Sunday, January 17, 2016

The San Diego 50 Mile

I am very excited to say that I am now a two-time 50-mile race finisher!! I have to say that training for a 50-miler and running and finishing the race are completely different entities all unto themselves.

Before I get into the race recap, I'm linking up with Holly at HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their weekly wrap up link up (say that 10 times fast). Leave me a comment about what you've been up to this week and then go check them out!


I've also linked up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Now, onto the race. Well, let's go back maybe a couple of weeks first. Training had been going really well, plenty of long (loooong) runs, mountain climbs, time on my feet, etc., including the Noble Canyon 50K, the Revel Canyon City Marathon and Malibu Canyon 50K all as training runs. My good friend Vanessa was also running this race and we did all of our training together. But she, too, had a bad couple of weeks before the race. She and one of her daughters came down with a stomach bug on New Year's Day. Then, the next day, one of my daughters and I came down with a stomach bug (yes, we spent New Year's Eve together). I wasn't really derailed from running too much and thankfully, I was entering the taper period so my runs weren't very long. But it definitely wiped me out and I had a hard time eating for a couple of days. Then, just as I was getting over it, my other daughter and husband came down with it. We were dealing with this sickness for about a week and if you've ever had a stomach bug, you know there aren't many other things that are more hideous than a stomach bug. Or maybe taking care of kids with the stomach bug. While you have a stomach bug. Good times. Thankfully, my son didn't get it.

Then last week, the week before the race, things were just super stressful. Work was crazy this week. My oldest finally went back to school after 3 weeks off for the winter break and my girls finally went back to preschool after being sick on and off since before Christmas. While it was great to get everyone back on a routine, everyone was TIRED. Needless to say, there were quite a number of meltdowns from everyone throughout the week and on top of it all, my nerves were shot and I was having trouble sleeping, including a horrific night of sleep the night before the race. Dreaming about the race didn't help at all. And even though I've done a 50 before, there's still so much that can go wrong. Even if you've been running all your life, 50 miles is still 50 miles. It's no joke. So with nerves on fire, I was not feeling rested and ready before the race. But I spent the day before the race organizing my drop bag and after-race bag, making my rice balls for during the run and getting everything together. Getting those details settled really helped me relax.

Side note: I make all of my nutrition from scratch using recipes from Skratch Labs' Feed Zone and Feed Zone Portables cookbooks. I find that having real food on the run is much better on my stomach, helps with keeping energy levels stabilized and helps with hydration (real food has water in it while gels and chews have very little). Vanessa and I alternate the kind of rice bars we bring. She brings a savory version and I do sweet. This way we're not eating the same thing each time. For this race, I brought strawberry coconut rice bars and they were fan-freaking-tastic! I can't wait for Skratch's new cookbook Feed Zone Table which will be meals for overall health but also performance. If you order now, you can get a free Cookie Mix!!

Anyway, race morning arrived and Vanessa picked me up at the butt-crack of dawn (4:30am). We got to the race site, checked in and were off at 5:30. The race starts at the San Pasqual Valley trailhead in Escondido, connects to the Mule Hill trail, runs under I-15 to the Lake Hodges trail, goes around the lake to the Del Dios trail, then onto the Coast to Crest trail into the Black Mountain preserve along the San Dieguito River bed (more on the river crossing later). It's an out and back course and thankfully, I can get to any part of the trail in about 20-30 minutes from my house. We were lucky enough to train on the entire course. But not in the dark! We ran in the dark for about an hour, which was fine with both of our headlamps and my flashlight. The sun came up just in time for the first climb. We didn't want to do any climbing in the dark for fear of falling, so that we planned the sunrise just in time ;)

Let's get this party started!

Beautiful sunrise (with headlamps behind us!)
Things were great for most of the first half of the race. Then we got to the north side of Lake Hodges, onto the Del Dios trail and things just kind of went downhill for us. I don't know why because we have run that section a million times. But we were both just feeling poopy (technically speaking, of course). Then we got to the aid station at mile 20, where several of our friends were volunteering and it was a major boost. We left them feeling great and made our way to the halfway point turnaround. Though we did have to cross the river first. This was a major source of my stress leading up to the race. We have had so much rain in the last week that I knew the river would be high. But when we got to it, it wasn't too bad. I didn't get too wet and felt confident that my feet wouldn't suffer too badly. Though when we got back to cross the river again, we were tired and just ran through the river. Our feet were soaked and while it felt cooling at the time, my feet suffered and I ended up with some blisters in spots I didn't put my RunGoo. Lesson learned: put that stuff everywhere.
Happy at mile 20!
We got back to our friends at the now mile 30 aid station (good thing about out-and-backs is you hit the same aid stations on the way back). Great to get another boost from them, but unfortunately we were back on the Del Dios trail and hating life. I don't know what it is about that section that was bothering us so much but we were not pleased and just did the best we could. Things perked up as we got back onto Lake Hodges trail (second wind, baby) and to the mile 40 aid station. Ten miles left!

Well, they were the longest 10 miles of my life. We shuffled-walked-shuffled most of it. We did meet this spry older couple from the midwest (I can't remember - Minnesota, maybe) that sold their house and now travel the country in an RV. They were so wonderstruck that we were doing this race and took a couple of pictures of us. I hope we didn't look too miserable! They walked off to explore the trail. At a much faster pace than us, I might add. After seeing them, we tried to get into another run-shuffle groove but it was hard. This is the flattest part of the course and while that may sound appealing, it's hard on the body (especially a tired one) to keep moving in the same manner without any variations in terrain. Those variations allow the body to move in different ways, making it a little easier over the course of a long ass run (another technical term). So this flat was pretty excruciating.

We were hoping to finish in the light of day but didn't. We were treated to a beautiful sunset as we were finishing the last climb of the race. So we saw the sunrise before this climb and the sunset after we came down from it. I can now say I've run from sunrise to sunset. Pretty amazing. The good feeling from the sunset beauty was short-lived as we still had a little over 4 miles left in the dark. So we just powered through it as best we could. I couldn't have asked for a better running partner in this endeavor than Vanessa. This was her first 50 and she did amazing!! I am so proud to have run this race with her. We helped each other get through and it was wonderful doing this with her!

Beautiful sunset!
As we approached the finish line, my son was there. I knew they would be there, but not right there at the finish line. It was awesome having them there!! He saw us and in typical 10-year old fashion, starting sprinting ahead toward the finish line. I laughed and told him I couldn't run that fast so he slowed down so we could run together. I wish our pics of us crossing the finish line had turned out but they were too dark. It was so wonderful to see my hubs with the girls at the finish too. And also wonderful to see my love Smitha waiting there for us. She came with sodas and smiles and it was a sight for sore eyes (and legs and feet and...).

I think Smitha may have been holding us up!
There you have it. My second 50-miler is in the books. It was a really great, well-organized race. The course was well marked, the aid stations well stocked with awesome volunteers and the finishers got a long sleeved tech shirt, a medal (with a bottle opener) and a finisher's glass. Love it!! A couple of technical aspects of the race: there's about 5500 feet elevation gain with the majority of climbing in the beginning and middle sections. The trails are a combination of single track, fire road and double track with some fairly rocky sections here and there. There is a small amount of pavement when running under I-15 which felt a little awful on the way back. But it's only for a short time. It's a great course but that flat section definitely affects you more that you would think.

Now that it's been a full 24 hours since I've finished, I feel pretty good. I coached my strength training program this morning and went through the workout with them feeling good. My ankles are a little swollen and I have a little rash on my ankles and feet too. Not exactly sure what that is. I had it after my other 50 too. Maybe just heat rash? Broken capillaries? I don't know.

Thanks so much for coming along on this crazy train. Next up on my race calendar is the Los Angeles Marathon on Valentine's Day. I have always wanted to do this one and figured I'd finally be able to once we moved here. But the race was always held on the weekend in March that coincides with my twins' birthday. But last year's race was unseasonably HOT so they moved this year's race up a month. I jumped on that!! And I can't wait!!

25 comments:

  1. Amazing recap, and another amazing accomplishment. Congratulations to you and Vanessa. Can wait to give you a hug. Love you!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Frances! Can't wait to get that hug!! Love you too!!

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  2. Wow, this is incredible. Congratulations on your 2nd 50 mile race. I'm awestruck. I can't imagine running from before daylight to after sunset. You rock. I'm not sure I could run with wet feet even using my beloved Trail Toes. It's great you make your own nutrition. I'm definitely going to look into that. Gels get so tiring. I hope you enjoy some well deserved recovery time. I appreciate you linking with us Jenn and hope to see you back next week!

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    1. Thanks so much! Yeah I think my blisters are a result of my socks being wet. I should have changed them when I got to my drop bag. Oh well. And I really recommend the real good thing. It's more time consuming and you need the space to carry it but it has made a big difference in how I feel. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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    2. That should say food! Real food thing! Darn autocorrect!

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  3. Congratulations on your race. I can't even begin to fathom running 50 miles after completing an ugly marathon last Sunday in the FL heat. The LA Marathon should feel like a breeze after tackling the San Diego 50 miler!

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    1. Thank you!! And congrats on your marathon! I hope the LA Marathon feels good but frankly, I'm just there for the sight seeing!!

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  4. You and Vanessa are an inspiration! I enjoyed reading about your journey, you may have felt run down at times, but you guys looked great! Seriously amazing! And yes, those strawberry coconut rice cakes were delish! ;-)

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    1. Thanks Alexis! You were such a help at that 20/30 aid station. Thank you so much!! Glad you liked the rice cake! They are really worth the extra effort.

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  5. Wow. Totally incredible! Congratulations that is such an amazing accomplishment. I have that Feed Zone cookbook and I've made their rice cakes before - they are SO AMAZING. Good luck with the LA marathon! Looking forward to reading that race recap too! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Phaedra! Isn't Feed Zone awesome? Can't wait for the new book. And I'll definitely be recapping LA. It will prob be a lot one with lots of pics!!

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  6. Congratulations! What an awesome accomplishment.

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  7. Welcome to Weekly Wrap! You are freaking beast!! I can not even imagine, I just completed my first marathon and I just simply can not even imagine doing what you did! Congratulations to you!! I would have blisters all over my feet with it wet. I hope you have a great race in LA, a race there is on my bucket list!

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    1. Thanks so much, Tricia! You're just as much of a beast now that you're a MARATHONER! Don't sell yourself short!! And I do have blisters from that damn river!

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  8. What an amazing accomplishment :) Congrats! It is so awesome you had a friend to run a 50 miler with :) That is the way to do it!
    That is awesome you are feeling minimal wear and tear from the adventure.

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    1. Thank you! It was awesome to have someone with me the entire time. We really worked together, reminding each other to eat and drink, try to motivate the other to run when we were tired, etc. It was great!

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  9. Wow, what an incredible accomplishment! I enjoyed reading your recap. Hope your recovery continues to go well. Good luck with your upcoming race in LA!

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    1. Thanks so much, Debra! I hope recovery continues to go well too. I don't want to miss LA!

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  10. Congrats to both of you! I crewed for the Leadville 50 but I cannot begin to imagine actually running one let alone 2. You are amazing. Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Thanks Marcia! Yeah there were definitely times we were wondering why on earth we don't just run shorter races!! But getting though those times is all part of the challenge! LOL!

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  11. So inspiring! Many can't even get off the couch after new year's and here you are marathon'in it up.

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    1. Thanks! I have always tried to have a race shortly after the new year so I can keep moving through the holidays.

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  12. I am super in awe of anyone that runs a marathon, so you can only imagine how I must feel about people doing ultras.

    And you came back and taught classes right away? Amazing!

    Congrats.

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  13. WOWSA!!! Congrats on your 2nd 50 miler, and your pictures were just breath taking!

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