Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oz Pearlman - 2008 AR50 Report

Professional Magician, Oz Pearlman lead the first 31 miles at this year's AR50.

Here is a report he posted on ultra list.

I've enjoyed posting race reports in the past as writing them down gets me
to really recall the race and learn from it. This time around it was the
American River 50 Miler.

I flew out to Sacramento on Thursday night. My dad and sister live out
there, so it was quite nice to see them and also get to run a race. On Friday I
attended the pasta dinner and race briefing. Greg, the RD, and Tim
Twietmeyer were very friendly and informative; and they went over the
course in great detail. Especially helpful was the advice from Tim that miles 31-
40 are the hardest in the race with challenging terrain. Constant rolling hills
with logs and rocks, and very difficult to gain any real momentum.

Managed to hop in bed at an early hour and get 6 solid hours of sleep before
I woke up before the alarm (generally happens on race day due to nerves).
There were way more people at the start than any previous ultra I had done
and the energy and sight of so many runners got me excited. We all lined up
and moments later were off! Right at the start one guy sprints out as if he's
doing a 100 meter dash and a few people near me are either surprised or
heard to say "what the hell". That was pretty funny. I eased into a
comfortable pace for the first few miles. Around mile 6 the lead pack formed
with 11 guys. Over the next few miles it thinned out and I took the lead. My
game plan was to maintain an even and sustainable pace, which was going to
be between 6:20 - 6:30 per mile. The mile markers painted on the bike trail
were fantastic and I was hitting my splits dead on. After Nimbus dam we
hopped onto a single track trail briefly up and down a hill. At one point going
up the hill I almost slipped and fell. This would be a pretty common occurence
throughout the day.

Around mile 24 or so, Anton passed me while running through the trails. It
was amazing to watch him fly by, as he is just so fluid and comfortable on the
trails. I did not realize what a difference it is between running on trails vs
roads. AR50 was the 3rd time ever that I was running on trails, and the
previous two times were never on technical terrain (Vermont 100 and a
training run). Shortly after he passed me we went back onto the bike path
and I quickly regained the lead. I kept running strong through to mile 31 where
I fell flat on my face, hard. Caught my toe on a smaller rock. The impact
managed to completely drain my water bottle but luckily I was uninjured. Then
came the sections that Tim had told me about the night before. Up and down,
up and down, with logs and rocks and turns....awful :P I really tried to stay
focused and tell myself that this was where I had to hold it together. The
miles passed by, but it started to wear me down, both physically and
mentally. Somewhere around mile 35 Anton flew past me, and I knew he was
going to win; the guy is unbelievable on trails. It was somewhere between
miles 38 and 39 where I mentally broke down and became complacent. It
seemed unlikely that I could hold onto 3rd place to get a spot into Western
States, and the more I ran the trails at AR50 the less I wanted to run WS100
hahaha. At Rattlesnake Bar (mile 39.9) I had some family and friends cheering
for me and I decided to stop and rest for about 30 seconds. My heart was no
longer in the race, but I was not going to DNF either.

Headed out for the last 10 miles and tried to push it and stay focused for
the next miles. Walked a few of the uphills but for the most part was running.
Everybody that passed me was very courteous and one guy even asked if I
needed a gel or anything. This is part of the reason I love ultras, people are
just so friendly and you get such a sense of camaraderie. At Mile 46.5 you
turn into a massive hill unlike anything I had ever seen before. I started
laughing out loud and walked. Surprisingly I was not sad or angry at this point,
and my legs weren't even trashed, just a matter of losing focus and desire to
press on. When I reached the Last Gasp aid station (Mile 47.6) I was so
ecstatic. Stood there for a little while and dumped at least 5 glasses of water
on my head which was heavenly. Then proceeded to walk some more. At the
2 miles to go sign another guy passed me and I decided it was time to run
again, and from there on in ran the last 2 miles of the uphill.

Family and friends were there to cheer me on as I crossed the finish line.
Even though I had lofty goals going into the race, I didn't feel that down or
disappointed. Seemed to me that I hadn't trained properly and that running
trails is a whole different ball game than running on roads. The race was quite
a challenge, and my hats off to everyone that ran it.