San Diego 50 Mile Race

SD_6

SD50_2

sunrise single track! 3 miles in and 47 to go!

Two weeks into 2018, I went ahead and crushed my first goal: to run a 50 mile race. After running my 50k and a half marathon the day after, I figured 44 miles within 24 hours of each other along with 9 hours of running was enough to validate running a 50 miler. Throughout 2017 I found myself with back to back weekend races and as I grew stronger each week, I would would crush each race. The San Diego 50/Trail Marathon is put together by Offroads Pursuits. The same group that put together my last ultra, Lake Hodges 50k. Since my last race went so smooth and the aid stations are well stocked, not only with snacks but quality volunteers. While there was a couple for 50 mile races to choose from in January in near by, I knew this was the one

Looking strong around mile 14!

Looking strong around mile 14! Photo by Ilian Moctezuma

Up until race day, I trained the way I did for my 5ok. While I ended my last race of the year with R’n’R Las Vegas, I filled my weekends with mountains and long runs. So come race day, I was as prepared as I could be. On race day, the course was an hour out from my home. So, bright and early at 4 AM I drove with my thoughts racing, so I started to Pray. My prayers before races are long, I pray about the course, I pray about safety, I pray for not only myself but everyone racing; that whether we get the time we want, don’t get that PR, or DNF….we understand that was our plan for the day and give us the wisdom to change it in the future. By the time I got to the course, just about everyone for the 50 miler was there. The 50 mile race had the option to start an hour early, as the course cut off at a strict 13 hour and 14 hour if you had the early start. You would have your results posted separately with this option. I choose to race at the original time of 6:30 start.

Before I knew it Paul Jesse, Owner and Race Director of Offroad Pursuits was going over rules, safety, and course tags. The one thing he said that stuck with me is: “This isn’t a race as it is running with friends.”  Which is so true when it comes to ULTRA running. We are ALL crazy to run anything past 26.2 but it takes a special kind of people to do it and whether I know you or not….You are “my kind” of people and my friend. 6:30 arrived and off the second wave went. You start in a gorgeous area that is still farmland, so rare to see in Southern California. This is the first 5k up until you hit Raptor Ridge. This part is a little difficult but nothing crazy only the first 5 miles into the race. I was running single track uphill, which has a 1100 evaluation gain. Shortly after you hit the top, is Aid station 5.7 – Raptor. My concept for this race was to hit every aid station and just recoup between 5-10 mins. Check fluids, salt, and shoes for rocks. 5.7 in I was on a roll and spent maybe 5 mins here. Off I went into open fields, This area I remembered from my 50k as I did the Raptor Ridge, what I found was the second time racing this part it was glowing and I felt good. I felt like this was going to be my race, yeah I know totally realize I still had 45 miles to go!SD_8

SD50_10

Crossing creeks! photo by Ilian Moctezuma

The trail to the next aid station was familiar and great to run again. Watching the sunrise along the hills was a great feeling and helped until mile 10. I was still feeling strong, it wasn’t too hot yet and I was taking my time which was about 3-5 minutes at each aid station. At mile 16.5 I took a slight fall while a bike was passing, I can’t stress how signaling especially around corners are important. Luckily, I had antibiotics on me and bandaid glue. I was cleaned up and off again in no time! By the time I hit the Bing Crosby 1 aid station, I felt strong. Over the 20 miles I had covered road, trail, rock, and hills! The views made for great focus, the small chats covered over the miles made tough spots easy and easy spots fun! Since the day was steadily warming up, a lot of bikers joined the trails and made some single tracks difficult. I just had to be on top of signaling and all was good. Days prior to the race, mother nature decided to give us some rainy days this took some toll on part of the course. So between mile 20.25 and 25….they cut out 3.5 miles due to closing a section of a really muddy and flooded course. As groups of us approached the road block and was asked to turn around, we all questioned how we were going to get those miles back. We signed up to run 50 miles so thats what we were going to do. Some runners didn’t care much and figured they would be happy with their finish. Running, especially ultra running is tough but what’s awesome is you know your body and what will help you hit your goals, everyone has their own goals. Headed on the way back from the turn around started me back on hitting each aid station. I knew they wouldn’t be measured correctly so now I had to follow the miles on my watch.

dirt and views for days!

dirt and views for days!

My goal was to finish before sundown, that would have been a 10:30 finish time. I was also trying to figure out if I wanted to get my 3.5 mile before or after I finished

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges

the race. When I hit the Mile 35 (31.5) Aid Station. It was around 1:30 ish. With 15, yet 18.5 miles to go, I had to think what was the flattest and best stretch between stations to make a turnaround and back to get my miles in. The best option was between mile 40 and 44.3, it was flat, cushioned dirt, and views for days. At this time at Mile 35, I was feeling the miles and while still strong, I had to sit down and clean myself up. I had ice poured on my and over my head. Everything I could do to get comfortable. Once at a good spot, hydration wise, electrolytes, and some health warrior bars in me….I was off again. This stretch cover dirt but also concrete. I tried to get on as much dirt as possible, the concrete wasn’t feeling the best after 36.5 miles. At the mile 4o Aid station, I knew it wasn’t 10 miles to go and that sunk in. I sat down and stretched. I took off my socks and cleaned up my blisters. I brushed all the dirt in and out of my shoes. I refilled my Orange Mud water bottles and looked at good luck pictures my sons drew for me. All this gave me peace, it made see how grateful I am and that I am capable of finishing this race. Off again I went, this time following my watch. I took in the flat

Feeling, strong, confident, and couragerous

Feeling, strong, confident, and couragerous

grounds and dirt, I watch the afternoon slowly fade away and 3.5 in I made the decision to turn around 1 mile out from the final aid station. A few runners decided to do the same, that way it wasn’t laps around the parking lot to get their miles to 50! Going back was easy while chatting with “my kind” of people. I ran with a man who flew in from Washington and literally came from the airport to the race to run it. I admired that, and another runner had ran two marathons back to back weeks before. There’s something kind of cool about the crazy things we will do as runners to get our fix, lol. Close to the mile 40 aid station, we made our turn and that set back the true distance to our 50 miler. This quick set back, also wasn’t going to get me finish by my goal time or what I really

Finish line smiles!

Finish line smiles!

wanted, no headlamp running. That was okay, I just had to get back through the last 6 miles that lead up a 1100 elevation and back down towards the finish line.

The sun felt like it was setting so fast and I could only hold my pace steady for so long. I made it back to Raptor Ridge, which was mile 44.3 and was checked in. I got out my headlamp and to have it ready. I stretched, refilled, and got some words of encouragement. I could feel my blisters burning at this point, and there was nothing more I could do until I finished. Aside from blisters, I was sore but felt good. I felt like I could finish this race. Off into the single track mountain, the only part I still needed sun as it was steep in some areas and I couldn’t risk falling again. The ups and downs were tough and at points I wanted to give up, however I couldn’t because I still needed to get off this mountain and two, that’s not me! As I finally got up to mile 47, the last three was flat and familiar trails. Finally, I was in a good spot and not to far from my family waiting for me at the finish line. At this point, the sun was down and it was dark. My headlamp gave me about 5 ft of area to see and I kept my eye out for the pink ribbon that had been placed throughout the course. One of the volunteers was waiting about a mile out and kept everyone who was on track to finishing in route to the finish line. Since it was so dark, I focused the finish on a small light in the distance. When I came up along farmland and orange trees to my right, I remembered started along this path earlier that day. I got an adrenaline rush that made my fingers num. Of course, as I approached the light and checked my watch it was wasn’t the finish line….oh, how that crushed my soul for 30 seconds. Maybe, more or less my legs…hahahaha. I knew I wasn’t far though and at this point I had friends and family texting and checking my whereabouts. Picking up pace, just to keep my legs going I begun to hear people cheering. I rounded a corner and there was the finish line and my oldest son running back and forth along the track. “Mommy, Mommy…you did it!!” He hugged me before I could pass the line but I didn’t care. My younger son reached for me and I couldn’t help but cry. I passed the finish line true Mother Runner style, with a baby in my arms! My sister and her boyfriend also came to congratulate me. It’s a wild feeling knowing you just ran 50 miles. I finished in 11:43:06 and that was good enough for me. 50 miles isn’t easy but if it were, I

51.5 miles logged for January 13th 2018!

51.5 miles logged for January 13th 2018!

wouldn’t be up for the challenge. As days passed and results posted showed I had finished a 46 miles race, I’m glad I did my own personal turnaround to complete my challenge. At the end of January 13th, my total miles were 51…I had to enjoy and get some walking in before I ate the BIGGEST dinner EVER!

This race was to measure and help me train for my dream race in May, the Miwok 100k. It also turned into a challenge after my back to back races. I plan to run another 50 mile race in March, it will either be in Utah or California depending on my schedule. It will be my birthday gift to myself ;p My next race is a short one this upcoming weekend, it’s Surf City Marathon and I’m doing the half. Aside from not wanting to experience total FOMO, I decided to sign up to see if longer distances are really helping push myself. I guess we’ll see within the next few days!

 

Running while Breastfeeding

running_feeding01

Pumping at 3 AM before heading to the start corrals!

My second son was born during a year I had signed up for a lot of races. Giving up running when he was born wasn’t going to be an option unless my doctor told me otherwise. So, I had to revise my training schedule around feedings and nap times. I knew I wanted to breastfeed him, just as I did my first son for a year at the minimum. When I was cleared to run at my 6 week postpartum appointment, the planning begun. My shorter runs included me feeding baby before I would head out the door. This was easy, it was going to be my longer runs I would struggle with. What helped me the most was obtaining a breast pump through my insurance. Being able to feed my son before a long run, then pump 6-8 more ounces after relieved tension and weight.

I ran my first marathon when my son was 4 1/2 months old. I had to average out being away for 5 hours, when I normally would feed every four. My plan involved me feeding and pumping before I headed to the start line, which stretched my time out to 7 hours without feeding. My son would have milk to drink but this didn’t help me from leaking or feeling super uncomfortable. So by planning to have Mav meet up with me around mile 15-16 I was able to pump enough to get me to the finish and back to the hotel. Strategic planning, feeding schedules, and a pump helped me run while breastfeeding. Pumping after feedings and while my son would sleep through the night, allowed me to create a stock pile of milk. So even on some longer uncomfortable runs I was able to feel as ease knowing my son wasn’t going hungry.

RNR_01

Breastfeeding at the finish line of RNR Las Vegas!

The Breastfeeding Shop is a perfect go to solution to obtain your breast pump. They work exclusively with your insurance company so you don’t have to pay for your pump out of pocket. If you plan on running while breastfeeding and don’t want to have to worry about being uncomfortable or baby going hungry while you are out; you are going to need a breast pump! Please check out the breastfeeding shop and fill out their form to get your pump today!

Run Revel – Mount Charleston 2017

runrevel_05
On April 29th, 2017 I ran my first downhill marathon. Just an hour out from the glowing Las Vegas Strip you will find cottages and two lane roads up Kyle Canyon, this is Mount Charleston. Most runners gravitate towards downhill marathons with bright eyes and their heart set on a BQ time. While downhill racing tends to give a runner a new PR, it’s not as easy on your body as you would think. When I registered for Mount Charleston, I wanted a vacation along with the experience of a downhill race. I knew I wasn’t ready for a BQ but a PR would be in my future. Run Revel is known for their downhill beautiful courses and quality race experience. They host a few races a year with half and full marathon distances. When you Run Revel, you know you are joining a strong group of runners that train hard and finish strong.

runrevel_03When I told Mav I registered for Mount Charleston, he jumped online and said, “you know this is going to be a Vegas vacation.” While there are hotels near the race finish line, you bus up to the start line from a parking lot in Summerlin. Since we drove to Las Vegas and had a car, staying on the strip was ideal for us. We drove up the day before the race, checked in and headed out to packet pick up. Once I had my bib, I was getting excited. Training for a downhill race included a lot of uphill runs, along with stretches, fuel prep, and IT roll outs. One thing that always makes me nervous while running is my knees, I can train, prepare, and supplement. However, I never know if they are going to act up. I knew if they were going to give me trouble, a downhill race would be when be when pain may show up. Instead of being scared, I prayed and figured if Mount Charleston was going to be my race then everything would go as planned. Las Vegas holds a lot of my favorite restaurants, so Mav and I had an early dinner and for the first time ever, I was able to get to bed by 8 PM with a 3 AM alarm.runrevel_04

Before I knew it 3 AM rolled around and I jumped out of bed, from that moment I started pre race hydration with nuun performance. I can’t eat before a race so nuun performance has been a game charger for me. It’s the right amount of carb and electrolytes to keep me hydrated and strong throughout my long runs. Mav drove me to the parking lot in Summerlin, I sat in the car for awhile until I braved the chilly windy weather and jumped in the bus line, which was headed to the marathon start line. While in line, everyone was ecstatic and excited. Talking about the previous years race, where they flew in from, and that BQ they were chasing. One women shared her story of chasing a BQ for 15 years, I admired her journey and wished her luck. I thought to myself, “this race is serious, it’s a make it or break it for a lot of runners.” Driving up, we passed the half marathon start line…a part of me thought, “can I change my mind now.”  Soon, we were at the start line which was a cute little cabin restaurant and lodge. While the race temperature at finish was a perfect 72 degrees. The start line reminded me of my fun chilly race in Florida this past January. You forget how chilly and windy it is the higher up the mountain you go. Knowing I would be running and warmed up soon, I just couldn’t wait until that blow horn went off.

runrevel_01Starting down the hill, it was really windy. I once again had a flashback to my first marathon and tried to keep a positive focus. The first couple of miles were steep and allowed me to gain momentum, this is were I kept a steady 8-8:30 min/miles. Hydration stations and port a potties were located just about every mile down the course. I kept to my plan of at least getting an ounce or two of water each stop, along with my honey stinger gels each hour of running. nuun performance keeps me hydrated for a good portion of the run, while the gels give me the amino acids my body needs. This course had so much to see and kept me mentally free. my focus on the scenery and the sounds of the outdoors kept me on pace. When I would set my eyes on the distance I could see the north side of the strip. Coming up on the half marathon start line, I was feeling good. This is where it started to warm up and I knew I was halfway to finish. Arriving at mile 18-20 during a marathon is tough, I always feel like I’m almost finished but the miles start to get longer and I need to stay head strong. This is also were the Mount Charleston course tends to flatten out. I started to feel my quads on fire. I knew if I wanted to PR, It was going to have to be on me and my training. With 5k to go, it really hit me. I wanted to walk but my legs weren’t ready to give up. I kept my focus on the signs of the spectators cheering the runners on. Since most of the course is closed off, it does give spectators a tough time to cheer on loved ones, unless they drive up or live along the course. I’m always for spectators towards the end of 26.2 miles!! Since my head was telling my body to slow down but the crowd was telling me to “finish strong.” Before I knew it I could see the finish line, approaching it took forever even though it was a quick minute. lol. I could see Mav to my right at the finish, this gave me the strength to push harder. Shortly after I finished I checked my time, which was better than the time I saw while crossing the finish line!! I finished in 4:09:45 for a 9:31/mile, a new PR for me!

Looking back at this marathon, I found myself in most of the miles. Run Revel exceeded my expectations, from a organized quality course to the quality of challenging runners. Once you run a downhill marathon, it’s tough to meet your running goals with any other course. This was my third marathon, and I plan to make a Run Revel event my fourth. If you are pursuing your dream of running Boston, I would advise to sign up for a downhill marathon. Run Revel shaved 17 mins off my previous marathon time!

runrevel_02

WDW Marathon 2017

 

WDW_01

The 2017 WDW Marathon made me a Marathoner. It was the race I signed up for while I was 5 months pregnant and wanted that challenge after my second son was born. I look back now and shouldn’t have let the hormones run the show, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have made the jump so soon. With only 16 weeks post baby and 10 weeks to train, I knew I had a lot on my plate.

Leading up until marathon week, I begun to prepare myself for 26.2 miles. I gathered as much information as possible; tips and wise words. My training was intense for a short amount of time. Also, between natural body changes and life, there were plenty of days I had to force myself just to get back out. I knew giving myself the short amount of time between having a baby and the

Under the castle hangs!! Feeling good at mile 5!

Under the castle hangs!! Feeling good at mile 5!

marathon may have been a stretch but I was going to stick to it. I meal prepped and stuck to a strict diet just the week of to ensure I had the proper nutrition and energy to keep me strong all the miles. I started to monitor which energy gels and hydration drinks worked best and for what amount time. One thing I would just have to accept is my milk production, since I was breastfeeding and that my boobs were going to throw me off during the end of my run. I didn’t even want to get the idea that I could stop and pump during the marathon. I’ll tell you now, I did pump after the run and filled 4 bottles for a total of 18 ounces! lol. Preparing myself for the marathon helped a lot. With proper nutrition I didn’t have any cramping or stomach pains during my run. Also, training prepared me to pace myself, slower then I was use to but at a pace that kept me comfortable. As long as I was under 12 minutes a mile, I was happy. My overall goal for the marathon was to “FINISH,” by finish I meant completing all 26.2 miles! (Disney will sweep runners if they fall behind and won’t be able to finish at 16min/mile pace.)

WDW_04

I had to stop for Wreck-It-Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz!

The morning of the marathon it was 30 degrees, along with wind chill which brought temperatures down to 18 degrees. Nonetheless it was freezing!! The only change I could make in my attire was adding a top layer, with the hopes that my legs would warm up. Just three days prior to the marathon the temps were looking to be a solid typical florida 77 degrees. I couldn’t have prepared myself if I wanted to, unless I put a treadmill in a freezer while training. It’s really what it felt like.

WDW_03

Literally running through the pain! This was taken while at Hollywood Studios!

Once the gun went off for my corral it was game time. I tossed my throwaways and started down the road. I was freezing but my mind wasn’t focused on being cold, it was focused on watching my pace. I really didn’t want to leap out and tire out too quickly. The first 10 miles flew by, I had ran out of Epcot and through the Magic Kingdom. The one thing about the WDW Marathon is WDW is huge and you cover a lot of highways and parking lots. Once you get in the Parks it feels good to be able focus your eyes on something. This allowed me to use my highway miles as a way to pick up pace and the Parks as a place to slow down a little bit. By the halfway point, I was feeling good. It was smack in the middle of Animal Kingdom and I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I was still cold but it didn’t really bother me. I watched as some runners stopped at a bar and had a drink at the halfway mark, good for them I thought. There’s no way I could ever do that, lol. Heading out of Animal Kingdom and my way to the ESPN Park there was a lot of nothing, my mind started to race and I kept checking my watch. I was calculating numbers when I didn’t have to and was reminding myself, my goal for this race was not to come in first or last but, just to finish!! The idea of “just” finishing was hard to accept but with so many unexpected changes the weekend brought, it was all I could grasp. Although an ideal time for me to finish was 05:00:00 hours.

WDW_05

My oldest son was signed up to participate in the Saturday Kid’s Races, which were cancelled due to weather. However, we had fun later in the week and did our own 100m dash!

Miles came easier and my legs only felt stronger through the ESPN Park. Up until mile 20 I was soaring. In between mile 20 and 21 my left knee started to hurt. Through training I never experienced anything like this with my knees especially my left. So I was really caught off guard. As the pain escalated, I only begun to grow more frustrated. I wrestled with the idea I was undertrained, didn’t stretch enough, or maybe should have taken a pain killer, even though I’m too chicken to even take an Advil. The runner in me couldn’t imagine walking the remaining 4 miles, that would be the longest 4 miles ever!!! So I had to think fast, while I DO NOT recommend training your mind to think this way in case you may have a serious injury. I DO recommend learning how to use mottos and positive self talk in order to push your runs. I started to tell myself the “pain” was me growing stronger. I stopped at a medical tent at mile 22 and took a moment to stretch, and started to push myself up the road. I was just starting uphill on an offramp that would take me over and into Hollywood Studios. Uphill was grueling and as I came down the ramp, I straighten my left leg to keep it from bending, I built momentium and powered into Hollywood Studios. The Parks had just opened at this point and crowds started to form around the blocked off areas for runners. This was an adrenaline boost for me, it let me really meditate on my surroundings and off of my pain. I left out the park and started around the Swan Resort, another fun sight to keep me focused.  I had two miles to go at this point and I wasn’t planning on slowing down, a quick mile later I was already at Downtown Disney. That last mile the crowds grew bigger and louder, with that much excitement all you want to do is finish strong! Before I knew it I was rounding the corner to a finish line! At that moment nothing hurt, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and was tearing up. As I crossed the finish line, as cliche as it sounds…a part of me changed. I know many runners say this but it does. You feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders you never knew was there. I had started a mission months before the race, I had weak moments, I had strong moments, I stayed focused, and it was finally finished.

Post Race Photo!

Post Race Photo! “I DID IT!!”

Shortly after the finish line, I was reunited with Mav. My Mother-in-Law had flown down from DC for the weekend and watched the boys. It was still too cold for them to join me at the Friends and Family Area. It wasn’t too long before the warmth of the race wore off and we ventured back to our Hotel. My official finish time was 05:34:33.  A half hour later then I had anticipated but I had a time that represented, “I finished.” I was cloud 9 for about a day after obtaining the Marathoner title before I knew I wanted to do another one, lol. It’s funny how that happens. I registered for the LA Marathon in March and I’m now training to not just, “finish” but to run at solid pace that is similar to what I have ran my half-marathons. I’m happy I made WDW my first marathon, I learned a lot from the course. I had fun, stopped at photo ops, and took advantage of every water station. The runners were great as well and enjoyed meeting so many different people. I hope to eventually return to the WDW Marathon in the future but for now I’m glad I was at least able to check it off my bucket list.

My WDW Marathon Splits - overall: 05:34:33 for 12:46mi/pace (I managed to stay within my goal pace for a majority of race, slowing down at mile 22) 

My WDW Marathon Splits – overall: 05:34:33 for 12:46mi/pace (I managed to stay within my goal pace for a majority of race, slowing down at mile 22)