This past July I decided I was going to run my first ultra marathon. This decision came to
me in my journey to eventually qualify for Boston. I’ve noticed when I run longer distances not only do I become stronger but mentally my mileage becomes less. I’ve learned it allows me to run faster and longer. Adding miles to my runs, especially trail
runs gives me the strength I need to become faster. I could just get into interval training on a high school track but I find trails a little more exciting and my style!
I decided to run Lake Hodges 50k because the course looked challenging, the race director was organized, and the October date was appealing for nice weather…. It also gave me 12 weeks to train. Training was smooth, fueling for longer distances is fun for me. I like the science behind it and how nutrition plays a role in the way I preform. Since 31 miles isn’t a whole lot more than a marathon. I altered some of
first mile in and looking perfectly spooky for a Halloween race!
my gels and actually added food (yes, food) to my training. It’s so hard for me to eat anything while running. The night before a run I can’t eat past midnight, I can stomach one Health Warrior Bar or gel and that’s it! It really sucks but that’s my body. So taking on an Ultra was exciting, it let me challenge myself and play nutritionist at the same time ;p
On October 28th, I woke up around 3:45 to make a 7 am start time. The race was held at Lake Hodges hence Lake Hodges 50k which is in Escondido. About 45-55
The long stretch before hills, this is where the sun started to poke out!
miles from my home. Since I had schedule two races this weekend, the 28th and 29th I wasn’t able to make packet pick up in between work and managing a LA packet pick up. So I got to the race by 6 to pick up my bib and shirt. The packet pick up line while long was fast, as it was organized well. I was able to pick my bib up, check in, and collect my crazy thoughts, lol. I originally put together two drop bags that I 86’d that morning and
decided to go “All IN” on the aid stations and my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Pack.
Before the race, I did some final stretching and prayed. I prayed for strength, I prayed for the other runners, I prayed for whatever God had planned for us; we would accept and try to understand his plan, whether we DNF or finished. Before I knew it I was toeing’ the start line and off into low
Photo by Scott Crellin
laying fog amongst the brush. The first 5k was easy and relaxing, from tips of previous ultra runners, I knew to start slow. I got into “my” comfortable pace. My pace was strong and my mind was open. I kept telling myself that finishing was more important than time, with the exception of course cut off times ;p My
Past the hills and getting closer to finishing, 24.5 miles and 6.5 to go!
goal for my first 50k was a sub 6:30, I wasn’t sure 5k or even 10k into the race if I’d hit my goal.
I continued to run and at 4.6 I came across my first aid station, it was after a hilly .5 of up and down. I stopped and refilled my bottles. I kept my nuun Performance in the pockets of my HydraQuiver. That helped me maintain my electrolytes and carb balance. My goal was to
intake between 100-250 calories per hour, as well as stay hydrated and energized.
Back at Lake Hodges and close to finishing!
Once I trailed off the aid station, I told myself to make those stations “markers” and utilize them as much as possible. The aid stations for this Ultra were
awesome and included anything you could think of. They really spoiled my first Ultra experience. The next aid station was 8.5 and the course during the
photo by Scott Crellin
last 4 miles was back tracking the hilly .5 to an overpass that lead to open area and yay, hills! Between 8.5 and the aid station at mile 13. I started talking to a woman who was an ER nurse. This part of the course had long stretches of miles and farmland. She told me she ran this race before and remembers this part being boring as she ran it alone. Running through it, I felt free. I enjoyed the stretches and was happy for no incline, yet. Mile 13 we hit another aid station, I took my time
Back at Lake Hodges and with about a mile to go!! Smiles for days!
and my new running friend did too. We were there about 30 seconds, a refill and few pretzel sticks did the trick. This section is where the hills kicked in and I slowed down a bit. Only 13 miles in and I didn’t want to exert myself just yet. I still felt strong and I had my new running friend by my side. We were each other’s cheerleaders and it helped. The next aid station approached at mile 18, at this point I just refueled my OM
bottles and snacked on some almonds I had packed myself. I took a Honey Stinger
gel, and started back on my way. The way back to the next aid station just backtracked from mile 13 to 18.75, then 18.75 became 24.5. Getting through 18.75 and 24.5 was the toughest. My legs were on fire, hills for days and I also let my running buddy go so she could crush a PR! During this time I chatted with many runners, we both kept each other’s spirits up and managed to get through to the next station. 24.5 aid station until 28.9 I was running solo, trying to feel comfortable and stay headstrong. The ground at that point was flat but sandy. I started chatting with a young man who runs marathons every week. Some twice in a weekend. He was truly inspiring, I let him go at mile 30…so he could crush his PR. Between the last mile, I came across men and women who we
I finished!! Officially an Ultra Marathoner!
cheered each other on; keep it going; stay strong; see you at the finish! Coming along the lake once again, that familiar single track path that you started with was rewarding and so exciting. I saw the finish line in the distance and started my sprint. You can’t help but speed up and finish strong! Crossing the finish line was amazing, my sister surprised me with my boys and flowers. People were cheering and ALL the food was ready to eat!
I had finished my first 50k in 06:42:42, 12 mins longer than hoped but I finished and couldn’t be upset over a time. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or laugh. The experience was amazing!!! I knew I had picked the perfect race for my first. I recommend Lake Hodges 50k to anyone whether you are running your first or 10th ultra marathon. The race actually has different distances, so you can start at a mile kids run, 15k, and then work your way into the 50k! This race spoiled me during my first ultra marathon experience. I’m now planning my next challenge, a 50 miler and hopes of the change to run MiWok 100k next May. I know this challenging and rewarding experience will lead me to Boston in the years to come. For now, I’ll enjoy new friends, miles on trails, and adventures with my boys!