Race Recap: Third Annual San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon

Hi there, We apologize for being so absent since the first of the year; January and February have been a blur for both of us. Wedding planning + an insane work schedule has left us both feeling pretty drained. But we’ve still been active!

The highlight of last month for us was running the Third Annual San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon through the San Dieguito River Park. G ran the 50-mile distance there last year (his first 50-miler), and was excited to see how much a year’s worth of training would pay off. C decided to take on her first trail marathon distance this year, and then find G at the Mile 40 aid station to cheer him on for the remainder of his race. Perfect plan!

We decided to carpool out to the start/finish line, and picked up our friend J on the way (he was running the 50-miler with G). After checking in and labeling their drop bags for the Mile 20/30 aid station, G and J took off at 6:30 a.m. for their race. That left me with an hour to pin on my bib, eat a bit more and psych myself up. I had never run the course before, so I had no clue what to expect other than quite the climb at Mile 5-6.

The marathon group took off at 7:30 a.m., and honestly the first 4.5 miles were lovely. It was a partly cloudy and in the mid-40s temperature wise, which is my ideal race start weather. We wound our way around the edges of several farms and began to make our way to the start of the climb up Raptor Ridge. While the climb up Raptor Ridge was strenuous, I enjoyed the challenge and kept pushing until I was able to fly down the backside to the Mile 5.7 aid station.

San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon
The view as I was climbing Raptor Ridge.

Raptor Ridge to Sunset Park (5.7 – 10)

I’ll be honest and say that this stretch of the course got a little boring for me, but I contribute that being so spread out from other runners (very common in trail races, but very new for me) and not having headphones to listen to music. I did, however, see a fox cross the path around Mile 7 and that helped to break up this portion of the race. It also started to get warm as the clouds went away; I kept telling myself that G was out there running twice the distance I was. Basically, suck it up, buttercup. At the Sunset Park aid station I ate a few potato chips, had some soda, and a handful of pretzels, and got back on course.

Sunset Park to the Marina turnaround (10 – 13.1)

Things got a little more scenic once we crossed under Interstate 15 and began to run along the trail overlooking Lake Hodges. The mid-section of this part was fairly rocky and I was so glad G had encouraged me to wear my Hokas for more cushioning. I hit the turnaround in 2:52 and really felt strong despite the direct heat from the sun. I ate a couple of vanilla wafers with Nutella, pretzels, and a quarter of an orange. I refilled my hydration pack with water and started back toward the finish.

Marina turnaround to Sunset Park (13.1 – 16.2)

I ran most of this section with a nice gal in her mid-20s. It was her first trail marathon, too, and we talked about significant others, our dogs, and how hungry we were. Overall, it was good part of the course with the views of Lake Hodges and knowing that the next aid station wasn’t too far away. Once there, I ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, drank some soda, and took off toward the base of Raptor Ridge (did I mention we have to go back over it?).

Sunset Park – Raptor Ridge (16.2 – 20.5)

I was kind of dreading this portion again (because I felt so lonely the first time around). A few women on horseback passed me and offered to just take me on to the finish with them. It was definitely tempting, but I just kept running. This was, by far, the hottest part of the course and I noticed my fingers were starting the swell. I knew from crewing G that when that happens that means there is an electrolyte imbalance, but I couldn’t remember in which direction: did I need more salt or more water? I rolled into the aid station and was happy to see our friend T volunteering. I asked him about my swollen fingers and he gave me 2 salt tabs and said I should be fine with less than 6 miles left.

Raptor Ridge – Finish (20.5 – 26.2)

My first time over Raptor Ridge was challenging, but fun. I was humbled by the second trip over it. The backside is a very steep single-track trail to the top, whereas the front side had been wider with a more gradual gain. About halfway up, the guy who would be named the winner of the 50-miler passed me. You guys, he was moving and running the entire way. I was in more of a power hike mode at this point, and had no intention of trying to catch up with him. Running back down Raptor Ridge was actually a lot of fun, and then I made my way back around the edges of the farms and crossed the finish line in 6:36.

San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon
C coming into the finish at the end of the trail marathon.

G’s second running of the 50-mile race

What can I say? I love this race! Over the past year it has become a staple in my training. It’s scenic, close, and provides a little bit of everything in terms of terrain.

That said I hadn’t been able to train regularly on the course for quite some time. Ever since fall of last year, I’d been dealing with a foot injury that completely derailed the latter half of 2014 for me.

However, starting in late November, I slowly started putting in miles again – which included a nice and easy run at CIM Marathon, several back to back long runs, and weekly mileage that climbed its way back into the mid 30’s. While I wasn’t in peak shape – I was definitely getting back on track, albeit slowly.

The goal for the SD50 was to improve over last year’s SD50 race and use it as a benchmark of where I was at physically/mentally going into the 2015 race season.

I’ll spare you the turn by turn details (see last year’s post), but know that once again the course was beautiful, well-marked and well-supported. In fact, this year’s race was even more enjoyable for me than last year’s because I was able to run with so many friends I’d met over the last year at various San Diego races.

San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon
C was able to double back to cheer G on at the 40-mile aid station.

I finished the race in 11:35 – a 1 hour and 21 minute PR for me at the 50-mile distance. Though my pre-race mileage wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I attribute the strong finish to three things:

  • Being on top of hydration & fueling (this was where I crumbled last year)
  • Consistent pacing throughout the entire race
  • Course familiarity (I run this area a lot)

The race was a good one for me. My best ultra so far, actually, and was a real confidence booster looking toward what’s coming up in 2015.

The thing I loved most about this run was that it provided me an opportunity to reflect on how much I’d learned about the sport – and myself – over the last year, and how big a part of my life trail running has become.

Since the SD50 I’ve been quietly ramping up my mileage, incorporating new workouts, and refining my approach to nutrition and hydration – both while running, and in day-to-day life.

San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon
G’s best 50-mile finish: a 1 hour and 21 minute PR!

That said, my 2015 race season is officially underway, and next up is Ultra Adventures Antelope Canyon 55K this weekend.

One thing is certain: It feels so good to be back.

I can’t wait to see how things progress from here.

Take care,

GnC

6 thoughts on “Race Recap: Third Annual San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon

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