I woke up a few minutes before the alarm went off. I was beyond excited for the event. After all, I had just spent the last 20 weeks training for this run. I didn’t really have my normal race mentality; this was more of a personal journey. I was there to simply run the distance. This was my first 50k run!
As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I started seeing friends from my running club (Folsom Trail Runners). The comradery of this group is amazing! Not only were a bunch of us running the event, but there were several volunteering as well. I picked up my bib from familiar faces who wished me good luck.
The morning went by very quickly since I was chatting to several friends which helped keep my nerves at bay. We were able to gather a group of us and take a quick photo before starting the race.
The weather was perfect. It was a bit chilly in the morning. However, I wouldn’t have wanted it any warmer. And, it wasn’t raining. I had gone to bed Friday night wondering if the rain would really stop as they had predicted. I was a little worried about the condition of the trails due to the amount of rain we had on Thursday and Friday, but they were just fine.
Before long, we were off! I knew that I had to keep my pace on the slower side since I was going a long way……50k = ~31 miles.
It took us about a mile and a half before hitting the actual trail. This gave everyone a chance to spread out and find their own pace.
Once we hit the single track, I tried to slow down even more knowing that I was going a little too fast. My plan was to go out slowly for the first half and then hope the second half wouldn’t be so hard. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened. At least it sounded good on paper.
This course was a great course for my first 50k. Most of the trail was single track with a few small hills. There were a few technical spots. But if there hadn’t been, it really wouldn’t have been trail running.
Photo by Nick
This time of the year, the area is beautifully green with lots of wild flowers. Yet, I wasn’t able to do much sightseeing while running. It seems that every time I take my eyes off the trail, I fall.
I reached the first aid station (mile 3.5) where I saw a familiar face cheering for me and the other club members. It’s so nice to see smiley faces out on the course. I felt great and just grabbed a kleenex and was on my way.
There were a few climbs between the first aid station and the second one (mile 6). I was still feeling really good and didn’t need to pick up any nutrition. I had packed my own food and water so I wouldn’t have to stop as much.
Somewhere around mile 8 or 9, I saw the lead 35kers. Because this was an out and back course, they had to pass by everyone else. Wow! They were running super fast. There wasn’t much room to pass on a single track, so I tried to step to the side (without touching the poison oak) giving them as much room as they needed while cheering them on.
As I approached the third aid station (mile 10.5), I saw another friend from the running group and a female 50ker. Uh oh, a little competition. She was leaving the aid station and I wasn’t planning on stopping. I told my friend that I wasn’t stopping, so I was able to run by her. She was behind me and we ended up running behind 2 guys.
For a few miles we kept a pretty decent pace, a bit too fast. One of the guys pulled over and let me pass. I decided that the pace was too fast and slowed down. We were running at a 9:30 pace at this point. I knew that wasn’t in my plan. The front guy also slowed a bit and we ended up having a good conversation which made the miles pass by quickly.
At about mile 14 the leading 50kers started passing by us. I counted 2 female runners pass by which made me the third female. I wasn’t really out there to race, so I counted the runners, but didn’t think much of it.
We continued on. This section of the trail was a little bit harder with about 4 small trees to step over and 1 larger tree to climb over. We eventually ended up at the turn around point, aid station #4 (15.2 miles). I noticed that I arrived 15 minutes earlier than I had planned. I wondered if I would pay for going out too fast.
As I ran into the aid station, I was greeted by another friend from the running club! He took my pack, filled it up and I chatted for a brief minute. What special treatment!
By this time, the other lady had arrived at the aid station and was already headed out again. I really wasn’t bothered to see her go in front of me, which is very unlike me. Just as I headed out, I passed by another lady on her way to the turn around point. She ended up catching up to me and passing me. This bumped me down to 5th place. But, I was ok with that. I just wanted to run this 50k!
I continued on knowing that I was now on my way back. This was a great feeling. Then something changed and it changed quickly. I somehow tripped and found myself sitting on the trail. It was as if my legs just gave up and collapsed. I stood up and continued on. I then had to climb back over the 1 tree. At this point, I felt my legs get heavy. I wasn’t ready to give up, though. I was only at mile 16. I ran at a decent pace, stepping over the other fallen trees.
Around mile 17 I was lucky to see another friend who had come out to cheer on us 50kers. I didn’t get a chance to chat, but it was nice to have the support.
By the time I saw this bridge, mile 20.4, I was tired. I was feeling like there was still a long ways to go and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I saw my friend who was volunteering at the check in point. I climbed the little hill to the actual aid station and asked for more water. I stood there for a second and looked at all the snacks hoping to find some magical pill that would give me energy. I headed back down to the main trail empty handed, my friend said a few supportive words and I was off.
The next 4.4 miles were beyond tough! Physically, I started feeling my pain in my ankle. My legs also felt heavy and my quads felt like they were cramping. I’ve never had cramps in my quads, so perhaps they were just tired and the muscles were screaming at me. None the less, it made it hard to run. I continued to run and walked the hills when I needed to.
Mentally, I also felt discouraged. I was watching my average pace get slower and slower. I thought that I was just running slower. However, something happened to my watch. Perhaps it lost the GPS signal. The running time never stopped but my mileage was off. This made my average pace seem slower than it really was. This definitely didn’t help me.
During this portion of the run, I said goodbye to my negative split. I had gone out too fast. (I later confirmed this when I reviewed my splits. I definitely ran the first half too fast.)
One of the positive thoughts that kept me going was knowing that I was going to see my dad, husband and daughter at the next aid station.
Here I am walking up the hill. Since I had to walk, I took off my pack getting it ready for another refill.
I arrived at the aid station. My family was there lined up ready to take pictures. I was feeling defeated, but knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up. I asked my husband if he had Advil which he replied no, but he would get some.
My husband tried to reassure me that I was right on schedule (I had written down the different aid stations and the predicted arrival times and given it to my husband). That was what I needed to hear.
I had my pack filled and I took a minute to look at the sancks. It was there that I took 2 shots of coke. I was willing to try something to make the last six and a half miles a little more enjoyable.
It was time to head off. I knew this part of the trail really well and I also knew that I would get to see my family again……. In.Three. More. Miles.
The next 3 miles seemed to go by quickly. I was in a better mood. I got to see my family! I’m also pretty sure the coke helped. And lastly, I was feeling better knowing that even though I had slowed down, I was still on schedule.
One of my favorite supporters!!!!
After stopping for a few seconds and taking some Advil, I was on my way. I only had a short 3.5 miles to go. I knew I could finish at this point. I ran the best I could. My legs were tired, but they had to keep going.
I finally reached the levy. From this point I knew I only had about a mile and half left. It was a bit windy going across the levy, but I stayed strong. About half way across the levy, I could see the finish line. And then, I could see a small blur of pink about a quarter mile from the finish. I waved; I don’t know if she saw me. I still had a ways to go, but I knew my daughter was waiting to run me in.
I waved again. This time she saw me. I approached her and grabbed her hand. We were off to cross that finish line!
Crossing the finish line never felt better! My daughter was beside me, my dad and husband were there along with some friends from my running club.
I did it! I ran my first 50k!!! I was overwhelmed with emotion. I always am after an endurance event. I finished that darn 50k in 5:33:47!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!
Feeling pretty proud!
Was it hard? Yes! Probably the hardest athletic challenge yet. But, was it worth it? Heck, yeah!!!!
Thank you to my supporters, Mark (hubby), Dad and Natalia (and Jordan who was off having his own fun) . Seeing you at the different aid stations made a huge difference and gave me a needed boost of energy! And, thank you Mark for helping make this possible. Without your support, I could have never completed the training.
Check out all of the loot! All runners received a finishers medal and tech shirt. Then, all ultra runners received a very cool pint beer glass with the race logo on it. And, because I was first in my age group, remember it was a small race, I received another medal. Thank you Inside Trail Racing!!!!
It was a great day for Folsom Trail Runners ( FTR – that’s the awesome running club I belong to). My friends Cheri and Ron ran their first 35k! There were several other FTR first timers out there. Congrats to everyone!
Thank you to all of the volunteers and to Inside Trail Racing. Once again, the event was amazing. All the friendly volunteers made a difference. There were plenty of aid stations along the way with plenty of snacks. I also loved all the food at the finish line. This was my fourth Inside Trail run and I will definitely be doing more of them!
So, now that the 50k run is over, I will take a little time for rest and recovery. But don’t worry, I’m already planning my next event!