WOW. What a race!! The Mount Laguna Marathon was my 6th marathon (2nd trail marathon) and by far the most challenging marathon course I have run.
Going into the race I felt good. I was super excited and felt the training I did was going to get me though this race. I felt I was properly fueled and hydrated, which can make a huge difference. I also previewed most of the course so I knew what to expect mentally. There were also several friends running too and that always makes it more fun! Assuming everything went well, my goal going into this race was to have FUN and aim to finish between 5 hours and 5:30.
The start of the race was a bit chilly … 35 and super dry. I started with a long sleeve and quickly shed that around mile 2.5. It ‘warmed’ up quick, but over all it was PERFECT running weather the entire race. Being so exposed on the course I never felt like it was hot and never felt like it was cold. It was absolutely perfect. As a runner sometimes weather can make or break a race for you.
It took me about 3 miles to get into my groove, get my heart rate under control and adjust to the elevation a bit. Even though we train up there regularly those first few miles at elevation aren’t always smooth.
The first 10 miles I felt really strong. I tried to run an easy consistent pace, bomb the down hills and adjust when I hit the hills. I had planned to take my first gel at mile 5, but felt a little hungry at mile 3 (oooffffff!!). At mile 4 I took my first gel knowing it was better to refuel soon then later. When I train, I train with a mixture of real food and gels. When I race, real food isn’t as easy to carry and eat so I tend to stick to gels. I am a fan of Honey Stingers. They work for me and it is a bonus they are organic, gluten free and not made with a bunch of chemicals.
By mile 17 I had done a fair amount of climbing and just descended from the Champagne Pass. Honestly, I felt trashed! My feet HURT! The downhill was give or take a mile and a half long and super technical… you are basically running down hill on rocks, just rocks! Once you hit the bottom you start climbing your way out on the Indian Creek Trail and up Noble Canyon. The muscles you are suppose to use going uphill did not want to function. I made myself slow down, regroup and focus as I continued in a forward motion. I was moving so slow, but I knew if I kept going I would recover. Sure enough I recovered and made it to the last aid station, surprisingly feeling good. Mentally, that was a rough section for me as it was the longest stretch between aid stations, not to mention the toughest part of the course. Once I hit the aid station I was in and out real quick. I grabbed an orange slice, thanked the volunteers and continued on.
The last 5-6 miles were unfamiliar territory. This was part of the course I hadn’t run. I had been listening to my music, which helped me keep my mind off my watch and kept me moving at a decent pace. These last few miles I had to be diligent about not zoning out too much and making sure I was watching out for that orange confident tape along the course to ensure I was on the right trail. The last thing I wanted to do was to get lost!
At mile 21.75 I leaped/jumped sky high over a baby rattlesnake. Was it really a rattlesnake?? I have no idea, but I didn’t stick around to find out. All snakes are rattlesnakes to me. It was maybe 12 inches long stretched out on the trail and I just happened to see it. If you know anything abut me I do not do tall grass or snakes. Talk about getting the adrenaline going!! Every stick after that did not look the same.
I enjoyed this last section of the course (besides the snake sighing). There were lots of little rolling hills with a few flat sections. I love taking photos and I wanted to snap a few shots, but my husband told me “If I see photos that means you aren’t running” LOL. So I opted to save majority of my photo taking for training runs were we can take breaks and enjoy the view! The last mile or so was a substantial uphill and then finally the finish line was in sight! WAHOOOOOOO!!!! I mustered up what I had left to ‘sprint’ it in. I was SO glad to be done.
For me when finishing a race (or any long distance training run) it is important to have my recovery drink, continue to hydrate and most importantly EAT! I brought with me a tuna filled coconut wrap and an apple (it was SOOOO good). I find hydration and REAL food (not cookies and donuts) after a race is the key to recovery.
Throughout the race I felt pretty well fueled and hydrated. I was using Grape Ultima. It is one of the two electrolytes drinks that work for me. It is also non-GMO and I am a fan of non-GMO products! Between Ultima and water I likely consumed between 80-90 ounces, which is about 16-18 ounces an hour. When it is cooler out and especially dry you don’t always notice you are sweating so it is important to stay on top of your hydration. I also sucked down about 6 honey stinger gels and one orange slice!
Am I sore? Absolutely! But it was worth it. It is a good reminder that I am healthy enough to be outside and enjoy events like this! I truly feel I trained hard and gave my all during this race.
Would I run this race again? Absolutely!! I finished in 5:00:03, 4th female and 1st in age group. My first goal is to always have fun and my second goal for next year would be to run a sub 5 hour. The course was very well organized, well marked and the volunteers were pretty awesome! Not to mention the views are spectacular.
What would I do differently next year? I found that I ate my breakfast too early and that is why I was hungry at mile 3! Next time I will not eat as early as I did. Luckily, it didn’t really seem to mess me up too much. I always carry extra gels for this reason. There is always something to be learned at every race no matter how many marathons or races you have raced.
Big thanks to my husband and our friend Robert who were out at every aid station cheering us all on!