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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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!