The Born to Run 50k. It had been three weeks since I ran Sycamore Canyon 50k. Three weeks before that was the Old Goat 50 miler. I didn’t run a ton of miles in between races, but did start doing some core/strength training. I think this helped out quite a bit in terms of having fresh legs and strong form.
I stayed the night at Hone’s house to save an extra hour in the car the morning of the race. The Price’s picked us up at 3:30am for the nearly two hour drive up to Los Olivos. The race took place on a private cattle ranch up there and started at 6am.
A lot of people camped at the ranch the night before to avoid the early drive and to hang out the night before. I saw a couple of familiar faces and met some cool new people throughout the day. It’s always a good crew hanging out at ultras.
The trail itself was good and wide at the start of the race, so there was no long train of people that you felt stuck in the middle of at the wrong running pace. For the 50k I would run a 10 mile loop back to the start/finish, a second (different) 10 mile loop again to the start/finish, the first loop again…then an out and back for the extra mile or so to make the distance.
hills, trails, and trees
The pre-race instructions were classic. They went something like “The first loop you will follow the pink markers. They will always be on your left, but sometimes they will not. Then you will follow the yellow ribbons. They will always be on your left. Sometimes you will see both pink and yellow ribbons. Follow the color of your loop, and never follow the blue ribbons.” On three hours of sleep and with the sun barely rising as this was explained, I hoped that I wouldn’t end up miles off course tangled in barbed wire fence somewhere. Thankfully this did not happen and it was pretty easy to follow.
I got off to a comfortable start, knowing that there was a good chance I would run a decent time if I ran consistent and strong. The course had only about 3500 feet of climbing (a couple thousand less than any other race I have run…therefore technically easier). It was also friendly terrain, meaning that the footing was mostly flat and solid.
The first loop was uneventful and went by quickly. The weather was good and the running was smooth. It was kind of nice to know that most of my last 10 miles would be that loop again since it was easy and scenic. The next 10 miles had some pretty ridges and more green hills all around. When I hit the start/finish aid station for the second time I was feeling strong.
20 miles down with Luis and Barefoot Ken Bob looking on
A few miles into the final loop, I knew I had a good shot at a PR time (personal record). I figured if I continued at the same effort and accounted for slowing down a little since it was getting later in the race and my legs were feeling heavier, I could still finish around 5:30-5:45. Previously I had not gone under 6 hours in a 50k. A few miles later I thought I had slowed down quite a bit and was likely going to the 5:45ish time and was happy with it. Somehow, however, I convinced my body to keep pace and crossed the finish at 5:11 and change. I was surprised and pleased.
For those of you who read the book Born to Run – Caballo Blanco and Barefoot Ted ran, and the race director Luis Escobar “el Coyote” was there dressed in a chicken suit for the early morning at least.
Recovery has been excellent, as it was for the previous races this year. I credit this in part to the ice bath I took when I got home, but more so to paying attention to my nutrition (day to day with training as well as during recovery from races). I’m getting a good strong base from which to do some good fun things on trails the remainder of the year…but that’s for another post.
Hone, me, and Price