never knew it existed either. I'll have to look for it the next time I go up Richard's Rd.

    See you on the trails!


  7. I remember you, Ron! I didn't realize you were in the race. You're right that I showed up to the starting line late....that's three in a row. I'm going to have to get better at the "20 minute countdown".

    The gate was less than a mile from where we hit Richards Road in the race. We looked to my right across the creek, down about 30 feet, and it was a steel fire road gate with a road going nowhere. Not too far from the Canada Road cutoff.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    - SD

  8. Ha! I've been reading your blog for some time and for some reason never realized how close to me you live for I hail from Capitola (well used to, had to move away due to financial constraints, but not to worry I'll be back)
    I used to run/hike in your neck of the woods all the time!!!

    Boy it IS a small world 'aint it!

  9. Saturday's run at Woodside was my first trail race and I learned of the race from visiting your "blog". I'm from Ohio and was in the area as my daughter was undergoing surgery by Dr. Brent who has his office in Woodside. The timing worked out and I was delighted to have the opportunity to run in such a dramatic landscape.

    I recognized you at the race, but didn't have a chance to speak to you prior to the 50K start. I elected to run the 19K, but hope one day to run an ultra.

    Thanks for the work you put into your blog. I enjoy your writing and interviews.

    One question: Can you elaborate on, or point me in the direction of a description of, how you train?

    Anyone who can run a trail race where an aid station is located on their driveway is a fortunate runner. Carry one the good work.

  10. To the Ohio visitor above -

    I hope your daughter's surgery was a success, and you enjoyed your visit. Let me know if you have to come out again!

    I haven't posted much about my training, but am happy to share some basics. Be sure to also check the interviews, since many of the elites were kind enough to share their workouts. Usually I run for fun (ie, fartlek), so I don't watch my splits too closely.

    Here's a typical week:

    Mon: Recovery swim in the morning

    Tues: 5-6 miles of trails (rolling hills, such as Richards Road in Huddart), 30-45 min weights (core)

    Wed: 8-9 miles of trails (1500-2500 vrt ft, like the 19k you just ran)

    Thurs: 3-5 miles of speed workout (trails or track) or hill sprints, 30-45 min weights (core)

    Fri: Swim in the morning, 5-6 miles if no race on Sat

    Sat: Race or 15-20 mile run

    Sun: Rest (if race the previous day), bike 40-50 miles, or if training for 50+ mile race, do another 15-20 mile run on tired legs

    That's a typical week. In the off-season (Dec-Mar), I do more biking and 8-9 mile runs on Tues/Thur to build an aerobic base.

    I don't taper much, although I would probably be faster if I did. ;-)


  11. Scott ... thanks for the reply and some details regarding your training. I suppose I'm got in that nether region between road and trail racing ... still trying to figure out "trail training".

    Thanks for the kind words. My daughter's surgery went well and we're leaving for Ohio tomorrow. She has one more surgery probably in about three to four months. Can't tell at this point what our plans will be, but if there is a chance for a race or run I'll be sure to contact you.

    Ran 10 miles this morning at the Bayshore Nature Preserve ... hope I got the name correct ... lots of waterfowl and nary a hill to be found ... got my fill of them at Woodside!

    Peace to you and, again, thank you for your ... how should I say it ... "gentle" blog.

    Run well,
    Dennis in Ohio

  12. Hi Scott...regular reader of your blog and it's great. It's good to read a bit about yourself too, such as details on your training schedule.

    I think you "deserve" to be interviewed as well...so would you mind if your readers/I post a few questions to you - don't worry I will only ask 'appropriate' questions ;-) - ?

    A few years back I used to visit Palo Alto frequently and used the 280 into SF, but in those days I was not into running, but did manage to do some mountain biking in the area. I miss the kind of trails you've got in your back yard here in London.

    Mick (UK)

  13. Thanks for reading, Mick!

    Sure, feel free to post a bunch of questions and I will answer them in a new blog entry. I'm flattered to be asked!

    Let us know a bit about yourself too, if you don't mind.



  14. Hi Scott,

    first of all thanks for accepting a few questions from me. I hope you and your readers will find my questions of interest; maybe they have some of their own questions to add...

    Q: In one of your early blog entries you give a bit of background on how you got into trail running. Can you try and describe what the enjoyment of running is to you (sorry guess I
    should open with an easy question!) and what got you hooked onto trail running when you Started?

    Q: What do you enjoy the most about trail running, the anticipation of going for a run/ race, the actual run/race or the finishing of a run/race?

    Q: Sorry to hear you didn't manage to win an entry to the WS100 - any plans to do an alternative 100 mile event in 2006? If not what's the big attraction to you of the WS100?

    Q: Are you taking a winter break from running and do you already have a clear view on your race schedule for the new year?

    Q: As somebody who tends to run where it's flat with at most 'hills' lasting 2 to 3 mintues - do you like running hills and how hard (or indeed easy) do you find running up hill?

    Q: We read/hear about some amazing running feats undertaken by many people - what is your 'dream' challenge? And if it's WS100 for now, what will follow?

    Q: Would you tell us a bit about your blog...what do you enjoy most about blogging? Will you continue
    with blogging in the new year (I certainly hope so)?

    Q: What's your favourite book you've read on running?
    [In my opinion an excellent book on the 'tradition' of running fells (hills) in the UK (includes some international stories too) is 'Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession' by Richard Askwith - Note: I have no association with the author/ publisher whatsoever ;-)]

    Q: What running accomplishment are you most proud of? Do you have a favourite race story/incident (e.g. unniest/thoughest/ weirdest/most enjoyable) to share with us?

    Q: Now for some of your own 'regular' interview questions...
    - Any tips you have for somebody who's just starting out with trail running?
    - What are your favourite races/ locations?
    - Have you experienced any running related injuries and how did you deal with them?

    Q: Finally congratulations to your excellent results of your 2005 Races!


    A few words about myself - my main outdoor activities in the past have been hill walking and cycling. I certainly don't have any fond memories of running while at school. I always though about running as being boring especially compared to cycling where you have a speed and technical element to it.

    But at the beginning of this year my view on running has let's say changed 'just' slightly...a work colleague persuaded me to join him for a half-marathon which was coming up in 3 months. So I found a training plan and started running...well and nearly 12 months
    later I find myself running at least 3 times a week and having completed a couple of half-

    For the new year I'm planning to be slightly more ambitious with at least one road marathon and one off-road marathon (http://www.robin-web.co.uk/beachyhead/index.htm).

    Keeping it short the two things about running that I really enjoy is the simplicity/freedom (all you need is a pair of trainers and off you go) and the ability of the body to get used to running if one is prepared to put some effort into it (for most people I believe
    that can be true). Oh and one more thing at the end of a day that included a decent run I sleep sooo well :-)

    I do most of my running on trails but unfortunately no hills in the vicinity for me.

    Cheers and keep up the excellent work with your blog!
    Mick (UK)

  15. Interview the interviewer! Great!!!

    I'll add some questions too:

    1. IN 2004, you did triathlons and trail running. Are you going to do any more tri's?

    2. How come you always have great pictures? Aren't you supposed to be running the RACE???

    3. Who do you train with?

    4. You went from "good" to "great" in just a year or two. What happened? Any supplements? (ha, ha)

    5. You have inov8 and injinji on your blog - are those advertisements? If so, how did you get them to advertise?

    Thanks, Charlie1

  16. When can we see more "products I would like to see"? You got digged on digg.com, btw.

  17. Here's a question - why not run a _NORMAL DISTANCE_?

  18. Why did you pick the trophy series from trail runner magazine? Why not the Montrail series, fuel belt series, SoCal series, etc.?

    And why the biking on the weekends vs more running?

  19. Way to go, that's awesome! That's so great that an aid station was right in your driveway, lol! I can't believe the 11 yr old was so fast, that's great. Sounds like a force to be reckoned with in the future! A trail ultra is on my list of 'one-days', maybe 2007. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the best ones for newbies.

  20. Here's a question for you. What kind of job do you have that allows you to run all over the place? Do you have time for other interests?

  21. I go to school with Devon, and i know shes hella fast! Way to go Devon, and thanks for making Priory proud. One day you'll be there in first place, and you'll have a hole school cheering you on. Looking foward to another great school year with ya!

  22. I totally agree that Californians are wimps when it comes to cold weather. We get so much warm weather that we think 30 degrees is freezing. Oh well, paradice has its price. And way to go Devon. Who knew a twelve year old could run so fast.

  23. its ironic that i both know and like Devon, and its a known fact among people that know her that shes a great runner, but we never knew she was this good. Well Devon, this is from someone whos been admiring you from a distance!

  24. Devon, I just thought you'd like to know that I am totally excited about you and Brugger. I hope things work out ok, and that you two were really cute on the bus. Here's for a good relationship! And I'm still in love with you, if you happen to read this.

  25. Hi Scott this is Devon, i never got the chance to congradulate you on last year's awesome finish. And i am bummbed that i can't run in this years Woodside run. However I wish you luck, and do well on ur home turf. Also thank u to all of u that congradulated me.
    Sincerely, Devon

    P.S. Maybe someday we will be able to run a race together. But I don't think I will be running any 50K's soon!

  26. Devon -

    Sorry to hear you won't be back to defend your title this December! There's another Woodside race in February...maybe "Devon, Part II - Return of the Trail Master"?

    BTW, hope you caught the fan mail in the previous posts (Colin, Brugger, etc.)...

    Keep up the running,


  27. Hi Devon! I'm sooooooooo JEALOUS!!! This fan thing is soooooo cool! Anyways, I will always be a top fan of my little Devie! I love the comments too. And I agree with ALL of them. Good luck next time you run. See ya at school. (ha ha! you know what I'm talking about:)

  28. Oh and whoever anonymous 12/13/05 is. Ya jsut kids. Devon's in 8th GRADE!!! And like Colin said, she's HELLA fast!

    HI DEVON!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Hi Kimmie! O ya and goodluck on the big run tomorrow Scott.


  30. Dear Devon:

    You are supper hot and a great runner. I hope that your Brugger is trating you realy good, because you deserve the very best.

    By the way I was the one who sent you all of the flowers last year!

    I can tell that there is no chance for me or anyone else because everyone can tell that you only have eyes for Brugger.


  31. Whoever u r that sent the flowers thank you. But I guess i will never know who u r. Thats too bad, but still thanks.

  32. Hi Devon! I'm sooooooooo JEALOUS!!! This fan thing is soooooo cool! Anyways, I will always be a top fan of my little Devie! I love the comments too. And I agree with ALL of them. Good luck next time you run. See ya at school. (ha ha! you know what I'm talking about:)


  33. Hey y'all -

    If you want to post "controversial" statements, you're going to have to sign your name in a way we know who you are. I will remove anonymous comments that are negative (and the responses).


  34. I love you still Devon. Happy Valentines Day!! Keep running you look great.

    Your Valentine

  35. Hey Devon, it's pretty cool you have your own running blog.

    Boy, there seem to be lots of stalkers on this blog page. Better hide.

    Also, Kimmie, you have horrible grammar.

    Hope you've had fun on break.

  36. Hi Devon:

    I was looking up some of my Hockey and basball articles on my computer and was thinking about you. I miss having you as my catcher. Basball isn't the same without you. Good luck with your running in the J.R. Olimpics and your modeling. By the way everyone at Papas funeral thought that you were hot.

    Love, Wessley Starr

  37. Hey Wessely thanks for the nice comment. Give me a call some time if you want to hang out. I hope your baseball and hockey seasons are going well.

    O and corey cheung you are totally right. And this is not my blog it's actually this super fast runner's blog, which i met at a run in woodside one time.

  38. Dev:
    What a year. You are as beautiful as you are sweet. Never change. Keep running and go for all of your goals in life. Good luck with Bergie. I hope that he knows how lucky he is to have someone like you that likes him. I know that you are happy when you are with him.

  39. Hay, Everone:

    We know Devon better then all of you and we know that she appreciates all of the nice coments. Please don't guess who she likes. She is going out with Jordan so, the fact is that she likes Jordan.

    Devons Friends

    P.S Devon good luck in the Hersheys race next week.


  40. Now thats what I call my real friedns. Thank you guys. And yes Jordan and i are going out so obviously i like him.


  41. And i have this feeling that we'll go out for a long time. Cause i really like Jordan so ya stop assuming i like other people cause i don't.


  42. You and Jordan were so perfect together. I know that he still loves you. Hopefuly he can work threw whatever it is that is going on with him. You are definatly the best thing that ever happened to him. This is so G that you have your own runners blog.You are the kind of runner that people will be talking about for many years. All of the other compliments are totaly true about you by the way!!!

  43. Jordan who??? I am home sick today and googled your name. What a suprize to see that you are a running star. You are the hottest girl I hhave ever seen a bad a-- dancer. I couldn't take my eyes off of you at the dance the other week in Palo Alto. I know this guy that went to school with you and he says that you are as sweet as you are hot. I just hope to God that you don't have a boyfriend. Well thiis is a running blog so I better say good luck with your running. I would love to see you in a race!!! Go to the next dance. I will be there.

  44. Hi, Devon:

    You have a pretty big fan club. I am so happy that you are doing well in your running and it looks like you are popular as well. Some one told me that you havee a lot of fans. You deserve all the happieness in the world because you are beautiful, the nicest person I have ever met and everyone knows how hard you work at your running. We will all say someday that we knew her when.
    From, someone who is still admiring you from a distance.

  45. Devon:

    I am going to ask you out on Valentines day if I get up enough nerve I hope that you will say yes to me!! I know that you have lots of guy friends and that doesn't bother me. I just want to go out with you. I just don't know if you like me as much as I like you? I know that you went to winter formal with Putnam I wish that it could have been me. You looked so hot. Everyone at the dance thought that you looked awsome. You will know on Valentines day who I am if I do it. Please say yes but if you don't it will be ok too. Good luck in track.

  46. Hay Devon:

    Everyone knew it all a long you and Putnam you guys are the perfect couple of Priory. Sooo very cute together lots of luck to both of you we all know that you two are going to go out for a very long time. Good luck in track Dev Dev.

  47. hi devon!

    congratulations on your successes in cross country! i hope i can run with you next year!


  48. Devon Errington:

    OMG you are the most incredible runner. You are a supper star. Soooo very cute. I am going to marry you someday...;)

  49. Devon, 4 years later I still love you. You are my one and only, ur dating Brian but I still want to lay with u! Just remember, "Love is like an hourglass with the heart filling up as the brain empties."

    - With love, Colin Schreiner.


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