I still don’t know what’s supposed to be in a “proper” race report. So here are a few pieces of my experience this past Saturday at the first running of the Ray Miller 50/50 as well as uncredited photos (I didn’t have a camera!).
First off, huge thanks to all who organized, supported, volunteered, at the race. It was an incredible event run on gorgeous trails. Sooo much single track and pretty darn technical in many areas. The weather was quite nice, cool morning and overcast for the first few hours after the 6am start. Things heated up later but that’s to be expected.
start to mile 6
As typical with many ultras there is a bottleneck early as a wider trail/fire road narrows to single track. I started off a little fast to avoid this and it paid off as we started the first climbs and long trains of runners formed. By this point the front runners for the 50k and 50M were blazing out of sight. I ran the first couple miles with my friend Chris G. before he pulled away on a climb. I settled into a nice groove with lots of other runners. I was greeted at the first aid station by Elyssa, Brian, and a few others as I filled up my bottles.
This section was a loop back to the mile 6 aid that had a bit of climbing, but with fresh legs early in the race it was not a problem to get a good rhythm going. Wide trail through here with lots of other runners including a few familiar faces. Mile 11 aid was the same as 6 and had a Dodgers theme.
The pack spread out a bit from here and I ran a few miles in front of fellow Coyote, Will. After talking for at least 30 minutes and nearing the mile 19 aid he asked my name. I turned around and said “Will, you know me!” Haha, he never saw my face until then so didn’t realize it was me he was talking to. We both got a good laugh out of that as we headed into the Coyote superhero aid station at Danielson Ranch. Wow, this was an awesome stop. Tons of encouraging friends dressed as everything from the Flash to a Giraffe.
Will was running the 50k as his last long run before LA Marathon in a few weeks so we stuck together until the 50M turnoff a little ways further up the trail. The turnoff is an approximately 20 mile out and back up to the Sandstone Peak area. Up being the operative word as it’s quite a climb. The early section had pretty good shade which was a nice bonus as the sun was starting to throw down some good heat. I saw the 50M leaders tearing down the opposite direction in this stretch. Jorge M. was first and looking super smooth. Five minutes later, ten, fifteen, then I lost count before Jorge P. passed with Chris P. in hot pursuit. A couple of others including Coach Jimmy were not far back.
Mile 28 was the first access to my drop bag at Yerba Buena road. I grabbed some more homemade gel flasks and electrolyte mix, topped off with ice water (awesome!) and was on my way. Just after leaving the aid running some twisty single track I ran into Chris G. and exchanged a few words as we ran past each other. When I reached the next aid station I was greeted by more familiar faces and got my bottles topped off. Then it was time to turn around and run back to where I would rejoin the 50k course.
I probably ran this section a little harder than I should have in retrospect, and arrived at mile 34 Yerba Buena again a bit depleted. I took care of aid station business including filling up my pack with a bit of water to supplement the bottles as this was gong to be an 11 mile section without aid.
Who put that mountain there? I conveniently forgot how much of a climb I would have up to the Tri Peaks area before the big downhill. The climb tapped me out and electrolytes got low (cramping) as well as the first stomach issues of the day. I wasn’t to keen on either of these problems since a big downhill was coming that I would not be able to take advantage of if I wasn’t a bit more solid. I gutted out what I could through this looong section and ran with a couple different people which was nice.
The orange themed aid station at mile 45 was a welcome sight. Not only did it mark the end of a terrible section for me, but I know the last five miles of the course really well from other races and training runs. I fueled up and started the climb out of Sycamore Canyon. That climb has beat me up in the past when I didn’t respect it, but we’re friends now, so it went pretty well. By the time I was at the top of the climb and near the Ray Miller trail downhill the sun was setting and provided an amazing view over the ocean which was now in sight. The last few miles of downhill I opened up to what was by far my fastest pace of the day. Somewhere on these switchbacks I passed a group of Coyotes who were out cheering on the runners still out on the course (Kevin, Kate, and others I couldn’t make out as I ran by). Sim paced me in for about a mile and was incredibly encouraging. I must have asked him thirty times if there was anyone behind me gaining. I was determined not to get passed at this stage in the race. Finally the final switchbacks came and I heard the cowbell and cheering coming from the finish line. As I crossed RD Keira put my medal around my neck and Jimmy congratulated me. The rest is a blur and all I could think was how that could take over 12 hours.
After the race and for the rest of the night my stomach was messed up and didn’t want to ingest food or liquid. The next day was another story as I pounded food and made sure to properly rehydrate. I took Sunday and Monday off from running and then went out for the Tuesday night group run in Brentwood. About five pleasant recovery miles later I felt great. tired legs, but eager to pick up the training again as I prepare for the Old Goat which is March 24th.