Today is the day after my 3rd 50K and boy am I feeling it. This race is historic, the oldest running 50k in the US. I’ve wanted to run this race for over a year, some of my friends were running it and I thought – what the heck! I was feeling apprehensive once committed because I’d been injured during my last 50K in December 2015 and haven’t been running at all until approximately April of this year. I hadn’t really been training too much or been getting any midweek runs in since May; I’ve been working 2 jobs. I started really putting in mileage over the past 4 weeks with 5 really long weekend runs. I believe it was the back to back weekend runs that really helped me pull through and finish yesterday however, I feel my hill climbing and cardio sure have suffered.
The long runs I’ve done leading up to this race: Dirty Dozen 27.7 miles with 3 miles the following day. 8 miles of the French Trail (course) and 13 miles the following day. 23 miles in the headlands with 3 miles the previous day. 21 miles the following week with a 5k the day before and last weekend I ran part of yesterday’s course (a part I knew was hard) 13 miles and that’s pretty much it.
I don’t know if I am crazy or really strong or both – I am going with both!
Yesterday came so quickly and I opted for the early start, I wanted to give myself an extra hour of cushion just in case I needed it. I didn’t start out too fast yesterday knowing I had a long day ahead of me and didn’t want to use up all my energy at the beginning. I started with 3 lovely ladies and quickly fell behind them but was quite happy to do so. I kept a nice even pace and was feeling quite happy for the 1st 5 miles. My one friend is much faster than I and quickly was completely out of site. I knew that would happen and felt completely fine to run the whole course on my own. My 2nd friend went out pretty quickly at the beginning fell behind at approximately mile 8. When I got to Bort Meadows Aid Station I knew I had a huge climb ahead and didn’t want to wait for her because I was on a roll, so up I went. This was part of the course I had run the previous week and knew exactly what to expect. It was brutal but I got up and over in 17:51 which is huge for me! It was 1 mile straight up with 405 feet of elevation at a 5.3% grade. Whew!
I came flying down the hill to Big Bear Staging Area and came upon the most wonderful group of Aid Station volunteers I’ve ever seen or heard. Dusty Bottoms. They were spot on, happy, energetic and super helpful. The nicest group of people EVER.
Next stage was into the Redwoods Park, up to Skyline Gate and then back down French Trail. My goal was to get to Skyline gate by 10:00 am – and I got there by 10:15. Not too shabby. I stopped to eat PB&J and pulled by small bag of pickle flavored chips out of my backpack. I walked eating them for about 1/4 of a mile and then picked up my pace through out the whole of the French Trail. It was beautiful, shaded and some of the most technical parts of the course. I was feeling quite strong at this time and passed quite a few people. I was so glad I had run this part of the course a few weeks prior. Going through my Strava results I realized that I PR’d this part of the course with best times for the climbs and descents through all of the French Trail areas. That was a nice surprise. [photo credit: Michael Li]
Coming down a very technical part of the French Trail, I saw this gorgeous view and finally stopped to take my first picture of the course (approx mile 16). The climbing was beautiful with the sunlight coming through the trees. I ran through this part all the way back to the Dusty Bottoms Aid Station again. The next part of the course was going to kick my A** – I just knew it.
Climbing back up and over the McDonald hill was so difficult. It was hot, exposed and I was tired. The climb started at mile 20 and it was a mile straight up and down to the next aid station. Even though it was difficult I kept moving forward and got my 3rd best time climbing that 1 mile up. It was 509 feet of elevation at 8.6% grade. It took me 22:31, not great but not too bad either. It’s here where I ran into a really good friend, boy was it nice to see a friendly face. I’d been running all by myself for the past 22 miles and it’s always nice to run with a friend. We stopped filled up our backpacks (actually the volunteers took my backpack, filled it up and then held it for me to put back on – AMAZING) with ice and had some slices of watermelons and we were off.
She had a goal to reach 25 miles between 6:30 and 7:00 because she’s training for a 75 mile race in September. I picked up my pace and ran with her for the next 3 miles with a 13:00 minute average pace. I was surprised I still had so much gas left in the tank. Once we hit 25 miles she said she would let me lead the pace. She wanted us to finish and cross the finish line together. For the next 6 miles we averages between 12:00 and 14:25 minute miles. It was so amazing to have her there. She really pushed me and kept me going strong. At mile 28 I was losing steam but luckily we had an aid station there and were able to eat some more watermelon and begin our decent. The view at mile 28 was spectacular!
The last 3.4 miles were downhill with rolling hills on pavement. I was pretty much spent at that time but kept on moving, thanks to my friend. I wanted to be sure to run across the finish line so I kept moving at a brisk pace. I didn’t want to think about anything but finishing. I had come so far and all I wanted was to cross the finish line with my friend.
As we crossed the finish line, I thought; There is nothing better than crossing the finish line with a friend! She really pushed me the last 10 miles and helped me see that deep inside I had enough strength and will power to finish this race. [photo credit: Mindy Brown-Lechner]
I don’t mind running by myself or finishing a race by myself, I’ve done that enough times to know it feels good to finish but finishing with a friend who has helped you dig deep the last 1/3 of a really long race is so meaningful. I’ll always be grateful for her love, support and determination that rubbed off! [photo credit: Sally Arellano]
Here is the link to my Strava results from yesterday’s Skyline 50K!!! My 3rd 50K! Now, to start training for my 4th. Skyline to the Sea in October! Stay tuned for more.
[photo credit: Oscar Mejorada]