After two 13.1 mile loops, so much of me wanted to stop. I was tired. I was salty and sweaty. And having to head out for an additional 5 miles did not sound like fun. Mile 26.2 of a 50k sounded like a good stopping point—I’ve done it before. Almost the exact same scenario, cross a finish line only to head out for an additional 5 miles. It was May 19, 2012 and is my only DNF. Such a mind game. It got me once, and I really didn’t want it to get me again.
I registered for the Cinderella 50k as a final training run for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. I know, run a 50k as a training run for the marathon makes no sense, but follow my logic: with the RnRSD two weeks later, it would allow me enough time to taper for race day. I really want to get back into my sub-4 marathon pace and a long run through the hills would keep my pace slow, and help me build endurance for the 52.4 San Francisco Ultra.
The course was set up to run a 13.1-mile loop twice, then run a 2.5 mile out-and-back. The good thing is that after the first loop, you know the entire course. No surprises. The easy parts stay easy, and the tough parts get tougher. Funny how that works.
Getting in the mileage, spending time on my feet, and building strength was the goal. But I really didn’t want to spend all day on the course, and unfortunately that’s what happened. After looking at the course profile (probably too quickly), I underestimated the steepness of the climbs and found many of them unrunnable (for me), which resulted in uphill hikes.
Loop 1 (13.1 miles)
I was hoping to finish around 6:30, but after the first loop took me just under 3 hours, I was starting to get worried. There was some crowding at the front, and single track often results in waiting for an opportunity to pass, which may have accounted for the first few miles being slower than expected. My hydration to that point was going well. I had my pack, and was eating quartered PB&J sandwiches at each aid station (a trail favorite of mine).
Loop 2 (Same 13.1 miles)
At this point, the crowd was starting to get thin. Most people had opted for the half, so there wasn’t that many people in front of me. There were a few marathoners still out there, but there were some good miles in between coming across someone (passing, or being passed). I felt like I got some good paced stretches in here and was looking forward to knocking off some time from my 3-hour first loop. But then it started to get warm. And the hills started to grow. LOL. No, they didn’t, but I could tell that I was not attacking the incline as much as I was the first time around. Loop 2 took me an additional 20-30 minutes.
Final out-and-back (5 miles)
There were plenty of times I thought about stopping approaching the finisher’s chute. This would be my third time running past it. I knew I couldn’t hang around at the aid station. I had to get what I needed and keep it moving. If I stood around and allowed my brain to process how tired I felt, I would have stopped. On I went. Determined to finish this race. I kept thinking about how well I want to do at RnRSD and how I have that 52.4 coming up. I didn’t want to look back and think of this run as a lapse in strength. The 5-mile look took me an hour-ish.
I finished in 7:35, slower than I had anticipated, but it clearly didn’t take the steep inclines into my estimation. I was pleased with how I felt. My hydration and fuel went well. My legs felt tired on the climbs, but when I could run, it felt pretty good. Overall, the run was a success in terms of getting in the distance and time on my feet.
Going out on top
I didn’t stick around very long, and certainly didn’t think about age group awards. I knew the field for 50k-ers was pretty small, but there had to have been someone else in my AG that ran faster than I did. I know I wasn’t exactly blazing trails or anything.
Age Group: 1/2
This will be my last race in my current age group, and I’m happy to say, I went out on top. Told you it was a small field.
Finisher’s medal on the left, Ultra finisher’s coaster on the right.
Rock n Roll San Diego is the weekend of June 3-4. This will be my 3rd time running the full there, first since 2014. I’m doing the remix (5K on Saturday) and looking to get back into sub-4 territory for the Mary. It’s not an easy course (3:58 and 4:23 my last two times), but I know the course, the crowds come out, and I feel good about my chances.
For the third year in a row, we are hosting an after party with Pro Compression. Join the #WeRunSocial crew, the PRO Ambassador team, and bring your friends. Everyone is welcome, it’s always one heck of a good time, and it’s great to hang out with fellow runners.
What are your mental-strength tips?
See you in SD?