This past weekend was a big one for me. I not sure what possessed me to sign up for not one but 2 races for a total of 40.4 miles or 65k.
Our friend, Matt is one of the race directors for the Old West 50k so we decided to sign up for the race about a month ago. It’s out in Julian, CA, although it’s quite a bit further out than we were expecting, but more on that later.
They have 2 race distances and after looking at the price, it seemed like a better deal to run the 50k vs the 30k and using runner logic, I would be getting more bang for my buck lol.
I found out that Jenn @solehealth & Vanessa @runvanessawrun would also be running the 50k so I sent a message to Jenn to see if I could run with them. They seem to be in the same pace range as I am and we’ve run together before so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Fast forward to race week and I’m in Phoenix for the full week for work, coming back to San Diego on Friday evening. I decided to try something different and I got a ton of juices & water to really hydrate on Friday. I drank 3 bottles of Blueprint Juice, a bottle of GT’s Raspberry Chia Kombucha and all but a little of a 1.5 liter bottle of water before I flew home.
Once I landed we did a short run down at the harbor before heading to Islands for dinner. I had a Turkey Burger and french fries and more water. I was fully hydrated when I started the race, probably for the first time ever.
After dinner we realized we didn’t really know where we were going for the race so we looked it up and found that it was about 1.5 hours from our house, which is a little further than some of the other races in the Julian/Lake Cuyamaca area.
So I got my gear together, I didn’t do a flat Jenny because I was too tired and set my alarm for 3:45am.
The plan was to leave at 4:30am, but I think we left the house around 4:45a and then had to get gas so we finally got on the road about 4:55a. Fortunately it didn’t take too too long, we finally arrived around 6:20am.
When we got to Stagecoach Trails, we missed the turn because there weren’t any signs telling us to turn. We did a quick U-Turn and got in though. Once inside the campground, again there weren’t really any signs, maybe one small 8×11 piece of paper telling us where to go. We finally saw a few people directing traffic including one of our friends, Todd.
We got lucky and had a spot pretty close to the packet pick-up and the start line. We went inside, got our bibs and packets only to have Kat tell us she was worried we weren’t going to be there on time, lol. She said that Jenn & Vanessa had checked in earlier and she told them I wasn’t there yet.
We hit up the bathrooms, real bathrooms which were really nice since most races you have to use port-a-potties. Then got our gear together and headed to the start line.
I saw Jenn & Vanessa, we got a few photos and showed off our Olympus 2.0s since all 4 of us were wearing them. Sean went up to find our friend Jeff and then we were off. It was kind of a nonchalant Go as it is with most smaller ultras.
It was a little chilly when we started off, I decided to wear my arm sleeves instead of a long sleeve shirt, which was a good plan. I think I took off my sleeves around mile 5 or so.
I decided to run with my Ultimate Direction pack because it can hold more bottles than my Orange Mud VP1. I had 2 bottles, both with 1.5 scoops of Lemon Tailwind and a packet of Grape Ultima Replenisher. I was really glad to have the extra bottle later in the race.
Our friend Josh, @sdultrarunner was at the start and got a few photos of the start. Now you see that guy to my right, No. 567, he finished an hour after us but he’s 76 years old! #runninggoals
Once we got under way and got semi used to the sand, we ran most of the first 8 miles, with a nice downhill from miles 6 – 8, unfortunately we soon found out that we would have to go back up the downhill so it wasn’t nearly as exciting then.
I kept looking for Sean after we started seeing the leaders heading back and never saw him. I was wondering if maybe he had an issue with his knee or something and had to stop. But when we got to the aid station we didn’t see him. Matt happened to be there and I asked him if he knew where Sean was – he said that he just got there but he’d check his race number and he got there at 8:04a. So somewhere between there and us he got off trail or something.
We got our bottles filled up. At this station, I just filled a bottle with water and added a packet of Ultima to it. I ate a bunch of orange slices and when the girls were ready we all started hiking up the hill.
There were some really cool areas as we headed up, some areas where we were almost completely surrounded by rocks.
And there was a spot where it wasn’t entirely clear which way to go if you weren’t really looking. Come to find out this was where Sean had gotten lost. He went straight or left instead of right. The markings weren’t super clear, in fact I’m pretty sure I asked the girls if we were sure that was the way until we saw the chalk up a ways from the turn.
Once we finally got back up, we started running down the hill we hiked up before and just kept running. By this point I was getting really hot & I could feel my heart beating in my head so I knew I needed more walk breaks. So I would walk for a bit, run to catch up with the girls and just kept doing this until we hit the next aid station at 13.6 miles (or around this point). We filled up with more water & got some ice this go around.
It was about this point when I started telling them that if they wanted to go ahead it was ok, but they told me they would stick with me.
We ran/walked to the next aid station at mile 15ish. Here we all filled up with ice in our bottles, I’m pretty sure I got some in my hat here and ate a bunch of orange slices & watermelon. As we were getting our bottles filled, this young girl who was there to spectate fainted and everyone was trying to help her. She was in all black and didn’t have any water and it was already getting pretty hot. *Jenn asked about her when we came back through and she was ok.
From here we hiked/ran up the hill and then did a run/walk for a bit. By this point it was getting really hot. We finally got to the next aid station and Kat & Todd were there cheering for us. We got lots of ice, I filled both my bottles, added tailwind to one and got my hat filled with ice. Kat poured ice down my sports bra too so I was nice and cool. We got some snacks, oranges for me and then headed out. We would have another 3.3 miles until the next aid station. Somehow we got mixed up because one of the volunteers at the last aid station told us it was 12 miles until we were back and it really was closer to 14.
All the smiles at mile 19ish because Sean was on his way back. Kat caught a few photos of us before the girls and I headed out again.
It was at this point we were running a bit and then all of a sudden a car came out of nowhere. From this point on we would see a number of cars. We were pretty much walking because it was so hot and Vanessa had bronchitis the week before so she was still having some issues breathing, as an asthmatic, I know all about that. Fortunately for me since it was so dry I didn’t have any breathing issues.
We finally made it to the aid station, got iced up again, ate more watermelon (they had the best watermelon there) and oranges and set off. At this point we had about 9.something miles to go so we started powerhiking up the hills. I was checking my watch & I knew if we could keep it up I could get a 50k distance PR.
We got back to the aid station where Kat & Todd were – got more water & ice and headed out. At this point we were about a 10k from the finish and a bit of it was downhill. We hiked up a small portion and I was in the lead, saying let’s start running at this tree and then walking when it got too hot. We did this all the way until we got to a nice downhill portion which we ran down all the way to the last aid station.
Again, we got a bit more water & ice and a few nibbles before finishing off the run. And with me in the lead again, we continued through the sand with our run/walk for the last 2.5 miles. When we were about a 1/2 mile from the finish, I saw Sean coming towards us. He came out to take some photos and make sure we were all ok.
We finally got back to the road, crossed it and then we were almost there. It felt like the last part took forever. I kept seeing orange ribbons and we kept going and going. You can see in this photo I’m like when is this going to end, lol.
Finally we made the turn and saw the finish line. Vanessa was a little bit behind us so I told Jen we should wait for her so we could all finish together. And so we did. And in a 22 minute PR for me, we finished in 7:47:49(ish).
Photo of Sean & I at the finish by Josh @sdultrarunner
We got our membership medals inducting us in as official members of the Old West Trails Posse 😉
We took a few photos, including some with Sean & Larry (Geezer), one of the race directors. And then headed inside for some food.
They had a lot of grub for us, including 2 different kinds of soup (chicken noodle & potato), pasta, salad, nachos with cheese & chili, bread, cake & a jello casserole. I got a bowl of Potato Soup and then a few chips with cheese. By this point I was getting a little cold, my calves felt tight and my feet were done. Sean brought me my flip flops so I could take off my shoes. My feet felt ok except for an tiny issue with both of my second toes feeling a bit tender.
We all traded photos for a few minutes and then Sean & I decided to head back home. We had a long drive ahead of us.
All in all I felt pretty good – my legs were sore but nothing crazy, mostly tightness in the hips and calves. I was just going to rest and get ready for the next race on Sunday.
Now for some pros and cons for this race.
*Awesome people volunteering & running the race
*Aid Stations were fully stocked with lots and lots of ice & water
*Cute T-Shirt in a women’s style
*Real Bathrooms (this is a big deal) & Port-a-potties at all the aid station.
*Awesome post-race meal
* It’s a long drive
* Not a lot of signage to get to the start
* While the trail was pretty obvious in most spots, there were places were I thought there should be a lot more ribbons/chalk/signs to make sure that you were aware of where to go. Especially in the place were Sean got lost.
* Cars on the majority of the 2nd loop. I don’t recall reading anything about having to worry about cars, but the trails weren’t super wide with a car & us so we did have to stop a few times to let them pass.
*Sand, sand and more sand 😉
It was unfortunately that it was so hot out because I think that it could have been a course that I could have done a lot better on. With the heat though and feeling my heart beat in my head, I made the smart decision to walk a lot more than I would have it the temps had been a bit lower or if there had been significant cloud coverage.
Huge thanks to Jenn & Vanessa for a fun day on the trails and sticking with me to the finish. xoxo