San Diego Trail 50 Mile Run
San Diego Trail 50
February 4, 2017
As usual, I slept horribly despite going to bed at a decent time the night before . Perhaps it was a result of having slept so well the previous few days and having had such a good nap earlier in the day. I had a good spaghetti dinner before bed. Diane and the kids were over at the Anderson’s. I had a nice relaxing time to myself the night before race.
My alarm went off at 4:10 AM. I felt as if I basically was up all night. I finally was in the car on my way up north at about 4:50. I stopped to get gas in Escondido. I arrived at the race start at 5:30 AM. It was still very dark. I simply stayed in the car and waited for the time to actually start getting ready.
I told myself this was the official very beginning of what should be a very long season. I didn’t really even have an off-season. In mid-October, having finished Tahoe 200 just about a month before, I started training in earnest again. I was so happy with my performance at Tahoe that I was really excited to get started on training for 2017. I had been doing a lot of high intensity strength training workouts. My runs up until this point were of very high quality. I could tell I was in midseason form already even though it was early February. I have planned and have already entered this race, Badwater Cape Fear (50 miler), Badwater Salton Sea (81 miles), Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, then the big daddy – – Badwater 135. I also already entered Tahoe 200 again. I’m still considering strongly doing Moab 200, a 234 miler in Utah.
At 6:30, the race started in the twilight. Within the first hundred yards I could tell I was going to have a good race. I felt light as a feather. I settled into eight minute pace which felt effortless. As my running app alerted me of my mile splits, I was amazed at how easily and consistently I was running these eight minute miles.
I pretty much ran the first 17 miles or so with Neela D’Sousa, a 35-year-old Canadian woman. She was running in minimalist shoes without a water bottle and just a few gels tucked into her waistband. I was astounded when she told me that she had run a 16 hour and 20 minute hundred miler last year. I was impressed but also petrified. I told myself that I probably had no business running with someone who was this fast. But, I was feeling so damn strong that I told myself just to go ahead and keep cruising along and try to maintain this seemingly easy pace.
Around mile 17, I started to labor. I noticed myself getting hungrier and thirstier more frequently. As a result, my mile splits were slowing down. My stride length shortened. Basically, the miles from here on required me to actually work. The race was on. From 22 to the turnaround at 25, my positive outlook faltered. I had to readjust my mental outlook. I told myself to run smart but run as hard as I could and not wimp out. Approaching the Bing Crosby Estates area and the Crosby Golf Course, almost all the runners walked a section involving many switchbacks up a decent climb. My average pace was taking a hit! I realized that I was not getting enough liquids and calories and that was the main reason why I was slowing down, not because I had gone out too fast.
At each aid station from here on, I made sure to guzzle down plenty of water and calories. It was frustrating because pretty much all the food was carbs and I coveted fats.
At the mile 35 aid station, I sat down for about five minutes and consumed potatoes dipped in salt, some banana slices, two gels, some Coke, some ginger ale and a couple cups of water. This mile 35 aid station had great energy and obviously well-experienced runners working it. The “talent” level was pretty high, if you will. I immediately felt much better both physically and mentally. From here to the finish, I knew the course was very flat except for the Raptor Ridge climb. I noticed the effort needed to maintain a good pace lessened. I knew for sure this was because I had paid more attention to calories and hydration. This is a perfect example of how one has to stay “on point” throughout the entire race in ultra’s or else he will get in trouble. I’ve learned that if I zone out and just run, bad things will eventually happen.
At the 40 mile aid station, my spirits really improved. I knew now I was on easy street. Time for me to put the hammer down! I cranked up my music and pushed on to the next aid station which I knew would be in about four a half miles. There was nobody in sight behind me or ahead of me. I just looked in front of me and focused on being as mentally tough as I could.
At mile 44, I realized I really, really needed even more calories if I wanted to finish strong. I told myself I would eat an entire Power Bar with a couple cups of water at the next aid station. I did just that. I was met by Scotty Mills, the well-known race director of the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run. It was nice to see a familiar face. We enjoyed some small talk but he kept telling me to get up and get going. It was great advice. I knew I had to move along but I also knew that getting quality calories in for the final push to the finish was of greater importance. Leaving the aid station and climbing up Raptor Ridge, I got passed by two guys. After the descent when the trail flattened again, I started to feel very strong again. It was around here that I was extremely pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Jake. He said that he had come to the finish and was gonna run to meet me. I was euphoric. Sure enough, I met up with him at mile 47 and he “carried” me home to the finish.
A quarter-mile from the finish, Jake yelled out to me that one of the guys that I had just previously passed a few miles ago was trying to catch me. I told myself there is no way in hell this chump was gonna pass me right before the finish. I put the wheels in fifth gear and powered to the end. I couldn’t believe how fit I felt.
My finishing time was 8:47:30. I was 16th place overall out of about 100 starters and I won my age group. I was very satisfied with my effort. To me, effort is my number one measuring stick. Not place in the standings. Not even so much how much fun I had in the race or how beautiful the course was. All the mental toughness training between events is for naught if I don’t apply it in competition.
Jake and I grabbed some food and sat at a picnic table near the finish and watched others come in. I really enjoyed this time and place. I took it all in.
I reflected on how my season started really well. I looked forward to many more races this year that would be way more demanding and of course greatly more rewarding. I’m on my way!!