Sunday, December 10, 2017

Del Dios Trail Half Marathon Recap

In October, I volunteered at a race put on by the Endurance Race Series.  Not only did I have a blast seeing what happens on the other side of the start line, I also received an entry into one of their future races.  I quickly signed up for the Del Dios Trail Half Marathon—I had heard great things about the race and thought it would a great way to end my race year.

The week before this race, I ran the Ray Miller 50K and I can’t lie—the elevation of that race impacted my running more than I anticipated.  Though I am still streaking, I was also actively resting and had a low mileage week.  The Del Dios event offers a half marathon, a 10K and the 5K distance.  The week leading up to the race, I kept telling myself I would make a race day decision about what distance I would run.

I woke up the morning of the race and felt pretty good.  I had run ten miles the day prior and it didn’t feel awful.  I quickly got ready but made a rookie mistake—I didn’t eat breakfast.  I don’t usually eat a lot before a race but I always have some type of protein drink and a banana.  I definitely know better and I definitely paid for it during the race.
#TwoPairDontCare Ugly Sweater Socks
I knew within the first mile of the race that I really had no business running it.  My body is still in recovery mode and I could never find my groove.  I struggled from the beginning and that struggle lasted most of the race.  At one point, I even texted a friend and said I was going to DNF.  I contemplated turning at the 10K turnoff and finishing that race (the first part of the half and 10K were run on the same course)  After a pep talk and a reminder not to be so hard on myself, I decided that I would finish the half.  I knew it would not be my best race.  I was even prepared to be the last finisher.  But I kept pushing along, running when I could, walking when I needed to and taking it one step at a time. Shortly after mile ten, I caught up with two runners in front of me. We chatted a bit and I asked if they had done the race before.  One told me it was her first half marathon—how awesome is that! What she doesn’t know is that was just the little push of encouragement I needed—her accomplishment was a great reminder of how far I’ve come in my own journey and why I love the running community so much.  So thank you random runner! 
The views!
Aside from my performance, there are some awesome things about this race.  There were wild fires in Southern California the days leading up the race and the pre-race communication was on point, with updates letting us know what was going on with the race.  The course, though a bit rocky, is scenic and was well marked.  The volunteers at the aide stations were great, cheering for every runner as they came through.  ERS also does finish line areas right—not only do they have the standard fruits and waters, there were chips, pastries, grilled goodies and beer.   The swag is also pretty sweet—I love that they offer a fitted tee.  

As my race year came to an end with this race, I’m looking forward to what 2018 brings.  And I’m excited to announce that I will be joining the Endurance Race Series Ambassador team.   With five races in the Sunshine Series, I look forward to seeing you there.   The next one is the San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon/10K on February 17, 2018. 

How did your 2017 race year go?

Until next time, happy running.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ray Miller 50K Recap

Late last year, I decided I wanted to try running an ultra race.  I ran a marathon in February 2016 and frankly, I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Once I started trail running, the idea of running a 50K (or longer distance) was much more appealing.  My original plan was to run Leona Divide in April but life happened and I had to postpone my first 50K, so I signed up for the Ray Miller 50K.

In October, I had a last minute opportunity to run the Lake Hodges 50K and I am so glad that I did.  During that race, I was able to learn some opportunities that I have with hydration and find out how my body would handle the 50K distance.  During that race, I also made plans with Jenn and Vanessa for Ray Miller.  They were both also signed up for it, along with Alexis, so we decided to carpool and room together.

Traffic Views
The race was on a Saturday (I love Saturday races!) so we headed up to Malibu on Friday afternoon.  The traffic wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful either.  (You never know what you’re going to get with traffic in the Los Angeles area)  The company was great and the views were amazing so the trip went by rather quickly.  After checking into the hotel and getting dinner, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep for the early wake up on Saturday morning. 

#FlatJenn and all her essentials

The Ray Miller 50/50/30 offered a 50 mile race, a 50K race and a 30K race.  We were all running the 50K which started at 6:30am.  We arrived around 5:30am to check-in, get our bibs and do all the last minute race stuff. 

Let's Do This!
Starting at the Ray Miller trailhead in Point Mugu State Park, the 50K promised a lot of hills with amazing views.  It did not disappoint.  I stayed with Jenn, Vanessa and Alexis for about the first ten miles of the race as we sang and entertained our way through the course.  At one point, I heard someone refer to us as “Team Rocket” because of our Orange Mud hydration packs.  As much as I was having with them, I knew eventually I would fall behind and start running my own race.  During the Lake Hodges race, I dealt with some bad leg cramping issues so I was focused on upping my hydration and listening to my body.  This course was also a lot more technical and challenging than any trail I’ve run before—I knew that listening to my body would become the most important thing.  

Elevation! (They call it "Hell Hill" for a reason!)

When I run longer distances, I try not to think about how many miles I have left.  Instead I try to think about how much longer to the next aide station.  This is the second Keira Henninger race that I’ve run and she runs a very organized, put together event.  Every aide station was fully stocked and the volunteers were amazing!  The course is very well marked, with either signs or ribbons leading the way.  I never once felt like I might be going the wrong way.

The pink ribbon meant I was going the right way
This course is one of the prettiest I have run—with views of the ocean or mountains, no matter where you looked, you were surrounded by beauty.  It was also challenging, with a lot of single track and brush to deal with.  The elevation was no joke and my legs are definitely feeling it the next day.   Although I did have some leg cramps, they were easily walked off and I know as I continue to run the longer distances, I can try to figure out what is causing that.  My overall time was not what I had hoped for, but I am happy with my race.  I felt strong; stronger than I did at the 50K I ran in October.  Looking back, there were parts that I hiked that I probably could have run but I know at the time, I gave it everything I had in me in the moment.  I listened to my body, I stopped to enjoy the views, made friends along the way, cursed my way up “Hell Hill,” and ran the race I had in me. 

In awe. So pretty!
 At the end of it, the Ray Miller 50K is one of those races that I said, “I liked that race.  I want to do it again.” Overall, I’d call that a win.  Sometimes the race is more than the time on your race—this was one of those races for me and I loved every second of it.

Running with friends is better!
 What has been one of your best races, regardless of time?
Until next time, happy running.

Ultra Runner Crate

A few weeks ago, I went on Instagram to see if anyone I knew has tried the Ultra Runner Crate subscription box.  I was intrigued at the idea...