San Diego 50 Miler Race Recap

50 Miles! I ran 50 flipping miles! I did it. I finished. I am still wrapping my head over this weekend’s San Diego 50 Mile Race.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I was excited and surprisingly not really nervous. I knew I had done the training and all I could do was trust the training. The first 20 miles went really well and I felt strong. I held back running fast despite how good I felt. I even took the down hills pretty conservatively.

Miles 20-30 weren’t too bad, but you do a lot of short steep climbs, a small creek crossing, where I managed to hop on the rocks and keep my feet dry. The sun also peeked from the clouds and you could feel it beating down on you. I wouldn’t say it got hot, but it warmed up. By the time I hit 30 miles everything was starting to hurt. I was feeling a bit tore up. I have done two 50k’s before so I know my body was expecting to stop at 31 miles.  Just before I left the aid station, one of my good friends Robert told me I would feel better by the time I hit mile 45. I had a hard time believing that.

I left the aid station at mile 30 and did more walking than running. When I got to mile 35 I saw my husband and wanted to cry because my legs hurt SO much. I hadn’t experienced anything like it before. My body wanted me to stop, but I knew that was not an option. I continued on and probably did even more walking than running from mile 35 to mile 40. When I got to the aid station at mile 40 I was greeted by my husband and many of our good friends. It was a relief seeing their faces. In retrospect I only had 10 miles left. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A few orange slices later I was on my way to the next aid station at mile 45. Crew wasn’t allowed at the last aid station, but my good friend Gloria was working that aid station and I was looking forward to seeing another familiar face! I wouldn’t necessarily say I felt good, but I felt better than I did between miles 30-40. Somehow Robert was right and I couldn’t believe it. I ran most of those 5 miles.

When I got to mile 45, Gloria, along with her son and daughter were so excited with such big smiles that I couldn’t help but smile. It made me feel good. Not to mention I only had 5 miles left!

As I left the aid station I had a decent 1 mile climb up Raptor Ridge. I ran where it was run-able and walked where it was steep. When I got to the top, going down sounded easy, but it was about another mile down to the bottom until the course leveled out. My legs were tired! I found it easier to run up than down at this point. As I continued in my forward motion I counted down…. 4 more miles left…. 3 more miles left and reminding myself ‘I can do this’ ‘you’re almost there’!

2.5 miles from the finish, much to my surprise, I see Robert, Anthony and my husband waiting for me. It was just what I needed at that point. Robert was comical to say the least. It was great to take my mind off of how I felt.

I didn’t necessarily hold it together the last 2 miles. I did some walking, and some people passed me, but once I hit that half mile from the finish, I ran as fast as my legs would go and ‘sprinted’ into the finish. Quarter mile left, I could see the finish line and I heard my husband yelling and then lots of people cheering. I had slight tunnel vision going to the finish line. I could hear all these people cheering, but couldn’t see them. I remember my brother in law sticking his hand out for a high five and I vaguely saw my husband in his blue jacket. I have never been so happy to see that finish line and cross it! I have never experienced so much pain!

Going into this race I had a few goals. By mile 35 I had to let go of those goals and focus on my goal of just finishing. It was tough to do and a hard pill to swallow, but as with any race it is good to be flexible with your goals. Despite how much leg pain I felt, it would have been easier to quit, but that was not an option. After the race I talked in depth with my husband and went over different scenarios, but in reality it was my first one and there was no way to avoid the leg pain I experienced. There was no more training I could have done to prepare me better. I will take what I learned from this one and apply it to the next one. There is only room for improvement.

As far as nutrition, my nutrition plan on the course worked. I fueled with honey stinger gels and fruit gushers and hydrated with Ultima and water. I never got nauseous or felt like I hit a wall so to speak, it was more physical and emotional during this race. I really listened to my body and was able to tell when I needed to refuel before I got too low. I also drank early and often to prevent any dehydration. Thankfully, this year the weather for this race was absolutely PERFECT!!

I ensure you running 50 miles was no easy task for me. I put in A LOT of training miles and it paid off. I did it, I finished and I couldn’t be more happier! Talking to everyone, the ‘pain’, which I surely do not know how to describe unless you have been there, is completely ‘normal’. Apparently the second one still hurts, but not as bad?!?!?! I guess I will have to find out for myself 🙂

Special thanks to my husband for crewing and putting in extra training miles with me, to Robert and Anthony for cheering me on at every aid station, Jenny, Ola and Sharon for coming out to see me finish and to all the runners in Trail Crashers who ran long on Saturdays with me, and all those who supported and volunteered during the SD50 Miler. All of you made this a great and memorable event!
PS: If you are looking to run your first 50 miler or are a seasoned ultra runner, this is a great course to run. I highly recommend it. It is super organized, the course is very well marked (which is always important to me) and the volunteers are outstanding. Or if you are looking for something shorter check out the marathon. I ran it last year and it was just as good! Check it out: http://sandiegotrail50.com

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