Posted by: runwithgarrison | October 15, 2012

Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler Race Report

Aloha Everyone!

On Saturday I raced the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler in California for the 2nd year in a row and I am quite happy with the both the results and the effort. I finished in 17th place overall with a time of 8:08:04. I want to thank a few people who played key roles in this particular adventure—-Thanks to Dan and Blaine for providing awesome support before/during/after the race along with sending race updates to Sweet P so she could update the site from HI. Thanks also go to Dan’s family for providing me with an awesome home-away-from-home! Thanks to Nurse Katie for the post-race medical support! Thanks to Frank at iRun for amazing gear. And of course–Massive Mahalos to Sweet P for all the site updates, love, and constant support!

On to the race…I must admit, 3 weeks ago during the Noble Canyon 50k, I thought there would be no way I could put in a decent effort over 50 miles at this event—I even contemplated not coming to the race at all. As it turns out, I was totally wrong! Lesson Learned–the negative voices that try to exert their influence in races are total garbage and deserve no serious consideration! Heading into this race, I had a solid race plan and I wanted to run very conservatively and stay within myself for the entire effort. Last year at this race, I went out too fast and paid the price for it over the last 20 miles and finished up in 27th place with 8:24:36PR. My Garmin 410 ran out of battery life around 8:14 last year so I was really hoping to run faster than 8:14 so I could have the entire race on my Garmin Connect page. The goal beyond that was to attempt to give a sub 8 hour effort a shot. I printed out a card with my time splits/estimates at each aid station and laminated it so I could carry it in my pocket on race day. I also wrote out the approximate goal times for Dan and Blaine to better help them know where I would be on the course at any given time. I have never done this before and I think it was a huge help! Having the card to look at really allowed me to just focus on running from one aid station to the next and also seriously helped me to stay within the moment for each phase of the race.

The course was an out & back on the beautiful trails of the East Bay Regional Park System. The course markings were super easy to follow and the race staff and volunteers all did a fantastic job putting together a first class race. The race climbs about 7000 feet over the course of the day. Most of the hills are run-able but they definitely wore on me as I went deeper into the race. I ran the first section of the race with my headlamp because I remembered last year that it was dark for the first 20-30 minutes. Even though the first section in the dark is paved, I felt so much more relaxed having my own illumination and not having to worry about running somebody else’s pace in order to see effectively. I have a lightweight Petzl and I was able to drop it off with Dan at the Bort Meadow Aid Station. For that first 8 miles, I ran very relaxed and felt super comfortable with my effort. Soon after that, I started running with LA Sportiva’s Jenny Capel. We spent a solid bit of time together on the trail and it was great to be able to put in so many miles with such a studly Ultra Runner. As a quick side note—I have now raced with 3 runners from the LA Sportiva team, Mark Tanaka, Sean Blanton, and Jenny Capel, and they are 3 of the coolest, down-to-earth, and helpful runners that I have ever run with. Congrats to the team at LA Sportiva–you have chosen some fantastic representatives for our sport!

Anyway, I was hoping to get out to the turnaround point around 3:50-4:00. Jenny and I hit the mark around 3:49 and I was feeling solid. I had no problems staying within myself and staying focused on the task at hand. I stayed positive on the climbs and I let the race come to me. The climb out of the canyon following the turnaround was long and tough but working together made the climb run-able. I was feeling good, running consistently just under my time goals, and Dan & Blaine kept my spirits high and bottle filled with Skratch Labs juice every time I saw them.

Along some of the rollers on the way back, I was able to run with 22 year old UCLA grad student Elan Lieber for a while and we got into a really good rhythm. I was starting to zone out a bit so I cannot exactly remember the miles that we ran together. Our pace was a bit quicker than I had been running and we were both chasing a sub 8 performance. He made it under, while I had a little bit of difficulty with one of the hills on the way home. Thru about 40 miles, I was still running pretty well and I was able to keep my walking to a minimum. I was certainly starting to feel tired and the downhills were taking a toll on my quads but all things considered, life was pretty good. By the Big Bear Aid Station around 40 miles I was running by myself and the climb that followed the aid station really took a bite out of me. This was the stretch that made Sub 8 unattainable on this particular day. I walked a bunch of this climb but I was able to stay upbeat and positive. At no point in the race did I ever feel like I hit a “bottom” point. Even as I was walking up the climb, I knew a PR was totally realistic if I just kept moving forward and ran once the climb ended. I was doing some quick math in my head and figured 8:10 would be about the time I would finish. If I ran that time, I would beat the Garmin battery limit by about 4 minutes! Right as I completed that math, my Garmin went dead—at 7:57. I have to say, I was a little bummed that over the course of 1 year, I lost 17 minutes of battery life when fully charged. Oh Well.

As I crossed the finish line in 8:08 I was greeted by Dan, Blaine, and Jenny who killed it with a 7:37! Dan was the first to bring up the 808 reference for the Hawaii Boy so I thought that was kinda cool. (808) is the area code for Hawaii–in case you did not know. I ran back from the turnaround in 4:18. A bit slower than I would have liked but I think I gave up most of that time walking up the last big climb. Overall, I think this was probably my 2nd best Ultra effort to date and it was also my second best effort according to the rankings on I am continuing to learn more each time I race and I am totally excited to see where things go in 2013. I have now raced 11 Ultra races with 6 of those races in 2012. As I reflect on this race, I am amazed how much I have grown as a runner in the last year. I have improved my focus, patience, toughness and my overall attitude about racing and training. I improved by over 16 minutes and 10 places compared to last year. The funny part is that I was in much better shape last year and I am 13 pounds heavier than I was last year. Hopefully, I can continue to improve both my mental and physical fitness in order to achieve the next set of goals that P and I lay out for 2013 and beyond.

What’s Next….A few days off to recover and allow my cankles to settle back down:)
I have entered the remaining 2 races of the Honolulu Marathon Readiness Series—30k on October 28 and a half marathon November 18. The plan with those races will be to try and run even pace to see exactly where my fitness stands heading into the Honolulu Marathon December 9. I am hoping to finally start workouts again next week once I recover from this final Ultra of 2012.

Thank you so very much for checking out our site. We have been up since late January and the site has now been viewed over 3,400 times and we have 21 followers. Sweet P and I will probably try to expand the site in 2013 so if there is anything that you would like to see on the site, please let us know!





  1. Great Job Doc! Keep it up!

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