Lake Sonoma 50 Recap

Lake Sonoma 50 Recap

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It seems like it was so long ago, but the Saturday before the Boston Marathon, I ran and finished my second 50 mile ultra in Northern California at the Lake Sonoma 50. I ran with a good friend, Chris. We also ran the NFEC 50 last December together and knew I would be in good company. I was attempting to qualify for the Western States 100, which would require a sub 11-hour finish. It was a “UNRELENTING” course with 10,500′ elevation gain (and an equal amount of loss).

This is how it went:

Miles 1-12

About as unofficial as it can get, we gathered at the start, the RD said a few words and the crowd just ran. I don’t even think I heard a “Go!”

We started off at a comfortable pace and the energy was obviously high, as is typical at most races. Somewhere around mile 8, I started to feel like my foot was at the beginning stages of developing a blister on my left forefoot, in the metatarsal region. NOT GOOD with 40 miles to go.

I had a drop bag at the mile 12 (and 38) aid station with a pair of road shoes. I had a decision to make: switch to road shoes or stick with my trail shoes? Either way, it would be one I would have to commit to. I noticed that my foot seemed to be slipping on the downhill, so I decided to stick with the trail shoes, tighten the laces and hope.

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Miles 13-25

A few miles in and I noticed a difference. My foot was more stable and it didn’t seem to be getting worse. So far, so good, but not even close to be done with this adventure.

The course was absolutely beautiful. It took us up to see gorgeous views and down to run through and over river crossings. Spirits were still high.

All smiles at the half-way point.

Mile 26-37

We hit the halfway point a little over 5 hours, putting us on perfect pace. We both felt good even though it was starting to get warm. We stayed hydrated and dumped water on our heads/hats to stay cool. The course was an out and back around the lake, so it was just a matter of returning to the start.

Around mile 35, I could see that we were slowing down. We were still moving close to pace, but the energy was dropping.

Checking supplies at the mile 38 aid station.

Checking supplies at the mile 38 aid station.

Mile 38-49

As we reached the mile 38 aid station, we felt like we were toast. It was great to see wifey again (she was also at 25) and it was nice to know we only had 12 miles to go. Sounds crazy, but it’s the little things.

Blister update: I was still moving pretty good. Downhill was tough. I could tell it was getting bigger/worse, but it was doing far better than I anticipated. Onward we go.

Around mile 44, I knew sub-11 wasn’t going to happen. We had hit a wall and just wanted to lean against it and rest for a minute. Like training had taught us, just keep moving forward any way you can. We had trained on tired legs, so we knew how to fight through it.

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Mile 50

LONGEST MILE EVER! We crossed a sign that said “1 mile to go” and it just lasted FOREVER. Even the lady we caught up with was curious as to how long this mile would go on for.

We started together, we finished together.

11 hours 39 minutes 57 seconds

It was a 25-minute PR from my December 50 miler (actually a 47+ mile course due to weather), so I was feeling pretty good about the improvement on a further course.

Within yards of the finish line... we look completely in sync.

Within yards of the finish line… we look completely in sync.

Quick recap:

  • 50 milers are hard, respect the distance.
  • I have a lot to learn about running them. This race reminded me of my first couple marathons where you learn through experience.
  • Blisters at mile 9 are terrible. Finishing 40 miles later makes you forget about it. Walking the next day reminds you.
  • Around mile 30, I told Chris that 50 miles seemed like enough. My desire to run 100 miles was getting smaller with each mile. But I still wanted to come in sub-11, I wanted the choice to be mine. (Update: I may feel different later, but I see myself staying in the 26.2-50 mile range.)
  • Having family and friends at the finish line is a remarkable and wonderful thing. This would take much greater meaning 2 days later at Boston.

Don’t forget,

if you have photos from the #BostonStrong Runs or want to be notified about the digital magazine, see details here.

What is the farthest distance you have run?
Ever think of going further?

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16 Comments

  1. You are a beast. And an inspiration. I absolutely love reading your recaps. I have mad respect for you!

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  2. Amazing job! The farthest I’ve run is 26.2 and at the end of that I can’t dream of going further. Way to go! And I’ve found that Avon (of all products) makes a really great blister cream that I put on my toes and feet before marathons I’ve never gotten a blister.Its called Foot Works.

    Reply
  3. Awesome recap! I am new to your blog and find it really inspiring, and even though your distances are way beyond what I can do right now, you are very relatable. Looking forward to reading more!!

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  4. My furthest run so far is 42 miles (on the treadmill to celebrate turning 42 – I didn’t make my goal of 43). I’m training for my first 50 (Heartland 50 in Cassody, KS in Oct.).
    Enjoyed reading about your 50. I figure if I like the 50 a lot I will bump to the 100 next year – but I may end up like you deciding that 50 is my max.

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  5. Longest I have done is 60K (about 38 miles). I definitely want to do a 50 miler…probably in early 2014! This one looks beautiful. Congrats on your race.

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  6. That last photo is amazing. Great job with your PR!

    The longest I’ve run is a half. I’ve always said I will run Boston, but I’d like to run a different marathon course before I tackle the hometown :)

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  7. that kinda looks like New Zealand! which makes me want to go back.. NOW!

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  8. Amazing job PR! Like that is totally unreal!

    Furthest distance 21.1km :)

    Spartan was 25 but it was a different kind of race/distance.

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  9. Amazing!! Way to beat your time from December. I am positive you’ll hit your sub-11 one day!

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  10. Congrats on a fantastic time out there! Really, really impressive. And the fact that you and your friend stayed together the entire way is amazing. Western States is coming your way soon…

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  11. Wow. That is some serious running. I love the 13.1 distance. I’ve done one full and I’m doing another in November. I’d love to push myself to try a 30+ miler, but I’d need a good good buddy!

    You are a beast!

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  12. Surprisingly I haven’t gone any further than a half marathon. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scared or not. You are so inspiring! Congrats on an amazing run.

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  13. Congrats on this! A PR on a distance that was even a few miles farther is so amazing. And reading this is so humbling. The way you’re able to talk about 50 miles as though it’s nothing and you’ll stick to that instead of 100 miles is incredible. After just one marathon so far thinking about my next one (Chicago) is daunting. To think about 50 miles (which I know will just never happen for me) is just insane. You’re amazing.

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  14. Wow, 50 miles is impressive. The farthest I’ve ran is 13.1, and the next distance I am aiming for for 26.2. I want to be able to do an ultra someday.

    Reply

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